Here Thar Be Monsters!

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23.7.11

Nothing New Under The Sun

Before launching into tirade du jour, how about some jungle tips to keep cool in the heat?

First, don't drink iced or chilled liquids.  Drink water that is at or slightly above room temperature.  Although this seems non-sensical, lowering your core temperature actually makes you sweat more and makes you feel hotter.  By equalizing your internal and external temps, you'll feel more comfortable.  Drink a LOT of water, and if you can find it, the oxygenated or hexagonal varieties seem to help me quite a bit.

Second, eat cucumbers.  They not only cool off your mouth, they actually make you feel cooler all over.  Mangoes, apples and lime juice also help.  Avoid coffee, cigs and other vaso-constrictors.  Doesn't hurt to drop an aspirin in the mornings, as well.

Third, in the middle of the day, avoid stress and exertion, and stay as low to the ground as you can.  Heat rises, as you may remember in school science class, so the coolest air is low to the ground.

Fourth, avoid A/C, which if your local power plant is overwhelmed, won't be hard.  It causes temp shocks to your system when going in and out of chilled areas.  Instead, use a good fan and a spritz bottle full of water.  Mist yourself while you sit in front of the fan.  Taking a cool (not cold) shower and lying naked in front of the fan is pretty effective, as well.

Finally, wear light, loose clothing.  Tight-fitting closes make your feel hotter.  The ideal situation is to wear skirts or sarung, to allow air circulation under your clothes and keep the sun's heat from directly contacting your skin.  Outdoors, wear a loose-fitting hat and cover your neck with a light-colored cloth.  Keeping your brain cool is key.  A hat should have space for air circulation underneath. And don't forget to use an umbrella.  You'd be amazed how something so simple can make such a difference.

Adopting a lifestyle like equatorial dwellers makes perfect sense.  In the heat of the day (noon to three), stay indoors with good air circulation.  Sleep or relax.  It's called siesta in some countries and it exists for a reason.  Your boss may not cotton to the idea of napping after lunch, but on the other hand, he may pass out at any time.  So keep an eye out.  If he's enlightened, you might be able to talk him into time-shifting to allow mid-day hoe-downs.

I have to laught, because here I live on the equator, and we never see temps like those hitting the US right now.  Average daily high in Jakarta is about 90-92.  Of course, life here is designed around heat.  Houses breathe, people bathe frequently and mid-day breaks are normal.  In the worst part of the heat, it's not unusual to see folks bed down in the shade and wait out the worst of it.

It absolutely amazes and entertains me that we have developed lifestyles that are in complete defiance of Nature, and then curse our misery when all our machinations fail us.  Things like A/C, insulated houses and 9-5 jobs were unheard of at the beginning of the 20th century.  Yet, people managed heat waves and bitter winters by working with Nature.

My house here in Indonesia is pretty typical.  It is a brilliant design that works with the climate.  The design is basically an enclosed box, with bedrooms being smaller enclosed spaces inside, kind of like small free-standing shops at the mall.  In the kitchen, there is a flue that runs up to the third floor and acts exactly like a chimney.  It draws cooler air in from ground level and releases the heated air out through roof vents. ]

 All the windows and doors, even those to the outside, have open transoms that encourage air circulation.  The walls of the house are cinder block with a thick layer of plaster that work a lot like adobe, in that it blocks heat during the day, and radiates it at night.

Come to think of it, all the rain-gutter thefts in the US right now could be avoided if folks used bamboo.  The stuff is like steel when it dries, makes perfect gutters and spouts with no tools other than a saw, and is dirt cheap.  No only that, it looks pretty cool as a decorative touch without any effort whatsoever.  Heck, add a machete and some coconut-fiber rope, and you can build a large, sturdy house for next to nothing.

All our technology is our undoing.  We are becoming obese because we flop in front of the TeeVee instead of getting out and being active.  We can't bear extremes of heat and cold because our environmental systems have reduced our ability to adjust and adapt.  We suck up energy for completely passive pursuits, wasting the power on nothing more than sitting and watching.

I imagine the world's energy problems would be solved by simply turning off the TeeVee and XBox, and reading a book.  Walking to anything within a quarter-mile, and using a bicycle for anything within a mile would probably take care of the rest of the situation, both energy and fat.

The minute something in the environment changes, that isn't part of our technological Master Plan, we are completely lost in how to deal with it.  We have designed our lives to match our ideal, rather than reality.  We have forgotten things that our ancestors knew from centuries of adaptation.  We don't remember how to can and store food because we have refrigerators.  We can't cook on open fires because we have electric stoves.  We can't deal with extremes of hot and cold because we have designed our environments to be electrically modified.

In all this effort and planning and toy manufacturing, we forgot one simple little thing: what happens when the electricity stops?  Yes, electricity is a wonderous thing, but if we're going to build our personal Universe on its back, doesn't it make sense that we put some effort into making sure it never runs out?  After 200 years, most of our lives still derive from burning something, and when the thing we are burning runs out...there's no back-up.

I mean, with all the effort to build gee-gaws, doesn't it make sense to cover the roof of every home with solar panels, both active and passive, so that every house in the world generates at least part of the energy it needs to operate?  Fly over an city on Earth and just marvel at all the wasted space that could be generating the one thing we absolutely need to keep our lifestyles running.

Then, compare those rooftops to all the space used and effort put into refineries, coal mines, oil drilling, nuke plants, and hydro-electric plants.  Even the hydro plants depend on water, which has a funny way of going wherever it wants.  And if the dam breaks, well...catastrophe.

Another thing...why is it Americans insist of having potable water come out of every tap?  They spend billions to refine and refresh water so that you can drink out of the toilet!  I'm willing to bet 90% of the water used in most houses is not for drinking, but for washing, watering plants and flushing toilets.  Why does all of it have to be potable?o

Even simple things, like why do we have to cool or heat the whole house when we only use one or two rooms?  Why do we have to boil 25 gallons of water at all times, when we just need a little for bathing and washing the dishes?  Why does everyone have to have a land barge, when a little commuter scooter is just as effective, and easier to park?

One really good idea from Indonesia, that would be so effective and make so much sense (which is why it's illegal in the States), is something called an ojek.  For the most part, it's just guys with motorcycles and a little extra time who ferry people around on short hops, like to the store and back.  They're everywhere here, cheaper and faster than taxis, and they'll wait around to run you back home.  It's win-win.  They make a little folding money, you get a cheap and quick ride, and there's no parking issues.

Another thing in Indonesia that makes too much sense are the door-to-door vendors.  Every morning and evening, I can buy nearly 40% of my household needs from men and little old ladies who walk up and down the neighborhood selling everything from bread and fresh vegetables, to shoe repair and brooms, and even fully prepared meals on your doorstep.  This kind of thing fosters productive work, private entrepreneurship and untraceable cash transactions, all of which make it highly illegal in the States.

How about a warung?  If I so choose, I can open a shop or restaurant on my front porch or in my garage.  At the local warung, I can buy coffee, soap, cigs, snacks, and just about everything I need between runs to the store.  Or next to that, I can get a hot meal with atmosphere to spare, while keeping up with the local chit-chat.

So, while you're wilting in the summer heat, why not ponder these questions: Why do you need a permit to sell lemonade in your front yard?  If you turned all the energy you use slothing on the couch into productive income, would your life be better?  And why does every electronic gadget have to have an LED clock on it?  And since when does the gummint need its nasty, sticky, greedy little fingers in every aspect of our lives?

Just some of those deep questions to while away the long summer afternoons, trying to distract yourself from the heat.

Think how many jobs could be created, how much time, labor and energy would be saved, and now convenient life could be, if the nasty mafia called gummint just kept its filthy nose out of everyone's lives.

I bet even the heat would be less hot.

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