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June 09, 2011


> these posts are hand crafted one of a kind jewels

each evoking mono no aware

already this post is not new
and the hungry blog
will demand another

an early thread from Hanoi, where it is hot, hot, hot

My first reaction was, "Hey, it's hot, hot, hot here in the mid-Atlantic US, too!" Then I checked the weather in Hanoi:

Current: 84.2 °F/ Feels Like 102 °F

Forecast: Thunderstorm. Overcast. High: 97 °F. Wind ESE 3 mph. 50% chance of precipitation (water equivalent of 0.14 in). Heat Index: 120 °F.

Frankly, I don't know people survive -- it must be like breathing soup.

For that matter, how did people survive in the Gulf states before air conditioning?


1) There weren't nearly as many of them.

2) Only the poor stayed there during the summer, anyone who could afford it went to the mountains.

3) This is one of the reasons why the pre-AC South was notorious for a slow, lackadaisical, indolent lifestyle: anything else would have been *insane*.

If you live on the Gulf or Atlantic and the prevailing winds cooled you, all was good. Otherwise, you suffered, and were bitten by all manner of bugs, snakes and alligators.

Also: it helps to move slowly, and not be accustomed to having AC to dive back into.

Finally, if you were fortunate, you had any of a few hundred natural cold-water (low to mid 70s) springs to go dive in. Trust me, even on a sweltering, humid summer day, you spend enough time in one of those springs and you're wanting warm air again.

I remember a summer day in New Hampshire in 1974 or 1975 where it got up to 104 degrees, so we went to the ocean in Hampton Beach, only to discover the wind was coming in from the ocean. What a misery.

"Also: it helps to move slowly, and not be accustomed to having AC to dive back into."

As a kid in Dallas we played baseball all summer and only at 105 with no wind did we ever think about complaining. We drank water by the buckets, hung out at the creek, the pool, the lake, and any sprinkler we could get someone to turn on.

We also knew where every piece of shade was and where every little piece of woods created someplace to crawl into that never saw the sun.

But for the most part you didn't do much beteween noon and 7 pm if you could help it, unless it was fun, or you got paid for it.

Mediterranean people long ago figured out that the best way to spend the hottest part of the day (and summer days around the Med can get VERY hot) is to sleep. A siesta from 1:00 or 2:00 PM until 5:00 or 6:00 PM is how the people who invented Western Civilization have always managed to cope with 100+ F mid-day heat.

My first-hand experience is limited to Greece, but I imagine it's typical: you get to live two separate days per 24 hours. Shops and offices tend to open by 8:00 AM, if not earlier. More or less everything closes down around 2:00 PM, and everybody goes home for lunch and a nap. Work, shopping, and activity in general resume for a couple of hours after the general siesta. Dinner tends to be at 10:00 PM or later, followed by drinking and carousing for the younger crowd. Going to bed before midnight marks you as a really old person. But even the young people who stay up enjoying the cool(ish) night air until 2-3:00 AM can usually manage to be up and about by 7:00 in the morning, because they had their mid-day nap the day before, and only need to last until their mid-day nap today.

This is how civilization worked during the milennia before anybody invented either air-conditioning or American exceptionalism.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mad_Dogs_and_Englishmen_%28song%29>Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun.

Yeah, growing up in Northern California we spent summers almost entirely in the high school pool (or the air-conditioned library). But then, with no humidity getting wet is a plus (evaporative cooling!); with 100% humidity....

Side question: in those times in the deep South, were there ever any children born in the spring?

how did people survive in the Gulf states before air conditioning?

Coca-Cola. (Pronouced Coe-cola, because enunciating the 'k' is extra work. See benefits of indolence point by Dr. Science above.)

Ooh, nifty work, Hartmut: The Wikipedia entry ties in lj's Viet Nam setting:

... Coward wrote the song while driving from Hanoi to Saigon ... .

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