Tuesday, January 28, 2014


They swear it's going to get above 0°F this afternoon.

Yesterday I started the car, let it idle briefly, put it in reverse and it felt like I hit a curb as the Fozzie stalled out. Realizing what had happened, I re-started it and rolled forward a few inches before putting it in reverse and revving it a little to hop the chocks of frozen slush that had dropped out of the wheel wells behind the tires overnight.

While out on my daily peregrinations I saw a dude walking from the grocery store to the swath of little apartments behind the Goodwill. He was wearing neither hat nor gloves nor scarf as he schlepped his sack of chow and sixer of cervezas homeward. I thought to myself "Dude, I admire your stoicism and all, but these kind of temperatures can do actual physical damage with enough exposure." I know someone whose hands still turn white when it gets cold enough, thanks to a good case of frostbite working on a towboat when they were younger.

In the back of the Subie, in with the Fix-A-Flat and the first aid kit and the jug of coolant and suchlike is a cheap pair of gloves, like the kind they usually sell at the grocery store this time of year. I think I'm going to toss a cheap scarf and knit cap in there, too. I try not to leave the house without cold weather gear at this time of year, but the added insurance can't hurt, should I find myself walking home or waiting for a tow unexpectedly.


Blackwing1 said...

If you're going to live in a snowy area (which apparently Indy has become; thank you, Goracle), you're going to have to start using the lingo:

Snow dogs: The blackened globs of ice/salt/snow that fall out of your wheel wells. Unless you have to kick them out when they've started to interfere with cornering.

Plow snot: The slushy stuff that the plows leave behind on the sides when it's too warm to freeze.

Plow turds: The same stuff as plow snot, but 20 or 30 degrees colder.

Plow berm: Same thing again, but bigger, and capable of high-centering any vehicle not painted bright yellow with a 2-ft ground clearance. Plow berms are usually found at the ends of alleys, when the plow has made a run down the street perpendicular to the alley's driveway. They're usually about knee-high.

WindRider said...

Sounds like your Subie is earning it's keep.

og said...

The winter pack in the sploder has two hoodies, several pair of gloves and hats, a towel and an army surplus wool blanket.better to have the back full of crap than to freeze.

Tam said...

I have a fleece blankie and a little zip-into-a-pouch rain hoodie, but young Hector Enrique yesterday reminded me of the hat and scarf.

aczarnowski said...

Good advice.

Up here in the Fahrenheit hole I've had to use the jumper cables a couple times this year. You probably don't get enough snow to make a shovel worth it, but I've been really happy for the solid, comm bloc, surplus e-tool a couple times too. Plastic just cracks off the plow berms.

Tam said...

Oh, there's an e-tool and a bag of cat litter back there, too.

Firehand said...

Coldest thing I've ever seen was when was taking the then-family-of-four somewhere on a 15F day; at a stoplight some guy pulled up next to us on a motorcycle.

Looked like early 20's, wearing a long coat somewhat heavier than a duster and a pair of light gloves. Visibly that was it(not even a face cover) over a shirt and pants and shoes.

I've always wondered if he got where he was going before hypothermia and frostbite got him.

Phssthpok said...

Many moons ago, when I was cycling to and from school, I got one of these when the temps dropped to single digits one year: http://tinyurl.com/n8x9ypa


Though now I'd spring the extra for a full face jobbie: http://tinyurl.com/kcead43

Ed said...

My father always insisted that a winter emergency pack should include a resealable plastic bag of his favorite, flavorful hard candies to provide a ready, tasty source of quick calories when stuck in the cold.

Anonymous said...

I started keeping a set of knee pads in the truck also. Figured it would be good to have them to change a flat in any conditions, but was very happy to have them when I had the flat in the snow.

The cheap brown cotton gloves are great to have. At the very least for getting fuel so you don't get your nice gloves stinky. They wash easily also.

Anonymous said...

I recently had to change a wheel after bending a rim on a chunk of ice. Fortunately, I had a pair of cheap sponge-rubber kneepads in the trunk so my knees stayed warm and dry despite the fact it was 4F with a 20mph wind in a slushy parking lot. Go with sponge-rubber as gel kneepads would be too cold and are several times the price.

Other items I carry are my mil-surp Canadian Army mukluks and and the parka I wore in the Arctic decades ago, in case I have to hoof it to the nearest house.


mikee said...

So you finally admit to peregrination?

Hmmmmm. That explains the flights of fancy on your blog, I suppose.

staghounds said...

The nice thrift store that outfits about half of me throws away its winter coat inventory in April. I have them throw them my way and put them in a box in the cellar.

Come November, the box goes in the back of the car. By April, I've given them all to people like the one you saw.

Warm feelings all around.

Rick C said...

I spent a winter in Green Bay a few years ago. There was a period of about 2 weeks when the temps were -5 before factoring in a 30-degree wind chill. At the end of that, there was one day when the temps got almost up to 30 above zero. That evening it started snowing again. I was driving around downtown and saw a girl walking along in shorts and a hoodie. I guess she was dressed light for the weather increase but got caught out by the temp drop after dark.

Just because it feels warm in comparison to what it was yesterday doesn't mean it's actually warm!

Charles Pergiel said...

I saw a ten gallon tin of "emergency rations" at a surplus store once. It was full of hard candies.

Sherm said...

The space in and around the spare in a Forester has some very useful space. In addition to what you mentioned I stash two gallon bags of cat litter, a two piece shovel, jumper cables, a first aid kit, a roll of TP, a tow strap, and some other stuff. There's just enough room over the tire and under the cover to spread a sweat shirt.

rickn8or said...

Staghounds, now THOSE are the very definitions of "recycling" and "charity."

The fact it's relatively free is mere gravy.

Steve C said...

It always drives me crazy seeing Townies wearing shorts and sneakers in winter weather. They have no realization that the World is a dangerous place and it is out to get them.

global village idiot said...

You know more than one white-fingered frostbite wearer.


global village idiot said...

Oh, and small patches of carpet remnants are as good as kitty-litter/e-tool. Take up less space. Burlap works as well.

og said...

Did you ever fix the transfer case? Maybe when the weather breaks you can drive it north and we can swap the bugger out.

Patrick said...

Maybe toss a few extra sets of winter mits and hats. Sometimes you get company in the car, and I have dropped a few to people on the street much like the one you saw. The try to refuse them or buy them, but I just ask them to "pay it forward" in the future to someone else.

When I was in college my car got stuck in the ditch in upstate NY. While digging out, someone stopped to help and left me with much needed gloves and hat. Probably saved my fingers.

Lergnom said...

For years, my fall/winter gear was a Gore-tex jacket over a Thinsulate/Texolite(radiant barrier) vest from Early Winters, a combination which worked until it got down to parka weather. Mysteriously, they shrunk in the closet, so now it's a hooded Gore-tex jacket over a fleece hoodie. The fleece is great, but I got a hankering for a wool hoodie and found this place:
Good prices, made in America. They even have wool ponchos. I'm ordering one to keep in the car for the just in case times.

Scott J said...

Well, thanks to the inability of the South to deal with such I'm spending the night in my cubicle.

We went from "only getting a dusting" to "roads getting hazardous" in under an hour.

Everyone delayed too long and the roads all gridlocked.

There are between 500 and 1,000 people stranded in my office.

Anonymous said...

I don't get the complaining. That weather looks absolutely magnificent. Cold weather is invigorating, especially if the sun is out and there is snow on the ground.

Winter is so short, best to enjoy it while you can.

- wodun

Sebastian said...

His sixes might be his key to avoiding frostbite. I don't care what modern science says about it just making hypothermia happen that much faster... I don't buy that it's not helpful at all. It just changes the hypothermia/frostbite equation.

Alcohol metabolism is essentially exothermic, and your body can't do much else with alcohol energy other than make heat.

It's a powerful vasodilator. Next time you feel your extremities freezing, go have a few shots. They'll warm right up.

The Russians still believe in alcohol as essential to cold weather comfort, and I'd think they have some institutional knowledge on this that's not complete bullshit.

I do believe that in a life/death hypothermia situation, it probably does only make you bleed core heat faster, but most of us aren't running the Iditarod. For the kind of exposure most of us experience in Winter, it'll be a hell of a lot more comfortable with a little booze than without.

DJ9 said...


Recommend you upgrade the knit hat to a pullover facemask, preferably the kind with eye holes and a nose guard. It will only take one really cold/windy exposure for you to really appreciate the improvement in insulation. Heck, there have been times where I had a knit cap on OVER the facemask, and still didn't feel overdressed.

You can always take it off if it gets too warm, but if it ain't doing the job, the only options are misery and medical treatment.

ILTim said...

I've slowly over the years become one of those people with a hat, gloves, and wool blanket permanently in the back of the car. Just like that second toothbrush that lives in your to-go bag to save the hassle and forgetfulness when traveling.

Its been great when stuck in surprise snowdrifts, dealing with flats, etc. Stuff happens, and yeah, at 21 below zero with a wind that can knock you over life can get dreadfully serious in a hurry.

Brad K. said...


I am wondering if a change of warm socks, and maybe britches, might be worthwhile for a trip of much distance -- a local kit and a second, more elaborate kit.

Getting the toes damp from sweat or moisture loses a *lot* of heat and comfort. Falling or blowing snow, or working (changing a tire, helping a car that left the road) can leave your britches damp or wet, and less warm.

I recall the winter of '83-84, in Minneapolis, after a couple days of -20F (highs) weather. An enterprising University student in St. Paul (the other of the Twin Cities), went jogging one morning. In t-shirt and jogging shorts, and socks and running shoes. Apparently the athlete made it back to the building, and even in the street door, before collapsing in the dorm lobby. As I recall, the student survived. You don't have to be down south to act foolish, I guess.

Scott Gelber said...

I keep two sets of gloves and a cap in the passenger compartment of my vehicle. I also have a container of the -25F windshield wiper fluid and some trail mix bags. In the trunk, I keep a vacuum-deflated bag with a red Filson cruiser (good insulation and visibility), a pair of really ugly wool pants I can pull over whatever I am wearing, another set of gloves, a scarf, and a hat. With the air pulled from the bag, it is pretty small.

I grew up in the snow belt near Lake Erie, so surprise snow is no surprise at all.