September 5, 2000

Weather changes force comfort zone adjustment

Josh Renaud

At my house lately, things haven't been hot enough.

I don't mean the weather, really. I'm mostly talking about our water heater, which seems to be acting like a water lukewarmer these days.

When God invented showers, I believe he meant for them to be searingly hot. And when I brush my teeth, I like the water to be hot. It started when I was a kid, and somehow I got hooked on hot-water oral hygiene. It tends to kill germs, but still people tell me that I'm weird.

But with our water heater failing to do its prescribed duties, I've had to give up these guilty pleasures. I had hoped to find solace in the comfort of my office (read: "house") at The Current. For most of the summer, I've been able to enjoy my other favorite extreme -- cold air conditioning.

There's nothing like coming to work, knowing you've got a frigid, frosty room waiting for you. Around here, we jokingly refer to my office as the "oasis." Only a few rooms here are actually air-conditioned, and mine is one of them.

Fat lot of good the air conditioning has done me the past two weeks, though. It started when we had trouble with our main air conditioner in the newsroom. Like all of our other units, this air conditioner is window-mounted. It had developed a nasty pattern of freezing over when we tried to adjust the temperature control. I liked to think that the little guy was just trying too hard to cool us off.

Unfortunately, my wishful thinking didn't mean much. The freeze-overs were the kiss of death for the air conditioner, which UMSL's Facilities Services personnel informed us was unrepairable. When asked if they could send a loaner unit to replace our broken one, they reluctantly let us know that they had none.

And so we had to cannibalize and use one AC unit from upstairs to replace the broken one. This house has been hot every day for the past two weeks now. The thick, muggy St. Louis heat has been able to keep our air conditioners from making much progress in the temperature war.

My brother started his first year at Truman University this year. His dorm room doesn't even have an air conditioner, which might not be so bad if his window hadn't been put on the side of the room that faces the sun.

Maybe there's some way we can harness the sun's solar energy and use it to supplement our water heater at home. Heck, I bet Home Depot has an apparatus like that floating around their warehouse somewhere.

Or maybe I could just stop being so American and get used to living outside my comfort zone.

This article was reprinted with permission from The Current.

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