Tag Archives: Cold

February Sucks

February. FebRUary. Feb-YOU-airy. To start this post, just look at the word. I’ll write it one more time. FEBRUARY. Really look at how the letters actually form the word. February. It’s a classic example of a word that if you look at it too long it starts to seem wrong. It just doesn’t look right. And say it too. You probably pronounce it ‘feb-you-airy‘ if you’re like me. Maybe this is a defect of my Midwesterner’s accent; we pronounce all kinds of things all silly-like. (The only two I can think of right now is ‘milk’ as ‘melk‘ and ‘lawyer’ as ‘loy-yer‘) Now look at February again. Why in the fuck is there that R at the beginning? It doesn’t seem right and I had to look up the spelling just to be certain it was spelled correctly. It’s not a good look if you spell the topic of your blog post incorrectly. Anyways, grab a computer and type out February. See how clunky the word feels on a keyboard. It’s like driving down a bumpy road in keyboard form. February. It takes me five seconds to type it despite having an average pace of over 100 words per minute. I’m going to just copy it and past it when I need to type it again. Do you know how to spell February? ‘Ctrl+V’.

Let’s run through the rest of the months together to prove my point.

January. NOT JanRuary.

March. One syllable.

April. Rolls off the tongue nicely, doesn’t it? This is why people are named April and not MARCH.

May. It’s the ! of the calendar. MAY!

June. Nice.

July. Nice.

August. A bit longer at two syllables than the previous three, but thank you first Emperor of Rome. (Just imagine still having a month named after you 2,000 years after your death. That’s mad crazy.)

September. Fun fact: sept- is the prefix for seven.

October. Fun fact: octo- is the prefix for eight. Octopus. Octagon. October.

November. Fun fact: non- is the prefix for nine.

December. Fun fact: deca- is the prefix for ten. Ten months in a year…cool huh? Read about the Romans to learn more Fun Calendar Facts!

Februrary (sic). I mean, c’mon.

AAAANYWAYS…..Let’s get to the real post without as much shitposting.

The Vibes…

Months to me always have ‘vibes’ to them. For example June has connotations of warm and friendly summers when it hasn’t gotten too damn hot and summer is enjoyable still. July: hot and muggy, but not as bad as August. August is summer in all of it’s hot and muggy miserable hellishness. October? Kinda depressing. Everything is dying, the days are getting shorter, and it’s getting cold out. I don’t want to get into all of them but let’s give January a shout-out because it’s a shitty winter month just like February. But unlike February January feels new I guess. It’s the first month of a new year and winter has yet to really set in and kick everyone’s’ asses. January feels clean and crisp whereas February feels like the mud in the yard once the snow starts melting. Cold, miserable, squishy, disgusting, and looking exactly like dog shit. Not that there is melting snow in February, but that’s what the month feels like.

The Cold…

Through a thing called seasonal lag most of us Northerners get the worst winter has to offer in February. Even though December 21/22 is the shortest day of the year, the sun’s heat doesn’t really come back despite February being two months later. February is cold. February is frigid. February has the kinds of temps (or lack of temps) that make you want to lay down and die when you’re outside for more than ten minutes. February is snowy, and by the time the month begins I’ve already given up on shoveling. It’s easier to wait the season out a few more weeks than to fuck around with shoveling anymore. It’s my own fault, but February means sheets of ice wherever I park the cars. It means getting stuck countless times on my way to work. It means grey salt specks all over my car. It’s trying to spray window wash on my car and watching it freeze instantly or not come out at all.

Making all of this worse is the fact that the days are getting longer. The sun is out longer than it has been since October, but it doesn’t really mean anything. It’s like a tease — there’s the bright sun and it’s out for quite a while — but it doesn’t actually warm anything up. “Boy, it looks nice outside! Look at how sunny and clear it is!” Then you walk outside to be greeted by -40 degree air. It doesn’t matter if this is Fahrenheit or Celsius because -40 is the same in F or C.

The 28 Day Month…

February is also the only awkward month with 28 days. This is kinda cool in a way — it’s an even four weeks — but when you’re struggling to remember if a month has 30 or 31 days what in the ever fuck is February doing with 28? Hell, add two days to February and take away one day from two of the months with 31 days, whatever those months are. This would make more 30-day months which would be easier on the mind to remember.

The Leap Days…

And leap days. The rare February 29th every four years, but not actually every four years! Any other 29th day of the month isn’t a crazy thing, but here is February 29th being all strange and rare. What if we did what I suggested in the previous paragraph and tack on a February 31st as a leap day? February could have 30 AND 31 days! Wouldn’t that be fun!

The Valentine’s Day…

February is also home to Valentine’s Day. V-Day has always been the bane of my existence ever since I was an awkward and lonely teenager, and I’ve never fully forgotten how awful the day is. Even now, being married, I hate the day. What the hell are you supposed to do for V-Day in February? My wife and I are pretty shy, reserved, and don’t like to be around large crowds. We like going to the parks and walking. How do you think this works out in the coldest month of a year? And remember, this isn’t just cold, it’s a frigid you-stay-outside-too-long-you-lose-extremities-and-perhaps-die sort of cold. Walking to the car to eat at a restaurant is painful. Waiting for the car to warm up is uncomfortable. We usually sit around the house feeling antsy like we should be out doing something but have no clue what to actually do because fuck going outside.

Really, why is the prime ‘romantic day’ of the year in February? I don’t think the ‘holiday’ has any historical basis or anything (but I could be wrong), so what’s wrong with putting it in the summer or something? Spring and summer feel more like “seasons of love” than winter does. Is this okay to do? Can the National Valentine’s Day Committee please hear my request and pass a resolution moving Valentine’s Day to May or June? Maybe I should start a crowdfunding campaign to get it moved…

In Closing…

Remember how I said that December, according to prefixes, should be the tenth month? Yeah. So if that’s the tenth month, what would the “first” month be? March. What about January and February? We stole our calendar from the Romans (who dictated a bunch of shit our western culture still holds dear) and they didn’t have January and February. Like, holy shit, how cool/dumb were these people to have an entire ten month calendar that was somehow ~60 days short and they just didn’t give a shit to fix it? Apparently people in Rome just didn’t count these days because winter is a useless time of year and they just existed without a calendar until March. That really makes a ton of sense seeing as one of the skipped months was/is now February. Even they knew February would suck so just didn’t even give it name or recognize it. Let’s go back to that! Fuck February. Seriously, the month can straight-up fuck right off. It’s spelled funny, it’s cold, it’s dark, it has bad vibes, it only has 28 days for some stupid reason, leap day is awkward, and Valentine’s Day is in February. February fucking sucks.

BIG NOTE HERE: According to Wikipedia, the old Roman Calendar existence is disputed by some. Apparently this calendar was called the ‘Legendary 10 Month Roman Calendar‘ and people aren’t totally sure it was a real thing. I still like the story of it though and didn’t want to pass on misinformation. Read into it yourself if you’re really curious.

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Winter Solar Power Sucks

I’ve been charging my vape, my phone, and my computer using solar power for nearly a half year. It’s pointless for saving money because running these things only costs a few dollars, if that, over the year, but it’s fun to know that your phone, the thing that you carry around with you at all time, the little mini-computer in your pocket that can do anything, the games you play, and all the fancy stock-trading, money-making, email-checking, and social-media-browsing modern Swiss Army Knife of everything is being powered by the sun. Not powered by the sun in an abstract manner either (plants photosynthesizing millions of years ago, decomposing, turning to coal, being mined and burned, the heat flashing water into steam to turn a turbine to move electrons into your home via wires and transformers, to rearrange some chemicals in a lithium-ion battery) but directly. I’ve always wondered how people can be against solar power for this reason alone: it’s so damn simple and beautiful. The sun shines and makes electricity. Why complicate it?

Everyone not on the equator is well aware that the days are shorter in the winter due to the Earth’s axial tilt of roughly 23 degrees. In the summer the Earth is tilted towards the sun, and as you rotate around on a higher latitude, you get more sunlight. The opposite is true in the winter. Here in Northern Illinois (and for everyone around 45 degrees latitude; I also feel sorry for Europeans and Canadians being even higher up) we get about eight hours of good sunlight in the winter. Compare this to our summer daylight length of 15 hours; there’s twice the amount of daytime in the summer compared to the winter!

A nice graphical depiction of these Dark Days. The discontinuities in March and November are daylight savings time. Go check out your own day/night/twilight length!

This sounds stupid, but I didn’t think winter would cause my two solar panels much difficulty. Since we’re not using the lawnmower anymore (you don’t need to mow the snow) I took the battery and hooked it up to the solar panels. I currently have five batteries storing the solar power and that should be plenty right? Six hours of direct sunlight can charge those bad boys up and I can charge my toys off that the rest of the day.

Two of the five batteries…

It doesn’t work that way when it’s cloudy for two weeks straight. I’ve never paid attention to how cloudy it usually is in the winter, especially when those clear and cold winter days are so vivid in my mind, but apparently it’s cloudy a lot. And when you get only a few hours to make power, the clouds really do fuck you over in a way that they don’t in the summer. The summer months always have dramatic and quickly changing weather, sun for half the day, hellish storms in the evening, and then a bit more sun right before sunset. Now, in January? Clouds all day, every day. Boring grey clouds that hang overhead like a depressing blanket and refuse to leave for literal weeks.

The sun was out a few days ago, but that was only enough to kick the batteries up from 11.8 Volts to 12.1. As soon as I’d plug my phone in the voltage would drop to 11.5 and not wanting to damage the batteries had no choice but to charge my phone via natural gas/nuclear electricity from the boring wall outlet. The streak was broken, and my phone, computer, and vape are now methane/uranium powered like everything else around here.

The clouds aren’t the only issue. It sometimes snows in winter (big surprise there huh?) and snow does a great job blocking the sun. While the clouds are an ever present and annoying problem there isn’t much I can do about them except wait. Snow is a problem I have to actually deal with. Weeks ago we had some shitty ice/snow storm and the next day I found my panels iced and snowed over. Using my Amazon Prime credit card (which is made out of metal, 5% cash back at Amazon by the way!) I scrapped the snow off so they could make power when the sun eventually came out. The sun never came out and it snowed two days later. I walked out, brushed them off, and waited for the sun which never came. And then it snowed about a week after that. I walked out, brushed them off, and waited for the sun. It snowed yesterday and I haven’t even went out to brush them off because the sun isn’t going to come out ever again.

I guess the snow melted…

Remember how I said that I don’t understand why people don’t like renewable energy because it’s so damn beautiful and simple? It’s not. Solar is fucking great and I love it, but during these shitty dark, cloudy, and snowy winter months it’s not ideal. Solar always relies on good energy storage and apparently five fucking massive lead-acid batteries can’t store enough power to survive the winter. I could always add more batteries, but at $50-100 per battery do I really want to spend the money to charge my phone? Naw. I’ll just wait I guess. The sun can’t stay hidden forever.

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Being Sick Sucks

What’s going on guys? As is standard here, I’ve been slacking again. It’s a typical process really: I write a ton of stuff on Sunday and Monday and usually panic-post something on Tuesday, and feeling achieved I slack off for the remainder of the week. Repeat this weekly. But as you can guess given the title, I have a reason for my slacking over the past week: I’m sick. And not just sick, miserably so. Being sick is something so universally terrible and being one of those “low-hanging fruit” posts it should be really easy to write. That hasn’t been the case. Why? I think because being sick is so universally terrible that it’s hard to complain about it without adding any new information that people don’t already know. Everyone knows being sick sucks, and so what?

I was trying to churn out a post like this about six or seven months ago when I was crippled for over a week with bronchitis. Bronchitis was awful. I was used to the common cold where you feel like trash for a day or two and then get along with your life relatively easily. Where you can still summon enough motivation to survive day to day life with minimal issues. Bronchitis was a whole other level of misery that I wasn’t aware of or prepared to deal with. I physically couldn’t do anything. I’d lay in bed for hours needing to use the bathroom or make a cup of coffee but not having the willpower to actually get up. This is how my current sickness has been. A total lack of energy.

When I was beginning to get sick I tried to remain positive. I told myself I would take it easy, watch some videos, read some books, and do some writing. To be productive without being physically productive I guess. Sounds like a plan, right? Wrong. Apparently this type of sickness brings along with it such complete and total exhaustion that I found I couldn’t do anything. The task of writing seemed too strenuous somehow. Watching movies and reading requires focus and was also too strenuous. Hell, even listening to music was too much to undertake for some reason. So over the past five days I have done literally nothing. This is why there hasn’t been a being sick sucks post until now: having the common cold isn’t that bad and is nothing to write about but anything serious wipes you out to a degree where you can’t write anything at all. And once you get better? It’s hard to channel those feelings as clearly as when you’re actually sick, miserable, and exhausted.

By far the worst part of being sick is the mindset that it brings with it. Something about being sick puts the fact that you’ll eventually get old, your body will fall apart, and you’ll die directly into conscious thought, although maybe that’s just me being dramatic. Being sick to me is like a temporary version of dying, where your body falls apart and stops doing what you need it to do but in a temporary way. Isn’t this what being old is like? You see older people constantly sitting, limping around, and generally looking like shit and they usually say it’s because their bodies feel like shit. I always seem to blame something vague on them like a “lack of willpower” for not tackling a staircase like a 20-year-old, but are they even physically able to do so? No. No more than I am able to go outside and run a mile because I’m so physically fucked right now. My body won’t allow it. Being this sick makes me feel old, and it being the inevitable future that awaits me (and everyone else) is depressing as fuck. What would I do if I felt like this all the time? It’s scary to think about. I understand why people want to kill themselves in old age. If you consistently feel terrible and your quality of life is degraded far enough life might end up not having anything enjoyable to offer you at all.

I’ve found I’ve always favored a “mind-over-matter” outlook in life. Like if you have total command over your brain you can overcome anything. This was especially prominent when I was an avid runner. Running is as much of a mental task as a physical task and it’s easy to think it’s all a mental task. Like if you will something enough, or put your mind into a unique enough state you can do anything. Like the Buddhist monks that protest by self-immolation without screaming or flailing, surely we all can learn to perfectly control our bodies given perfect mental control. It’s the belief that anyone can run a marathon without practicing if they just “focus enough” or some bullshit. (If I recall correctly there was a How I Met Your Mother episode where Barney decides to run a marathon saying something like “How hard can it be? You just keep running and don’t stop.” He actually wins too.) If you really want a new PR during a race, you just do it. Sure training is important, but the most important thing is mindset. And if an 80-year-old wanted to tackle a staircase like a 20-year-old, all they need to do is “focus” or some stupid shit like that.

But this isn’t true, and being sick makes it so obvious. Imagining being sick I would think something like, “Even if I do feel bad, I can still ‘be tough’ and make myself be productive.” Like if I just put enough mental power into thinking about feeling well that I could actually be well. Or that I could minimize the effect that being sick actually had on me. But when you’re physically sick and exhausted you just can’t bring yourself to do anything. I would sit on the couch for hours feeling miserable and while knowing I could get up and take some medicine, I didn’t. Sitting on the couch was where I was and taking the tiny bit of physical effort to get medicine, even if it would bring me near instant relief, was beyond me. This is how it was with everything. I didn’t write. I didn’t read. I didn’t watch movies. I just existed in the past five days feeling like shit and just hoping to feel normal as soon as possible. It wasn’t that I didn’t have enough motivation or willpower; it was the fact that I had none at all.

I also like to imagine the opposite of being sick where you are physically okay but mentally not well, i.e. depression or other mental health troubles. Being sick your physical body won’t let your motivated mind do anything, while being mentally sick your mental state won’t let your physically healthy body work properly. The body needs to work harmoniously together and you’d be tempted to even think that the idea of mental health being separate from physical health is wrong; health is the interplay between the two and trying to separate one from the other is impossible to do. Obviously having a distinction between the two is helpful, but it’s also fun to think that it could just be a useful construct created by us humans.

I’m still sick and trying my damndest to tie all of this shit together into a good blog post. It isn’t working. I feel like I’m at about 50 or 60% maximum health here and I’m pretty sure it shows. I feel like I’m rambling. I feel like I’m stating the obvious. Do I want to delete it and start over? No, because that’s a lot of work. Even proofreading this was difficult as I discovered I repeated like two or three paragraphs without knowing it. But this is what being sick does to you I guess. I’ve always wanted to write a post about how much being sick sucks, and if it turns out to be awful, well, it’s because being sick sucks. Maybe the next post will be better. That one might be about being sick too, but more on how I brought it on myself through bad karma. Or something.

Snowblowing (and Shoveling) Sucks

I live in Illinois and we recently had a moderately bad snow storm. It wasn’t really bad because we didn’t get two feet of snow but it was still enough snow to force you to shovel the driveway. After a certain amount of snow you just can’t reliably leave your driveway or alleyway without being stuck. And one thing that sucks more than shoveling or snowblowing is when you don’t shovel or snow blow and you get stuck in your yard. Then you have to fuck around with a shovel, bags of salt or sand, and dig your car out of whatever the fuck you got stuck in. Sometimes it’s easier to just shovel the shit than risk being stuck. That’s the kind of snow we just had.

We also live down an extended driveway/alleyway (we’re not sure what it officially is to the county) that is about 100 or 200 feet long. It’s long enough that I haven’t tried to measure the damn thing so I guessed at the distance. It’s a long way though. It’s also roughly 10 feet wide so that’s about 1,000-2,000 square feet of area that has to be shoveled. That’s a lot of shoveling.

Shoveling Sucks. It hurts your back, it’s slow, and more importantly you have to do it so you can get your vehicle to actually be able to be used. If you have money you can pay some punk-ass teenager to shovel it, or if you have even more money you can pay some guy (who will price gouge you) to plow it with his truck. But if you’re poor, well, say goodbye to your back because you’re clearing it with a shovel. Better go find yourself some Tylenol and/or Vicodins.

I used to hold snowblowing as the golden way of removing snow. That was partly because I’d have to shovel all the time and we didn’t have a snowblower. Thankfully, my dad brought over his snowblower so we could clear our driveway. I was pretty excited to not have to shovel because snowblowing is better. Right?

No, because Everything Sucks. Snowblowing is cool and all but it has its some fucking downsides. By not busting your back shoveling you gain a bunch of other downsides that are nearly as bad. Firstly, his snowblower was rather tiny and only cleared about a foot and a half wide path of snow. Doing the entire driveway took some time. In deep snow it would also shit out and die where you’d have to restart it with the pull cord. That happened about ten times.

Secondly, my god those things throw snow in a reckless manner. Shoveling allows you to put snow exactly where you want it but snowblowing just blows it wherever the fuck it wants to. We had our garage door opened and despite not trying to blow the snow inside it did it anyways. (I had to shovel it clear so the door would close.) You’d end up blowing snow where you already cleared. You’d blow snow on the porch, the walkway you just cleared, onto the vehicles, and even on the doors and windows of the house. The wind wouldn’t help matters either by blowing a cloud of cold, powdery, and wet snow all over your coat and into your face. Winter is usually a cold season so snow on your face is never enjoyable.

It’s also hard to do a good job when snowblowing. I either seemed to leave a few inches of snow underneath me or end up scrapping the hell out of our gravel driveway and tossing rocks everywhere. That really is a problem especially when you consider snow (and possibly gravel) is going everywhere like I said before. There was a small but non-zero chance of tossing a piece of gravel or a rock into a car window/house window and doing damage. And what if some poor fucker was walking down the street at the exact wrong time? That’d fucking hurt.

Oh yeah, it was also a two-cycle engine meaning I smelled like gasoline and oil afterwards. Time to wash my coat…

In the end it did it’s job admirably: it moved a fuck-ton of snow quickly and in a relatively easy manner. But don’t expect a snowblower to do a “good job” especially in areas you want really clean. I still had to get shovel the stairs and the porch and around the cars where the blower left an inch or two of snow that it just couldn’t seem to violently toss onto the side of the house. It wasn’t hard work, shoveling the remainder that is, but I originally thought snowblowing was an end-all to shoveling. It’s simple: if you snowblow you don’t shovel. And if you shovel you don’t snowblow because you don’t fucking own one. I was wrong. Apparently they’re complimentary and both of them suck in equally annoying ways.

Maybe I should move where there is no snow? Maybe that wouldn’t Suck. But it probably would.