by Ned Hickson
It's not often that it gets really cold here along the Oregon coast. And by really cold, I mean cold enough to warrant using an ice scraper. Now, to someone from Michigan or Illinois -- where an ice scraper is a six-ton piece of diesel-driven steel with studded tires and a nine-foot scoop -- scraping down my windshield with a four-inch piece of beveled plastic that has a smiley snowman on the handle wouldn't exactly be called a winter crisis. (On the East Coast, this is what is commonly known as "spring.")
However, for us coastal Oregonians, who are kept reasonably warm by jet streams that push cold air to the north and allow naturally abundant hot air to make its way up from California, pulling out the ice scraper means it's time to revisit some cold-weather-safety procedures.
To do this, we will use a couple of real-life examples from an actual area resident. Because some of these examples could prove embarrassing to this individual, we will protect his identity by referring to him only as Den Noskcih. (To further protect his identity, please do not hold this page up to a mirror.)
The first line of defense against cold weather is your clothing. This is especially true when taking out the trash at 6 a.m. in nothing but your underwear -- which brings us to real life example number one:
Upon hearing the garbage truck, Den leaps out of bed and rushes his can to the curb, ending up face-down in the recycle bin during a hail storm. As you might imagine, this breaks a number of cold-weather-safety rules, not to mention more than one city ordinance.
This brings us to real life example number two: Cold-Weather Grooming.
Example: Because he's running late, Den rushes out of the house with his hair still wet, the result of which is a hair-doo similar to that of "Mr. Freeze."
When temperatures drop below 32 degrees, water freezes -- yes, even if it's in your hair -- and the colder it is, the faster it freezes. Therefore, a good rules of thumb is to not leave your house unless:
a.) The temperature rises above 32 degrees;
b.) Your hair is completely dry; or
c.) You really hate your hair anyway and would like to start over again from scratch.
Finally, our cold-weather-safety discussion wouldn't be complete unless we talked about firewood. In Oregon, most homes do not have natural gas. Therefore, we rely on firewood and re-runs of Temptation Island as our primary heat sources.
To burn firewood in your home, you really should have a fireplace or wood stove (Although this is optional, depending on your degree of fire coverage). Preferably, it should be equipped with a device called a "catalytic converter." This device is absolutely essential because it converts all of your firewood into "catalites," which are small creatures that eats lots of fiber and emit a natural gas that burns even longer than firewood.
This helps to slow down your wood consumption, which is really important because it's not like firewood grows on... Well -- you know what I mean.
As much as I'd like to continue this discussion, I really have to leave now. I think I hear the trash truck coming.