Friday, December 02, 2005

Winter in Alaska. Perfect Gaming Weather. I Mean... If You Can Keep Your Water Pipes From Freezing.

I wasn't too concerned on Monday morning when I got the call from Dame Coldfoot, "We have no water." Frozen water pipes are a simple fact of life in Fairbanks, Alaska. Fortunately, by simply turning the thermostat up to 90 it is a problem that is easily resolved in an hour or two. My only clue that this wasn't a normal water-pipe freeze-up was the fact that it was only -30. The pipes usually don't freeze until it gets down to -50.

Long story short, all my free time has been spent thawing frozen water pipes this week. I didn't get a chance to do much else, hence this short post.

It was a very bad week for writing, and for gaming, and for sleeping, and for bathing. I do have a couple memorable quotes from my 5-year-old, though. They revolve around poop and the inability to easily flush the toilet. I won't share them here, just know that I will still be giggling about them fifty years from now if I am lucky enough to live that long.

For now I will count myself as lucky that it was the water pipes that froze and not the sewer line. Entirely too many Alaskans have stories about exploding toilets secondary to sewer line freeze-ups. Odds are everyone will eventually have an exploding toilet story if they live in Alaska for long enough. I take some solace from the knowledge that there will probably be some good blogging quotes related to such an event.


Earlier in the week I had promised to post some pictures over on my blog. Since I didn't get the chance I thought I would switch things up and post some Alaskana on Gone Gaming this week.


High noon in Fairbanks, November 23 or 24. The shadows are quite long this time of year, even at noon. We are south of the Arctic Circle, so the sun does rise and set every day of the year, although it isn't up for long this time of year.


Snapped this picture about two weeks ago at 9 a.m. Note the depth of the snow on the rail. That snow took about two weeks to accumulate. Wind is rarely an issue in the Fairbanks area. Even though it gets colder here than it did where I grew up in eastern Montana, the general lack of wind makes winter weather much more tolerable than winters in the Dakotas, Wyoming or eastern Montana, in my opinion.

For you non-Americans, you can barely make it out on the face of the thermometer, but -40 is about the same temperature in both Celsius and Fahrenheit.


I've mentioned it in other forums before, but summer in the interior of Alaska is probably the worst boardgaming environment in the world. Summer is so short, and the days so long, that everyone has better things to do than to play games. Many people are working 80 hour weeks trying to get a year's worth of work done before winter sets in. Many spend their free time fishing, others have seasonal jobs in the tourist industry, still others need to fit 8 months of softball into 3 months.

Winter is the boardgame season in the Alaskan interior. Winter here is roughly October through April. The average daily temperature in Fairbanks is below 0 degrees Fahrenheit (-18 Celsius) for the months of December, January and February. The average temperature is below freezing (32 F.) for the months of October, November, March and April.

For those of you who wonder how the rest of the seasons break down, it's like this: Summer is June, July and August. Autumn begins and ends in September. There is no Spring in Alaska, mid-April until mid-May is called "Break-up". Break-up is that time of year when river ice starts to break up and melt, and seven months of snow accumulation slowly turns into millions of acres of arm-pit-deep mud and mosquitoes. Unlike most of the world, when the trees finally turn green in mid-May it is a sure sign that summer, not spring, has arrived.


And now for something completely different:

What's this? Hasbro has signed Jamie Lee Curtis to advertise their wares for this Christmas season?

Hasbro? Jamie Lee Curtis? The actress with the most famous cleavage in Hollywood?

If anyone wants to take the bet, I've got five bucks that says they completely blow this opportunity. After all, we are talking about the company that owns the Avalon Hill catalog and just sits on it. Hasbro could influence the game buying habits of pimply-faced geeks for the next two decades if they played their cards right.

With Jamie Lee Curtis as the spokesperson, Topless Taboo could be bigger than Naked Twister. Naked Twister didn't even have a celebrity spokesman, and it's been around for years. (Never heard of Naked Twister? Take Twister, and add the Naked expansion.)

Look for them to put her in a turtle neck and push the PlaySkool line.


I'll be back next week with real boardgame content, hopefully.

Thanks for your indulgence,


Joe Gola said...

Holy crap.

Melissa said...


And I see they got Jamie Lee Curtis because she appeals to the "mom" market.

I would have thought the "dad" market might be more interested, myself.

sodaklady said...

I know we're spoiled here in the Black Hills--I'm sick of cold after only a week of highs in the single digits. But we do have to put up with wind which can shoot that cold right into your bones.

Jamie Lee is THE Hollywood mom--she also does spots urging families to sit down at the table and eat together.

Dwayne "aka okiedokie" said...

We have 4 seasons in central Oklahoma. They are: Tornado season, Summer, Damn! It's STILL Summer, & Christmas Day (aka Ice Storm/power outage)

gamesgrandpa said...

And over all that wonderful Oklahoma weather is WIND, every day of the year (that's why it's not really considered part of the weather).
.... an ex-Okie

John said...

Har. Jamie Lee and Topless Taboo. Har. The other funny thing is we have the same thermometer . . .

Coldfoot said...

That particular thermometer is the only big one that I can find that goes down to -60.

Here's the link to the Jamie Lee Curtis commercial, from

They blew it.

Alex said...

Actually, -40 is exactly the same in both Fahrenheit and Celsius. It's where the 2 temp scales meet.

I used to get seconds and minutes of fun out of entering -40 into the calculator and pushing the F->C conversion button.