Feet First

“It is much more important to know what sort of a patient has a disease than what sort of a disease a patient has.” - Sir William Osler

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    Thursday, December 20, 2007
    Blue Wind

    Sitting here shivering tonight in my underinsulated 1920's-built house (apparently the developer's motto was "Insulation? We don't need no steenkin' insulation!")

    We've had a fair amount of rain this week for which I am grateful, considering the drought year we've been promised for lo these many months. The drought may yet happen if we get a dry January, February or both. But tonight after the rain the wind has kicked up. Oy, the wind.

    We inhabitants of Southern California love to talk about the Santa Anas. If you are a Raymond Chandler fan you will be familiar with his story Red Wind, surely the finest story about weather ever written. But old Raymond left something out: Santa Anas can come at any time of year. Mostly they are associated with hot, dry weather but they come in the winter too, and if you get caught in one then forget Raymond Chandler, we're talking Jack London and To Build a Fire. (Surely the finest story about freezing to death ever written.)

    Damn, there it goes again, whistling through the trees outside. Inching its way past the ill-fitting windows. I have lived in colder climates than this, I hasten to say, and in Minnesota or similar latitudes this would probably qualify as a blustery spring night. But I am fond of saying that all weather is relative, or to quote a greater authority than myself: "The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco." The fact that Mark Twain apparently never said it is beside the point: the quotation was apropos enough to have been repeated for the last hundred-and-something years. I defy the most durable Aptenodytes forsteri from March of the Penguins to stand through a winter Santa Ana in Los Angeles without crying Uncle!

    I have to go now; I'm going to put on sweat pants and three pairs of socks and hurl myself into bed underneath every blanket I possess.

    UPDATE. I woke in the night and realized that the power had gone off and come back on, so as a precaution I set a non-electric alarm clock and opened my garage door (which is electric). It's a good thing I did: power was off this morning and stayed off. I showered by candlelight and dressed by flashlight.

    The power guys showed up with their truck about 5:45 this morning and were still there when I left; I stuck my head out the window to watch their arrival and saw a perfectly clear sky and smelled clean cold desert wind.

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