I’ve been saving these up for a while, so here goes! (I’ll spare you the boring stats of how cold it’s been here… I think pretty much everyone has been dealing with crappy weather of one kind or another!)
Teresa’s Top Ten: You know it’s cold when…
10. Pushing the clutch in on the Pathfinder (to start it) is like doing leg press exercises… for one leg.
9. My front teeth have been aching a bit lately (as if I had braces), and I couldn’t figure out why until I went for a walk with friends. It was the cold making them ache! (One of my friends said he’s had this too.)
8. Donning of long johns* becomes regular practice in October, but these days, it’s double long johns and triple socks, always (two plain, one wooly).
7. I went for 4 consecutive days to work wearing wind pants over double long johns and fleece pants. Mind you, that might just say more about my work place or my sense of style than the temperature!
6. I can easily run out to prestart my vehicle in just the long-sleeved thin shirt, turtleneck, and wool sweater I’m wearing. As long as the wind isn’t blowing. (And yes, I am one of the poor saps who still doesn’t have remote start.)
5. Everybody knows not to touch your tongue to cold metal… but fingers on a cold doorknob, I keep forgetting about that! Ouch!
4. I can gauge how cold it is by how long I go humpin’ down the road! (i.e. vehicles have “square tires” for the first couple of km when you start driving. The colder it is, the longer it takes to round them out. :))
3. Freezers feel really WARM! I keep wondering if they are working properly… and they are.
2. The house furnace can’t keep up, resulting in… an unpleasantly cold toilet seat.
1. When looking though the back of the vehicle for something, I caught myself sloshing the little bottle of gasline antifreeze to see if it was still liquid! Sheesh! That stuff is NEVER supposed to freeze!
Stay warm everybody! :)
*I am a bit of a “long john connoisseur” (but not the snooty kind). I have tested several types, and have my favourites… but they all have a place in the world! :) Hmmm… maybe I will do a long john review in a future post.
Happy New Year! So, we have passed solstice and swapped out our old calendars, so Old Man Winter has seen fit to hit us with a vengeance! He has been a little hard on us lately, dishing out temperatures as low as -43 C. We had a snappy little cold snap that lasted several days (see below). For those who don’t know, that kind of cold — anything approaching -40 — is extremely hard on vehicles and machinery.
Our fun began when we noticed how rough the car was starting, despite being plugged in. Let me offer an explanation for my southern friends and followers: “Plugging in a vehicle” actually means plugging in a heater of some sort — usually an engine block heater — which gobbles up electricity in order to attempt to keep the vehicle “warm.” I know I’m overusing “quotes” and I don’t care! “Warm” is a relative thing. When it’s well below zero, the oil which is meant to lubricate the engine and allow it to turn freely and not grind itself into pieces gets really thick. When it’s -40C, it’s most jello than liquid. This makes the engine very slow to turn over and your battery has to work extra hard to get it to turn over enough times to start. it’s a blast, really, to count how many times the engine will roll over before starting — I think the record for my car is 12 times. But it started! So, back to the story.
It was about -25C or so, and although the car had been plugged in, it sounded really rough starting. This led us to think there might be something wrong with the block heater. The obvious weak points are the power cord, plug in, and extension cord, but these all checked out fine. Since my husband is such a snazzy, smart guy, he tested the resistance in the circuit — seemed fine, but this isn’t an indicator of power flowing, just that there is no clear break in it somewhere. A further test was needed, to check how much current was flowing. I helped by holding ends of wires from the multimeter (a device for testing circuits) to the extension cord end and the block heater plug… not the kind of thing you should EVER try to do if you don’t know what you’re doing! Suffice it to say, we discovered that the block heater must be dead.
Drat. Well, what can you do? Start finding out how to get a new one, or look into buying an oil pan heater instead. Oil pan heaters are easier to install than block heaters, and apparently work just as well, or even better, since they heat the oil directly and keep it from becoming jello. Mmmm! 10W-30 jello, my favourite! (Just kidding!)
Long story somewhat shortened, we couldn’t get one very easily. We would have had to buy it over the phone from Yellowknife and get it shipped in by plane, or get a friend in High Level to buy one and then find someone driving north who could bring it. We brainstormed what to do… and then I remembered that I have a buddy heater! It had belonged to Peace Air, before they went out of business, and it’s a great little heater. Pilots put these heaters inside the engine cowlings on planes to keep the engines warm, and they produce quite a bit of heat for their size — not as intense as a hair dryer, but not far off. The best part of all is that they are meant to operate outside, for hours, unsupervised. Perfect.
So, the trick was to figure out how to get the heat to the engine. We quickly figured it would work pretty slick to slide the heater under the car and put cardboard around the bottom of the car to keep the heat in. Well, when we got to it, we ended up making use of the plentiful firewood and piling snow around the car on the sides. We tried to position the heater directly under the oil pan, and considering that the it’s not quite as cold out (only -25C) and there isn’t much space below the car to heat, I think it’s going to work!
So, that’s just one of many adventures we had over the Christmas season! The others involve repairing a block heater plug in -25C (wearing gloves as much as possible!), a malfunctioning defrost heater (or any sort of internal heat), and a truck that wouldn’t start. It might be the starter solenoid, or the starter, or maybe it just couldn’t face the -40′s.
This blog post is dedicated to my friend Jim, and ALL the men and women who maintain our winter roads — grader operators, plow truck drivers, sanding truck drivers, and all the other operators! You rock. I know you work hard to keep our roads passable, and believe me, we “regular motorists” appreciate it! Take care out there.
I know I’m not like everyone else — okay, no one is. Let me explain. I voluntarily quit a very good job to start my own business and make no money. Once the business started making money, I decreased my business activity and took on a new job — and had to move way up North, to a village of 1,000 people, over 1400 km (nearly 900 miles) from the nearest Starbucks. Oh, unless there’s one in Yellowknife — then it’s only 630 km (390 miles). Nevermind Starbucks — I am 430 km (270 miles) from the nearest clothing store, shoe store, or place where one could buy make-up (in Hay River, NWT).
But I don’t mind, because:
A: I don’t buy clothes unless I really need them, because I’ve worn out what I’ve got — it might be time for new skidoo boots this year, and
B: I’ll show you my shoe collection at right (not all of them, mind you… just the ones I wear 95% of the time), and
C: I don’t wear make-up. I mean I’ve worn mascara about 4 times in the last 4 years.
So, like I said, I’m not like everyone else. I am not a major hippie or tree-hugger — okay, ya, I hug trees — I just don’t like a lot of girlie things. I object to make-up primarily on the grounds that women are beautiful without it.
I may, however, be rethinking my views on make-up slightly. Here’s my thinking.
Everyone ages. You know who suffers the most, in some ways? Hollywood stars. I feel kind of sorry for them, in particular when it comes to aging. They are immortalized in their youth — 99% of them — when they are at their prime, young, beautiful, fit and lovely. Then, they age. But everyone who watches re-runs, or their favourite movies over and over again, is shocked to see them age. They don’t look anything like they should — like the young and pretty image we all have burned on our corneas! Admit it, you have images of the first James Kirk, ahem, William Shatner, burned on your corneas, don’t you? (Okay, maybe it’s just me.) But look at him now!? Gads.
So, it’s not easy being green, or being famous and getting older. But at least women have make-up to turn to. I mean, Nichelle Nichols has undergone the same time frame of aging, and look at her.
Okay, maybe it’s an unfair comparison! In any case, women, perhaps, have decided to take matters into their own hands and do what they can, using nature, originally, to enhance their beauty. I think some of the first make-up was invented by the ancient Egyptians, was it not? Certainly black eyeliner was!
So, I stumbled on a website, makeupgeek.com, because the geek part drew me in (that’s probably why I even stumbled on it, what with Google controlling what I see…). “What’s geeky about make-up?” I thought. Well, the girls who are featured (or perhaps own it, run it, whatever) are really into make-up — for effect (no major objections here), for artistic expression (which I approve of), and for the fun of it, too, (which I wholeheartedly approve of). So, hmm. Make-up might not be so bad after all. In particular when it uses natural, non-animal harming ingredients. I mean, putting make-up into bunnies’ eyes is horrible by anyone’s standards.
Maybe I’m not so different at all! I just had a phase of a make-up free life… maybe I’ll play around with it a little in the future. Now if only there was a store where I could buy some! :P
P.S. Men, there are things you can do, too — that we can all do, I think. Try not to be chronically overtired. Drink plenty of water. Try not to rub your face unnecessarily. Eat living, non-processed food as much as possible. Get enough sleep (did I mention that already?) :)
Welcome to Movember, peeps! It’s the month of inappropriate and unpleasant facial hair (unpleasant for those of us who might be kissing those mustachioed men). If I can be so bold as to ask — can we keep it PG, folks? No porn star stuff, okay? I cringe at that slimy look! Let’s go for the tasteful and moderate look of Col. Chris Hadfield (one of my personal heroes).
Do you know what else happens in November? It’s NaNoWriMo — National Novel Writing Month, which is actually international! So, I’m getting my creative juices flowing again and cracking my knuckles over the keyboard.
Speaking of reading and writing, I read something interesting yesterday. It was posted in response to a story about the latest troubles at the Fukushima nuclear reactors. Apparently, some radioactive water was spilled into the ocean. The article was extremely well-written and described what had happened at the reactor since the tsunami. The author explained that the radioactivity was nothing to be worried about, which was interesting because that’s the exact opposite of what many other people are saying. It makes me wonder how two opposite views occur — the scientist in me says that only one can be correct. Who has the real facts? The language barrier complicates the issue; for those of us who don’t speak Japanese, whatever info we get is always second-hand. The philosopher in me knows that both sides can be correct in some ways, and I can usually easily see both sides. I’m sometimes surpised when others can’t — everyone believes they have the facts and they are right, dammit!
What an interesting world of contrast we live in! So many issues have two opposite, arguing sides. We can celebrate men’s health issues, the freedom and thrill of writing a book, and spend time remembering those who laid down their lives in war, all at the same time. I wonder if Movember is as big a deal in the US, where the government seems intent on proliferating Remembance Day. Do countries at war still worry about the health of their citizens? Even if the US isn’t at war, it does have a much bigger war machine than Canada. How come we make heroic efforts to save one person’s life yet premeditate on taking others? How can we care so deeply about our pets and eat the meat of animals not cared for at all? How can one person passionately argue against the logic of voting while enjoying the benefits of a democracy? (Fantastic video here.)
Yes, it’s a world of contrast, and I’m still figuring out how to live in it. I have a sympathetic ear for conspiracy theories, but when I heard that sunscreen causes cancer, I just didn’t know what to do with that information. At times, I can ignore that sort of info, and stay happy in my bubble. (Those of you who know me well may have seen the bubble.) Other times, I have to take it in and try to process it. Do I have to choose a side on these contrasting issues? No. I don’t have to always be an activist, and I definitely want to disregard the things that are most fear-inducing. I don’t like the way they makes me feel — sunscreen causes cancer?!?! The bastards! Now what? UV rays cause cancer, too! So, I’m supposed to just stay in the shade? Or never go outdoors? Forget it!
So, perhaps it’s just me conserving the environment of my bubble, to ignore some things, but it’s what I have to do to maintain my happiness. I mean, why not ignore it if it can’t be proven either way? On the whole, I think all this contrast is caused by free will — we have a lot of it, and I wouldn’t want to do without it, so I guess I had better learn to enjoy the contrast. I really try not to get wrapped up in the drama of arguments with people who aren’t interested in seeing another point of view (which is a lot of people, I’m learning). In fact, I’ve created a new personal rule for internet usage:
Never read the comments.
This helps a lot — most comments, whether on Facebook or blogs, are just not worth the time it takes to read them! I can easily spend 10-15 minutes reading comments by strangers that neither enlighten me nor contribute facts to an issue. I appreciate free speech, but that doesn’t mean I have to read it all. Okay, yeah, sometimes I break the rule, but hey, you know what they say about rules… :)
So, grow some fur on your face and I will try to remember not to make fun of you! :) It’s your choice to do so, just like everything else you do, and I won’t belittle you for any of it. Free will, baby! Roll up your sleeves and get hands-on with your life — it will get messy — just keep your dirty hands off of others’ lives, please. Thanks! :)
A few months ago, on one of my little adventures in the bush, I had an experience that I just can’t forget. I had decided to go for a walk to explore the bush along the edge of a clearing. The clearing was roughly square-shaped, and I walked along one full edge, intent on checking out the corner, which had some vague interest for me. As I walked, I was pleased to find an abundance of wild strawberries growing in the clearing! I stopped to pick a few, savouring their intense flavour. Along the way, I came across a little pile of cut firewood; someone was obviously going to come back for that some day. The bush was pretty thick, but to be honest, I wasn’t looking into it much. I was distracted by the strawberries.
As I got close to the corner, I could see that there was a little opening in the trees where a couple of them that had fallen down in a wind. With one more step, a flurry of activity erupted from the bush. Grouse — local people call them “chickens” — flew every which way, as though with that one step into the bush I had tripped an invisible laser-alarm, and they could not sit still. I hadn’t seen any of them until they all moved — their camouflage is excellent — and after they flew away only one remained.
This one, lone bird did the strangest thing, this thing that I cannot shake the memory of. It was crouched on the ground, among the fallen leaves, again invisible against the background. It shuffled forward and I could see it again, and it made the strangest sound — exactly like a puppy whimpering. It did it again, a little shuffle and a distinctive whimper. I couldn’t believe how much it sounded like a puppy. It did it a third time, which allowed me to reassure myself that’s exactly what I was hearing.
How strange, I thought, and then realized that there must be a nest of young ones nearby, not yet able to fly away to safety. I was pretty sure I knew where it was — to my left, behind a log and near the point I had seen all the adults fly away from. I was very tempted to walk over and take a look, but the pitiful display of this lone grouse made me hesitate and ultimately change my mind. It had intentionally stayed behind when the others flew away to sacrifice itself to this strange, upright predator. It drew attention to itself with its cries and movement, making sure I could both see and hear it, the pathetic whimper as if to say “eat me, I’m weak and defenseless — an easy meal.” I just couldn’t satisfy my curiosity — to find the nest and see the little ones — after what this adult bird had done for its young.
But not just for its young; for all the young that were in nests nearby. I knew from the number of adults that there must be at least three nests, and this one stayed behind to save the young of them all. You know, all around the world we see incredible acts of sacrifice by people for their children, but not as often for others’ children. I, for one, had never seen such a display first hand, of an animal so willing to die that it would call out to the predator to ensure its strategy of misdirection and ultimately, its sacrifice, would be successful.
There is not much I can say. It was humbling. That grouse showed intelligence, compassion and courage. And it’s just a bird, with a brain no larger than half a walnut. I guess courage, compassion and intelligence don’t have anything to do with brain size, but it does make me wonder if I have been letting myself off easy, not demanding much of myself lately. My idea of an act of courage these days is to go into a crowded room where I don’t know anyone. Compassion consists of smiling respectfully at strangers, whatever state they are in (i.e. sober or not, poor or not), and my intelligence has been primarily engaged in knitting and dreaming up floor plans for tiny houses. I think it might be time for another challenge. I think it might be time for an extreme compassion adventure! It might even be time for a sacrifice, and damn it, I had better not complain, because I’m pretty sure I won’t be whimpering on the ground, hoping the predator will eat me instead of the children nearby. Wow.