Now that we’ve had a few days of cold worth feeling smug about (what’s the point of living in a place where you can’t name the senators without an abacus if you can’t at least brag about how inhumanly cold it gets?), I suggest that it is perhaps time once again to roll out the Al Sicherman Temperature Index.
Others might suggest that it is instead perhaps time to roll away the entire Al Sicherman, but as I am currently feeling healthy as whatever kind of horse eats too much butter, cream, eggs and chocolate, I submit that those “others” are at least a week or two premature.
Regular readers of Twin Cities media may recall that the Al Sicherman Temperature Index, discussed in the Star Tribune many years ago, serves to estimate temperature by observing natural phenomena, in the same way that the Beaufort scale uses such observations to estimate wind speed (large tree branches moving, whistling in wires, umbrellas difficult to control is Force 6, Strong Breeze, 25 to 31 miles per hour). Irregular readers of Twin Cities media may recall being urged to add a bit of fiber to their diets. Everyone may recall how much they had been enjoying their lives until that joke showed up again.
Anyway, it’s been some time since I have revisited the Al Sicherman Temperature Index, and some natural phenomena have more-or-less disappeared in the meantime. “Car key breaks off in frozen door lock,” for example, has gone the way of the 401k-financed luxury retirement, and must be replaced by “Remote door-unlock button produces only strangled hum.”
In fact, it might be argued that specifics of the Al Sicherman Temperature Index, as discussed in the Star Tribune those many years ago, are now the property of Avista Capital Partners. If so, and if they are valued at, say, $1.25, they represent a significant portion of that firm’s net worth. So to avoid an unpleasant legal entanglement it would perhaps be best not to so much to revisit the Al Sicherman Temperature Index as to reconfigure it altogether.
So here is the New Al Sicherman Temperature Yardstick (NASTY).
NASTY Level 0: “Brisk,” 32 to 20 degrees: Barely visible layer of ice forms overnight; you almost slip getting into car. You regret not wearing gloves.
NASTY Level 1: “Uncomfortable,” 20 to 10 degrees: Frost on windshield too firm to come off just by running wipers; requires scraping (if you can find scraper). You really regret not wearing gloves. And hat.
NASTY Level 2: “Frosty,” 10 to 0 degrees: After briefly removing glove while walking dog, to put newspaper bag to its highest use, your hand remains ice-cold inside glove all the way home.
NASTY Level 3: “Frigid,” 0 to -10 degrees: Sound of car starter changes from rettita-rettita-VROOM to wuoh-wuoh-wuoh-wuoh-VROOM.
NASTY Level 4: “Awful,” -10 to -15 degrees: Remote door-unlock button produces only strangled hum.
NASTY Level 5: “Terrible,” -15 to -20 degrees: Inside of windshield frosts over from your breath; protruding lower lip, to force breath up instead of out, causes your glasses to frost over.
NASTY Level 6: “Dreadful,” -20 to -25 degrees: Sound of car starter changes from wuoh-wuoh-wuoh-wuoh-VROOM to wuoh wuoh wuoh wuoh wuh.
NASTY Level 7: “Horrible,” -25 to -30 degrees: Pressing button to turn on car radio causes crack to open across entire dashboard. (Radio doesn’t come on.)
NASTY Level 8: “Unspeakable,” -30 to -35 degrees: After leaving car all evening in unheated ramp, car window has frozen up and can’t be lowered to pay the attendant; you have to open the door, but there’s no room because you’re right next to attendant’s booth, and you can’t pull forward because attendant has crossing arm down (and through closed window you can’t make him understand you need to pull forward so you can open door to pay him) and you can’t back up because there’s somebody behind you.
NASTY Level 9: “Ghastly,” -35 to -40 degrees: When you try to open car door, handle breaks off.
NASTY Level 10: “Evil,” colder than -40 degrees: When you try to open car door, hand breaks off.