So the festive season has come and gone, along with the relatives. And now we can settle down to drab, and sometimes frigid, January, just as we always do.
Let’s start this January schtick with a few winter chuckles:
• A husband and wife are lying on the beach at a luxurious tropical resort. The husband turns to his wife and says, “Just think, less than a week ago we were tramping through ice and snow to draw out our life savings for this.”
• Have you ever wondered why we shiver in the cold weather? It’s nature’s way of increasing the flow of oxygen to stimulate muscular activity, thus increasing body temperature. Will this information make the bus-stop-wait any more comfortable? Are you kidding?
• Old skiers never die, they just go downhill.
Checking the January calendar:
January 6, 7 and 14 — If you observe the old Julian calendar, the holiday season celebrations aren’t quite over. According to that calendar, Christmas Eve, or Epiphany, is on the 6th, Christmas Day is on the 7th, and New Year’s Day is on the 14th.
January 9, 1899 — This date has the dubious distinction of featuring the coldest temperature ever recorded in Manitoba. At Norway House in northern Manitoba, the mercury shivered down to a low of -52.8° C In those bygone days, that was -63°F.
In case you're wondering, Winnipeg’s coldest-ever temperature was on Christmas Eve in 1879, when the thermometer read -47.8°C, or -54°F.
Back in the 1970s, I recall a New Year’s morning that produced a similar bone-chilling temperature of -43°C. The amazing thing was that there was absolutely no wind and it really didn’t really feel all that bad. Although, come to think of it, my brain may have been frozen. The air seemed visible that morning — almost crystalline — just hanging there in massive clouds of enveloping ice fog.
Carrying this temperature trivia even further, the coldest-ever temperature in the world was -89°C in Antarctica. On the other hand, Canada’s record cold was a relatively balmy - 63°C at Snag in the Yukon.
And, just to put our sometimes bone-chilling climate into perspective, keep in mind that the average winter temperature in Siberia is a mere -51°C.
January 15, 1892 — The original 13 rules devised by Canadian James Naismith for the game of basketball were published in the YMCA Training College newspaper. The first basketball game was played in December 1891 by members of the YMCA Training College in Springfield, Massachusetts. Naismith, their coach, came up with the game as a scheme to fill the void between the end of football season and the beginning of baseball season. The original goals were peach baskets and the players climbed a ladder to retrieve the ball.
Smart enough to invent basketball, but not smart enough to remove the bottom of the peach basket?
Pro basketball was played in 1898 and the centre-jump after each goal, or basket, was eliminated decades ago to cut down the advantage it gave to seven-footers.
January 28 — Serendipity Day. On this day in 1754, an English writer named Horace Walpole read a fairy tale called, The Travels and Adventures of the Three Princes of Serendip. Serendip was the early name for Ceylon, which is now Sri Lanka.
Walpole was impressed by the tale about a princes with an amazing ability to make accidental discoveries. So on this day, he wrote a letter that contained a new word he created to describe this ability — “serendipity.” Since most words evolve over a period of many years, this is one of those rare words for which the exact date of its origin can be documented.