Tag Archives: heat wave

Lame Adventure 383: Heat and Delirium

“It could be better but it’s not terrible.”

Approaching terrible.

Approaching terrible.

This recent observation by my colleague at The Grind, Godsend, about some holes we drilled through wood, could double as a single sentence summary statement about my entire life thus far. There’s always room for improvement, but if I become road kill under the wheels of a beer truck tomorrow, my 28,382,400+ minutes walking this planet have not all been entirely misspent excluding the fear, agony and humiliation I’d surely suffer were I to find myself flattened by a ten ton vehicle. Many of the nearly 16,293,600 minutes that I’ve lived in New York City have been okay, and thankfully, relatively pain-free. This excludes the emotional suffering incurred when my go-to market, Fairway, stopped carrying my all-time favorite summertime confection, chocolate dipped frozen bananas that they sold for two bucks Back In The Day. Oh, how I miss those rock hard bananas that, come to think of it, could also double as instant justice in lieu of a baseball bat. If A Mystical Being were to suddenly pop into my sacred space right now and offered me one of the following three choices:

A Mystical Being: You may resume committing your favorite consensual lewd acts to your heart’s content with Daffodil the Merciless, you may stuff yourself royally with chocolate dipped frozen bananas from Fairway for $3 each (price adjusted for inflation), or you may have your name fast tracked in the Publisher’s Clearinghouse Win $5000 for Life Sweepstakes and Pass On That Haul to Anyone of Your Choosing After You’re Dead, but here’s the fine print: the likelihood that you’ll be the actual winner is nil. What is your choice? Think this through. Choose wisely.

Hit the pause button. Mystical Beings, favorite lewd acts, frozen bananas, inane win-less contests, but back to favorite lewd acts: would I really prefer to lick a piece of frozen fruit on a stick over a willing cruel vixen? These days the sad but true answer is: yes. Where is this going, am I suffering a meltdown? Yes, I am! The mercury over here has been hovering close to 90 at midnight, and feeling closer to 100 during the day, with humid air that is thick and breeze-free. What do I think about this week-long heat wave?

Terrible.

Terrible.

Me: It is terrible and it could be better.

Exceeding terrible.

Going in the wrong direction from better.

I take no pleasure living in Hell. My energy is depleted. I now have three strategically placed fans blasting in my sweltering hovel* at all times — coincidentally inspiring me to rename my digs Fan Central Station. I rather like dry heat, but this humidity that engulfs me when I am walking two feet outside, making me leak two pints of perspiration that leave my clothes dripping wet and sticking to me like glue — not the most attractive image when clinging to runaway waist flab — has got to go. I hate it. Hate it, hate it, hate it. It impacts the order of my thoughts. Fantasizing about frozen fruit my market stopped carrying a decade ago should never, ever take priority in my mind over real or imagined naked fun. This is an outrage!

Meanwhile, I am now salivating over what frozen chocolate dipped blueberries might taste like? I wonder if Trader Joe’s carries anything like that?

*For anyone new to Lame Adventures, my modest abode is in a century old Upper West Side brownstone  is not wired for air conditioning. In July and August of every year it is still 1913 in my rent stabilized garret.

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Lame Adventure 319: Baking in the Apple

It was very hot and humid all weekend, just the way I loathe it.  I don’t dare use my oven.  I’m eating so much rabbit food I’m nearing the point of scratching myself behind my ear with my foot.

Salad days.

This is the situation: I reside in an electrical inclusion brownstone that used to exclude air conditioning for all.  In recent years my building’s management began rewiring vacated apartments so that incoming tenants can have air conditioning.  They also pay obscenely higher rent than me. My sanctum sanctorum was wired in 1917 for little more than a kerosene lamp, a battery powered kazoo and public access TV stations that I never watch.  In years past, I frequently had companions I could crash with on extremely hot and humid nights.  My Current Companion has air conditioning and a roommate that is as immobile a fixture as a refrigerator so basically until September, when temperatures cool, I’m stuck suffering solo in my sweat lodge.  My Current Companion did meet me for dinner in midtown – and little else:

Current Companion (reasonable tone):  We don’t have to have sex every time we hang out you know.

Me (morbid tone):  We don’t?

Current Companion:  Sometimes it’s just nice to talk.

Me:  Talk about what, us not having sex?

One thing that was discussed was my fan situation, and I’m not referring to you, my seven loyal readers.  Shortly after I returned from my West Coast getaway, my beloved sixteen-year-old Vornado fan, which I admit had been showing signs of death for nearly a year, died.  None of my fan whispering techniques worked in my attempts to revive it.  These techniques included everything short of me doing a fan dance — shaking it gently, coaxing the blades with my steel letter opener (to avoid slicing off a digit I might need to use later) or turning the off/on button on slowly.  The hum the motor used to make was silent.  Frustrated I cried:

Me:  Please work!

My Beloved Vornado Fan:  I’m dead bitch!  I ain’t never gonna work again!  Don’t you get it?  You need to replace me!

Put that way, I went online and researched Vornado fans because I am brand loyal.  I also happen to have a backup Vornado, but it’s not an air circulator (Vornado’s preferred term for their fans) that could work the entirety of my garret.

Little workhorse Vornado fan that’s multidirectional and can blast air 65 feet.

During my research I discovered that Vornado now makes a tower fan.  When I was visiting my sister, Dovima, she had an oscillating tower fan that felt pretty good, but it was not a Vornado.  The Vornado tower fan doesn’t oscillate:

Vornado Tower Fan:  You don’t need no stinking oscillation!

The Vornado has a wide cooling zone so it blasts a constant span of airflow.  That works for me.  I did further research and I learned that my local Bed Bath and Beyond had the Vornado tower fan in stock.  It was selling for $99.99, but I created my 437th G-mail account to score a 20% off in-store coupon.  Including New York’s 8.875% sales tax the total came to $87.09.

The challenge was getting it home.  The box seemed to be taller than me, if I stood three and a half feet high but it was light, weighing around fifteen pounds.  I knew it was going to be bulky and I considered asking my companion to come uptown to help me get it home, but I knew what she would say:

Current Companion: Oh. My. God. You are so stupid! Just pay seven dollars and put it in a cab!  Promise me that you won’t carry it home yourself.  You’ll pull something or collapse.  Take a taxi!

Yet, I’d rather invest those seven shekels in a before noon movie screening at my local multiplex and then slip into another screening unnoticed since all women over forty have the invisibility gene.  I have yet to see Brave!

Realizing that it would behoove me to avoid this discussion with my companion, I didn’t seek her advice, I kept my seven clams pocketed and I decided to carry my ten-foot-tall-seeming Vornado tower fan home on a city bus.  I just made sure that all the senior citizens boarded ahead of me, but when a young woman tried to hop on before me and my tree-sized parcel, I flashed her my “not gonna happen” look and breathed a little fire.  She got the message.

Upon exiting the bus, I still had to carry my tower fan a short distance.

New Vornado tower fan resting outside my building. I am offscreen inhaling oxygen out of a tank.

Once inside my building, there was the Everest aspect of the journey, trekking up three flights of stairs without banging it constantly into the walls or against the doors of fellow tenants.

Where’s a sherpa when I need one?

If I encountered anyone annoying enough to ask me what was in my box emblazoned with pictures of the fan within, I was prepared to quote the old Woody Allen line, “Earrings.”  Fortunately, I made it into my apartment without bickering with anyone or straining anything.

New Vornado tower fan standing proudly inside my sanctum sanctorum. Offscreen, I am lying in a fetal position on the floor.

I set up my new tower fan quickly.  It has a remote control that is a nice accessory but it fails to work if you point it at yourself instead.

Warning: pointing at self will not activate tower air circulator.

Now, ten days later, as I currently bake, unlike others on the Atlantic seaboard at least I have electricity in my room full of steamy air blowing all around me.  Yet, fall and hot food and the return of hot companionship cannot come soon enough.

World class hot air circulators.

Lame Adventure 316: Home is Where the Heat is

A note to my devoted readership – and all seven of you know exactly who you are, if I seem to have had no adventures of the lame variety during my recent vacation in the San Francisco Bay Area, you are sorely mistaken.  I was in the throes of MacBook hardware-related technical difficulties, but now all is well again in Lame Adventures-land.  Actually I exaggerate a tad for I did return to the Big Apple in a heat wave and to a 19th century era garret that is not wired for air conditioning unless I fork over $600 to my landlady.  Since I lack the necessary six hundred clams for this home improvement, I am pounding the fluids and only making tai chi-style movements to avoid suffering heat stroke or dropping dead with an inelegant thud.  Fortunately, my personal sweat lodge has a northern exposure so it is easily three degrees cooler within these baking walls than the temperature outside.

The temperature outside when I returned home from work on Thursday.

Traveling back in time about a week to wonderful warm weather sans humidity, I was in San Rafael in the company of BatPat, my best friend from college, her husband, Mick, and their daughter, Hepburn.  We visited downtown San Rafael where there’s an excellent farmer’s market on Thursday nights with live music, a rock climbing wall, beautiful fresh fruit and veggies, delicious smelling Kettle Corn as well as more exotic foodstuffs.  We walked through it and quickly grew hungry as bears.  Hepburn suggested we continue our stroll and scarf some of the exotic eats, but BatPat declared:

BatPat:  I want to sit at a table.

Mick and I trampled each other in agreement.

We headed over to Sol Food, an oasis of excellent modestly priced Puerto Rican cuisine where a live band playing outside serenades the patrons within.

House of yum!

Sol Food’s live band — these guys are great!

If they opened a branch in my neighborhood, Manhattan’s Upper West Side, it would be one of those hot spots with a long line stretching down the street and around the block since we’re huge fans of both good food and waiting in mile long queues over here.  At the same time, the neighborhood crank would smack them with a lawsuit over the musicians playing music outdoors so a petition on their behalf would also be circulating.

Back in San Rafael’s Sol Food, the atmosphere inside is also packed with flavor.

Instruments displayed out of reach to discourage patrons from showing off the conga playing skills they lack.

Dual purpose green plantain — food and napkin weight.

Hepburn in foreground, hustle and bustle in background.

Our order, lucky number 38.

BatPat and I ordered the same dish, Pollo al Horno, baked chicken thighs seasoned with garlic and oregano, served with rice and beans, organic salad and fried plantains.

Pollo al Horno – simple but delicious.

The pink beans stewed with herbs and Spanish olives were great.

Mick had the Bistec Encebollardo i.e., the steak with the Mofongo, a mashed fried plantain seasoned with garlic and olive oil.

Bistec Encebollardo – pronunciation that eludes me.

BatPat and I thought the regular plantain, which is sweeter, had more character.

Hepburn, the family contrarian, ordered the Mofongo Relleno de Camarones, a.k.a. to this gringo-ette as tomato sauce-topped garlic prawns with the mashed plantains and fresh avocado.  It looked scrumptious but tomato sauce is on my Do Not Eat Ever Or You Will Die Painfully Even Faster list.  My gastroenterologist will not allow anything acidic to enter my fragile intestines, so I just stared at her dish and drooled shamelessly.

Mofongo Relleno de Camarones – oh, to be able to eat something like this again!

Everyone raved about the Limonada Fresca, fresh limeade made on site.

Chug a lug … not!

Since I suffer the trinity of gastrointestinal ills – esophagitis, gastritis and hiatal hernia, that I keep at bay via an insanely strict diet to avoid going back on meds and feeding that evil beast, Big Pharma, I had to settle for the House Agua.

Whoop-dee-do-less House Agua.

Sensational hot sauce, or so I’ve been told.

Overall being in the company of some of my most treasured friends on the entire planet and chowing down tasty food in a delightful atmosphere while listening to melodic live music, was one of those times that owns placement in my memory bank in The Good Old Days file.

We returned to the car parked in a public parking lot behind a Walgreen’s feeling mellow.

Mick observed:

Mick:  Hey, did any of you notice that dead guy lying in the bushes?

Did he make an inelegant thud?

No one got too close, but it was possible he had only passed out.  Hepburn whipped out her iPhone and called 9-1-1.  BatPat sensitively reasoned:

BatPat:  At least he chose to go near the recycling bins.

Lame Adventure 215: Riding the Rails

Truth in advertising.

As any veteran New York City subway rider knows, whenever a train packed with a horde of passengers pulls into a station, but one car mysteriously has both space and seats, that’s a neon red flag if it’s a hot day in the middle of summer.  That space and those empty seats are the obvious giveaway that the air conditioning in that particular car is dead on arrival.  When the doors open, the riders eager to escape the sauna of the sweltering subway platform into a cool train enter collectively hopeful.  Even I have done this, and I’ve been riding those rails so long, I still remember what it was like when air-con on subway trains was not the norm.

To put it succinctly, it was rolling hell.

So like lambs to the slaughter we enter a train that feels like a barbecue pit.  There are loud shouts and soft murmurs of contempt for this situation.  The more Type A types (myself included) are mute.  We simply clamor to open the doors in-between cars that will lead us to the chill in the air we crave in the next car, even if it means breaking subway rules.  Passengers are not supposed to go from one car into another via those doors, but in this case, many of us cannot flout the rules quick enough.  Hey, we’re veteran subway riders and we also happen to have sweat trickling down our backs

This car was particularly cruel for the doors between cars were locked!  That generated more frustration, and I announced to a fellow steamed rider:

Me:  This is a health hazard! I’m about to spontaneously combust!

She chuckled at me in shared sympathy and then proceeded to take a step backward.  We were in effect being held hostage in this tube of stagnant hot air until the next stop when we could file out and make a beeline for the oasis of the next car.  As I charged out the door, I warned an overheated business-guy in a suit that was about to enter:

Me:  It’s Dante’s Inferno in there!

He got the message.

Overheated Business-guy in Suit:  I’m following you!

He raced behind me and entered the next car that offered the welcome cool air we sought.  He and I exchanged the New Yorker nod of “thanks” and “you’re welcome” (I’m old school, I don’t say, “no problem”) and then returned to our own focus and had nothing further to do with each other.  Also very New Yorker-like.

Anonymous passenger editorial comment to the MTA.

Lame Adventure 211: Garden Wars

In a futile attempt to escape the steam bath conditions currently smothering the Big Apple, I was walking down my Upper West Side block on the shady side of the street where it was easily two degrees cooler.  As I passed a garden in a co-op building opposite my humble brownstone, I noticed a sign planted in the foliage extolling we’re number one style bragging rights.  This garden had been honored with a block beautification award by the block association.

Blue Ribbon winner.

After looking at the sign, I took a longer look at the victory garden.

Thrill of victory garden

It looked cheesy to me with the four cement urns better suited for a cemetery, but possibly this plot also serves as the burial spot for a rich tenant’s cat, Four-paws. Then I wondered

Me:  Am I being snarky about this because I’m baking inside my skin right now, or is it because my building’s garden lost?

I crossed the street and inspected my building’s losing garden.

Agony of defeat garden

Granted, it’s looking pretty droopy these days, but it is boiling outside.  I’m not trying to make excuses, although the entire city is approximately ten degrees hotter than the basement in Hell right now.  Coincidentally, the architect for that basement is also the sadistic mastermind behind every underground subway platform in Gotham.  His primary source of inspiration was his oven’s broiler.  But I digress … When the rose bushes bloom in my building’s garden, they can look rather lovely.

I wondered if my building even competed in this contest?  Did we win second or third prize and were so offended we didn’t win first that we acted like sore losers and didn’t plant our sign?  Or, were we shunned because of that semi-toasted lump of green pine in the back right corner?

Can someone bring the sunblock over here?

This semi-toasted lump of green pine was my building’s Christmas tree circa 2009.  Back then it was a spindly pile of needles and twigs sitting on the radiator cover in the vestibule.  It was nearly overcome with the weight of ornaments and tinsel.  Milton called it the Charlie Brown tree but he also thought it was adorable.  When the holidays were over, the people that manage my building planted it in the garden.  It’s proven to be a hardy little tree, having survived its second winter, and now it’s weathering its second summer.

Buried in a January blizzard.

Trying to stand upright again in April.

This has prompted me to predict that in about fifty to a hundred years it could be the tree holding court in Rockefeller Center.  Yet, I don’t think it’s a Norway Spruce, so if it does hang in there for fifty to a hundred more years, it just might be the year-long Christmas tree in my building’s garden – and probably why my building’s garden is destined to forever lose the block beautification award.

Block Beautification Award Judges:  Those blockheads with that eyesore Christmas tree in the garden are once again trying for the block beautification award!  Unbelievable!

What I think my building deserves far more is the block association’s equivalent to the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award.  Our garden might be eclectic but at least it has personality – and no creepy cemetery urns!

Lame Adventure 197: Temperature Wars

Much of the country is in a heat wave.

Channeling my inner Bill Cunningham, interesting sun bonnet from behind.

On Thursday, temperatures in Gotham City reached a high of 96, but the heat index – whatever that is — the “real feel” temperature (?) made it feel more like 102.  All I knew was that it felt hot as a kiln outside.

My go-to source of weather news, the sidewalk on Greenwich Street.

Thursday was also the day when I inconveniently left my quart-size Cold Brew iced tea bottle at home, but I did remember to bring a new box of tea.  I realized this snafu as I was hotfooting my way up to the subway station, running late as usual.  There was no time to return to my sanctum sanctorum to retrieve this vessel I value on the level of my glasses, cell phone and camera, nor was there time to purchase an overpriced inferior iced tea on my way into work.  The most practical solution for me to savor a caffeine fix would have been to sit at my desk and chew on one of my new tea bags, preferably with the tag hanging out of my pie-hole, but I resisted pursuing that course of desperate action and was in a predominantly foul mood until my 1 pm feeding.

My boss, Elsbeth, had a dental appointment and arrived around eleven.  Outside my window I noticed that the usually bickering pigeons I call Israel and Palestine perched on the air conditioner have called a temporary truce and are actually sharing the space in peace.

Israel and Palestine making nice.

As seen in the above photo, Israel does not even have the energy to stand, or possibly it was further weighted by the humidity.  It is at this same time that Elsbeth starts fiddling with the thermostat, one of her favorite pastimes all year round.  I hear her repeatedly turning buttons on and off.  She shifts the gage from 72 to 85 announcing:

Elsbeth:  I’m cold.

Instantly, I can feel my body temperature soar.

Me (screaming inside my head):  Christ on a cross, woman, it’s the hottest day of the fucking year, open your window!

Me (saying in a helpful cheery tone):  Just open your window, Boss.

Elsbeth (epiphany):  That’s a good idea!

She returns to her office and opens her window.  I hurdle my desk and slap that gage back down to 72.  A few minutes later I have to visit the Accounting department three floors away.  When I return, I see the gage has been raised to 79.

Hands off!

I emit my trademark monosyllabic sound effect that’s a cross between a gasp, a sigh, and an acid-reflux induced retch.

My colleague, Ling, is looking flushed.  She’s wearing a tank top and her hair is puddled atop her head.  Chilly Elsbeth is wearing cargo pants and a long sleeve tunic.  I must remember to suggest she bring her fleece or a wool blanket.

Ling (definitive): It feels hot in here.

This is due to the heat wafting in through Elsbeth’s open window.  I give up the fight and announce that I have to run an errand.  I step outside into the soup and invest 26 cents into the purchase of a single banana, my contribution to reviving the stagnant economy.

Even the Dominique Strauss Kahn stalkers in the press abandoned their posts across the street from his lair, it was that hot. They completely missed DSK standing in his doorway clad only in flip flops asking for maid service.