Those of us lucky or smart enough to live in California have a hard time imagining the mind numbing cold that is affecting much of the country. So I thought I would report on some personal experiences from when my wife and I lived in Stevens Point Wisconsin.

We would go through long periods of time when the temperature never got above zero. Some nights it would be -20 or even worse. When it is that cold, even the ground creaks. We lived in a trailer park, so we obviously did not have a heated garage. When it gets that cold, don’t expect to walk outside and start your car. It turns out that in addition to the car getting stiff and cold, your battery doesn’t work well either. So, I had to resort to purchasing an electric heater. The first one I purchased, the cheap option, was literally a heated dip stick. In theory, this would heat the oil, which would heat the engine. It worked, sorta, until it got really cold. Then I went out to start my car and when I turned the key the only thing that happened was my dome light went out. Unfortunately this happened on a day when were had to drive to Milwaukee to catch a flight back to Buffalo New York to attend a family funeral. It was -30 with a twenty mph wind. The wind chill about probably about -47.

I called a tow truck. They showed up and connected these massive jumper cables to my car. That got my dome light back, but didn’t come close to getting the engine to turn over. Then the tow truck tried to tow me, but his equipment was also frozen. Fortunately we had a good friend who owned a trucking company. He brought over a fully loaded semi and towed my car to his garage which was about two miles away. The transmission on the car was also frozen, so my car was dragged with all four wheels literally skidding on the ice. After about an hour with one of those jet engine type space heaters pointed at my car, it finally warmed up to the point where it would actually start. We then got in the car and drove to Milwaukee.

My next purchase was an electric water heater. No one in California has ever seen one of these. You cut your radiator hose and this insert this pump. It looks a lot like an empty soup can with an electric cord attached. That actually worked pretty well. I had it on a timer and it would go off about an hour before I had to leave for work. The heater would heat up the antifreeze and then pump it through the engine block. Once I got that, it didn’t matter how cold it got, my car would start.

This is why if you go to places like Stevens Point you will see an electrical outlet on the parking meters. We see them a lot now, because of electric cars, but back in the 70’s they were so people could plug in their water heaters.

This explains why, the first time it rains after New Year’s Day, I go out to my drive way with my one remaining snow shovel and shovel rain. Then I laugh and remind myself why we moved to the West Coast. Granted, we have some of the dumbest politicians on this planet, but even though they try to change the weather, the reality is that even with all the hot air, they have little impact.


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