Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Ce n'est pas mardi gras aujourd'hui.

totally thought it was Mardi Gras the other day, and I even celebrated by thinking about that one Brazilian movie from the 60’s that I saw in a film studies class in college (Black Orpheus, 1959). My wife had also seen it in the same context (different university) and couldn’t think of where it took place, except that it what where that huge Jesus statue is. I am actually lucky enough to have been to Rio de Janeiro, which has the biggest statue of Jesus that I am aware of. It was in early March one year, in fact, so I was able to confirm that it was indeed Brazil where the movie took place. When I was there, Lent was in full force though (at least as far as Brazilians observe it), and I did not partake in any particular Carnival festivities. If you consider “thinking about a Brazilian art film” – and not even watching it – as  “celebrating Mardi Gras” you might be about as exciting as I am, and this blog is the perfect place for you.

But I digress.

Back to the French title of this post: I have heard the phrase as a dig or to tease someone who is dressed ridiculously or inappropriately, like calling them a clown (BTW also useful for the Oscar’s Red Carpet). This is how I have felt as I have tried to get out on the occasional ride this winter in an effort to beat the Polar Vortex, which keeps dipping down into the Lower 48. (I heard an NPR piece recently on how many Alaskans are lamenting the mild winter they are not enjoying.) Well AK– you can have it your PV back because I am going a bit stir crazy (and look ridiculous in my wife’s pink ski goggles)! 

Here are some photos from a recent ride. The Minnesota State Fairgrounds look even more like a weird carnival ghost town with all of the snow.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Sundog Days

For me, the rare gem during winter is the sundog. Due to so many extreme cold days, I have seen more sundogs this year than the rest of my life combined. Though they are sometimes feint, this morning the sundogs were particularly glorious, looking like 3 suns and a distinct halo over St. Paul. I wish I could have grabbed a photo to share it in its glory, but my iPhone’s lens is limited and I couldn’t get into a good position for a full shot, so I lifted a good representation of what it looked like (though the photo was taken by a professional in the more pristine setting of Denali: http://www.nps.gov/dena/planyourvisit/winter-activities.htm).

I did get some partial photos earlier this winter and here is a link to some other people’s pics thanks to MPR:  http://blogs.mprnews.org/statewide/2013/12/sun-dogs/.

A sundog tells me that it is below zero F out, and today continues a string of subzero temps, I am not sure how many days total that makes this winter, but I suspect it would be easier to count the days it hasn't dipped below zero. I can think of perhaps two (if that is not true, well... it feels true). I have been able to get out on my bike during a few of them, but this bike commuter has been cooled by the weather. My hats off to the many bike commuters, heartier than me, I continue to see through the window of the bus – like the sundogs.

More on sundogs: