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Thursday, February 2, 2012

Comments on a Cold Day

I woke up this morning to find the long-forecasted Siberian cold blast here, and with a wind chill that brings everything down to -25F (-32C), I figure that's cold even for you upper Midwest types.  Unfortunately nothing profound comes to mind about dealing with this—frankly, not much is moving in my mind, period, much less in any profound way—but I figured I'd share some of my observations on dealing here in Helsinki with temperatures the like of which this ex-pat Californian has never seen.


You know, when I looked at my IPhone's weather app last year, saw -20C, and thought, "Damn, that's cold," I was right!

Classic "damned if I do, damned if I don't moment": If I have clean hair, the fleece cap I put on under my down hood won't stay on; if I have dirty hair, it stays on(ish), but then I have to face my colleagues all day looking like "shower" is a foreign word.

Let me just say that I'm very glad that Finland doesn't have to worry about water.  I left the shower on last night when I got ready for bed, and it made the bedroom nicely warm and humid.

Oh, and yes, I have finally turned the radiators on in my apartment.

Finally, I'm dressing like I expected to all year: silk long johns, 3 layers of shirts, multiple scarves and hats, and fleece socks.  I shudder to think how much laundry I'm going to do this weekend.

Wow, even the Towers has a sign up warning us how cold it is.  I guess Finns notice when it goes below -15F.

And, of course, this is the morning I lock my keys in my apartment.

You know, even Ted's happy not to spend a lot of time out in this.  I wonder if I can get him to do his business on the balcony off the common room? :-)  (And, no, no one walks underneath it!)

Speaking of which, in the Androcles and the Lion story, meet Androcles (Ted's the lion).  When it gets this cold, Ted's only good for about 2 blocks before he gets painful snowballs in his paws.  Thank goodness, it's one of the few areas in his life where he'll actually show the pain; in fact, by now, he lifts up the affected paw for me to remove the ball.  Smart dog.

I'll be really curious to see how many folks make it in for our official lunch today. (Answer: everyone.  I must be the only cold wimp in town.)

Will I make it in for my free massage tomorrow?

You know, when it's this cold, the NOAA wind chill calculator says that you can get frostbite in 30 minutes if you don't protect yourself.  Wow, I never thought I'd live in a place like that.

Thank god for snow.  I can walk just that bit faster without slipping.

How to tell that even Finns are cold: my Nanook-of-the-North coat no longer stands out and there are truly impressive numbers of layered hats, scarves, and mittens out there.  Of course, they can't react.  Yes, sisu is in full force.

Wow, even Finnish drivers are skidding and having a hard time driving in this.  Then again, the guys are still working construction behind my apartment.  Amazing.

You know you're in trouble when -10C (projected temp with wind chill 2F) seems warm.

My French colleague just came in, and we were, not surprisingly, discussing the weather.  When I joked about -20C being the break-over point, he said, "Yes, it's lovely, isn't it?"  Since I know he wasn't joking, clearly he's been married to a Finn too long.

Isn't it amazing how, when I first arrived, everyone acted like -20C or -25C was the apocalypse.  Now that, -20+C has arrived, they're talking about 1987 when it was -35C for 3 weeks in a row.  People, that's valuable information!

And, yes, one of my colleagues just told me a story about her eyelashes freezing.  Her … eyelashes … freezing.  Okay, guys, sufficient freakage has occurred!

You know, from inside my nice, warm office, it's really quite beautiful: bright & sunny, breezing blowing the clouds around, and snow on the window ledges.  Then you go outside where it's up to a whole -18C, but the wind chill remains a rousing -22F (-30C).

You know, I expected the phrase "Siberian winter" to remain a metaphor in my life, not to ACTUALLY be affected by weather in Siberia!!

On that note, I think I'll stagger home and make a gallon of hot chocolate.

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