Friday, August 13, 2010

13 AUG 10: The Heat of the Moment

If you're looking for signs of fall, Columbus had several Thursday. Students began moving into campus housing at Columbus State University. A high school had its first pre-season football scrimmage. And I actually shivered for a moment as I walked through a shopping mall -- even though it was from the air conditioning on my sweaty shirt.

But a walk outside quickly reminded you summer isn't over. The temperature in Columbus climbed to 96 degrees F. for the 24th day in a row. If students can be taught to follow that example, every Muscogee County school will make adequate yearly progress next year.

The heat index in Columbus actually topped 100, thanks to a good dose of humidity. It reminds me of a Kansas City news anchor's line of long ago - at this time of year, you're feeling plenty of "relative humility."

Muscogee County schools are taking no chances with the heat. Band and football practices were not allowed to start Thursday until 6:00 p.m. After all, too much sweat on a brass tuba will leave unsightly rust stains.

WRBL made heat precautions its top news story Thursday night. In a way that surprised me - because after 24 consecutive days of 96-degree weather, the heat really isn't "news" anymore.

But anyway: Carver High School Coach Dell McGee said the temperature determines whether his players practice with full pads, or simply shorts and a helmet. McGee also has "water girls" in position around the practice field. At Columbus High School, I think these girls are called the swimming team.

A Fort Benning captain revealed soldiers cool their body temperature during training by immersing their arms in ice water. That's a good idea for anyone to try. Trouble is, most guys pull their arms out too soon - clutching those beer cans.

But sometimes, things simply become too hot to handle. The Columbus Public Library had to close two hours early Wednesday night, because an air conditioning unit had a leak. Apparently the manual explaining how to fix the leak was checked out....

My car can be too hot to handle at times, too. You know it's too warm when your car seat is scalding to touch - and it's cloth.

But I received some comforting news about the summer heat this week. My August Georgia Power bill is less than 70 dollars. There, you see - not having central air conditioning can pay big dividends.

On top of that, the latest Columbus Water Works bill shows I've only used one "unit" of water in the last two months. A unit on the bill is defined as 748 gallons, or 100 cubic feet. And at this time of year, a cubic foot is easy to figure - by refilling ice cube trays in the freezer.

The good news is that a break in the heat wave finally may come to Columbus this weekend. The forecast has a good chance for rain, with temperatures possibly staying below 90. Wow - I might be able to drive around town with the car air conditioning only on level one.

The Columbus area could use some rain, as the latest federal report indicates we're back in a moderate drought. Of course, the Convention and Visitors Bureau is looking ahead to 2012 - concerned people might be able to walk on the whitewater rafting course, instead of using rafts.

Let's see if people were talking about anything else besides the weather Thursday....

+ A polling firm connected with the Republican party reported Rep. Sanford Bishop has only a six percentage point lead over Mike Keown. If this is accurate, we probably can forget about President Obama personally welcoming Third Brigade soldiers home to Fort Benning.

+ Victoryland reopened for greyhound racing, but Quincy's 777 casino with electronic bingo machines remained closed. Owner Milton McGregor said that provides jobs for about 75 people, but leaves hundreds more out of work. At least the unemployed workers still can have an income -- betting two dollars at a time.

+ That first pre-season football scrimmage found Kendrick High School battling to a 6-6 tie with Albany. The old cliche says a tie "is like kissing your sister." So what's a tie in the pre-season like - Mom kissing you at bedtime?

+ Atlanta third baseman Chipper Jones was ruled out for the rest of the baseball season. Jones injured his leg Tuesday night in Houston - leaving him worried about a torn A.C.L. in October, when he wanted to tear apart A.L. pitchers.

+ Instant Message to Ledger-Enquirer business writer Tony Adams: How many angry calls have you received in recent weeks? I mean, how many people think the newspaper hired you after the City Manager suspended you from running the Parks and Recreation Department?

COMING NEXT WEEK: Our first-ever Big Burger Blowout! Which one impresses us most?....

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