Thursday, December 15, 2005


Winter has settled on the great little East Coast. For those of you who have not had the pleasure to experience a Canadian winter, let me assure you that most stereotypes are quite correct. It's inescapably frigid.  Some people make subtle differentiations between a "dry cold" and the "damp cold". I've heard that dry cold is much more bearable. I suppose all you can do when freezing your ass off as you pump gas is to contemplate the finer distinctions of the temperature. I've spent 35 winters in Canada, and you would think that I would be accustomed to the weather. And to think that there are at least 5 generations behind me who have toiled and worked this land, all surviving long enough to perpetuate my lineage. You would think I would have a pile of those winter survival genes. Once the thermometer dips past -10C, I am a walking experiment in cryogenics.

Coupled with my inability to tolerate the cold, is the insane price of furnace oil. And as luck and destiny would have it, every single house on the base here (since we live in military housing) is hearted with oil. So Eric and I have this need to be somewhat conscious of our consumption, since we can easily burn an entire tank a month ($800 folks). We keep the thermostat between 18 and 20C, which is not miserly if you think about it.  As luck would have it, this house has ineffective insulation. It's always cold in here. Whenever the heat goes on, the kids run to the vent and stand over the rush of hot air. Layering has become an important fashion statement. T-shirt, scarf, sweater, vest, socks AND slippers (pants of course).

The temperature is most noticeable when I am on the computer. The cold just seeps into my bones, in through all the layers. Last night I rigged up my electric blanket and I discovered how perfect it was. I was comfortable - all except for my mousing hand. As I was doing my grading, I became very distracted by the temperature of that hand. I would hide it under the toasty folds of the blanket, only to find out that I use the mouse with mind-boggling frequency. Poking my hand in and out of the warm embrace of the blanket, frankly, was interrupting my flow.  I thought about fetching a glove. A glove. I had a lit candle near, and suddenly I had the image of embodying Bob Cratchit I suppose I could have, nothing and no one would have stopped me.  Nor did I feel any overwhelming pressure from my surrounding social context which prevented me from fetching a glove.  I think my body was so cozy and warm, the thought of extricating myself for a glove to wear as I used the computer, was worth packing it all in for the evening and resume in the morning. Sorry Bob.

And this is what I should be doing right now.


Stephen (aka Q) said...

We're in the deep freeze here in Ontario, too. Except I understand we're going to get dumped on with snow tonight, which means the temperature will likely rise some.

I love that image of you in front of the computer with the electric blanket and only your mouse hand exposed.

Hey! I've just thought of a great invention! A heated mouse, perfect for all northern climates!

We have to get this product on the market by next Christmas; then we'll be rich and you can use all the heating oil you want!

Heather said...

Q - what a great idea! We should call this heated mouse "The Crachit".

I'm thinking that all we need to do is make a glove that has mousing properties. It would have a USB cable on it,(or it could be completely wireless of course) and have an optical light in the palm, and a device on the first and middle fingers that will respond to the left and right mouse buttons. And there could be detachable fingers - so that it would be good device to use on a laptop - since most people are more likely to get cold using a laptop. (And who can use those mouse controls on a laptop anyway.)

Wow. Sound almost possible. How do we patent this idea?


Heather said...

Oi Beat out by a High School Dude!
The Mouse Glove

MC Etcher said...

I know from my winter experiences in Ohio how cold it gets while on the computer.

I had to have a tiny heater blowing warm air across the keyboad and mouse as I worked.

hotboy said...

The cold! Oh no! Nothing worse than the cold. You wouldn't ever want to raise inner cold, would you? Says it all. Hotboy

Beth said...

heather, i admire you for even surviving there. people here in new york (the wimpy part, NOT the upstate snow belt) start freaking out when it gets around freezing. they start going to the store to "stock up" if the forecast calls for even two inches of snow. geez.

Stephen (aka Q) said...

Darn that high school kid, anyway! Just for a second there, I had dollar signs dancing before my eyes.

Tor said...

Gee, I love the Maine winter. It's the summer I can't stand. I've always had an easier time getting warm if I'm cold than cooling down if I'm hot. Hang in there.



hotboy said...

How cold does it get? Hotboy

Heather said...

The Coldest days of the year here are about -15C, and with windchill it makes it about -35C. Welcome to Canada eh!