Friday, February 4, 2011

This Ice-Wrapped Never World



I shall wrap you in white, against the cold dark night, there's a hard freeze on, my delicates.

Cold comes from loss of heat. Remove all heat, and you would get as cold as possible, absolute zero, −273.15°C, or −459.7°F, or (my favorite) 0°K (Kelvin). I mention that not because it reached zero degrees Kelvin in Phoenix on Thursday morning, although I was wondering if we weren't headed in that direction, but because I think it's relevant to the concept of putting blankets on stuff outside. Putting a blanket on something doesn't add heat to it. Unless the blanket itself is hot, and in any case it will cool down to air temperature pretty fast. All that putting a blanket on does is slow the release of heat. A blanket is equally good at keep heat out, too, so wrapping a block of ice in one will slow its melting. In Europe they are spreading blanket-like carpets on glaciers for that very reason. I'm not underestimating the aid that these covers will give to these plants, particularly beneath the clear black cold skies we're having at night: the clearer, the colder, because clouds act like blankets themselves, insulating, and also reflecting, heat which is otherwise sent radiating out into the darkness.


That's ice. On a canal. In Phoenix. Never never never never.

Friday is supposed to be the end of this cold spell. However, it will require one more Plan B+ clothed commute. Plan B+ is the under 40°F clothes, augmented with thick wool socks, a head cover under the helmet, both pants legs wrapped shut against the socks, and an extra layer of fleece under the jacket. It's a very warm combination that I haven't worn in a very long time. Let's hope it's a very long time before I wear them again. Stay warm, don't make with the slipping or the falling down. Go Pittsburgh. Get up. Go ride.

 

6 comments:

  1. If I woke up and saw ice here, I'd go back to sleep.

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  2. Just think, with some more long-term freakish weather conditions, you could go skating on that canal. Wouldn't that be fun?

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  3. I love the shot of the icy canal (as bizarre as it is to think of ice in the desert southwest).

    When I was a kid, the wrapped plants used to freak me out. I knew they were just shrubs with coats on, but still, somehow, they scared me. It's funny to think of it now.

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  4. Strange days indeed. I fear that I've lost my palm tree and I've definitely lost my entire grapefruit harvest. Let's hope today is the end of the freezing desert.

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  5. Where's global warming when you need it?

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  6. limom, sleep is a good idea. Perhaps hibernation.
    RANTWICK, I would be like Hans Christian Anderson of the desert.
    Koko, the wrapped plants make me want to perform a side-by-side comparison of wrapped and unwrapped to see if it actually does any good. Or how much.
    BigClyde, it will make me a little sad to see the brown and yellow leaves all along the way. Cycle of nature, I guess.
    Steve A, I'm hoping for warm, and at this point am willing to accept it in any form.

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