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July 5, 2010

It’s a scorcher
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 01:43 PM *

The news headline says it all: “Blistering heat expected in Northeast”

A heat wave of historic proportions could strike some Northeastern states as forecasters warn of prolonged triple-digit temperatures that could trigger “a dangerous situation,” the National Weather Service advised Monday.

“Dangerous,” did the man say? Try “deadly.” We’re talking about increasing humidity and increasing heat, which is the formula for hyperthermia. And that’s a condition that can kill within minutes. The very young, the very old, and the already-ill are at greatest risk.

What to do about it? Drink plenty of fluids, keep your electrolytes up, wear loose light-colored clothing, stay out of the sun (or if you must go out a big floppy hat and a parasol wouldn’t be amiss), and watch the people around you. If they’re showing the signs and symptoms of hyperthermia you have it too.

What are the signs and symptoms? The most serious is Heat Stroke:

  • High body temperature.
  • Decreased level of consciousness.
  • Change in behavior.
  • Not sweating in a hot environment.
  • Skin may be flushed or pale, depending on whether vasodilation has shut down yet.
  • Signs of shock: elevated heart rate and breathing; decreased blood pressure.
By the time you’re there, though, you’re already in trouble. If you or someone near you starts getting muscle cramps (an early symptom of heat stress), take action to self-aid or buddy-aid.

Check out these earlier Making Light posts:

As always, I am not a physician. I can neither diagnose nor prescribe. The information presented here is for entertainment purposes only and is not intended as advice for your particular condition or situation.
Comments on It's a scorcher:
#1 ::: The New York City Math Teacher ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2010, 02:04 PM:

Ninety-five degrees in the shade at 120 feet of elevation, on the descending slope of the remnant glacial moraine two miles north of the Jackie Robinson Parkway.

#2 ::: beth meacham ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2010, 02:45 PM:

My sincere sympathy, guys. Keep your bodies and heads covered up with light-weight clothes. This is what cotton gauze is for. Drink more water than you think you need, and drink it constantly.

Good luck!

#3 ::: Phiala ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2010, 02:46 PM:

It's supposed to be hot enough this week that I'm even planning to drive to work instead of my usual two-mile walk. Getting there first thing in the morning would be fine; getting home will be problematic. It's supposed to be in the mid-90s here in central Pennsylvania all week.

Need an alternate exercise plan for this week that can be done very early in the morning.

#4 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2010, 03:47 PM:

It's been nasty hot here in NC as well. Two-plus weeks of high 90s (heat indexes in the triple digits), a short respite (down into the mid-high 80s), and now we're heading back into 99-degree territory.

I've mainly coped by hiding in the air conditioning. This is harder in the Northeast, since more homes don't have air conditioning up there than down South. If at all possible, I advise finding someplace air-conditioned to spend your days. If you work at home, try the public library or a coffee shop. When our a/c broke last year, I made myself an all-day fixture at the library. Comfy chairs, free wi-fi, books, magazines, and air conditioning.

And make sure your animals -- especially outdoor animals, but also indoor animals -- have plenty of water. Even with air conditioning, my indoor kittycats are drinking lots of water and lying stretched out on the bathroom tiles.

#5 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2010, 04:45 PM:

It is possible to get severe cramping from drinking too much water (happened to a friend once) -- electrolyte imbalances cut both ways. It's less likely than dehydration, but remember the possibility.

#6 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2010, 05:05 PM:

And following on from Caroline @ 4: think about your animals. Our cat has been lying around wherever she can get a breeze - and we've just been in the high-20s (Centrigrade - think low 80s F).

If you've not got air conditioning, get a simple fan - at least it keeps the air moving; your pets will thank you.

And PLEASE don't leave ANY animal in a car in such conditions, even with the windows part open.

#7 ::: Laramie Sasseville ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2010, 05:54 PM:

My sympathies! Stay cool.

#8 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2010, 05:56 PM:

Are blood orange bitters a good source of electrolytes? I've discovered that they make my drinking water a lot more tasty.

#9 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2010, 06:09 PM:

I think it got up above 90 here in central Maine this afternoon. I was hiding down in the basement painting. My cats are melted all over the floor despite having ice cubes in their water bowls.

Tomorrow's going to be worse. On the one hand, I'll be at work, which is air conditioned; on the other hand, the building's been closed up for four damp hot days and the mildew in there is going to be unspeakable. (It's been stinky the last few weeks and I'm not looking forward to it - my allergies don't get along with mildew at all.)

#10 ::: LDR ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2010, 06:39 PM:

Does vinegar provide electrolytes? (I'm thinking of that old-fashioned drink, honey and vinegar.)

#11 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2010, 07:17 PM:

Thena #9:

I misread that as "down in the basement panting".

#12 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2010, 08:00 PM:

LDR @ 10 -- In this context, "electrolytes" refers primarily to sodium, potassium, and chloride ions. Vinegar has none of these. Drinks with sugars and/or organic acids (acetic, lactic, tartaric, etc.) are tasty and may help to keep one hydrated, but don't do anything much for electrolyte balance.

#13 ::: Abby N ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2010, 08:15 PM:

Yup, we were hiking up in the Whites today. (Mt. Osceola Trail, *straight* up East Osceola; a couple of us aren't in as good shape as we thought we were.) It's warm, and that was a workout, and two of us had headaches by the time we made it back to the car. I was the only nauseous one, though, and some air conditioning and a nap and some dinner were an excellent cure for that.

Thanks to dcb and Caroline for the pet reminders - our house stays pretty cool, but the cats are splayed out on the tile floors, and they'd probably like a fan running.

#14 ::: Ursula L ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2010, 08:45 PM:

As far as electrolyte balance is concerned, I remember that Jim posted a basic oral rehydrating solution recipe in an earlier health thread about dysentary. 1 tsp salt plus 2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons sugar to a liter of clean water.

Would my guess that this would be a good base for a summer drink be correct? Perhaps seasoning herbal/decaf iced tea to that ratio, or use as a base for water flavored with a splash of vinegar or lemon juice?

#15 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2010, 08:57 PM:

My AC isn't working too well currently, so I'm being gentle with it. It's amazing how cool 80 degrees feels when it's 100 outside.

Since there's an Air Quality Alert out in New Jersey as well as a Heat Advisory, I'm not exercising. I can't afford to have an asthma attack right now.

#16 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2010, 09:26 PM:


Yes, that too.

Melted cat is melted.

#17 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2010, 09:32 PM:

My parents called from their A-frame in the NWern Adirondacks. Hot up there too.

Fortunately they have a really cold creek in their backyard to jump into.

My mother is an RN; I assume she knows enough to keep hydrated.

#18 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2010, 09:39 PM:


#19 ::: LRHafe ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2010, 10:13 PM:

There was a passage in one of the 'Little House on the Prairie' books where, as I remember it, they doctored up the water they took to the men in the fields with (I think) ginger & some other things so they wouldn't get sick when they drank lots.

Unfortunately, I don't have a copy of any of the books any more (that's what nieces are for!). Anyone remember more or have the books handy? Now I'm curious whether they described something that would actually work.

#20 ::: TW ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2010, 10:49 PM:

Don't forget UV protection to go with heat prevention.

Small amounts of vinegar can make water/salt mixes go down a little more smoothly; cuts through any throat gunk that builds up in hot, humid, polluted weather and many stomachs handle it better.
Cream of tarter is a potassium source. So a tiny fragment with the table salt keeps those ions humming but it is safer to juice some high potassium fruits into your salt/water mix instead.

#21 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2010, 11:01 PM:

11 PM and the temp is still at 86 degrees. Gonna be this all week.

At least.

No rain since sometime in May.

Love, C.

#22 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2010, 11:21 PM:

My guinea pig Little Pig innovated the trick of dumping half the contents of the water bottle onto the newspaper flooring, and stretching out thereon. Looking very smug, I might add.

#24 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2010, 11:45 PM:

The DC area is expecting 100F or more at least the next two days, as well as Code Red. That's why I got groceries on Saturday, the last day under 90F. We had six people die of heat-related problems in the region today. Most of them are elderly or already ill and didn't have air conditioning. If people just watched, or called their social services, those folks would have been moved to a cooling place if not a hospital.

#25 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2010, 12:01 AM:

LRHafe @ 19 : If memory serves (said memories date from over a decade ago, when I read the Little House Companion Cookbook as a wee kid), the water was laced with ginger. I would assume that powdered ginger was called for, but I would have to see the book to be sure.

#26 ::: Glenn Hauman ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2010, 12:26 AM:

One other note: stay hydrated even if you're not in the sun, etc. Kidney stones also become more common when you're dehydrated, and while they probably won't kill you, you'll pray for death at the time.

#27 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2010, 12:49 AM:

coincidentally, one of the email lists i'm on just sent me a recipe for said ginger-laced drink. it's called switchel:

Switchel (also called switzel, swizzle, ginger-water, haymaker's punch or switchy) originated in the Caribbean, and had become a popular summer drink in the American Colonies by the late 1600s. By the 1800s, it had become a traditional drink to serve to thirsty farmers at hay harvest time, and found great popularity in the hayfields of New York as recently as the 1930s.

Made of water mixed with vinegar, and often seasoned with ginger, honey, sugar, brown sugar, or maple syrup were sometimes used to sweeten the drink instead of molasses. A variation from Vermont adds oatmeal and lemon juice to the mix.

The writer Laura Ingalls Wilder describes a switchel-like beverage her mother had sent for Laura and her father to drink while haying: "Ma had sent them ginger-water. She had sweetened the cool well-water with sugar, flavored it with vinegar, and put in plenty of ginger to warm their stomachs so they could drink till they were not thirsty. Ginger-water would not make them sick, as plain cold water would when they were so hot."

(Recipe yields a concentrate which should be diluted to taste before serving.)

4 cups water
2 c. sugar or honey
1 c. molasses
1 c. apple cider vinegar
1 - 2 tsp. ginger

Put all ingredients into a non reactive saucepan and heat to a simmer, stirring frequently. Turn off the heat and continue to stir until all ingredients are thoroughly mixed and sugar and molasses are dissolved. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Pour into a pitcher and serve or, for best flavour, refrigerate overnight to allow flavours to blend and mellow.

To serve, dilute to taste and serve chilled or over ice.

#28 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2010, 01:15 AM:

Ginger is a carminative: good for calming stomachs. Makes sense.

#29 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2010, 01:41 AM:

We had a couple of days like you all are having last week, and I was wretched.

My technique for staying hydrated, which I imposed on the kids was:
1. Drink a very large glass of something (lemonade in my case, orangeade in the kids' cases)
2. Every time you have to go to the bathroom, drink another very large glass of it.

The bladder sets the timing. My son, who is prone to screaming barfing migraines when he's dehydrated, didn't have any trouble. Win!

My sincerest sympathies to everyone.

#30 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2010, 01:59 AM:

abi - also,

3. Every time you wring out your sweat-sodden shirt, drink another glass of liquid.

#31 ::: Edgar lo Siento ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2010, 08:13 AM:

Xopher, at the risk of being helpy, have you changed the air filter on your air conditioner lately? Sometimes a very modest dust buildup can dramatically decrease cooling power.

#32 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2010, 08:42 AM:

I'd never considered flavouring water with vinegar. Any particular type? White wine vinegar, malt vinegar, cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar? How much do you put in? The same as with lemon?

#33 ::: Janet K ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2010, 08:58 AM:

The predicted high temp for today here in Washington DC is 101F (38.3C) and the same for tomorrow. Present temperature at 9am is 82F (28C) with 67% humidity.

I'm quite a fan of airconditioning but I hate being cooped up inside all the time so I'll venture out now and then. I sweat a lot but I probably won't melt. Tomorrow morning I'll be going on a scheduled easy nature walk. There'll be shade. We'll finish by noon. I'll be well prepared with proper hat and clothing, sunscreen, and plenty of water.

#34 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2010, 09:23 AM:

Edgar, that was certainly a factor until last week, but I changed the filter at that time and vacuumed the grate.

So: good suggestion, but dealt with.

#35 ::: thanate ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2010, 09:23 AM:

I spent a similarly hot and unpleasant week a few years ago doing 10 hour days of archaeology in the middle of an ex-sod farm. The theory I developed was that any time I started to notice how miserable I felt, I drank more water, and when that stopped working it meant I needed to go get rid of some of it. That plus semi-constant small snacks (and reapplying sunblock every hour) worked remarkably well.

My cat, on the other hand, has been deliberately seeking out the warmest parts of the mostly non air-conditioned house to sprawl in.

#36 ::: Chris W. ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2010, 09:30 AM:

Any advice for keeping pets cool? I'm babysitting for a very active Lab while my parents are out of town. I'm keeping both her water bowls well filled, but is there anything else I should worry about?

Though she is showing better than usual sense at the moment. This morning she expressed no interest in going outside and when she eventually did go out she plopped down on the back steps to survey her domain, rather than her usual morning regimen of chasing the soccer ball and terrorizing the local rodents.

#37 ::: kid bitzer ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2010, 09:36 AM:


roman legionaries all drank water flavored with vinegar:

information about amounts and proportions is hard to reconstruct.

that's why the soldiers' offer of vinegar to jesus was not per se cruel--they were giving him what they'd drink themselves.

luckily, the holy sponge is preserved:

no, that's not monty python.

#38 ::: LDR ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2010, 10:15 AM:

shadowsong@27: Switchel! I was trying to remember the name of it! Thanks!

#39 ::: TChem ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2010, 10:39 AM:

I was thinking of previous heat stroke posts yesterday evening when I was feeling Just Plain Odd. I took my temperature and drank a bunch of fluids just to be sure that I was all right, even though it was likely just minor indigestion. I'm pregnant enough that my usual sense-of-wellness checks are skewed in all sorts of interesting ways, so I've been being extra-cautious.

One pet-cooling technique that we've figured out with our cat is to pet her with an ice cube in our hand. The dampness shows up slowly enough not to bother her, it does really seem to cool her off, and we figure any water she licks off is a little bonus hydration. It's gotten to the point that if I show her an ice cube, she'll come up and curl around my legs if she's hot. Smart kitty.

#40 ::: Dave Weingart ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2010, 10:55 AM:

It's sad when I'm glad I'm working in Texas because it's cooler here than it is back home in New York.

#41 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2010, 11:11 AM:

Dave #40:

Save the guilt. Were you here *last* summer?

#42 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2010, 11:33 AM:

abi, your son has my sympathy (been there, done that, and it's a problem when I'm playing with the computer at home, like this last weekend).

#43 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2010, 11:54 AM:

Chris W. at 36: Ginger should probably respond to this. But one suggestion: to keep the dog cool, you can use cold or cool water and wet the dog's coat thoroughly. If the dog has a thick undercoat, as for example with a German or Australian Shepherd, make sure water soaks into the undercoat, and doesn't just ride on the surface hairs. You can do this just before you take the dog for a walk. Even so, make it a short walk.

#44 ::: Madeleine Robins ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2010, 12:00 PM:

My kid is up in the Vermont mountains (with 99 other-people's-kids) and, while I know that the people who run this camp have been doing it for decades and know how to deal with pretty much everything, I worry about how they keep the kids from dehydrating while doing the usual camp activities. Unless they just herd them all down to the stream (which is always icy) and have them stand in it up to their knees.

I so do not envy you guys the weather right now.

#45 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2010, 12:02 PM:

We had two weeks of horrible heat here in Nashville in the middle of June; things only got better when Hurricane Alex brought the air pressure down enough to let cooler weather come down from up north. It's warmer this week, but still our forecast looks better than the northeastern US's, which is rare in summer.

On drink syrups: some thoughts on sekanjabin (better with wine vinegar, IMO); googling "drink syrup recipes" produces several interesting things, and adding that little bit of salt and cream of tartar probably won't affect taste hugely in the strongly-flavored ones. Molasses, BTW, does carry some potassium in it; you'd need close to a cup to get the RDA, but there is a bit in it--certainly more than granulated sugar can claim. Unsulfured types are better-tasting, I think. Sorghum molasses also has a bit of potassium in it.

#46 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2010, 12:04 PM:

Chris W. @36, do you have access to a wading pool or something that could sub as one? My in-laws filled up a plastic kiddie pool for their dogs, and they love splashing in it -- especially the foster puppies, who can't be convinced not to run and play.

#47 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2010, 12:24 PM:

fidelio has it right - last week was really nice here, but the couple of weeks prior were quite unpleasant. I walk to the lab most days (about a mile and a half, across campus), and 95+ is not fun under those circumstances. It is even less fun when you cannot stand short sleeves or shorts...

#48 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2010, 12:25 PM:

In summers past, when I had more compliant cats, I would dunk them in the tub and then wrap them in a towel just long enough to leave them wet but not streaming water. One was clever enough to go and lie down directly under the attic fan after this treatment. That's probably not possible with the current crop of pirates and reprobates (there are two who are so unwilling to be held that claw-trimming is pretty much a two-monkey job, if it happens at all), but they are pleased to drape themselves on the stairs, where the air from the open front door (three cheers for screen doors!) moves past.

Also, if all you are able to do is sit aound the house and pant, consider doing that in a tub of tepid water; it's amazing how well that works, and yet many won't do it because the ides of lounging in the iub is foreign to them. It's even better if you have a fan blowing on you. You don't get much done this way (except, perhaps, catching up on your reading) but you probably weren't going to get much done anyway.

#49 ::: Phiala ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2010, 12:26 PM:

Ah yes, up to 94.9F at noon. (Weather report trying to avoid saying it's 95F?)

Vinegar water is refreshing, but sekanjabin even more so:
Dissolve 4 cups sugar in 2 1/2 cups of water; when it comes to a boil add 1 cup wine vinegar. Simmer 1/2 hour. Add a handful of mint, remove from heat, let cool. Dilute the resulting syrup to taste with ice water (5 to 10 parts water to 1 part syrup). The syrup stores without refrigeration.
I usually end up simmering the mint.

You can substitute all kinds of things for the mint, including ginger, cinnamon, whatever.

#50 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2010, 12:36 PM:

A couple days ago I was using my Ray Gun Thermometer Thermometer (best toys for grownups ever) and I thought it was reading kinda high because almost nothing in the backyard was reading under 98 F. I found the shady side of a tree reading 95. Trees having built-in cooling was new to me. Makes sense, I suppose.

#51 ::: Lin D ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2010, 12:52 PM:

Restaurants don't often carry Gatorade, but they do have dill pickles and iced tea. Works a treat.

#52 ::: beth meacham ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2010, 01:06 PM:

One thing you can do for cats (maybe) is freeze a big ice pack and then wrap it in a towel so it looks like a cat pillow. Place it somewhere your cat likes to stretch out, and see if the cat uses it.

My big fluffy cat likes to sprawl in the bathtub. It's in a dark room, and the tub surface is cool.

#53 ::: lysander ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2010, 01:15 PM:

I work in an ER down in the southern United States, and we've been seeing a slew of incredibly overheated patients recently--one, in one case, with a core temperature of 108.5 (that's one hundred and eight point five). At that point, even if you do manage to survive, your brain is essentially cooked. So be careful!

#54 ::: John L ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2010, 01:17 PM:

Another NC resident here; other than last week, we've had weeks of already hot AND humid weather tormenting us. We just got our A/C unit replaced this spring with a bigger and more efficient model, but the electric bills are going to be huge anyway.

Rather than trying to do my 3 mile walking exercise after work, I've taken to getting up early in the morning and doing it then. The temperature is at least 20 degrees cooler then it would be in the afternoon, sometimes 30 degrees cooler, and it's quiet. I still use my weight machine in the garage after I get home, but I don't stay out there for long.

I'm a full convert to brewing my own decaffeinated tea at home, and adding just enough sugar to make is somewhat sweet. Drinks with caffeine in them will cause you to dehydrate yourself even faster in hot weather, by increasing your kidney output.

My garden is also starting to suffer from the early heat, plus the low rainfall. I've been hauling 30+ gallons of water to the plants every day or so, especially the tomatoes and bell peppers. The jalapenos like the heat and dry conditions so they're doing fine.

#55 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2010, 01:23 PM:

My brother lives in Phoenix, AZ, and when I visit him we habitually wake early and take a leisurely walk in the nearby park. It's always beautiful and not too hot. Good time to walk a dog, too. If your work schedule allows for this, I recommend it.

#56 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2010, 01:34 PM:

Saturday morning, our newspaper's headline read, "Germany Achieves [normal human] Body Temperature." We had several days of (for us) really scorching, draining heat, day and night. Fortunately a thunderstorm broke the worst of it, but we're due for more this weekend.

I find that wrapping a frozen freezer block in a towel provides welcome relief for man and (probably) beast, especially at night. I did this when my kids were very small, and it really helped them get to sleep. Of course I made sure that the plastic couldn't come in contact with their skin.

As far as electrolytes go, things like baked potatoes and bananas will give you an extra boost, and aren't too heavy to eat when it's very hot.

#57 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2010, 01:48 PM:

Sandy 50: Trees having built-in cooling was new to me. Makes sense, I suppose.

Yep. They're running water up from the ground and out the leaves, which cools them and the surrounding area. In addition, leaves are very efficient reflectors of infrared; I've seen a number of daylight infrared photographs that include trees, and the leaves are always bright white (meaning they're reflecting almost all infrared).

#58 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2010, 02:35 PM:

Chris W. @36: As previously indicated by others, a way of wetting her would be good. Inside - a plastic dogbed with a wet towel in it instead of a cushion? I've seen long-coated GSDs clipped for the summer. Also, a fan to increase evaporation rate.

My cat doesn't seem to have thought of the bathtub. Silly cat.

#59 ::: DonBoy ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2010, 02:36 PM:

Just outside of Boston, 2PM, my car's outside-air thermometer read 110. Granted, that thermometer is a well-known liar at midday in summer, but good gravy. (During a short drive, the reading plummeted to 105.)

#60 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2010, 02:44 PM:

Funny story time:

I was out working in the heat and humidity for a few hours, making sure that various things were installed in the right place, and that they were the right things. Then I went back to the nice, air-conditioned trailer. I wanted to curl up under my desk and go to sleep. Nope, not hungry, not thirsty, just want to sleep and—

Oh, I recognize these symptoms. Time to start drinking water now.

I was still off my feed for the rest of the day, but it could have been much, much worse.

#61 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2010, 02:51 PM:

DonBoy #59:

We calibrated both out car thermometers; turns out they both read three degrees over. And they're much better about ambient air after they've been moving five or ten minutes.

#62 ::: Annalee Flower Horne ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2010, 03:36 PM:

Another Washingtonian here, and yeah, it's NASTY. And my apartment building chose today to repair the AC units in our riser, so it will be out all day (better they fix them than have them go south without warning, but still. TIMING. At least I've got AC at work).

It's been nasty for a few weeks now, but over the last few days it's been even worse than normal. I'll probably have drunk my body-weight in water before the day's out.

#63 ::: PurpleGirl ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2010, 03:54 PM:

My complex has its own power plant. A few months ago we finished a project of some system upgrades and converting one diesel turbine to natural gas. In the course of the work we found that one of two transformers was damaged and needed to be replaced. While they ordered a new transformer (which takes about 5 months to build), someone thought that we could continue operating 7 buildings - close to 900 apartments and elevators and laundry room, etc. - with a damaged transformer. Luckily the directors were told that "No, you have to get a temporary transformer and the damaged one must be taken off line. You can't run it." For 4 or 5 days we had to restrict power usage and one elevator in each building was shut off for 12 hours each day and the laundry rooms closed, while we waited for the temporary transformer to be delivered and installed. That happened in May. I wouldn't want to imagine the situation if that happened now.

#64 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2010, 04:09 PM:

Xopher, why not come over and sleep on our sofa? You'll be much cooler (unless we get a blackout), and Patrick can give you an account on the household network.

#65 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2010, 04:11 PM:

Xopher, if you don't take Teresa up on her offer I shall be vexed, and will glare at you from across the Atlantic.

If you do, I will merely envy you. Even with the heat.

#66 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2010, 04:59 PM:

@64 & 65: This goes into my collection of Twenty-First Century Moments.

Meanwhile, there's a reason it's called God's country herebouts.

#67 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2010, 05:16 PM:

Teresa - Thank you! I think I'm OK for now, and I have friends right downstairs that would lend me sofa space if it gets too bad (for example, if my AC breaks down entirely). And I shudder at the thought of the subway in this weather!

Thank you very much though. I really appreciate it.

abi - Please don't glare too hard. It will increase the heat.

#68 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2010, 05:31 PM:

re Switchell: I learned it as an English drink, of the 15th/16th century. Absent the ginger. The first versions seem to have run to honey (over mollases). Apples seem incongruous to the carribbean, certainly in the early 17th century. I've seen it described as a haymaking drink.It's quite good.

Re water: too much water can kill you. The volume is something on the order of more than 8 liters a day, for more than a couple of days. If you are going to drink that much water... you need to balance the electrolytes.
I had a minor run-in with over-hydration at basic. I stopped drinking as much as the told me to (which was a qt. an hour, for about 12 hours a day. June/July, in Missouri), and didn't recur. In 1995, a couple of recruits died of it in Oklahoma.

#69 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2010, 05:33 PM:

We broke the record for this date by reaching 102° today.

#70 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2010, 05:33 PM:

Xopher, if we have to come over and scrape your deliquescent mass off the floor with putty knives before removing you to Brooklyn, I'm going to be ticked.

Jacque, when I was a kid in Arizona, one of my hamsters figured out that trick -- he liked to stand directly under the deluge -- and was very pleased with himself, especially after all the spilled millet sprouted in his damp wood shavings.

I need to do something for my current hamster. He's got more and longer fur than any hamster I've ever seen (I swear, he looks like a tiny sniper in a ghillie suit), and I worry about him if the power goes off.

I worry about me, too. I'm working on the 7th floor of a Manhattan office building, and even with my broken foot and moon boot, I'm thinking of taking the stairs when I leave, because I have a horror of getting caught in an elevator if the power goes out. Same goes for getting trapped in the subway. I get claustrophobic in stalled vehicles. Heat plus darkness plus claustrophobia in a subway tunnel under the East River is just unthinkable.

#71 ::: Dave Weingart ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2010, 05:42 PM:

Joann@41, I escaped downtown Houston last summer at the end of June, I think. I shudder to think what it was like, given it was unbearable by the time I left that project.

(Total aside; I was just in Austin this past weekend for the 4th)

#72 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2010, 05:43 PM:

Teresa, will the hamster hold still to be sprayed down with a mister? Dunking mught be a bit much for so small a critter. You could also slide one of those freezer blocks into the cage, with shavings over it--the block would at least cool the general area around it, even if it wasn't used as a hamster chaise longue.

#73 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2010, 05:44 PM:

I fervently hope the power grid holds up!

Love, C.

#74 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2010, 05:44 PM:

Xopher, if Teresa and Patrick have to go over and scrape your deliquescent mass off the floor with putty knives before removing you to Brooklyn, I'm going to glare at you so hard you'll go bald. Furthermore, I'll glare at you so hard you will have gone bald some time ago.

#75 ::: Angiportus ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2010, 05:55 PM:

Best wishes to all struggling with the heat. After a bizarrely cold gray "Juneuary" the sun has reappeared here in Pugetropolis, and I only hope we can avoid a recurrence of the 100+ temp days we had last summer. I can't take much heat, and neither could my computer. But I did the right things and made it thru.
My cousin has a cat that likes to try to become 2-dimensional on the deck when the weather is hot. Me, I wish I could take my skin off and just sit around in my meat...

#76 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2010, 06:07 PM:

Teresa@70, broken foot? Ouch, I did that 25 years ago, and it was no fun even with the minor version I did; I hope you're better soon, but it'll take longer than they tell you before you really recover.

Abi@74, are you trying to violate causality again?

#77 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2010, 06:10 PM:

TNH @70: sprouted millet

How the heck did I forget about that? I'll bet the guineas would love that.

Some pet owners I've known have put up one of those little table-top fountains for their rotentia to play in. (Need to hide the electrical cord, of course.)

I suppose rappelling down the outside of the Flatiron Building is out of the question...?

#78 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2010, 06:12 PM:

Teresa, you won't. Should I lose structural integrity I will do so in the bathtub.

abi, you will do as pleases you, but I implore you as a friend: don't piss off the Eschaton. A word to the wise.

#79 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2010, 06:12 PM:

Bill @76:
are you trying to violate causality again?

What do you mean again? The last time I did this doesn't exist in this universe any more; it's in a closed time-loop of its own*.

Besides, if I turn the full might of the Abiveld against the forces of space, time and entropy†, it'll all be Xopher's fault.

* I look in there from time to time. It's grown increasingly strange. The British government there is a coalition between the Tories and the Lib Dems. Thank goodness the weirdness can't escape into our universe...
† who thought "Nathaniel" there? Fess up.

#80 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2010, 06:20 PM:

it's in a closed time-loop of its own

You mean it's temporally closed?

#81 ::: jnh ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2010, 06:22 PM:

Jim: What is proper emergency care for spontaneous human combustion? Besides the Scene Safety concerns? "Stop, Drop, and Roll" presumes topical rather than sub-cutaneous inflammation.

Abby N @13: How was it on top of the mountain? I ended up staying in Massachusetts today because the heat made it difficult to get the prep work done, but I was planning on spending the night on a mountain ledge in Maine. Mahoosuc Notch, while a tough hike if you climb out the far end and/or with a full pack, makes for a cool hike because the canyon is so narrow you can probably still find some ice under the boulders. It is also much farther north than Osceola (other side of the Presidential range, on the AT, pretty close to - if not in - Jim Macdonald-land) so a much longer drive from points south. And the trail-head is sort of like Wizards' Row — either it's there or it isn't — depending on the current configuration of the logging roads.

Abi @29: If you're urinating, you are probably hydrated enough. But if you are significantly dehydrated, you'll get urine output before you are back to normal (it takes a while for the body to get the blood reconstituted correctly).

Despite knowing better, I got myself into the hyperthermia danger zone last week on one of the relatively cool 90°days. I was going by bicycle 8 flat miles to the train to Worcester to avoid the hills between home and my destination. I was running late, and didn't have any water on the bike but figured that I could get water at the train station, and even without time for that, there are lots of resources at the Worcester end (before the 5 mile slightly hilly second part of the ride). Arrive at station, a bit overheated but on time. Reach for wallet. What wallet? The one on the ironing board at home. So no water, no train ride and an 8 mile ride home. I knew I was pushing it, but didn't stop at the fire station or police station on the way home. Hyperthermia compounded by Get-there-itis. Still actively sweating when I got home, but core temp was over 100°. Cold, dilute lemonade while in cool bath. Water craving took two days to go away (take water bottle to take sip - chug entire contents because body insists - refill bottle - urinate, rinse, repeat). Thankfully didn't last long enough to significantly impact my kidneys.

#82 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2010, 06:37 PM:

We're having similar weather in Ottawa, and expect it to continue for a few more days. Today's high was 34°C (93°F), humidex 43°C (109°F), and things aren't cooling down enough at night -- last night we got down only to 23°C (74°F), humidex 32 °C (89°F). Bleah.

#83 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2010, 06:38 PM:

Teresa Nielsen Hayden @ 70:

Sorry to hear about your broken foot. I hope that heals up soon.

(I've also learned my new word for the day. Neat!)

Some animals are easier to cool off than others. Back when I volunteered at an animal shelter, there was a yellow lab who absolutely loved being hosed down, and was visibly disappointed when I moved on to misting the other dogs and filling their water dishes.

#84 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2010, 06:39 PM:

Animals and heat:

Hiking up Cape Perpetua on Saturday, my dog decided she needed a breather. It was only just warm, and well shaded, but the trail is very steep -- an endless series of switchbacks -- and I was feeling pretty warm myself.

She vigorously scratched at the layer of leaves and such to expose the cool, moist compost underneath, and then pressed her belly into the trench with a big satisfied doggy grin on her face.

I imagine wolves and coyotes have been doing that for millions of years.

* * *

I've been pushing myself and Kira fairly hard on our walks the last few weeks. I imagine our afternoon mile and a half is going to be severely trimmed as Portland's temperatures hit the mid nineties.

#85 ::: Marna Nightingale ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2010, 06:41 PM:

I and my family are volunteering for the Ottawa Bluesfest; we're mostly doing recycling. Pray for us; we're going to be walking around CARRYING things in this. I'm taking my Camelbak *every shift* and to every show I go to. With ice in it, to start.

Ayn, our Area Leader, is a smart smart cookie, though, and takes good care of her people. Shifts are three hours; she cut the day shift to two today before people started dropping.

Also, I have sent her this link. Thanks, Jim, as always.

#86 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2010, 06:56 PM:

Broken foot?

Oooh, Teresa, sorry. I hope it's in a removable boot and not a plaster cast, plaster casts are horrible in heat.

#87 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2010, 07:16 PM:

We've got weather problems of our own here in San Francisco Bay Area - there's a low parked nearby that's disrupting our usual summer predictability, which lets you find any temperature from 50-90F or 60-100F within an hour's drive, so it's only 78 here in Pleasanton. It was supposed to be warm enough to go surfing all weekend, but the weather web sites Sunday morning were telling me that Santa Cruz would either be 60 or 75. And sure enough, I should have gone Saturday - it was about 60 and foggy at the beach, and 70 and sunny a mile inland, and since I'd stopped in town to watch the local taiko drummers in the park, tide was starting to get higher by the time I got there.

There are some things I miss from growing up on the East Coast, but they don't include the worst parts of summer, or of winter.

#88 ::: Chris Quinones ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2010, 07:39 PM:

I had to leave the apartment on an errand about 10 this morning, and it felt like the hottest part of the day before. I didn't fare too badly. The worst that's happened here is our router seems to be belly up. Avram is out acquiring a new one now that it's cooled down to double digits again.

Good sources of potassium include potatoes and bananas, as Debbie mentions in 56, and also oranges and apples and their respective juices, watermelon, raisins and by inference grapes, prunes and by inference plums. You're good with most fruits, I think. Having hypertension and taking a diuretic to treat it, I learned about maintaining potassium levels quick.

#89 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2010, 09:20 PM:

Oh, give it back, if you can't appreciate it properly! Here I am in California, wishing we could break 100 for a reasonable length of time. (Even at it's best, it's all ridiculously cool, like 99.5 or 99.7. Those are radio stations, not decent temperatures for summer.)

In the meantime, I am bemused to find that switchel has a name, and that it is drunk for reasons other than from the desperate need to be able to publically speak or sing despite a strong head cold. I keep looking at those recipes and thinking... "That is an appalling home remedy. Why would anyone drink it for pleasure?!"

#90 ::: Kate Shaw ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2010, 10:10 PM:

It's been mid-90s here in East Tennessee for a while (although we did have some lovely cooler days at the end of last week), which isn't all that unusual. The humidity is low, though, which means we don't get the relief of evening thunderstorms. My vegetable garden looks pretty miserable. We're supposed to get to 98 the next few days with no rain until probably Saturday.

Regarding cooling pets down: I used to have a Newfoundland dog (Best. Dog. Ever.) who had suffered heat stroke as a puppy before I got him. I always worried about him getting too hot. In addition to ice cubes in the water dish and letting him play in the hose, if he seemed uncomfortably hot I'd soak a towel in cold water and pat it on his tummy, paws, and nose, and I'd turn his ears inside out and pat water on the inside flaps where there wasn't much hair. When I moved to a house that had a basement with a concrete floor, though, he was absolutely in heaven. On warm days he would only come out of the basement if I insisted.

A trick I remember from when I was a kid (when no one had air conditioning) is to place a big bowl of ice in front of a fan. Not only will the air coming off the ice be slightly cooler, but as the ice melts you can dip a cloth in the cold water and wipe your face with it.

#91 ::: TW ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2010, 10:23 PM:

We have extra 1' glazed ceramic tiles so I've laid them out on the floor under the bed where the cat likes to sprawl and now he has a cool smooth surface to spread on.
I also have a hand towel size square of steel chain mail which gets kept in the freezer that can I drape around my neck when the heat rises, icy scarf.

#92 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2010, 11:45 PM:

heat relief for rodents: stone or ceramic tiles that have been in the freezer, inside the cage for rodents to sit on; and ice packs on top of the cage (provided it has a ventilated lid) so the cold air will sink into the cage.

as the owner of a chinchilla, i have had to stick to methods that don't result in a wet animal, because wet chinchillas tend to get fungus.

#93 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2010, 12:18 AM:

I'm not sure how hot it got in Portland, Oregon today -- my guess is in the 80s F. It's supposed to be 95 on Wednesday and 100 on Thursday. What makes heat tough here is that many people don't have AC at home. What makes is not so tough is that the humidity is fairly low. Not Utah or Arizona low, but I tried to clean the glass on my iPhone today by breathing on it to form condensation, and then polishing, but the condensation vanished instantly.

I'm facing this heat with considerable equanimity, since just a few days ago I was shivering in a jacket at a 4th of July picnic, longing for the temperature to reach 70.

#94 ::: Joyce Reynolds-Ward ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2010, 12:26 AM:

One cool-down popular amongst the rabbit/guinea pig show crowd in summers (think Fairs) is frozen water bottles. Some rabbits then decide that the water bottle makes a most excellent toy, but for the most part they'll flop right next to the bottle.

Small marble slabs (think cutting boards) that have been put in the freezer also work well.

Then there are the bunnehs who like to dunk their paws (or ears, if Lops) in the water crock. I went for crocks over lick bottles after I saw the Mini Lop dunk the tips of his ears to stay cool. The Rex just sticks his paws in and washes his face and ears (rabbits only sweat through their ears, so I assume he was trying to cool down).

#95 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2010, 12:40 AM:

LRHafe: Here's the official Little House ginger water recipe.

As regards electrolyte imbalance, that was the motivating factor for creating Gatorade. It's also why they recommend Pedialyte for children experiencing diarrhea— that way, the adult doesn't have to worry about electrolyte imbalance on top of other problems. (Though in that situation, you should hie thee hence to a doctor in any case.)

I live in the Central Valley, so scorching temperatures is nothing new*. You know you live here when the closest parking spots are disregarded in favor of the shady ones. And that brings back the childhood memory of getting into the oven of a car AFTER you've had the doors standing wide open for ten minutes. No feeling like it in the world. Those were the days when A/C was an expensive extra. I remember driving around one summer back from college and thinking, "This isn't as bad as it used to be," and suddenly realizing that there was A/C in the car...

Jim— there have been times, usually on walks on warm days, where my hands will swell a bit and become painful to bend. I consider this a dehydration or electrolyte imbalance problem and remedy the situation as quickly as possible by drinking water and eating something salty— am I right? (I'm also usually packing a kid, so I don't discount the idea of a bit of constriction on my blood vessels.)

*A popular phrase around here is "But it's a dry heat," said as dryly as possible. As my mom says, "Anything over 100º is just too darned hot." Great tomato climate, though.

#96 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2010, 01:23 AM:

B. Durbin @ 95

But... but... it is a dry heat! For the most part. I still giggle at my fellow Sacramentans for their complaints over how "hot" it gets, with all their delta breezes cooling things down. In ten years of living in-area, I haven't had to crack my windows once, to keep the windshield from exploding... thus, it could be worse. Or, from my perspective, better and even more awesome.

#97 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2010, 02:05 AM:

I'm in Iowa, so it hasn't been hot so much as incredibly humid. The air's too thick to breathe and too thin to swim in. Walking home last night in light rain, I couldn't tell what dampness was rain on me, sweat that couldn't evaporate, and just the air doing its best water impression. Not nearly as dangerous as heat, though.

Stefan Jones, my family's dog did that too. It looks so satisfying, like scratching a gigantic itch and then turning over the pillow. Some hot days, I want to dig a hole and lie in it too.

#99 ::: Marna Nightingale ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2010, 03:15 AM:

Also, as the sanitary arrangements at the festival are Porta-Potties, the usual check on hydration doesn't work: even were I willing to look, which I am frankly not, there would be no useful data to be gleaned.

I have, however, discovered another useful check: in this sort of heat, skip the antiperspirant (let's face it, it's a waste of time anyway) and drink until you have, however soaked with sweat you may be, no body odor whatsoever. This seems to work.

#100 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2010, 06:52 AM:

Drowning doesn't look like drowning. It isn't thrashing, it's

* Head low in the water, mouth at water level
* Head tilted back with mouth open
* Eyes glassy and empty, unable to focus
* Eyes closed
* Hair over forehead or eyes
* Not using legs – Vertical
* Hyperventilating or gasping
* Trying to swim in a particular direction but not making headway
* Trying to roll over on the back
* Ladder climb, rarely out of the water.

#101 ::: Naomi ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2010, 08:32 AM:

another way to keep cool - get two litre bottles of water, shove in freezer (leaving space at the top for expansioni). Put a couple of guest towel sized towels in a bowl of water and place in the fridge; take bottle out when you go out, put in a plastic bag with one of the towels, put the other one around the back of your neck,keeps you cool, lovely, as the ice in the bottle melts you have a) cold drink, b) freshing icewater for the other towel. here in Germany it's been pretty hot and humid too and this helps.

#102 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2010, 11:02 AM:

KayTei (89): From my experience with California (my mother grew up in Indio, and I have lots of relatives scattered across the state), I'm guessing that that's 99.5 with very low humidity. Here on the East Coast, the humidity is also in the 90s. *Very* different conditions!

My mother, who grew up in the desert, used to say that "the only air conditioning you need is a shade tree and a cool breeze." And I'd look at her as if she were crazy, because in Atlanta where I grew up that just wasn't true. Then I moved out to Wyoming--semi-arid, not true desert--and discovered what she meant. In the sun, it could be quite hot, but walk around a corner into the shade of a building and it was downright cold. Humidity, or lack thereof, makes a huge difference.

#103 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2010, 11:59 AM:

I've been describing it to fellow Californians as 95/95 - we don't get that stuff here, but we can get high humidity, and soemtimes it comes with high temperatures ('when did we move to Florida?').

(It drizzled yesterday morning, to the point of wet pavement. The marine layer was a little deeper than - is that a lobster climbing the building?)

#104 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2010, 12:29 PM:

P J Evans @103 on 95/95 weather and drizzle.

When we lived in New Orleans some years ago, a radio announcer once described it as "hot enough to poach an egg on the sidewalk." We've used that phrase ever since.

#105 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2010, 12:38 PM:

Much sympathy from down here in Georgia. It's not too horrible here right now (we had a nice cool spell right around the 4th, and the nights are still in the low 70s) but we've had those way-too-many-days-in-three-digits spells before and will again.

Here's the recipe for the Line Cook Cooler from the Grit cookbook (our famous local vegetarian restaurant--say hi to my daughter Lucy, she's a hostess there):

4 c. apple juice
1 c. spring water
2 lemons, quartered

Fill 4 glasses with ice; pour 1c. apple juice and 1/4 c. water into each. Squeeze 2 lemon quarters into each glass and toss in the rinds. Stir with a long straw. Keeps the cooks from drinking too many PBR's on duty.

#107 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2010, 01:04 PM:

Terry: Pabst Blue Ribbon. It's a great restaurant, but they do not pick the line cooks for their taste in beer (or they'd drink up all the good stuff).

#108 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2010, 01:04 PM:

PBR may stand for Pabst Blue Ribbon beer. Then again, it might mean something even more dire and possibly even...something eldritch.

#109 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2010, 01:21 PM:

B. Durbin @95:

I live in the Central Valley, so scorching temperatures is nothing new*. You know you live here when the closest parking spots are disregarded in favor of the shady ones.

Ah, that brings back memories. In Tucson the true mark of a local was when they parked not where the shade was at the time, but where the shade was going to be when they got back to the car. (Or when they'd stop ten feet back from an intersection to get a few minutes of shade while at a red light.)

Still, I'd take 110 in Tucson over 95 in Maryland any day, having experienced both. "But it's a dry heat" is a cliche for a reason.

#110 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2010, 01:40 PM:

Yeah, /me is back in Calgary, and wondering if summer will ever arrive. However, when out in Waterloo, ON, I learned about 33/90 (which is the less cool, but more reasonable metric equivalent to 90/90). Not Fun. Keep cool and hydrated, all ye out there; I will attempt to keep warm and dry.

"In Calgary, there are two seasons; you can sleep through spring, and fall is the two weeks after the first snowfall before the leaves fall off the trees. In Ontario, there are four seasons, and two of them are fabulous. The other two are unliveable."

Re: Humidity makes a difference: it works the other way, too. I'd much rather -30 out here than -15 in Ontario, with the 90% humidity and the wind blowing.

#111 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2010, 01:49 PM:

WRT "Little House" ginger water, here's another switchel recipe from Homemade Root Beer, Soda, & Pop by Stephen Cresswell; it has both "flat" and lightly carbonated variants. The original recipe makes a gallon, but can presumably be scaled up/down as needed.

1/2 c apple cider vinegar
1-1/2 c sugar
1/2 c light molasses
2 oz fresh grated ginger

Put 2.5 quarts of water into a gallon container (with an airtight cap/cover for the carbonated version) and set aside.

Combine the above four ingredients with a quart of water in an open pot and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat and let stand covered for 30 min. before pouring into the gallon container. (There's no mention of straining the ginger out.) Add enough water to fill out the entire gallon, after which the "flat" version can simply be chilled for storage.

For the carbonated version, let the gallon jug cool down to lukewarm. Rehydrate 1/8 tsp yeast[*] in 1/4 c lukewarm water for a few minutes, pour it into the jug and cap it, and turn the jug upside-down a few times to mix. Store the jug in a cool, dark area[**] for 1-3 days until it reaches the carbonation level you want, then put it in the fridge.

[*: The author recommends granulated ale yeast. I've gotten away with substituting bread yeast in some of his other recipes, though the fermentation times may get thrown off a bit, but haven't yet tried this particular recipe.]

[**: Also, place the jug in secondary containment (e.g., a sturdy bucket with a weighted cover) in case it leaks/explodes. Or if you're wary/patient, you can put the yeasted jug into the fridge immediately; the carbonation process will considerably slow down, but won't completely stop.]

#112 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2010, 02:42 PM:

Just now I skip any recipe that has the word 'simmer' in it. After the current heat wave I may make some of those and refrigerate them (or freeze them in ice cube trays!) for the NEXT heat wave, but the idea of boiling anything right now...*shudder* I mean, I'm not turning on my TV because it heats the room, OK?

Meanwhile, I seem to have gotten through the worst of today (odd, since it's not even 3:00 yet; but the "feels like" is 102 now, per WeatherWatcher, and 99 for the next hour). I'm keeping well hydrated and not going outside; my AC is keeping the temperature in here below 85F all the time, which is OK, since it's also keeping it dry. I do have to get it fixed/recharged, but that has to wait for various reasons.

I'm keeping my blackout blinds, including the one on the skylight, drawn. Just closing the skylight blind lowers the temperature by about 10 degrees instantly. The light from the computer, along with the leakage around the blinds on all three windows, is enough for me to see by.

It's supposed to get a little better tomorrow. I'll see what they say in the morning before venturing out.

#113 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2010, 03:16 PM:

P J Evans (103): My cousin in Miami calls it "the double 90s".

lorax (109): In Tucson the true mark of a local was when they parked not where the shade was at the time, but where the shade was going to be when they got back to the car.

My mother did that in Atlanta. She knew exactly where to park at her job to get maximum shade throughout the day; the best spot wasn't shaded when she got there in the morning, but it was before noon and throughout the rest of the day.

#114 ::: Dan Hoey ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2010, 03:18 PM:

I just heard of a coworker who died Monday, mowing the lawn. Not someone I knew well, but definitely a scythe too close for comfort. DC is brutal this summer.

#115 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2010, 03:27 PM:

Xopher, except for the recipes with vinegar (the simmering eliminates the worst of the sharpness), many of these could probably made the same way one makes sun tea--a glass jar in direct sunlight in hot weather will get hot enough to extract considerable flavor from your components..

Also, for those who just can't stand to stay indoors: Egg. Sidewalk. All that. I am reminded of Nero Wolfe's insistence on scrambling eggs slowly, rather than quickly over high heat, so someone prepared to tolerate the longer exposure might want to try that.

#116 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2010, 03:32 PM:

We've broken 100 degrees again. I wore my sweat head band and the stetson Panama hat when I went out for necessary and no longer put-offable errands before an extended absence. Even the library was nearly empty. Nobody wants to be on the streets. I felt sick even though I kept drinking water. I think it is the air quality.

Several parts of NYC have lost power. You see ConEd trucks everywhere, the heroic ConEd people working to keep us electrified.

Yet the farkin' stores and restaurants down here all have their goddamned doors and windows wide open to the sidewalks and streets, the empty streets and sidewalks, and the goddamned stores are empty too. I want to put the owners up against the wall to be shot for crimes against humanity.

OK. I just ate my first ice cream of 2010. I'm a bit less cranky, but when it comes to air conditioning the outdoors, I will never get over that cranky.

Love, C.

#117 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2010, 03:45 PM:

Fidelio and Xopher: Sun tea can be iffy, depending on one's patio--not just because of curious outdoor cats, but because the water doesn't get hot enough for safety. I've had very good results from taking my sun-tea jar and putting it in the fridge overnight. If the aromatics are strong enough, it only takes a few hours. (Here is a good list of things to try.)

#118 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2010, 04:23 PM:

Constance 116: Yet the farkin' stores and restaurants down here all have their goddamned doors and windows wide open to the sidewalks and streets, the empty streets and sidewalks, and the goddamned stores are empty too. I want to put the owners up against the wall to be shot for crimes against humanity.

That's actually illegal in NYC, and the city is trying to crack down on it. You should report them.

#119 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2010, 04:46 PM:

#118 Xopher

I do, and nothing happens. I've been told to my face by cops that this is "Just your obsession."

And truly it is an obsession of mine and I'm not ashamed. It's sickening -- fully 28% of the power pulled annually is for air conditioning, which isn't even keeping PEOPLE cool, but for cooling gigantic empty spaces -- not to mention those restaurants that air condition their sidewalk and garden tables in summer and heat them in winter.

This entire part of the city is nothing but one Big Violation.

Love, C.

#120 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2010, 05:00 PM:

Constance, it's not just your obsession. FWIW, here's the law; I'm looking for the information about where to report it.

According to this the direct approach sometimes works. You'd have to be really polite, though. In that article, most of the store managers hadn't heard of the law, and some had a corporate directive to leave their doors open.

#121 ::: jake bodhi ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2010, 06:17 PM:

Greetings from the gulf coast. Me and my co-workers work through the summer in un-air conditioned delivery vans. The consensus thermometer readings inside the vans is 120 degrees. Besides staying hydrated, the next most advantageous thing you can do is to switch to high performance clothing. In these extreme conditions, the poor performance of cotton clothing becomes very evident. After decades of swearing by natural fibers, I have banned them from my wardrobe. Why did I ever think jeans were comfortable. They're not. Once you wear lightweight travel clothes with their superior tailoring, you'll think of your blue jeans as a torture device. I know if I wear a cotton t-shirt to work in extreme conditions, the cotton fibers will irritate my skin to the point a rash breaks out. The absolute dismal performance of cotton to move sweat away from the body makes humidity unbearable. I am so much more comfortable with high performance synthetic fibers. This is not the polyester of my blue collar youth. That old polyester they made uniforms out of didn't breathe at all. High performance synthetics don't shrink. Cotton fibers accept stains like a dye. I can wash out stains in synthetics with a couple of drops of water. Synthetics also have
UV protection. Jake

#122 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2010, 06:19 PM:

Jake, can you recommend some specific high-performance synthetics, or even particular clothing brands? I'd be very interested.

#123 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2010, 06:48 PM:

A word about acclimation. It seldom gets very hot here (on a continental scale) and people adapt to this if they live here very long. Locals walk around in T-shirts and shorts when it's in the 50s and sunny; if the temperature passes 70 degrees, small businesses and even government offices tend to declare "sun days" and send people home. And those are the days when people get heat exhaustion and run the risk of heatstroke.

Don't just rely on the thermometer. If you, personally, are starting to feel uncomfortably warm, take precautions against the heat.

And also: If you're acclimated to feel hot at 70 degrees and you visit a region where it hits 70 shortly after sunrise in March and just keeps going--your anti-perspirant won't work.

#124 ::: TW ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2010, 07:02 PM:

Coolibar(dot com) specializes in sun protection garments and accessories. Also specialty sunscreens like mineral powder format instead of lotion.

#125 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2010, 08:02 PM:

Mycroft: It's really hard for anyplace to have temperatures below -18°C/0°F and not have a relative humidity of 100 percent, because at those temperatures the amount of water which can sustain itself as a gas is zero, ergo the relative humidity is 100 percent. For a really good explanation (with a really nice calculator), you can go here.

Even at -15°C/5°F the relative humidity is going to be about 100, because the amount of vapor the air can support is less than one gram per cubic meter. Regardless, I can't see the real problem since evaporative cooling failure is the reason people complain of humidity, and I've never had a problem with that in Ohio, Ottawa, Colorado, Korea, or Germany (the places I recall spending time in sub-freezing weather)

#126 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2010, 08:03 PM:

B. Durbin @ 95:

In the 4 summers I lived in Davis, about 10 miles west of Sacramento, it routinely got up to 115°F at least 2 or 3 times each year. But with humidity of 20-25% it was tolerable enough that I often jogged home from work, about 3 miles), around 5 PM, which was typically peak temp.

But now it's many years later, and 5 PM in Portland, with a temp of 92°F, humidity 23%, and I'm hiding downstairs where the hillside my house is partially buried in sinks the heat, so it's below 70°F here. I just can't take it like I used to.

this was in the early '70s, I imagine watering lawns these last few decades has raised that a tad.

#127 ::: TW ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2010, 09:28 PM:

Pulled out some old fashion beverage recipes of the Maritimes for you guys.

1 gallon water, 2c brown sugar, 1c molasses, 1 1/2c vinegar, 1tsp ginger.

Lemonade(syrup base):
1/2 ounce epsom salts, 2 ounces citric acid, 1 ounce tartaric acid, 5 lbs white sugar, combine in large saucepan add 3 pints boiling water stir till dissolved and cool. Add 6-8 lemons sliced, 4 orange rinds let steep. 2 ounces syrup to 8 ounces water for lemonade.

Ginger Beer:
1 ounce fine grated ginger root, 1tsp cream of tarter,1lb sugar, 1 lemon juice and rind, 1 gallon boiling water. Stir till dissolved then cool to tepid. Add 1 ounce brewers yeast cover and let ferment 24 hours. Skim or filter then chill. Let rest for 3 days. We have learned you can make the ginger content higher for taste without much risk.

#128 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2010, 09:46 PM:

TW@127, without much risk of what?

#129 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2010, 10:06 PM:

Oh God. I think our a/c just broke. I noticed I was nauseated, then noticed I was hot, then noticed it was close to 90 in here. The fan is working but the heat pump is hot to the touch and not running.

Guess tomorrow I get to test what our home warranty will cover.

#130 ::: jake bodhi ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2010, 10:25 PM:

Xopher, I started off developing a new wardrobe by buying discounted items at sierra trading post. You can buy lots of solid colors that mix and match, and you won't even look like a gym rat. Though I do like those two tone vented work out t shirts, and they are acceptable in my workplace. After getting the discounted items I have splurged at REI to fill in the gaps. These clothes are so durable though, they are worth the higher price. They long outlast cotton garments by at least 3 to 1. North Face makes really great cargo shorts, and the Titanium pants will outlast the rats after the apocalypse, though I save them for winter wear. I have tees by Salomon, Under Armour, New Balance, Sugoi, Ground, and Brooks. I have two tees from Brooks that have a fine outer mesh and an inner liner, of all things, spandex. The spandex isn't tight or form fitting. Rather it is woven for a loose fit, and it feels so cool against the skin that it is my go to garment for the hottest forcast weather days. I bought those years ago and they are still in great shape. I wish I could find more of them though I haven't been looking lately. The options are starting to spread out into Polos. I couldn't stand the old thick Polos and never wore them. I got a performance polo from Lowe Alpine and it is a great shirt. I really should wear a collar at work if I can.

#131 ::: TW ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2010, 11:03 PM:

Earl 128,

Oops sorry warm brain drops thoughts in mid process. Risk of spoiling the batch more than anything, fermentation can be finicky on the chemical balance and cleanliness is godliness. Too much ginger upsets stomachs more than settle them.

Unless you halt the yeast it will keep on going till the sugar is used up so older ginger beer is dryer and self carbonated. We use plastic 2L pop bottles to prevent tragic explosions in the fridge.

#132 ::: Marna Nightingale ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2010, 01:36 AM:

Mycroft@ 110: Ontario is sort of big.

Waterloo is in the Great Lakes snowbelt and runs dampish, but Ottawa typically has winters so dry that we buy moisturiser by the litre and our noses bleed off and on from New Year's on. Terry likes it here in February, but That Boy Just Ain't Right. We shall see how he feels about it in August.

In the summer... Ottawa is on two rivers and can be pretty soggy. And is, presently; I just did a 9-midnight shift and while it wasn't the insanity of yesterday I seriously needed a shower when I got home, and not *just* because recycling is a stinky job (my socks smell of beer. Mixed with pop.)

Now I have a fan, and (because I am not going back into the heat) a rye-and-cola, and life is pretty pleasing. On shift... I went through a full Camelbak, 1.5 l size, plus a couple of soft drinks. Turns out that the smaller Liberty yoghurt containers make big blocky ice cubes JUST the right size for the Camelbak.

#133 ::: Angiportus ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2010, 08:00 AM:

Caroline #129, hope you find a way to stay cool.
Here in Pugetropolis it is hotter than I like, after sunrise anyway, so I'm up at dawn-thirty getting ready to exercise self and trebuchets.
Last night the fan on the computer sounded shrill, like last summer. I hope the hard drive isn't about to go west again.

#134 ::: Teemu Kalvas ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2010, 08:41 AM:

Terry Karney @ 125: The saturated vapour density of water approaches zero without limit as temperature goes down, but never actually reaches it. There's actually an easy way to demonstrate this in practice (and also the fact that the relative humidity isn't 100%) by hanging your laundry on the clothes line. What happens here in midwinter is that the water freezes immediately, but in a week or so the ice has sublimated away.

Of course these days no one does that as it takes so long, but in the centuries past when indoor spaces were more at a premium and heating relatively more expensive, that was the normal way of drying your laundry in Finland.

Of course the amount of water in the air at such temperatures is incredibly small, and the percentage does not have any pragmatic meaning outside evaporative loss rate, and even there it is so small that it won't be noticeable for a human's energy budget. Air at -40 degrees feels equally cold no matter if it is 0% moist or 100% moist.

#135 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2010, 11:23 AM:

I made ginger beer a couple of days ago, just because it was finally summery enough for it to ferment, and I was surprised how fast the yeast burned through the sugar. We usually drink seltzer water, so there are nice clean 2L empty plastic bottles around to make it in, and while it likes to fizz dramatically when first opened, I haven't had any disastrous explosions.

Seeing the switchel recipes here, I tried adding some vinegar to a glass of it, but it didn't really work for me. It was drinkable, but something that wanted to be consumed a lot slower than straight ginger beer.

#136 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2010, 02:00 PM:

#120 Xopher

I know all this and do all these things. They look me in the face and lie: There is no law. The door is not open. I don't speak or hear any language in which you are speaking.

You can bring printouts of the regulations and they will not look at it or take it.

This holds equally for animals in places where there is food preparation and serving. Suddenly any violator cannot hear or speak in any language. And you are barren sterile bitter unhappy creep who hates animals.

It's amazing the national success of trickle down denial and mendacity.

Love, C.

#137 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2010, 02:52 PM:

WRT sekanjabin upthread, iirc it was originally based on a tart pomegranate syrup or "molasses", not vinegar?

It's probably buyable at the right type of international grocery store, but Alton Brown has a recipe here based on regular pomegranate juice, lemon juice, and some added sugar; he provides stopping points for both syrup and molasses.

#138 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2010, 03:48 PM:

One the way to work this morning I stopped off at Safeway and bought six bags of house-brand popsicles and fudgesicles.

I put a bag of each in each of the break room freezers, along with this poster:


Temperatures are expected to exceed 100 F this week. Please review this health tips:

* Stay hydrated.
* Minimize exertion when working outside.
* Avoid direct sunlight, especially if you are made of flammable materials.
* Protect skin with sunblock (SPF 98 or higher) or a good quality latex paint.
* Check on elderly neighbors and relatives, but avoid getting trapped and having to listen to stories about the great heat wave of '47.
* Place ice cubes in socks.
* If you must go outside, carry a fashionable parasol.
* Eat popsicles, conveniently located in each cafe refrigerator.

I figure this will make up for the bad karma I got for the hobo buried in the back yard.
#139 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2010, 06:13 PM:

Terry @125, Marna @132: All I can say is that in Calgary, no matter how cold it gets, you can put on enough layers to be okay, provided you don't have to stay outside overnight without tent/winter sleeping bag. In Waterloo - yes, I know Ontario's big, but the November I spent in Ottawa at -12 was just as bad - no matter what I wore, the wind cut through everything and I was cold. Summer, of course, is a whole other thing altogether - in other words "hand lotion by the litre *in winter*? Luxury" :-)

I agree, it's hard to get 25% humidity, but according to and a quick look, Calgary last winter averaged about 70% and K-W about 80%.

I did mean SWOntario, and I should have been clear - Ottawa's a weird case, because it's not Northern Ontario, and it has lots of local water to pick up (but not as bad as Montreal), but it's not the 401 corridor either.

#140 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2010, 06:17 PM:

Hmm, that edit to the first paragraph wasn't exactly what I intended to say. The low humidity bit was, yes, but also "if I never have to spend another week in an SWO (or eastern US) summer, I will be very happy."

Those of you out there in it, my best wishes. Especially for those on the northern end, where they have to build the houses against the winter - it's not that it's any hotter in Chicago or NYC than in Charlotte, but the same heat kills more people there because they build against the Winters That Kill, rather than the Summers That Kill.

#141 ::: Marna Nightingale ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2010, 06:26 PM:

Mycroft@ 139: I suspect you were dressing for Calgary.

I mean, it can be fairly nasty here, but I've survived it for 30 winters now and I'm a wuss who spent the first decade of her life in Vancouver.

Wind and damp-proofing is vital: I tend to favour layers of wool with a windproof overtop.

#142 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2010, 07:22 PM:

Marna: very likely. I probably never learned how to dress for out there. Am back, however, and (apart from missing some friends and potential friends) happy about it.

#143 ::: Marna Nightingale ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2010, 07:46 PM:




#144 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2010, 08:05 PM:

Mycroft: I suspect you weren't dressing properly. I am resident in Calif, and I (as Marna says) like it in Ontario in Feb.

Truth be told, my problem is more that I am prone to overheating when being active, which is a problem if I am stopping, because the water freezes.

So it's lots of layers, and some spare clothes, to change my contact garment.

#145 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2010, 08:49 PM:

Stefan @ #138: "I figure this will make up for the bad karma I got for the hobo buried in the back yard."

Have you explained that elsewhere? If so I missed it.

#146 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2010, 09:12 PM:

Sunblock: every time I mention my sunblock habit, someone says that it's only good up to X SPF or for X minutes after putting it on; X is variable, but consistently below what I say I use. The message I hear from that is, "It's silly to use sunblock; it doesn't do as much as you think it does, and why are you using that stuff anyway?" My answer is usually, "Look, it costs the same no matter what, so what's the difference?"

Does anyone have actual numbers to answer with or be prepared for? I'm fine being told that the 90+ on my face doesn't do anything as long as it's right and not rumor.

#147 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2010, 09:25 PM:

Sunblock does wear off. I refresh it about every 45 minutes to an hour.

Which seems to be not quite soon enough, usually.

#148 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2010, 11:25 PM:

Diatryma, #146, WashPost article on sunscreen.

#149 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2010, 11:32 PM:

Marna @ 143 -- Lucky you. I got a very brief light rainshower. I hope there will be more this evening, but I suspect that the downpours will be localized.

#150 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2010, 12:09 AM:

#145: Spur of the moment non-original gag.

The notion of politicians casually bumping off hobos has been used on The Onion and The Daily Show. And there's a how to deal with a dead hobo in the yard video on YouTube.

I don't have a problem with hobos. 'ceptin those who steal pies off the windowsill.

#151 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2010, 12:15 AM:

'ceptin those who steal pies off the windowsill.

Sorry, your grammar isn't quite right there. It should be "'ceptin' those what steals pies off'n the windowsill."

#152 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2010, 12:17 AM:

And as usual with posts correcting another post, I made an error. It should be "'ceptin' them, of course.

#153 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2010, 12:29 AM:

you some book learning schoolboy tellin me how to grammerate?

#154 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2010, 01:12 AM:

Stefan Jones: His grammaticatin' seems right proper tuh me.

#155 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2010, 01:57 AM:

All y'all's gittin right tetchy 'bout that there grammatericization, ain'cha?

#156 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2010, 01:59 AM:

Stefan: inasmuch as your grammeration was upfucktificated...ayup.

#157 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2010, 02:13 AM:

Good grief, the thread has descended into Barney Google-land. Or possibly Dogpatch.

#158 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2010, 02:20 AM:

Stefan @ #150, those videos are something.

#159 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2010, 02:27 AM:

Linkmeister@157 ...or Squidbillies.

#160 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2010, 02:38 AM:

Huh. First I've heard of that one, Earl. Thanks.

#161 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2010, 02:40 AM:

Constance, Xopher: Re. reporting people trying to cool the whole outdoors, the blog post says, near the bottom: "Readers of this blog noticing large stores or chain stores with open doors and air conditioners cranked up could jumpstart the overdue enforcement by calling the City's helpline - 311 - to file a complaint. When calling 311 from your cell phone or home phone, just tell the operator that you are calling to report a violation of Local Law 38, relating to energy conservation and open doors at retail stores."

#162 ::: Meg Thornton ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2010, 02:56 AM:

More of same from an Aussie (we're in the middle of winter down here... I'm currently layered up and huddling under a rug, with the blinds open to ensure every stray sunbeam hits a thermal mass in the house).

Some things I've found help:

* Get up early and get most of the chores done in the early morning, when the air's still cool enough to be comfortable, and the humidity hasn't risen to hideous levels yet.
* Keep the air moving, even if the humidity is high - the mechanical cooling you'll get from sweating in moving air is of the "every little helps" variety. Fans are often better for this than airconditioners - get a desk fan to move the air, and leave the airconditioner to cool it and dry it out.
* There's a reason why swimming is a popular summer sport world-wide - immersing the body in a cooler liquid is generally a very cooling thing to do, and tends to last for a fair old while afterwards. A cool bath is a good substitute if you don't have a swimming pool.
* Eat bananas. Frozen bananas are good too. A good way of keeping up the potassium intake.
* The bottles for bottled water are re-usable. Fill them up from the tap (or the cooler, or whichever is your preferred supply) and keep them in the refrigerator. I have a few of those large 1.5L size which come out whenever I'm starting to feel dried out - rule is I have to go through one a day.
* Don't try to do anything strenuous during the heat of the day - this includes exercising.
* As a couple of people have mentioned, natural shade is actually cooler than the artificial stuff, because trees are capable of cooling the surrounding environment. A pergola of deciduous vines can be very useful in cutting heat levels. If all else fails, try shadecloth.
* It's easier to cool a house (or anything else) down if it doesn't get too hot in the first place. On days where you know it's going to be very hot, get up early to ventilate the house before it has a chance to warm up. Once the sun is getting high, shut the windows, draw the blinds, close the curtains, and turn on the fan. If necessary, put bedsheets over windows which don't have curtains.
* During the not-so-hot months, look into things like insulation (ceiling insulation in particular for detatched houses), shade placement, and similar.
* If you're really needing somewhere cool, try the bathroom (no, the room with the bath or shower in it). They're usually tiled, and tile takes a very long time to heat up (as I know to my current winter discomfort).

Please note: the above tips are optimised toward a Western Australian summer (Perth region especially). This means low humidity, very high temperatures (40C is a regular thing in January and February), and a cooling breeze which generally hits around 3 - 4pm each afternoon. High humidity only occurs if there's a cyclone about to cross the coast in the North-West and the trough of low pressure is pulling the humid air down the coast.

You have my sympathies (even if the bit of me which tends to think of any temperatures under 38C as "warm-ish" is busy muttering about wimps... I keep reminding it of the humidity).

#163 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2010, 02:58 AM:

Marilee at 148, thanks, and drat. I checked the site they listed, and the sunblock I have is on the Avoid list*. It's not like I can undo the double tan lines I have-- I misjudged several things and now have quite a sharp tank-top line on each shoulder-- but I felt like I was accomplishing something with the crazy-high numbers.

*I am choosing not to read anything about it and instead interpreting it as a balance between what the site likes and what I, and the sunblock designers, like, which is of course equally good.

#164 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2010, 03:05 AM:

Meg: how I wish I could send you some warm air...and get some cold air in exchange!

#165 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2010, 09:17 AM:

Xopher, 152: No, it should be "them as." E.g. "Them as has, gets."

#166 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2010, 10:55 AM:

re: grammatical ungrammatical-ness --

Does anyone remember the FTD flower commercial with the two cowboys? It starts out looking like there will be a shoot-out, then one cowboy gives the other a bouquet. As I recall, he responds, "No one ain't never give (gave?) me no flowers before."

I was fascinated to see that my German husband, who's fluent in English, had a terrible time trying to reproduce that wrong sentence 'correctly'. He liked the commercial, and tried to quote it repeatedly, but kept having trouble. I've encountered this phenom several times since.

#167 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2010, 11:20 AM:

Debbie, 166: That's because "bad grammar" is really just "stigmatized grammar," of the sort that non-native speakers are never taught in school. (Much like cussing, in fact.) Truly bad grammar would be incomprehensible.

#168 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2010, 02:03 PM:


Came home last evening to find the dog had taken a big, loose dump on the carpet. On the hottest day of the year.

I figure she'd drunk so much water during the day that she threw her digestion off.

But just in case . . . no dinner last night, and just rice and an egg this morning.

#169 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2010, 02:18 PM:

#158: Hobos occupy a very strange place in the popular imagination right now.

"Real" hobos disappeared from the scene long enough ago that they've become kind of whimsical, like old-school pegleg and parrot pirates. But where pirates are safe-scary, hobos are safe-disposable.

If those videos were about killing and disposing of homeless people, they'd be horrific! But the use of "hobo" makes them ironic; the Senator and the housewife come off as callous bastards.

Of course, John Hodgman would have us believe that hobos are actually extraterrestrials who once tried to take over the government and returned to their home in the skies in the late 40s.

#170 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2010, 02:19 PM:

TexAnne @167: Truly bad grammar would be incomprehensible.

Or as Calvin/Hobbes said, "Verbing weirds nouns"?

(I haz no mouf... I can haz skeem 4 I skeem?)

#171 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2010, 02:49 PM:

A/C is fixed! Wahoo!

For the record, sleeping under a damp sheet with the ceiling fan running helps.

This reminds me of the idea of "fan death," in which sleeping in a closed room with a fan running is thought to be deadly. The best explanation I've heard is that "fan death" victims are often either elderly or, if young, passing-out drunk -- more susceptible to heat. I wonder if ceiling fans are considered to be potentially deadly, or just box/stand fans. I seem to have survived, anyway.

#172 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2010, 03:17 PM:

The old Kai Tak airport in Hong Kong had one of the more...amusing...approaches for a major international airport (from Wikipedia):

The landing approach using runway 13 at Kai Tak was spectacular and world-famous. To land on runway 13, an aircraft first took a descent heading northeast. The aircraft would pass over the crowded harbour, and then the very densely populated areas of Western Kowloon. This leg of the approach was guided by an IGS (Instrument Guidance System, a modified ILS) after 1974.

Upon reaching a small hill marked with a checkerboard in red and white, used as a visual reference point on the final approach (in addition to the middle marker on the Instrument Guidance System), the pilot needed to make a 47° visual right turn to line up with the runway and complete the final leg. The aircraft would be just two nautical miles (3.7 km) from touchdown, at a height of less than 1,000 feet (300 m) when the turn was made. Typically the plane would enter the final right turn at a height of about 650 feet (200 m) and exit it at a height of 140 feet (43 m) to line up with the runway. This manoeuver has become widely known in the piloting community as the "Hong Kong Turn" or "Checkerboard Turn".

#173 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2010, 03:20 PM:

Hmm; wrong thread I guess. Maybe I twitched the mouse wheel in the wrong window or something? Sorry!

#174 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2010, 03:35 PM:

My strategy to beat the Texas heat is to stay indoors as much as possible, and increase my investment in air conditioning to maintain a constant 75F temperature inside.

In years past, I economized by not using air conditioning in 100F+ heat, and suffered for it. Never again.

#175 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2010, 04:42 PM:




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#176 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2010, 04:59 PM:

#175: ORDER NOW and get a FREE decorative mantle hand-crafted by adorable Amish craftsmen.

#177 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2010, 05:19 PM:

Diatryma @ 163:
I don't know if this is helpful to you (I don't know where you're located), but Health Canada does regulate the safety and quality of sunscreens; you can find a list of sunscreens approved by the Canadian Dermatology Association here. I'm partial to Vichy myself, since my skin reacts to obscure ingredients.

#178 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2010, 05:22 PM:

@#175: Closer than you'd think. There are people who've built solar thermal storage units on a six month timescale. You heat water in the summer and pull the heat out in the winter. (This has been brought to you by the department of Dammit, I Took This Course And I Thought It Was Cool And You Can't Shut Me Up. )

I can't find a good online link, but an early experimental system was built in Lyckebo (Sweden) and it's a UTES (Underground Thermal Energy Storage) system. Go forth and google.

It takes a truly ridiculous amount of water to store a winter's worth of heat, unfortunately. For a typical house, on the order of hundreds of tons.

#179 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2010, 05:54 PM:

Joel Polowin #175, Sandy B. #178: And the reverse process is exemplified by the traditional "icehouse". Of course, it's much easier to store huge amounts of ice than of steam/hot water (while retaining cold/heat), which is why one side is "traditional" while the other is "experimental".

#180 ::: DavidS ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2010, 07:12 PM:

Regarding ginger beer: This sounds surprisingly easy and really fun. A point of clarification: when you say "cover", do you mean an airtight lid, or just something to keep dust from falling in? I could imagine either one being right in a fermentation recipe, and I'm sure that the other would then be very wrong.

#181 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2010, 07:18 PM:

ddb, while it was the wrong thread, landing in the old Kai Tak was really cool, and folks back east will take all the cool they can get (ok, that's too much of a stretch...) The runway was wider than, say, Market St. in San Francisco, but it still felt like you were looking into the windows of the nearby offices or apartment buildings as you landed, and it was fun to watch planes taking off from there while we were up on the mountain.

#182 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2010, 08:16 PM:

Joel Polowin @ 175:

If I had prizes to give, you'd be the recipient of one. That is wonderful.

#183 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2010, 11:21 PM:

Joel Polowin @175:

"Since we already know who ordered one of our fine Chron-1000 units, you don't even have to call! We'll simply show up, install your new HVAC system, and bill you. Yes, that's right! You have nothing to do but sit back and enjoy summer heat in the middle of winter, or a cool winter breeze all summer long!"

#184 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2010, 11:51 PM:

joel polowin 175:
wouldn't it just be simpler to use greenhouse windows made of slow glass?

#185 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2010, 05:43 PM:

Wired reviews hydration-bottle packs

#186 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2010, 11:12 PM:

Here's my entry in the Mad Kitchen Scientist Sweepstakes: ridiculously strong mint tea bag, ice cubes, club soda; let all sit for a few minutes; guzzle it down. Glass may be refilled a few times, depending on the size of the glass and the ridiculous strength of the tea bag.

#187 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2010, 02:00 AM:

Tomorrow is Hummus and Tabbouleh Making Day.

Mark your calendars.

#188 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2010, 02:08 AM:

I'm not sure why I put that under "It's a Scorcher." Although hummus and tabouli are nice hot weather dishes.

#189 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2010, 11:27 AM:

As I understand it, the point is that above 25 or 30, higher SPF makes little difference*. The reason higher SPFs are problematic in terms of health, rather than just being a waste of money if the higher SPF sunblock is more expensive, is that people think they're better, so they'll apply less sunscreen. Apparently if you double the SPF from 25 to 50 and use half as much sunblock, you are not protected as well. (I'm not sure how this works, I'm going from memory here. It may just be that with a smaller amount you're more likely to miss areas of skin, or that thinner layers are sweated off faster.)

*SPF of n means you can safely stay out n times as long as you could with no sunblock. So if it would be safe to be out for 10 minutes without sunscreen, SPF 18 gives you three hours; SPF 30 gives you six; SPF 60 would give you 12, but the sun isn't going to be that intense for 12 hours, and you're almost certain either to lose the sunscreen (to sweat, shower, or swimming) before then, and need to reapply it.

Some years ago, a dermatologist recommended I use SPF 25, based on my fair skin and family history of (benign) skin growths. I suspect that if that isn't good enough, it's time to think about the SPF of parasols, awnings, and brick walls.

In weather like this, it really is a good idea to walk on the shady side of the street. I often stand away from the curb and wait in the shade for the light to change, even if it means I'll be across the street three seconds later (this depends on crossings that allow adequate time, which is variable depending on traffic engineers, local government, and your own speed of movement).

#190 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2010, 11:30 AM:

Stefan Jones, this is an excellent place to post that. I'd been meaning to make tabbouleh anyway. Last week we had Teresa's cold beef salad from last year.

With the current indoor temp at over 29C, and no A/C, the less the stove is on, the better.

#191 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2010, 04:38 PM:

This morning I made two big batches of hummus, and hydrated and oiled the tabouli grain mix. (The minced parseley and chopped tomatoes won't go in until Tuesday morning.)

I tasted the hummous, which has sun dried tomatoes and pesto. A recipe right offa the net. Man, good stuff.

This is just the kind of cooking that an 82 F day calls for.

Sadly, I promised the company picnic person dessert, and all I really know is cakes and brownies, so I did fire up the oven to bake. (Brownie cakes . . . an accidental discovery by my mother.)

#192 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2010, 04:40 PM:

Another good thing A Scorcher is good for:

Drying clothes.

The local heat wave is actually winding down, but it is still hot and is accompanied by random breezes. The kind of weather where you can get two rounds of drying in per day.

#193 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2010, 04:43 PM:

Stefan, I scoff at your 82F!

And a scorcher is only good for drying clothes if the humidity is low.

#194 ::: Rainflame ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2010, 12:46 AM:

If I remember correctly, Stefan lives in Oregon where the humidity is low and the residents are weather wimps (yes, I am including myself). One of the benefits of living here is that there are few extremes of weather either hot or cold.

#195 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2010, 01:19 AM:

It was a little more humid than usual today, but still warm and dry (and this evening, breezy) enough to parch my laundry.

Of course, @Rainflame, eastern Oregon gets pretty extreme weather. The high desert is a pretty harsh place.

#196 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2010, 01:33 AM:

Nassty Sstefan! We hates it! We hates it for ever!

(1:32AM here. Temperature 75° F; humidity 71%. FML.)

#197 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2010, 02:04 AM:

People in western Oregon are allowed to be weather wimps when summer is disappointing, because our beautiful summers are our just compensation for slogging through dark, damp weather for about 10 months. So there.

And we are not supposed to have mosquitoes in any noticeable quantity, dammit! (she says as she scratches, carefully.)

#198 ::: Rainflame ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2010, 10:06 AM:

Stefan @195
I agree that eastern Oregon gets harsher weather but I wouldn't call it extreme compared to other parts of the country.

I was thinking of Ken Kesey's line about winter in Oregon being an "old gray aunt" who is boring and stays too long but is seldom vicious. With the May and June we had this year, she stayed WAYYYY too long.

#199 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2010, 11:40 AM:

It takes a truly ridiculous amount of water to store a winter's worth of heat, unfortunately. For a typical house, on the order of hundreds of tons.

Well, that's not necessarily ridiculous - that's just a large cellar or fallout shelter full. (5 by 5 by 4 metres = 100 tonnes of water). Googling, it mostly seems to be done with existing aquifers.
Wikipedia refers to them as

#200 ::: Natalie L. ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2010, 12:59 PM:

I just wanted to mention that this post was very timely for me--I was in an automobile accident last Tuesday and because I'd read this post, I was able to realize what was going on (in addition to the shock from being in an accident) and make sure I took appropriate action. It was 103 degrees in Delaware last week.

I am fine--a bit bruised--and am still waiting to hear about my car. All my bruises were caused by the safety equipment--air bag, seat belt. Modern cars are really wonderful things.

I was also able to thank Jim for this post in person at Readercon, but wanted to leave something here for posterity, too.

#201 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2010, 06:44 PM:

Natalie, glad you're ok; car accidents can be scary even if all the safety equipment keeps you safe. I had an accident back in the 80s and found myself dreaming about crashing for months. (No airbags, but shoulder belts, lots of expendable metal, and relatively low speed.)

(And 103 degrees in Delaware? That'd typically mean near-100% humidity and the air too thick to walk through.)

#202 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2010, 08:33 PM:

Natalie L., #200, wow, I'm glad you're okay!

#203 ::: David Wald ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2010, 12:05 PM:

Vicki@189: I often stand away from the curb and wait in the shade for the light to change

When I've visited some cities in the tropics I've been startled by how ingrained this behavior is: I'd see crowds waiting impatiently to cross a street but hanging back several meters from the curb, if that's where the shade was. It makes perfect sense, but it took my Northeastern U.S. brain a while to understand. The geometry just looked wrong.

#204 ::: David Friedman ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2010, 03:19 AM:

"WRT sekanjabin upthread, iirc it was originally based on a tart pomegranate syrup or "molasses", not vinegar?"

What's the evidence for that? The recipe in Manuscrito Anonimo (13th c. Andalusian) specifies vinegar and sugar or vinegar and honey.

The same chapter has a variety of other syrup drinks, including one based on pomegranate juice, but that isn't sekanjabin.

#205 ::: Cadbury Moose sees linkspam on ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2010, 07:43 PM:

Poster id links to a not-yet-set-up webpage with the appropriate tag of "newbie"!

Typical boilerplate spam-spoor for what will probably become a phishing site.

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