Brad's Wintry Journal 9
ANZAC Day is long gone and I have now been unwittingly shoved into the third of the year in which I wear socks to bed. To make things worse, this is the first winter I'm ever going to spend in a non-brick house. This year my walls are made of something unrecognisable: plywood perhaps, or possibly the same stuff the walls of the fridge are made of. On top of all that Sydney has been hit by an early cold snap with winds that - according to Weatherzone - are coming straight from Antarctica! That website also reckoned my nearest weather station, Holsworthy, recorded below zero this past Wednesday. A day that shall henceforth be known as 'Antarctica Day'. I tried going for a walk at lunch that morning to buy some food from Woolworths and it basically ended up like 8 Below.
While I have been handling the cold in traditional ways: heaters, hot drinks, whining about it to whoever will listen - such an extreme jolt of coldness has caught me unprepared and I've been forced to also discover some non-traditional methods of keeping warm. And now I'm now going to post them here with a homage to Men's Health articles with weak puns for sub-headings.
Non-Traditional Ways to Keep Warm
I don't yet have any recommendations for making those pants-down visits to the bathroom more appealing in the chilly months. However, when it comes to washing your hands afterwards modern science now provides a way to prevent the biting cold that infests your fingers when you have wet hands on a winter's day. Instead of drenching your fingers in icy water - or standing around waiting for the inefficient hot water system to warm it up - simply use hand sanitizer and rub in until dry. This method kills germs without making it challenging to use your keyboard for the next ten minutes.
Sometimes the first reflex on a frosty day is to drape as many layers of clothing and covers over your body and limit movement to anything that doesn't require your hands or feet to emerge from the containment of a blanket. This is actually counter-intuitive, as it is moving around that boosts circulation of blood throughout the body. Depending on your level of fitness simply performing a set of bodyweight squats or running up and down a set of steps will provide a burst of warmth. Performing any type of exercise while insulating your feet with slippers will also increase the duration of heat that the exercise provides. And if you go for a really long run you can usually get away with wearing a t-shirt for an hour afterwards.
The human body seems to have the subconscious knowledge that eating large, hot meals is a good idea on cold days. Before giving in to this instinct it's important to remember that this is an idea being sold by the mesencephalon, the same portion of the brain that recommends consuming extra calories that can be stored for energy as fat in case of famine. The solution to this dilemma is simple: Dieters sometimes reduce their appetite at meal times by drinking several glasses of water before eating, making themselves feel fuller. This technique can be extended. By drinking one to two litres of hot water you can fill your belly with radiating warmth for no calorie cost. Smaller volumes of water are less effective due to the rule of heat transfer, so I recommend heating a saucepan of water and drinking it shortly after it boils. Soup could work too, I guess.
Use Your Head
Science has shown that humans lose almost half their body-heat through the head... assuming they are wearing footwear, pants and a jacket at the time of measurement. Assuming you are wearing footwear, pants and a jacket you can still trap in even more body-heat by listening to music on headphones which cover your ears. Studies have also shown the louder you listen to music the warmer your ears will be. Although, if you want to avoid tinnitus you could just listen to quieter music on headphones that have been stitched into earmuffs.
Along the same line, growing a beard will also keep you warmer. Even if you can't grow a beard a thin layer of stubble is also ok (it's ok for keeping you warm, and it's ok just in general.) Most snow dwelling civilizations grew beards: the Norse, Scots... It's like a sweater for your face. Facial hair is also helpful to keep you looking manly in case you decide to apply more traditional heating methods that are harder to pass off in suburbs where Utes seem to outnumber people. Peppery stubble helps complement accessories like scarves and the purple men's hoody from a clearance section at DFO that is so warm and comfortable that you can't work out why it was discounted so much. Even if you're old and your hair has gone grey, a sleek, white coat will keep you warm and can also camouflage you against the snow to help protect you from predatory birds like bald eagles and snowy owls.