Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Hottest Place on Earth

Did you see the news headline a couple days ago, about Death Valley, California, overtaking Libya, for the hottest place on earth, with a record temperature of 134 degrees Fahrenheit?

When I first heard about it, I didn't really look into it much, and thought it just happened, you know, in September; which I thought was quite odd for such a record to occur then, rather than the middle of summer. Well, apparently this record was not set recently, but way back in July of 1913, but due to some disputes about the accuracy of the results, which ended up invalidating Libya's record altogether, it took this long to finally verify it.

The hottest it's been since then in Death Valley, was 127 degrees Fahrenheit, a record set back in 2007, though it regularly reaches 120 degrees in any given summer. I guess they don't call it Death Valley for nothing.

Anyway, I was just thinking about this, in light of the fact that I do a lot of complaining here about the heat, which I've done more times than I'm sure you've cared to hear about. Well, it does get hot here, but nowhere near as hot as that. I couldn't even imagine what it would be like to endure 134 degrees. Though I suppose it would be something like that Twilight Zone episode "The Midnight Sun" about the earth moving progressively closer toward the sun.

The hottest it got this year in my city in Arizona, was I think only about 110 degrees. Only. Yeah. When you live here, triple digits are normal, and a high of 95, is only 95, and not a heat wave. But the hottest temperature I ever experienced in my life, and since living here, was 116 degrees. And I had to go out in it, it occurred at a time when I was taking the city bus to work, and transferred buses, waiting outside in that heat for over a half an hour at a time. It was horrible. Miserable. The air feels thick, heavy, suffocating, literally feels like you're being baked alive in a furnace, like you can barely breath, like your blood is boiling and you're slowly melting from the inside out. It's hell. It really is. And that was only 116 degrees. Imagine it being 134 degrees, wow, that's 18 degrees hotter, it would probably kill you in a very short period of time. Don't think I could take that, I'd have to be air lifted out of there, or perish.

As I've mentioned before I'm a Northerner by birth, moved out to southern Arizona in my early 20s, primarily in search of adventure, and to escape the long cold sunless winters of my home state. Well, something has happened to me over the years, I've changed in one notable way, and that is, when I first moved out here I used to love the hot weather, the 90s and 100s were comfortable to me. I spent a lot of time outside in the heat and it didn't bother me at all, but now I hate it. And not just hate it, but find it almost impossible to function in it, where it makes me feel sick, weak and lethargic, like I'm constantly running a fever, but as soon as I get into a cooler environment I feel fine, back to normal. I read twice as fast, my concentration is improved, I feel calmer, clearer, more energetic, and just better all around. The extreme heat makes me stupid and lazy, and muddles my thinking. It's true. Of course, being that I don't drive a car, and enjoy walking and being outside in nature, I am forced to go out in the heat anyway, but I'm finding that I'm becoming more sensitive to it, can't tolerate it like I used to, and it is becoming almost unlivable, where I'm forced to hibernate a significant part of the day indoors for half the year. It sucks. Is not the kind of life I want to live.

But then again, as much as I hate the extreme heat, I would say that I equally hate the extreme cold. The one thing that most compares to the unpleasantness of being outside in 116 degree heat, is the flip side of it, being outside in subzero cold. One you freeze, the other you melt, but both are equally uncomfortable. Don't want to live in the freezing cold north, or the hot as hell south. Got to find a balance somehow. I'd say my ideal temperature is about 76 degrees Fahrenheit.

I am so looking forward to October. You know how I wrote about how happy I was that it's finally September, thinking that it will start cooling down now, well it has to some extent, we've had a couple days in the upper 80s, several in the upper 90s, but today and tomorrow we're back up to 100. So, I'm really looking forward to October, hoping that we do not see any more triple digit days, and maybe, just maybe not too many more days in the 90s because it is really wearing me down.

*This is post 12 of 20, part of my "20 posts in 30 days" challenge. Yeah, I know, this post sucks. It's sort of a nothing post, but it's all I got, for now, so take it or leave it, but I refuse to fail this self-imposed challenge.