Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Naked in Front of the Computer

Did you ever have one of those days where Karma walks up to you, smiles daintily and delivers a front snap kick to your groin?  I have a tendency to believe that the universe constantly seeks to find an equilibrium, that there is a balance, like the Force, that everything eventually comes to no net gain or loss.  When something good happens, something equally bad must take place to restore that balance. 

My weekend was awesome, kicked off with the Faith No More concert and then a great, fun-filled Fourth of July.   We started off our Independence Day with our neighbors’ annual breakfast picnic.  We then headed to the pool for a few hours of relaxation.  We ate a quick dinner at home and packed up for the parade.  We snagged good seats under a tree and the kids got a place right on the curb.  We stopped by home to drop my wife and daughter off and the boys and I went to the fireworks.

We found a great spot to watch the fireworks last year, the parking lot and sports fields of the middle school.  It is only a few blocks from the house and offers a perfect view of the show.  I planned to arrive early to secure the same position this year.  We were in luck and got to park the truck so we could sit in the back and the fireworks would be right in front of us.

The kids ran around in the field with flashlights and sparklers and then hopped into the bed of the truck as soon as the show started.  As soon as the show ended, we were about to fold up the chairs and head home, but the field in front of us exploded into light and sound.  Someone had prepared their own fireworks display right at the edge of the field.  About 800 feet in front of us, someone had set up several mortars, Roman candles, and rockets.  The display was almost as good as the one the town put on and lasted almost 30 minutes.  They even had a grand finale prepared.  Someone had taken a lot of time and money to put everything together.  The boys were amazed, they had never been that close to the fireworks before.  The secondary show elicited an even greater round of cheers and applause than “real” display.

We spent Monday lounging around the house, recovering from our long weekend.  Overall the weekend was a great success.  But the universe wasn’t pleased.  All of that good has to be offset by something bad, right?  Monday night, as the kids prepared for bed, everyone was commenting on how hot it was upstairs.  This is normal for our house, the upstairs is always hotter than the rest of the house, so we didn’t think anything of it. 

After everyone was asleep, I snuck downstairs to the basement and caught up on a few things.  By the time I was finished reading through the 100 emails I had gotten over the weekend, I was dripping with sweat.  The basement is always five to ten degrees colder than the rest of the house and I knew something was wrong.  I stopped by the thermostat on the way upstairs to bed and saw that while it was set to 77, the temperature in the living room was 88.  I could hear the blower running in the basement, but the air coming out of the vents wasn’t any cooler than the ambient air.  I ventured outside with a flashlight to examine the outside unit.  The fan was not running and I caught the smell of the magic blue smoke which meant something electrical was cooking.  I informed my wife that the A/C was dead and we started opening windows to attempt to reduce the temperature.  It didn’t help much. 

I spent the majority of today rushing around calling local companies and giving them the grand tour of heating and air conditioning system.  The current system is over 14 years old and has been patched and repaired several times since we have lived here.  During the last repair, which was only about 6 months ago, we were told it didn’t have much time left in it.  The options were to attempt to fix it again or replace the entire thing.  With a repair, there were no guarantees that it would last, especially with how hot it has been the past few days and the stress of running all day and night.  So we decided to replace it.  The first guy said he could have a new unit installed in two to three weeks with a lofty price tag.  Hmmm, umm, no.  My wife got a recommendation from a friend and that guy arrived an hour later.  He gave me the same prognosis, but offered to replace it by Thursday!  I am still waiting on his official quote which I should have tomorrow morning, but his ballpark estimate was much lower than the first guy.

While I was not on the phone or walking people around the house, I was searching for all of the pieces to a portable A/C unit that my father-in-law had given us a few years ago.  This little wheeled unit could be put in any room and had a flexible exhaust pipe that could attached to and vented out a window.  I found all of the pieces except for one, the piece that secured the exhaust hose to the window.  I scoured the entire house, literally top to bottom.  I was searched the attics (house and garage), the basement, every closet, every cabinet.  I did this at least three times before admitting defeat.  I was heading out to the garage to attempt to fabricate something when I decided I would try looking for it one more time.  I eventually found the piece hidden under a stack of remnant carpet pieces, a solar powered water fountain, a space heater, two rifles, and a set of grapevine reindeer all stuffed under the basement steps.

So what’s the big deal?  Millions of people around the world don’t have the luxury of central air conditioning.  Why am I such a wuss?  Well, I think my wife and I could deal with it, not happily, but we could deal.  I know the boys would be fine, they don’t seem to mind the heat at all.  But we are worried about the baby and the dog.  One year olds don’t have the ability to regulate their temperatures as well as adults and she is used to be in air conditioning all day long.  The dog is 11, weighs 90 pounds and is covered in a thick coat of hair. He did not enjoy today at all.  He paced around all day trying to find a cool spot to lay down.  Even when I had the portable A/C unit set up and running in the bedroom, he didn’t want to lay up there.  I took a cold wet towel and rubbed down his belly and under his armpits(?) a few times, which he seemed to enjoy.

On top of all of this, the boys had their annual doctor’s checkup, summer camp, Taekwondo, and I had a PTA budget meeting from 6 PM until 8:30 PM.  So I am sitting here exhausted and sweating in front of the computer.  Of course I am not naked, this office chair is leather and I don’t think that would be comfortable at all.

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