Sunday, February 14, 2016

Which way is the wind blowing?

I mean real wind, actually blowing.  About 10 days ago, I went north to the university's remote camp.  I snowshoed there with a group of people.  The main thing I remember about the experience was how cold my hands were.  It was about 18­°F and I was active the whole time.  Most of me was ok but not my hands.  They got painfully cold.

When I walk in the winter, I sometimes wear light knit gloves inside mittens.  The double layer is warm enough under most circumstances.  But on this trip, I thought being in motion and using stability poles would be enough motion and muscle use for my hands to be ok.  This is an El Nino winter, when the world's wind patterns are affected by a warming spot in the south Pacific Ocean.  I don't know much about that but it usually makes the winters a little warmer.  But El Nino or not, my hands were cold.

Besides the heater in a car, just the car body itself does quite a bit to shield a person from the cold.  Around here in the winter, the wind is the thing.  If the air is still, I can take some pretty deep cold.  But getting a little breeze blowing and pretty deep cold gets to be very severe cold.  I forgot that yesterday's class was not going to be in the usual room, in the usual campus building.  I didn't remember until I got three flights up and saw the usual room locked. Back down three flights, but that wasn't too hard.  Now, across campus to the other building.

Sorry!  The wind was blowing out of the west right toward me.  I had to walk west to get to the room.  I had been wanting to hear Prof. Leviton on film music for years and I was not going to miss his presentation. My hands were getting very cold again, right through my gloves.  When the situation requires it, you just have to walk into the wind.  Colder and colder, more and more bite to the wind.  I could vaguely picture the cold, cold air stealing heat from my face while my body tries to keep my nose from freezing by sending heat from my body and hands to my face.

On most winter days, I am inside the house or the car or a campus building or a heated store.  This time, I really wanted to get from here to there and the car was as close to here and there as it could be.  I tried to angle off a bit so that the building I was walking toward would itself shield me a little.  It did and I could feel a little difference but I was still in real pain.

I have read that some experiments on pain, on mental control and related subjects use a small tub of ice water as a source of pain.  Immerse your hand in the ice water and keep it there as long as you can.  Of course, I walked as fast as felt safe over walks with some ice.

When I stepped inside the right building, my glasses instantly fogged up so badly I was blinded.  I had to take them off to safely go up stairs.  The wind's force and direction matter.

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