Steam & Stress

Header photo by Olaf Tausch

I actually found it quite troubling to learn that saunas protect middle-aged men against heart attacks.

Apparently the evidence is irrefutable. It’s at a climate-change level of certainty – the Finns have been right all along about their culture built around a box of heat. Regularly sweating in the sauna can, for a time, forestall the reaper.

As a man well into the prime heart-attack years, I am suddenly faced with a discouraging and stressful choice between going to sit in a stifling room for a time nearly every single day with a bunch of strangers – other drippy men in towels struggling to breathe the same super heated moist air – or an early death.

As Jack Benny replied when told by a mugger, “Your money or your life!”, the answer is … “I’m thinking.”

And for Trail Baboons this will immediately remind you of early Keillor – the strange saga of The Finn Who Would Not Sauna.

You can only choose one – excessive heat or painful cold. Which will it be?

26 thoughts on “Steam & Stress”

  1. Well, I did choose to move to Minnesota…

    Interesting question as I can think of it 2 ways. I prefer the cold because there are lots of lovely things involved in overcoming it- woolen anything, hot chocolate and yes, saunas spring to mind.

    But when it comes to what I’d actually prefer to endure, I am having a tough time choosing. The fact that severe frostbite gets treated in the burn unit is not helping me….

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  2. Good morning. I have lived in Minnesota for a long time and, therefore, I am better aquainted painful cold than I am with excessive heat. I can put up with painful cold conditions. However, i have had my fill of facing extremely cold conditions. I have no plans tp move to a place where it is warmer. Never-the-less, after many years of living with extremely cold winters, if I decided to move, I might choose a place with excessive heat over one with painful cold.

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  3. I gotta go with painful cold – at least (as MIG points out) there are things like woolens and hot cocoa to take the bite out of the cold. I start to melt at about 80 degrees, so even 90 feels stifling to me. I would not survive in a desert climate, I am built for snow and cold.

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  4. I’d much rather be a little too cool than a little too hot. However, if we’re talking extremes, where I have to actually be outside in the weather, I think I have to go with extreme heat. You rarely hear of people losing body parts to weather related heat; you may succumb to lethargy, lose all motivation, and feel melted, but when temperature moderates, you still have your fingers and toes. All in all, I think I might find someplace with seasonal changes but non-dramatic temperature swings quite lovely.

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  5. I am going to waffle on this one and say “It depends on the humidity”. As long as it isn’t humid, I can tolerate both. It was a real shock when we left Winnipeg and moved to southern Indiana in 1986. Winnipeg is relatively dry (although I find it more humid now that I live in the West), and Indiana was the most humid place I had ever lived. It was a real relief to move to western ND, even though the winters were so much colder than they were in Indiana. I also found southern Iowa, near Pella, terribly hot and humid in the summer. I lived there for a year when I did my psychology internship at a VA hospital. There were large sycamore trees outside my office window, and sometimes it was so hot that I would see squirrels draped over the branches, looking exhausted with the heat, seemingly unable to move.

    The southwest corner of ND, where I live, is often referred to as the Banana Belt of ND, since it is usually 20 degrees warmer here in the winter than it is in Grand Forks or Fargo. I am so spoiled with dry air that I find southern Minnesota too humid now.

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        1. It’s more like being that old sock the dog likes to chew.

          The food is actually quite good.

          But it is mighty damp and somewhat smelly-especially in August. As folks there say, built on a swamp and run on the same principal.

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  6. With the caveat that those extremes are climate related and are survivable, I will go with the heat. It is more frequently said, “It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity. It’s a dry heat”. Cold is cold, weather [sic] dry or wet.

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  7. Temperatures of either extreme are painful to me. Like Anna, I don’t tolerate temperatures over 90º F very well – at least not if the humidity is high. In the desert I do better although I’m still not crazy about extreme heat.

    I tolerate cold much better, but if I had my druthers would prefer temperatures north of zero degrees. Friends from Washington state are sending lovely photos of cherry trees in full bloom right now, that would suit me just fine. Climate would most definitely be an important consideration if we were ever to relocate.

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  8. This is a toughie. My ability to get much done grinds to a halt at either extreme. I try to keep my house chilly to save energy but below a certain point, I don’t want to move out from under some covers. It’s hard even to hold a book as the hand or hands responsible for holding it get so cold. In the summer, I try to not use too much A/C and when too hot, I just want to sleep or at least lie motionless.
    At this point in the winter, though, extreme heat is looking rather attractive.

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  9. Oh, I haven’t heard that tale for a long time, Dale!
    I’m yust a dishrag ven it’s too hot, so I guess I’ll have to go vith Cold, since dere’s someting I can do about it. Husband built us a sauna in de corner uf de basement, dontcha know, back in… oh, I tink it vas de year uf ’94.

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  10. I tolerate heat better than cold, as a rule. Heat can be coped with – ice cream, cold drinks, a run through the sprinkler. Cold, to me, is much more dangerous and anxiety-provoking. Will the car start? Will the boiler keep doing its job? Are there ice dams forming on the roof? Will that bus come before my toes turn to blocks of ice? What in heaven’s name will the heat bill look like this month? Will I fall and break a bone on the ice-coated sidewalk? Give me summer heat, please.

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  11. 10 days of each is all you get . 10 hot days 10 cold days 10 perfect days every year. when you want to complain realize its part of the deal and you just burned one of the inevitable 10 and there are only 9 more to go.
    coy are the fish that do amazingly well in all water conditions. if the water doesnt freeze solid they will make it. their motabilism slowa a little. if the water gets real hot in the little coy pond in the sun they will make it and find the cool spot under the shady corner.
    i have been known to be oblivius to the temp. sitting in the car with the heater blasting and my mind a million miles away a passenger will pipe up and tell me to turn off the damned heat. i will and then 15 minutes later the same passenger will ask t have it turned back on again (ok i did that on purpose) i dont mind either cold or hot more than the average schmoe. it amazes me how much relief a shade tree brings on a 100 degree day. a breeze is all it takes to make it pleasant. i see the sahara guys in their desert attire and realize speedos are not the answer for iguanas. one or the other ill take hot and a little iced tea if you please

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