Heat wave

31 August 2007 | san francisco, weather | No Comments

When you ask someone to come up with a list of things they love about San Francisco, the weather usually comes up. With good reason: it’s usually mild while still enjoying plenty of light (if you’re on the east side of the city, granted), the winters are more wet than frigid, making the local flora green and lush, and summer here is like spring in other places. (There’s a relevant quote from Mark Twain, but you’ll have to search for it yourself.)

This week, the words “heat wave” have been thrown around. While that still means something in the rest of the Bay, I take this to mean that I’m still wearing pants instead of shorts, but not bringing a jacket with me when I won’t be getting home until after dark. I hate to sound provincial, but my memories of Chicago heat waves involve hesitatingly wearing my black shirts when they’re the only clean shirts left, because of the amount of sweat they’ll soak up, only to have it quickly evaporate, leaving behind white rings from the salt. Ick. But I get it, and I understand. If you live in one environment for enough time, you become use to those borders, limits and parameters, and anything exceeding them starts looking offensive or threatening [1].

Yesterday I came across Jason D-‘s Metroblogging post about a weird smell that was being smelt in much of the city. And by “weird” I mean “nasty” because when I caught wind of it, I thought someone had taken a shit somewhere on the street (but I didn’t think much about it at the time, because this was in the Upper Haight, just sayin’). But no, it was more prevalent than that, and a commenter pointed out that it was due to a combination of the heat and some sewer boxes. And that makes me think: what, part of our sewage system can’t stand up to some warm weather? Reading that just reinforced my opinion that this city’s infrastructure is not set up to handle anything but the regular kiddie-ride weather we usually enjoy. A lot of the housing here is cheaply constructed, with no thought given to things like insulation (hello, thinner walls and hearing your neighbors) and weather-proofed windows (hello, sounds of public transit). Only some places come with air conditioning. A couple apartments back, getting a toilet leak fixed took longer than it should have because the builders took shortcuts in making the base fastenings. The plumber said that was actually pretty common out here, cutting costs and not building to code for quick turn-arounds. How reassuring.

Honestly, while it might be an earthquake that does this city in, it might very well be making us deal with real summers or any other climate shift that does it. No wonder Greenpeace is out in force locally; global warming could literally stink up the place, if it doesn’t submerse it underwater. Someday in the future, I’ll be able to tell my nephews, or maybe their kids, that I lived in San Francisco once. Back when it was nice.

[1] This could quickly become an analogy about social dynamics on the internet, but we don’t need to go there.

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