Sunday, January 18, 2009

Cars & Skates & Things That Freeze


I wish I'd had our camera ...

This afternoon, we were in St. Paul for some German-cultural presentation. Not really that great. Outside of the Landmark Center, there's an ice rink. This is, after all, Minnesota - it's a temporary installation for the season. On our way out, I suggested going ice skating. There was an immediate 'yes!' from Jr.Gopher #1 and an equally immediate 'no!' from Mr.Gopher. So, Jr.Gopher & I rented skates & hit the ice. This is not your XCel Energy Center Minnesota Wild ice; nor is it the U of M Gopher Women's Hockey ice. This is the 'no zamboni in sight' ice. No doubt it feels like regular pond ice does.

After a few terrified minutes, Jr. was getting the hang of it. After about 20 minutes or so, he'd progressed to "Look mom! I'm doing it all by myself!" Steve Yzerman he's not, but he was self-propelled and up right for about 5 minutes (= 30 feet). He was really thrilled. I think we've figured out what to get the boys for Christmas this year.

While we were skating, the weather was pleasant (I could have taken off my coat and just left my heavy pullover), and it was snowing. The idyllic fluffy snowflakes that are the kind where you can't help but notice that it's snowing. Just lovely.

On the Search for a Replacement Car:
I certainly can't say I'm getting a 'new car'. Ha ha. The Volvo fell through. The Subarus were pathetic. The patronizing boor was annoying. The VW salesman apparently is married to someone in the same department as I am @ the U. He also found me a great car. So, it looks like I'll be driving VW#5 next week. What a total pain finding a car has been. An amazing number of salesmen all looked dumbfounded at my list of criteria: manual, 4 doors, $5,000. It wasn't the price tag, it was the transmission which grossly limited the selection. Spending 2 weeks driving a rental automatic positively confirmed the fact that I require a stick shift.

Things That Freeze
Wednesday night: -25
Thursday morning: -25, windchill -40

Windchill: if someone tells you 'it was colder when I was young' - she isn't lying, she's just wrong. Global warming aside, the National Weather Service changed how they calculate windchill. Let's say it's 5F ... if the windchill in 1990 was -40, today it's -18. People here aren't quite up on the "it's not really dangerous until it's -50", without realizing it already is.
Wind Chill (ºF) = 35.74 + 0.6215T - 35.75(V^0.16) + 0.4275T(V^0.16)

Amusing tidbits of the weather, including:

If you're lucky, your car's heater can be set on "Blast From the Gaping Maw of Hell" and it thaws your orbs by the time you hit the highway. But I pass people whose teeth are chattering like wind-up gag dentures, and it's obvious their heaters are incapable of emitting anything warmer than penguin flatulence.

Now I know what was wrong wiht my car requirements: $5k, 4 door, stick shift, Gaping Maw of Hell Heater.

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