Sunday, July 24, 2005

Extreme Heat

I know that I have been complaining about the heat and trying to make light of it through humor. But with the recent events in Phoenix I just didn’t have the heart to see the humor in it.

18 people have died so far as a result of the extreme temperatures. Most of them died outside, alone, homeless. They lived and died nameless, faceless victims in society. It’s a shame that when the weather turns inclement that the homeless suffer the most. The summer storms are now upon us and hopefully that will bring the temperature down low enough for those living under the freeway overpasses, under the bushes and near the canals to have some relief.

I am thankful that I have a good job, a home for my family (with air conditioning) and overall a good life.

About two years ago Jill and I decided that we would involve Aimee in some sort of martial art. I was going to take her on a grand tour of all of the various dojo’s in Phoenix to show her all of the various styles of martial arts that she could practice. Secretly in my heart I was hoping that she would choose Aikido. I had studied Aikido for a year or so in my youth and thought that it was really a great art in that it focused on both the physical and spiritual side of the art. We didn’t make it past the first school. She saw the kid’s Aikido program at the Chandler Dojo and immediately fell in love with it. I could not get her to budge. She didn’t even want to look at another school or style of martial art. Since then she has progressed through three belts (which is fast considering that it takes 10 to 15 years of mastery in the traditional Japanese system) and is planning to stay through her black belt.

Last summer when the temperatures soared, we were waiting at a stop light at a freeway off ramp. I did my normal anti social behavior of avoiding eye contact with the homeless man flashing his “Please help, God bless” sign as he aimed it at all of the drivers waiting to go about their lives. Aimee saw this and shouted “Dad, roll down the window and give him something!” “Aimee, I don’t have any cash on me” I replied. She then asked me to reach in the center console between the driver’s and passenger’s seat. I was surprised to see that there was a large ziplock bag with a bottle of water, a granola bar, some handi-wipes and various sundries. "We made a kit to give out to homeless people in Aikido class" Aimee proudly stated. In a daze I flagged the man over and handed him the bag. He appreciatively took it. A great feeling of satisfaction washed over me. For the first time in a long time I felt good about helping someone. I was not bitter or angry about saying no because I had the preconceived notion that the homeless person was going to buy alcohol or drugs with what handout that I gave him.

We gave him what he needed and for that he was thankful.

I felt a little verklempt at that moment knowing that my daughter turned out to be a caring person. That a I had involved her in something that was not only beneficial for herself but that taught her to think about and care for others.

We the fortunate should all be so selfless and caring of others.

How you can help:

The Phoenix Rescue Mission provides water, shelter and food to the homeless and is in need of donations of bottled water this summer.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

The Cicada's Song

The scorpion has long chased the hunter and his dog from the night sky

As the temperatures soar the cicadas “sing” and the hot air resonates both day and night with their intense buzzing.

The cicadas have long been a mystery for me. I had first heard them as a boy when visiting my family in Mexicali and on trips to San Felipe, Mexico.

To hear the cicadas is an amazing experience. It seems as if they are in every tree and bush yet go unseen. The Mesquite, Palo Verde and Palms are filled with them. All is quiet at first, then like some unwritten agreement all start up in harmony all at once. BBBBBBZZZZZZZZZZZZ! Like a frayed power line they buzz until a loud noise startles them, then they silence upon the impending danger.

Once I drove through the summer night enjoying the coolness of the air as an impending thunderstorm neared. My headlights flared as they caught the flurry of something ahead.

WHACK! I am hit in the head by something hard and solid. I swerve the Tahoe off the road and turn on the dome light inside the truck. I look on the floorboard to see a gigantic green “fly” buzzing at my feet. A cicada had just hit me in the temple. I rush home to show Aimee, but she is already asleep. When we both wake the cicada is dead, probably as result of the impact to my skull. She is unimpressed and asks me to throw it out.

Native American legend has it that 2 weeks after the cicadas sing that the rains will come.

The humidity is beginning to rise – the dark clouds build on the horizon.

Once again the cicadas have let us know that the monsoons approach.

Friday, July 15, 2005


With the temperatures hitting record highs in the valley soaring around the 115° mark very little escapes the wrath of the heat.

If the temperatures are over 100° out side the temps inside a car can easily reach 160° + (this is not a joke)

Consequently any living being left in a car will perish within minutes (seriously, there are multiple deaths of children and pets every year in Phoenix)

Anything not made out of pig iron will melt.

Over the years we have seen crayons turn into rainbow puddles of wax, audio CDs will bake and shrinky-dink down to the size of a silver dollar.

Aimee made the mistake of leaving a plastic pen in the car yesterday