Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Homemade Air Conditioning and Alienation in New Jersey

I was looking online for some tips on cooling off (it's not the heat, it's the humidity, as they say) and found a university student's account of building an air conditioner using nothing but a garbage can, a large fan, copper tubing, vinyl tubing, zip ties, clamps, and water. MacGyver would be proud.

Today, green blog Treehugger covered how to build a solar-powered air conditioner. Treehugger also linked to the blog lifehacker, which also posted instructions on making your own air conditioner (similar in design to the university student's but with a "closed-circuit" system that reuses water).

I'm happy to learn that even something as unwieldy and technically incomprehensible as an air conditioner has a cheap, homemade counterpart. Of course one shouldn't expect such units to cool one down as much as a commercial unit, but the savings in cost (on the unit itself and electricity) might make this an option worth exploring for some.

And here's a completely unrelated quote:

"And I thought that one natural effect of life is to cover you in a thin layer of ... what? A film? A residue or skin of all the things you've done and been and said and erred at? I'm not sure. But you are under it, and for a long time, and only rarely do you know it, except that for some unexpected reason or opportunity you come out--for an hour or even for a moment ... as when you were a kid.

And you think: this must've been the way it was once in my life, though you didn't know it then, and don't really even remember it--a feeling of wind on your cheeks and your arms, of being released, let loose, of being the light-floater."

-The Sportswriter, Richard Ford

A good book on alienation in contemporary life, set in the New Jersey suburbs outside New York City. I first read Ford in the New Yorker. His short story "Quality Time" is one of my all-time favorite pieces of literature. The story is reprinted in one of his recent collections, and I'd highly recommend it.


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