I mentioned earlier that the First of the Nine-Nines—the Nine-Nines being nine periods of nine days each, each period characterized by a certain type of winter weather—started on the day of the Winter Solstice, which occurred here in Mongolia on December 21, according to the Gregorian Calendar. The Second of the Nine Nines begins today, December 30. Known as Khorz Arkhi Khöldönö, this is the time when twice-distilled homemade Mongolian arkhi (vodka) freezes. As you will recall, the first of the Nine-Nines was the time when regular, or once distilled, arkhi freezes. As this indicates, the second period should be colder than the first, since twice distilled arkhi obviously has a much higher alcohol content. This morning at 8:30 it was a relatively balmy Minus 22°F /-30º, however, and it is supposed to get up to minus 4º F / -20º C today, so we seem to be having a bit of a warm spell. The Third Nine-Nine starts on January 8.