Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Jack Frost Nips At Toes, Noses, and Much, Much, More

We are having some cold weather again.  The temps are in the single digits and our wind chills are way below zero, so outside isn't much fun.  We do what we have to do and as quickly as possible.  K has been out several times today pushing snow.  It gets too cold for him and he'll come in to warm up before heading out again.  He loves 'playing in the snow,' so this is very much out of character.  Usually, he will spend hours going up and down the street, clearing as many driveways as he can before he gets too tired.  Not today.

Living in the cold north, we have learned a few things about dealing with frigid temps.  Driving in snowy conditions, of course, is a challenge for us, but we're pretty used to it by now.  As long as you keep your speed reasonable, you can pretty much get anywhere you need to be.  Our road commissions are quite good at keeping the roads open and, for the most part, at least one lane in both directions is fairly well maintained even during the harshest of conditions.  Again, if you are driving reasonably, there should be no problem.

We deal with icy conditions, too.  Black ice is the most treacherous, as it is next to impossible to see.  To combat this, our roads are always covered in a mixture of sand and salt.  No matter what time of the year, or how cold it gets, we drive through car washes regularly--that salt eats away at vehicles like nobody's business.  We use special salt to melt the ice on our porch and steps outside, too.  One thing people who don't deal with this don't realize, however, is that salt can't be used when the temp is too low.  It actually creates more problems than it solves, as the melted ice will freeze quickly in the low temps, causing even bigger problems that you had to begin with.

One of the biggest problems we have right now is the shortage of propane, which many people use to heat their homes.  The price of a gallon of propane has risen more than $1.50 a gallon since November--and even if you want (need) to pay that, you can't get the amount you might desire.  Right now, some companies aren't letting anyone get more than 100 gallons of fuel at a time.  Your tank has to have less than a certain per cent of fuel for them to sell any to you.  To fill up a tank in November, I know someone who spent $800--in December they spent $1000, for less than what they got the month before.  Within two weeks time, they had bought themselves a pellet stove and will be using the propane for supplemental heating, rather than their primary heat source.  This is absolutely insane.  And there is nothing we can do about it.

With the cold temps, there are times when I miss our wood-burning stove.  The heat that thing pushed out was so different and nice and I truly loved how warm the house was when we had it.  I often romanticize how nice it would be to have a wood fire again and then reality hits.  I can't go back to the amount of work involved in keeping a wood fire going.  I hated the mess of cleaning the stove and chimney.  Bringing wood into the house was awful--not only would I have allergy symptoms at times, but many, many bugs would find their way out of hibernation as soon as they warmed up in our house.  YUCK!  And I never felt completely safe with the wood stove:  I ALWAYS was waiting for a chimney fire to start.  So, I guess I'll suck it up and turn the thermostat higher and pay more to keep warm.  At least we're able to afford it--THANKFULLY!!!!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Traditional and Stereotype Aren't Necessarily The Same

CES 2014 just finished up last week, so I have been reading a bunch of articles from people that were there.  A lot of cool stuff will be on the shelves at some point and I wanted to one of those 'in the know.'  Today I read an article that prompted this post--and you can read it here.  In a few words, the author is (as far as I can see)  saying that just because some electronics/accessories are made for the 'fashion conscious,' then they are dumbing things down and belittling women.  Riiiigggghhhhtttt.

My second to youngest granddaughter just turned 6.  For her birthday, I asked my daughter what would be something to give as a gift.  I was told that her interests were 'super heroes, princesses, and gymnastics.'  Her favorite color also happens to be pink.  My six granddaughters range in age from 4 to 18 and each of them are super hero/fantasy/scifi fans who (for the most part) love the color pink, ruffles, shiny things, and most everything 'girlie.'  Not one of these girls can be 'talked down to' just because she wants/likes traditional 'girl stuff.'  These girls are traditional--in so many ways--but they definitely are NOT stereotypes.

Far too many people--like the author of the article I linked to--seem to think that stereotypes and traditionalists are the same.  I am a traditional stay-at-home and have been for almost all of our marriage.  I am far from a stereotype.  My interests range far and wide.  I like scifi and fantasy--really am not a fan of any romance/tear jerk books or movies.  I'm a tech freak--I would rather have the latest, fastest, most expensive computer before getting a new washer/dryer.  I cook and clean, sew, do handwork, and many other 'traditional' things, but I would rather watch a hockey game than be domestic.  I don't wear ruffled aprons and don't particularly gravitate to the color pink.  (There is nothing wrong with pink--I actually have a couple of things in the color--but I wear black until they come up with something darker.)  I am far from a stereotype.

Being traditional is something that is ridiculed these days--and using stereotypes is a way to slam traditionalists.  Just because a person is a church-going Christian, then s/he is automatically a bigot.  Just because someone is a Republican, then s/he has money.  If someone is white, Republican, Christian, and southern, then s/he is a redneck who hates pretty much anything that isn't white, Republican, Christian, and southern.  There is no room for accepting that there may be some diversity among the traditionalists, just as there is diversity among the 'progressives.'  I don't know why it can't be understood that someone can embrace the best of both worlds.

So, I tell the companies out there "bring on the 'girlie' items."  If I want polka dots and bows, I will buy the product with polka dots and bows.  If I don't want them, I'll move on to something else.  But  I certainly like the fact that there is a choice for those who may want it!  And there certainly is nothing wrong with being a traditionalist.

Thursday, January 09, 2014

A Difficult Task

I admire anyone who can sustain a blog for a long time.  There ARE blogs that get updated on a very regular basis--sadly, this isn't one of them.  I try, but I just can't do it.  My life isn't such that many people would be interested in the day to day minutiae and I am very grateful for those who come back time and again to read my boring posts.  And, I can't think of many things to write about right now.

Looking over the subjects I could write about does no good for me to come up with interesting posts.  I could write about the way the Red Wings season is going, but I have a hockey blog where I could do that.  And I don't keep THAT blog current, either.  There is always the gym that I could blog about, but it's 'same old, same old' basically, so that won't work.  I could write about The Oldest and her busy world, but that just makes ME look lazy, so I won't.  ;)  The Youngest and her husband's new house and move could be somewhat interesting, but other than people who personally know them, probably not.  (I DO have pictures, but since I rarely post anything close to identifying, I think that's out.)  Religion, politics, etc, are mostly off-limits for me, so that won't do.  I don't follow celebrities, TV shows, movies, or music on a conscious level, so none of those are fodder for this blog.  Oh, well.

I'm not ready to give up this blog completely.  It is nice to have an outlet when, and if, I ever need one.  Sadly, the posts might be a bit on the dull side for a while, but, knowing life, I'm sure that will change sooner rather than later.  :D  So stay tuned--the best is just around the corner.

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Ball Sweat

I have a nose that can detect smells that many people--especially men--cannot smell.  This has been helpful in many cases--smelling the decaying mouse in the trap and the rotting potatoes in the bin--as well as embarrassing--calling to have our 'gas leak' taken care of when I was really smelling the turkey carcass in the garbage bag.  One thing I haven't been able to smell, for the most part, is bad odors in the gym we go to.  This must be due to their keeping the place very clean AND a good air-replacement system.  But things aren't always smelling like roses, however...

One day I was putting in my time on the treadmill when a man decided to use the machine next to me.  Everything was going fine until I started smelling something.  Now I couldn't tell what this nauseating smell was at first, but slowly I realized it was ball sweat*!  And it was coming from the guy next to me!  And he was going nowhere any time soon!  I looked at my time and saw that I only had two more minutes on the machine and decided I could put up with the smell for that long--but they were two of the longest minutes I have ever endured.  I still don't know how I managed to keep myself from audibly gagging.  Now whenever I see this guy in the gym, I make sure I'm nowhere in his vicinity--I don't need to get sick to my stomach in the name of fitness!

There is another guy at the gym who reeks of cigarette smoke.  I'm not sure if HE is the smoker or lives with one, but whenever I see him, I 'see' a cloud of yellow smoke enveloping him.  He is one of the nicest people I have ever met and he LOVES to talk hockey with me, so I am bombarded by this odor whenever he and I are at the gym together.  It would be nice if I could keep enough distance between us so that I couldn't smell him, but then we would have to use megaphones to communicate and that's not going to work.

For the most part, I have never noticed a lot of smells when I am participating in a class at the gym.  There are times when I will smell a woman's perfume for a second, but even with the amount of people surrounding me, there is little odor present.  Except for that one day...

K came to class with me and things were going well until I could smell another obnoxious odor:  ass crack**.  This was mixed with plain old BO.  That day I came very close to upchucking and had to WILL myself to finish the class without being physically sick.  And, of course, K didn't smell a thing.  The biggest problem is this:  I have NO IDEA what person was emitting said odors, so I can't even avoid him/her whenever I go to class!

Such horrendous first-world problems we have.  ;)

*Someone asked me HOW did I know it was ball sweat I was smelling.  My answer?  If you've smelled it once in your life, you NEVER forget it.

**Ditto the last answer.  :D