Sunday, February 14, 2010

Baby, It's Cold Outside. Not

When Gilda and I woke up Sunday morning it was 26 degrees outside. When we stepped off the plane in Los Angeles around noon local time it was 75.

The forecast for LA this week is for temperatures doubling the expected highs for White Plains. Though LA has endured a fair share of precipitation recently, it’s the kind that rolls off your back, not slushes up your walkway. Mostly sunny skies are expected in Los Angeles this week; snow is expected again back east on Tuesday.

I shouldn’t get too cocky. Long range forecast for White Plains is for snow next week on the day we return and the day after. But today we’ve already luxuriated in no socks needed anymore weather, strolling in rolled up sleeves in a soft breeze. It’s delightful to have to wear a hat to guard against the sunshine and not to stay warm.

For the record—I removed my socks shortly after deplaning.

Ice Cold: So, do you think this winter’s been colder than normal in the NY metro area? I don’t think so, at least not according to my admittedly non-scientific but perceptive field study.

I keep two water bottles in my car. In years past, the water would freeze up, thaw out, refreeze throughout the winter. This year? Not one ice cube. Unless Poland Spring is adding anti-freeze to it water bottles, Mother Nature has not throttled us with a sustained cold blast.

Olympic Gold: I’m not into the Winter Olympics. Perhaps because I don’t ski, ice skate, snowboard and definitely don’t luge, I have a hard time relating to the daredevils of these sub-zero (centigrade) sports.

But I do marvel at Olympic accomplishments, especially from non-athletes.

Back in 1998, Nagano, Japan, hosted the Winter Games. As part of the coverage, The Washington Post’s Kevin Sullivan did a piece on how the upper crust endured life at the Olympics, going from party to party, all in the name of advancing world peace, mind you, at least according to Masato Mizuno, president of the Mizuno sporting goods corporation, whose company spent $16 million to be an official Olympic sponsor.

But Sullivan also reported on a more plebian approach to Olympic enjoyment, what he called the “Eric Plan.” I’ve reproduced the part of the article that describes my nephew’s exploits (for those wanting to read the full article, here’s the link:

For those without royal blood or imperial purses, there's always the Eric Plan.

Eric Forseter, 22, from Rockville, (MD), is spending a year bumming around Australia as he prepares for law school next year. He bought a cheap plane ticket from Sydney to Tokyo plus a Japanese rail pass, and made his way to Nagano with about $400 in his pocket.

Forseter found lodging at a hostel, where he spends about $30 a night to sleep on a tatami mat on the floor in a room with 10 strangers. He had to go out and buy a towel, and he's living on orange juice and croissants from the convenience store. He said his accommodations are relatively spacious, though, compared with the 15 or 20 George Washington University students crammed into another room.

On his first day in town, Forseter met another young man who had bummed two tickets to the high-profile Canada-Sweden men's hockey game from one of the players. They sat in great seats right behind the goal, then moved to seats directly behind the team benches. They collected a couple of stray pucks and even a broken stick from the Swedish team.

That night they rolled into the Pink Elephant bar and had beers with NHL stars Brett Hull and Jeremy Roenick, who play for the U.S. team. The next day, Forseter bagged tickets for the Finland-Russia hockey game. Scalpers wanted more than $400, but a nice man invited Forseter to sit with him for free. Turns out the man is the father of NHL star Teemu Selanne, who plays for Finland. Forseter sat at center ice and chatted with Pat LaFontaine of the U.S. men's hockey team and the parents of NHL'ers Pavel Bure and Chris Chelios, who were sitting nearby.

Sunday night, with somebody's extra ticket, Forseter saw figure skating, one of the Games' premier events, for $4 — the cost of a shuttle bus. In total, Forseter figures he's spent about $300 and had about $3,000 worth of fun.

"I'm on a roll," he said.

Eric’s parents are going to Vancouver later this week for some Olympic fun of their own. Doubtful their experience will be as eventful.