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December 9, 2009

Arctic Blast from the Past
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 12:01 AM * 141 comments

With the first major snowstorm of the winter bearing down on us, it’s time to list some of the cold-weather stuff I’ve posted over the years, in one convenient place:

First comes Cold Blows the WInd Today. It’s a brief note on hypothermia. Very brief. Just a single screen. None of the really horrifying detail about blebs and such that I could have used. The take-away lesson is that cold kills. Don’t let it kill you. The comment thread is over 400 entries long, and filled with good stuff.

Snowed In. A review of a book about the Donner Party.

Stop, Drop, and Roll. Winter time brings new hazards, including heaters that produce carbon monoxide. Some notes on same. Over a hundred comments.

Happy stuff: Cold Weather Drinks, including my favorite, Hot Lemonade.

Weather outside: Frightful. My local weather. Lucky me! (Hey, I volunteered to live here.)

Dashing Through the Snow. How to drive in a snowstorm. Short version: Don’t. Longer version: If you must, then slowly, and only if you have good snow tires.

Snowday. Ah, storms past! We gots photos!

Fimbul Winter. From last year’s Snowpocalypse. Over two hundred comments, and all of them worth reading.

Comments on Arctic Blast from the Past:
#1 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2009, 12:54 AM:

Hah! How timely. My parents are closing down their Catskills-area house and heading south to Florida on Thursday.

Portland is COLD. Uncommonly cold. It was 19 F when I walked the dog this morning. Fortunately, it wasn't windy . . . yesterday morning it was about Freezing, but with a stiff breeze that sucked the warmth out of you.

But . . . it has been totally dry. No precip at all. I've been greasing my lips several times a day.

Back down to 22 F...

#2 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2009, 12:58 AM:

I could only wish that there were less annoying ways to find all of the spots in the house that could use more insulation or better wind resistance...

#4 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2009, 01:17 AM:

Still waiting for the cold to hit here in the Netherlands. We had a warm(ish--low teens C), wet November, and it's been only a few degrees colder and dry thus far this month.

Every day I'm not cycling in the bitter wind is just fine with me, to be honest. But I'd love a freeze over Christmas (while I'm not working and thus not commuting) so that we could all go skating on the canals again.

#5 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2009, 01:19 AM:

xeger #2: I could only wish that there were less annoying ways to find all of the spots in the house that could use more insulation

How about some nifty Infrared Goggles?

#6 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2009, 01:21 AM:

Last night I watched in astonishment as the digital thermometer in the kitchen dropped 0.6 degrees in under a minute. In the freakin' tropics!

The winter weather made for some great surf on the North Shore.

#7 ::: Holly P ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2009, 01:34 AM:

Are we playing temperature one-downsmanship? I'm in Edmonton. It's currently a balmy -20 C (-4 F), up from yesterday's -30 C (-22 F). We had our big snowstorm this weekend, though, so we're pretty much dug out.

#8 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2009, 02:18 AM:

23 here, and that's 6 degrees above last year's low.

Next time I cut down a big tree, I'm leaving more of the big logs in large chunks for the overnight fire. I can make a bunch of medium logs last 5 hours, and big logs last more like 8-10. But I'm running out, because this year, I just split some big cause I was running out of time. The rest of the large ones I actually took to normal burning size...

#9 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2009, 03:01 AM:

Earl @5

Those goggles have their own infra-red light source, they're not thermal imaging, which is what you'd need to check for heat leaks in a house.

That is a nifty package, though.

Anyway, this is why you have that cheap netbook that you can plug a webcam into. And apparently most webcams can see IR. Try it with the remote for your TV.

#10 ::: Angiportus ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2009, 03:56 AM:

Usual winter pattern here in the Pacific North-Wet [of the US]--clear and bright, but cold, with frost--including, in some places, intricate designs on the asphalt. Makes me think I should put up the plastic on the window already. But I just hope it warms up like usual before the rain comes back. I carry a pair of those rubber thingies you put on your shoes that have spikes on the bottom--the poor person's crampons--all the time, in the winter. I forget the brand name, but there's several kinds, and REI has them. An encounter with a still-subfreezing sidewalk in a mizzling rain some years back is part of the reason I don't walk so well today. Supercooling is not our friend.
The post on fire is worth a re-read. I could add a couple of tips. First, before you turn on the oven, check to make sure that housemates of sub-par mental caliber have not decided to store the oven mitts inside. Second, when moving into a new place, first time you use the oven, make sure there isn't a bunch of grease on the bottom. I am so glad I realized that WASN'T a pool of water glistening there...you never saw an oven get turned off so fast.
I don't have a webcam, but of the 4 remotes I've had, 3 have a visible overlap--1 of these, I didn't even have to sit in a dark room with it to see that. I also noticed this with the IR source in the room at the hospital where they test you for sleep apnea. But heat leaks, I can find those just by walking around this place.

#11 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2009, 04:40 AM:

First snow yesterday.
Bleh.
Icy sidewalks.
Double bleh.

#12 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2009, 05:09 AM:

13.8 F in the Twin Cities (Mipple-Stipple, or Minneapolis-St.Paul, if you prefer) at the moment, and the weather forecast says "100% chance of precipitation."

Forecast says to expect at least eight inches in the worst of it, with the metro area coming in somewhere in the "six to nine inches likely" zone. They're reporting 4.7 at the airport a few hours ago. And the winds are supposed to pick up, so it'll be a festival of drifts. Then the temp is supposed to plummet on Thursday morning.

Whee.

#13 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2009, 05:11 AM:

Huh. They're no longer saying temps going down Thursday morning.

Uh-oh. If it stays warmer, that means more chances for snow.

#14 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2009, 05:39 AM:

I'm particularly not looking forward to snow this year, what with the quad-cane and the budget cuts on snow removal. From a recent news story:

"Minneapolis residents can expect the hills of snow left by plows at bus stops to remain for days or maybe weeks longer than normal."

Yeah, that'll be fun. So will trying to cross the street. Climbing a two or three foot snow ridge with a quad-cane is not my idea of a winter sport, thank you.

Grump grump. I know: I've got it easy, because mine's just temporary. (I do have the six month disability parking tag, thank goodness, so that'll help a lot when Daniel takes me to physical therapy, the grocery store, et cetera.)

#15 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2009, 06:07 AM:

elise @14:

What you need is someone to walk ahead of you and scatter grit and salt in your path, rather like rose petals but more practical.

#16 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2009, 06:46 AM:

15: an essential component of any Hindu wedding north of the Fiftieth Parallel.

What she really needs is a team of dogs and a sledge. Or, possibly, a team of bears and a slightly larger sledge, which would have enough room for shopping, Turkish Delight, etc.

#17 ::: Torrilin ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2009, 07:26 AM:

When the University of Wisconsin, the Madison Public library, and the local community college close due to snow? Do not go outside. Give thanks that you have a well stocked pantry, and roast a nice leg of lamb. I'm hoping the grocery store out back will be closed, because I know most of the staff drives to work in winter. And there's about a foot of snow on my windowsills this morning.

*peers at sky* Hrm, I have this horrible feeling it's trying to go orange again.

#18 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2009, 07:28 AM:

Here we've had, ahem, rain. A lot of it overnight. As is usual when it rains, the newspaper delivery people miss the driveway and hit the lawn. This is one of the mysteries.

Last winter it snowed. Twice. This was more than the previous winter when it snowed once. It didn't stick.

In April, however, we had the hailstorm from Hades. There was hail on the ground as thick as snow.

#19 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2009, 08:21 AM:

Fragano @ 18... Hail Merry?

#20 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2009, 08:41 AM:

Serge #19: As they say in these here parts, it was Hail.

#21 ::: Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2009, 08:43 AM:

We have a predicted 20-40cm of snow, and it's coming down enthusiastically at the moment as if making up for lost time.

#22 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2009, 08:47 AM:

Fragano @ 20... And hearty?

#23 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2009, 08:50 AM:

This reminds me of our Holidays drive to the Bay Area last year. The storm began in Flagstaff. By the time we had reached Kingman, I decided that, should we continue, we might cease to be. Luckily the hotel's cable lineup had TCM and, appropriately enough, we wound up watching Valley of the Kings then Death on the Nile.

#24 ::: DN ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2009, 09:07 AM:

So it's probably below 35 deg. F here right now, over 75% humidity, and I'm pretty dang cold, as it's piercing and into-your-bones-like even in this room (which is drafty and only has a space heater). Small-time, I know.

But some New Hampshire winters seem to be in my future, which would be the furthest north I've ever been, and reading those links... Well, it's not encouraging. But I'm very thankful for all the accumulated knowledge and advice.

Now to find longjohns that can be stacked 5 deep.

#25 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2009, 10:06 AM:

I should probably turn on the heater (it's 61.2F near my computer) but I dread the annual event of it ticking off the smoke detector. I hate that.

#26 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2009, 10:33 AM:

Serge #22: You had to be Hardy to survive it. It would have stripped Laurel of all his leaves.

#27 ::: Janet Croft ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2009, 10:35 AM:

Cold here in Oklahoma, but bright and sunny. Supposed to go down to 12 F tonight, though. So I went through and printed out all the hot drink recipes...

#28 ::: Janet Croft ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2009, 10:38 AM:

Oh, and it turns out that today is the second anniversary of an icestorm that hit downtown Norman and devastated trees all over campus. They had to cancel two days of finals, and cleanup took months.

#29 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2009, 10:39 AM:

Our 4-6" of snow and below-freezing mornings in Prescott won't impress the seasoned weather veterans here, but Monday night's storm was a bigger deal, with hours of 50mph winds, a few gusts over 70mph, and our whole building shaking and moaning. Luckily, we'd already gone to bed before the rain turned back to snow and the worst weather hit, but it made for a night of interrupted sleep.

Down south, the wind also snapped the top 10 feet off "the state's tallest Xmas tree" and created other havoc. And in some forest not all that far from here, an unlucky elk hunter was killed by a falling tree that crushed his tent. So that was quite a storm. More snow probably coming, but nothing as spectacular.

#30 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2009, 10:49 AM:

Fragano @ 26... Laurel & Hardy will be back in "Another Fine Storm", co-starring Barbara Hale, Alan Hale Sr and Alan Hale Jr.

#31 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2009, 10:54 AM:

Pouring down rain here right now. Sideways. There's a street near me that's completely underwater for a couple of blocks. Multiple inches deep, not quite impassable but darn close; people are driving through it anyway. Fortunately, the alternate route out, which often floods, is okay.

#32 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2009, 11:04 AM:

Serge #30: Ollie sure you can Stan it/

#33 ::: Samuel Bierwagen ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2009, 11:07 AM:

@5, @9:

Ach, nein.

The "infrared" band of the electromagnetic spectrum is fairly wide, quite a lot wider than the visible band.

Visible light is about 380 nanometers to 750 nanometers,[*] while infrared stretches from 700 nanometers to 1,000,000 nanometers, at which point it really isn't acting much like light anymore, and more like radio waves.

This means that "infrared" can mean any number of mutually contradictory things.

The primary confusion here is between near infrared (750-1400nm) and mid infrared. (8000-15000nm) Cheap cameras can see, and IR LEDs in remotes emit, near infrared. Cheap cameras can see near infrared because CCD and CMOS sensors have a slightly larger frequency response range than the human eye. More expensive cameras can't, because infrared light will add a color cast to the final picture, and also contribute fuzzyness, since the lens probably won't be sharp across the entire frequency range. Dedicated infrared photography cameras will have the infrared blocking filter removed, and a filter added that blocks everything but infrared, so you can get decently sharp results without stupidly expensive lenses.

Mid infrared is completely different. This is the range of thermal imaging, and requires fancy sensors and exotic lenses, is fairly special-purpose, and is thus hilariously expensive. Thermal imaging shows body heat, and is what most people think of when they think "infrared camera".

#34 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2009, 11:08 AM:

We had some snow last week. Then it warmed up again. Today it's cooled off a bit, down to 51° (F) at the moment; by the weekend, it's going to be warmer again.

*sigh* I'm glad I'm not having to deal with sub-zero temps, but this really doesn't feel like winter. OTOH, if anybody wants to visit, we've got a futon in the living room, and there's a hotel two blocks from our house.

#35 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2009, 11:39 AM:

The temperature where I am in Southern California has got down to around 5°C/40°F in the evenings. Admittedly not that cold in the grand scheme of things, but I'm not used to it any more. Looks like we'll be getting more rain over the next few days, too, which is good.

I have a big pot of tasty soup made.

#36 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2009, 11:46 AM:

Janet, I remember that. A friend in Tulsa lost most of his favorite trees and was really lucky that they managed not to hit his house.

It is 12° F, gusty winds up to 31 mph, and snow on the ground. I'm going out to try and clear/start my car just to melt all the stuff off of it in case I need it.

This is one time I'm sort of glad I don't have a job. IThere is one on the horizon, thought--WOOT. Just have to pass a security check.)

#37 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2009, 12:02 PM:

I wonder if the US will ever spawn a full generation of people who naturally think in Celsius instead of Fahrenheit?

#38 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2009, 12:05 PM:

Fragano #18: Last winter it snowed ... It didn't stick.

You mean you don't remember the 6-7 inches we got on March 1. Granted, this is but a light dusting in Minnesota, but for Georgia, even northeast Georgia -- in March -- it's a bunch of snow.

#39 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2009, 12:12 PM:

35
You must be in one of the warmer areas. Mine has had frost the last two nights - low to mid-30s.

#40 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2009, 12:12 PM:

Earl Cooley III @ 37:

I can hope.

#41 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2009, 12:18 PM:

No snow here in southern Scotland as yet, but the Met Office just put out a severe weather warning -- Dumfries and Galloway are about to get hit by 15-20mm of rain in just three hours tonight. Which may not sound like much until you consider that water runs downhill, and that part of the world is crinkle-cut.

It's warm enough right now, but tomorrow night the temperature's due to drop about 15 degrees (celsius) and we're in for a weekend of significantly sub-zero nights, with some chance of snow.

#42 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2009, 01:11 PM:

The usual annual warning: If you don't have a carbon monoxide detector in your home, make it a priority to get one. They can cost less than twenty bucks.

If you do have a carbon monoxide detector in your home, get one for a friend who doesn't.

#43 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2009, 01:21 PM:

DN, instead of stacking longjohns five deep, try WinterSilks. (They have an outlet store in Madison, so every time I'm at WisCon I stop by and see what's on sale. The factory irregulars are a great bargain; I don't care if a minor seam is crooked or if the color is streaked, as long as things keep me warm.)

If you're really really cold, DN, stack the WinterSilks two deep. They're thin enough that that'll still not be as thick as regular longies.

#44 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2009, 02:06 PM:

Water for animals in cold weather:

Remember that keeping a bird dish warm or, for that matter, a watering trough for cattle thawed may involve having overflow leadingto dangerous ice sheets, and plan for antiskid substances accordingly.

She says, knowing that there is about 400sqft of ice below the watering trough because the stupid cows knocked the float loose and the tank overflowed at 2am and 7.7F .

#45 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2009, 02:48 PM:

Kodiak, Alaska. Last winter had the deepest persistent snowpack and latest spring green-up in living memory (I think--it might have been "only" in the top three). There was a five-day period during which the wind chill chart warned "Exposed flesh may freeze within minutes," so that the kids couldn't even go out into the yard. We had four-foot snowdrifts in said yard and also in our driveway, so driving anywhere was a major undertaking.

This winter started a month later, but with a similar bang. Then a southwester blew in, with a southeaster after that, a wet easterly gale after that, etc. Do I mind? Not a bit! We can have a bare brown winter down near sea level all the way through the season as far as I'm concerned. We just need snowpack up in the mountains for the salmon streams. I have had a "real" winter and I am done with real winters, thanks!

#46 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2009, 02:48 PM:

If Sylvia turns up here, I remind her that in the Donner Party book review post she asked "How long till Christmas?, wishing for both the original book and George Stewart's "Ordeal By Hunger."

#47 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2009, 03:18 PM:

Carbon monoxide detector installed when we purchased the house, right near the heater vent in the boy's room. The walls are not so thick we wouldn't be able to hear it all over the house. Thankfully, I don't see any reasonable way our natural gas heater would be able to produce carbon monoxide, but as Jim says, the detectors are cheap.

On the cold weather— my problem is that this house has thirty-year-old single-pane windows, and I live in California, which apparently means nobody has ever had to winterize and the hardware store doesn't carry that lovely plastic that you tape down and use a heat gun (blowdryer) to shrink tight. And little man WON'T keep his socks on. Or a hat. Or clothes, for that matter. (There's a reason he's always dressed in overalls. He hasn't figured THOSE out yet.)

#48 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2009, 03:49 PM:

B. Durbin (47): You can buy the plastic online.

#49 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2009, 04:24 PM:

Earl, #37: Not as long as there's still a lot of anti-metric sentiment around. It could be done by stealth, if the media were to commit to giving all temps in both scales, but that'll never happen either.

I would have said that the switch to 2-liter and 3-liter soda bottles would help move us in that direction, but there was a conversation here a while back about someone describing a 3-liter bottle as "the BIG 2-liter", so clearly that has not happened at all.

OTOH, I can now think in mm because of working with beads. :-)

#50 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2009, 04:47 PM:

Turns out GETTING into my car was a major undertaking. We had rain before it snowed last night, and then the temps plunged to something like 8°F/-14°C overnight,

The doors were frozen shut. With patience and a hair dryer, I managed to get them open. Then I warmed up the car and thawed it off -- I loves my car's heating unit, it gets warm really quickly! Even in 12 degree weather.

#51 ::: Torrilin ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2009, 06:42 PM:

I can't bear to shop at Wintersilks, since a large chunk of their stock smells as if the sericin hasn't been removed. When you can smell the silk from several feet away, it's a good sign the poor silkworms were not raised right, or someone did something godawful in the processing.

However, you can get Smartwool tights at Madison Shoe, and Land's End, Fontana Sports and REI will happily sell you long underwear. (unfortunately, both Land's End and Fontana are closing their State St stores, which means it's a long cold walk to get long underwear)

#52 ::: CircusFreak ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2009, 06:46 PM:

Jim,

Lurker emerges to say, I follow your trauma posts with fascination, the cold related ones doubly so as a climber and SAR member. I've never heard of a bleb, if you have a moment, I'd really like to know about those.

Cheers,

#53 ::: DN ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2009, 06:48 PM:

elise @43: Thanks for the tip, especially the brand name. Might get one for the remainder of this (fairly mild) winter, even. I presume wearing that much silk takes some getting used to. (Remember the feel of those dress shirts in the 80s/90s... but that's about all I have to go on.)

#54 ::: DN ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2009, 06:50 PM:

Torrilin, just saw your comment. Maybe I'll try to be around these in person first, then.

#55 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2009, 06:58 PM:

We had a rare freeze in the San Francisco Bay Area Monday- rain on the valley floor (50 feet above sea level), and snow in the (1500 to 3000 feet elevation) hills. 2 days later the hills are still covered.

Luckily it stayed a couple of degrees above where the citrus trees get damaged (25F and under)*, although I Xmas-lit and blooded-via-thorns the big lemon tree anyways.

* yes, this isn't sympathy-level cold to people who have months of deep freezes, but it can harm lots of citrus and winter veggies. Still, Californians do sympathize with 1-month droughts elsewhere even though "6 months without rain" is what we call "summer."

#56 ::: Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2009, 07:06 PM:

We had 50+mph winds here in the central deserts of Arizona on Monday and I suspect the gusts were good bit higher. I've lived here almost a decade, with annual monsoon storms and the expected microbursts and dust storms, and that was the worst windstorm I've ever seen. The wind lasted about six hours.

It destroyed a shed for my goats. Fortunately, all the goats seem okay. I have two VERY pregnant does who are due in the next few weeks.

Also lost a handful of shingles off my roof -- I'll need to climb up there and nail some new ones down, and am not looking forward to it. I hate heights. I've done this before (see: microbursts), but sheeeeeesh, I hate heights. And the skirting on my house went to Oz. I'll be replacing that with plywood temporarily, and need to find a good place to buy new skirting.

At least I have plenty of scrap sheets of plywood from the shed ... LOL. (You know you're a redneck when ...)

#57 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2009, 07:17 PM:

B. Durbin no. 47: We raised a crawler in an extremely drafty old house with big single-paned windows (it earned half a point on a scale of 30 points when tested for energy efficiency, although it has since been extensively remodeled). Instead of plastic, consider pinning thick blankets over all of the windows. If sunlight is shining directly on a window, put your hand between the blanket and the glass; if it's warm, take the blanket down until the sun shifts. Single-paned windows leak heat outward, but also transmit the sun's heat inward quite well. Compensate for the increased dimness in the house by replacing your most-used light fixtures with full-spectrum bulbs.

Also consider taping a double-layered blanket, quilt, or opened sleeping bag to the floor in Little Man's most-used play area. Be sure to keep it taut.

#58 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2009, 07:33 PM:

We were supposed to have more snow last night, but it was rain instead which melted all the current snow. I always plan to have to stay in for two months in the winter* and we're supposed to have more and worse storms this winter, so I bought a bit more. It gets boring, but I'm okay.

*Only happens every five years or so, but better to be prepared.

#59 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2009, 07:43 PM:

Stefan Jones @ 1:

Right; I'm not complaining about the cold in Portland (though it's a bit of a pain when the power goes out for 9 hours, as it did on Sunday) as much as the lack of precipitation. We get our drinking, etc., water from snowpack in the Cascades, and this year is looking a tad dry. This is on top of a long-term drying trend that has reduced the snowpack in half in the last 70 years or so.

The other problem is trying to convince Spencer, my Rat Terrier to wear a jacket when I take him to the park: he hates it, but the alternative is to have him shivering once he slows down from a dead run. Jemma, the Lhasa Apso loves her jacket; a good thing since it's going to be a couple of months before her hair grows back to standard Tibet length after her last 'do. This morning, as Stefan said, it was 19°F, and I finally did manage to get Spencer into his jacket while someone else held him. I think he got the idea after a few minutes, but I don't know if the knowledge will carry over.

#60 ::: James Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2009, 07:46 PM:

CircusFreak #52:

A bleb is a large, fluid-filled (either serous fluid or blood) blister characteristic of partial-thickness frostbite. They generally form anytime from minutes to hours, and up to two days, after the part is thawed.

Here's a photo.

Teresa, don't look.

Remember, you treat frostbite like a burn. If a bleb ruptures you've gone from a closed wound to an open one. Blood-tinged fluid corresponds with greater tissue damage.

#61 ::: Torrilin ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2009, 07:48 PM:

DN, keep in mind I'm a handspinner *and* I have taste tester training. If you're not a particularly fussy nose, it might be fine. Spending $20 or so on a sale pair is not a terrible waste of money.

(or, if everyone else had my sense of smell, the store would've been run outta town on a rail and they'd have no staff... and this is clearly not the case.)

A lot of places will cheerfully sell you long underwear by mail order. If I had infinite funds, mine would all be wool. Most of mine is Land's End, since I could just walk there and grab a couple pair for $20, in silk. Cotton is ok, but do not get wet. The various brands of polypro or polyester long underwear work well too.

#62 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2009, 08:11 PM:

A lot of the time I was outside today-- about two hours, I think-- I spent cursing people who don't shovel their walks and blessing people with sidewalk plows who do their entire block. Including the neighbor who swooped his snowblower over to do half my sidewalk.

Then I got home and discovered that about half my cleared walk was indistinguishable from my uncleared walk, and I felt slightly less bad about putting the shoveling off until tomorrow.

Why was I outside for so long without shoveling? Um. I knew it would be snowy, slippery, windy; I was not going to get into my car, even for milk and bread. That's sensible. What is not as sensible is making a blood appointment the day before it snows for the blizzard day and walking three and a half miles to get there.
I only fell once, though.

#63 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2009, 08:29 PM:

Tracie #38: On 1 March? Yeah, you're right, I'd forgotten. I try to forget evil things like that.

#64 ::: Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2009, 08:58 PM:

http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/2009/12/09/20091209stranded-hunters-ON.html

30+ hunters missing/stranded in Arizona from the storm that passed through Monday. If my memory's right, it's elk season. Means most of them will be at fairly high elevation.

#65 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2009, 10:19 PM:

JESR #44: Is that ice a hazard for the cows themselves, or do they have sufficient traction to walk on it?

#66 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2009, 10:55 PM:

Oh, no. The Cows Themselves, a novel by Isaac Asibov, about energy transfer between adjacent dairy farms.

*shakes head vigorously*

Nope. Still not working right. Bedtime.

#67 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2009, 11:01 PM:

The only problem with WinterSilks is that they discontinued my favorite shirt in my favorite color. Fortunately, my second favorites are still more than acceptable.

#68 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2009, 11:52 PM:

Last night, after it stopped raining, a stiff breeze came up. The skies were also clearing, allowing the heat to escape. As I scuttled from car to house, past evaporating puddles, I thought "hypothermia weather, very dangerous." Thank you, Jim.

#69 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2009, 12:02 AM:

David Harmon, the ice is not great for the cattle, although they deal with it more easily than I do. I'm salting the ice and putting bark down tomorrow- not too soon, but I've got no way to bring bark home on the bus.

#70 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2009, 01:31 AM:

I think in F for warm temperatures (from the 80's up) and C for colder weather. Comes of living first in California, then in Scotland. Now that I'm in the Netherlands, where we actually get warm summers, I find myself thinking of 30 C as being "kind of like the mid-80's but more humid."

Torrilin @51:
When you can smell the silk from several feet away, it's a good sign the poor silkworms were not raised right, or someone did something godawful in the processing.

Aha! That's what always made Marks & Spencer's silk sweaters smell!

Kathryn from Sunnyvale @55:
If you've had a freeze, watch out for the eucalyptus in the spring. They don't always survive sub-zero temperatures. And if you have a lot of dead eukes, all dry and flaky, you're much of the way to another Berkeley Hills fire. Hope people are alert, and that any dead trees get cleared away.

#71 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2009, 01:33 AM:

I spent one winter converting F to C, but only when it was below freezing. It was a good way to keep my mind occupied on the walk to work. Beyond a certain point, the number didn't matter to me, so I didn't get a great sense of 'mild cold' vs 'extremely cold'.

#72 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2009, 02:48 AM:

Xopher @ 66... Never read that one, but I did enjoy The Cows of Steel, a murder moostery.

#73 ::: CircusFreak ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2009, 07:40 AM:

Jim #62:

Thanks! With us in the UK/Ireland having the luxury of significantly shorter extractions, I'll note it, but I think I can file that one under "Somebody Elses Problem."

#74 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2009, 10:55 AM:

72: It's not as good as Alfred Bester's classic The Stirks My Destination. I liked the new Bruce Sterling one - Heifer Weather.

#75 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2009, 11:42 AM:

Or Brian Aldiss' classic Hellicownia trilogy.

#76 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2009, 11:54 AM:

I shake whenever I think of Lovecraft's The Cowlour Out of Space...

#77 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2009, 12:10 PM:

And, of course, Bradbury's classic Something Bovine This Way Comes

#78 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2009, 12:39 PM:

Other cold weather hazard: really cold dry air drying out eyes, not playing well with contacts. After the control-tower Christmas lighting ceremony Friday night and walking round downtown Saturday in very cold dry windy weather, one of my eyes turned bright red and refused to accept its contact. OK by Tuesday, but looks like I need to remember to watch out.

#79 ::: James Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2009, 01:28 PM:

In cold dry weather it's a good idea to put a teapot on the stove and keep it boiling.

(They sell cast-iron teapots whose only purpose is to sit on top of a wood stove and humidify the air.)

#80 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2009, 05:20 PM:

James #79:

Sounds like a plan. We've got one of those new-fangled thermostats that shows in-house humidity, and it was reading 40% today, which I personally think is more than a little on the dry side ...

#81 ::: Torrilin ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2009, 05:31 PM:

I prefer to humidify the me and drink the tea. Most of the time, I'm going through two to three POTS of tea a day, all on my ownsome. Dehydration is not a major concern.

I've tried the leave a kettle to sit tactic, and if you don't have a good iron kettle, the kettle will wear out. I've now worn out two teakettles, and I'd really rather not burn through this one quite so fast.

#82 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2009, 05:48 PM:

Delany's early novel The Holstein Intersection.

#83 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2009, 05:59 PM:

Bradbury's script for It Came from Udder Space is a classic.

#84 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2009, 06:17 PM:

(I'd say something about The Cows Look Up but that would be wrong...)

The relative humidity in my office is 32%, and the temperature three feet off the floor is 68.7. I'd put the digital thermometer on the floor to see what the temperature is there, but I'm trying to maintain a little deniability about the thermocline just below knee level.

My outside low last night was allegedly 7.7F/-13.9C, for the third night in a row (which suggests that I've run up against the limitations of the device). The guys out at the airport say it was 6F the night before last. It's 30.4F/-0.8C outside, thus dashing my hopes to have a temperature above freezing for the first time since Sunday. The ice below the watering trough has been salted, cat-littered, and possibly barked (this latter would depend on the cooperation of the elder child, who is currently watching last Monday's Big Bang Theory).

Can we talk skin for a moment? We've spent the past four days hanging laundry out: it rained ten inches in November, and there's a back log of towels, jeans, and other hard-to-dry stuff. Even wearing gloves, I seem to have stripped every bit of natural oil from my hands and Burt's Bees isn't cutting it. The backs of my hands especially look as if they've been worked over with a belt sander.

Short of going out and shooting a bear and rendering it out (which would entail learning to shoot, first) does anyone have cold-weather hand care suggestions?

#85 ::: James Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2009, 06:43 PM:

I seem to have stripped every bit of natural oil from my hands and Burt's Bees isn't cutting it.

Two words: Bag Balm.

(It's made near where I live.)

#86 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2009, 06:46 PM:

Bag Balm
http://www.bagbalm.com/
Drugstores might carry it, but only the itty bitty size. Feed stores reliably carry the large sized can. I have small jars of it in my GoBags.

Being as it's petrolatum based, I put it on at bed time, then put on either a pair of cheap cotton gloves, or an old pair of sox (I look like a baby, with sox on my hands, but when I can't find the gloves...).

#87 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2009, 06:50 PM:

JESR @84--The only advice I can give is to apply a heavy hand cream to the point that your skin is beginning to stop absorbing it, and then put on a pair of fabric gloves--the stretchy little knitted ones they sell at Walgreens and similar places will work just fine, and go from there. If you need to do outside work, wear work gloves over these, for domestic tasks that might get your hands wet, wear rubber gloves, and if you need fine dexterity, cut off the fingertips of the gloves. (Another reason why the little stretchy ones are ideal--you don't have to guesstimate just how much to cut, just trim off the very ends, and they fit under work gloves and rubber gloves fairly well.) Do this except in those circumstances where wearing gloves is going to be more than slightly awkward*--preparing and eating food, and bathing and personal care. If your hands are bad enough, sleep in the things**.

Doing this for more than a few days will soften calluses, which can be a bad thing, but done as needed, you can probably find a balance between destroying useful calluses and saving yourself from chilblains and cracked and bleeding skin.


*Doing this all the rest of the day is awkward, just like wearing a cast or a large bandage or a surgical boot, but the worse your hands are the more you need to wear the gloves.

**You can do the same thing for feet, except that I doubt fine dexterity or food preparation will be an issue there.

#88 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2009, 06:57 PM:

Some people swear by Cornhusker's Lotion, but it's hard to beat Bag Balm, I agree. For one thing, applied heavily enough, you can't sweat it off, and it makes a good moisture barrier for your own skin oil to recover under.

#89 ::: Wesley Osam ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2009, 07:30 PM:

Another practical question... does anyone know of gloves/mittens that will really keep your hands warm? I have problems with this during the subzero wind chills we get several times a winter. Wearing two layers of gloves doesn't seem to help.

#90 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2009, 07:57 PM:

Wesley, 89: Thrums.

#91 ::: James Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2009, 08:32 PM:

does anyone know of gloves/mittens that will really keep your hands warm?

A pair of good snowmobile mittens, and a couple of the little chemical heat packs designed to go inside gloves.

#92 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2009, 08:46 PM:

Wesley Osam #89: When I was a pedestrian in Fairbanks, I had good results with silk glove liners inside synthetic driving gloves inside heavy wool mittens that flipped open to expose my fingers.

#93 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2009, 08:51 PM:

I was going to say someone should invent USB heating gloves, but they already have.

#94 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2009, 08:57 PM:

86
Itty bitty meaning 10-ounce, at my friendly drug store. (It's about a 3-inch cube.)

It isn't noticeably scented, either.

#95 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2009, 11:45 PM:

I'm actually allergic to Bag Balm; it's the first thing farmers think of, otherwise. My dad swore by Cornhuskers, but I've over-used that, too. I was a slave driver today and made my daughter hang the towels out, so the cracks are starting to heal. Mean Mom may be the alternative to emoliants.

#96 ::: James Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2009, 11:51 PM:

Why not try pure lanolin?

#97 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2009, 12:20 AM:

It's actually lanolin I got sensitized to first. I'm a sad case.

#98 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2009, 12:44 AM:

JESR— your solution might well be Vaseline (petroleum jelly) and cotton gloves, then. I don't know of anything else— my ceramics professor swore by Bag Balm (though it didn't have that name at the time; he said "udder cream.") Ceramics is something that will dry your hands out right quick.

Otherwise, I'd ask a doctor for suggestions. (Many doctors are now going to email for these sorts of questions, a practice I am very much in favor of.)

P.S. We may not have as cold weather as many of you northern folk have, but we still have consequences. I spent all morning emptying out the pantry because of ants. Lots of ants.

They apparently like Cheez-its. That is a horrifying sight first thing in the morning.

#99 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2009, 01:34 AM:

Looks like the cold is breaking here, we're up to 27, from 21 this morning when I took the kiddo out to meet the bus.

#100 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2009, 08:21 AM:

You might see if super salve is any help -- I know it did good (albeit green and greasy) things for me in the grand canyon.

#101 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2009, 08:29 AM:

Pure petrolatum works for me -- I wash my hands a lot, with natural consequences. I put on petrolatum right after getting out of the shower, or finishing the dishes; regular applications help reduce or prevent drying out, and there's no proteins to get sensitized against.

#102 ::: Torrilin ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2009, 09:11 AM:

Most commercial gloves end about 1"/2-3 cm past my wrist joint. This is fine for mild weather, down to about 20F.

Of the hand-coverings I've knit for myself, I've tried about 2" beyond the joint, and a solid 4" beyond the joint. The 4" pair were fingerless and perfectly serviceable at 20F (aside from the obvious problem of you don't really want much bare skin showing at 20F). The 2" pair are ok and would probably work much better as an overmitten.

Both pairs that get the effective stamp are in stranded colorwork... not as warm as thrums, but it produces a much thinner fabric too. I'm finding that the finer the gauge on colorwork, the better it stops wind. The main issue with going down to 8-9st/in on colorwork right now is I can't get yarn suitable to the task easily.

So for cold weather, use longer cuffs, finer yarns, and more layers of yarn. If you do not need to be out in weather that is 0F or below, odds are thrummed mittens are overkill. Most of the folks I see who like them are dealing with 0F or lower on a regular basis.

#103 ::: Hilary Hertzoff ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2009, 09:39 AM:

Jim @79 Would those work on a gas stove too? My apartment gets very dry in the winter and I don't really have a place to put a humidifier where I'd be certain it would be safe from my rabbits. Something I could just set on one of the back burners of the stove would be lovely.

#104 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2009, 09:56 AM:

The main issue with going down to 8-9st/in on colorwork right now is I can't get yarn suitable to the task easily.

Might laceweight do the job? Single you can get better than 9 spi with fair ease, in my experience; doubled it's a wee bit finer than your average fingering. Laceweight's available in all sorts of colors these days, too.

#105 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2009, 10:46 AM:

The main issue with going down to 8-9st/in on colorwork right now is I can't get yarn suitable to the task easily.

Sock yarn?
(Works up with that gauge on US 1 and 2 needles, and is not too hard to get hold of.)

#106 ::: Sarah S. ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2009, 10:48 AM:

Torrilin @102

Textura Trading carries Jaggerspun yarns in a variety of delicious light weights for colorwork and lacework. Jaggerspun heather is, I think, especially nice for getting a traditional look to colorwork, and it's available in 2/8 (fingering) and 2/18 or 2/20 (laceweight).

The Textura folks have been really helpful to me on the phone, as well, with color choice, etc.

#107 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2009, 11:54 AM:

Torrilin: Shetland 2-ply/jumperweight is the traditional Fair Isle yarn. If you use 0s or 1s you shouldn't have trouble getting gauge.

#108 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2009, 12:18 PM:

TexAnne @90: Oh, I am so making these, or at least give it a jolly good shot - especially now that I have bamboo needles in all sizes. For some reason I find it really difficult to work with aluminum or steel needles, although that could just be due to my newbie-knitter status.

#109 ::: Torrilin ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2009, 03:02 PM:

Heh, most fine gauge yarns that are commercially available are um... Not what I'd consider acceptable quality for mittens or gloves. Twist level too low, wool used too fine for the twist level, so it's not hardwearing enough. I spin acceptably fine, but a lot of my own handspun isn't well suited because I haven't put enough time in with appropriate fibers. (eyes giant skein of handspun cotton on the coffee table)

Satakieli might do, but it's rather low on yardage for my gauge target... which means odds are in my hands it'd be tough to hit 9st/in :). I'm a pretty loose knitter, and I tend to react more to a yarn's grist than the size needles I'm using. Traditional Shetland is in the right neighborhood too, but I've got a handspun Shetland experiment going...

It's not a rush problem tho. A nice glove or mitten knit at 9st/in is a bit of a masterwork. I have time to learn and get better. And I tend to lose fewer of my handspun things, so...

#111 ::: Ursula L ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2009, 04:16 PM:

I'll second the warning about driving with a "snow hat" on your car.

It's worth getting a good push broom (18-24 inches wide) for cleaning snow off your car. Sturdier than any snow brush, much faster to use, and you can push all the snow to the other side of the car, so you don't get covered with snow and chilled.

It's also worth finding an ice scraper with a long handle (such as the ones on snow brushes.) The long handle lets you reach your whole window more easily, and also gives you better leverage, to allow the ice to be scraped with less effort.

I keep the push broom at home (since my car is a subcompact, and it doesn't fit easily in the car) and have the biggest, sturdiest snow brush I could find for keeping in the car, as well as the ice scraper off of an old snow brush with a long handle to use for ice scraping (it is a better ice scraper than the one on the back of the snow brush I carry.)

It's worth finding good tools for cleaning snow off your car.

#112 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2009, 05:41 PM:

Re: hand protection
My first thought was Udder Cream, which is not the same as Bag Balm. Smells different, not as greasy. Not as heavy a protective barrier, but you might not be allergic to it.

Tack stores are generally a good source of protective salves/unguents.

#113 ::: Ursula L ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2009, 05:46 PM:

For hand protection, I agree with the "thick lotion plus gloves" plan.

My "lotion" of choice is unrefined shea butter, which you can find at African ethnic stores, and sometimes at public markets such as the one in Rochester, NY. It is thick yellow stuff, and I've found that it heals all sorts of skin problems. And since you're dealing with a vegetable butter, you have no issues if you're sensitive to either lanolin or petroleum products.

In my experience, lotion+gloves done overnight, starting before the skin gets too bad, and kept up, can often prevent problems from getting serious enough that you have to use such drastic measures during the day.

#114 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2009, 06:26 PM:

Ursula L: When we were living in Denver, we were able to pick up a lovely tool at a local Target that was a scraper on one end and a sideways brush on the other— with an extending handle. It wasn't the greatest if it were IN the car— somehow, opening the door always drops a ton of snow on the seat— but it was more than long enough to make short work of the "snow hat." Overnight snows in Denver rarely crusted hard enough to require more than simple sweeping.

We still have the tool, though as we live in California now it lives in the garage.

#115 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2009, 08:14 PM:

I live in the next town over from Kathryn; I've had the porch-door curtains closed so I don't know if the last two cherry tomatoes succumbed to the weather, but I assume they have. We're planning to head to the East Coast for Christmas, where at least a couple of days ago it was warmer (though I gather they've since fixed that, and it's now pouring cold rain.)

I've found that ski gloves usually come in sizes that will keep me well-covered and well-insulated, though I'll often use big wool mittens instead if the ski gloves are too warm. Neutrogena Norwegian Formula hand lotion is my usual choice for that sort of product, though I'm more likely to need it if I've been woodworking than for cold weather.

#116 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2009, 08:55 PM:

JESR, #84, this can be a little annoying to get, but I use Scent Me from the Body Shop. The thing is, you can only call them to get it, or go to the store. You can't get it from the catalog or online because of their scenting system. You're supposed to put scent in (and maybe you want that -- I don't) but if you buy from the catalog or online, you'd have to buy an entire vial of the scent. If you buy in the store, the clerk will put a bit of the scent in. People thought that wasn't fair. You can buy it on the phone by being persistent with the clerk -- Scent Me's SKU is 77702 and the number is 1-800-263-9746, Monday-Friday between the hours of 8AM-10PM EST. The Scent Me is a barrier cream (takes hot water and rubbing to get off) and really helps my hands, which are already cracking.

Car Snow Hats My minivan gets these, and I'm not able to get it off with tools, but after I have the van nice and warm, I can drive in fast circles in our cul de sac and they fall off.

#117 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2009, 12:02 AM:

Oh, goody.

Stagnant, frigid, dry air over Portland is giving way to freezing rain and snow.

I have enough fuel for a few hours of fire ready to go, just in case.

And I just finished winding up the crank flashlights.

I continue to be astonished at how well insulated my apartment is. I haven't had the heat on since last night, and it is 55 F inside, 32 F outside.

#118 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2009, 12:22 AM:

I bought a cheap plastic shovel, the kind that doesn't work spectacularly well on sidewalks, and plan to keep it even when it's worn down because it works so well to dig out the car. It's not perfect, but it'll get snow off the roof of the car pretty well.

For ice storms, I have Hatchy the Christmas Hatchet.

#119 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2009, 12:39 AM:

Diatryma @ 118:

Hatchy the Hatchet is probably one of the most perfect names ever, and that story made me laugh out loud.

#120 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2009, 01:00 AM:

B. Durbin @ 114 ...
Ursula L: When we were living in Denver, we were able to pick up a lovely tool at a local Target that was a scraper on one end and a sideways brush on the other— with an extending handle.

My immediate gut reaction of complete surprise and mystification to your apparent surprise about said tool (which is the sort of thing that tends to show up at every gas station and corner store in colder climes) tells me that I've spent far, far, far too much time in said colder climes.

#121 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2009, 09:17 PM:

JESR: the winter I was working for a bakery cafe where the boss didn't bother to buy hand soap, and just refilled the dispensers with Dawn dishwashing liquid, and my hands cracked and bled?

Crisco. Or other solid vegetable shortening.

#122 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2009, 09:25 PM:

@114 & extending snow brush / scraper combo:

I bought one of those a couple years ago and love it.

Brought it into the office with me last Wednesday. Got laughed at by office ladies until I pointed out that it was much more useful to have the snow brush on the same side of the snow as me (as opposed to in the car, buried under a bunch of snow.)

From the thoughtful looks I think I may be starting a trend soon.

Apropos of weather-related trivia and blatant self-promotion, those of you in mild weather climes may be amused by watching my swimming pool freeze. (link goes to flickr photo set; will be updated as things happen.)

#123 ::: Lexica ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2009, 07:16 PM:

We picked up a lump of solid lotion at the farmers' market last weekend — this is the vendor we got it from. It's made of beeswax and olive oil and is unscented (other than the faint honey scent of the wax). It's nice: absorbs well, non-greasy, and keeps my cuticles from getting dry and cracking. (Ow.)

#124 ::: Ursula L ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2009, 07:27 PM:

B. Durbin wrote:

Ursula L: When we were living in Denver, we were able to pick up a lovely tool at a local Target that was a scraper on one end and a sideways brush on the other— with an extending handle. It wasn't the greatest if it were IN the car— somehow, opening the door always drops a ton of snow on the seat— but it was more than long enough to make short work of the "snow hat." Overnight snows in Denver rarely crusted hard enough to require more than simple sweeping.

That's what my "in the car" snowbrush is.

However, I've had the extending handle of such brushes break or collapse and not stay extended when dealing with a particularly heavy, wet snowfall, such as the car being parked outdoors overnight in a lake effect band. It's quite good for light snow, or dry snow, or when the car has only been parked out in the snow for a few hours.

The push broom, however, never fails.

#125 ::: Wirelizard ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2009, 11:51 PM:

Well, we have our first snowfall warning.

"Major winter storm with heavy snow expected for the south coast beginning late Monday." says Enviroment Canada.

Given that this means the south-west corner of BC, I'd assume it applies to those of you on the other side of the border in the Seattle-ish area, too.

Fun.

Enviroment Canada National Weather Warnings page. (some unsung genius @ EC grabbed "weatheroffice.com" as a URL when the 'net was young...)

#127 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2009, 07:36 AM:

Great Plains braces for treacherous Christmas Eve

Stay safe, folks.

If the question ever arises in your mind, "Should I continue on or turn back?" or "Should I continue on or stop right here?" the answer is yes.

#128 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2009, 08:54 AM:

Jim, can you unpack that for those Southerners among us who have moved to where there is snow?

#129 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2009, 09:40 AM:

TexAnne @128: It means, choose prudence and go back/stop there. If you have to ask yourself that question, then your subconscious is warning you that danger lies ahead.

#130 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2009, 10:18 AM:

Ah, thanks. Even for this sort-of-northerner, "yes" is not usually a helpful answer for questions of the form "should I [A] or [B]" where [A] and [B] are a valid binary disjunction.

#131 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2009, 02:03 PM:

Thank you, Ginger! I'm going to need to know that soon.

#132 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2009, 02:18 PM:

Also, "travel only if absolutely necessary" does not mean "travel if your children would be very upset if you weren't there for Christmas dinner": they would be much more upset to spend new year's visiting you in the hospital, or at your funeral, than they will be hearing your Christmas wishes by telephone. Ditto your relative's wedding. Or your own wedding: you can reschedule the wedding a lot more easily if you're alive and well to do so.

In most cases, it doesn't mean "but I have to be at work Monday morning." If you are in real danger of losing your job, that's a harder decision, but if it's "I want to save those days off so I can go on vacation in February," stay where you are.

#133 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2009, 10:50 PM:

Here in Delaware, we had 12-18" of snow last Saturday, nice light powder, easy to shovel though after you're done the nice light powder blows back again. My mom's development was supposed to get plowed and driveways snowblowered, but since that hadn't happened by late Saturday night I did the other half of the driveway so we could get to church in the morning, and of course about the time I finished we got the announcement that church was canceled :-) It's now raining, so most of the snow will be slush tomorrow. It was beautiful when it was fresh.

#134 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2010, 12:41 PM:

More blebs.

From this story out of Des Moines. (Short version: Guy goes out to his car barefoot to get cigarettes. Door to house locks behind him. Found five hours later.) (Thanks to Debbie for this story.)

#135 ::: siriosa ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2011, 02:54 AM:

Snow vs earthquakes: I've made my choice.

#136 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2011, 07:42 PM:

And your choice is...? Don't tease us like that!

#137 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2011, 09:29 PM:

I could use an Arctic blast right now, actually.

#138 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2011, 11:07 PM:

I see I never did give the fuller answers:

If the question ever arises in your mind, "Should I continue on or turn back?"

Turn back.

or "Should I continue on or stop right here?"

Stop right there.


The fact that the question even came up means that continuing usually isn't going to be the best idea.

#139 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2011, 11:22 PM:

James D. Macdonald @ 140:

If the question ever arises in your mind, "Should I continue on or turn back?"

Turn back

I very nearly demonstrated the wisdom of this advice earlier this year in a manner that would not have been worth the knowledge.

#140 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2011, 11:25 PM:

Are you going to tell the story, John?

#141 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2011, 12:32 AM:

Oh, man, Jim, it's embarrassing and I was stupid. But since I brought it up:

Over Memorial Day weekend, my church makes an annual pilgrimage to the Buffalo River for canoing and camping and fellowship. This year, the river was high enough that the first day's trip was recommended for experienced paddlers only. I hadn't planned to go till the second day, for the shorter trip, as I was there with my eight-year-old daughter, who enjoyed last year's float but whose patience is limited.

While we were all standing around conversating, from out of somewhere (and I've yet to find out who originally suggested this idea) came the proposal that the short float from the Highway 14 bridge to Buffalo Point would be a nice family trip on innertubes.

I'd never floated on an innertube before (danger sign #1!), but since there were very experienced people in the crowd and no one was audibly saying, "That's not such a good idea," (and did I ask around with that specific question? danger sign #2), a couple of hours later, I took the daughter and went with another parent, her two children, and her friend to get our innertubes and our ride to the highway from the friendly folks who rent us our canoes.

As we were hanging out at the store waiting for our rides, I realized that I didn't have my croakies with me and looked around for a pair. The clerk showed me to the only pair in the store, a six-dollar hot pink one which she wasn't sure would float, and which she kept pointing out to me were very, very pink. I hemmed and hawed and eventually said, "Oh, I'm just going to be on an innertube. I won't need these." (danger sign #3 and serious foreshadowing)

When we all got down to the river, we looked at it for a while, noted how little traffic there was (danger sign #4), then eventually overcame our hesitation (danger sign #5) and walked into the current.

It was a nice fast current on a relatively safe stretch of the river, but that didn't keep us from quickly getting separated. I eventually made my way to my daughter as she was heading into some brush on the side of the river. I kept us clear of all but the last branch, which clipped my tube on the side, flipped me over, and took off my cap (but, in a failure of foreshadowing, didn't take off my glasses) which I grabbed as I surfaced. Try as I might, I couldn't get back onto my innertube.

I got back to my daughter, eventually, but was getting exhausted by being in the somewhat cold water and by having to support my own weight rather than being in the innertube. I eventually made the questionable decision to let her go long enough to get to the bank and get myself into the innertube. It worked out but I'm still not sure I should've done that and don't know that I'd do it again. On the one hand, I'm a weak swimmer and was losing ground just staying with her. On the other hand, she was eight.

The folks ahead of me had gotten themselves to a gravelly bank of the river and nabbed her as she floated toward them. I caught up with them and we all rested for a bit. We still hadn't seen any traffic on the river, and we made the decision to float the rest of the way, but this time, to go in together, grabbing each other's innertubes, and trying to keep in one chain. This worked pretty well and got us to Buffalo Point, where there were lots of people in and near the water.

Now, this will give you some idea how poor my decision-making process was by this point: Until I recognized someone on the bank of the river, I wasn't planning to stop. I wanted to get to our destination and wasn't sure this was it.

Anyway, we all made for the bank of the point, and my daughter and I got separated from the other four. They went on down the river, but she and I got caught in an eddy, went to the outside of the bend and back up the river past the point, then back across and down the river. I was determined to get us to shore and fell out of my innertube again. Like an idiot, I hung on to it while I went toward the bank, then finally got a clue, let go of it, and concentrated on myself, my daughter, and her innertube.

It was slow going but I made some progress toward the point. Eventually, someone yelled out, "Do you need help?" I was just catching my breath to yell "Yes!" when I went under briefly again. This time, I touched bottom, pushed forward, and surfaced. I stepped again, this time getting a good foothold, yelled, "I'm okay, " or words to that effect, and walked us in to the bank. There were folks we knew there and everything was all right. We could even see the other four on the bank down the river.

Someone had seen my innertube by itself and called the rangers, who rescued our friends. They even picked up my innertube. My daughter and I had lost our water shoes in the current, but we made our way (painfully in my case) up the gravel road to a ride.

At the potluck that evening, I asked Rev. Bob, who is an experienced paddler and who had gone on the day's canoe trip, if they'd run into any trouble. No, he said, it was a fine, wonderful, troublefree float.

We lived to tell about it, which is the most important thing, and I learned quite a few lessons from it, which also matters.

The next day, I asked the daughter whether she still wanted to go on the canoe trip. She gave me a very enthusiastic "Yes!" I said I did too, and told her I was worried the previous day's trip might have scared her off.

Oh, daddy, she said, that was in innertubes. This is in canoes.

Anyway, no one got hurt on the canoe trip. Three of us did get injured after all the canoeing was over. There was screaming and blood and more rangers and a trip to the emergency room and my ankle still hurts, but that was as bad as it got.

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