Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Can We Get Just a Little Sympathy?

The Bay Area is sweltering under a heat wave and nobody feels sorry for us.

My Facebook friends are all posting statuses like "we're melting" or "I can't sleep, it's 90 at 1 am." And our friends in the hotter climes are chiming in with things like "try it with 90% humidity" or "welcome to our world." Here's the thing, if you live in Arizona or Florida you expect this heat. You're prepared for it. We're not. Yes, you regularly have temps into the triple digits. But it's been like that for two months and you lived there knowing that. Here it's different. Our climate changes daily. On Saturday morning it was so chilly that our heater (which we keep set at 65) went off. Last night at 2 am it was 90 in our house.

When you live next to the San Francisco Bay you don't expect it to be 101 degrees. Our house doesn't have air conditioning. We have three fans. The kitten nursery doesn't have AC. It has two fans. It was so hot we actually had to "condemn" the nursery and move the kittens into a cooler spot. Yesterday it was 98 in the nursery, too hot for struggling kittens.

Friends who live in Orlando were laughing at us for feeling the heat. But they go from their air conditioned house to their air conditioned car to their air conditioned businesses. Most of us our here don't have AC in our houses. Who needs it when you're only going to run it for 10 days a year? Well we do. At least for those 10 days. People around here are all exhausted because nobody's slept in three days. Those of us who don't have the luxury of AC where we work are getting headache and heat stroke. We're sweating, cranky, and making sure we don't get dehydrated. I've consumed so much water the past three days that I'm practically floating.

Cipher (The World's Most Amazing Cat, Screw You if You Don't Agree tm) has managed to extend herself into the largest land mass possible to take most advantage of her proximity to the quietest fan. It's quite impressive, really. In the winter she can curl herself into a tiny ball to conserve heat. In the summer she extends herself out into about two cat lengths. It's like feline origami.

It's a bit cooler today, but not by much. Currently it's 84 in the house. Tomorrow, according to the SF paper, will be 20 degrees cooler. 20 degrees! That's how unusual this heat is.

So yes, it's hotter where you are. It'll be hotter next week. You'll be sweating for another month. But gee, can we get just a little sympathy please?


Duke said...

Although the jury is still out on why, there is little doubt our climate is heating up. This has been the hottest summer on record. Last year was also the hottest (at least around here). Every year we set a new hottest record.

I just came in from my patio where I was listening to NPR and getting some fresh air. It was 92 and very sticky but actually 20 degress cooler than it's been since May. Here in the deep south we are used to heat but not heat indexes of 112-115 for 3 and 4 months without a break. We've suffered through a terrible summer that's been worse than anything in my memory.

Your case sounds a lot like my brother when he lived in Seattle. He'd talk about how nobody needed air conditioning because the summer temps average 75. Yet every summer it consistently hit 90 for days on end. The average might be 75 because 90 degree days get offset by 65 degree days when it rains, but that doesn't help when it's 90 and you don't have air conditioning. Your body doesn't react to the average temps over a week. It reacts to how hot it is NOW.

I think the free ride's over for moderate climates in the contintal US. Places like the SF bay area and Seattle will have to break down and buy air conditioning. The days when it never gets above 80 are long gone due to climate change. As the years go by, you'll see more and more hot days and the people will have to adapt.

I'd like to give you some words of wisdom from someone well versed in handling the heat. Goodness knows I've experienced enough of it. The problem is, unlike cold where you can bundle up, there is no remedy for heat besides air conditioning. As you've seen, fans merely blow the hot air around. There's little cooling from them above 95 or so.

I'd find some air conditioned spaces like a movie theater or mall to loaf in during the hottest parts of the day. Around here if your home air unit fails we get a hotel room until it's fixed.

The Calico Quilter said...

Oh, you have my sympathy. Just because a person moved in the Southeast doesn't mean she loves the heat. Central AC is the primary reason anyone can stand to live south of the Mason Dixon Line. But Cipher was probably blissfully happy in the heat. Cats evolved in hot climates and we freeze them to death in our overly-air-conditioned and turn-the-thermostat-down-in-the-winter houses. When the AC broke over Labor Day weekend two years ago, our cat could be found stretched out on the carpet in that limp relaxed pose only cats can do, soaking in the 95 degrees. I imagine it was the first time in six years she was truly warm.

FinnyKnits said...

They can hold back on their sympathy for our heat wave all they want - those high and mighty southlanders (midwesterners and east coasters and everyone else who likes to take pot shots at the heat strokers), but when they start bitching about WOE IS US we have to pay our $800 property taxes, I will LAUGH IN THEIR FACES.

Oh WHOA - a property tax bill in the 3 digits - THAT must be rough.

Hey, I'm just get what you pay for.

Duke said...

finnyknits, I can assure you people in the south do not pay extra to get the heat. It comes free of charge. :)