Adventures in Refrigeration: or, Less Orthodox Ways to Cool Off

If this title seems familiar to you, it’s because you have a very good memory for a similar post from October 2012, wherein I shivered in a chilly house, got bundled up, and listed somewhat peculiar ways to get warmer.  But, it being July, the present circumstances present quite the opposite problem: what do you do when it’s too hot to carry on with life?  What do you do when the ancient Greek word of the day, κακοθερής (kakotherēs), unfitted to endure summer heat, describes you all too well?

Again, I present a handy, if unconventional list:

1. Look at your life; look at your clothing choices.  Hot weather’s the worst since you can only take off so much clothing before you’re breaking certain laws of decency. Take a leaf out of Archie Aymslowe’s book – you know, the wizard in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire interested in the “healthy breeze” that attended wearing a Muggle dress?  Ladies can go for any light dress or skirt they like; men might try a sport kilt for maximum ventilation.  Cotton or linen fabrics will breathe the most.

If you refuse to invest in a sport kilt for the sake of summertime comfort, try getting your clothes a bit damp and stick them in the freezer for ten or twenty minutes.

Changing into fresh clothes (frozen or not) will give you a brief respite.

2. Jump in a lake.  Or whatever cold water’s closest. Take a cold shower, sit in an icy bath, spray yourself with a fan-sprayer or SuperSoaker, dash through a sprinkler, jump in a pool. It’s not 2014 but you could still do an ice bucket challenge.  If convenient, wade into one of the Great Lakes (most recommended) or the ocean.  If inconvenient…

3Drink it in.  Lake Superior might be hundreds of miles away, so the next best thing is to imbibe some beverage or other that echoes the chill of the Gitche Gumee: water, perhaps with a bit of lemon, cucumber, mint, or ice; pop; iced tea; Gatorade; or whatever comes to hand. Stay hydrated!

4. Eat it. This could mean chewing minty gum; it could mean meals of salad or gazpacho or sashimi so as to steer clear of the stove; it could mean a steady supply of frozen grapes, freezer pops, fro-yo, kulfi, or sorbet.  Whatever works.  If you’re sweating a lot, bear in mind that you have to replenish your salt/electrolytes on top of staying hydrated!  Get some salt in or you will have a Bad Time.

5. Cool from the skin in. If you didn’t freeze your boxers, you could still strap on an ice pack, wrapped dry ice, or frozen teething ring – Thalia recommends getting several, for a “full constellation” if you’re going to try it – or put on some aloe vera gel.  Sit next to a fan for a stronger effect.

NB that the ice pack is most helpful when trying to sleep in places that have no air conditioner.  Setting it on your back, neck, or stomach will (in my experience) allay the misery of the heat enough to help you get to sleep.

6.  Utilize the power of film suggestion. Watch, for example, The Day After Tomorrow.  As a film it’s rather rubbish, BUT it does get one into a kind of sympathetic mindset of expecting cold things (or appreciating being warm).  If you have kept this from your DVD or Blu-Ray player or Netflix queue, mayhaps go for the Hoth section of The Empire Strikes Back.  Even The Holiday or The Shining or other snowy movies might help.

7.  Go downstairs. Steer clear of attics and higher floors, which are crowded with heat demons, and head for a basement or storm cellar.  There might be different demons and bogeys in the basement, but at least they aren’t the warm variety.

8.  Get out of dodge. If your home is fundamentally unsuited to hot weather, hit the grocery store’s freezer section, the mall, the movie theater, the library, or another space that’s got corporate A/C behind it.  If that’s not part of the general infrastructure, head for the closest lake, the Antipodes, or (in extreme cases) the closest polar region.

9.  If all else fails, sit quietly for a while and ponder man’s ingratitude until your heart is quite chilled. The rest of your body will follow suit presently.

Good luck!  Share any other ideas you may have to beat the heat!

The Summer Game: a love story

If you have spent any amount of time with me this summer, I’ve probably told you about how much I love the Ann Arbor District Library’s Summer Game.

If you haven’t seen me…well, fortunately the internet furnishes the means to tell you all about it from a distance!
AADL Summer Game

The Summer Game is the brainchild of some genius, and since 2011 has been giving library members a more novel way to spend the summer than solely reading novels.  Instead of the traditional dictate to read a certain 5 or 10 books in summertime, it makes the library and all its resources a treasure hunt.  As Minesweeper taught Windows users how to click and right-click, the Summer Game teaches users – children, teens, adults – to use both the online catalog, and the library in general, more effectively.

AADL Badges

Gamemakers have prepared a series of colorful badges, with questions and clues to find the pun-tastic codes needed to earn them.  You learn facts about fallen empires, fashion trends, bears, NASA missions, and comic book heroes, to name a few, as you follow the clues to find which items in the catalog have a game code attached.  You get points for entering codes, and more points when you’ve entered all the codes for a particular badge.  You get points when you check items out, log your enjoyment of them each day, rate, and review them.   

You get points for exploring the library branches.  I live closest to Malletts Creek, but the Summer Game gives me a reason to look at what Traverwood and Westgate have to offer (including reservable rooms and Sweetwaters coffee).  There are codes at various library spots (the director’s office, the Friends of the Library shop, the Goblin game-within-the-game) and events (the Board of Trustees meeting, the Summer Bag sale, the classes in the secret lab, concerts, lectures, the A2 Comic Arts Festival).  Going to the Board meeting is how I learned that across the 5 branches, AADL hosted over 2000 events last year (a number that climbs every year)!

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One of the Goblin Game code boxes

You get codes by exploring Ann Arbor.  Each year features different free spaces, including some of Ann Arbor’s 150+ parks and nature areas.  Specific bits of signage include the words chosen for game codes.

You get points for visiting businesses the library has partnered with: Zingerman’s, Literati, The Ride, The Lunch Room, Food Gatherers.  The code’s in the window, if you prefer not to go in (or visit after they’re closed), but Zingerman’s Deli also took the step of preparing Flavor Passports this year, where you get codes for sampling some of their wares.  Twist my rubber arm, y’all.

You get badges for milestones – a bonus if you read, watch, or download something for 50 days of the summer, a bonus if you rate a certain number of items and write a review.

And once you’ve accrued all your points, you can redeem them for prizes: a fine forgiveness card, coasters, umbrellas, chocolate.  There’s something new each summer, thanks to the Friends of the Library.

When you don’t have the traditional summer vacation, or children who do, the Summer Game is a reminder of earlier leisurely days, a callback to childlike wonder and curiosity.  It’s a reminder to play (very literally the reason I was putting Legos together last night, for the first time in a decade).  It’s a nudge to try new books or movies or tools (like a sewing machine, mini theremin, or guitar), a nudge to make things, to learn, to break out of the bubble and go somewhere new – even if somewhere new isn’t very far away.

If played to the fullest extent possible, the AADL Summer Game makes for eager readers, Ann Arbor experts, contributing users, curious explorers, local consumers, and engaged citizens.

Let’s play!

AADL pennant

My favorite team 😀

Marvels of Midsummer

Having been summoned from daydreaming, ruminating, and general gathering of wool, I have my own corner of aestival excellence to share.  Here are some facets of life that have loomed large of late in the kaleidoscope of my imagination:

Lawns.  Is it odd to have such affection for a big patch of grass?  Very well, I shall be odd.  My particular lawn has been carefully cropped, groomed like an Oxford quad, but without the threat of severe displeasure from some vexed gardener should any dare to set foot upon it.  It is rich, opulent, luxurious the way carpets wish they could be – particularly when combined with

Rain!  Nothing like rain to break the summertime swelter, drops pelting the parking lot at work, the road home, one arm flung out the window as I head back.  Nothing like luxuriating in soaking wet grass, wriggling my toes among the drenched blades.  Nothing like turning my face to the sky, though the drops fall too hard to keep my eyes open in the face of them.

My commute.  I keep wanting to post about this and then stop because it Roundaboutseems bizarre and hypocritical; if I could, I’d teleport to and from work to save myself some time.  But then I’d miss passing the farms on Ann Arbor Road, with their cows and horses and hay bales.  I’d miss the fields and foliage down Prospect.  I’d miss my favorite roundabout (…yep, I’ve got a favorite roundabout) on Geddes, that takes me down a two-lane road so shadowed by trees that it feels like a secret.  Pairs well with…

Driving with the windows down.  Instead of being packed like a lemming in my shiny metal box, I like to let the wind blow my hair around, thrust my hand out into the buffeting air, and feel the bite of rain showers.  It reminds me that I’m real.  It also helps me appreciate another fact about the summer: there’s no better time of year to listen to some good old country songs (which means, evidently, songs that aren’t quite as old as I am…).  Maybe it’s me, but there’s something summery these songs capture that newer tunes just don’t quite catch…a quiet drawl of slower days, perhaps, or a lack of pretension.

Clouds.  Storms.  Melpomene’s right on: clouds are a thing fantastic, rippling and shifting as if alive.  The light that glimmers upon them, or the shadows looming within them, is marvelous.  Add in flashes of lightning and the distant rumbling of thunder and you have my idea of summer, right there.  My co-workers all wonder why I run outside precisely when they run in…

Fireflies.  For those less fond of lightning itself, there’s always the lightning bug.  The back lawn is a haven for them; for hours every evening, they flicker on and off, little green will-o-the-wisps, a creature of faerie my camera cannot capture.  A friend caught one, but it’s just as fun to watch them fly about without pursuing them.

Fireflies

[These fireflies were captured by Tsuneaki Hiramatsu.]

Crepes.  Turns out that they’re much easier to make than I had thought.  Keep the batter thin and the pan hot, and voila!  You have yourself a lovely little vehicle for all manner of cheese, meats, fruits, jam, or (of course) Nutella.

Adventures.  This is an awfully big umbrella.  New films, drinks, sushi, and chocolatiers fit under it.  The heptacycle and all seven people riding fit under it.  A lovely old quadrangle with selections from Brideshead Revisited fits under it.  So does Neil Gaiman and the theater waiting to hear him.  So does the art gallery in need of a good mocking.  So do Shakespeare, grass stains, and six-hour road trips.  So does the process of meeting a friend through a friend, and thus meeting more friends, and suddenly having more friends and three jars of homemade jam.  Get out your adventure umbrella, y’all, because that’s what summer’s for!