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Elizabeth Woodworth: Punxsutawney Phil should take a bite out of those pesky men in top hats

By Elizabeth Woodworth
Contributing writer
updated: 1/31/2019 4:51 PM

Seed bedding plants near the New Moon, plant root crops last quarter of the Squashy Osage Moon, and crops with fruit above ground in the first quarter of the Skunk Courting Moon. A strong lunar position at the end of January is likely to delay or negate the Groundhog Day thaw. The new moon is likely to strengthen the cold front that usually passes across the country near this day. Feb. 5 is Tet, the Vietnamese New Year and Chinese New Year, the year of the Pig. Just after the Groundhog Day thaw is over, the Sun rushes toward early spring and Cross-Quarter Day. (Countryside)

Feb. 3: Floodwaters crested in Harrisburg at 12.4 feet at 11 a.m., 1937. Feb. 4: Harrisburg Rotary Club organized, 1918.

Groundhog Day, another six weeks of winter, or will spring come early? If I were Phil, I would a bite those silly looking men in top hats and frock coats who dare pull me from my warm bed.

I did not see the lunar eclipse. Sister, who is in Florida where it is a warm 48 degrees (warmth is relative, 0 in Minnesota), sat in her car, running the heater from time to time and watched it. I ventured onto the porch a few times, could sometimes see the Moon when the clouds broke for a minute or two. A few years ago, I would have bundled up, taken a chair and sat on the curb watching every minute. And you wonder why my neighbors think I'm crazy. Now I worry about falls on the ice, can't get on enough clothes for 17 degrees, and would rather be in my warm bed. So, no eclipse for me.

Did you know: Each of us loses on average more than 15 socks a year, which can add up to more than 1,200 lost in a lifetime. Sometimes we find the lost one wrapped up in a sheet, sometimes it is gone for ever -- where it goes I have never discovered. If you have long ones -- better than tights in the winter -- use those spares to winter proof your car. Slide a long sock over the windshield wiper the night before a snowstorm to prevent ice crystals from forming. Can also protect them while you are at work. Your car, neighbors and your co-workers don't care that the socks don't match. The car will be grateful and the people envious.

I am not an exercise nut, sloths don't exercise. New York exercisers are really nuts. They are into cold workouts: Flow, a yoga class set at 60 degrees; Slide, a core and cardio circuit in a brisk 55 degrees; and Hit, a high-intensity rope and dumbbell routine at a nippy 45 degrees. The premise is that when you're exposed to temperatures between 40 and 64 degrees, you burn fat. A study says that in winter the body can convert more white fat to beige fat which burns calories (don't ask me, have no idea except that lard is white and bacon grease is beige.)

Other research shows cold temps moderately increase energy expenditure to compensate for heat loss. The studies tend to focus on freezing temps so study up before you lower the thermometer in your house -- all you can get is cold, and sitting under a blanket drinking hot tea and soup doesn't help you get fit. (Mine is set at 64, I haven't lost a pound.)

AS-204, later to be named Apollo 1 is seared on the brain of children of the Space Age. No event leading up to the Moon landing had such a big impact upon us. On Jan. 27, 1967, a preflight test was in progress for the Apollo 204 mission when tragedy struck on the launchpad at Cape Kennedy. The men who were supposed to take part in the first crewed flight of Apollo -- astronauts Virgil "Gus" Grissom, Edward White and Roger Chaffee -- would never make it off the ground. A fire swept through the Command Module killing all three. According to NASA, the exhaustive investigation and reworking of the Apollo command modules postponed crewed launches until officials could clear them for flight. The schedules for the rocket that launched the command modules into space, a Saturn IB, were suspended for nearly a year. The launch vehicle that finally bore the designation AS-204 carried a lunar module instead of a command module. In the spring of 1967, the mission was officially renamed Apollo 1. (Grissom was the astronaut aboard the Liberty Bell 7 on a suborbital flight. After splashdown the hatch of the capsule blew and it filled with water. Grissom nearly drowned before he was lifted out of the ocean. The capsule was lost).

The Apollo tragedy highlighted the difference between the U.S. and Russian space programs. The world saw and mourned our loss. Russia did everything in secret ... and there are some who still believe that at least one Russian was left in space.

Not really funny, but ... in the event of a tornado or other such natural disaster, place wieners and/or cheese slices in your pocket, so the search dogs will find you first. Skiers take heed.