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Saturday, August 15, 2020

Conditioning the Air

I've probably mentioned once or twice over the years that I grew up poor.  Now not "we ate lard sandwiches and had holes in our shoes" poor, but definitely on the lower end of the economic scale.  This was something I was painfully aware of as a kid, where "painfully aware of" means that I was ashamed of it.  Now I could go down a rabbit hole on that one, and maybe I will one day, but for now, the thing that spurred this whole thought in my head was air conditioning.

As a side note, according to the United States government (via the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), July 2020 was the warmest month ever.  Reference HERE.  As in the warmest, on average, for the entire planet.  Having spent July 2020 doing a lot of work outside (I have some free time; see HERE), this fact does not surprise me one iota.  

Anyway, growing up my single-parent mother worked the night shift.  Trying to sleep during the day is tough; trying to sleep during the day when it's hotter than Daisy Fuentes, circa 1988, is nearly impossible.  The solution for my mother was a set of dark curtains and, during the summer, an actual window air conditioner (I'm going to say AC from now on, as I'm already tired of spelling out "air conditioning").  That was a luxury which was more or less a necessity for her.  The rest of us lived in a completely un-air-conditioned environment.  Granted that this was the 1970's and very early 1980's, but it was still hot in June, July & August while living in Scranton, Pennsylvania.  

We survived.

Now I'm not going to turn this into a "kids today are soft..." kind of rant, because this isn't about kids.  While the cost of air conditioners has gone down dramatically since I was young, your average 10-year-old in 2020 probably still doesn't have the means to buy their own AC unit.  The extent to which I think AC is over-used these days, well, that's squarely on the shoulders of the adults in the world.

These days, our home as two ductless and two window AC units.  My office, from which all of this spew originates, is not a room where we use AC.  That's on purpose, by the way.  While getting hot and sweaty isn't on my short-list of fun things to do, I just don't like being in a room with AC for an extended period of time.  To me, fresh air, even if it is on the hot side, is far better than the alternative.  I do have a pedestal fan running in the office now, but I'd like to think that is just moving around the fresh air, as opposed to "conditioning" it.  One of the ductless AC units is in our bedroom, and we do use it if the night is going to be on the warm side.  This is in part because of the fact that I have, for my entire life, been engaged a running cold war (no pun intended) with sleep, so there's no sense in handing the "can't sleep" side some extra ammunition.  

Back to the point at hand.  Maybe I truly am the crazy one, but I look at almost hermetically sealed homes with a bit of disbelief.  Windows are truly fine and functional, and there are few things better than a summer breeze and the smell of nature in the air.  The improvement of simply making it cooler inside seems like it comes at just too high of a cost when you chronically miss those things.

By the way, next year's breezes here should include the smell of the honeysuckle I planted and have been dutifully caring for since April.  

Free advice:  Open your windows and actually smell the fresh air.

And wear a mask when you go outside for Pete's sake.

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