Monday, January 26, 2009

Good morning... it's -13 today!

I know, I know, it's cold outside... blah blah blah. You've heard it from every blogger north of the Mason-Dixon Line these last few weeks.

But this has gone on long enough!

This weekend the average temperature was -15 degrees and let me tell you - it gets old really fast. Especially when 3 out of the 4 cars at our house wouldn't start and I had to put the battery charger on them for hours until they would.

The worst thing we had to deal with though was when one of our cars was "dead" in front of the garage, so we had to have my wife, my brother and both my boys help push it down the icy driveway and out into the road so Brandon could go to work. Sled dog harnesses would have come in handy right about then.

Anyway, all of this has me thinking about these things we do up here on a daily basis that wouldn't make sense to people on the lower half of the planet. So I've jotted down a few of them to share.

10 things a Southerner doesn't have to do

1. Plug in the car before going to bed (no, they're not electric cars).

2. Put your car in low gear at each stop light so the automatic traction control feature that's supposed to keep your tires from spinning doesn't engage and make your car feel like it has no power.

3. Go outside in your pajamas and slippers at 7:30 a.m. wearing a huge winter coat, hat and gloves to start your car before you take your shower so it's all warmed up and the windows are defrosted when you leave for work.

4. "Rake" your roof so an ice dam doesn't build up on the eave overhang of your house.

5. Shrink plastic over all the windows inside your house to increase their "R" factor.

6. Get in line at the car wash when it's above 10 degrees because it's the first time in weeks it's been warm enough to wash all the salt off your car.

7. Take a hair dryer outside and blast it into the door lock because water from the car wash you were in that morning has frozen inside the lock (alternate solution: heat your key up with a Bic lighter and then jam it in the lock).

8. Put Heet into your gas tank so the moisture in the gasoline doesn't freeze and plug up your gas line.

9. Slide right through a red light because the road has formed black ice and it's impossible to stop at the intersection.

10. Sprinkle rock salt and sand on the sidewalk so people don't slip and crack their heads open on your property and sue you.

Two things:
1. I'd love to hear your additions or
2. some of the things southerners do that we don't have to do.


Mom Thumb said...

We crack our car windows in the summer so the windshield doesn't explode from the heat. Also, our fire hydrants don't have tall poles with flags so they can be located after a 39" snowfall.

Meg said...

Between starting the car in pajamas and the shower, we on the border, or edge if you will, have a shot of Irish whiskey. Keeps the pipes in working order.

Seals said...

Oh, man. You're right. I don't have to do most of those things.

My wife turned down a job offer in Minneapolis a few years ago partly because of the weather. We're pussies. :)

Sandy said...

I vividly remember Dad plugging the car in when I was little. These days, the garage helps.

On our last road trip, we had to constantly scrape the INSIDE of the windows with a credit card so we could see to drive. It was -10 degrees outside, and I'm guessing it wasn't much warmer inside.

Shieldmaiden96 said...

We shovel a path across our front yard for the mailman.

Angela Watson said...

Let's see, things northerners don't have to do that we Floridians do...

How about spend 15 hours putting up hurricane shutters every two weeks from August to November for storms that either don't come (waste of time) or that destroy everything in a 500 mile radius (even worse)?

Every winter I'm so thankful I live here. But come hurricane season (which is June-December, so yeah, HALF THE YEAR) I cringe every time the weather guy comes on TV.

Hopefully that's some consolation as you suffer through January. (It's 76 here today--woo hoo!)

Jeff and Charli Lee said...

mom thumb - I crack my car windows too, but only because the air conditioner burned out years ago and it's not worth the money to fix it for the 10 times I'd use it every summer.

prefers... - So I put the whiskey in the gas tank then?

ajooja - Yeah, but smart pussies.

sandy - Ah yes, the credit card - the great emergency scraper. Back when I had a cassette player in my car I would pull apart the tape case and use the flat side as a scraper. Come to think of it... that's ALL I used.

shieldmaiden96 - Hey, my dad does the same thing. Only he uses a snowblower because his path usually ends up looking like a tunnel with 4' walls.

angela - I love visiting FL but I'm not sure I would want to live there. Mostly because I'm afraid of giant man-eating cockroaches.

Unknown said...

Actually, I forego the HEET for a bottle of Isopropyl alcohol, 'cause there's too much water in HEET and it will freeze up as bad as the gas!!

Up Nort' if you live in a mobile home you need to wrap your water pipes in heat tape and/or keep the cabinet doors under the sink open and/or a trickle of water running so your pipes don't freeze.

Park anything manual on enough of a slope to pop the clutch if the battery dies.

Last snowstorm iPastor got us stuck at a friend's house. Friend's daughters videotaped as her dad got his tow chain and they pulled the van out, assuming she could post it on youtube for clueless southerners.

Also, I crack my windows in the summer in MN, too. We get both extremes.

Anonymous said...

"...that wouldn't make sense to people on the lower half of the planet."

The penguins find your comment amusing.


It's a balmy 23 degrees here in tropical Indiana right now, but we're expecting "2 to 5 inches of snow" tonight. In other words, the locals are officially panicking. Everybody is stocking up on eggs, milk, and bread. I assume it's because French Toast is especially delicious when it's snowing...

Anonymous said...

My last truck had a crappy defroster. When my dog rode along,(even at thirty below)I had to leave the window open until the engine was hot enough to overpower all his moisture laden stank breath that frosted up the windows.
Also down south, no one has to consider the length of the driveway when buying a house.
The biggest difference is that southerners don't pour millions of tons of salt on their roads, so their cars aren't eaten away, hence no "winter beaters".

Anonymous said...

I have always lived in an apartment so I don't do a some of things that you do !

And I do somethings you do that I don't think about and you make it sound like a chore !


Is that -15 F ? I forgive you man !

Suzanne said...

How about:
Sweep the rock salt off the inside steps because it got tracked in from the stuff you sprinkled on the outside steps.

Anonymous said...

I need an electric blanket just to read this post. Cripes, Jeff. Why do you keep living there? Seriously? Why?

Windyridge said...

We had minus 16 the other day and a lamb was born that day to boot! My solution to the car starting dilemma is dry gas in the tank and parking in the garage! Of course last night the cable and spring broke so the car was trapped in the garage.
One thing we do is sprinkle ashes from the stove on the slippery parts of the driveway. The ashes need to be dumped anyway so we may as well put them to good use.

Sornie said...

A southerner doesn't have to push their dead car down the driveway and then back in the driveway so their wife can get to work leaving the car pusher home with an infant. (True story, last cold snap on that Friday when it was -35 in the 'burbs)

Ed (zoesdad) said...

I have found that feed salt from the farmers supply store is just as effective as the rock salt at the grocery. And it's $6.50 for a 50 lb bag instead of $6.50 for a 5 pound bag.

Mooselet said...

Before I moved to the lower half the planet I grew up in New England, so I have done all of these things. I also knew to never EVER let the car's gas tank fall below a quarter of a tank to prevent a build up of water that will freeze your fuel lines, that part of the reason my parents had children was so that we could go shovel the driveway and not them, and that unused kitty litter, while not melting the ice like rock salt, will provide enough traction to prevent slipping. At least a couple of massive bags should be kept in the trunk of the car (along with a small shovel) in case of emergency, as well as providing a ballast when you start to fishtail on the black ice.

Now that I live in the skin cancer capital of the world, I have learned to never EVER touch my steering wheel when I first open the door, even if my sunshade has been up. Window tinting is not a option, it is vital. And that the only thing that is worse than the cockroaches are the spiders that pull up a chair and ask when dinner will be ready.

Michael from said...

Holy shit, that is awful. I read these once to myself and again out loud to the Mrs, so that she too can appreciate our living in Atlanta. How do you manage?

Incidentally, this is why I always pull the carfax if I'm buying a used vehicle. I ain't gonna take over a Yankee's salt-covered vehicle.

As far as things we do in the South that you don't-- I'm being courted by another law firm right now, and one of the questions I asked the recruiter is whether they have covered parking. I might make an extra $25k/year, but if my car is going to cook all day on a blacktop parking lot, I probably won't even interview there.

Another, I once met a pretty girl at my pool who was a GA Tech student but was originally from NH. When I found out her car had no a/c, however, I had to stop pursuing her.

Our city won't let us water our lawns or wash our cars b/c of drought conditions in the summer. Sorta sucks for cheap asses like me, b/c I have to take the car somewhere to be washed.

Heather said...

Why DO we live here?

Elizabeth said...

We have to shovel paths in our back yard for the dogs. Our young pup might be able to jump through snow three feet deep, but not our old husky.
We are supose to get 15 inches of snow tonight (we've already got about 8), but we'll still probably have school tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

Dang it. My wife, shieldmaiden96, beat me to the punch. Have nothing to add now. I hate cold weather.

Michelle said...

Ok, I'm probably repeating some here, but:

1) Wear shorts when it's 30 because it's so warm (and flip flops sometimes, too)

2) Travel with kitty litter in the trunk for additional weight and just in case you get stuck for traction

3) Shovel out the fire hydrant just in case the firemen need to come before spring

4) Shovel the driveway before driving on it so that the tire tracks don't become slippery chunks of ice

And oddly... as soon as you said that three of the four cars didn't start, I thought to myself, "Self, why didn't Jeff just plug in the cars?" :)

Jeff and Charli Lee said...

gette - Good ones! But just one question... do you use 70% or 91% isopropyl? Because I would think the 70 would have too much water in it as well.

travis - What's that? The locals are officially pancaking?! No wonder they're craving French Toast... it's part of the same breakfast group. BTW, nice to "see" you here!

rick - Are you kidding me? I had to keep the windows down all the way no matter how cold it was outside whenever I rode with that dog. That beast had the most foul-smelling breath in the animal kingdom.

jaffer - What are you forgiving me for? All the nasty cold is coming from your country!

sue - No kidding. Add the sand to it and you know why they the back entrance the "mud" room.

kathy - Help me! I've moved here and I can't get out!

windyridge - Even the garage couldn't save one of my cars this weekend. Of course we have a detached and unheated garage so it's not much warmer in there, if at all. BTW... congrats on the new lamb. She's absolutely adorable!

sornie - I feel your pain. We should start some kind of Minnesota misery club.

ed - Thanks for the tip. I've never even heard of feed salt. What kind of animal eats salt?

mooselet - I just found a 50LB bag of "chicken grit" for my sidewalks. It's little pebbles that are bigger than sand and smaller than gravel and works really well too. Oh, and you can keep your spiders and cockroaches. {{{shiver}}}

father muskrat - LOL... I know what you mean about the Yankee vehicles. The last time I was in Phoenix I couldn't figure out what was wrong with all the older cars. Then I realized there was no rust on them.

heather - I think the part of our brain that regulates common sense freezes and we are unable to realize that we're idiots.

elizabeth - Have fun with that!

unfinished rambler - You have to get up pretty early in the morning to pull one over her. Nice try on the cold weather statement though. ;-)

michelle - Because those three cars are the ones that don't have engine heaters. Can you even believe that?

Theresa B (of Nebulopathy) said...

Well, here in Northern California it's so bad that.... well, I'm having to water the lawn this winter, dammit! (Or, at least, I would if I expected my lawn to survive.)

Oh, and I had to wear a sweatshirt to walk to my car this evening. Tragic.

Anonymous said...

Fortunately here in the UK global warming means that we don't get the really bad winters that I recall from the 1970's, nights when I had to wrap the engine of the van in an old blanket so that it had a 50% chance of starting in the morning, as long as you remembered to remove the blanket :)

The coldest day this year has been -4 and we've had no snow to speak of, most days in Jan this year have been almost spring-like and the Koi in my pond haven't hibernated this year, some of them are six years old and its the first time that they haven't disappeared for the winter, they are even feeding now.

United Studies said...

Being in the mid-Atlantic, we have to do some of those things. However, we have been having quite the cold weather this January...I will be glad to see Spring arrive.

My addition is...we have to warm up our bathroom before we jump in the shower. Our bathroom has stone tiles for the floor and walls, and a skylight, so it is freaking cold! But perhaps not everyone has this problem.

Anonymous said...

Jeff, here's the Canadian perspective on the ridiculous cold:

Anonymous said...

HI Jeff, please consider the following:

Controlled portion of study Atlanta as true SOUTHERN location

Latitude: 33.7488889
33° 44' 56" N
33 degrees, 44 minutes, 56 seconds North
Longitude: -84.3880556
84° 23' 17" W
84 degrees, 23 minutes, 17 seconds West

St Cloud Minn Jeff more SOUTHERN than Carla

Latitude: 45.5608333
45° 33' 38" N
45 degrees, 33 minutes, 38 seconds North
Longitude: -94.1622222
94° 9' 44" W
94 degrees, 9 minutes, 44 seconds West

Lake Forest Park Washington Carla Not SOUTHERN at all.

Latitude: 47.7569444
47° 45' 24" N
47 degrees, 45 minutes, 24 seconds North
Longitude: -122.2797222
122° 16' 47" W
122 degrees, 16 minutes, 47 seconds West

I'm just sayin...

Jeff and Charli Lee said...

theresa b - Oh the insanity. How do you cope?

jerrychicken - I tried leaving my goldfish in the pond last winter. I think we all remember how well THAT turned out!

jacki - Our bathroom is part of an addition to our house and never had a heat duct installed, so I know exactly what you mean. I like to make sure someone else has showered right before me.

chubbs - Thanks for sharing your linkage. That was too funny!

carlea - I'm not entirely sure how to interpret all of this. As far as I can tell you're saying it was 45 degrees in MN for 33 minutes. I think that was in late November. And I believe it was 94 degrees for 9 minutes last August. That sounds about right.

Mom Thumb said...

Bill always made sure there was a path from his house to ours so the kids could come over.

I have a friend in Houston who also would never interview anyplace she wouldn't have covered parking.

Anonymous said...

I bought some of that plastic stuff for the windows but I couldn't get Brad to put it up. I did get him to weather strip the door after I walked past it one morning and actually got wet from the freezing wind blowing snow in through the cracks.

Anonymous said...

Air hoses freeze, tires go flat. and batteries loose half of their cranking power. You know it is winter here when the knights of the road go South to look for work. Minnesota sounds bad, but we do have most of the water. We can live with the weather, but if global warming gets hot enough, water not weather, will be the issue.

Lady R (Di) said...

I'm new here, but I like your blog. Hope you don't mind my visit. I live in Alabama. It get's so hot here, I'll bet you don't have to buy a truckload of ice from the beverage store to cool down the swimming pool, heh?

Or, keep your shades drawn during the day so the sun coming in the windows doesn't unnecessarily heat up the house.

Or, keep carpet or dash bra on the cars' dash board so it doesn't crack within two years?

Love, love, love the sunny south. I can ride all year. Nuf said.

Jeff and Charli Lee said...

mom thumb - Bill's path to your house was funny. I mentioned it above in my reply to Shieldmaiden. And you should feel honored. He hasn't done that for any of the other neighbors since.

memarie - Until we can afford window replacements for our entire house, I'm going to keep putting plastic on mine. I know it makes a difference too because I can feel it.

bill - Nice segue. So glad you're feeling better!

lady ridesalot - Are you kidding? I love that you stopped by. Everyone is welcome here... ESPECIALLY fellow bikers!

Maureen said...

Oh, yeah. I can relate to a lot of those. Our coldest day up here this year so far was -50C with the windchill.

We keep the cars plugged in all the time...and where there are no plugs available, you have to go out and warm up the car every few hours. Remote starters are a big hit up here.

Even opening the front door was hazardous; never ever touch a metal knob with your bare hands outside or you might never let go (until Spring, that is).

yellojkt said...

We had some Minnesotans come visit us in Florida and couldn't believe how short all the stop signs were. Well, we don't need to make them higher than the snow drifts.

Anonymous said...

This morning the Red Cross has issued a plea to help Texas. Oklahoma, and States East of them. They asked the people in Minnesosta to send candles to those nice ice-storm victims!

Ed said...

Depends on how far south you go though. I'm pretty sure those living on the tip of South America are whining about the same things.

Now you want that secret underground tunnel to drive right to work from your garage, don't you?

Roger Miller said...

I'm sure them souherners aren't laughing much today, with Oklahoma and half of Texas being shut down by ice... pansies. :)

Ann said...

I can remember doing some of those things when I lived in Boston. So glad I'm in sunny Phoenix, AZ now!

In the summer, we sometimes have to drive with pot-holders on if we can't find a shady parking spot. Our streets are nearly pothole-free as we don't have really cold weather.

It's going to be 73° here in Phoenix today. Hope your spring comes sooner than later!

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Anonymous said...

So I guess parking and making out at inspiration point is out of the question, huh????

crk112 said...

Sometimes I wonder why Minnesota continues to have residents after november. It almost isn't worth it!

I hope this isn't a repeat.. But don't forget the bags of sand sold for the specific purpose of aft ballast in a pickup truck to improve drive wheel traction!