What a difference technology makes

I’ve spent the last two days holed up in our den, which the lowest part of our split-level house and rather cavelike — therefore the coolest room we’ve got. Our thermostat caps out at 84 degrees Fahrenheit, so I can’t say for sure what temperature it’s been in our dining room, but whatever the answer is, the top floor — which holds both my office and the bedroom — was hotter. Much hotter.

I grew up in Dallas. Highs in the high 90s were a totally normal feature of my childhood summers. But that was a place where nearly everybody has air conditioning. Here in the San Francisco Bay Area? Not so much. And living in a house without A/C means that when our temperatures spike, the experience is very, very different.

The extent of that difference got hammered home to me yesterday, when I’d been at the (air-conditioned) chiropractor’s office. When I walked outside in the late afternoon, it felt . . . not nice, exactly. But familiar. And pleasant enough. Yes, it was very warm, but my subconscious said “that’s okay.” Which was very different from how I’d felt leaving my house an hour and a half earlier; then I was going from a sweltering indoors to a sweltering outdoors, barely any contrast at all, and vastly more unpleasant. I know I’ve lost soem of my heat tolerance (I used to do marching band in Texas, navy blue wool uniform and all), but a lot of it is also just the artificial environment. Give me A/C, and I still don’t mind the heat all that much. Without it, though . . .

Let’s just say I’ve learned a lot about low-tech measures against the heat, from keeping blinds closed that we normally open for light (and angling them upwards to reduce the amount of direct sunlight that enters the room), to occupying myself with books instead of heat-emitting laptops, to the dance of opening windows and turning on fans once the temperature outside drops below the temperature inside.

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