The “Bob” Sayings

Bob is a pretty solid name, all things considered. Although not as popular as it was when I was a kid, when every grade school class I took seemed to have at least one other Bob in it, Robert remains one of the top 100 most popular name for a male child, coming in at number 80. And “Bob” also has the advantage of being featured in two curious sayings: “Yessirree Bob” and “and Bob’s your uncle” (which is, admittedly, much more popular in England than in the U.S.)

Of the two sayings, the origin of “and Bob’s your uncle”–which roughly means “and it’s as simple as that”–is seemingly easier to trace. According to one website, the phrase came into use in Great Britain in the late 1800s, when a Prime Minister named Robert appointed his nephew to be the Minister for Ireland. Thanks to this act of raw political nepotism, a significant “Bob” phrase entered the English language, because it was presumably simple to become the a high-ranking governmental official when “Bob’s your uncle.”

The source of “Yessirree Bob” is harder to pin down. This saying, which was a favorite of my mother, means “yes, absolutely.” It’s obvious that “yessirree” is derived from “Yes, sir.” But where does the Bob part come from? The on-line sources disagree as to when and why this phrase first entered the language, with some radically different theories. I suspect that “Bob” was selected for this phrase because it’s short and, by virtue of ending with the hard “b,” definitive to say. As a result, it serves as a kind of punctuation for the saying. “Yessirree Christopher” wouldn’t have quite the same punch.


As I’ve mentioned before, my maternal grandmother, Grandma Neal, had an elephantine memory when it came to songs and poetry. It was not uncommon for her to interject some appropriate snippet of verse into a conversation to make a point.

On Mother’s Day, Grandma Neal enjoyed reciting the lyrics to the song M-O-T-H-E-R. Released in 1915, M-O-T-H-E-R (A Word That Means The World To Me) was a sentimental tribute that was the work of Theodore Morse, who wrote the music, and Howard Johnson, who penned the lyrics. Grandma Neal knew the song by heart. She liked the spelling chorus part the best and recited it with special emphasis. The lyrics are as follows:

I’ve been around the world, you bet,
But never went to school,
Hard knocks are all I seem to get,
Perhaps I’ve been a fool;
But still, some educated folks, supposed to be so swell,
Would fail, if they were called upon a simple word to spell.
Now if you’d like to put me to a test,
There’s one dear name that I can spell the best:

“M” is for the million things she gave me,
“O” means only that she’s growing old,
“T” is for the tears she shed to save me,
“H” is for her heart of purest gold;
“E” is for her eyes, with lovelight shining,
“R” means right, and right she’ll always be,
Put them all together, they spell “MOTHER,”
A word that means the world to me.

When I was but a baby, long before I learned to walk,
While lying in my cradle, I would try my best to talk;
It wasn’t long, before I spoke, and all the neighbors heard,
My folks were very proud of me for “Mother” was the word.
Although I’ll never lay a claim to fame,
I’m satisfied that I can spell this name:

“M” is for the mercy she possesses,
“O” means that I owe her all I own,
“T” is for her tender sweet caresses,
“H” is for her hands that made a home;
“E” means ev’rything she’s done to help me,
“R” means real and regular, you see,
Put them all together, they spell “MOTHER,”
A word that means the world to me.

Happy Mother’s Day to Grandma Neal, Grandma Webner, my mother, my lovely wife, my sisters, and all the mothers out there, old and new!

Learning From A Label

When I was a kid, I used to religiously read the backs of cereal boxes while spooning down my breakfast. The Wheaties and Frosted Flakes boxes usually had some pretty interesting information on the back, and besides–what was I supposed to do instead? Engage in meaningful conversations with members of my family?

I fell out of the habit of reading product labels and boxes, but lately I’ve tried to reengage with that practice, in hopes of broadening my base of walking-around knowledge. You never know what you might learn.

Consider, for example, this jar of 24 Mantra “organic curry powder,” with its description on the side of the jar of the “24 Mantra Advantage.” It raises some interesting points, and questions, too. For example, is it even possible for curry powder to be inorganic? After all, curry powder is made from a variety of ground up leaves, roots, and chilis. Isn’t everything that comes from a plant organic? Has someone created chemically based, laboratory-created curry powder and tried to foist it on an unsuspecting public? It makes you wonder.

The “24 Mantra Advantage” is one of those vague statements of purpose you see on some product labels these days. I’m not sure why this is so, but it’s interesting to see what companies decide to feature. The 24 Mantra Advantage statement says: “In our Mantra we have integrated the ancient wisdom ‘Tvam Bhumir Apo Analo Anilo Nabha‘ (You alone are Earth, Water, Fire, Air, Ether).” The “fire” part is encouraging if, like me, you like your curry at the high end of the spice scale, but I’m not sure that ether, for example, has much relevance to good curry. The label goes on to say that the company works with a lot of farmers, and states that one aspect of the “24 Mantra Advantage” is that you can “enjoy food adhering to international standards.” You wouldn’t think that last part really needed to be stated, but I suppose it’s nice to have that confirmation, in writing.

I’m going to have to think about establishing my own mantra.

The Month Of The Evening Star

The last few nights we’ve been enjoying sitting outside, reveling in the clear desert skies, the cooling temperatures, the colorful sunsets, and the emergence of the stars after the glow on the western horizon fades. But the undisputed leader of the nighttime light show is Venus, also known this time of year as the Evening Star.

The past few days, Venus hasn’t even waited for the Sun to completely set before emerging, bright and gleaming and just above the western horizon. When the curtain of darkness finally falls, Venus is seen in its full brilliance. Other than the gibbous Moon, Venus is easily the brightest object in the night sky, far brighter than Polaris or any of the constellations. It’s as if Earth’s neighboring planet has its bright lights on for safety.

We’ve just emerged from the point in the year when Venus is at its brightest, and if you’ve got clear skies and a telescope you can get a good look at the planet. Even without a telescope, Venus is a visual treat for the nighttime sky watcher. We’ve enjoyed spending some time with the Evening Star.

Graying Out

Scientists believe they have now identified a key cause of gray hair. And, contrary to what your mother told you long ago, the key cause isn’t the misbehavior of children, or worrying about who they might be out with late at night. Instead, it’s primarily caused by cells that have gotten stuck in what used to be their natural cycle.

The scientific study, described in a paper in Nature, focused on melanocytes, a kind of stem cell that produces melanin, which controls hair color as well as eye and skin color. These cells are found in your hair follicles, where they await a protein signal telling them to become mature cells and produce the pigment that is your natural hair color. The melanocytes move around in there, and in different locations they get different protein signals. The study found that over time, however, more and more of the stems cells get stuck in an area called the “hair follicle bulge,” where they aren’t getting the signal to fully mature and produce color. As a result of this and other causes, you get gray hair–that is, hair without color. (Incidentally, other causes of gray hair can include stress, so maybe your mother was right after all.)

The study gives some insight into how science works, because it required the researchers to repeatedly pluck hairs from mice to artificially speed up the “stuck in the hair follicle bulge” status. Presumably, some hapless lab assistant was at work with a magnifying glass and tweezers every day for two years, to perform the minute mouse hair plucking. But their sacrifice in miniature barbering was worth it, because this discovery may allow scientists to figure out how to get the melanocytes out of the bulge and back into their normal rotation, allowing people to recover their natural hair color without resort to Grecian Formula 16.

Based on the condition of my head, I’ve got lots of melanocytes stuck in hair follicle bulges throughout the scalp territory. I hope they are enjoying themselves in there.

The Miracle At A West Texas Gas Station

We were in the middle of west Texas, about 150 miles east of El Paso, when I began to get concerned about the gas situation. We had gassed up hours earlier, but in the vast, empty stretches of arid west Texas, where the speed limit on I-10 is 80 mph, the exits are few and far between–and most of the exits don’t have a gas station. I had been looking carefully for one for miles, but to no avail. In the meantime, the gas tank bars kept shrinking, we got the chime and the notice that we were almost out of gas, and there was no station in sight.

But then, in the shimmering haze of the bright sunshine reflecting on the dry and dusty landscape, we saw what appeared to be a sign in the distance. At first we thought it might be a mirage, but as we drew closer we realized it was, in fact, a sign. This, by itself, provided no real comfort, because we had seen signs at earlier exits, but the gas stations they were advertising were abandoned. Finally, we saw the Exxon logo above, and the functioning neon, and realized that we were saved from the ignominy of running out of gas on one of the loneliest stretches of the American Road. It was a West Texas Miracle.

When we pulled up to the pump, we saw that the price for gas was higher than it had been at our earlier stops in Texas. But beggars can’t be choosers, and at that point we would have paid far more for gas. The law of supply and demand, and the invisible hand that guides pricing decisions, demanded that the scarcity of available gas in that remote corner of the world factor into the pricing. In reality, I was so grateful that I would have left a tip if the machine had permitted me to do so, because we were in the middle of nowhere and would have been completely out of luck if that little gas station had not been there.

And speaking of the middle of nowhere, the photo below gives you an idea of just how desolate this area was. There was absolutely nothing around this little gas station. This part of west Texas defined “vast” and “empty.”

Presumably because it was the only commercial business to be seen for miles and miles, the gas station offered an interesting assortment of items for sale–including a collection of paintings, shown below, that were leaning against the wall next to the entrance to the restrooms. So, in addition to filling your tank and emptying your bladder, you could buy a painting of a woman in creepy makeup holding a skull. What’s more, there was a discount price if you bought two of the larger paintings, with one painting selling for $59.99 and two for $80. It was admittedly tempting, but I managed to resist.

After we had gassed up, we hopped in the car and pulled away from the station with a sigh of full-tank relief. We were thankful for the station’s existence, but also for learning an important lesson: in west Texas, you can never have too much gas in the tank.

A Bracing Dip At Barton Springs

Yesterday morning Richard and I decided to indulge in a classic Austin institution: taking a dip in the Barton Springs pool. Barton Springs is a natural spring that bubbles up from the ground just a stone’s throw from downtown Austin, as the photo above shows. It is a haven for dedicated swimmers and for anyone who wants to give their dog-paddling skills a workout. And speaking of dog paddles, at one end of the pool is a barrier and a fence that separates the human pool from an area where Austin-area dogs can have a riot splashing around around, as shown in the photo below.

The swimming area of the Barton Springs pool is probably about 200 yards in length. It varies in depth from about four feet near the edges to deep enough for diving at certain points. Although it is roughly configured like a very long swimming pool, it is a naturally occurring body of water with a bottom of algae-coated rocks, so you have to watch your step as you enter the pool. Human swimmers share the water with turtles and a unique species of blind salamander.

It was bright and sunny yesterday, but with temperatures in the 50s when we entered the pool. I had hoped that the water would be at least somewhat warm, but alas!–it was like taking a polar bear plunge. Under such circumstances, there is no alternative to just plopping in and hoping that eventually your body acclimates to the cold water, which mine eventually did. The bracing temperature of the water definitely provided some motivation to start swimming and hopefully generate some internal heat.

Speaking of swimming, I’m obviously totally out of practice, and it seemed to take me forever to move from one end of the pool to the other, as I tried out my back stroke, breast stroke, and freestyle techniques, as well as just floating and enjoying the interesting scene. Along the way I got yelled at by a lifeguard for the first time in more than half a century because I unknowingly swam–well, floundered, to be precise–through the well of the diving area. I did manage to avoid getting yelled at for running along the edge of the pool, however.

After I finally reached the end of the pool, we got out and walked around to take in the full scene. There were a number of accomplished swimmers who obviously have significant resistance to cold water moving methodically from one end of the pool to the other, as well as people sunning themselves on the lawn that is found on one side of the pool. According to Richard, the pool opens at 5 a.m., and there usually are people waiting to take a cooling dip and get their laps in. As for me, I was looking forward to changing into dry clothes and enjoying a warming meal of some breakfast tacos with a hot cup of coffee.

The Euchre Belt

The other day we were talking about potentially having a social event for our litigation group in Columbus, and someone mentioned that maybe we could hold a euchre tournament. The B.A. Jersey Girl commented, however, that we would have to actually teach the game to some of our lawyers. This astonished me, because I thought that this fun and fast-paced card game was played by pretty much everyone who has ever touched a deck of cards. To the contrary, the B.A.J.G. inexorably maintained: euchre is virtually unknown on her home turf or elsewhere along the east coast, and seemed to be played only in Ohio and perhaps other parts of the Midwest.

Sadly, in this, as in so many things, the B.A.J.G proved to be correct. In America, euchre evidently is widely known and played only in a swatch of states that may be called the “euchre belt”: Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, and Illinois. The American version of the game apparently is derived from an Alsatian game called Juckerspiel and was brought to the U.S. by German-speaking immigrants, who handed it down to succeeding generations. That explains why the above-noted swath of the Midwest, where many German immigrants settled, is home to many euchre enthusiasts.

In Ohio, though, euchre soon expanded out of the German immigrant community. When I was a kid, all of the relatives on both sides of my family played euchre (as well as pretty much every other card game), and when I was in high school I and other classmates at Upper Arlington High School often played euchre in the “student center” during break periods between scheduled classes. (It beat studying in the “learning center.”) It was a quick, raucous game that well-suited to being completed within an open period.

The rules of euchre are weird, which is part of the fun of the game–and which makes you wonder what long-forgotten savant came up with them. Among other oddities, you begin by culling the deck itself and getting rid of all of the cards except the nines, tens, jacks, queens, kings, and aces. A euchre game is four-handed, with a player teaming up with the person facing them at the table. Each player is dealt five cards (in two rounds, for no readily apparent reason), and the remaining four cards are placed in a pile face down on the table before the top card is flipped over. This is a crucial element of the game, because the three down cards in the “kitty,” which could be crucial to the hand, are instead “buried” and their identity is unknown to the players. Many euchre players have come a cropper, or lucked out on a weak hand, because of the identity of these down cards.

The players determine a suit first by going around the table so that each player decides whether to “order up” the top card that has been turned over from the kitty, in which case the dealer of the hand takes the card, puts it in his hand, and selects a discard from his hand to join the down cards in the kitty. (This is another key part of the game, where you try to signal your partner about your hand–perhaps by a long pause as if you are debating whether you’ve got enough to order up the card, only to ultimately decide not to do so.) If no one orders it up, the top card is turned down and another round occurs in which any player may name the trump suit. Whichever team names the trump then has to win three of the five tricks, and if they fail they are “euchred.” If you’ve got a very strong hand and you’ve named the trump, you’ve also got to decide whether to “got it alone” and hope you can win all five tricks by yourself–and not get euchred in the process.

The card priority rules of euchre are even stranger. When trump is named, the two most highest ranked cards are the “bowers”–the jack of the trump suit (the all-powerful “right” bower) and the jack of the other suit of the same color (the “left” bower, which can take any card but the right bower). So, if hearts is the trump, the jack of hearts is the right bower, and the jack of diamonds is the left bower. “Bowers” apparently are the Americanized version of “bauers,” which is German for farmers. Players must follow the suit that is led, but if their hand has a void (i.e., no cards of the suit led) they can try to take the trick with a trump. With every player holding only five cards, voids are common, and unexpected trump plays that take an off ace can ruin the best hands.

I can’t summarize all of the rules of this great game, in which hands are over in the blink of an eye. taunting is commonplace, and friendly arguments about card-playing decisions are inevitable, but if you’re not familiar with euchre, I encourage you to learn it. You can check out a “beginner’s guide” to the game here.

I’m hoping we go forward with that euchre tournament. It would be nice to see the “euchre belt” widened and lengthened.

That Second Shingles Shot

Our family doctor has been after me to complete the two-part shingles vaccination process. I got the first one several months ago, and it apparently doesn’t become fully effective until you get round two. Our doctor also told me that many people who receive the second shot have a reaction to it, which means you probably want to get it on the weekend, so you can have some recuperation time before the new work week starts. Some of my friends and colleagues are among those who have had reactions to the second shot; others haven’t.

Because of the warning, I’ve put off getting the second shot, so as to avoid weekends where we’ve got plans that could be wrecked by a reaction to the shot. At the same time, I wanted to get it, because getting shingles at my age sounds so horrific–I heard one ugly tale about somebody who got shingles in their eyes–that I’m willing to endure a few crappy weekend days to avoid the possibility. So I made a reservation at a local CVS and went yesterday morning to get the jab. I’ve gone to the CVS for COVID shots, and know from personal experience that the pharmacists do a solid, professional job of administering vaccines.

At first, I was fine, although my shoulder that received the shot ached. But by nightfall, I was definitely feeling a reaction. I woke up overnight with shaky chills, followed by feeling hot and feverish and a general sense of malaise and and overall soreness. But, all things considered, it’s not that bad–and definitely preferable to getting shingles in your eyes.

Life is about making these kinds of little judgment calls. I think getting the second part of the shingles vaccine was a good one.

Tulip Time

We had some friends over for drinks last night, and Kish brought home these pink tulips to provide a pretty welcome for them. It’s always nice to have flowers in the house, and tulips are a special treat this time of year. On dreary March days, their beautiful colors and fresh scent remind us that, technically, the March equinox has passed and spring is here, and the real, blooming Midwestern spring is just around the corner.

Tulips also remind me of Grandma Neal, who had a taste for poetry and an astonishing ability to recall and recite poetry from memory. One of her favorites to recite when spring arrived was The Garden Year, by Sara Coleridge, which mentions tulips:

January brings the snow,
Makes our feet and fingers glow.

February brings the rain,
Thaws the frozen lake again.

March brings breezes, loud and shrill,
To stir the dancing daffodil.

April brings the primrose sweet,
Scatters daisies at our feet.

May brings flocks of pretty lambs
Skipping by their fleecy dams.

June brings tulips, lilies, roses,
Fills the children’s hands with posies.

Hot July brings cooling showers,
Apricots, and gillyflowers.

August brings the sheaves of corn,
Then the harvest home is borne.

Warm September brings the fruit;
Sportsmen then begin to shoot.

Fresh October brings the pheasant;
Then to gather nuts is pleasant.

Dull November brings the blast;
Then the leaves are whirling fast.

Chill December brings the sleet,
Blazing fire, and Christmas treat.

The Skin On The Pudding

Yesterday our firm had a nifty little St. Patrick’s Day food event called “Irish nachos,” consisting of waffle fries, a queso sauce, and bacon crumbles. They were very tasty! I got to the buffet late, however, so when I dipped the ladle into the queso sauce there was a thin skin on top that crinkled up in response to the downward pressure of the ladle before breaking–and thanks to that sight a pleasant childhood memory came flooding back.

My mother always tried to have a dessert to serve during our family dinners. Usually it was something like a lime Jello mold with grapes in it–not a favorite for me, frankly–or some canned peaches or pears, perhaps served on cottage cheese. On some lucky days, however, it was little glass bowls of chocolate or butterscotch pudding.

The pudding always had the skin on top, and that turned out to be a big part of why pudding was a favorite dessert. Using your spoon to play with the pudding skin was irresistible and kind of fun–could you peel off the skin in one piece, could you use your spoon to wrinkle the skin and loosen it from its moorings on the sides of the bowl, and how much pressure would it take to puncture the skin, once and for all?–and the skin, once consumed, always seemed even richer and tastier than the rest of the pudding.

I see on the internet that some food websites offer tips on how a cook can prevent the formation of skin on top of pudding or custard. What? That whole concept is fundamentally misguided, like trying to make pizza without attention to the crust, or attempting to develop plant-based burger patties. In my book, the skin is a crucial part of the pudding. Why would you want to make a pudding without it? A pudding without skin is a pudding without soul.

Fake Quotes

The culture of fakery on the internet is strong. One bit of evidence for this is the prevalence of fake quotes attributed to famous historical figures. You might be scanning the comments to a particular news article and see that some unknown person or bot has inserted a bon mot from a trusted, respected person from the past, with their picture, hoping to quash further discussion with the weight of their authority. The pictures are of the person, but the quotes often are phony.

Abraham Lincoln seems to be a favorite source for fake quotes. So many spurious sayings have been attributed to our 16th President that “fact checkers” write articles to debunk them and Lincoln scholars are forced to weigh in to try to correct the record. You also see fake quotes attributed to Albert Einstein, Sun Tzu, Winston Churchill, Thomas Jefferson, Oscar Wilde, and just about anyone else of any historical significance. The idea is to trade on the reputation of the historical figure to make your point by coming up with a fake quote that is reasonably plausible, or may even have been said by somebody else. It’s unfair to the historical figures and an appalling approach to argument when you think about it–but unfair and appalling often aptly characterize discourse on the internet.

And, sadly, it works. People get taken in by the ruse. Years ago, the Republican Party Twitter feed attributed an obviously phony quote to Lincoln and had to endure a few weeks of embarrassment at its foolishness. But even the debunked quotes continue to circulate, next to the pictures of their alleged sources, ready to mislead the gullible. And many people don’t exercise skepticism and try to check the actual facts before reposting that Lincoln zinger that they saw.

My grandmother used to say “believe none of what you hear and half of what you see.” That’s wise advice as applied to life generally and the internet specifically. If you see a quote attributed to Honest Abe that seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Family Art

I’m in Savannah, Georgia for a brief family visit. It‘s been a nice opportunity to catch up with my uncle and aunt after a long absence, but also a chance to appreciate some of our family art that is displayed around their house.

My grandfather on my Dad’s side was a bookkeeper by trade, but with the soul of an artist. Some of my earliest memories are of his workspace, where he kept his palette and brushes and an easel that held his latest creation. He was an accomplished painter with a meticulous eye for detail.

Grandpa painted still lifes, landscapes, city scenes. dreamy symbolic pieces, and portraits. I like them all, but particularly like these two portraits of my grandmother and grandfather. If you look carefully at the bottom right of the portrait below, you’ll see that it is signed with Grandpa’s neat “AWWebner” signature—but the portrait of Grandma is not. That’s because Grandpa liked his self-portrait, but was never really happy with his painting of Grandma and kept reworking it (even though I think is a good likeness). He only signed pieces when he was satisfied with his work.

New Year, New Tests

One of the interesting things about getting older is that, as you hit new age milestones, you’re recommended for new medical tests and scans that you’ve never heard of (or, for that matter, thought of) before.

This month I was introduced to two of them, both of which involved my new friend the ultrasound machine. I last encountered the ultrasound device when we were in the child-bearing years, and it was used to produce dark and murky images that were indecipherable to anyone who wasn’t having a baby. The new tests obviously had a different purpose.

The first test was an abdominal ultrasound scan to look for aortic aneurysms, which is a one-time test recommended for men over a certain age. Aneurysms are bad things, and the scan is an early screening tool designed to allow doctors to spot and treat them before they burst. That made sense to me–who wants to deal with a burst aneurysm, really?–so I found myself lying on a treatment table and lifting up my shirt so a medical technician could apply some transmission gel to my stomach and then use the scanner to move gradually around on my torso to get a good look at my abdominal aorta. The scan took about 30 minutes and was no big deal.

The second test was a carotid artery ultrasound, which is designed to look for blocked or narrowed carotid arteries. Since the carotid arteries carry blood directly to the brain, blockages are bad and can lead to strokes. This test was even easier, didn’t require any clothes adjustment, and literally took about five minutes. I reclined on a treatment table next to the machine and the gel and the ultrasound scanning tool were applied first to one side of my neck, then to the other. The technician gazed intently at her screen, we heard the rhythmic whooshing of my heart pumping blood through the carotids, and then I was done.

My primary care doctor is a big believer in preventative medicine and early testing and using the amazing tools that are now available to detect and avoid potential medical issues. With the wear and tear inflicted by years of use, I’ve become a prime candidate for blockages, burstings, and other bodily breakdowns. Now that my aorta and carotid arteries have been checked out, I’ll wait patiently until I hit another milestone that puts me in the age range for another recommended screening or scanning. I expect I’ll be seeing my new friend the ultrasound machine again.

The Coldest Of The Cold

It’s been cold in Columbus the past few days, and the weather app advises that the temperature outside right now is a bone-chilling 13 degrees.

It seems to be cold pretty much everywhere in the U.S. right now. Because our weather app also keeps track of temperatures in other areas that we care about, we know that it has been unseasonably cold in Austin, Texas, too, where people are struggling with a balky power grid and Richard and Julianne have been huddled with their dog and cats when the power has gone out. The champions of the February Cold Contest, though, are Russell and Betty up in Brewer, Maine, where the current temperature is -18 and the wind chill is a ridiculous, and dangerous, -40. Fortunately, the Maine power grid is more dependable than what the Austin area has to offer, and Russell and Betty have heat.

As a kid, I don’t remember my parents talking about specific temperatures or the wind chill factor; at most they might chat with the neighbors about it being an especially cold winter. The only temperature I really cared about was 32 degrees, because I hoped for consistent freezing temperatures to allow for snowfalls, sledding, building snow forts, snowball fights, and other winter activities. It may have fallen below zero from time to time, but the approach back then–by parents and kids alike–was to just bundle up some more, perhaps wrap another scarf around your neck, hitch up your snow pants, fasten the metal buckles on your rubber galoshes, and deal with it, because the weather was simply the weather.

More recently, gadgets like weather apps on phones and thermometers in cars remind us of the specific temperature all the time. The coldest official temperature in the Columbus area is 25 below zero, recorded at Rickenbacker Air Base on January 19, 1994; that day it was -22 at Port Columbus Airport (now John Glenn International). I’m sure I was in town on that day and dealing with the cold, but I don’t remember that day, specifically. It was a cold day, obviously, but there have been many cold days.

The coldest cold I recall experiencing occurred in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, on a wintry day where we decided to go snowmobiling and the temperature was well below zero. It was so cold that it was difficult to take a breath outside, and the outfitter for our snowmobile trek emphasized that you needed to make sure that every square inch of exposed skin stayed completely covered, because otherwise it would freeze virtually instantly and you’d be dealing with frostbite. I took that advice very seriously, and was glad indeed to be supplied with lined coveralls, enormous mittens that extended up to your elbows, and multiple neck gaiters, along with my helmet.

Cold comes and cold goes. I’m glad to see that the temperatures in Austin, and Columbus, and Brewer are supposed to warm up, relatively speaking, today and tomorrow.