Friday, August 24, 2012

Air Conditioning, Mankind's Greatest Achievement?

As much as I will whine about being too cold, being too hot makes me want to bite someone, and not in a good way. Luckily I reside in one of the more temperate zip codes in one of the most temperate climates in the country. For the most part, the parts of it that are less temperate have AC.

I don't.

Why? Well every year we get two weeks or so where it's miserable spread out between August and late September, and even then unlike other places it's guaranteed to cool off at night that at some point I'll be reaching for the comforter. I actually prefer fresh air to AC if I can at all, and would love to have a place with an old-fashioned California "Sleeping Porch": a second-floor covered and screened balcony older houses had for sleeping in the summer.

The only place that I really love AC is in the car. My current car is a venerable Civic which gets almost hybrid-like gas mileage, mostly due to the fact it's likely made out of gum-wrapper thin metal and has an engine that is perhaps powered by bees. Well, it sounds like it anyway. It does have an air conditioner, which does cool the air somewhat if given a big head-start. It's sort of like someone holding an ice cube in their palm and blowing on it into your face.

From across the street.

I remember one particular time having met my BFF Sue at the Huntington Library in San Marino to see the Corpse Flower bloom, and to wander the gardens on one of those blazing dry Pasadena days where you could start a fire by rubbing your hair briskly. She got into her New Beetle with the good AC and I got in my Honda, which, had I thought ahead I could have left bread dough in to arrive to a nice snack. I think I was at the Fairfax exit on the 10 before the temp was anything close to human and I believe I sweated through my wallet.

As I wrote, her car had the good AC- I've tested it. But the number one champs in the Air Conditioning department are the Americans. I've had more experience with General Motors, since my parents were confirmed GM people and I've driven several Cadillacs over the years. They had a system you would dial a temperature into and upon starting the car it would do it's level best to get you there. So if you were parked in an open lot in the Valley for four hours and had it set at 62° it will be a blast chiller freezing your face off until you either change the setting or it was darned we'll 62° in apparently the package shelf.

I assume that is why they now have remote start. I'd love to find out.

Having tested a Chevy Volt I did like one of the features that wasn't remote start: pressing and holding the unlock button on the remote would open all four windows to their fullest to help cool off the car. I loved that and used it a lot. Of course that week the temps were in the mid-70's. They also do remote start, but suggest that it's done while plugged in to use the plugs power to "pre-condition" the interior before unplugging and driving off.

Yes, I still have that Civic. Yes, the AC is still unimpressive. So a lot of the time I take the MTA. While it moves at a glacial pace to get you where you want to go (4 hours round trip to the Marina? Really?) at least it's glacial in temps as well. Because I don't need to sweat through another wallet..

Photo: Wikipedia Commons

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