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It’s Too Darn Hot

I’m inspissated. How about you?

original illustration by Lali

Too hot to move. Too hot to cook. Too hot to exercise (except water aerobics). Too hot to sleep.
    Just how hot is it?
    Hotter than it’s ever been — relatively speaking.
    “July 2016 was absolutely the hottest month since the instrumental records began,” the Baltimore Sun reminds me, sourcing NASA.
    July 2002 felt plenty miserable to then Bay Weekly contributor April Falcon Doss. Heat, she reminded us, is relative — and so is our experience of it.
    With this August leading in the same direction, it’s too hot to write.
    Return with me, then, to those sweltering words of yesteryear:

    “Thermodynamics textbooks neatly evade defining temperature,” smugly reported the writer’s husband, her foil in the story. “Instead of telling what temperature is, they define temperature in relative terms, or whether one material is hotter or colder than another. Really, it’s not that hot out. It’s just the differential you feel.”
    
To which she irritably replied, “Objection: relevance.”
I find myself appallingly intolerant in extreme heat. We step under some trees. “Oh,” I gasp with relief. “It’s so much cooler in the shade.”
“Not really,” my husband badgers. “The air temperature is actually the same in the shade or out. It’s just that here in the shade you’re shielded from the force and effect of solar radiation.”
    These distinctions are absurd, at least as applied to my experience of being hot. I defy anyone to diminish my experience of heat.

Thermal Death Point
    The amount of heat capable of destroying a given species of bacteria in a given time. Three factors are involved — namely, the time, material and temperature.
    Sounds like the risk faced by my husband if he tells me once more that these fiery temperatures are merely ­relative. My encyclopedia defines heat as energy that is transferred from one body to another because they are at different temperatures. Energy transferal? Then how to explain this lassitude I feel, this utter enervation? How to explain the way that beads of sweat quiver on my lip, my chest, my brow on those long summer days?
    According to my source book, “The effect of this transfer of energy usually, but not always, is an increase in the temperature of the colder body and a decrease in the temperature of the hotter body.”
    No kidding. How else to respond to the observation that 100-degree afternoons heighten my own thermal setting?
    The only way to absorb energy without getting hotter is to change form: by melting or boiling or by changing from a solid into a vapor through the process called sublimation.

Lipolysis
    Fat splitting.
    People are known — even hereabouts where opportunities to sweat come plentiful and cheap — to pay considerable money for the opportunity to sit in a steam room, breathing sharp, wet heat while stinging beads of sweat burst through their pores and glisten in a lake on their skin. This is homage to lypolysis, to the presumed fat-splitting properties of steam. Here in Maryland, it comes free.

    Doss found a word for it: Inspissation: the distillation of our own tissues and being in heat.
    That’s what to call it when you’re too darned hot.
    I’m inspissated. How about you?

Sandra Olivetti Martin
Editor and publisher; editor@bayweekly.com