Never be cold again. It was, admittedly, the most challenging objective, sitting there, atop the list of my goals in retirement. But I knew, in my heart, that if I applied myself, with passion, dedication and focus, I could achieve that goal.

It is said that goals should be SMART. Although the definitions vary, most would agree that a SMART goal contains the following criterion for judging objectives: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound.

I began by defining cold. It is harder than you might think. Yes, cold can be simply stated as the presence of a low temperature. Or, put another way, since temperature relates to the thermal energy held by an object, which in turn is the random motion of the particle constituents of matter, an object will have less thermal energy when it is colder and more when it is hotter.

I knew I would need more thermal energy in retirement. But how much more?

The coldest known temperature ever achieved is called the Bose-Einstein condensate. The Bose-Einstein condensate (BEC), a state of matter of a dilute gas of low densities, can be cooled to near absolute zero. About -273 degrees Celsius.

That would be my baseline, keeping in mind that the BEC of -273 degrees Celsius is not quite as cold as the coldest day in a Canadian winter.

It is exhausting to define a SMART goal but I think I nailed it this way:

Goal: Never be cold again.

Specific: Cold is cold. Hot is not cold. Therefore hot is hot.

Measurable: The temperature of the air shall be measured near the surface of the Earth using thermometers placed in a Stevenson screen, a standardized well-ventilated white-painted instrument shelter, based on a true daily mean obtained from a continuously-recording thermograph. That daily mean should be above the Bose-Einstein condensate. I mean, like well above the Bose-Einstein condensate.

Achievable: A significant achievement requires intense, prolonged and repeated effort, to work with singleness of purpose to a high and distant goal, to boldly go where no one has gone before. Or maybe just drive south to Florida for the winter. I think I can do that.

Relevant: Something (cold) is relevant to a task (driving a motorcoach) if it increases the likelihood of accomplishing the goal (never be cold again) which is implied by the task (driving a motorcoach). Relevance is an elusive concept because the meaning of relevance appears to be difficult or impossible to capture within conventional logical systems. Regardless, I will know when I am not cold. Calidi ergo sum. I am hot therefore I am (not cold).

Time-bound: Time is the indefinite continued progress of existence and events that occur in an apparently irreversible succession from the past, through to the present, to the future. Time is a component quantity of various measurements used to sequence events. I am definitely bound by time.

There. All of the attributes of the goal are in place.

However a major setback.

We drove south yesterday for over 600 kilometres. We are parked at a site in Stonewall Jackson State Park, near Roanoke, West Virginia.

Almost heaven, West Virginia.

Last night it was minus 2 Celsius in this part of almost heaven. Making it feel as cold as somewhere less than heaven.

I am cold.

Very cold.

I am not achieving my goal right now.

4 replies
  1. Tara
    Tara says:

    Haha, oops! I left Mom a message saying you folks made it out of Ontario just in time—we woke up to snow on the rooftops this morning! But it turns out it’s cold where you are anyway! Sorry to hear, hope you get to warmer territory soon 🙂


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