Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Columns

March 17, 2013

In the midst of a hot-cold battle

In the past two weeks I have found myself in the middle of a thermostat war. By nature, it seems some human beings are perpetually cold, some tend to run more hot and then there are those who are immune to temperature, able to wear shorts in the snow and long sleeves in the summer. I suppose it is because so many of us feel comfortable at so many different temperatures that control of the thermostat has become an important duty in our modern society.

Back when I was a kid, there seemed to be a constant thermostat war going on in our house. It was usually between us kids and my dad. While my father is on the side of temperature insensitive, he was always making sure the thermostat had the perfect setting so he wouldn’t have to pay an expensive heating bill.

This translated to us as freezing temperatures in the winter and burning heat in the summer. The thing about our house growing up was there were two thermostats, one to control the lower level and one to control the second story.

My brother and I had rooms on the second story and would adjust the thermostat to our personal preference, only for an angry dad to come up and adjust it right back as soon as he got a whiff the temperature had been changed. We didn’t get that he didn’t want the bill to shoot through the roof. All we understood was that we were shivering under tons of blankets in the winter and sweating all night during the summer. Being that the thermostat was in my room, you would think I would be the one to change it most often, but I would put that off on my brother.

I would be in that state between sleep and awake only to sit up and find my brother shuffling into my room in his pajamas to adjust the thermostat to his desired temperature. I would remind him that dad would be mad, but he would sleepily mutter something and return to bed. Moments later, dad would shuffle up the stairs in his pajamas and adjust the thermostat back, sometimes lecturing me about letting my brother fiddle with it. I would wake up the next morning only to realize I hadn’t dreamed up either exchange.

Dad was pretty protective of his thermostat, and probably still is. Sometimes, we would just have our hands on the thermostat and dad would shout up for us to leave it alone. It was like he had a sixth sense, a “someone is messing with the thermostat” sense. In talking with friends, I have discovered this seems to be an innate “dad” quality, perhaps something men acquire when they have children tall enough to reach the thermostat themselves.

The recent thermostat war I have entered into isn’t with any particular person but rather seems to be between me and Mother Nature herself. The crazy highs and lows of the past two weeks have led me to turn the heat off and the A/C on, only to turn the heat back on a few hours later.

This past Wednesday, I left my apartment in a cozy, warm state. During the morning hours I watched as heavy snow belted down only to melt a few hours later. Once that snow had melted, another blizzard seemed to be blasting the region only for it to melt in a matter of hours. I drove home in the snow and walked into an apartment that was freezing even though my thermostat had not been touched.

I have adjusted the temperature itself down to save on my bills, only for the temperature to drop so much I had to pump it back up before I or my tropical fish froze to death. Being a Betta, I’m sure he was hoping he would end up in the warm, coastal waters of Southeast Asia rather than my moderately temperate West Virginia apartment.

The fish doesn’t seem to like this constant weather change either. I change his water once a month and between those cleanings check the water temperature to make sure it isn’t too cold. Fortunately, he has survived the winter but I have noticed he gravitates to the warmer water on the top of the tank, especially on snowy days.

Lately, he has been spending quite a bit of time at the top of the tank in the morning and evening while floating to the bottom during the day when it is warmest. He has become a little bit of a thermometer himself. Of course, I know if he was the one doing the adjusting my apartment would be full blast on 90 degrees all year-round.

The weather, I suppose, is just a harbinger of the month of March being not quite spring but not entirely winter either. Between temperatures in the 60s and early spring snows, we have pretty much seen all four seasons of weather this month in Four Seasons Country.

Kate Coil is a reporter at the Daily Telegraph. Contact her at kcoil@bdtonline.com.

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