Frozen in time

Paul Douglas and I clearly don’t run with the same crowd. In his blurb in the Star Tribune today, Minnesota’s go-to guy for weather notes that no matter how cold it gets, we don’t care:

Thursday was, in all probability, the coldest day of the year with a low of -21 and a “high” of -6 F. Here’s a virtual high five – you just survived/endured the coldest day in 5 years. You made it. Think about that – most schools were open, people went to work, mail got delivered, people shopped, worked out, went about their business. Anywhere else in America they would have declared martial law and activated the National Guard. Here in Minnesota we just shrug our (frostbitten) shoulders and mutter “no big deal.”

You weenies in Michigan or Massachusetts simply wouldn’t understand the depth of our disinterest in how cold it is.

Coincidentally, the top story on the Star Tribune’s Web site this morning was about the weather:

Crushingly cold temperatures and dangerous wind chills kept their grip on Minnesota making roads slippery and forcing some schools to close.

The temperature in the Twin Cities at 6 a.m. was 21 below zero, but that was almost balmy compared to other spots in the state.

Not that anyone cares.

James Lileks, the funniest columnist in the Twin Cities (in the category of those columnists who are trying to be) appears more rooted in reality, possibly because he’s frozen to it:

If you’re lucky, your car’s heater can be set on “Blast From the Gaping Maw of Hell” and it thaws your orbs by the time you hit the highway. But I pass people whose teeth are chattering like wind-up gag dentures, and it’s obvious their heaters are incapable of emitting anything warmer than penguin flatulence.

These people need an advocacy group. These people need a spokesperson. Someone who will stand up and say what millions of us believe: THIS IS RIDICULOUS. I’M TIRED OF PRETENDING IT MAKES US BETTER PEOPLE.

By the way, some of us are going skating over at the Landmark Center outdoor rink at noon again. See you there? Or are you from Nebraska or something?

Update 2:18 p.m. – Courtesy of Kevin Hendricks


You have to like the pluckiness of MPR’s Tom Weber who didn’t need a coat.

  • Bob

    Message: I CARE!!

    A sure sign of mental disturbance is claiming to love living here, even when the weather is life-threatening and activity-limiting.

    I’m off to Phoenix for a few days to try to restore some warmth to my bones. I figure a day-long motorcycle ride around the Valley should be just the tonic I need…

  • Paul

    Here’s what I don’t get: At a time when our school children have the best transportation and warmest clothes in history, we cancel school because it’s too cold? Fewer kids walk to school now than ever before, they spend less time waiting for the bus, and they’re bundled up like astronauts. I went to school in St. Louis Park in the 70s, during the mini ice age, not once- not once was school ever canceled, and there were no weather related injuries or deaths. One time we had to wade through snow drifts in below zero weather after a blizzard to get to the bus a block away because the bus could make it up the street because the snow was too deep. Man, the buses are actually dropping kids off in front of their houses in some cities! In one city I noticed they canceled school but not the sports programs? Sports is more important than education? Crazy man.

  • Michael Wells

    Maybe Nebraskans are just smart enough to know when to stay inside. If you fall down today, you’ll shatter.

    – Michael Wells

  • @Bob I do love living here, especially during these temperatures. Makes me feel alive.

    It’s late March that I hate. That’s about the time I start longing for California beaches.

  • Bob Collins

    Paul, in at least one case, the schools were closed because the busses wouldn’t start. PIM’s Janecek claims it’s because they’re required to use biodiesel.

    How far away was your school in St. Louis Park?

    Most of the schools I went to in my hometown have been closed. they were in neighborhoods, replaced by a larger school central in the city but too far to walk.

    It’s interesting to me that one of the big problems in canceling school now is it disrupts the workday of parents, both of whom work. That wasn’t always the case. I’m not sure what those people are supposed to do.

    Clearly there wasn’t enough shrugging going on today. (g)

  • I stand with Lileks and Wells.

    One look at Twitter the last two days you’ll see how much people care, and love complaining about, the cold. Myself included.

    Bob, I’m stuffing myself in your suitcase to Arizona!

  • Bob Collins

    //A sure sign of mental disturbance is claiming to love living here, even when the weather is life-threatening and activity-limiting.

    *I* love it here. I *love* the cold. I love the challenge it presents. I *love* being out in it. I *love* that my life requires me to change it to adapt from one day to the next instead of a steady drumbeat of routine because each day is the same as the rest. I love the excitement of looking at the thermometer to see that it’s colder than yesterday. I love that we care about the homeless when it’s this cold rather than just stepping over them like when it’s 70.

    I love that the days are getting longer and that warm weather provides hope in an economy that gives us a steady dose of hopelessness.

    I HATE mud season, however.

  • Paul


    Yeah I saw that story about Bloomington’s buses not starting… another Pawlenty initiative gone wrong.

    My school was about half a mile away given the shortcuts through backyards and parks. But your right, they tore down my school as well. However, they increased bus service so fewer kids are actually walking even if the schools are further away, and a lot of parents are dropping kids off, even when there is bus service. In general it seems to me kids just spend less time outside in the cold period.

    I mean I could see in rural areas, but people used build little shelters for kids to wait in, you see these things along the country roads. I can see being hesitant to send you kid out to wait for the bus on a county road when for all you know the bus broke down two miles away, but people used do it. Now we have communication technology, if a bus did break down, the driver could call the school who could in turn call the parents and tell them get the kids in the house until the bus was on the way.

    I still say it’s strange time in history to be calling off school because it’s cold.

  • j

    Collins, I whole-heartedly agree. I also love complaining about it. And I love that tomorrow’s 20 degrees is going to feel great.

    Last year, after a similar cold spell, my girlfriend and I were commenting on how balmy it felt outside. We could actually breathe in the air without the assistance of a scarf. We figured it may be at least 15 degrees, if not warmer.

    It was 2. We so earn our Spring.

  • Heather

    I love that it’s no longer pitch black at 5 pm!

  • bsimon

    I’m in the ‘I like it’ camp. When I went out for lunch today, it felt warm. It was an illusion, that I realized after a few minutes in the car, but walking out to the car at -8 with the sun shining felt a lot warmer than walking out to the car this AM in the semi-darkness at -22. I love building a fire and driving the living room temp into the upper 70s, then walking out to the woodpile in a t-shirt and sandals, feeling just fine. Can’t stay out long, of course, but the cold doesn’t feel so bad after absorbing the radiated heat from a wood stove.

    Soon we’ll have temps in the 20s & 30s, and the real snowy months will kick in, forcing us out to shovel and perhaps motivating us out to play in the comfortable temps for sledding or skiing or snowball fights. 25° in February is so much warmer than 25° in November. I love it.

  • Mary

    I like the cold. It gives us bragging rights. When I visit family down south, I can venture out in 40 degrees weather without a coat and win everyone’s respect and awe.

    But I don’t like the spring time thaw, it perpetually smells of dog poo and worms outside.

  • Bob

    All I can say to the cold lovers is that the frigid temperatures have benumbed all y’all’s brain pans. ; )

    IMHO, it’s whack to love weather in which skin exposure of just a few minutes can cause severe frostbite.

    The good weather in Minnesota starts after the spring thaw, and runs to roughly the end of October.

    My mother-in-law has the right idea. She lives in MN from about the first week of May through the first week of November, then heads for Sun City. ROCK ON, MA!

  • bsimon

    “it’s whack to love weather in which skin exposure of just a few minutes can cause severe frostbite.”

    The trick is to not expose skin.

  • momkat

    I love the contrast of seasons that make spring so wonderful. I lived in California for 8 years and missed the contrasting seasons and especially thunderstorms.

  • andy

    I’ve lived in this area my whole life, 30-something years, and I still hate the bitter cold. I love tons of snow but when the mercury drops below zero, I’m done. -34° on my cars’ thermometer this morning. No more please, I don’t care what bragging rights are involved.

  • Minn Whaler

    Was born in Northern Vermont (4 miles from Canada) where winters are longer and harder, snow doesn’t fall in inches, it falls in feet… Kind of like Northern MN. As a young adult spent 2 years in Florida, then another 2 in Georgia, returning to New England for a radio gig (former life) in Massachusetts, during a incredibly frigid, but rather snowless winter. When the temperature took a dramatic turn from -10 to 42 above, I was co-anchoring a 60 minute news program. I sat down at the mike asked for current temp but didn’t write it down. Good evening this is blank, it’s currently…

    long pause 10 degrees in blank, with co-anchor who will remain nameless, we’ll be back with the news after this. As I look up at my co-anchor (fully aware I had messed up) he was holding his head in his hands shaking it back and forth, then said.. It is 50 degrees warmer today than yesterday, people notice that, heavy sigh. Just for the record.. I knew that too and am looking forward to a balmy Minnesota winter weekend!

  • Elizabeth T

    My car definitely does not have the heater setting “Gaping Maw of Hell” (although I can’t stop laughing at it, I’ve got tears on my face, thankfully indoors, else they’d be frozen).

    I’m looking for a replacement car – I think this needs to get added to my requirements: stick shift, 4 door, Gaping Maw of Hell heater.

    It was -20 last February & called my brother in L.A. “So, how warm is it out there?” …. um … 70 … “wow, it’s 90 degrees warmer there!”

  • Pardon me for commenting late on this post, Bob C., but I just now noticed you and Paul mentioning Sarah Janecek’s blog post on biodiesel.

    I’ll make a deal with Sarah — I’ll agree she knows more about politics in Minnesota than I do, if she agrees to stop posing as an alternative fuel expert.

    See my post in “Gas 2.0” for the cold truth about the stalled buses in Bloomington.