A British-American bluestocking living in the UK writes about politics, pop culture, and emerging new paradigms as they unfold on both sides of the Atlantic. (New content.)

Thursday, 6 August 2009

78 degrees? In Texas, too? You've Got to be Kidding!

I just heard that a utility company in America has asked everyone to keep their thermostats at 78 degrees during the day. I'm sure that the other utility companies will soon follow suit. It's all about not leaving "carbon footprints". I am all for taking care of the environment. I am all for using cloth nappies and not paper nappies. I am all for recycling and cycling. I am all for using less water (dropping a brick in the tank) and I would even go to compostable toilets if need be (though they are most unattractive and a bit rank.) I've been buying wonderful vintage clothing for years, long before Kate Moss made it "trendy". I rarely buy plastic if I can buy the same thing in a re-usable form. If I can buy a beautiful burnished antique table that has been used and loved by someone else, I would rather buy that than some table that was made of pressed wood and hauled all the way from China. (I've been to China and the factories are guilty of human rights abuses.)

I raised my daughter on Waldorf education principles and that meant: no plastics, no Barbies, nothing that was not made naturally and organically. Her first doll was a bearded wood-sprite named "Norman" who was handknit of wool and stuffed with cotton. He looked a little like a rabbi wearing a pointed green hat. Never mind, she loved him. I was "green" starting in the late 70's when "green" used to just be the colour you turned when you ate a very bad burrito.

However, I have to admit that using those gawdawful toxic mercury filled swirly lightbulbs that make everything in the room look puce is a bit of a stretch for me. The E.U. ordered us here in the UK to begin to only use these bulbs. How are they enforcing it? They are removing ALL other types of lightbulbs...right off the shelves. That's it, no vote. Gone. We had no choice. Has anybody looked into the toxic effects not only of the mercury bulbs when they are dropped, but the effects of flourescent light on the immune system? No, apparently not. I'd rather use candles, thank you. Let's go back to candles. But, I'm sure that would cause "fires" and that would be outlawed. too. Kerosene? Moonlight? Fireflies in a jar? The E.U. Parliament would find a way to find these dangerous or harmful, too.

Seventy-eight degrees? I draw the line. I can happily leave the thermostat on at 78 degrees....if I live in Maine. Or Michigan. Or the Arctic Circle. Or even when I live in England which has two days over 80 degrees out of the year. No problem. It's bearable.

I draw the line, however, in Texas. I lived with my mother this past year in Texas for three months....and it was from January through March. Those are supposed to be cooler months. Not in Texas. Because of the cornucopia of medicines that she is taking, her body temperature is really low. She insisted on keeping the thermostat at 78 degrees. I was so uncomfortable in Texas with the thermostat at that level that I was miserable. I even cried once because my mother was so militant about keeping it at that level or higher. I even used a fan in my room but all it did was move the hot air around in circles. It was unbearable. I don't think that the utility companies in the North have a clue as to how horrific 78 degrees indoors with the sun unrelentingly beating down on a roof in Texas (which by the way lasts for about ten months out of the year) feels like.

Do you remember that episode of Seinfeld when Elaine goes to Florida with Jerry to visit his parents? And they refuse to turn on the air conditioning and Elaine is begging them? Well, it happened to me while I was in Texas. One of my best friends came over and started begging my mother to lower the thermostat. My mother cheerfully....refused. It was one of the shortest visits on record at my house.

You realize that there soon will be a law prohibiting you from keeping your thermostat lower than 78 degrees. That will be the next move. There will be a thermostat police.

I would like to ask the utility bosses to come spend a day in July or August at my mother's house. If the heat doesn't drive them to raise their blood pressure, her insistence on being right all the time, will. But I would warn them not to answer the door as it might be Hades' who heard that there is a hotter place than hell at mom's and he wants to move in. My mom, of course, will be most hospitable. She is, after all, a Texan and she would love to have someone else to boss around.

As for myself...I will wear underwear made of recycled paper, I'll pound my clothes on a rock and not use the clothes washer, I'll even wash my hair just once a week and take tin cans and make hoop earrings out of them if the "Environmental Police" want....but please....leave the air conditioning in Texas and the South and Midwest alone.