Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Not 100

I am disappointed.

It did not reach the "century mark" yesterday nor did it today. The weather forecast promised 101 and 102 for Tuesday and Wednesday but officially it only reached 98 yesterday and today.

While that is disappointing, I am happy that I did not have to work outside in that. I cut the lawn on Saturday and nearly died. It took hours for my body to cool back down even after a cold shower and a dip in the pool.

At my home weather station, the temperature reached about 102 yesterday and 100 today. I'm not sure how accurate that is though.

Thank God for Air Conditioning. I am not sure I could go back to living without A/C.

I grew up without A/C and lived. I remember electric fans in the house and sticking to the sheets at night.

I remember the cruelest invention of all time: the oscillating fan. If you have never seen one of these, it was fan that moved left to right and then back again. You would wait for the fan to come your way only to have it cool you briefly and move on. It hit you on the way back too but that wasn't satisfying.

here it comes, here it comes, here it comes. ahh! there it goes there it goes there it goes.

The greatest fan we ever had was the "whole house fan" at my parents home. Think of a fan on steroids but in the attic. There was a light switch in the upstairs hallway that fired this baby up. Once you turned the switch on, it would start turning this giant fan in the attic and it would open louvers in the hall and then it would suck everything not nailed down into the opening in the ceiling. My father would spend hours adjusting windows so that the flow would move just right through out the house. He would close windows upstairs and open the slightly in the kitchen and fully open in the den with the TV.

We used to joke that toilet needed seat belts.

The greatest whole house fan/window configuration of all time was an arrangement my father called "Castel Gandolfo". Named for the Pope's summer residence in Italy, all of the windows of the house were closed except for the door in the kitchen. Next, the kitchen table would be strategically moved so that my fathers chair was directly in front of the open door cooling him as all the air in neighborhood rushed by, up into the turning attic fan and back out into the neighborhood. I'm surprise that weather patterns weren't changed by all that moving air.

Years from now scientist may find the true cause of the rash of tropical storms and hurricanes we are now having: Castel Gondalfo.

Eventually my parents broke down and bought window Air Conditioners. First it was the den where the TV was. Next it was their bedroom. One year the basement got a heat pump/AC unit. And so it went until it seemed like there were dozens of these things. Every summer they went in and every fall they came back out. Of course they were stored in the basement and most were installed in bedrooms so there was an annual awkward duck walk carrying an Air Conditioner up 4 flights of steps, dragging your younger brother.

This was followed by the A/C clean and jerk. You would have to pick the A/C unit from the floor and throw it into perfect position, half hanging out the window in one clean motion, balanced perfectly on the storm window housing. I always thought it would make an excellent Olympic event.

I also thought one day we were just going to accidentally throw one out the window and watch it plummet 3 stories with the cord dangling behind it until it crashed into the patio.

In twenty years of A/C units that never happened.

My father is also very meticulous. Each Air Conditioner had it own set of screws that were used each and every year to fasten down the adjustable ears on the side that kept all the hot air out. None of the screws matched but they each knew their hole in the wood. Each A/C unit also had it's own insulation strip that was stuffed between the open panes of glass on the double hung windows. Each year the same insulation went with the same A/C.

Eventually my parents went and installed central A/C and the annual ritual ceased. Castel Gandolfo shut down too and now it's 65 degrees in my parent's house all the time.

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