Friday, February 16, 2007

Can We Live Through February?

I talked to my friend TS Elmwood again the other day.

“I see that winter finally showed up in the Chicago area.”

I think we might have gotten about a foot of snow last week, and it’s been below freezing for almost all of the past two weeks. My thermometer read fourteen below one morning.

“How is your back holding up with all that shovelling?”

OK so far – luckily, the kids next door have been doing our driveway and sidewalks for us.

“Have you had any conversations with non-believers regarding global warming lately?”

What do you mean?

“There’s a guy I know, he’s not a bad guy, but at least once a week during the winter he’ll say something to me like ‘nice weather, so much for global warming.’“

Perhaps he’s joking.

“No, he’s the same guy who still believes that they’ll find the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.”

You’re saying he’s generally confused?

“I’m saying his political and religious beliefs – which are hard to tell apart, sometimes – require that he not believe in global warming, or evolution, or any of that stuff he considers to be liberal propaganda.”

Ah. He could be a US Senator from Oklahoma some day.

“This guy was telling me about some debate he saw, probably on Fox News, about global warming. I told him it wasn’t a debate, it was sophistry.”

Good word. Did you see that Onion story on the debate over gravity?

“Yes, ‘intelligent falling,’ very funny. Getting back to the weather – I was reading something about Ojmjakon recently.”

What’s that?

“Not what, where. It’s supposedly the coldest inhabited place on Earth, it’s in Siberia. I checked, and the forecast high temperature for tomorrow is minus forty-five.”


“Yes, but it’s about the same as Celsius at that temperature, you know. Then I was reading about Alert, Nunavut.”

Which would be?

“The northernmost inhabited place on Earth. 82.5 North.”

It’s probably still dark there.

“They’re getting several hours of twilight by now, but no, the sun has not risen yet this year.”

I was thinking about hot Jupiters the other day.

“That’s an astronomical term, right?”

It is. Hot Jupiters are large planets, in other solar systems, that orbit very close to their stars.

“So they would have really short years.”

And their Februaries would be really short.

“You know that Dar Williams song, ‘February?’”

I do. I think I saw her play it when covivant and I saw the Cry Cry Cry show.

“Do me a favor and quote some of the lyrics in your blog.”

Will do. Stay warm, TS.

“First we forgot where we’d planted those bulbs last year,
Then we forgot that we’d planted at all,
Then we forgot what plants are altogether,
and I blamed you for my freezing and forgetting and
The nights were long and cold and scary,
Can we live through February?”

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