What Did We Ever Do to Deserve August?


So, August in Dallas/Fort Worth: welcome to the blast furnace, mon ami! It’s not uncommon for the area to enjoy triple-digit temperatures every day during the month of August, and you can be sure the Dallas Morning News will count up the Really Hot Days with the same breathless amazement they do every year. The local newscasters will make a big deal over it, too. It’s like it’s always some kind of a surprise. Where do they think we live, Connecticut or something? It’s hot here in August. Always. Until the Earth shifts in its orbit or the Sun loses its luster, that ain’t gonna change.


My theory is that it’s more an issue of denial than anything else. They don’t want it to happen, so they act all surprised when it does. But allow me to let you in on a little secret: If you visit in August, expect it to be sizzling. You’ve heard all the clichés about heat, right? Hot enough to fry an egg on the sidewalk, hot as the hinges of Hell (nice alliteration on that one), hot as a firecracker, hot enough to melt your earlobes, yadda yadda yadda. You’ll want to use them all here in August, although admittedly it’s a dry heat. That’s because in the average year, it hasn’t rained for months by the time August rolls around, and it probably won’t rain during August.

Did you know that tar melts enough to get splashy in this kind of heat? Yup. Another tidbit of knowledge, courtesy of August heat. You’ll need to get something like Goo Gone to get it off. Aside from tar with the consistency of butter, there’s all the usual signs of the daily blowtorch: dead lawns, ground hard as concrete, falling aquifers, dead birds falling out of the sky from heat prostration, etc. If there were a way we could get from building to building without venturing out into the heat, the place would be one big ghost town. Alas, the teleportation device we all thought they were going to deliver when they first announced that stupid Segway thing hasn’t materialized yet. (Get it? Materialized? Heh heh.) Remember that little bit of hype? And where the hell are all those flying cars they keep promising us?

Ahem. To get back on the subject, despite the heat, some of us remain at least a little cheerful, because we know two things: 1) there are places much hotter and drier than D/FW, such as the Australian outback, the Middle East, Death Valley, and Hell; and b) things will start to get better in September, when it gets cooler and the rain starts again (hopefully). So sometimes, you find yourself humming a happy little tune even as your brain starts to melt and ooze out your ears.


Now, having said that, this is the kind of thing that just siphons away all my good cheer when I see it:

Denial — It Ain’t Just a river in Egypt

I took this picture at a church that’s maybe a mile from my house. Speaking of denial…Yes, global warming really is a political issue, mostly because people who deny it have made it one. That doesn’t mean that it can’t be a fact at the same time. That it is a fact is something that no serious meteorologist or earth scientist will deny. The real argument is whether humans are causing it, or at least accelerating an existing process. I’d say (as an earth scientist and concerned citizen) that the jury’s still out on that one. The world goes through periods of long-term climate change due to various celestial factors (nearness to the sun, orbital precession, axial tilt, etc.) and has repeatedly done so throughout its history. Ten thousand years ago, we were at the tail end of an ice age, and it’s only been getting warmer since (on average at least). Of course, there’s some conflicting data there; Google the term “Little Ice Age.” It was a very cold period between about A.D. 1300-1850, when some years didn’t even have a summer. Could be coming again, to a theatre near you. Ice ages are typically separated by 10,000 year intervals, so don’t say I didn’t warn you if you look up someday and there’s a wall of ice towering overhead.


Whether the August heat has been exacerbated by human stupidity or not is interesting to debate, but ultimately it’s immaterial. So sure, maybe all that CO2 we’ve pumped into the atmosphere’s killing us. Maybe the world’s still recovering from the Little Ace Age, or maybe the big one of Y10K BC, and things are just naturally getting warmer. Whatever the cause, you just have to deal with it. How might this be done, you ask? Well, you can stay in and snuggle into a bathtub full of ice, but that’s not practical. Eventually the ice would melt and you’d get wrinkly skin. Instead, take action against the heat! Go out and run through the lawn sprinkler, if water restrictions haven’t made them illegal. (This is not a joke.) Go somewhere where you can stay reasonably cool; I’ve mentioned the easy ones before, like movie theaters. Hang out in a bookstore; there are some really huge ones around here. Or go to the rodeo. (I’m going to tell you all about this one soon).


For heaven’s sake, unless you’re willing to spend a lot on cool drinks, DON’T go to the Ballpark in Arlington, because it’s open to the air and you’ll lose about 30 pounds just from fluid loss. Believe me, I know. And that doesn’t even address the effects that the Rangers’ generally crappy playing will have on you. (Remember, this is the team that hired A-Rod for an incredible amount of money, and then didn’t even bother to treat him as part of the team.) It’s also not a good idea to go to Texas Stadium, which is also open; I almost died at a concert there one July. It wasn’t even a good concert: my sister won a pair of free tickets to see N*sync, of all groups. Anyway, try going to events at Reunion Arena and the American Airlines Center instead — they had the sense to put lids on their stadia. <>


According to Yahoo! (an unimpeachable source if ever there was one), the temperature peaked at 106 degrees fondly Fahrenheit yesterday, but of course the humidity made it feel hotter. Similar temperatures are predicted for today. It was so hot that a playground in Arlington spontaneously caught on fire. I couldn’t make this stuff up. Now do you see what I mean? Global warming still hard to believe in, New Life?

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