Tuesday, July 23, 2013

... No Cure For The Summertime Blues

*Original musical version released in 1958, written and performed by Eddie Cochran.

Summer, more accurately mid-summer, a week after the M.L.B. All Star Break,  colloquially referred to as the Dog Days. Welcome dogs everywhere. Of course, if you're like me and have a dog, you already know that every day is dog day, or in the case of my dog, Princess Dog Day. Ever notice how even a seemingly dumb dog can upon occasion display flashes of sheer brilliance, pretty much get you to do anything it wants, and at some point you just have to stop feeling bad about yourself for being so easily manipulated by a dog?

Anyway, Dog Days.  Courtesy of the ancient Romans who, apparently, in addition to inventing sewer systems, tossing Christians to lions and slaughtering barbarians, occasionally glanced up at the night sky.

Note* A little known fact; up until two hundred years or so ago, nights were dark and the night sky was actually visible. Who knew?

The Romans, it seems, were intrigued by Sirius, brightest star in the constellation Canis Major, which according to some earlier Greek guy resembled nothing so much as a big dog. Hence Sirius became the Dog Star. As Sirius and our own Sun are in conjunction during the summer (rise and set at the same relative time) the Romans mistakenly surmised that the energy emanated by the Big Dog star was combining with the energy of the Sun, thereby explaining the typical summer heat waves experienced in Rome.

You see where this is going, right?  Hottest part of summer = Dog Days.

(We shouldn't be too hard on the ancient Romans for assuming that a star approximately 86 trillion kilometers from Earth could have an effect on its weather. Recall that until the 16th Century anyone with the temerity to suggest that the Earth was not the epicenter of the Universe was routinely burned at the stake. Until the late 19th Century the scientific consensus was that everything in the universe - time, space, mass, energy - hung like Christmas tree ornaments from an invisible, light-propagating medium called the Luminiferous Aether. It required the glial-rich brain of Einstein to put this wacky idea to rest.)

Note*  Einstein was an avid dog lover, frequently observed on long walks conversing excitedly with his pet sheepdog; although exactly how much, if any, the animal's insights contributed to what would eventually become the Special and General Theories of Relativity is unknown.

So let's assume that many of us are currently ensconced in the hot and humid Dog Days of summer, perhaps secretly longing for winter, despite the fact that we absolutely hate winter, complain endlessly about it while we're in it. Maybe you're thinking, okay, you got me there, but at least in winter I don't have to spend half my time hunting down and killing mosquitoes. Putting aside for the moment the karmic implications of doing such a thing, this segues nicely into ...

Curious facts about mosquitoes:

Mosquitoes can smell the warm blood of a mammal at up to sixty meters.
They are particularly attracted to people with O type blood.
They are especially attracted to the blood of beer drinkers.
The blood of a pregnant woman is considered a special treat.
A mosquito is 500 times more likely to bite you during a full moon.

The obvious conclusion:  The last thing you'd want to be in summer is a beer drinking, pregnant, scantily clad woman with O type blood trapped outdoors during a full moon on a typical Dog Day evening.

F.Y.I. World high & low temperatures for yesterday, July 22nd:

Ouargla, Algeria:  119.7 F  (48.7 C)

Davis Lgb 46 AWS, Antarctica:  -94.7 F   (-70.4 C)

In terms of appealing summer destinations, more or less a toss up.

But then as Neil Young said (sang, actually):

"I'd rather be burned in Canada, than freezing in the south."

 **Correction:  The above was never uttered by Neil Young. The line actually comes from the song
"We can talk," performed by The Band on the album "Music From Big Pink."  Apologies to Levon Helm and the gang


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