Feature The dog days of summer

Survival Handbook

Pour water into radiator after the engine has cooled. Take care not to spill water on any other engine part.

Delmer, a mechanic at Gaston’s Automotive over on Basse, worked on Oldsmobiles exclusively for 17 years, so he knows how to handle trouble. He gave the Current some advice on what to do when your car’s overheating. A car can cross the Arizona desert, says Delmer, so it’s not just heat screwing with your engine. There’s probably a leak, a clog, some low coolant levels or something tragically expensive. By the time your car is overheating and clattering like an old man with bad gas, and the “idiot light” (as Delmer calls the temperature and oil gauges and check-engine lights) is red, and Mt. Saint Helens is roiling up from under your hood, and you’re losing power, and the AC is blowing hot breath on your sticky, panicked forehead ... well, you’re pretty much dead in the water. But here’re some tidbits to salvage the situation:

Don’t try to drive your car another foot; you’ll ruin something. Turn on the heater to pull some of the heat off the engine.

Look for a safe haven.

Stay off the brake; coast to the right side of the road, if possible. If you get trapped in the middle lane of Loop 410, remember: Now is not the time for a Chinese fire drill. Stay in the car, put on your emergency blinkers, look apologetically at all the angry people passing you by in their working ’mobiles, and try not to gnaw off your arm while waiting for Highway Patrol to come rescue you.

Give up. Call AAA.
Do a little troubleshooting.

When you’re out of your broken hot-box, don’t take the radiator pressure cap (big, screwable, usually silver cap) or coolant reservoir cap off for like an hour. When hot, it projectile vomits up molten liquid, so turn off the car and let it cool. Then pour some water into the radiator (and only there; if you douse other hot parts of the engine, they could crack!) and hope for the best. Maybe you have a low oil level. Check the dipstick. Wrap a wet cloth around the fuel line.

Give up, call a wrecker (that’s why you have AAA, no?).

If you abandon your car, expect to never see it again. The city will tow it, and charge you almost the value of your beater to reclaim it from the Growden Pound.

- Keli Dailey

The secret to keeping paletas ice-cold on the car ride home? The paleteríafría.

This procedure, technically called a paleteríafría, can be performed in a matter of minutes, and requires no special equipment.

Proceed to El Paraíso Original paletería at 1934 Fredericksburg Road (737-8101).

Use a plastic bin (provided) to select a dozen or more fruit and ice-cream bars in a variety of flavors. (Recommended: pecan, orchata, coconut, watermelon.) The unit price goes down significantly if you buy in bulk, i.e. one for 50 cents; 12 for $5; 50 for $17.50.

Ask the staff for a cube of dry ice if they don’t automatically offer it (depending on the staff, it will either be complimentary or 50 cents for 1 lb.).

Salivate as they pack the paletas and dry ice into a cardboard box. Ask them to leave one out for the drive home. (Highly recommended: pecan.)

Place your box of paletas on the seat next to you, unwrap your driving paleta, and turn the key.

- Elaine Wolff

Dive into an indoor pool to cool off without getting burned.

The San Antonio and Palo Alto Natatoriums are two indoor public pools that provide state-of-the-art locker-room and pool facilities, free from the tyranny of the sun, but there is a small fee to play.

The SA Natatorium is open noon-6:45p.m Monday-Saturday. Cost: $1.50 for 18 and older and 50 cents for children under 18. The pool is 4 feet deep with a 13-foot-deep diving pool. Locker rooms provide restrooms, showers, and changing areas; bring a lock to reserve a locker. Sunlight filters through the rafters providing natural light for swimmers, sans the sunburn.

Palo Alto is open 1-4p.m. Monday-Saturday, and 7:30-9p.m. Tuesday and Thursday. The pool begins at five feet deep and ends with a 13-foot-deep diving area. Two dollars for adults and $1 for 16 and under. Anyone under 16 must be accompanied by an adult. Host to many major swim meets, this ‘national class’ competition pool is worth taking a dip in.

For a complete list of local public pools, check out our website at Sacurrent.com.

- Christina Martinez


You know it’s mid-summer in San Antonio when stepping out into the blinding light of day actually makes you flinch, when the heat is so crushing you momentarily stop breathing. You need an arsenal of weapons to combat this enemy — here’s what’s in my survival kit:

Skip the hat.

Summer’s floppy fisherman and busted-straw cowboy options are a bit depressing. And while hats shade your hair and ears from the sun, they also trap heat close to your head. Instead, let’s bring back the parasol. An umbrella specifically made for sun protection (“para” meaning shield and “sol” meaning sun), the parasol was invented in China, used in Dionysian rituals by Greek priestesses, listed as one of Buddhism’s eight auspicious symbols and referenced in the poems of Emily Dickinson. A surprisingly chic high-tech choice is available at Coolibar.com.

White doesn’t make right.

You’ll need to pick your poison — skin cancer or heatstroke — because their preventative factions are warring. Conventional wisdom has always suggested light-colored clothes in loose, breatheable cotton or linen. Skin-cancer researchers disagree, advocating thick, tightly woven synthetics and dark colors that repel UV rays. Until new sun-protection fabrics like Solumbra work their way through FDA regulations — and their design evolves past utilitarian athletic wear — slather on the SPF and stick with the old-school cotton.

Herban relief

Health and beauty products containing mint or eucalyptus are bracing, cucumber and aloe vera are soothing. Aveda’s Blue Oil, made with peppermint and blue chamomile, comes in a small vial with a rollerball tip, so you can apply it to pressure points. The minty smell is satisfyingly clean — almost antiseptic. Cosmetics company Too Faced makes Frozen Lotion, a moisturizing mousse for skin with aloe and ginseng — it has the strangest crackly, chilly feeling — fabulous for scorched shoulders. Icy, cooling leg savers have been around forever; the classic not-to-be-missed is The Body Shop’s Cooling Leg Gel with peppermint.

Freeze your skivvies.

Thwart those high energy costs by keeping the shades drawn and running around the house in your skivvies like a 3-year-old. Take lots of naps under slow-moving ceiling fans, on a down or feather pillow in a cotton case. If you’re the type who can never find the cool spot, the Chillow (available at Drugstore.com) slips into your pillowcase and, using water, dissipates heat away from you all night. When your sheets come out of the dryer, stick them in the freezer for an hour or two to get crisp, cold cotton to sleep on later. This works for underwear, too - so don’t be alarmed the next time you find boxers by the vodka.

- Leigh Baldwin


San Antonio Zoo
3903 N. St. Mary’s
9am-6pm (summer hours)

When parents mull their summer child-entertainment options, water parks and the zoo naturally rise to the top. But, however appealing the zoo might sound in theory, a few minutes wilting in the 100-degree August heat might prompt you to involuntarily curse the zebras and elephants you walked too far to see.

Fortunately, the San Antonio Zoo offers an option which will please your child while also enabling you to stave off sunburns and dehydration. Kronkosky’s Tiny Tot Nature Spot is the zoo’s little-known haven, a secret shared in conspiratorial whispers by summer-fatigued parents. Right off the bat, the Nature Spot offers you a respite from the sun with an aquarium that allows kids to get outrageously close to their favorite fish. In the indoor Discovery House, you’ll find barefoot toddlers working their plastic fishing rods in a tiny pond, catching toy fish with the aid of magnetic hooks. Kids can also crawl through cave-like tunnels and pretend that they work at the zoo (you’d be surprised how much excitement your pre-schooler will derive from working a cash register and scanning your imaginary purchase).

Once the air-conditioning has restored your equilibrium, you can venture outside for an up-close-and-personal visit with a sheep, take pictures of your child on a mammoth tortoise shell, and maybe even plant some seeds in the garden known as My Backyard.

But all these adventures are merely opening acts for the main attraction, the sandy riverbank that allows toddlers to safely romp in knee-high water, irrigate water wheels, and scoop sand into buckets. Bring your child’s bathing suit and beach towel, and be prepared for the possibility that they’ll want to stay past closing time.

- Gilbert Garcia

Stay hydrated by drinking from your Nalgene water bottle.

It’s great to see water has become the cool kid next door — according to Wikipedia.org, worldwide sales are increasing 7-10 percent each year, and in 2004, 41 billion gallons exchanged hands, compared to an estimated 710 million gallons of Coke in 2005.

But booming bottled-water sales have created a distressing environmental issue: Making bottles to meet America’s demand alone requires 1.5 million barrels of oil annually, enough to fuel some 100,000 cars for a year.

Since most portable water is consumed away from home, the opportunities for recycling narrow; more than 80 percent of bottles created are landfilled and incinerated. And as demand for bottled water increases, it must be transported long distances, which burns more gas and oil.

At up to $2.50 per liter ($10 per gallon), bottled water costs more than gasoline in the U.S., money that doesn’t begin to pay for the associated environmental costs. So it’s time to buy a Nalgene bottle and refill it rather than tossing empties. Bonus: If you’ve got water with you all day, chances are you’re gonna drink it. Get a carbon filter — a Brita filter pitcher or a PUR sink attachment — to remove chlorine and other impurities, and you can fill up at home.

Whole Earth Provision Company carries a bright array of jewel-toned Nalgene bottles, but they can also be found at many retailers, including Whole Foods and Target.

- Nicole Chavez

For apple and mint agua fresca, peel, quarter and core a half pound of apples.

Beer bongs may dominate the beverage news hereabouts, but sucked-down suds are far from the only options of a sultry, summer day. This imbiber usually tends to tout bone-dry rosés and crisp white wines as dog-day antidotes, with low-alcohol examples such as riesling being especially effective. There are times, though when no alcohol at all is just what’s called for. When bottled, flavored waters don’t cut it, and they often don’t, here’s a suggestion: “fresh” waters.

This being San Antonio, we’ve all seen aguas frescas in glass barriles sitting on the counter at our favorite frutería. Sandía usually stands out, due to its rosy color, and golden-hued melon blended with water and served over ice is equally appealing. But there are some unexpected combinations that also intrigue, and we thought you should know about them.

Blend with four cups water, 10 mint leaves, and sugar.
Agua de pepino (cucumber). Amazingly refreshing.

Peel three medium cucumbers and cut into thick slices.

Place one-third in a blender with a half-cup of water. Puree. Add the remaining cucumber and continue until smooth and frothy.

Find a big pitcher, put a coarse sieve over it and pour the cucumber mixture through. (You can omit the sieve if you don’t mind a thicker drink.)

Add six cups of water, along with a quarter cup each of freshly squeezed lime juice and sugar. Stir. Taste.

Add more lime juice, sugar, and/or water to taste.

A little bit of fresh mint blended into the cucumber works fine, too. Or you can simply garnish with mint after you’ve poured your drink over ice cubes in a tall glass.

Enjoy your agua fresca with a friend!
Orange. With a twist.

Take two thin-skinned oranges, (Valencias, for instance), scrub, and cut into quarters.

Juice two additional oranges and juice them.

Put the orange quarters, the juice, and a cup of water in a blender. Add a quarter cup of sugar and a teaspoon of vanilla (preferably Mexican). Blend thoroughly. Add as much water as the blender will hold and blend some more.

Taste. Add more sugar and vanilla (almost certainly more vanilla) to taste.

Pour through a sieve into a pitcher and add even more water if the strength of the mixture permits.

There should be very small particles of peel and enough vanilla to taste but not dominate.

Serve over ice. This is definitely not just for breakfast anymore.

Apple and mint.

From the creative mind of Mexican artist and cookbook author Martha Chapa.

Peel a generous half-pound of apples, quarter, core, and blend with four cups of water, 10 mint leaves, and sugar to taste.

Pour through a sieve into a pitcher.

Serve over ice with additional mint leaves as garnish.

- Ron Bechtol


The month of August, thick, portentous and unrelenting, is nigh upon us, and with it descends full-blast the execrable scourge so many have fled to avoid: the merciless, swirling Texas sun. Some, doubtless, are this minute feverishly devising plans of attack and contingency — swimming-pool memberships; pricey last-minute excursions to cooler environs; oversize, frilly parasols. It is not to these that I speak. Nay, I seek audience with you, the brave, simple soul, whose scheming extends no further than the living room and a teeming Netflix queue. You, who are even now soldered to the couch, Pringles tube in fist, brazenly daring the scoundrel Heat to kick down your door and get hisself a spirited whompin’ via your arsenal of billy-club remote controls. You, who recognize a prime chance for self-imposed quarantine when you see one. To you, then, one after my own heart, I offer 30 summer-y films for 30 days — your own personal cinematic bomb shelter. Let the suckers ski; duck and cover, baby.

Day 1. The Goonies (1985) Possibly the best kids-in-summer-themed movie ever.

Day 2. Rear Window (1954) Open a pane or two as you grapple with the gnawing mystery of this beautifully shot classic: How in blazes could Jimmy Stewart’s purportedly heterosexual protagonist be uninterested in Grace Kelly?

Day 3. Jaws (1975) Just in case you’re jealous of those goobers who bolted for the coast.

Day 4. Wet Hot American Summer (2001) Bladder-testing, kick-in-the-pants hilarious summer-camp send-up from the dudes behind “Stella.”

Day 5. The Sandlot (1993) Just about flawless, contextually.

Day 6. Dog Day Afternoon (1975) Get your “screamin’ Pacino” fix right here, in the (mostly) true-life story of a late-summer Brooklyn-bank holdup.

Day 7. Addams Family Values (1993) Who’d’a thunk the second in this series would not only be palatable, but provide a gleefully spot-on lampoon of summer-camp culture?

Day 8. Dogtown and Z-Boys (2001) This engaging documentary probes the beginnings of skate culture and leaves you feeling `sun-`baked and happy.

Day 9. The Mosquito Coast (1986) Entertaining left-field yarn starring Harrison Ford as a genius-cum-gradual-nutbag who moves his family to sweltering Central America to build an ice factory.

Day 10. Caddyshack (1980) Summer at Bushwood. Baby Ruth. No explanation needed.

Day 11. Blue Crush (2002) Better-than-you-think Kate Bosworth vehicle about surfer girls.

Day 12. Fargo (1996) Proof that there’s worse than Texas heat. North Dakota winters, f’r’instance. Oh, and murder.

Day 13. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) Possibly the most hardcore of the series, what with the DIY heart extractions and all.

Day 14. Summer School (1987) The faux-Chainsaw Massacre scene? Priceless.

Day 15. The Haunting (1963) Because you need one good scare in your summer, and this just might be the best — ever. (Wait for it ...)

Day 16. Clash of the Titans (1981) One of the original big-budget effects extravaganzas, courtesy of the matchless Ray Harryhausen. (Plus: Harry Hamlin in a toga. Silly.)

Day 17. Double feature I: `The` Little Shop of Horrors (1960) & (1986) Jack Nicholson or Bill Murray? Why decide? Get ’em both.

Day 18. The Big Lebowski (1998) An easy choice, perhaps, but few flicks capture the inert spirit of summer better than this Coen romp.

Day 19. Do the Right Thing (1989) On “the hottest day of the summer,” throw a little social commentary into your mix.

Day 20. Dazed and Confused (1993) Another somewhat obvious choice, yes, but a necessary one.

Day 21. 12 Angry Men (1957) There’s a whole lotta sweatin’, and it’s a great film. Watch it, or Jack Warden’ll kick your teeth in.

Day 22. Blue Chips (1994) Billy (The Exorcist) Friedkin directed Shaquille O’Neal and Nick Nolte in this oft-forgotten morality play on the pitfalls of summer recruiting.

Day 23. Double feature II: Cape Fear (1962) & (1991) Another choice you don’t have to make: Get Roberts De Niro AND Mitchum, and happily sweat pure fear.

Day 24. The Sting (1973) A little rest from the aforementioned heavies — relax with one of the downright coolest, most enjoyable tales ever put to celluloid.

Day 25. Magnolia (1999) Again, a make-you-feel-better-by-comparison selection: If you thought Texas weather was unpredictable ...

Day 26. All the President’s Men (1976) Nixon resigned August 8, 1974. There’s your summer connection. Now, make it a point to watch this thoroughly sublime political thriller. If you’ve seen it, see it again. AGAIN.

Day 27. Grease (1978) Hahahahaha. No, just kidding. Rather, try Arthur Penn’s Bonnie and Clyde (1967) — with a stunning Faye Dunaway and an impotent (talk about casting against type) Warren Beatty.

Day 28. One Crazy Summer (1986) Silly John Cusack ’80s deal, but gotta pay respects (though truly, its one-year predecessor Better Off Dead is far superior — try to sneak that one instead. I won’t look).

Day 29. Chinatown (1974) If you prefer your Faye a little more freaky, and don’t mind watching Nicholson lose a nostril en route to getting/losing the girl, check out this (ostensibly) drought-themed standard.

Day 30. Rushmore (1998) Not specifically summer-y, but just such a virtually perfect, completely satisfying film that it makes little sense not to end your summer with it. Now, rub your eyes and go enjoy your life.

- Brian Villalobos

Protect your dog’s nose and ear-tips from harmful UV rays with a dab of sunscreen.

Never leave your pet in a parked car — it’s against the law.

In just a matter of moments, a car’s temperature can reach 120 degrees, causing heat exhaustion, brain damage, heat stroke, and even death.

A cracked window won’t help. San Antonio has a law stating that if someone sees an animal looking distressed in a vehicle, a police officer has the right to break the window and rescue the pet.

Provide shade and water.

Outdoor pets need a place to escape the scorching sun and prevent their paws from being burned on hot asphalt or concrete. And don’t forget to keep the water bowl full of fresh, cool H2O.

Watch for heat exhaustion and stroke symptoms.

Heavy panting, glazed eyes, unsteadiness, a rapid pulse, vomiting, a staggering gait, or a deep red or purple tongue means it’s time to move your pet to the shade and apply cool (not cold) water to the body. Allow the animal to drink small amounts of water or lick an ice cube. Apply cold towels or ice packets to your pet’s head, chest, and neck only. Take your pet to the veterinarian immediately.

Keep your animals well-groomed, but don’t give them a full shave.

Shaving Buster’s hair could leave him vulnerable to a sunburn. But don’t worry, his coat acts as cooling insulation for hot temperatures.

Apply sunscreen to your pet’s nose and ear-tips.

Animals with light-colored noses and fur are the most susceptible to skin cancer. When a pet is going to spend extended periods outside, it’s a good idea to use sun protection.

Administer heartworm medication.

You’re not the only one getting multiple itchy bumps after spending time outside. Mosquitoes can transfer heartworm disease, which can be fatal to animals. Ask your veterinarian if your pet should take this medicine.

Just say ‘No’ to the garden.

Green thumbs may be more prevalent during the hotter months, but garden chemicals can be deadly if ingested, as can more than 700 plants that produce toxic substances. Check out the Humane Society’s website, Hsus.org, for a list of dangerous plants.

- Angela Chambers


Is your fan spinning clockwise? If so, it’s on the winter setting and it isn’t helping to cool your room.

Turn fan off and locate small switch on the cylinder below the fan blades. Flip switch to change the rotation.

Turn fan back on, ensure it’s spinning counter-clockwise, and enjoy the breeze.

- Josh Baugh


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