Cold and the Crazy Man

This article was written as an apology for my unreasonable behavior and an in appreciation for great family, shelter, and clothing. 

What This Is

This is a true story. It happened to me on the night of June 25, 2016 in Homer, AK (59°36'44" N 151°26'36" W - 50 ft Elevation).

This is my personal story as it occurred to me. Since I was not in my right mind there may be errors. The incident may have occurred quite differently to other people at the same scene.

This article is a work-in-progress and will very likely be edited and it might be a slightly different version tomorrow. Deal with it.

What This Is Not

This is not an endorsement of any brand. I was not paid for this article and my goal in sharing is so that you will be prepared if something similar happens to you or someone you love. The principles of this article can be applied equally if you're on a budget or if you prefer best-in-class brands (I think).

This is not a scientific article. If you want to learn more about the science of how humans deal with and survive extreme cold then go elsewhere.

The Story

First of all, we should set the scene. It was a long hard day of camping and fishing. My brother-in-law and I had spent the morning on the Rainbow Tours and the afternoon/evening exploring Homer, AK with family. We were ending the day sitting around a camp fire while the kids played. It was one of those days you could aptly describe as being a "Terrific Saturday".

As the night wound to a close I was practicing keeping my mouth shut and enjoying the moment (because I've been told by some people that I can monopolize the conversation). Being tired I closed my eyes and used a hat to block the midnight sun. Then the inevitable happened...I fell asleep.

Not being awake I cannot comment on how long I was asleep or the weather conditions at the time. Based on the conditions when I was writing this article it was in the range of 48-61 degrees with pockets of light rain. I got cold.

When I woke up I was scared and confused. I made a scene with family members by making unreasonable demands and arguing about who knows what. I made my wife mad and I likely scared my seven year old son and my nine year old niece. I was not the best version of myself.

What I remember doing was taking off my jackets and putting them in a cubby, that I never used, and crawling into bed wearing my jeans and button up shirt. I covered my body head-to-toe with the blankets and tried to stop shivering and to get warm.

After an unknown period of time I decided that the crisis was over and I was going to go outside to help my brother-in-law clean up the camp site. I got up and made another scene, this time demanding my jackets, a pair of shorts, and a t-shirt. To make matters worse, I couldn't recall that I had put the jackets into the cubby near my bed. I could not be satisfied. 

Eventually, the scene is over with my son sleeping beside me and my wife is sleeping in the bunk above. I woke up before everyone else and proceeded to write/publish this article from bed using only my iPhone. I'm now wearing my REI jacket without the t-shirt and a pair of REI shorts. I feel normal again.

Tips to do it better

  1.  Keep Calm: If you are not in your right mind due to environmental changes you maybe entering into survival mode. This can result in irrational behavior and actions that can be dangerous to yourself and others. If you are the principle or just at the scene...keep calm and take steps to minimize the impacts of the crazy man (I.e. protect the children).
  2. Follow Instructions: If someone recognizes what is happening and can speak with authority then follow their instructions. You might not remember what happened a few minutes ago and you cannot be trusted to make good choices
  3. Take off your clothes: If you've ever used a Northface sleeping bag you know that you can stay very warm, even in extremely cold weather, by getting into a caacoon in just your underwear. This gear helps to trap your body's heat.
  4. Be appreciative:  Family, friends, and/or first responders just went through an unpleasant experience with you. Hopefully they're cool and you didn't do long term damage. Be appreciative of each person who helped get you through this drama.

Be Approachable

[Originally published October 27, 2009]

It is much easier these days to have your voice be syndicated and reach a wide audience. However, how many people that you like and respect would you consider to be approachable? How approachable are you?

Great leaders recognize that it is important to be approachable. Seth Godin, author of Tribes, said that he reads all non-anonymous e-mail (even if he doesn’t always reply). Harold Taber, former President of Coca-Cola Los Angeles, said that he spent time almost every day interacting with people at all levels of the organization (from executives to shipping clerks). US Congressman Dana Rohrabacher has open dialogs on Twitter.

Has your own sense of importance prevented you from being available to the people in your community? I have found myself guilty of this by not always following up on all of my e-mails or phone calls. Yet, I’m learning that if I want to be able to approach the people that I respect then I should have the same courtesy for those who respect me too.