Monday, September 21, 2009

air conditioning

Air conditioning is a blessed invention bequeathed to man by more intelligent beings, in order to allow him to live in miserable places in comparative comfort.

Normally, no human would settle in places like Florida, Utah, or Texas, due to the extreme misery imposed by the summer months. Thankfully, air conditioning was given to us, which allows sane individuals to live in places like Florida or Utah1.

I want to state this again so it's clear: air conditioning was invented for places with miserable summers.

Let's go over the list of places for which air conditioning was not developed:
  • Siberia
  • Canada
  • La Tierra del Fuego
  • Alaska
  • Great Britain

Yes, that's right, I'm sorry, but Great Britain has no need for air conditioning. Why not? Well, first, it's stuck in the middle of the North Sea. Yes, the North Sea. This sea borders the Arctic Sea. It is cold.

Second, the historical high is 102°. Yes, once in human history it managed to eek its way up to 102°. Are you kidding me? If it hits 102° in Utah in August, energy usage plummets as people turn off the AC to enjoy the nice cool air. Penguins fly in from nearby zoos and sip hot chocolate in the sand.

Lastly, if you care to check the Latitude, the isle of Great Britain is located NORTH OF MAINE. And not just a little north of Maine.

Rule: If you live north of Maine, you do not get air conditioning. End of story2.

Today it was a sprightly 68 degrees outside in cloudy England. That's a pretty nice temperature. Inside the office it was 66. Perfect, huh? No, the English certainly don't think so. My coworkers noticed it wasn't pouring feezing rain outside, so they took the logical step of turning on our nuclear-powered AC unit, located directly above me.

I'm not talking about a little fan that rotates around and hits you every few moments. No, this was a cold-infusing powerhouse, spitting out Norwegian Air like it was the only thing between a warehouse full of ice cream and the Arabian Desert. And the only thing in its path was me. Slouching down to use the desk as a shield, and slowly whimpering while shivering me.

At worst, sans AC, we would have hit 70 in the office. People. Work with me here.

1. Texas, sadly, is still uninhabitable, as they have not yet developed getting-rid-of-annoying-drivers-of-large-trucks conditioning. Or destroying-the-plague-that-is-cowboy-hats conditioning. Also, adroit readers may question my assumptions, as Florida and Utah were both settled before the advent of AC (BAC, if you will). My only response: were those people normal3?
2. Sorry Nova Scotia, but you're going to have to deal with it.
3. No, I'm not insulting people of a certain religious belief. I think they'd agree with me. As for Floridians, I've never met a normal one.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

hotels in kensington

As a recent patron of two hotels in Kensington, I am uniquely qualified to give you the low down on this particular subject. Kensington is a borough (pronounced "buh-ruh") of London, and quite popular among Americans because it sounds particularly British (that is, it contains both an 'ing', and a 'ton').

Hotels in Kensington are converted from older row houses, which were devoted entirely to the storage of clothing, being floor upon floor of closets. Luckily, the hotels have gone through and added bathrooms to these closets, so you don't need to share a bathroom with other patrons1. They've also placed nice beds in the closets which sit on the same set of springs you find in American summer camps. It's quite quaint.

Quaint is also the way you can describe the curtains that have been burned through with either cigarettes, or the intense-heat-emitting lantern placed directly over the bed, and directly in the curtain's path. Design is not a strength of the British.

Quaint, however, cannot be used to describe the showers, which are not unlike the tube, in that you have to squeeze yourself to unholy proportions in order to get in. Luckily, hotel number one had a glass door on the shower, and if I were physically able to touch my toes without violent assistance from maniacal gym teachers, I probably had enough room to bend over and touch my toes.

Not so luckily, hotel number two has nothing but a shower curtain. That is, there's a corner of the bathroom where they stuck a spigot, and put a shower curtain around it. Now, shower curtains aren't all that expensive, so you'd think they would have given you a decently-sized space. Not so fast. If you weigh more than 30 pounds, you've got enough room to stick your arms straight up and twirl around2.

Of course, the best part of your shower experience is said curtain, which you wear as a cape throughout the duration of your shower3.

In keeping with the small proportions, they also provide you with a nice barbie-sized trash can, which fits a total of three starburst wrappers and a few muffin crumbs. All other trash exceeding this size limitation is placed on top, giving the impression of an upside-down pyramid, prone to spilling over the floor, causing the people in the next room to hear foul language coming through the cellophane-thin walls.

Outside of the rooms, all is wonderful and grand in Kensington Hotels. You may even be lucky enough to find a hotel that serves free breakfast, i.e., corn flakes and toast and coffee4. The other patrons appear to be very kind, though most of them seem to speak either Russian or Polish, which aren't particularly kind-sounding languages. Granted, English doesn't sound very kind either when yelled out of a nearby room at midnight, demanding some other unheard source become silent.

In summation, I'd highly recommend coming to Kensington and becoming a long-term resident of its hotels. You can iron your clothes on the bed, wash your bird-poo stained shirts in the nearby laundromat for four pounds a wash5, and even use the hair dryer to blow dry your socks you were too cheap to wash with the machine.

Bliss will be yours6.

1. Unlike the flat I was recently shown on Baker Street, where I almost laughed the agent to scorn. Do I look like a college freshman to you? I mean, seriously. You think I'm going to share a bathroom with a random tenant down the hall? Who are you people?
2. Not that I've done that. Ever. In a shower. Not while singing either.
3. This is not a comfortable sensation. Wet plastic should never find its unwelcome way to my rear again.
4. I'm going to punch myself in the face if I see another flake of corn. Ever. Starting Tuesday afternoon.
5. Then mistake a larger washer for a dryer when moving your clothes, and have a nice woman ask you politely, "do you plan on washing them twice?" Awkward.
6. And it will be mine when I move out of here Tuesday morning for St. John's Wood, bless that blessed day.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

post 100! and guest posting.

Not that there's anything sacred about the number 100, but this is post 100! At least, that's what blogger claims. It may be counting unfinished posts. However, since the number 100 holds special significance in our base-10 counting system, I'm going to bore you with a celebratory 100 post.

Actually, I am posting to highlight the fact that Ms. Berry requested I opine on the Mormon dating culture, which I have done in typical inane fashion here, should you be curious. I vehemently disdain speaking on the subject of dating, mainly because I think it is way overdone, and also because I fear my ex-girlfriends will find this and collectively laugh at my expense, but alas, sometimes I just can't help myself. There's just too much material out there. And, of course, writing on the subject of dating is an entirely different thing than speaking on it.

And so, with that, I leave you to your distractions to make it through the workday. I shall return to my closet-like existence (hotel rooms in London are not known for their large size) wherein random women scream in alleyways for unheard people to shut up at 12:30 in the morning. I hope she doesn't do that again tonight.

Friday, September 11, 2009

the tube

The tube is what Londoners call their main form of transportation1.

They call it a tube because it reminds you that every time you go in it you've got to squeeze the ever-loving crap out of yourself to make it on a train. Getting on a train is purely based on how much you want it. If you want it enough, you'll jump between those double doors, push, and hope your rear protrusion doesn't get caught up in the doors. I had a woman in red pants slink in front of me today, somehow disappearing into a solid mass of people. She wanted it.

Actually, that's only when I need to go to work. For the most part it's easy to get on a train. The hard part is determining if you should sit down once you're on a train. There's a huge awkward moment just waiting to happen when all of the seats are taken and a woman enters the train. You have to make a split-second decision: is she a feminist, and will she shut down your offer of a seat? I saw a man get shut down yesterday, and it wasn't pretty.

Therefore, the first tube rule is this: never sit down ever. Even if the entire train is empty and you're on your way to Tooting Broadway2 you never take that seat.

However, the second tube rule is this: if you do sit down, you keep your seat. Like the parking place that my roommates and I coveted in college, once you have taken possession of such a valuable item, you don't let it go3. I once rode all the way to Cockfosters4 just because I found a seat on a train (in breaking rule #1, I was obviously taking a huge risk). Never mind that everyone had exited long prior to the end of the line. Other people follow this rule as well--I rode thirty minutes today without seeing a single soul move from a seat. This while I sweat above them, hoping that my upset stomach was not a harbinger of food to come.

Tube rule number three just states that if there is an annoying American who is so devoid of personal space that she will plop her entire heft of a self into my person, and maintain her leaning position from Westminster to South Kensington, much to my personal chagrin, said American will be located on my train. And she will attempt to follow me every time I reposition myself.

There are also rules for the tube station, which I've taken some trouble to document below:

  • If there is an individual anywhere in the vicinity who will, without warning, suddenly stop, slow down, or veer off in another direction, that individual will be located directly in front of me.

  • If there is a way to navigate a station in the wrong way, thus perpetually swimming upstream through hordes of experienced brits, I will walk that way.

  • If there exists in the station an individual whose payment card doesn't work, that individual will attempt to enter or exit the gates directly in front of me.

  • If you ever have the time to eat at Nincomsoup, located in the Old Street station, you should, just because of the name, and the fact that you can call people in there Nincomsoupers.

I should also mention here that the most efficient aspect of British society is the escalator system, whereby you stand right and walk left. They are the only people on the planet to consistently understand and implement said concept.

1. Actually, that's a bit of a fib, as they might say. The main form of transportation around London is walking in confused wavy patterns, fighting to determine on which side of the walkway you're supposed to walk. There are violent schools of thought for both sides.
2. The existence of that name alone is proof that the British are ridiculously more mature than any American.
3. On average, if we ever did get the blessed parking place, we'd stay in it for a week. We'd walk, take the bus, or get the other roommates to drive places. Seriously. If we ever went anywhere and there was some question as to who was driving, whoever had the spot had a clean bill of health. You just don't give up good parking spots. Or train seats.
4. Yeah, um, see footnote two above. Seriously, who names these places?