The Family (Or most of them)

The Family (Or most of them)
The Family

January 12, 2007



It was -48C with the windchill when I woke up Friday morning in Winterpeg.

Biting. Numbing. Deadly. My boss refused to let me drive 2 1/2 hours to Kenora, Ontario, to do a story on that town's 100th anniversary of winning the Stanley Cup.

All school buses in Winnipeg were idled, although schools were open (try figuring THAT one out). Hundreds if not thousands of cars would not start.

Those cars that were on the road were almost impossible for other motorists to see due to the plumes of exhaust fumes being emitted from each vehicle in the frigid air.

The "high" today here was -30C (not including the windchill). I took the liberty of checking Saturday's forecast highs in some of the cities or regions inhabited by regular visitors to this blog...

Delhi, India -- 22C
Sydney, Australia -- 25C
Johannesburg, South Africa -- 32C
Seattle, Washington -- -2C
Montreal, Quebec -- -5C
Billings, Montana -- -12C
London -- 12C
Zeebrugge, Belgium -- 12C
Miami, Florida -- 27C
Boston, Massachusetts -- 11C
Jackson, Mississippi -- 25C
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia -- 29C
Winnipeg, Manitoba -- -26C

This is all part of a brutal cold snap that follows on the heels of what so far has been an unseasonably mild winter for the Canadian Prairies. Already, four people have died as a result of hypothermia.

Most were in their cars, their cars stalled and they opted to try to walk for help. They never made it.

This cold is affecting fruit crops in California, the entire American Northwest and Canada's West Coast.

It's supposed to last until the middle of next week.

This is a killer cold, so you won't see many kids outside doing snow angels.

And now, I think I can explain what is causing this freakish cold.

It's this...


A new life form of tiny, cold-loving micro-organisms involved in photosynthesis has been discovered in the Arctic Ocean, according to an international team of scientists, including a Canadian researcher.
The tiny plant organism, called a picobiliphyte, is distinct from anything else in the ocean, according to Université Laval biologist and professor Connie Lovejoy.
The picture shows a picobiliphyta cell under a fluorescent microscope. The cell nucleus is coloured in blue, the cytoplasm in green and the plastide, which is responsible for photosynthesis, is coloured in red. The cell measures two by five micrometres.
"It doesn't follow close to anything else we know about," said Lovejoy.
Picobiliphytes are plants containing fluorescent substances that glow under certain waves of light and are small enough to measure in microns — or millionths of a metre.
The discovery came after analyzing DNA sequences of vast amounts of micro-organisms in the ocean. European scientists discovered the peculiar micro-organisms off their shores, while Lovejoy did similar tests in the Canadian Arctic and found the same tiny life forms.
Their odd shape also separates them from typically round algae.

My theory is that this cold-loving algae has migrated south in search of food or publicity and to sustain itself, it has brought the Arctic temperatures with it. I hope this is not the case.

But most of all, I hope my car starts. And if it does, the first thing I'm going to do is head out and buy a new pair of longjohns. Fingers, legs, noses and other bodily appendages can freeze in a matter of minutes.


  1. I'm still in shock about those people dying of hypothermia because they decided to walk until they found help after their cars stalled. I can't imagine that kind of cold.

    Please be careful when you go out.

  2. "...other bodily appendages can freeze in a matter of minutes."



  3. Anonymous10:00 p.m.

    First off let me say how glad I am your boss wouldn't let you drive 2 1/2 hours in the freezing cold. As you said, people die in that kind of weather.

    And you're right; it’s not just cold in Winterpeg. I just talked to my brother in Absarokee and it was -29F (-33C) there this morning (without wind chill) and it looks like it will be another very cold night tonight as it's already -18F (-27C). We are having a heat wave here in Forsyth, it’s only -7F. I don’t know about you, but I’m thinking island vacation. The hot sun on my back, waves lapping, umbrella drinks, maybe a cute cabana boy or two. Ok, make that a cute cabana girl for you. What do you think? ;-)

  4. Great theory Einstein..
    "My theory is that this cold-loving algae has migrated south in search of food or publicity and to sustain itself, it has brought the Arctic temperatures with it."
    What the hell are micrometres?
    When did we stop using angstroms?

    I was actually worried about you driving out there today because I know that you prolly (that's strine that I picked up from keshie) would be wearing that goofy overcoat, no hat, no survival pack with three days rations in the car, no gps embedded in your butt to track during a whiteout, no last will & testament sitting on your kitchen table, and no post ready obituary...
    which you told me all quasi-famous people have obits that are written in advance..
    something for reporters to update on slow days...
    so next time make sure that you have all of that crap ready before you wander off.

  5. Anna:

    Yeah, this is killer cold, all right. I had to fill up two of my tires in it tonight...the air just gets so air shrinkage.

    Thanks. I will be careful.


    Yes, shrinkage...don't even know if it's there any more. Afraid to check, too...


    Geez, that IS brutal cold. But Montana's so close to Canada...

    Yeah, you can have the cabana boys...but how come you get two boys and I only get one girl?

    Homo Desperado:

    What the heck are angstroms? I've got a lot of angst in this cold, but no roms.

    Didn't I tell you? My obit will be whatever you blog about that day, which hopefully would be me.

    I can't find anything in my car trunk so what would be the point of filling it up with all that crap?

    I do, however, have a gps embedded in my butt.

  6. In that case you need to e-mail all of your accomplishments and a list of the personal attributes that you wish to have uber-embellished for posterity.

    You can forget about having a pyramid built but it would be cool to pull your brain out through your nose like the Egyptians did..with a big hook and a brain scooper.

  7. Anonymous12:07 p.m.

    Just how far south did those dastardly tiny picobiliphyta cells migrate? Might they explain why even though my sunshiney home registers at 26C (79F) I'm still feeling the chill nip at my tootsies?!

    My goodness, but does that something about the power of suggestion!! (or at least my own suggestability)

    wishing you warmer winds - err - make that weather,

  8. Anonymous2:17 p.m.

    We are having a heat wave here, it's +1F. Yee-haw!

    By the way, I amended my island order, you will now have many, many cute cabana girls at your beck and call.

  9. HE:

    That list would be too long. I'll send you a Wikipedia excerpt.

    I've tried that Egyptian method. Had the hook up inside there but never could find my brain.

    And why are you, literally, blue?

    Lady W:

    I dunno how far south their migration (or this cold wave's) went. Where are you, Buenos Aires?

    If the heat of which you speak didn't reach your toes, either you're exceptionally tall or it's that old heat rises thingy.

    I dunno either about suggestability...


    That's more like it. I was going to sue you for sexual discrimination based on cabana persons.

    Hey...what are you doing handing out all the orders anyway?

    Glad it warmed up there. It's a lot more human here today this afternoon too.

  10. Anonymous6:31 p.m.

    Wow, that's really cold. I've never experienced that kind of freezing cold, except maybe when I walked into the meat freezer (but that was just -3 degrees.

  11. I am blue to show you how
    I am.

  12. Menchie:

    Thanks for the visit! But -3C? We've got to indoctrinate you into what it's like to be TRULY suz-zero.

    Did you see that one Batman movie with Mr. Freeze, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger?

    Imagine that...with a wind.


    Ahhh....I'm so brain must be frozen...

  13. Menchie:

    Uh, that's sub-zero, with a Brrrrr....

  14. ((tap))
    Is this thing on?

  15. Anonymous9:30 p.m.

    And I thought it was cold in Phoenix! Our high today was 52F! Everywhere I went, women were dressed in their finest apres ski wear.

    Meanwhile, I had to fight with my son to get him to wear a long sleeved t-shirt.

  16. Anonymous11:34 p.m.

    I love the cold but not the very cold. We are in the circa 28 to 30 degrees here...NOT Kuala Lumpur.

    Hope youre doing good!

  17. Anonymous12:57 a.m.

    I am officially turning over all island get-a-way planning to you. My flu-stricken brain can't keep track of it anyway. Keep me informed as to agenda, departure dates and times, etc. Hopefully I'll be back to my usual self and will be able to handle the cabana boys. ;-)

  18. Anonymous6:53 a.m.

    I know! so ignorant. But I did see that bad Batman film.

    Just goes to show how spoiled I in tropical weather all year long.

  19. I did leave a couple of comments down there just in case you didn't go back and notice - just so you don't think I'm a complete cow :).

    The weather we are having here at present is quite odd. Usually at this time we are sweltering but there have only been around 3 days that I would consider "hot" -and that's only if you were out in the sun -in the house was fine. I'm not actually complaining about it -about the lack of 40 degree days and days in the high thirties -it just seems quite unusual. That 25C that you mentioned could have just as easily been a winter temp.

  20. Anonymous8:54 a.m.

    Now all that have been said about the post and more, I can only do look after yurself. Someone has o do it . Why not you?

  21. spare me from this kind of cold, ww. i love the four seasons but sometimes i think i will end up in florida or north carolina just so i can avoid the hairs in my nostrils freezing on the spot.

  22. The weather in your area sounds intense. Thanks for the roundup of temps. Here in Boston we have had NO measurable snow this winter. Not that I am complaining, but the effects of global warming are frightening.

  23. AT least there is hope if nuclear winter wipes us out... something will live on, evolve and develop shopping...

    -48, that is insane. Missed out on melbourne, we would have been around 28 or so. Still in drought here in Aus, Snow atleast means water:)

    Angsrtongs: are a unit of measurement the width of an atom of hydrogen. I hope this has been enlightening.

  24. Homogenized Milk:

    Is what on?

    I've been working all weekend. Give me a break!

    Ms. Val:

    Apres ski wear, huh? People here would KILL for 52 F. And sons are always like that.

    It's a little known gene, known only to males, in fact, that instructs them from the time they are conceived: always wear less clothes than your mom says.

    Ghost Particularly:

    Eww, 28 to 30...cry me a river! I'd do it for you, but my tears would freeze and cause frostbite to my gentle, smooth, unblemished skin.


    Did we even discuss a destination? And perhaps we'd better just wait until your flu bug goes away.

    I see there's a special fare up to Inuvik, but I don't know if they cabana boys up there.


    Yeah, OK, but ask any Winterpegger and they will tell you they love the four distinct seasons...


    I would never think of you as a cow.

    I guess as far as weather it's what you're used to. A high of 25C here is just fine for most people on a summer day...when it gets to 30, that's when WE say it's sweltering heat...


    Yeah, girl, I can look after myself, as long as I'm not outside for more than 30 seconds.


    What? Women have hair in their nostrils? OK, will try to spare the cold weather posts...


    Thanks for stopping by! It warmed up here a bit Saturday but was almost as cold again Sunday...

    Our normal highs here for this time of year are about -15C, normal lows about -25C (the highs have been about -25 to -30).

    I hear most of the east, even in Canada, has no snow or very little. How bout them Patriots?


    Thanks, mate...yes, snow does at least mean about four months, we'll be swimming in a flood.

    And by the way, Mr. Einstein, yes your definition of angstrom was enlightening.

  25. Holy cow w-w! That's beyond cold. We've had a terrible time in Seattle because no one can drive in a mere 2" of snow ... took 8 hours to drive 45 miles because the freeway was a parking lot.

    Can't imagine the kind of cold you're experiencing. Stay safe and warm!

  26. hmmmm - hellooooo - have you survived the weekend??
    That's very cold that is - colder than I've ever been and I'll have you know I've been on an open top bus in NYC in February!

    hope all you appendages are still appended!

  27. It would be mighty funny to make a list of all the names you and H.E. are giving each other, so funny, and inventive.
    The alphabet meme you and several others were doing : great job to make it so meaningful ! and with those alphabets in my head, suddenly a photo idea came out (more about that later), but hey : thanks for the inspiration.

  28. You're on Willy Wankerface!

  29. Bibi:

    Of course we whine about it here, Bibi (maybe me more than most), but you live here, that's what you get.

    It's mostly over now and is supposed to warm up Tuesday to a more seasonable -13 or so.

    Hope those traffic jams clear themselves up!


    I'm still thawing out. I'll tell you tomorrow if all my appendages are still there...


    I think HE usually gets the upper hand on the name-calling. Look at his latest effort below your comment.

    I'll be checking your site for your own photographic version of the alphabet meme, if that's what you're doing.

    Hormones Eradicated:

    I'm on? On what!!!???

  30. Anonymous10:05 a.m.

    HOLY CRAP THATS COLD!!! i am a fan of the cold, which is weird considering where i live... but -30 is pushing it, even for me!
    and of course- i am dying of the heat here...

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