Tuesday, July 21, 2009

What’s Hot

Iraq in the summer time tests the will.

It has been a mild summer so far. There have only been a few days where the temperatures have risen over 130°. Most days it gets into the upper one-teens and when we actually notice the heat enough to comment on it, it’s a sign that the mercury is over 120°. So how hot is that?

At 120°, when the wind blows at a steady five miles per hour, it gives the impression of being in front of a constant hair dryer. I haven’t needed a hair dryer in about twenty years when I wore a Don Johnson mullet; you know, “business up front, party in the back.”

It’s so hot here that we have no cold water. Ever. Our water tanks sit outside so they can be filled each week. The water is warm even in the morning because the temperatures rarely go below 85°. The midday sun gets that water over 100° and then when we turn on the faucet or shower after the gym the initial burst is scalding. Have you ever brushed your teeth with hot water?

It’s so hot here that sometimes metal is too hot to touch. The other Sunday I was doing a crossword puzzle outside at 1030 hours. I put my pen down to get something, got sidetracked for a few minutes and when I came back the pen was cooking. If I am outside for too long my pistol grip gets hot.

It’s so hot here that if you breathe through your nose on a hot, hot day it burns the inside of your nostrils.

It’s so hot here that if you are outside for a few minutes you clothes get warm to the touch.

It’s so hot here that I can hand wash my gym shorts and shirt, hang them up outside in the sun, and be ready to wear them again in twenty minutes.

We combat the heat with water; clear, clean, cool water. There are liters of it in every building. I can go through three to four bottles a day. We also have air conditioning, without which we’d all be extremely miserable. My office, room, and truck are all air conditioned. The MRAPs are air conditioned. The gym, dining facility, and coffee shop are all temperature controlled for comfort.

It’s possible to survive in these conditions; just look at the Iraqis. Arabs have existed and lived in this place for thousands of years. They farm this land, channel water for thousands of miles via canals, and manage the heat as they have learned from their ancestors. And while I cannot fathom why they choose to live here, I suppose after one “lake effect” winter in Syracuse, NY they would wonder the same about us.


Darci said...

Rich - On the Fourth of July, when it was in the mid-60s here, Josh reminded me that where he was a year before that it was double the temperature. I can only imagine. We look forward to welcoming you home soon, perhaps with a sweatshirt in hand, in case our temps are too frigid for you. See you soon! :)

Rich Brown said...

It hit 140* in the sun today. Do you know what 140* feels like? Stand in front of your oven!

Rich Brown said...

It hit 140* in the sun today. Do you know what 140* feels like? Stand in front of your oven!