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Weather Weary

(Posted by guest blogger Valerie Strauss)

The greater Washington area is supposed to be a region of highly creative people, but come August, the whines are always the same:

"It's so hot."

"It's sooooo miserable outside."

"It's so disgusting that I don't know why I live here."

If that is your particular complaint, then I don't know either. It has been some time-- say hundreds of years--that people have noticed it is hot here during the summer.

It's not news, though television stations and newspapers cover the heat as if it was. We get tips on staying cool (as if they aren't self-evident). We get examples of exactly how hot it is; I can't wait to see a T-bone grilled on the Capitol steps. My personal favorites are the charming images of people opening fire hydrants to cool off, which wastes water and creates a potential fire hazard.

It does seem practical to warn the rationally challenged about leaving living things in closed spaces without access to air, though one presumes that someone who would do that might ignore the warnings anyway.

There is one thing we can immediately do about our interaction with weather: Stop whining.

It's hot, but we knew it would be. It's hot, but plenty of places are hotter. It's hot, but it won't be for long. So let's change the subject.

By Valerie Strauss |  August 7, 2007; 12:27 PM ET
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Wow, you really put a lot of thought into that, Val. Whay don't you take take the rest of this week and all of next week off. OK?

Posted by: Go back to whatever it is that you do | August 7, 2007 12:43 PM

Whining about the weather isn't creative, but whining about the whining about the weather is creative?

Posted by: KK | August 7, 2007 12:44 PM

Thousands of people in this area are transient. For those of us from cooler climes we reserve the right to whine about the heat to help us cope until we get out of this overcrowded armpit.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 7, 2007 1:01 PM

Don't a lot of fire hydrants get opened by the fire department during particularly hot weather? I seem to recall that happening at least once in recent years.

And some people honestly don't realize that drinking caffeinated beverages is dangerous in hot weather, and can dehydrate you quicker. I'd rather see a boring set of tips on the news than have tourists passing out on the metro.

Plus, reporting where the city cooling centers are can be helpful to the people who don't have AC.

Posted by: y halo thar | August 7, 2007 1:15 PM

I'm supposed to write something for a blog and I only have 20 mins before deadline. I know: Stop Whining! Brilliant. Maybe I can string this out to make a whole post out of it.

This stuff wouldn't come within 10 feet of page Z32 of a paper with an editor. There should be some filtering before it goes up here.

Posted by: Iwishforaneditor | August 7, 2007 1:31 PM

Well, hey, it gives us something to talk about. And it makes us feel impressive and superhuman - sure, it's eleventy billion degrees outside, but I made it work and my shirt isn't even that wrinkled! Rawr!

Posted by: h3 | August 7, 2007 1:32 PM

You ought to be grateful that you work and live in some pleasant air conditioned buildings, Ms. Strauss. There are some D.C. area residents who do not have air conditioning, and the cooling centers may be difficult to travel to. I do not begrudge some children cooling off near a fire hydrant. Perhaps The Post might also report on a number of Washington, D.C. public schools that do not have air conditioners. Students are expected to attend class in some pretty dreadful conditions.

Posted by: Jeff | August 7, 2007 1:59 PM


Since you are an education reporter and since Marc usually devotes Mondays to schools, does it not make sense to write about schools rather than the weather??

It would certainly wake up the crowd.

Posted by: takebackourschools | August 7, 2007 2:18 PM

I'm with you Valerie, too many whiners. Me, I've been looking forward to this since February. And I guess the conditions 100 years ago were better? And people managed to survive. Probably with a lot less whining.

Posted by: Stick | August 7, 2007 2:18 PM

You had to know that the result of this piece would be people whining about you whining about them whining about the weather. That's good stuff.

Posted by: Jake | August 7, 2007 2:25 PM

Are you sure they're wasting water and not just testing to make sure the hydrants are still working?

Come on, Marc is the master at stringing it all together. Surely an Raw Fisher reader could have seen that one.

Posted by: Shawn | August 7, 2007 2:29 PM

I know a lot of those whiners are tourists.

You know, the people from out of town who dress badly, don't know which side of the Metro escalators to stand on, and who spend a lot of money here in the city.

Why don't you advise them to take their tourist dollars where it's not so hot?

Posted by: cab91 | August 7, 2007 2:46 PM

Marc and you both seem to have a lot of venom for all those traveling and spending their tourism dollars on the city. I don't know of any place else in the country that recieves such a large portion of its revenue from tourism, and at the same time has utter dislike for the people providing the money.

Posted by: Jon | August 7, 2007 5:55 PM

I think most of the above commentators are missing the point. Go ahead and complain about how hot it is if it makes you somehow feel better, but I agree that it is not news. There are a few more important things going on in DC and the world at large that deserve more attention.

Posted by: md | August 7, 2007 9:50 PM

Pooh! It's hot and it's August. I'll bet someone like me complained about it a hundred years ago, too. I feel a hundred years old in this heat. The power grid is taking a hit this week. How did everyone deal with this weather in the days before short skirts and short pants? Oh, yeah. There weren't as many people and there were more trees. The creeks weren't as polluted and they felt safer jumping in the ponds. Take a look around. There's more asphalt and more heat.

Posted by: cc | August 7, 2007 11:10 PM

It is actually kinda fun to have it this hot. When I go out to the back parking lot for a smoke break I can watch the tires melt.

Posted by: SoMD | August 8, 2007 9:55 AM

Nothing about *why* it's so hot; is by chance a high-pressure zone parked overhead? Is this just a slight variation of the usual yearly cycle? La Nina happening maybe? Some insight behind events, I guess that's too much to ask.

Posted by: WhyGuy | August 8, 2007 10:32 AM

Heat is a serious issue because it can kill if we don't take precautions. And clearly, not everyone has access to the same resources to stay cool.

Having said that, this witty column is simply pointing out tongue in cheek how we go to extremes in marveling about the fact that it's hot. When it's summer!

Posted by: Big Mac | August 8, 2007 10:45 AM

I think the heat is getting to you just like everyone else.

Posted by: David | August 8, 2007 12:06 PM

Y'all are whiners. Whiners all.

Here's a piece I wrote about how we talk about the weather:

Posted by: Lindemann | August 8, 2007 10:51 PM

When heat reaches an intensity that can bend steel (see the 8/9/07 Post article about the heat's consequences for the Metro) the weather is indeed news.

And excessive heat---which record-breaking temps are---is a serious public health threat. Disadvantaged groups, who often have fewer options for beating the heat, are at the greatest risk and can use the tips they can get from the local news. I'm pretty appalled you decided to brand such folks "rationally challenged."

Posted by: red line | August 9, 2007 9:47 AM

I think you back-seat commenters would be better off getting your own blogs and getting up off of her back.

Posted by: Jimmie | August 10, 2007 10:50 PM

Love this column- voiced my heat- addled thoughts beautifully!

I've lived in DC for 8 years now, and while I haven't gotten over the uncomfortable August weather, I haven't stopped enjoying our gorgeous and occasionally lengthy springs either. And I sure wish people would stop complaining and offer each other some water or something a little less banal.

Posted by: Ab | August 23, 2007 4:37 PM

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