I live far enough north that sometimes it scares me. The cold sometimes exceeds the invigorating chilliness associated with rosy cheeked kids playing pond hockey and becomes more like the eternal frozen death of outer space. There’s a difference! (Also I think I may become Canadian by default. As an American I’m pretty sure they’re better off without me but I really dig poutine and Trailer Park Boys. I may be doomed.)
Also, it’s important to separate genuine rough conditions from posing. Inexplicably, everyone likes to think their chunk of the planet is the toughest. Why? When someone from Atlanta visits Fairbanks they’ll say “well yeah, it gets cold where I live too. Once, I had to wear flannel.” Why do people do this? After all, it’s pretty cool to live where nature isn’t actively trying to murder you and besides we can’t all be Fremen.
(Here’s a hint, wind chill numbers are for sissies. If you are in my presence and repeat the “wind chill factor” because it’s an extreme number I reserve the right to hit you with a shovel.)
Here’s an example, when I was in Death Valley I was very careful. I did not say “Sure Furnace Creek is toasty warm but it’s not the heat it’s the humidity and my place back home is all kinds of humid.” That was my little gift to the global stockpile of humility. We can all learn a lesson from this. (The lesson is to visit Death Valley… it’s awesome.)
At any rate I’ve been feeling like the final scene in the Shining. It’s been a bitch.
Today I had to start four”frozen” vehicles.
- The first was a simple jump start. I have excellent jumper cables. The hefty conducting cables are as thick as a politician’s reasoning. Good jumper cables are a wise investment.
- The second was another simple jump start. Did you read #1? If you have crap ass jumper cables do yourself a favor; saunter to the auto parts store (or hitch a ride because you’re a dumbass who can’t jump start your car) and buy the biggest baddest monsters you can find. Spare no expense. This is the first step on the road to enlightenment.
- The third was a delicate operation involving replacing a frozen battery. Sadly, it was on a modern car and therefore I had to do friggin’ surgery to get the damn thing out of the maze they call an engine. There’s no reason any battery on anything other than a true performance racing machine should weigh less than 40 pounds and be smaller than a bowling ball. Further, oddly shaped or uncommon sized batteries are a sign that the engineers involved are malcontents. Also, opening a doorknob at -24 is a feat so changing a battery in the dark when it’s even colder is damn near heroic.
- The last was the worst. It wasn’t just a cold battery; it was a truck that had given up on living. I didn’t merely start the vehicle. I performed a full blown exorcism and resurrection. It one was touch and go. Unusual tactics were involved. Some stuff may have melted. (Whoops!) Frankly I was an inch away from declaring that nothing short of immersion in lava would get it moving. This was unusual. I can make almost anything breathe life (if only because my swearing scares the ailing machine back from the dead) but this hunk of crap on wheels seemed to really relish being dead. In retribution I’d like to carpet bomb Detroit for making such crap. (Of course bombing Detroit would be slapping a masochist but that’s a topic for some other day.)
Just in case you’re going to say something snarky… my truck started and ran just fine. (It did this because it loves me, I speak fluent “truck”, and I treat it well.) My trusty steed (a diesel) spent half the night serving as a six ton rumbling flashlight and warming hut while every gas powered apparatus in the vicinity bailed. Go figure.
Having once again saved the day, or at least four vehicles, I had a chance to turn on the radio. Big mistake!
Tune in for part two whenever I get my ass in gear and write it.