Wednesday, July 7, 2010


It's so hot I can't think straight, and yet here in Ohio we're "merely" in the 90s, 10 degrees cooler than the record-breaking East coast. The East has gotten hit hard this year, between the heavy snow in the winter and the current heat wave.

As I mentioned on Facebook, we live in a campus house at Olney Friends School, which, like all the other campus houses (unless somebody is holding out on me!) has no central air. Even the Main Building, home to the administrative offices, lacks air, unless you count those rotating fans like flowers on stems. It's truly "green" living here.

It's also a touch of how people lived 50 years ago, and of how I grew up as a child in hot, humid suburban Baltimore. I do remember feeding a big square "air conditioner" ice cubes that would melt and blow out as cold air. We could hardly feed the ice fast enough, and it always ran out too soon, even when we bought bags of it at the local store.

So, although I still want to --and hope to--comment on the comments on the Russian mathematician who turned down the million dollars, my brain, hooked to a body soggy with heat, isn't functioning at that "deeper" level.

The heat is roosting in our house, despite ceiling fans, lots of windows (cross ventilation) and our "prospect" atop a hill (usually, that means breezes). Pre-air-conditioning architecture can only do so much. At Ohio University, where I'm teaching, the school shut off the air all through the long weekend and the classrooms are still warm. I comfort myself that the school is saving taxpayer dollars, as well as the environment, but it's difficult, in mid-afternoon, to teach in a sauna-like environment. Yesterday, we went outside to a picnic table under a tree, where we benefited from a breeze. Today, at the end of class, we moved to the basement vending machine room, which was cool, but lacked a blackboard.

I'm accepting all of this as participating in God's planned rhythm of nature, even if climate change is entering the mix. Yes, I am moving at a slow crawl and trying not to be anxious about all the things I need to get done, and yes, I wish I dared to shave my head to get rid of what currently seems a very thick head of hair bearing down like a wool hat and muffler on my head and neck, but I am taking all of this as meant to be a natural slowing in the cycle of life. Maybe it's good just to turn down the human engines for a few days.

On the other hand, from what I've read in the Baltimore Sun, when this weather hit in the pre-central air days, offices and houses would close as people headed en masse for the beach or the mountains--or at least an outdoor "bed" by a local lake. Perhaps, as we wean from fossil fuels, that's the model we should be looking to.

Or perhaps we should all be heading to another old-fashioned institution: the public library.

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