Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Reasons We Talk About The Weather

Originally Posted on January 20, 2008

I do envy the guys attending the Fiesta de Los Osos event in Tucson. Considering that weather is relative, I will take 64F temps in southern Arizona over this morning’s reading of -14F. Their lows have been in the thirties.

Saturday, the high temperature was 2F. There is a wind chill. I’ll stop there.

Psychologically, these temps put a damper on what really looks like a gorgeous day outside. However, this is the reality we live with in Minnesota. It gets cold. If it gets too cold for our tolerances, we stay home.

What happens when you have to fight “cabin fever” with conditions as frigid as yesterday? In my case, it’s a chance to study in my $170 textbook or Tuesday class, prepare for the oral scenario that evening, do laundry and catch up on my podcasts. Luckily, I will have the place to myself as my roommate has the misfortune of commuting across The Cities to work on this frigid day.

Over the years, my body adjusted appropriately as I live in climates unlike the native California one I grew up on. I try to measure what my tolerances are to how well I can handle the cold. Better still, at what temperature do I start sweating enough to take off a layer…or put on one? As a kid, I’d shiver when the temps dip below 50F. At that temperature, I can put on a lighter weight jacket for commuting.

Where I have trouble is when it dips below 20F. I have a good jacket that protects my torso, and I have pants now that will handle the cold better. However, I’ve been trying to figure out how to protect my head. This week, I bought a balaclava.

What is a balaclava? It is a Lycra face covering with holes for the bottom of your nose and mouth area for breathing. It is designed to keep your face protected from the extreme cold. This can also be combined in a head covering, which is the type I got from REI.

Normally, people with active lifestyles wear this sort of item. My closest friend, Scott, was wearing one as he rode his bike last winter around town. Indirectly, he gave me the idea to get one. If I have to commute via public transport in these temperatures, it makes sense to get one. Indeed, the balaclava worked for this purpose!

Yet, I would not wear it everywhere. If I have to stop off at a transfer to get something at a store or to eat dinner, I’d take the thing off. I wouldn’t dare walk into a place looking like Hannibal Lechter, for Pete’s sake! That’s what this balaclava reminds me of.

If this is the way to survive the worst of winter, then this thing’s a keeper!

Yet, I did not avoid getting into the cold altogether. My friends Joe and Steve from Plymouth called me to invite me out to dinner. I accepted, as I am now closer to them than when I first moved to The Cities. We stayed local, which is a good thing. Nothing fancy, just some pizza on a cold night. I managed, as it was -8F.

We often discuss weather as an icebreaker when presented with new people in our realm. It is easy and convenient to talk about something that affects our daily lives. As mundane as weather talk can be, it is a first resort to seek information and establish communication amongst strangers, as well as friends.

Conversation in itself also warms people up. If not figuratively, then perhaps in a way that lessens the tension among humans. Weather is a debatable science often given many interpretations by meteorologists in the media. We often discuss the differences one web site reports against what a television or radio station forecasts.

Thus, I post something about the weather. Mundane, but reflective…and hopefully will begin many conversations.

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