Thursday, September 02, 2010

2 SEP 10: The Long Hottest Summer

Thursday was a change-of-pace day, in terms of my exercise schedule. Too bad for me -- I missed out on a morning run, on the coolest morning in three months. I might have made it back home without my T-shirt completely soaked....

The morning low in Columbus was 66 degrees F. - nice enough to step outside on the front porch after breakfast for some morning reading. Well, something else had to happen first. Morning dusting - as plastic chairs on the porch can pick up a lot of dirt, when they sit unoccupied for months.

But the afternoon high was 93 - and that meant turning on the home air conditioner for the first time in five days. Highs in the eighties have been a welcome change. And with no one stealing my air conditioner, it's almost like it had a "stay-cation."

The air conditioner has been on a lot this summer -- and the area's best-known meteorologist determined Wednesday there was good reason for it. Kurt Schmitz reports 2010 has been the hottest summer in modern Columbus history. And you should be thankful he declared summer over three weeks early....

People in the weather business count "summer" as the months of June, July and August. During those months, Kurt Schmitz says Columbus had an average temperature of 84.4 degrees. When the evening newscasts run out of their stock annual heat-related stories, you know it's a serious heat wave.

The 2010 heat wave even topped the summer of 1943, when Columbus weather was computed downtown and not at the airport. I'm sure downtown was a hot area in 1943 - but of course, it cooled off in the nineties as stores moved away.

I used to oversee "factoids" for CNN Headline News, so I found Kurt Schmitz's report on summer weather a little confusing. He sometimes refers to the average temperature, then compares it to the "mean" temperature. It turns out they're the same -- and if 85.4 degrees broke a record for the hottest August ever in Columbus, that's pretty mean by any definition.

Kurt Schmitz adds since 1990, Columbus has endured five of its seven hottest summers. Uh-oh -- is that evidence of global warming? Can I do what Derek Kinkade did, and bake cookies in my car more often to keep the kitchen cool?

A man in my church congregation would tell you this summer is absolutely NOT evidence of global warming. He says the whole thing is a hoax. No, he's not a scientist - but I know he's read several of Glenn Beck's books.

Since we've had such a long hot summer, does Georgia Power really need higher electric rates? The Public Service Commission is holding hearings around the state on a proposal to increase bills by an average ten dollars per month. If the P.S.C. approves this, people should pay with ten-dollar bills that have spent days inside pockets of sweaty gym shorts.

Meanwhile, Alabama Power warned Wednesday of an identity theft ploy involving electric bills. As WLTZ put it, "scam artists" are calling customers claiming they're behind in payments and need to disclose credit card numbers. Really now - is this an art? Isn't that a little like calling political promise-making an art?

The Southern Company does NOT ask for your credit card number over the phone - and in fact, Georgia Power won't let you pay bills with credit cards at all. I'm not sure why the electric company has that rule. Columbus Water Works accepts credit cards - perhaps to remind you tap water can be stored in plastic jugs.

Here's hoping you have a comfortable day - and hopefully Wednesday's other news items won't make you hot under the collar:

+ The River City Report revealed at least 17 registered sex offenders live in the Crystal Valley Estates mobile home park. We especially mention this for the benefit of WVRK-FM "Rock 103," as it plans its next bikini contest.

+ Columbus Police reported a flasher has been exposing himself to Columbus High School athletes, even as they travel on buses along Interstate 185. Let's make this clear once and for all - you're only supposed to paint school initials on your body ABOVE the waist.

+ Kia confirmed it will add a second shift in October, to begin production of the Hyundai Santa Fe. I've heard some people say the U.S. doesn't have any manufacturing jobs anymore. So what are the Kia employees in West Point doing - selling each other hamburgers in the parking lot?

+ Huddle House held a job fair for a new Fort Benning restaurant. Yet for some reason, it was held at the Doubletree Hotel on Sidney Simons Boulevard. Has the Huddle House manager on Victory Drive told his bosses about that extended-stay hotel next door?

+ The Salvation Army opened a new thrift store on Manchester Expressway, next to Golden Donuts. If that sweater is a little too big on you, buy it anyway - then get a dozen glazed doughnuts to make it fit right.

+ Columbus Specialty Hospital celebrated the grand opening of an expansion. I didn't realize this hospital leased two floors of The Medical Center. I'd say it operates independently of Columbus Regional - but they probably share the operating rooms.

+ Instant Message to Itha's Beauty Salon on Buena Vista Road: Sorry to bother you again - but a reader noticed your window had the words "No Pet's Allowed" on it. That reader wondered if there are other misspellings. For instance, did you mean "saloon"?

BURKARD'S BEST BETS: Gas for $2.41 a gallon at Raceway on Victory Drive.... FREE long-distance calls through the end of 2010 if you add the Google Voice phone call app to your computer.... and nightclubs playing "September" by Earth Wind and Fire a lot over the next four weeks....

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