Johnny-on-the-Spot … by John Foster …
“Hot enough for ya’?”
I hate that question.
But, this time of year, it seems appropriate since we’re in the “dog days of summer”.
“Why’s that?” you ask.
Historically, the “dog days” is that period following the heliacal rising of the star system “Sirius” which, according to Hellenistic astrology is connected with heat, drought, sudden thunderstorms, lethargy, fever, mad dogs and bad luck.
The brightest evening star this time of year is “Sirius” from the Greek word “glowing or scorching” and it’s part of the constellation “Canis Major” which means “the Greater Dog”.
Hence, the “dog days” of summer.
Now, I would argue that the “dog days of summer” are easier for me to deal with today than in my youth.
Prior to the 1950’s, air conditioning was not commonplace in residential homes.
In those days, if a fan didn’t get the job done by moving the sultry air, we would retire to the dehumidified basement to sleep more comfortably.
Adds credence to the adage, “It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity”.
Today, I’m spoiled by whole house air conditioning and can’t imagine trying to stay cool without it.
But, this time of the year, as Glenn Frey would sing, “The Heat Is On”.
In 1984, Glenn recorded the hit by the same time from the movie “Beverly Hills Cop”.
“The heat is on, on the street
Inside your head, on every beat
And the beat’s so loud, deep inside
The pressure’s high just to stay alive
‘Cause the heat is on.”
Beyond the obvious, what does it mean when we say, “The heat is on?”
It’s an idiom, slang-term meaning, “If you say the heat is on, you mean that a time of great activity and/or pressure has begun”.
Glenn Frey teamed up with Don Henley to form the Eagles in 1971 and they were together until 1980, when the band broke up.
The “heat was on” then for Glenn Frey when he embarked on a solo career and that resulted in the Beverly Hills Cop song.
I remember doing an aerobic exercise to “The Heat Is On” and it would definitely get my heart rate up.
When the heat is on, you might suffer from “heat rash”, also known as “prickly heat” or “miliaria”.
“Heat rash” is caused by hot, humid conditions, resulting in raised red spots on your body.
It develops when a duct that leads from a sweat gland to the surface of the skin is blocked or inflamed, trapping the sweat below the surface of the skin.
Little irritations or bumps can result and they can be quite annoying.
Heat rash will eventually go away on it’s on.
Wearing loose, cotton clothing, along with cool baths and showers plus topical over-the-counter lotions or ointments and antihistamines can also provide relief.
Speaking of heat, I need to address another “hot” topic.
“Heat lightning” is a misnomer, meaning it is a wrong or inaccurate name or designation; a wrong or inaccurate use of a name or term.
Also known as “silent lightning, summer lightning or dry lightning”, heat lightning is simply faint flashes of lightning on the horizon or among clouds from distant thunderstorms.
The storm is simply too far away for the thunder to be heard.
These warm, humid July and August nights seem to spur the mention of “heat lightning”.
And, remember, as the old song says’ “So when you hear it thunder, don’t run under a tree”.
You might be shocked to find more than pennies from heaven for you and me.
It has been a “toasty” summer in these parts but nothing like the summer in the mid 1930’s.
If you check summer weather records, more often than not, you’ll find the high mark was set in that era.
The heat was enhanced by extremely dry springs and high temperatures in the 100’s were pretty common.
It was a real stinker.
Those folks couldn’t even huddle in a dehumidified room, much less an air conditioned one.
My guess is it was so hot, their sweat was sweating.
We humans have anywhere from 2 million to 5 million sweat glands.
Women usually have more sweat glands than me but we guys sweat more that the fairer sex.
Plus, as we age, we sweat less but, on average a typical human sweats about 278 gallons a year.
Sweat is actually odorless and colorless but bacteria on the skin or reactions to chemicals on our bdies is what makes stinky sweat.
By the way, if you sweat too much, the condition is “hyperhidrosis”.
When the “heat was on”, Glenn Frey didn’t sweat…he sang.
“The shadows high on the darker side
Behind the doors, it’s a wilder ride
You can make a break, you can win oir lose
That’s a chance you take, when the heat’s on you
When the heat is on.”