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Friday, June 22, 2012

Damn Heat

Yesterday was a scorcher in Connecticut with temperatures reaching 97 degrees and oppressive humidity hanging like a blanket in the air.  With all factors combined, it felt like it was over a hundred degrees yesterday outdoors.  Now I know that I could have it worse working outside.  I could be working on a roof with no shelter from the sun and reflecting rays.  I could be a lineman wearing long pants, long sleeves, and heavy rubber gloves working with electricity.  Or I could even be a fireman decked out in protective gear carrying a backpack running into a fire.  No, I am none of these, just a painting contractor working outside.  Yet, despite the fact that I am "only" a painting contractor, I still was working outside yesterday in the sun.  Let me be the first to say that I am not a big fan at all about working when its dreadfully hot and humid out.  Everything seems more sluggish when its extremely hot out.  People tend to be a little more on edge and not willing to talk as much.  The heat has a weird effect on people, drawing them in to themselves to try and focus on remaining cool, causing emotions to run higher, and in general dragging people to the brink of insanity.  Heat and humidity have a tendency to bring out the laziness in people.  Less work gets done and it seems every conversation is predicated on when the heat and humidity will end.  Yet even those conversations about heat tend to drag a little more; the energy to form words depleted and brain cognition slowed to crawl. 

I don't know which was worst yesterday, the humidity in the morning or the heat and humidity of the afternoon.  If your attuned to the changing weather during the day, you can distinctly notice the changes in humidity from hour to hour; that is at least until you step in the sun and nothing matters much.  Yesterday morning was dreadfully humid where I was working.  The morning for me was spent in the shade painting, but even in the shade, nothing was refreshing.  The humidity yesterday morning was so heavy you could almost taste it in the air.  It felt like you had to work extra hard just to walk because the air would not part and let you through.  Every movement caused new beads of sweat to form, creating a glimmering sheen even baby oil couldn't replicate.  The humidity dropped a little about mid-morning, allowing a little more movement while painting, but still restricting my full blown effort.  But as it was still morning, I pushed harder because I knew it wouldn't be horribly long before I was enveloped by the sun and all its heat.  There is one benefit to working in the shade on a building; that benefit, meager as it may be, is that watching the shade diminish forces me to push a little harder to get as much as possible done before all the shade disappears.   I watched the line between the shade and sun approach slowly yesterday, inching its way towards my work area as I struggled to work harder.  Even if you couldn't see the sun approaching, you could feel it as the temperature slowly rose and rose and rose. 

Working in the sun, compounded by excessive heat and humidity is not fun for me.  I prefer cold weather any day over hot and humid weather.  Perhaps it feels worse now because just a week ago we had beautiful 70 degree weather with no humidity.  Now that is my ideal summer day, not yesterday.  I am just thankful that the heat and humidity in Connecticut comes in spurts and usually doesn't stick around for more than a week.  (I hope I am not jinxing things by saying that)  Those days when the heat kicks in though, I tend to drink upwards of a gallon and a half of water.  It seems that every hour or so I down another 20 ounces like it is nothing.  One can never have enough water while working in the sun, or for that matter, short breaks into the shade to cool down somewhat.  If you are in touch with your body, you feel when your temperature rises a little too much.  Your head starts to feel a little funny and then you know its time to sit and cool off.  I never take the heat lightly as I had an acquaintance a few years ago suffer from heat stroke, go into a coma, and is still now dealing with the ramifications.  His speech is slurred and everything is a little more difficult for him.  Needless to say, by 3 pm yesterday, I had enough of working in the sun and went to an inside job for a few hours in the afternoon.  Thank God the heat should be greatly diminished today and by early next week we will be back into the 70's.  Oh well, off to sweat a little more today. 

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