I grew up in the Midwest, so I’m used to harsh winters (sub-zero temperatures and all). Snow and ice are par for the course if you grew up anywhere in the US other than the Southwest. I’d much rather be chilly than sweaty! Still, being the great indoorsman that I am, controlled climates are preferred year-round. Yes, even when Jack Frost is nipping at my nose.
So, how can we geeks (and nerds, I suppose) better prepare for the impending season of winter? I’m assuming you’ll do anything to avoid non-essential activities which require more-than-minimum physical exertion, too. “Making snow angels” is about as extreme a winter sport as I might suggest.
Personally, I love leisure activities which better engage my mind. Viewing a movie might count, but only if that flick is of the documentarial variety. I’m not sure “documentarial” is a word yet, but it seems cromulent. Watching television might count as a brain-building activity, too — but not when you’re watching “reality” shows. Reading a book? Sure, but I’d recommend doing it with some kind of battery-powered screen involved. Pages are so 15th century!
You might muster the patience to master a game at some point during the winter season. That might take several months, weeks, or minutes (depending on how smart you are). I’d prefer to find myself face-to-face with a pile of plastic LEGO bricks from any given set, though. In fact, before I could get to it, my girlfriend happily assembled the Star Wars Hoth Wampa Cave in my home office:
A Wampa would certainly come in handy the next time I have to shovel my driveway. After uploading our lighthearted Star Wars LEGO review, I asked the community to complete this sentence: “To prepare for winter, geeks and nerds should…” These were my favorite responses:
- Ionian Blue: “Buy USB powered heated underpants.”
- Chris Hayes: “Continue to stay indoors.”
- Rich Gilberto: “Dedicate a Linux box to run a Yule log screensaver.”
- Gabe Pavlica “Uninstall their CPU’s cooling fan.”
- Caleb Honeycutt “Hibernate. Simple as that.”
- Jack Fear: “Roast Zuckerberg on Google+.”
- Brian Omv: “Stock up on Hot Pockets and Xena Tapes.”
- Jorge Cerda: “Get tons of ramen and make sure to pay the Internet / Netflix bills.”
- Nicholas Roberts: “Continue to live out their entire existence indoors.”
- Joe Bolin: “Buy a fuzzy logic coat.”
- Nate Jay: “Keep a steady drip of data flowing so their pipe doesn’t freeze.”
- Mike Dubisch: “Switch into the wool Spider-Man costume.”
- Phil Hord: “Forage for content.”
Might you have anything to add to this list of preparedness possibilities? I came up with a few ideas on my own:
- Queue up inane new “Holiday” flavor combinations to tweet to @Starbucks.
- Design an Arduino-driven, Android-controlled snowplow.
- Assemble a sled from old software boxes.
- Collect dead batteries to use for constructing action figure dioramas.
- Cut up old electronics to recycle as Christmas tree ornaments.
- Study semaphore in case power lines are iced-over and fallen.
- Write carol parodies.
- Start using Citrix products (sponsored) to connect with co-workers and colleagues.
- Train your dogs to play werewolf.
- Suspend snail mail delivery until next June.
- Ask your community to help you compile lists for impending blog posts.
All kidding aside, you should be doing your part to help make this winter a safer one for you and those you happen to live with. Even if you’re not at the head of your household, suggestions should always be warranted when they’re made in the name of safety and security. Stocking up on extra food, water, and life-sustaining supplies is a timeless tradition that shouldn’t be eschewed.
If you’re looking for a slightly more serious set of geeky winter preparedness tips, I won’t leave you hanging:
- Before hitting the road, check current street conditions with an app (or two).
- When you travel anywhere by car, bring along a fully-charged GPS.
- Pick up a hand-crank powered emergency flashlight / radio and put it in your car’s trunk.
- If you can have Internet-ordered goods delivered to you at a minimal additional cost, do it.
- Install electronic carbon monoxide detectors throughout your home.
- Let others know where you are, when you plan on traveling, and if plans change.
With proper winter preparedness, you might be saving a life beyond your own.
I hesitate to end this article on such a somber note, but I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t relate to you a tale of tragedy which befell an old colleague — no stranger to gadgets and geekiness, he ultimately became a victim of winter’s bitter pinch. James Kim, former contributor to several tech productions, succumbed to hypothermia while seeking rescue for his family in the remote woodlands of Oregon a few years back.
We are not exempt from Mother Nature’s wrath — and we’d be wise to remember that when the weather turns foul in any season. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of attention; preparing for the worst may very well keep us alive long enough to see the best. Technology can help you, but only if you take the time to let it help you.
What can you do today to make this winter a safer one? Before you finish this paragraph, you should open a separate browser tab to Amazon (there, I made it easy for you to do). Search for items designed to keep you happy and healthy through winter weeks for years to come.