Friday, November 6, 2009

The Determinism of Air Conditioning

When we were looking about California for a place to retire to, air conditioning was an important consideration. I like to keep a room below 70 whereas my wife suffers from anemia from time to time and likes to keep the house at about 80. No problem, I thought. Well just find a house where I can have a nice large study, closed off from the rest of the house. Ill get a window air-conditioner and everything will be fine.

However, when we actually found a house we liked and I moved my books into my study and began thinking of an air-conditioner, the view of the San Jacinto Mountains was not something I wanted to spoil with a window unit. Not a problem, I thought, Ill just have an air conditioner installed through the wall.

I went to Home Depot, selected a nice powerful unit, and bought it. It was only after I had the unit sitting in my garage that I began calling air-conditioning people. What, said one man in amazement? You already have a unit? You arent buying it from us?

Yeah. Its sitting in my garage.

Well, Im sorry sir, we dont usually install anyone elses unit.

Are you saying you wont install my unit?

Well, no. Of course we arent saying that, but our policy is to install the units we sell first, and to be honest. I cant tell you how long it will be before we could get around to yours.

After talking to a few such people, I observed that they have all mapped out for themselves a rather narrow field of interest. Their world is one that they have determined, and if one comes into that world with some hair-brained scheme that doesnt fit in their world, they boot him out.

After I had considered myself sufficiently booted out, I began calling construction people. After all, I didnt need anyone to do anything to the air-conditioner beyond mounting it and plugging it in. Surely a construction outfit could do that. But construction people had a different set of concerns.

:Just where is it you want this air-conditioner installed.

Through the wall above my printer in my study.

And your study is on the ground floor?

No, it is on the second story.

Whoa. Go way up there on a ladder to install an air-conditioner? I dont think we could do anything like that.

Another fellow said he wouldnt be afraid to do it if only he hadnt injured himself in a motor cycle accident.

Finally, and as a last resort, I called my son the electrician.

Ive never done anything like that, Dad.

Yes, but Ive tried every place else. I have confidence in you. Im sure you can do it, and you owe me money.

Well, sure, I can probably figure it out, he said doubtfully.

Great. When can you come over?

And he did figure it out. He had to install a separate circuit for the unit, cut a hole through the wall, install the air-conditioner through my study wall, and then go outside and install bracing. After that he cut and installed some trim on the inside. That was about 8 years ago and the unit has worked fine ever since. And I hope it keeps on working, for I cant imagine an Air Conditioning man being willing to come out and work on it.

Take it out of the wall, bring it in and well look at it. Otherwise, forget it.

But vultures will fly in through the hole in the wall.

You should have thought of that before you installed it.

Drat. I should have.


Michael Kuznetsov said...


I find your story to be most fascinating.
It manifests how different our worlds are!
A story like this would be impossible or even unimaginable in Russia for obvious reasons.

Your words: "cut a hole through the wall" have aroused my special interest.

Could you tell me what exactly the stuff your walls are made of?

What is their thickness?

And with what exactly tool your son managed to make a hole in the wall to install the air-conditioner through your study wall.

Please satisfy my curiosity!


Lawrence Helm said...


See my response at