January 01, 2005

Wicked Cold

Skating rinks are closed. Children are not allowed outside to play and they’re bored to tears at home. Horse races have been cancelled. It’s turned beastly cold, as they say.


In Moscow some thermometers read 34 degrees below zero Centigrade; others, for some reason, say only 31 below; and there are also a few eccentric instruments that indicate even 37 below. And this occurs not because some of them measure the temperature in Centigrade, while others are graduated according to the Réaumur1 scale; nor is it because it’s colder on Ostozhenka Street than on the Arbat, or because the frost’s more severe on Razgulyaya than on Gorky Street.2 No, the reasons are different. You yourself know that in our country the production of these slender and delicate instruments isn’t always on an extraordinarily high level. In general, until the economic organization in question, struck by the fact that, as a result of the frost, our population has unexpectedly taken note of its shortcomings, begins to improve, we’ll take the average figure of 33 degrees below zero. That’s undoubtedly accurate and serves as the precise arithmetical expression of the concept of “beastly cold.”

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