Tuesday, September 06, 2011

It's September, and it's hot.

This is the time of year that I like to remind myself that the thing that really made the Southwest livable was the advent of really good AC.

Oh, Los Angeles is usually pretty temperate if you're on the Westside, but if you're in the Valley (where it will be 107 tomorrow) you need you're AC. Places like Palm Springs and Scottsdale in my opinion would be uninhabitable for months out of the year without it in the same way that great swaths of this country would be in Winter if we didn't have heat.

I'll refer you to the excellent article at Wikipedia about the history of this marvelous invention. I'm often questioned why I still insist upon taking the MTA even though it's not the most reliable system on earth. Well, part of is that is they understand that when it's hot out and you have a 50 foot long metal tube filled with meat-puppets pumping out 98 degrees, it's best to have AC that could keep ice cream turgid. I've boarded buses in shorts and a polo where by the time I get to my destination, I'm uncomfortably cold.

I love it.

Sadly, the AC in my Honda is not quite up to snuff. My car has many things going for it. It gets stellar gas mileage. Since it's a color that Honda calls "Red Camellia Pearl" that's more like the lipstick in a Nagel print and is a stick, so nobody will ever steal it. It's a Honda, so it will last a while. The AC however is wholly inadequate.

In this sort of weather you really need the sort of automotive overkill AC that was (and I assume is still) offered by the Americans.

The advantage that American companies have is that they are in Detroit. In addition to having brutal winters, the Midwest have brutal summers. Trust me, I've lived there. It's not unusual to have the high 90's and 90% humidity. At midnight. General Motors responded by having a system called "Automatic Climate Control" (standard on Cadillac) and "Comfortron" (optional on lesser marques). With this system, you would set a temperature and the car would do it's level best to get you there as soon as possible. In winter it was a blessing: at the point in January when you actually thought you might expire a blast of furnace heat would come in and scarves, gloves and hats could be safely shedded. In summer the car would do everything it could after being parked outside in the sun to drop the temp to the 68 degrees you've chosen.

I can say having briefly driven a friends 80's Cadillac in the 90's that it's almost uncomfortable. Having parked the Coupe deVille in a parking lot in the Valley while I shopped I think it was about 237 degrees when I opened the door. Flipping the (gold) ignition key it took about four seconds for the system to be pumping out air so frigid that I was after a few minutes feeling like I was like in a Midwestern snowstorm.

I loved it.

But I think it's better now that we have remote-start.

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