Education of a cheechako

I’m going to write this all up as a learning experience.

It’s not that I haven’t been in cold weather before. It’s that I haven’t had to do so much stuff in the middle of cold weather.

When I was a kid up in Kentucky (we moved to Florida when I was 10), icy winter weather was a mindless novelty. It was an adventure. I had a lot more fun with the frozen pipes, icy driveways and big piles of snow than my parents did.

Some years later, when I was in college at UGA, cold weather was still an adventure. All I had to manage was a walk to class. When a serious ice storm took down power lines all around Athens, it wasn’t anything to be concerned about – rather, it was an opportunity to see if there were any young ladies around who might need some help keeping warm in the evening.

In my distant and misspent youth, romps around high altitudes, snow fields and glaciers in places like Alaska, Montana and Colorado were just temporary visits to frozen wastelands. A few days (or weeks) of wicked low temperatures and it was back to summer in Florida and Georiga.

When the low temperatures visit the usually steamy swamp, however, it’s a bit different. It’s still an adventure of sorts – just an adventure that could end with some expensive repairs to cracked water pipes, water pumps and screened enclosures.

This morning when I cranked my trusty truck to let it warm up for the trip in to the Monday morning school drop-off and then work, the temperature sensor (which I have now nicknamed “Sherlock”) alternated between flashing “17″ and “ICE”. In the process of getting the road show rolling, I learned a few things:

1. Electric garage door openers will indeed freeze. But a few good pokes with a hoe-handle will get them in the mood again.

2. When it gets really, really cold, sometimes a truck tire will go nearly flat for no good reason.

3. Air compressors are argumentative little bastards when it’s 17 degrees.

4. The moisture that escapes from a tire air valve can freeze instantly when it’s cold enough. This not only renders an air pressure gauge completely usesless; it can also jam the air valve open and let out ALL of the air in the tire.

5. As you watch all of the air hiss out through a frozen tire valve, you can create an amazing number of entertaining phrases out of words with no more than four letters.

6. The electric garage door opener, the power outlets in my garage workshop and our heat pump were all wired through the same circuit breaker by the dumbass who built our house.

7. Spicing up your entertaining phrases with 9- and 12-letter words can actually help you keep warmer while you reset circuit breakers, track down power outlets on the external GFCI loop and inflate flat tires.

8. With the truck engine running, the defroster blowing full speed and the door closed, it’s impossible for a four-year-old in the back of my truck cab to hear me screaming entertaining phrases at the top of my lungs. I hope.

9. Even after all of this, I still managed to get to work before two-thirds of our staff. So I am not the biggest cheechako in the bunch.

NOT funny

I live in a Florida swamp for a number of reasons. Snow is not one of those reasons.

Early this morning, a dusting of snow and other frozen crud hit my swamp. I would like to call this to the attention of Homeland Security and the defense establishment because surely it’s the hostile act of some foreign power. It could not be a purely natural occurrence. Some evil, extra-territorial scientific genius must be behind the whole thing.

Below is a photo of the front of my truck, taken this morning. That is snow. SNOW, Gen. Schwartz, and as an American taxpayer I expect you and your Air Force boyz to solve this problem immediately. Russians? Space aliens? Norwegians? I don’t care who’s behind this – I want you to find them and .. deal.. with them.

Winter can be over now. Is it June yet?

Snow on my truck. In Florida. Damn.

Snow on my truck. In Florida. Damn.

Heat. Just heat.

Even with the benefits of air conditioning, cold beer, ice cubes and fruity mango pops, when the weather is as hot as it has been here the last few days everybody just sort of goes to ground. I’ve got to cram any meetings or drop-ins into a schedule before 11 a.m. every day if I want to find anybody in a conversive mood. Otherwise, it’s hard to conduct business when you walk into somebody’s office with the soles of your shoes half melted and sticking to everything.

Just another breezy day.

Just another breezy day.

On the way to a meeting yesterday morning, I stopped in at the McD’s in Belleview for one of their $1 fountain drinks. Even though it was only about 9:30, I was not alone. It seemed like there were 20 or so people all sitting around with cold drinks, all looking out the windows at the heat waves shimmering over the pavement and thinking ‘oh shit, I’ve got to go out there and work.’

A clutch of real estate agents (they’re easy to spot) who had been out making their end-of-the-week rounds of new MLS listings shuffled in as I was getting ready to leave. They had some serious perspiration going on. I wasn’t sure if they’d just been out walking around properties, or if they’d had a group splash in a swimming pool somewhere.

When the mercury is nudging up around 98 and 100, it tends to alter your daily routine. I’m seldom up at 7 a.m. on a Saturday morning, but this past weekend I sure as shootin’ had all of the yard mowing and outside chores around the Swamp finished by 9:30. Even then, it was nearly 90 by the time I was done.

The weather folks tell us we can look forward to a break in the heat the next few days, though. It’s only supposed to get up to around 92 or 93 the next couple of days.