Sunday, June 30, 2013

Heat Tolerance

I didn't move to the San Francisco Bay Area until the age of 29 and, oddly enough, besides my family and friends, the thing I missed the most was the extreme weather.  You would think that would be something that was a blessing, as all native Northern California residents believe, but it was actually the opposite.

In the summer, Kansas is a sauna.   In the winter, it is a refrigerator with wind.  I never tolerated the cold very well (I freeze!!!), having inherited those genes from my maternal grandfather whose ancestry was Irish, yet the same genes gave me a marvelous tolerance of heat.  Go figure.  Ireland isn't exactly the tropics, as Grannymar can attest.  Some of our relatives also say there is Cherokee blood in that line, which might explain it.

In the summers, I always worked in fields or doing physical labor jobs in hot places when I was in my teens and early twenties.  Working in the heat of a feed mill, they would put me up top in the warehouse pulling and stacking the 50 pound bags of feed, because the temperature up there would top 120 F and this would make the regular guy that did it sick.  I could do it all day long with no ill effects whatsoever and go out after work to drink prodigious amounts of 3.2% beer at the local tavern.  The only day I had to bail out was scooping grain with a power scoop from a railroad car when the temperature outside was 113 F and there was no telling how hot it was in the rail car.  The sweat poured off in a steady running stream, literally, and I finally had to tell the boss that I was fine but within the hour would not be!  He agreed and we shelved that task til the next morning.

When I was 39, I paddled a paddle boat all around Lake Havasu with my son for 2 1/2 hrs in 116 degree heat.  Again, no ill effects at all, just got tired legs and weary of being a human sweatball!  He was only nine and I couldn't get much work out of him.

That extreme heat tolerance led me to appreciate what I read this morning from a guy who lives in Death Valley.  He actually went jogging yesterday when the temperature was 127 F !!!  What caused him to stop was not the effect of the heat on his body, but that his running shoes were literally melting and falling apart.  Now, as they say, THAT is nuts.

This is the extent of the work I do in 109 F heat now:

I'm far less nuts than once I was.  At least about heat.


  1. While you were melting, I was out of doors with Bloggie Visitors from Chicago on Friday. It was raining, I wore a vest, a polo-neck, a light wool jacket and a light rain coat over the top. I had socks and boots on under my jeans and still my hands were a shade of blue. In fact three of my fingers - two on one hand and one on the other - looked like rigor mortis had set in.

    Fos, the photo you just liked on my Facebook timeline, was taken on Friday. Donations of diluted heat are always welcome.

  2. @Grannymar

    It sounds like you handle cold just like I do. We may have Reynaud's Syndrome, perhaps a mild case, because my fingers and toes will also turn white in moderate cold.

    The picture I liked was beautiful! When I think of Ireland and it's environment, that is a lot of how I see it in my mind's eye.

  3. I am just the opposite. I have a very low tolerance of heat, but high tolerance of cold. I look like a melting ice cream cone when I go outside these days.

  4. What are you three talking about? Am I of this earth or am I insulated?


  5. I am an Indian. Some of us are blessed with hot, hotter and hottest seasons, which is most of our Coastal South India, extreme cold and high heat in the Northern plains, and some temperate climates like where I am blessed to be living. Having been a traveling salesman I too had no choice but to sweat it out it high humidity heat and bake in dry heat and shiver in the winter. The system took it though I doubt that it will any more.

    Nuts in high oven like heat of Kansas get roasted I am told. The English when they ruled us used to say that they could fry their eggs on the foot paths here in the summers. You can only eat nuts which are roasted, fried or boiled. Make up your mind.

  6. @Delirious

    Human thermostats sometimes seem to work that way!

  7. @Ursula

    LOL I don't quite know what subtlety you are invoking here. On this one, I am not insulated, just a bit dense!

  8. @Ramana Rajgopaul

    Mad dogs and Englishmen!

  9. Kansas weather is a lot like Texas - I actually became somewhat acclimated to heat living in Hawaii. Not as well as you though.

  10. @shackman

    I'm smaller than you and my experience shows that to be an advantage in heat. Just the opposite seems to be the general rule with cold. And, oddly, I have a friend from Panama whose tolerance of both goes off the scale.


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