MARTY RUSSELL: How much longer until spring?



If we’ve learned anything from the recent deep freeze (other than not to take the garbage out while still in your pajamas, my bad) it’s that we can play football on Mars.

Since the so-called polar vortex swept down and locked most of the eastern half of the country in sub-zero temperatures, newscasters and meteorologists have been reaching for comparisons to prove just how cold it is, as if we couldn’t figure it out when we had to pry open the frozen front door. One such example that seemed popular was that it was actually warmer on Mars, despite it being about 100 million miles farther from the sun than Earth, than in most places in this country.

That’s true. The average temperature on Mars is about -23 Celsius which works out to about -9.4 degrees Fahrenheit. During the Green Bay/San Francisco playoff game last Sunday in Wisconsin, the temperature was around -12 degrees Fahrenheit. So, provided we substitute spacesuit helmets for the players’ helmets so they have oxygen, we could actually play football on Mars. It’s rumored the NFL is already looking for an expansion into that market since some of the players and fans appear to come from there. (Remember that Monday night game when the late commentator Alex Karras referred to Oakland Raiders player Otis Sistrunk’s alma mater as the University of Mars?)

The whole thing sounds like a bad Syfy Channel movie, which is to say any Syfy Channel movie. First, they had to go and name the weather phenomena the polar vortex. How many times have we heard Scotty on the Enterprise yell, “Captain! I’m giving her all she’s got but we’re still being sucked into the vortex! She can’t take any more! I can’t take any more! I’m outta here!”

Of course, the Syfy Channel would have come up with a better name. Maybe, “Icenado.”

And of course the plot would have to explore all the side effects of a massive deep freeze beyond just the usual terminal frostbite, busted water pipes and dead car batteries. There’s the psychological ramifications of being trapped inside for days commonly known as cabin fever.

We’ve certainly been experiencing that at my house since the cold set in, trapped inside with three large dogs and two tomcats, none of whom seem to know the meaning of the words, “freeze your tail off.” God forbid we run out of dog and cat food or, more importantly perhaps, cat litter. Of course, in the Syfy Channel version the pets would probably be Great White Sharks.

The good news is that it’s forecast to begin warming up again starting today, at least relatively. I know I’ve learned a lesson from this experience and that’s that I will never again complain about being cold when it’s 40 degrees outside.

So take heart, the end of this cold spell, as my mom would call it, is in sight and spring is just 71 days away.

Marty Russell writes a Wednesday column for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at

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