Holten: The weather, interstate driving and Barack
Do you ever watch The Weather Channel or look up the weather forecast online on a daily basis? I didn’t used to but I do now because if I don’t, it can turn into a life-or-death situation.
When I lived in sunny California, I didn’t know what The Weather Channel was, nor does anyone else who lives there because, quite frankly, living near Los Angeles is almost like living under a big dome with someone up there never turning down the thermostat.
Every day is the same. It might rain once a decade, few trees would think of losing a leaf and the only thing you shovel off the driveway is dog doo from Biffy, the neighbor’s poodle.
But now I’m in sunny but slightly cooler North Dakota and in the winter, aside from icy and blizzard conditions, dodging deer, avoiding oil trucks, trains at crossing, exploding rail cars and flat tires, there are plenty of things that can go wrong with your jalopy on a country road and even on the interstate.
What I don’t want to do is get caught somewhere and be exposed to the elements because it’s cold out there right now folks.
In fact, get this: At minus-15 degrees, a 20 mph wind will create a wind chill temperature of minus-42 degrees, which can give you frostbite in only 10 minutes.
At minus-10 degrees, a 25 mph wind will create a wind chill temperature of minus-37 degrees, which can also give you frostbite in only 10 minutes.
At 20 degrees, a 5 mph wind will create a wind chill temperature of 13-degrees, which can give you frostbite in only 30 minutes.
You see, when your body gets cold, blood stays closer to your core organs, leaving your fingers, toes, nose and ears with less warm blood running through them. That’s when frostbite can occur. And once you get frostbite, it’ll take at least six weeks before you’ll even know if the tissue is going to survive, much less if you’ll be holding your next cup of coffee with one or two less fingers.
So bring along a sleeping bag, a coffee can, a big thick candle to burn in the can, plenty of matches and make sure your cellphone is powered up so mommy, daddy and the sheriff’s department can track you down.
That reminds me of a pet peeve of mine regarding interstate driving; a roadway where they have two lanes traveling in each direction.
Now some of you apparently don’t realize that the left lane is for passing because I’ve had a number of you pull up next to my big red pickup truck, attached to a trailer hauling at least two horses, and stay there long enough to recite the Gettysburg Address, the Lord’s Prayer, a Lyndon Johnson speech, (which was always too long and tediously boring) and the third act of Hamlet.
In other words, if I was going 70 mph, you were going 71 and took a week to pass me with six bikers, Jed Clampett, Granny, Jethro and Elly May, two oil tankers, a camper and a Mercedes convertible behind you, all waving their fists and honking their horns while you napped behind the wheel.
Even when you pass a car on the interstate, you don’t gawk at its occupants, fill your coffee cup from a thermos, tear the wrapper from a Salted Nut Roll and pick your teeth using the rearview mirror. You pass them in seconds rather than minutes or hours and continue at a rate of speed that is faster than that at which they are traveling. That’s what you call road etiquette. Just thought you should know.
Which for some reason also reminds me of something President Barack Obama said shortly after he was elected president for the first time: “I don’t care whether you’re driving a hybrid or an SUV. If you’re headed for a cliff, you have to change direction. That’s what the American people called for in November, and that’s what we intend to deliver.”
Maybe we should let both he and Congress know that they can turn anytime.
Holten is the manager of The Drill and write a weekly column for The Dickinson Press. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.