Remember the feeling you got in your stomach as a child when you were riding in the backseat of a car that would crest a steep hill?
I called them tickle hills and I would purposely drive the hilly routes when the kids were young. I would accelerate and for a brief moment at the top we would experience zero-gravity, causing our intestines to shift slightly, bringing delighted shrieks of “wee” and “let’s do it again” from the backseat occupants.
Hey, it was cheap entertainment and a good excuse to remove some carbon from the carburetor.
My other experience with zero-gravity was when I took a ride with the Blue Angels and left my internal organs on the tarmac upon liftoff and I didn’t get them back until we landed 45 minutes later. That was after I passed out from the g-forces.
That’s the best analogy to describe this wild winter weather roller coaster ride. We go up … and then we go down. It’s a see-saw of weather from pain to rain and polar vortex that’s frankly hurting my cerebral cortex.
If this were the stock market our temperature swings would be enough to break the brokers. The La Crosse office of the National Weather Service said the 72-hour temperature swing from Jan. 31 to Feb. 2 was 73 degrees. La Crosse went from -33 to 40 degrees during that time, sending the groundhog back into his hole to consult with a therapist.
I have a digital thermometer outside the house that stops working when it reaches -35. The morning of Jan. 31, the digital thermometer on my truck (which is much more accurate in the winter than in the summer, I am told) registered -40 and didn’t budge from that reading for 25 minutes on my way to work.
The half-full frozen glass part of this story is that I was able to witness the convergence of two temperature scales — Fahrenheit and Celsius. It is at -40 where the temperature is the same. And if you’re wondering, that same temperature on the Kelvin scale is a balmy 233.15 degrees.
Trust me, you don’t want to see absolute zero, which is the temperature upon which Kelvin is based and the hypothetical point at which all molecular activity ceases. That would be -273.16 Celsius or -459.69 Fahrenheit or the temperature reached when one forgets Valentine’s Day.
The polar vortex is a frigid air mass brought down from the arctic. Scientists tell us global warming contributes to the polar vortex and we should expect more arctic blasts in the future. Clearly there must be some sort of permanent vortex hanging over Washington, D.C., because we have reached the point where most logical neurological activity there seems to have ceased.
I believe there is a heavy blanket of dense fog involved.
Back on the farm the animals did as well as could be expected. The cows, sheep, goats and donkeys did not venture far from the shed during the bitter wind chills and my heated waterer did its job.
As I write this piece we have rain in the forecast, followed by snow and then more subzero cold. I think the dramatic temperature swings and damp weather is harder on them than dealing with just the cold.
During the worst of the cold I kept my outdoor activities to the minimum needed to feed animals and feed the outdoor wood-fired boiler. Aside from some temporary ailments of frosty eyebrows and burning cold fingers, I am none the worse for wear.
Granted, it might be a little hard to tell coming from someone whose brains were scrambled by tremendous gravitational forces at high altitudes.