Saturday, July 7, 2012

“Hot, Hot, Hot” has nothing these days to do with Buster Poindexter

I missed the intense heat wave of 1995. That period of scorching summer when the city was so unprepared that the death toll shot up faster than the thermometer occurred back during the time I lived in Springfield, Ill.
Chicago's theme music these days?

But I read the reports and heard the stories from my brother and mother, who were here back then.

SO I CAN appreciate the fact that while these past few days have been immensely uncomfortable, we should be thankful that we don’t have an absurd death toll mounting higher and higher.

That comes even though we may set an all-time record, as forecasts on Friday were saying that Saturday’s official temperature for Chicago would exceed 100 degrees. That would be a fourth straight day of temperatures in the century mark.

And it has been a miserable string of days.

It has been a time period in which I am thankful to be a freelance writer who works from home. It reduces the amount of time I have to spend in the outdoors.

ALTHOUGH I DID have to venture outside at one point Thursday night to cover a news event for a suburban newspaper I do some work for. It was early evening, and I still wound up with notes soaking wet from my sweat. When I finally got back home, the steering wheel of my car was dripping from my perspiration.

And I couldn’t help but notice when I checked the weather forecast Friday morning, I learned that it already was 91 degrees – and allegedly felt more like 104 degrees, on a day when the temperature was forecast to reach 101 (and in reality reached 103 degrees at O'Hare International Airport by mid-day).

It has been a miserable few days. And the thought that keeps going through my mind these days is to wonder how people survived prior to the invention of air conditioning.

Even if this is a record-high and not the norm (1911 and 1947 are the only other years that Chicago had three straight days of 100-degree temperatures) for a Chicago summer, we still experience heat each and every year.

BUT IT SEEMS that no matter how much we feel miserable, we should be a little bit thankful.

Because like I have already stated, we don’t have much of a body count running yet  -- six deaths overall as of Friday night, which is barely more than the five shooting deaths that occurred Wednesday on Independence Day from hot-headed people who shouldn't be allowed near firearms, regardless of what the NRA thinks the Second Amendment means.

There have been people who have died during the past few days, but it does not appear that we have any deaths that were brought on solely by the heat.

Maybe it means we learned the lessons of ’95. At the very least, everybody seems to be aware of the concept of a “cooling center” – that special place where people can go if either they don’t have air conditioning, or it isn’t quite working properly in their homes.

ALTHOUGH IN MY case, I must confess to having adequate air conditioning AND a portable fan (which was a birthday gift from my mother just a couple of months before she died) blowing air directly on me while I work.

Which is about the only thing that has made these past few days bearable (and probably the only reason I haven’t shorted out my laptop computer with excess sweat while I write copy).

That, and one other fact. I keep seeing those long-term weather forecasts that tell me the temperatures will take a (relatively) dramatic plunge in the next few days.

Temperatures in the 80s is still summertime warm. I won’t be basking in the outdoors and shivering from the breezes.

BUT IT WILL be a notable drop – one that won’t feel quite so stuffy as though I’m being asked to inhale cotton when I breathe.

How good does this look right about now?

And when we get back to a time when we have sunny skies AND cool breezes, I think I will appreciate it all the more.

I know the weather has become extreme when I’m looking forward to the day when I can wear my leather jacket without having people around me look at me like I’m insane.


No comments: