Dec 1, 2004

May you live in interesting times

You've heard the old Chinese curse, no doubt.

I was thinking this morning, while I stood freezing, waiting for the bathroom heater to warm up, that we live in interesting times.

You'll have to forgive me; my humour engine, much like my truck's engine, doesn't run well until it's warm, and I've got the choke pulled out all the way right now, so it's gonna be a little rough for a while.

We live in a George Jetson era. I woke up this morning to a cold house simply because I am lazy. I have one of those marvelous (and I mean MARVELOUS) electronic thermostats that controls my central A/C and heat. I program it for four different temperature changes over a 24 hour period for M-F, and can do the same for the weekend. Granted, when I installed this wonder of modern technology, I had quite a go of it. My old mobile home, gott rest it's sagging soul, had the old-style rotator wheel thermostat, and I disliked it. Working as I did, at the time, at a home improvement whorehouse, I came in contact with all sorts of nifty rubbish, including programmable electronic thermostats. Bought one, brought it home, and installed it in about five seconds flat. It worked from the onset, I programmed it, and for the next six or seven years I lived in thermostatically controlled comfort.

Keep in mind that the insulation in that place was so bad that a temperature drop outside of twenty degrees (not uncommon in LA) could easily drop the ambient room temperature inside the house a good fifteen degrees, and you see why it was necessary.

So, when we moved into our new domocile, I installed a new electronic thermostat, to replace the 30 year old box that was on the wall. It only took me about three hours of bashing and cursing. So, I lost hope in myself, finished the install, got it working, and didn't change the temperature settings from the factory ones.

This shall henceforth be referred to as Mistake Number 1.

The factory settings for summer were quite adequate. The temp stayed nice and moderate during the day, and at night dropped a few degrees, for sleeping comfort. In the mornings it would be cool, and after 10 or so in the morning it would allow the house to warm slightly, while it was empty, then cool down again before we got home at 5.

Not so winter's settings.

Sadly, I didn't notice it until this morning.

This house does not drop temperature readily. Brick and heavily insulated, a shift of fifteen degrees outside might result in a few degrees difference inside and a change in temperature of the concrete slab the house rests on. Last night the temp plummeted from a moderate 74 or so down to 34. The thermostat, blindly following it's factory settings, lowered the house temp to 70 that afternoon, and held it steady there until, I assume, sometime around 11pm or midnight, at which time it reset itself to 12 degrees. This morning the house was a tropical 63 degrees, the heater wasn't due to turn the heat up to 70 until 6 am or thereabouts, and I almost broke my legs trying to keep my feet from touching the suddenly permafrosted floor.

I can hear you Yankees already telling me I'm whining, that 63 is not cold. I know this. In the depths of LA's winter I ride my motorcycle in a summer-weight jacket when it's 35 outside, and like it. That's if I'm given time to prepare for it, layer clothing, and get warmed inside before I step outside. This morning was more along the lines of

a) wake up
b) don't realise how cold it is outside the blanket
c) fling blanket off
d) allow body temperature to drop from a nice 98.6 to 63 degrees
e) begin keening in a very high, girlish pitch because my testicles have retracted so fast they caught in my throat

So this evening, I shall change my thermostat settings.

Honest.

Right now I've got to go and begin the fifteen minute process of warming up my truck engine.

Outside.

In the cold.

Alone.

Hemmingwayesque.

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