In no particular order

  • It’s gotten cold. Today I woke up to patches of white on the ground outside. (Kate and I were gone for the first snowfall of the season, so this was our personal first.)

  • Got a professional to come in and do a heating audit of the house, since the place is very, very leaky in the winter. The audit involved setting up a blower-door (facing outward) to put some negative pressure to the house. Since it’s cold outside, all the leaks in the house become inlets for frigid air, and as such, very visible on an infra-red camera. Disturbingly visible, in fact – since cold looked dark on this camera, holes without insulation showed slowly lengthening dark tendrils, reaching into the house like fingers, or some malign oil-spirit out of a Miyazaki movie. Take the camera away and the wall looks normal, but that became almost creepier, since one’s brain starts wondering what else is invisibly crawling out of the walls…

  • The practical upshot of the audit: “The house is really leaky. Insulation blown strategically into the attic will probably help an awful lot.” We’ll be getting a comprehensive report with recommendations and pictures and circles and arrows in a couple of weeks, and meanwhile we’re all the more aware of the cold places in the house.

  • Not, mind you, that it’s as cold as the house in which one of Kate’s coworkers lives – her husband is a stay-at-home-dad for their two young kids, and to save money and get by on one salary, they keep the house at a steady 55 degrees during the winter. They wear hats around the house and go to bed wearing sweatpants, and the kids don’t mind a bit. Funny how a few years living with first-world climate control makes an arrangement like that sound rough, but for how much of human history have we had buildings where the windows can’t be opened due to our utter faith in our HVAC systems?

  • I’m making a batch of chai milk and attempting to figure out good proportions for the various spices I’m pitching in. This involves putting a half-gallon of whole milk in a crockpot, turning it to low, tossing in a variety of spices, jotting down the amounts, waiting three hours, and tasting the milk to see how strongly it’s flavored. It wasn’t strong enough at lunch time, so I added some more. Now it’s stronger, but I can’t really tell if it’s going to be strong enough. Either way, I’m calling it done, so it’s cooling outside the front door.

  • I love the part of the year where everything outside the door becomes a giant walk-out freezer.

  • Now that the GRE is done, the next phase of applying to graduate school is: application essays. (On which, I’ll note, one doesn’t have a 45-minute time limit to explain away imperfections.) Combine essays for four schools (unless I eliminate one or two) with several looming deadlines at work, and it’s shaping up to be a frenzied month.