Wednesday, September 16, 2015

30 Second Memory

In a humid world swamp coolers do not work very well, but this did not deter a man named Carl.  He tired anyway.  A maintenance man at Swift and Company, Carl couldn’t afford air conditioning for his family.  So instead he found a coarse piece of burlap and stretched it out on a wooden frame.  By adding water, and a fan to bring air through the burlap, the man tried to cool his family on hot, steamy nights.

Initially, improvement came best (at least for his boys) late at night hunkered down behind the burlap wall.  Interestingly, a powerful fan in the kitchen window helped (found somewhere at Sears on a shelf in a box).  It pulled warm air out of the house, and replaced it with cool air coming in from other windows in other rooms  and, in the case of the back bedroom, through a burlap sack drenched with water from a garden hose.

There were readymade machines called "swamp coolers," or evaporative coolers, of course. They actually existed, but the boys didn't know this. (This picture of the standard window machine is on Wikipedia.  It is reproduced in accordance with Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 legal code.)

Learning about this machine came only from hard work or worldly experience.  Yes, some could grab an encyclopedia (the best would have had the answer), or talked to someone who had lived in a desert (where such machines are common), but such things were beyond the experience of the boys in the back bedroom.  They only knew dad had another bright idea and, of course, that the family couldn’t afford real air conditioning.

This didn’t stop Carl though (and many other fathers like him), because when the project was finished, he was off to another. The classic tinkerer.

And so, just like in countless households across America, dad disappeared into his "shop."  In this household, however, a powerful, industrial-like fan (forcing air outside from inside the house) worked wonders.  Even while venting the mysterious smells up from the basement in their many, varied forms of sawed wood, burnt wire, transformers and solder.

Of course, it is easy these days to learn about stuff.  Instead of looking in books, or walking to the library, learning comes from a computer, tablet or iphone.  The site for some of the information found here is on Wikipedia, and was "dialed up" from a desktop.  It took 30 seconds.

(A little longer to find this video though.  Although not much....)


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