Hot enough for ya?

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By BEN OLSON/for The Herald  —  Everybody complains about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.” is a quote by Charles Dudley Warner, an American essayist, and a good friend of Mark Twain. Twain liked the quote so much; he used it in his lectures. It has been mistakenly attributed to him ever since.

I’ve been to a lot of places in this big old world. Due to temperature extremes and lack of comfortable accommodations, I have avoided polar regions and the equatorial zone. Being a Wisconsin boy, I’ve had to deal with cold weather. It’s pretty simple- if you’re cold, put some more clothes on. Hot weather can be dealt with in a similar manner, to a point. Once you’re down to your birthday suit, though, that strategy has run its course.

As a young man, one of my jobs was being a tour guide on sightseeing trips along the Wisconsin River. Among the factoids that I offered up to my audience was that our town, Wisconsin Dells, had recorded the hottest temperature ever in the state, that being 114 degrees on July 13, 1936. I’m not sure now why that was an important piece of information to pass along. Possibly the same reason why people watch the Weather Channel to be regaled with stories about floods, tornados, hurricanes and other disasters that happened a long time ago.

I’ve been to many of the great deserts in the U.S. and Mexico, but, sensibly, never in the summer. Death Valley, in Southern California, is considered the hottest place in the country. In an average year, the temperatures top 100 degrees 147 days. Hardly anyone lives there because of that. The greater Phoenix area, where over 5 million people reside, averages 111 days a year with temps exceeding 100. That’s a lot of air conditioners running around the clock.

According to all the weather forecasts that I’ve seen, we’re in for a week of high temps at 100 or above. I hope you’re not looking to me for any kind of serious advice- my job is just to point out absurdity, irony and other things you might miss on your own. Stay hydrated with water, not gin and tonics. Get your outside chores done early before it heats up too much. Think about the comfort of your pet- make sure they have shade and plenty of water. People tend to get a little onery when it gets this hot. Cut your fellow man a little slack- the heat may be having a bigger effect on him than you. Try to look at the positives- it may be hot, but at least it’s not hot and smoky.

You may be wondering, “Ben, you’ve been to a lot of places. What’s the hottest temperature you’ve ever experienced?” Why, that would be right here in Oakridge 2 years ago. 117. Stay cool. I hope I won’t feel compelled to write about the weather again anytime soon.

Ben Olson, musician and Oakridge Resident, with his standup bass. Ben is a regular contributor, as well as the Entertainment Report’s columnist. Ben Olson photo

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