Friday, August 12, 2011

How Hot Is It?

After suffering most of the summer with above average temperatures and extremely high humidity, a front from the north has brought cooler temps and a much lower dew point, thankfully. Everywhere you go people are asking why it's so hot. I love the look on the face of those people, especially the young ones, when I tell them I heard a scientist on Coast to Coast AM after the gulf oil spill say that oil was not the only thing released, but also methane gas. "He said that the last time this much methane was released into the atmosphere, the dinosaurs went extinct!" A frightened, big-eyed, morbid look comes over them.

I learned recently the temperature is taken in the shade, which means when one is in the sun it could feel like it is 10 or 15 degrees hotter. Then there is something called the 'heat index'. That's when the weatherman says the temperature is 95 but it 'feels like' it's 105. Come on now...if it 'feels like' it's 105, then why don't they say it's 105?!

One day during the hot spell, Louisville led the nation in 'heat index' at 116. The 'heat index' was in the yelow color-coded 'opressive' range.

When I was young I liked to walk up the hill to my grandmother's house. It was a duplex and her niece and husband lived there as well. Ed would usually be on the front porch, chewin' and spittin' tobacco; maybe drinking a beer. There would be other fella's there, shootin' the bull. I think I liked it because, although still quite young, I was allowed to 'hang-out' with the menfolk. They would talk about all kinds of men type things, like their favorite NASCAR drivers.

From the time I heard his name, I liked 'Fireball' Roberts. Sounded like a good driver to me! How was I to know he would actually go up in flames, losing his life in a fireball? From Wikipedia:

On May 24, 1964, at the World 600 in Charlotte, Roberts had qualified in the eleventh position and started in the middle of the pack. On lap 7, Ned Jarrett and Junior Johnson collided and spun out and Roberts crashed trying to avoid them. Roberts' Ford slammed backward into the inside retaining wall, flipped over and burst into flames. Witnesses at the track claimed they heard Roberts screaming, "Ned, help me!" from inside his burning car after the wreck. Jarrett rushed to save Roberts as his car was engulfed by the flames. Roberts suffered second- and third-degree burns over 80 percent of his body and was airlifted to a hospital in critical condition. Although it was widely believed that Roberts had an allergic reaction to flame-retardant chemicals, he was secretly an asthmatic and the chemicals made his breathing worse.[2]

Roberts was able to survive for several weeks, and it appeared he might pull through. But Roberts' health took a turn for the worse on June 30, 1964. He contracted pneumonia and sepsis and slipped into a coma by the next day. He died on July 2, 1964.

I was 13 when Fireball went to the big one in the sky, and sorta lost interest in racing thereafter...

It was hot that summer, but the young do not experience the heat the same way the old do, as I now know only too well. I recall cousin Carl asking Ed, "How hot do you think it is?" Ed spit and said, "It's hot'ern HELL!"

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