Tuesday, January 12, 2010

How we manage

Paz asked me yesterday, or was it the day before, how we manage these temperatures ... ie, how we Norwegians manage the cold for such extended periods of time. It's been quite cold in Ireland too recently, all over Europe in fact - as presumably most of my readers will know :-) - and what would be normal in Norway appears to be rather shocking to the Irish. And indeed to the English - I heard something of the same from James too, a long email that I got yesterday, where he among other things lamented the hysterical reactions of his countrymen to perfectly normal things like snow and ice and cold. :-)

He said - I paraphrase - that he'd be willing to bet that the Norwegian media weren't in collective hysterics because of just some snow. :-D Well, he's right. The weather's in the news here, but a lot of the stories are about foreign parts, and most of the other stories are happy news stories like children ice skating on the Stavanger fjord and what not. Then there are weird records like how at one point last week the entire country was covered in snow. o_O That apparently has barely happened in recorded memory. Coolness. Anyway.

There are also some stories about how Norwegian Rail are seriously struggling at the moment, with nothing but delays, delays, delays everywhere - because their trains are having a lot of problems in this cold. There's an article in Dagbladet online where the headline is a quote from a passenger who apparently said to the reporter, May Norwegian Rail burn in hell. :-D But if people would only stop to think a bit they would realize that this kind of trouble is bound to occur. Because it has been seriously dangerously cold here these past couple of weeks. I have a customer at work who's responsible for purchases at the company formerly known as a subdivision of Norwegian Rail ... they do most of the mechanical maintenance on NR trains. I talked to this guy last week and he had had a text message that morning from one of the locomotive drivers, he was just crossing the Dovre mountains, and he just wanted to let the guys in the workshop know what the temperature was there. Guess how cold it was. Minus 51 degrees centigrade. Now that's cold!! Especially considering that at the speed the train was moving, the effective temperature was probably closer to 71 than 51. Brrr ...

In case anyone's curious, the coldest I've ever experienced personally is -38 C.

Anyway, back to the original question. How do we manage. Well, it's hardly surprising - and it was brought home by a funny report on national news here showing English people falling on their asses in the snow, what fun! :-D - we dress for the weather. James told me about lots of people being unable to get to work, children being unable to get to school ... now that's just crazy talk to a Norwegian. The concept of snow days doesn't exist here. If there's lots of snow, it just makes school all the better, because then you can play in the snow at recess. :-) Not being able to get to school because of snow ... nah. That doesn't fly here. Because we have the equipment. We all have the warm winter clothes and the heavy boots, and every town and district has the snow plows standing by and the men to drive them. Sure, we're having some trouble too ... like the trains not running on time, or sometimes not running at all. But if the train's not running, there's a bus scheduled instead. You'll get where you're going ... it just may take longer. And if you're cold, you're probably wearing the wrong coat. (You may have spilt something on it and had to take it to the cleaner's ... ;-)

That's how we manage. That's why Europe's in chaos over something that we don't really break stride for. Because our country is a hellhole all winter every winter, and not just during freak cold spells. Aw. I love Norway. :-)

Ooh, and lest I forget ... ! Major congratulations to my dear dear friend Calyx and her husband N., who finally after literally days of suffering (mostly metaphorical on N.'s part) had their little baby girl today. Double aww!! Congratulations, you guys, so much. :-) Now there's three of you. :-)


Paz said...

I do dress for the weather, which mean I have been wearing a jumper instead of just the usual t shirt (Jacket for prolonged exposure outside). Our trains and buss's are running (just about), but we do not have snow chains for our tyres(or winter tyres) we do not usually have the weather to justify. We do not have enough snow plows and our water mains supply is not buried deep enough for prolonged sub zero temperatures.
The Joke at the moment is Al Qaeda shouldn't have bother trying to blow up the underground in England to cause chaos, they should have just bought snow Machines.
BTW its a known Scientific fact that Irish people melt at 35.5 degrees Celcius and become useless at -10.

Anonymous said...

To put it short:

If you live in a country where there'll be more cold days than warm days in a year, you develop a technique to cope with it. You have clothes fit for snow and ice, you won't attempt stiletto heels unless it's summer, and houses and most equipment is (hopefully) built to stand the cold.

That said, it has been extraordinary cold this winter, and there have been problems related to it. But I guess that since the fundament is there, the consequence isn't as bad as in countries where houses are build to contain the cold in the burning sun (Spain, Greece etc) and where there is less routine for keeping roads clean of snow and less experienced "icy-road" drivers.

Michele said...

I live in Southern California, near Los Angeles. Snow? If it rains here, we're in trouble! I spent half my childhood in New England, and remember going to school while it snowed (though if it got too bad, they did close the schools). I guess that's why I'm here now. LOL! I don't like snow!

BTW-I'm Michele from Swap-Bot's Follow My Blog Swap. I really like your blog, and will be back often.

Paz said...

@ operafanomet, we are used to rain and more rain and some more rain.
@ Michelle, I was told the time and date of the last/only time it snowed in Santa Rosa.
I suppose its harder to cope mentally feeling caged in with roads etc

Leisha Camden said...

Paz: Exactly the kind of thing I mean ... Norwegian cars will all have winter tires on this time of year, and a set of snow chains is a perfectly normal thing to own around here. :-) So we're prepared, and so even though we don't necessarily like it much we have what we need to deal with it.

Anéa/operafantomet: Yeah, the thing about housing is important too. In this country we build our houses to keep heat in. In other countries further south they build to keep heat out and, ideally, cold in. That makes for a couple of awkward months every year for us ;-) but it means that our society doesn't grind to a halt with the arrival of some relatively extreme weather.

Michele, hi, nice to see you here! Thanks for the comment and compliment. :-) I don't much like snow and winter either, but on the other hand, it really makes me appreciate the warm summer weather when we do have it. I think that may be trickier for people who live with warmth and sunshine all year round. :-)