The media have made a great story out of the grave menace to our way of life posed by the Polar Vortex of Doom. Rightly so, I suppose. It is cold out there after all. But there’s something that’s been nagging at me since the early hours of this morning. I mean aside from vaguely wondering if I shouldn’t have left a faucet running while I was at work.
It was cold last night – somewhere in the low teens when I took the dogs out for last call around 10PM. A little after 6 this morning, I took them out again and discovered that it was still cold. It was still cold to the tune of about 3 degrees. The wind felt like it was blowing at more or less the same speed from more or less the same direction. On both occasions, I was more than well aware that it was, by my own definition, cold as blue hell. However, I can’t say that 3 degrees at 6AM felt substantively colder than 13 degrees at 10PM. This all leads me to believe at some level cold is simply cold.
There’s probably some very scientific method of proving that people sense degrees of coldness in different ways, but based on my purely unscientific experience over the last 24 hours, I’d be hard pressed to confirm that. I’m willing to go ahead and make a concession that I would probably be able to tell -30 from 10, but in a narrower range, it all just feels like worse than average cold to me. Then again, I’m not a devotee of cold weather. At best I consider the cold something to be avoided, hidden from, and beaten back using all the home heating weapons at your disposal… but really, unless I’m going to be stuck in it for hours on end, I don’t need gradations of cold. Unless there’s a tragic accident, I’m not going to be in it long enough to do more than notice that “sweet baby Jesus it’s cold out here.” That makes discussions of cold, colder, and coldest pretty much academic by my standards.