Archive for the ‘cold weather’ Category

I know… Latin. I’m trying to be all highbrow and intellectual.

But in this case, Pax refers to the winter storm. Seriously, though, who the hell started naming every winter storm? Is it a marketing thing? Maybe like the Nolan Ryan Express? Somehow, I don’t see NOAA marketing a line of t-shirts celebrating shitty weather, but it IS the federal government, so maybe that’s the reason.

Anyway, I’ve had a few crappy days. Really started yesterday with my attempt to go to the Philadelphia Auto Show. I say “attempt” since I never got on the train. Seems that the train station at Lancaster has limited parking and several rich assholes decided they needed two spaces to contain their precious German luxury cars. In all fairness, maybe they aren’t assholes. Maybe they are just misunderstood.

Naaah, they’re probably just assholes.

I still kept my vacation day, which wound up causing me some issues. See, the company decided to get rooms at the local hotel. They did not, however, inform me, so I had to trek to the office today, in the ice and snow, all to do a job obviously much more vitally important than healthcare or government. Of course, my wonderful homeowner’s association didn’t get around to clearing the walks and driveways on my street, so I had to move the entire driveway full of heavy, wet snow. I guess that counts toward my cardio for the day. I might add that another email was sent out informing us that the snow removal contractor has suffered a “mechanical breakdown” and would not be able to remove snow today. My thought is that Wanda, evil bitch queen of the HOA, is probably pocketing what would be paid to the contractor. I have no evidence of this, just instinct, but she seems the type that would do this.

All the medals together for a shield. Pretty freakin cool.

All the medals together for a shield. Pretty freakin cool.

My week hasn’t been all terrible. I managed to register for the Nerd Herd Virtual Race Trilogy. This year’s themes are Star Wars, Lord of the Rings and The Hunger Games. I’m not totally into the whole Hunger Games thing, but the medal looks pretty cool. If you are interested in getting active and helping a worthy cause, check this out.

The start and finish will be at the Troeg's Brewery

The start and finish will be at the Troeg’s Brewery

I registered to run in the inaugural Troeg’s Hop Dash 5K in Hershey in October. I also registered Supportive Partner Woman (lover of craft beers!). It’ll be our first time participating in an inaugural event, and many of our TAE/Nerd Herd people will be there as well. Should be a great time!

 

So, to all you readers trapped by Pax, I wish you safe travels. If you don’t have to go anywhere, stay home. If you do, drive safely and watch out for the idiots. Sadly, there are a lot of those and they seem to be drawn to driving in bad weather like a moth is to a flame.

I was so going to parody the Ballad of Jed Clampett, but the only words I could think of to rhyme with blister were Twister and mister, and, well, trust me when I say that nothing good would come of that.

So, I did manage to get to the podiatrist’s office this afternoon. He took one look at Wayne, pulled out the cutters and went to work. Several giant pieces of toenail and whatnot later, I’m down to eight toenails and  a lot of angry looking toe. The good news is that there’s no sign of infection and he thinks it should dry up pretty quickly. Once it’s scabbed over, then I can get out of the Boot of Shame. Out of sensitivity to the readers, I did not take pictures.

Also in the good news department, the wonderful exercise physiologists managed to switch up my workout this morning to include non-weight-bearing cardio and a lot of weight training. So it’s not a total loss. I can do the bike, the rowing machine and the hand cycle, as well as lift weights. Woohoo! Again, I just have to be careful to protect the area. On that note, I ordered the multipack of giant rolls of moleskin. I should probably take to just applying that every time I go to the gym, even after I’m healed. The best part is that you can get it from Amazon really inexpensively and it’s delivered right to the door.

Now, my biggest worry is what’s coming in terms of the winter storm. I’m not sure how the Boot of Shame will handle inclement weather. Maybe I just need to wrap my loot in a trash bag to get through the snow?

At any rate, I think I’ll call it quits for now. Hope you all have a great night!

I was a bad boy this morning.

I woke up around 4:20, realized how wiped out I was feeling and promptly reset the alarm for 6:30. Loosely translated, that means no visit to the gym at the crack of dawn for me. The extra two hours of sleep didn’t help much, though. I’m yawning and just feeling generally run down. I’m sure it has nothing to do with the cold that has been residing in my head and chest these last few days.

So, last night I had a choice. I could either watch a bunch of self-serving politicians tell lies and get applauded for it, or I could make a batch of New England clam chowder (or as my friends from New England would say, “chowdah!”)

I opted to go the chowdah route. It’s been cold enough for thick soup and with Lent and all that upon us, it comes in handy. I start with a base recipe that I have modified to contain less fat and hopefully all of the taste. I’ll include it here:

New England Clam Chowder

Ingredients:

1/2 lb onion, diced
1/2 lb celery, diced
12 oz red potatoes, large diced
4 cans chopped clams and juice
32 oz fat-free half & half
32 oz clam juice
1 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp basil
2 tbsp olive oil
Bacon salt to taste
4 splashes of Tabasco Chipotle
1 can corn (drained) (optional)
1/2 lb roux

Roux:
1/4 lb butter
1/4 lb flour

Melt butter, blend in flour to make roux.

Directions:

1. In a 2 gallon stockpot, cook onion and celery in olive oil and bacon salt until translucent.
2. Pour in chopped clams in juice, clam juice, diced potato and seasonings; blend well.
3. Bring to simmer over medium heat, for 5 – 10 minutes.
4. Add half & half, increase heat until it comes to a slow boil.
5. Add roux slowly, mixing well. Keep mixing until well incorporated.
6. Reduce heat – simmer uncovered for 15 minutes.

It comes out with a nice smoky flavor from the chipotle Tabasco and also the bacon salt. Also, adding the corn can make for an interesting texture and adds a hint of sweetness to the taste. By using the fat- free half & half, you also cut out a lot of extraneous fat and it still thickens nicely.

So, as for the Lenten resolutions, I’m giving up soda. I know… kind of harsh. Fact is, I have to do it post surgery, so I might as well get used to it. I will miss it, no doubt about that. Not so much the taste, but the carbonation. Granted, with such greatly reduced stomach capacity, there will be no room for the bubbles at the inn. I know there’s a lot I will have to give up, at least for some time. It’s a small price to pay when it comes down to it. My reward will be a healthier me. I think it will be worth it.

Hope that you have a great day!

I often complain about the generally crappy weather we have here in the northeast/mid-Atlantic region. Especially lately, where it seems that spring lasts all of about three days. We go from chipping icicles out of our undies to melting in a puddle seemingly overnight. There are a few days that make it worth it here and there, however… sunny days with a nice breeze and mild temperatures.

However, it’s the snow that I’d like to talk about. We get snow. Sometimes a lot, most times not, usually mixed in with rain, ice, sleet, and other unsavory stuff. This is a mixed blessing, though. It makes things look pretty and muffles a lot of the background noise, making it otherworldly quiet. Snow is also good for cardio. I know you’re not pounding a treadmill, but the bending, scraping, lifting, tossing of shoveling gets the ticker pumping. Like any kind of exercise, you have to be careful and be smart. I found the following tips on safe shoveling from Popular Mechanics and thought they were very appropriate:

Be careful when shoveling... it can lead to a heart attack.

Be careful when shoveling… it can lead to a heart attack.

1. Stretch first

Don’t be in a hurry to get outside. Stretch thoroughly using the same sorts of moves that runners, mountain bikers and other athletes use. Stretch your hamstrings, stretch your back, and stretch your shoulders. Then dress in removable layers, grab your shovel and resist the urge to fly at the white stuff just to get the job done. Pace yourself. Start slowly and ramp up to speed.

2. Don’t move snow twice

Before you even take your first scoop, decide where you’re going to dump the snow. Drop the first shovelful farther away from where you are standing, then dump remaining snow closer and closer to where you are. That way, the last scoops that you shovel are moved the shortest distance. Don’t block access to snow that needs to be removed by piling it up in a way that will force you to move it twice.

3. Move snow the shortest distance possible

Consider that everything from a driveway to a patio to a walkway is really a rectangle, and rectangles have a center point. Move the snow from the center of the rectangle to the nearest edge.

4. Clear cars first

Brush snow off cars then clear around the cars.

5. Do the foreground then the background

For example, to clear snow from a rectangle, first shovel a strip clear along the perimeter of the rectangle. Then, moving from the center to the edge, push the snow into the cleared area. Next, lift and throw the snow out of the area.

6. Maintain proper posture:

  • Use your leg muscles as much as possible – push snow when you can and use your legs to lift when you can’t push it.
  • Keep your back straight as you move from the squat position to the upright position.
  • Use your shoulder muscles as much as possible.
  • Hold the snow shovel as close to your upper body as possible.
  • Keep one hand close to the shovel blade for better leverage.
  • Don’t twist your upper body as you throw snow.

7. Keep hydrated

Take bottles of water out with you and keep them accessible, either in the car or on the front stoop or somewhere else convenient.

8. Rest frequently

Clearing an area by hand means that you may lift and carry anywhere from hundreds of pounds to tons of snow.

9. Be thorough but not fussy

The sun is relatively strong this time of year. Clear an area, spread de-icer if necessary and then let the sun do the rest. The fact is, any surface color that you expose in shoveling (gray, green, brown or black) will be far less reflective than a thick blanket of snow, and remaining snow will melt more easily from that darker surface.

10. Don’t overdress

You need to stay warm, but if you overdress you’re going to be soaked in sweat in no time. Dress in loose-fitting layers that you can peel off as you heat up.

11. Whenever possible, team up

Shoveling with a friend or neighbor is inherently more enjoyable than shoveling on your own. Plus, it’s quicker to get the job done with two or three sets of hands.

12. Go easy on the de-icer

Once the area is clear, all you need is a thin scattering of de-icer to keep it that way. If you’re scattering by hand, throw the salt, pellets or granules low along the ground so they bounce and roll into a uniform layer.

13. Whenever possible, get a head start

It’s easier to remove snow in thin layers than wait until all the snow is down to have at it. If it looks like your area is going to get dumped on, try to get out there and shovel it in several passes.

14. Maintain your equipment

The front edge of a snow shovel takes a beating. If it’s metal, hammer it straight when it gets bent; if it’s plastic use a utility knife to carve off the burr that forms on its end. Tighten a loose handle by driving a large hex head sheet metal screw through the blade socket and into the handle.

15. Stretch when you’re done

Stretch gently when you’re done and use an ice pack and ibuprofen to take care of inflamed muscles. Rest and remain hydrated.

Read more: 16 Cardinal Rules for Snow Shovelling – Popular Mechanics

In other news, yesterday was Groundhog Day. Yup… we have a holiday dedicated to a large rodent that allegedly can predict the weather.

Rodent. Weather. Gotcha.

philThere are many marmot meteorologists, perhaps the most famous is Punxsutawney Phil. Based in Punxsutawney, PA, Phil is the subject of all sorts of folktales. Like, for example, he’s 127 years old because every year he’s given a drink of groundhog elixir or some such rubbish. He does his weather bit in an area outside of town called Gobbler’s Knob. The other 364 days a year, he lives in a section of the Punxsutawney Library. Part of the wall is glass, so if you really want, you can walk by and gape at him as he sleeps, eats and does groundhog stuff.

Orphie looking a bit moth-eaten.

Orphie looking a bit moth-eaten.

Other “famous” groundhog prognosticators include Lancaster County’s own Octoraro Orphie. Now, Orphie is bereft of life, but apparently that doesn’t make much of a difference to the groundhog lodge people. Guess you get enough booze into them and Orphie will start dancing along with the pink elephants. Apparently the festivities include dancing the Groundhog Jig. I guess that’s what those crazy kids are calling it these days.

It made me wonder, though… how did the idea that groundhogs can predict the weather come about?

Like many things, it has its roots in ancient traditions. Apparently, the old weather tradition used a badger or sacred bear to make the prediction. The holiday began as a custom of the Pennsylvania German populations of southeastern and central Pennsylvania. Most of the modern traditions involve guys in top hats and free-flowing booze. It’s worth researching, and if you’d rather watch than read, check out the Bill Murray movie “Groundhog Day“.

In the meantime, know that Phil predicted an early spring, Orphie predicted six more weeks of winter, and neither one of them is right very often.

Phil’s accuracy is around 39%.

But it’s an excuse to stand on a hillside in Punxsutawney, drink heavily and try not to freeze.

Here we are… end of January and the weather’s been freaky. There’s a surprise. It was ice storm fun on Monday, then it was 60 degrees, then it was biblical rainstorms last night. Go figure.

So, had to order what will hopefully be my last batch of test strips and insulin. Ordered from Caremark (I’m too young to get them from Liberty Medical) and jumped through the hoops, including them arbitrarily canceling the order. So, they send me a tracking number yesterday and, of course, it’s signature required. That would be at the time when Supportive Partner Woman and I aren’t home. So, I arranged to have the package held at the local UPS office. All good. I get a phone message from them after I get home letting me know that my order will be shipped on the next business day. Guess the left and right hands never met.

Other fun in the medical department was my podiatrist appointment on Tuesday. As he’s working on my toes, the dialogue went something like this:

Dr. Miller: “You know, Brian, I don’t think that you’ll ever win any awards for good looking feet.”

Me: <blink>

Stubby the Wonder Toe: “Oh no you di’ent! Imma bust a cap in yo ass!”

I can’t say that I’ve ever been told that before. Sigh. The consequences of diabetic feet.

I’ve continued to be more active, even though the workload has picked up at the office. Looks like I even get to do a little bit of a woodworking project for the boss, building read boards. This should be fun… I haven’t built anything in some time and I’ve kind of missed it.

At any rate, SPW is on her way home so that we’ll actually get to spend some time together while both of us are conscious. Yay!

Hope you all have a great rest of the week.

 

lego-series-9-minifigures-Chicken-Suit-Guy 2

Chicken Man

Pretzel Guy

Pretzel Guy

P.S. I did managed to come up with some cool new Lego minifigs over the last couple of weeks. The coolest one is the guy in the chicken suit. He’s this set’s equivalent of the pretzel guy from Series 8.

 

Ahhh… holidays

Posted: December 22, 2012 in cold weather, family, friends, Holidays, music

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, or so sang the late Andy Williams.

In many ways it is. There’s usually a display of the best of humanity. Stories emerge of the layaway angel, or the anonymous donor who slips a rare coin or a large denomination bill into a Salvation Army kettle.

Sadly, though, many of these generous acts are overshadowed by the worst humanity has to offer. Even before the school shootings in Connecticut took place, Teh Interwebz was awash in stories of people brawling over women’s underwear at Victoria’s Secret storte in Sacramento or over phones at a Walmart. This has led to deaths, tramplings, even shootings in previous years. All to save that $20 off a PS3.

So, you have both the good and the bad. This blogger falls somewhere in the middle. I appreciate a good savings, but I do value life and limb over a $38 Blu-ray player. In addition, my time is far too precious to me to stand in line freezing my cojones off on Thanksgiving night.

I was trying to find a way to express the craziness of the season in a nice, neat package. I found this video:

It just kind of expresses the craziness of the season. Plus, it cracks me up.

I do love holiday music, though. I have an extensive collection of holiday music across all different genres. The song that sticks with me the most is Greg Lake’s “I Believe in Father Christmas.” It’s been criticized for allegedly being anti-Christmas, but I feel Lake is trying to speak out about what Christmas has become.

It’s more about the consumerism than the peace and forgiveness it used to be. Yes, when I was a kid I wanted nothing more than to get the cool stuff, but the older I get, it’s much more about being with family and friends and celebrating the year. The people who say that “we need to put more CHRIST in Christmas!” are not totally wrong, nor are they totally right. There are plenty of folks who celebrate a different holiday around the same time. Instead of making it all about one faith or another, make it about being the best person you can be. Do something good, make someone smile.

Make some memories, because all too often the people we make the memories with are gone too soon. If you’re estranged from a parent or sibling, swallow the pride and reach out to them. Life is too damn short for petty grudges.

I’ll close with these lyrics, because it’s very true:

I wish you a hopeful Christmas
I wish you a brave new year
All anguish, pain, and sadness
Leave your heart and let your road be clear
They said there’ll be snow at Christmas
They said there’ll be peace on earth
Hallelujah, Noel, be it heaven or hell
The Christmas you get, you deserve.

Merry Christmas, my friends.

Climate control… schemes for controlling the environmental elements of an area or region.

This can refer to a refrigerator or freezer used to keep food fresh and beer cold, or it can refer to keeping your house warm or cool, depending on the season.

At my place of employment, it usually translates into keeping one section of the building as the polar zone while the area directly across the hallway feels like the front porch of Hell.

It brings to mind an issue that, being a fattie, I suffer with. Temperature control. At least when it deals with warmth. In cold weather, exertion is quick to make me perspire, which is also uncomfortable, but I really start to wilt as the temperature climbs. I guess I’m really screwed if this global warming stuff keeps up.

Either way, exertion makes me sweat. So does spicy food. So, maybe eating hot wings on a treadmill isn’t the best idea. Granted, that’s never a good idea. What I’m driving at is that with the upcoming winter weather, it’s best to take steps to protect yourself if exercising outdoors. The American Council on Exercise suggests the following tips:

  1. Wear layers. Insulating yourself against the wind and other elements is key, so create a layered barrier instead of a single bulk. (The advantage is you can always remove the outer layer if you get over-heated.) The first layer that’s directly touching your skin should be a lightweight synthetic or polyester material. It will dry quickly and wick away moisture. The second layer should be wool or polyester fleece. The outermost layer — worn in the rain, snow, or wind — should be lighter weight and water-repellent to help you stay dry.
  2. Add a hat. About 50 percent of body heat is lost from an uncovered head when the temperatures hit the freezing mark. Wearing a hat will help your body retain heat.
  3. Don’t forget your gloves. Keeping hands and feet warm is key in the cold temperatures since your body will shunt blood away from extremities to keep your internal organs warm. Gloves will help prevent skin damage and frostbite in sub-zero temperatures. To keep your feet warm, make sure your torso is properly insulated. That will drive blood back down to your lower extremities.
  4. Avoid heavy cotton materials that sop up sweat. These will make you wetter and colder. Stick with wool and polyester fabrics.
  5. Check the forecast. Check the air temperature and wind chill factor before exercising in the cold. The US National Safety Council says there’s little risk when exercising in 20° Fahrenheit  even with 30 miles per hour winds, but that dangers exist when the combined temperature and windchill falls below -20°F.
  6. Consider a face mask or scarf in frigid temperatures. If those temperatures are dipping near the danger zone, protect the skin on your face by covering it up. Having a loose layer over your nose and mouth can also warm frigid air before you inhale, helping to protect your lungs.

Nowadays, I only run if chased (and that might even be doubtful), but these are smart tips to follow even if you’re just taking a walk, or shoveling snow, even hanging Christmas lights on your rain gutters. Any of these activities, no matter how slight the exertion, can cause some unsafe conditions… that’s why it’s important to keep yourself climate controlled. There have been many times that I’ve been outside shoveling snow and ice, drenched in sweat, even though it’s 15 degrees. I’ve been wearing Gore-Tex and Thinsulate heavy gloves and still can’t feel my fingers due to my extremities shutting down because I’m sweating so much I have to keep my jacket open.

The moral of the story is to be careful when out in the cold. Take care of yourself. Frostbite is no picnic, so don’t click on the link if you have a weak stomach.