First, this article requires some personal background: I had meningitis as a kid; as a teen I went to a lot of rock concerts with zero hearing protection; then, a few years ago, had a vestibular infection and/or Meniere’s Disease (even the experts at Harvard’s Mass Eye and Ear couldn’t decide) on my right side.
The net:net, without all the personal whining, is that I’ve ended up with some fairly significant nerve deafness, much worse on the right side. While it doesn’t much affect my day-to-day life, over the past several years I’ve found that I just don’t use the phone like I used to. Don’t like it much at all. No fidelity to the voices, they sound extremely flat, have to ask people to repeat, etc. etc. …… so I generally avoid the phone if I can. I know, I know, I should probably go get a hearing aid or something but I hate the idea – and besides (and more important) – why? I can carry on conversations just fine (unless there’s a ton of background noise), can still enjoy music, and honestly, most of the sound out there in the world I’d just as soon not hear.
This is my third winter away from New England and my second one here in lovely Venice, California. I’m proud to say I’ve braved dozens of brutally cold New England winters. I’ve never considered myself a “cold baby.”
After spending almost two years here, though, I am officially a “cold baby.” When it drops into the low 50s here at night, I notice it. I feel cold. I don’t like it. I whine like an old lady. I want to bring a jacket or turn on the heat a little bit in the car. I never would have done this just a couple years ago. As a Maine schoolkid, I would have laughed at the notion that I’d ever feel cold at such temps. I recently reminisced with a friend about the miles we would walk as kids in brutally cold weather (because we had no other option.) It really had to be arctic for us to feel uncomfortably cold.
A few people have responded to my recent whining with remarks such as, “living in warmer climates thins your blood.”
So I got to thinking – is climate acclimation a psychological process or is there a physiological component to it as well? Is the “blood thinning” thing an old wives’ tale, or is there really something to it? (I’m not knocking old wives’ tales here – some certainly turn out to be true, such as my grandma’s eat your colors rule)
And here’s what I learned: no, it doesn’t thin your blood. Recently, Doctor Ashok Kumar told Mary Ann Roser at the Austin Statesman that: “the blood viscosity, the technical term for the thickness, doesn’t change” and goes on to suggest that the myth might have started because high altitude can thicken your blood.
I don’t think this necessarily obviates that there may be other physiological changes, but it sounds like the simple answer is: you just get used to it (or unused to it.) I certainly have acclimated. It happens fast, I guess.
Guys – are you kidding me? Now, my grandma used to tell us that we had to “get all our colors” when eating – and bushels of recent science has proven her correct. But the DNC’s three-color rule for convention food is silly at best – first of all, it feeds into all the stereotypes about the neoliberal nanny state mentality; and second, most people are probably unaware of the health benefits and will see it as some sort of aesthetic ideal.