HOT ENOUGH FOR YOU?
11 July 2002
I've always wanted to find out if you could REALLY fry an egg using the heat of the
sun, and today seemed the best day to do it. As you can see---yes, you can.
The heat is the prime topic of conversation by everyone today. Newscasters, radio
commentators, patients, the checker at the supermarket, anybody you meet on the street,
walking slowly, trying to preserve energy, moving against the hot air that just hangs
We set a record today. In Sacramento it was 112°, which is the hottest ever for this
day of the year. The hottest temperature ever recorded in Sacramento was 117° and we
didn't quite hit that, but this is one record I could stand not breaking. It was 104° in
our shaded driveway when I arrived home at 6:30 this evening.
This is the second day of heat and according to weather persons, it's not likely
to cool of until Sunday. In this instance "cooling off" means 96°.
I remember one hot summer in Citrus Heights, not far from Sacramento, when I was a kid.
I was visiting my cousin and it was one of those days when your shoes melted into the
blacktop. We were standing in the middle of a deserted street and she was braiding my
hair. I don't know why I remember that, but I do. We later found out it was 114°.
I don't do heat well. When you grow up in San Francisco, sun is something that makes a
nice break from the fog, but you don't count on it regularly. As for the sun actually
coming with heat attached to it, that's a rare occurrence. So rare that you'd be hard
pressed to find a home with air conditioning. A good waste of money, air conditioning.
When we learned we would have to move to the valley--where I knew that summers could be
brutal, I was not a happy camper. I will admit that I don't like the heat, and it
may be a cliché, but it really is true--a dry heat is not as uncomfortable as a
When San Francisco gets hot, being so close to the ocean, it invariably also gets humid
and that's what really saps your energy. I've often said that I'd rather have 100° here
in Davis than 80° in San Francisco. Besides, of course, this is a town with air
conditioning. And the cars have air conditioning. You can really survive 112°
I remember a few years ago when I agreed to spend 4 weeks with some friends in Houston.
Houston. In July. Was I out of my mind? When I voiced that sentiment to one of my hosts,
he assured me that I would go from air conditioned house to air conditioned car to air
conditioned business and back again and that I'd hardly notice the heat.
Well "hardly notice" is perhaps not quite accurate, but it wasn't as bad as
I'd feared. The only day that was really bad was the day I parked in a lot and tried to
walk to a store and realized that I couldn't walk and wear my glasses because as soon as I
put them on, they fogged up. Problem is that I'm blind without my glasses. I almost felt
like I needed a cane to get myself from the parking space into the store.
It was also a difficult adjustment to realize that in Houston, sundown doesn't mean a
cooling of temperatures the way it does here. One of the things that makes living here
bearable is that at night there is generally a cool breeze...or perhaps, on a day like
today, a cooler breeze. Not so in Houston. It seemed as hot at 3 a.m. as it was at
noon. When the storm would pass through, as it did periodically, I expected the rain to be
cool and the air to be cooled, but all it did was to make everything more humid, and more
sticky. The mosquitoes loved it.
But I survived summer in Houston and I'll survive 112° here in Davis.
To look on the bright side, as long as I'm willing to wait a few hours for a meal, I
can save on electricity by cooking my food outside on the patio. Shoud be great for the