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January 14, 2004

Posted by Teresa at 09:26 AM *

A busted furnace is a real attention-grabber when the outdoor temperature is 9 F.

Comments on Observation:
#1 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2004, 09:46 AM:

Boil water on the stove.

#2 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2004, 10:20 AM:

and turn all the windows into running rivers as the steam condenses?

I'd be turning the oven on, myself, and leaving the door open.

Also consider to run a trickle of cold water, so the pipes are discouraged from freezing. (Electrical heater tape is better, but I'll bet you don't have some lying around.)

Yikes. Best of luck getting that sorted out promptly.

#3 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2004, 10:40 AM:

If this is reasonably short-term, baking and making chicken soup at the same time seems to work.

If not, we have one of those plug-in radiators you can borrow, if you need it.

#4 ::: Adrienne ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2004, 11:12 AM:

I think Mr Macdonald may have confused the protocol for busted furnaces with that for birthing babies. Of course, boiling water is never really a bad thing, just, perhaps, not the most helpful.

A lack of heat is always a fine opportunity to find the closest establishment with a functional furnace, hot beverages and tasty crullers. While this is only an option if your plans for the day are portable and/or avoidable, it does seem like a wise course of action.

We're expecting it to be a balmy (*sigh*) -20 tonight. It's -8 currently and my poor weather pixie looks mighty cold. Anyone know how to put a hat on her?

#5 ::: Michelle ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2004, 11:20 AM:

I second the baking. Warms the house *and* you get yummy baked goods.

Oatmeal raisin cookies are always a good option, since with the raisins and oatmeal, you can claim they are health food. (Add walnuts and they are even better for you!)

#6 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2004, 11:24 AM:

Mr. Macdonald lives high up in the mountains of New Hampshire, a few miles south of the Canadian border, in a house heated by a woodburning furnace.

The furnace crisis is abating. I'm grateful. I have a book to edit.

#7 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2004, 11:27 AM:

Stay warm and safe.

#8 ::: Adrienne ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2004, 11:31 AM:

Oh! I was really just teasing, which is so danged hard to convey sometimes. I've lurked at the Doyle/Macdonald message board I know that he knows what he's talking about when it comes to cold and how to deal with it.

#9 ::: Connie ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2004, 11:58 AM:

Why do furnaces invariably wait until the coldest day of the year to misbehave? (Stress, I suppose... but don't you think they'd have gotten enough workout in previous weeks?)

#10 ::: sennoma ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2004, 12:17 PM:

Portland just had a week of the worst weather in 10 years (it snowed for four whole days, and the temperature dropped to an arctic 18F!!). I was charmed to discover that Portlanders change their usual "have a nice day" to "stay warm" in bad weather.

Y'all stay warm, now.

#11 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2004, 12:30 PM:

Having to wear a hat and gloves in Portland was kind of shocking. But just so we know it really doesn't hate us, Portland was back up to normal winter temps (mid 40s) yesterday.

Last night, I skipped the treadmill in favor of my summer routine, four miles around the local Intel plant.

#12 ::: Lois Fundis ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2004, 01:31 PM:

The furnace crisis is abating.

Hope that means it's fixed, or will be soon. Thinking warm thoughts for you.

#13 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2004, 01:34 PM:

I remember snow one May 14 in Amherst, Massachusetts, when I was in grad school at UMass/Amherst.

I remember driving Boston, Mass, to Portland, Or, through a famously bad blizzard. The van heater died when he went below -30 wind chill. My passengers and I debated burning the seat cushion stuffing for warmth. White outs. 720 degree skids. By the time I arrived and delivered my passengers, I had to check into a hospital for Pneumonia. I recall that first hit from the oxygen mask. Instant springtime in my lungs!

My wife got tired of Edinburgh, Scotland, winters, farher north than Moscow. So she moved her teaching career to Nassau, Bahamas. Then to Sydney, Australia.

I admit to phoning my father in Rhode Island, wind chill far below -10 this week, so say that it was 80 degrees here in sunny Southern California.

BTW, per the Articles hotlink to the Periodic Table of Mathematicians, I have diligently created 100 or so web pages tied to a master page: the Periodic Table of Mystery Authors, at:

Unlike the previous thread about the Periodic Table of Desserts (the issue not being the IDEA, which can't be copyrighted, but the many, many perhaps accidental specific identities of text and layout from my Analog publication of "The Periodic Table of Aliments") I have written permission from Professor Erich Friedman for using his graphic design and GIFs. He is a very talented mathematician himself, and says that he shall add 30 or so of my "interesting" numbers to his "What is Special About this Number?" page which otherwise does NOT take submissions or give attribution. It never hurts to ask permission!

I plan on sending a 1-page version to Alfred Hitchcock's Mysery Magazine, because of the prominently first element: H = Alfred Hitchcock! Perfect cover, eh?

#14 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2004, 01:42 PM:

I did one better this weekend; I went to Santa Monica and a friend took pix with her digital camera. Us on a beach, in shorts, feet touching the (really awfully cold - it's winter - duh!) water, and holding the front page of the Sunday LA Times. We then emailed the pictures to our parents, in the Chicagoland area.

How like a serpents tooth...

#15 ::: John Farrell ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2004, 01:56 PM:

Should've posted my earlier comment here, Teresa.

Bacon & Egg Soup time, sounds like....

#16 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2004, 02:13 PM:

I have great sympathy, Teresa. I know that locally, furnace problems in midwinter are treated as hotline emergencies.

Hope you warm up soon.

(Though as a Winnipegger, I am not allowed to make commants about people like Sennoma who live in places where they can speak 18F as "Arctic"... because soem Winnipeggars are violently envious, and the rest of us are all too smug about our bitter cold and sand-strewn drifts).

#17 ::: Greg van Eekhout ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2004, 02:32 PM:

I'll generate a lot of sincere sympathy for people dealing with cold weather if they agree to generate a lot of sincere sympathy for us Arizonans come July.

Oh, hell, I'll generate sincere sympathy even if they don't.


#18 ::: Kris Hasson-Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2004, 02:38 PM:

Sennoma and Stefan Jones: when I was growing up here in Portland in the 70s, we regularly had snow storms and icy conditions in the winter. So it doesn't seem strange to me, it's just that we've had unusually mild weather the last five or six years. (The summers seem to be getting warmer, as well.) The Willamette River used to freeze hard enough that you could drive a Model T across it at Portland, in the 1900s. (Of course that was before the taming of the banks by the seawall at Waterfront Park.)

#19 ::: Renatus ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2004, 02:53 PM:

I don't usually do aught but read the comments here, but darn it - this thread is making me homesick for Portland. *sniff* The 60+ F weather here in the Bay Area is driving my sense of what is right mad. Krishna on a toasting fork, it's winter, and I'm not that far south!

Hope the heater issue is resolved quickly, Teresa.

#20 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2004, 03:04 PM:

Greg, if you think 110 degrees at 0% humidity is as bad as 99 on both, I think you have experienced but one of these. Nonetheless I will gensym for you when you are baking and dessicating there in the trackless treeless wastelands,* even as I slowly boil alive here in New Jersey.

It took me a while to understand the concept of a swamp cooler...which anywhere around here would make your place hotter, not cooler. (Not really hotter, but anything that raises the humidity is a Bad Thing.)

*Yes, I know Arizona isn't quite as lifeless as the moon. Hyperbole intended as humor.

#21 ::: Kathryn Cramer ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2004, 03:53 PM:

Caitlin Blasdell's was out yesterday. She couldn't come out to lunch because she was waiting for the furnace man.

We were so disgusted with our furnace outages last year, that we've now got a woodstove installed in the livingroom.

#22 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2004, 06:35 PM:

Greg Van Eekhout wrote: "I'll generate a lot of sincere sympathy for people dealing with cold weather if they agree to generate a lot of sincere sympathy for us Arizonans come July."

I'll do you one better: I expect to be visiting Arizona this July. You may commence transmitting sincere sympathy at any time.

#23 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2004, 06:44 PM:

As a kid, I spent several summers in Scottsdale visiting my grandparents. They did have a pool, of course, but the pool water, without any need for artificial heating, was usually about 90F. If the pool was much colder than that, it felt cold when you jumped in!

Of course, that was when it was 110F or the shade.

I suspect that air conditioning failures there during the summer were at similar levels of urgency as furnace failures are in Boston in the winter. (It's pretty cold here today.)

#24 ::: Dave Kuzminski ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2004, 07:25 PM:

Back in the 70s, I wintered over twice in Alaska in the Anchorage area as a favor to my Uncle Sam. We had a fire in the barracks in the fall that was fortunately put out by the water main it was under. Our floor was flooded with an inch of water which we spent a day draining, mopping, and squeegeeing until it was dry. Little did we know that some of the water had seeped into the old linoleum.

Winter came and the temperature hit -60 F on one night. When I woke in the morning, I found a two-foot diameter sheet of ice where the water had risen from the linoleum and then frozen in my room about six feet from the radiator which was on full blast. The only good thing was that I could pick up that puddle and carry it out.

#25 ::: Mark D. ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2004, 07:49 PM:

ooooh! Bacon & Egg Soup! Would it be improper to ask for a quick recipie? (8 and dropping here in SE Mass....)

#26 ::: BSD ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2004, 08:11 PM:

I bet that most of you didn't know the humidity level can go above 100 (seeing as its a % of saturation, one wonders how this happens, but FL weather reports will sometimes report it as such).

It's really annoying when nothing is ever dry -- including you.

#27 ::: PiscusFiche ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2004, 08:22 PM:

I assume that if you had a fireplace, you'd be camping out in front of it. Failing that, I will tell you that I know candles work pretty well in mass quantities, but they will also make your walls super dingy if you have to rely on them for too long.

(Story time: Dead of winter. Middle of Utah. In BYU approved housing, horror of horrors. My roommate and I happened to live in a 3 bedroom apartment in Raintree Complex in Provo, Utah. Two of the three bedrooms have minimal outside walls, and one of them has three outside walls. Guess which one we were in?? Yeup. Needless to say, our roommates were deaf to our pleas that our room was too cold to sleep properly--we were shivering uncontrollably under blankets--and they refused to let us touch the thermostat. We tried sneaking out in the middle of the night to switch it up, but of course, we'd catch hell in the morning. So we took to lighting about twenty candles and doing our homework by that light, and of course, they also warmed up the room in no time. We were naturally very scrupulous about blowing them all out before going to sleep, but when we left, we had to scrub the walls for half a day because of all the candle smoke gunk.)

Best of luck getting your furnace fixed.


BTW, Utah and Alberta, while getting nowhere near as hot as Arizona or parts of Texas in the middle of summer, still can be pretty toasty and arid, so they have the best of both worlds. So to speak. Ass-freezing winters, and ferocious summers.

#28 ::: DonBoy ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2004, 09:52 PM:

I'm hours behind on this, but: DO NOT light the oven for heat and leave the oven open if you have gas heat! Seriously. Pilot blows out during the night, you could like die.

#29 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2004, 09:53 PM:

This is NOT racist, but -- there may be genetic differences in humans, by evolution, regarding climate.

Ancient DNA Mutations Permitted Humans To Adapt To Colder Climates, Researchers Find

Irvine, Calif., Jan. 12, 2004 -- How did early humans who migrated from Africa survive in the colder climates of Europe, Asia and the New World? According to a new UC Irvine study, it may be the same reason some people today are more prone to obesity, Alzheimer's disease and the effects of aging.

In the Jan. 9, 2004, issue of Science, a UCI research team reports that key mutations in the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) of human cells may have helped our migrating ancestors adapt to more northerly climates, and ultimately link people with this ancestral history to specific diseases....

#30 ::: FranW ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2004, 09:58 PM:

There's another solution to a house with no heat: Get on a plane and go visit somebody (like, oh, say, ME) in someplace warm (like, oh, say, New Zealand).


(I've decided January is my "month to invite everyone I know to NZ, so we can host a big SF party and I'll get to hear people speaking normal English for a change. :-D )

#31 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2004, 11:31 PM:

I just want to know if the "FranW" posting above, from New Zealand, is acquainted with "PBoyens" and "PJackson".

Hey, if you're from New Zealand and you have that name, you gotta expect that people are going to ask.

(Signed, "Grew Up In Arizona Named 'Hayden.'")

#32 ::: cheem ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2004, 03:04 AM:

It's been a weird winter here out west. One week ago, we had record cold... -12 celsius. Today, record heat... 12 degrees celsius. The snow's supposed to start again next Wednesday. Considering that this is Vancouver and it usually snows, like, once a year, I'd say this is bizarre.

Oh, and FranW, convey my regards and appreciation to PeterJ (yeah, you're never going to hear the end of this).

#33 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2004, 11:57 AM:

Greg - Ugh - I'll happily send you sympathy in August. I'm grateful we only hit 90 degrees regularly up here in summer. 110 just sounds painful. At least at 90 you can still dance right under the sun in the peak of the afternoon (If, that is, you're slightly insane, and Oysterband is playing...)

#34 ::: Michael ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2004, 12:34 PM:

You can get Buddha's hand citrons at Whole Foods down here (DC), so I assume they'd have them or at least be able to get them for you in the City. They're mostly just funny looking lemons, but this certainly says nothing against them!

#35 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2004, 01:20 PM:

This happened to me last year, on the coldest day of winter, natch ...

One thing that helped: we have an insulated hot water tank with an electrical immersion heater. Normally it's heated by the central heating boiler (aka furnace in American), but we can use the electric heater as a booster. When the boiler crapped out, I switched the immersion heater on and used it to fill the bathtub with near-boiling water. The bathroom being in the core of the apartment, with no exterior walls or windows, all that heat had to go somewhere -- it took the edge off the chill in the building structure enough that the weedy little electric fan heaters could raise the air temperature.

(Edinburgh may be north of Moscow, but it usually stays above zero celsius ... except that about once every two or three years it zips down to minus fifteen or lower, before you factor in the wind chill. Not as bad as, say, Toronto, but more than bad enough to get your attention the first time it happens.)

#36 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2004, 02:02 PM:

Charlie --

Toronto is at -21 C just now, -32 with the wind chill, a lovely clear sunny day with 50% humidity.

Actual winter, what we used to call 'hat weather' when I was a kid in Ottawa. Quite a rarity here in the warm south.

#37 ::: FranW ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2004, 02:56 PM:

No, Patrick, I'm afraid the most famous people I know would be, um, you and Teresa :-) (My partner L-J and I attended VP V) We haven't even seen the second or third LOTR movies yet.

I'm the Yank transplant to NZ; L-J's the almost-native, but neither of us know anyone famous here.

#38 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2004, 03:30 PM:

I'd just like to go to New Zealand, Fran. Saw a video tour of it with the president of NZ.

In Kansas City, We're having another wierd winter, no extreme cold (Jim sez to SHUT UP you'll jinx us), and unfortunately not much precip - our water department, which starts with water off the Mighty Missouri, is getting worried. Today it's supposed to get into the 50s. I wore my Birkenstocks in to work the day after New Year's Day, it was over 60! But it's just as likely to go down to the 30s and be moist in a day or two, but what precip depends on the temperature.

#39 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2004, 06:24 PM:

Charlie Stross:

You are entirely correct in saying: "Edinburgh may be north of Moscow, but it usually stays above zero celsius ... except that about once every two or three years it zips down to minus fifteen or lower, before you factor in the wind chill."

I've been there several time (wonderful pro-intellectual city!). Once it seemed to be a suburb of Antarctica. One other time was an extreme heat wave. I wandered the Grassmarket, sweating, in a short-sleeved shirt and pants, and had to rush to a pub -- the temperature was roughly 90 degrees farenheit. The Los Angeles Times weather section had predicted tens of degrees colder, so my wife had completely wrong clothing. Good thing for Marks & Sparks.

You add: "Not as bad as, say, Toronto, but more than bad enough to get your attention the first time it happens." I have equally mixed experiences in Canada, thermally speaking.

Which reminds me. I had a publication of one of my short stories in 1970 in a California newspaper which reads today as unquestionable Cyberpunk, and pre-Singularity. It included people modifying their brain function with high-temperature superconductors to get high, and taking genetically engineered viruses to make them super-sensitive to thermal fluctuations, and then going into swimming pools which had temperature modulated by the audio tracks of music.

That's our kind of party, eh?

#40 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2004, 08:39 PM:

Patrick: Does that mean you're coming to Westercon? Which is in Arizona this year. If not, can your arrange your trip to coincide with it so you can attend?

I'm so looking forward to Westercon. I *love* hot weather. Phoenix in July, ahhhh.

Currently, I'm freezing my tuchis off in Iowa, but, hey, it's been beatifully sunny today so I haven't complained. Much.

MKK--misses hot weather and thunderstorms from Oklahoma, but not much else

#41 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2004, 09:44 PM:

I'm not going to Westercon; I'm (tentatively) planning to visit my parents and a few friends in Tucson at the far end of July, and then snag a ride to San Diego Comic Con. Teresa may be with me. Detailed plans have yet to be made.

I adore Edinburgh, one of the most fascinating cities I've ever visited (twice). For that matter, I adore Scotland in general, Hume to Burns to Irvine Welsh, with stops on the way for Iain Banks, Ken MacLeod, and the fabulous Alasdair Gray. I imagine my unrefined and underinformed romanticism about the place probably resembles that of all those tourists who think living in San Francisco or New Orleans must be unalloyed bliss. Oh well.

Fran! You're that Fran! (strikes forehead with heel of hand) Hello!

For Graydon, who notes that Toronto is at -21C right now: that figures, since NYC is at -16C (3 degrees Fahrenheit for Americans). With lots of excitingly blowing fine, crystalline snow! To step outside is to instantly discover even the most microscopic gaps in one's all-over wraps. I'm sitting seven feet from a closed window in a new metal-and-rubber-seal windowpane, and I can feel its presence on my back like someone dropped an ice cube down my shirt.

#42 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2004, 09:52 PM:

Mark D: Teresa gave the recipe a while back in a post here. I think you can search for it. Ah. Yes, you can, and in fact here it is.

#43 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2004, 10:57 PM:

Cheez, Patrick, I told you it was that Fran. (Hi, Fran!) She's from the States. LJ's the Kiwi we got to show all the northern constellations to, during one of VP's traditional late-night hikes down to the beach.

It's the coolest thing in the world. There's this bridge over a tidal channel that runs between Nantucket Sound and Sengekontacket Pond, so the water's always running one direction or the other. The turbulence around the bridge pilings disturbs the little luminous ctenophores (a.k.a. moonjellies) in the water, so on a clear dark night you can stand there on the bridge with the whole Milky Way overhead, and the water below you lit by momentary constellations of tiny flashing ctenophores. Then you walk the little distance to the beach proper, where in a good year there'll be enough planets for you to see how they're strung along an invisible line that passes through the astrological constellations: look, it's the plane of the ecliptic!

Somehow this is even niftier if there's someone there to show it to, so my two favorite visits to the beach were the year I helped Mary Heneghan figure out where to look to see the jellyfish and the Milky Way (she has Retinitis Pigmentosa, and can only see in the center of her field of vision, so she can't find things by scanning), and the year we got to show LJ where Andromeda and Cassiopeia and the Pleiades and all the rest of the famous constellations were in the sky.

This past year the ctenophores were a little sparse around the bridge pilings, so I wound up wading out into the Sound (I'd been drinking Jameson's out of Patrick's hip flask), where I discovered that if you splooshed around in the water with your feet, the ctenophores would light up around you. Laura Mixon renamed me Dances with Jellyfish. I'm not going to say anything about skiffy's traditional gender assignments of the sciences, but the guys were the ones who stood on their dignity, up on the beach, and went on talking about astronomy.

(But I digress.)

We missed you, Fran.

#44 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2004, 11:14 PM:

I just experimentally walked outside in my dress and duster, to get a feel for what the weather reports say are near-record lows. Officially it's -2 right now, with wind chill potentially taking it down to -25. It's kind of neat, if you don't stay out too long.

This morning at Tor, the first thing I did was help Claire seal up her office window with bubble wrap and packing tape. Then I did the same for Patrick. Constance had already done the same to hers. On a bitterly cold morning with strong gusting winds, the Flatiron Building can be an interesting place to work.

Night before last, when we left to go home, the street-level winds at the prow first plucked my hat off, then peeled my big scarf off from around my neck (I retrieved both with the help of nearby pedestrians), then forced me to bend nearly double in order to make it round the northern point.

#45 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2004, 11:21 PM:

Kip, I'll note that three eggs might be better than four, and two eggs and a packet of gelatin might be better than three or four eggs. The other thing I'll note is that that recipe makes it all too clear where I first learned real cooking.

That's a soup guaranteed to raise your core temperature.

#47 ::: cd ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2004, 08:01 AM:

Chicken soup (serves four)

1.2 liters water
2-3 chicken breast fillets
1 hen stock cube
2 small carrots
1 leek
2 red/green/yellow peppers (the vegetable also known as paprika)
1 can of maize grains (the edible part of corn cobs, i.e.)
2 garlic cloves

Take frozen fillets, let them thaw somewhat (they become easier to cut); at the same time, boil water with parsley, hen stock, and some salt.
Cut the carrots into thin slices, dice the peppers, and cut around 10 cm (4") of the leek to fine shreds (lenghtwise). Cut the chicken fillets to thin slices.
Put everything but the leek and press the garlic cloves in the water. Let simmer for 5-6 minutes.
Add leeks and maize, let simmer for a few minutes more. Flavor with tabasco and soy sauce to taste.
We have had success adding a habaf1ero (cut very fine), too.

Heats you up inside a treat, it does (even without the habaņero).

#48 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2004, 06:18 PM:

James, that was great. I lived for a year in Miami, FL, and was amazed to see the same heavy coats on sale in their department stores that we wore here..... I THINK that winter it got to 50 degrees at its coldest and I never wore more than a sweater or jacket. The locals all thought I was insane. I thought they were....

And thank you, CD, that sounds like great soup to try. Nothing in it for my picky, picky husband to fuss over (he's mostly a meat-atarian). If it ever gets really cold here again....

#49 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2004, 06:54 PM:

Teresa, what in gods' names is a duster? I've seen many references to such a garment, and the term remains without referent to me. I'm sure I've probably seen one, but I have no idea what it is.

#50 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2004, 08:56 PM:

Patrick --

I blush to acknowledge that I just closed the window, though it's only about -18 C here at the moment. (Old rads, new furnance, no control over the thermostat. It gets a bit much, even when the exterior walls are cold to the touch.)

I'm very glad I don't have to deal with the Bay Street wind tunnel; every now and again one sees someone going unhappily backwards, and I'm pretty sure the corner of the Flatiron Building is worse.

#51 ::: Erik V. Olson ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2004, 09:41 PM:

Truly deep cold, esp. on a windless, cloudless night, is truly a wonder. It's a deadly wonder, if you fail to take care, but with the right gear, you can survive, and see and hear and smell in ways you never thought possible.

Those failing to understand Jim's point about boiling water should understand that it's the dry nights that get the coldest. Humid air can only drop to the dew point, then, the moisture has to condense out before the temp can fall further. A humid house will stay warmer for longer, but it is hard on the drywall. But, hey, bad drywall beats freezing to death.

#52 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2004, 04:31 AM:

Russians are said to be very cluey about ways to keep the heat in. Does anyone remember some old emigre tales about 'what we did in the old country', or 'Cold! You call this cold?"

Erik: Out in the deep cold of moonless nighttime in the desert in Central Australia, under a huge sky just glowing with stars & galaxies & Magellenic Clouds out of darkness ... one of my precious memories.
Nigel Kennedy plays an encore that evokes it very well indeed. Just wish I could remember its name.
It is said that many Australian Aboriginal 'constellations' are actually the dark patches in the Milky Way - one is shaped like an Emu.

Xopher: dusters can be either rags you've saved or specially made soft cloths you use to dust your shelves, knick-knacks, etc. Don't know why you'd wear one outside with a dress, tho :)

Quentin Crisp is said to have claimed that "after [a few] years, the dust doesn't get any worse". After dealing with older people who've been unable to dust for several years (& unable to perceive it's necessary), I would dispute that, tho' there are plateaux.

#53 ::: Nao ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2004, 06:47 AM:

Xopher, Epacris: I don't know if this is what Teresa means, but a duster is also a lightweight coat you wear when riding in one of those newfangled automobiles. It keeps the dust off your clothes.

#54 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2004, 08:57 AM:

Xopher, a duster is a long loose lightweight coat. When you see pictures of early motorists, it's what they're wearing. The garment of mine I was trying to describe isn't precisely a duster, but that's the nearest equivalent. Imagine a loose, unlined cotton jacket that comes down to my ankles.

Graydon, when I read the words "Bay Street wind tunnel", my face and ears hurt for a moment of pure kinesthetic memory. Yesterday morning, as we were crossing the street at the Flatiron Building, we got hit with a particularly strong gust of wind. The pedestrian a few feet ahead of me in the crosswalk was surprised into letting out a cry of protest, which I entirely understood. Meanwhile, I was checking to make sure I hadn't lost my scarves and hat, because when that wind hit me, I felt like I didn't have them on.

Epacris: Claire Eddy, one of my fellow editors, has a degree in Medieval History and a strong aversion to suffering. When the weather gets this cold, she puts on her tam, and her scarves, and her heavy gloves, and her mother's big old fur coat with its broad collar; and over all that throws a long heavy blue wool cloak with a capacious hood. I always tell her she looks like a prosperous merchant's wife from the 13th or 14th century. One of her neighbors in her building, a Russian emigre, has a different reaction. He keeps asking her, "Are you sure you are not from Russia?"

Nao: Exactly so.

Oh, and anent earlier conversations: Here's Fran. She's the one with the blonde ponytail.

#55 ::: Andrew Willett ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2004, 12:24 PM:

Another way of looking at dusters: those long cowboy coats. The coats are split up the back, so they can part to cover your legs while you're sitting in the saddle. (Actually, here's a much better picture, but I kind of have a thing for cowboys, so I had to acknowledge the first one.)

#56 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2004, 02:21 PM:

So, Andrew Willett, do the featured characters in the Matrix movies wear a mutant combination of long cowboy coats, dusters, Men in Black style, and Starship Troopers pseudo-neo-nazi leatherwear? I dare not change from my pajamas until I know...

Speaking of costumes, when "Real Genius" was shot at my alma mater, Caltech, the costumer was taken around campus. Baffled by the anti-stylish outfits of the geeks and freaks, she said: "Do these guys get dressed in the dark or what?"

I just five minutes ago updated my 300K webpage
on the decade 2000-2010

to include new details of 2004, 2005, and 2006 Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror films and TV shows. I am "semiblogular" (to coin a term), in that I am forced to update several of my 800+ web pages every day, so as not to slip from the Top 10 on Google in each of several categories. And I've fallen behind. Some of my pages have slipped to #11 for their keyword. For instance, "Mystery Fiction." For "Science Fiction" am stuck this week at exactly #10.

#57 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2004, 07:08 PM:

Thanks for the description of dusters. I knew it was some kind of overgarment, but couldn't think why Teresa'd be wearing one.

Andrew, I like the first picture better too. So there's the cowboy WITH the duster, and the duster alone...where's the pic of the dusterless cowboy? :-)

#58 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2004, 08:05 PM:

Teresa -

Bay Street is much better than it was for wind, I think becuase of the wall of forty story condos going up along the waterfront. (Reason number seven thousand, six hundred, and two to stake the OMB out on an anthill.)

Though I was getting blown off the sidewalk, one place out by the airport in early December. Quite impressive when the aircraft are tacking -- the nose isn't pointed where they're going, you can see differential flaps being applied, and the yaw is still visible, despite the computer's best efforts.

#59 ::: Erik V. Olson ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2004, 10:17 PM:

Given that the Flatiron is a Chicago School building, I'm not surprised at the wind effects. The Chicago Proper version is the IBM building in downtown Chicago, sited at a point where the Chicago River curves slightly south. So, winds get to roar down the river, focused by skyscrapers on both sides, then, the river turns, the wind does not, and slams into the plaza surrounding the building.

During the winter, they'll put staunchions and lines across the plaza, so people can pull themselves into the building.

Chicagoans aren't big on hats with brims, or umbrellas. Too much lift.

Smaller type (our default)
Larger type
Even larger type, with serifs

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