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Cold, lights, and Deacon Dave’s

“News and weather” folks in California are amazingly parochial (definition 3). Perhaps it is because California has a pretty-good-sized ocean :-) to the west, and mountains and deserts to the east, natural barriers that still promote a certain “not-invented-here” syndrome. In any case, news folks were pretty shocked to hear of weather forecasts of -5 degrees F (-20.5 C) with 40 miles/hour winds in the upper Mid-West for the next few days.

If only that were as cold as it gets! :-)

I remember many mornings walking the mile from Lot 60 on the University of Wisconsin, Madison campus when the air temperature was -20 F (-29.9 C) and the “wind chill” was -55 to -65 F (-48.3 to -53.9 C). There was also a cold spell one year in which the high temperature never reached freezing (+32 F [0 C]) for over 50 days. I remember working with colleagues on Lake Mendota drilling a 38-inch hole in the ice before reaching liquid water, with an air temperature of -11 F (-23.9 C) and a wind chill of -55 F (-48.3 C), while assisting with some microbial research. Then there were the unconfirmed reports from northern Wisconsin, of liquid propane not gasifying (somewhere in the -60s F).

And then of course there was that day in downtown Chicago, as we made our way back to Madison from relatives in Ohio, when the forecast HIGH temperature was -7 F (-27.7 C).

Of course, you folks in Minnesota, Montana, and the Dakotas know about REAL cold! (Note added December 24, 2008: Not to mention you readers from Canada, Sweden, and other places….)

Livermore felt pretty good tonight. I could see my breath, but it was not cold because my mustache and beard did not “ice up,” as sometimes happened in the Mid-West. We drove to see some Christmas lights in town. Our destination was Deacon Dave’s, but we took a circuitous route. Starting tomorrow, there is supposed to be rain (snow in the higher elevations) over the next few days, through Christmas. Tonight is clear and cool, and people took advantage of the weather to be outside.

One of the charming things about Livermore, at least for us, is the “small-town feel.” Livermore feels a lot smaller than its population of 80,723. Part of that small town feel is Deacon Dave’s Casa del Pomba, House of the Dove. People line up, usually with kids, to see the Christmas displays and 301,000 lights! The exhibit is free, and donations are accepted. Oh yes, Santa is there, too!

On the way home, we took another circuitous route, traveling past a small house that is always highly decorated with holiday lights. Santa was outside, and we waved to him and shouted. Santa looked a lot thinner this year, more like ZZ Top‘s Billy Gibbons in a red suit, but his Christmas spirit was as hearty as ever.

This year, it almost HAS to be!

-Bill at Cheshire Cat Photo™

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