Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Impressions of the Cold

Now that I have endured two winters and I am part way through my third, I'd like to share what my perceptions are of the cold up here compared to Chicago. Primarily, I have actually found it easier to deal with up here than back home. Let me explain.

The way I dress for the cold is different plus the time and duration of time I spend out in the cold is different. First I have learned from others here how to really dress for the cold. Starting from the bottom, Doc Martins suck on snow and ice. Proper snow boots are easy to find here and in a greater variety of styles. I got a nice pair from Aldo (client plug) that look better than my dress shoes. Next, long underwear that is made for everyday use is easier to find. It is constantly ripping the hairs off the backs of my legs, but I may have a solution for that this year. I spent a paycheck and bought a Kanuk. The thing is good for -35 degrees and I was OK in -50 last winter. Drawback is that you sweat profusely after a few seconds indoors. I learned the proper way to wear a scarf and was able to find scarves long enough to adequately insulate that space between your collar and hat. The hat has been the hard part. Not finding one that was warm enough, but one that also my wife and I can agree on. We are still looking. But winter fashion seems less of a concern, so wearing a stocking cap (toque) with your ears tucked is much more common.

And time spent outdoors. Back in Chitown my commute consisted of walking to the el, waiting for the train, cold bursts of air at every stop, and the walk from the train to the office. This totalled about 60-80 minutes a day spent outside, sometimes motionless. My commutes here result in at most 20 minutes outdoors since we drive. The other aspect is that in Chicago we would attend outdoor sporting events regularly. We would sit motionless for about three hours in 10F (-12C) usually with some sort of wind just for fun. Even Cubs opening day in April always seemed to be 32F (0C) and it always seemed colder.

So you see, although it is technically colder here, my perception has been that it is easier to take. Plus three weeks of my first winter here were shared between LA and Florida. So far this winter's temps have been above average.

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