Sunday, January 06, 2008

Contemplations from Dealing with Sub-Zero Condition

We experienced a staggering cold front earlier in the week, the night temperature on Wed (Jan 2, 2008) going south of zero. According to the local news, the temperature of 28 degree Celsius persisted for about 7-8 hours through the night. Worried of frost damage, wify moved the plant basket she received as a gift from her Arts teacher into the house. And we dutifully switched on the heater. CE was in thick clothing, and me, clad in two T-shirts.

As a result, I did not feel the frigid onslaught. But the drive to the office the following morning was an entirely different matter. I had to first brave the wind chill (fortunately the car was just parked outside our home), then I had to deal with the extremely cold condition in the car, having being left under the elements overnight, especially the stark steering wheel, it being the only part that my raw skin (my palms) came in contact with. Then it was a short walk (a brisk one) to the office from the parking garage, hands in pockets, but the face stricken the worst in the breezy street. All in all, everyone in the family survived unscathed. And I shudder to think how we would have fared if an arctic storm like the one that pummelled California later in the week were to assail us. Time to feel thankful.

The temperature on the following night (Jan 3) was above zero, and wify and Yu Huei decided to host a steam boat dinner, a vegetarian one, in our home. The guests of honor were yours truly and Viky, a USF doctoral student from China whom we have befriended when we first met him at the Middle Way Buddhist Association.

Yu Huei brought along a table top gas stove fired from gas canisters. It's a compact little thing the size of a Phone book that fits into a similar size suit-case-like container. We propped it on top of a phone book, and placed it at the center of the dinner table, surrounded by dishes of raw vegetables, taufo, noodles, and other vegetarian goodies but with meaty food names (Sigh!).

We first slided plates of food items into the boiling pot, then covered it to let it boil and then simmer somewhat. Then it was an alternate process of removing the cooked food for consumption and placing new food items to replenish the pot.

Soon we were all satiated, and adjourned to a game of 3D Tic-Tac-Toe, one we bought at 75% discount from CVS as part of a post-Christmas sale. Viki took turns to match wits with wify and Yu Huei while I stayed above the fray but not necessarily feeling under-matched. After a few rounds, including one where his left hand played with his right (apparently he did this quite often back in China in his younger days since he is the only child), Viky concluded that the game confers unfair advantage to the first mover. Life is perhaps analogously similar, there is really no level playing field and all one can realistically attain is to reduce the disparity, in general.

Then yesterday we sent WT back to Hume Hall after both WT and CE had a hair cut at the SuperCuts and we collected our prescription glasses in the morning, the car journey relatively congestion-free and uneventful. Then we dropped by Lin and Huang's place for a tasty bowl of porridge (actually several bowls) cooked with chicken broth. In turn, wify exchanged her recipe of seafood porridge (tilapia slices, bay scallops, finely cut carrot strands, and cut celery considered good for the heart) with the Lins.

Being further inland compared to Tampa, Lin related the demise of several of his flower plants left outdoor to defend themselves against the brief cold spell several nights ago. But his vegetable plot survived. As in life, sometimes human intervention is necessary to nudge life forward, but not to the extent of creating a subsidy mentality, a dependency syndrome that hurts in the long run.

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