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Ever nap in a doghouse in 40-degree weather?

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POSTED December 17, 2008 11:31 p.m.
There are some things you should never admit to doing.
Among them is crawling into a dog igloo complete with door flap at 2 o’clock in the morning after getting off work and spending a half hour to see just how warm it is inside.
Those I’ve told think that it was a hilariously stupid thing to do.
I just wanted to make sure that it would be warm enough for my two dogs — Cruella and DeVil — before I picked them up from the Dalmatian rescue in Turlock. The thermometer after 30 minutes read 55 degrees compared to the 40 degrees outside. It passed the test. I figured with two dogs and their body heat it would be a bit warmer.
Actually, the doghouse temperature was about 10 degrees warmer than I keep the house.
It sounds nutso, but I keep it cold on purpose. It’s the same rationale I use for not turning on the air conditioning in summer. I try to adapt to the weather. I find it is much more comfortable and — so far — it keeps me healthier.
Even though it is 30 degrees at 5:30 in the morning, I still jog to the gym in running shorts. The only concession to the cold is pulling up the hoodie and wearing gloves.
I’ll admit it was slightly warmer in the three previous years in winter without turning on the heat as I lived in a second floor apartment. Living in a California-style flattop is a bit more of a challenge so I cheat. I turn on a ceramic space heater when it drops below 50 degrees to take off the chill.
Some suggest I’m cheap. Maybe. Others have noted that it probably discourages a lot of houseguests. That it does.
Do I ever get cold? Only after eating three yogurts after dinner at night but I wimp out and put on sweat pants over my shorts until I go back to work.
I picked up my somewhat unorthodox attitude toward embracing both heat and cold from my grandmother who spent most of her life running the family cattle ranch in the Nevada County foothills. Subjecting your body to extremes — as opposed to adjusting to your environment, which is weather-driven — can be brutal.
Think about it. If it is 40 degrees outside and you go into a house at 75 degrees and then back out into 40-degree weather that is a jolt to your system. If the temperature difference is less severe, it is less taxing. The rationale in summer is the same but more extreme. A 75-degree building may contrast to a 100-degree day outside but the second you get into that car it may be 120 degree plus for a few minutes. In reality, you can have a 65-degree swing in temperature in just a minute. That can’t be good.
I’d be singing a different tune if I was in Montana. But I’m not. I understand how lucky it is to have Mediterranean-style weather here in the Central Valley even though most of us complain about the heat in the summer and then we whine about the cold in winter.
While jogging in the cold or rain is something I do in running shorts, I admit to pulling on tights when I bicycle this time of year when the temperature is below 50 degrees.
There have been times I’ve cycled in just shorts and it was colder including being caught in snow, then hail and then sleet on Tioga Pass the first day of summer 20 years ago. A year later snow started falling on the final climb between Taos and Red River in New Mexico during Memorial Day weekend.
All of that stuff would make me seem a bit off in the eyes of most folks.
But letting people know about my half-hour camp out in the back yard in the wee hours on a cold December morn elevated me to the level of either being certifiable wacko or — the term my grandmother liked to use — slightly eccentric.
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