Thursday, August 6, 2009


No, we're not talking Angus here. We're talking air. Cold, cold air.

When I lived in New York, and we had hot, sticky, humid summers where you felt like you walked into a wall of water and were about to suffocate when you stepped outside, I hated air conditioning. Air conditioning was dry and stuffy. And smelled funny. And usually either didn't work well enough, or worked so well, you needed 3 sweaters just to stave off the chills.

I much preferred open windows. Even on very hot days. Open the windows and let the breeze blow. I would acquiesce on very hot nights and put the a/c on, but it had to be really really hot. And I rarely ran the a/c in my car. In fact, one of my cars didn't even have a/c, much to the shock and horror of my family.

In Vancouver, of course, it was only ever hot enough to think about air conditioning two weeks out of the year. Except apparently, this year. Vancouver was hit with a heat wave that made it hotter than Tel Aviv. Felt for them, we did.

Here in Israel? It's a completely different story. I heart my a/c. We couldn't live without it. People plan their synagogue community around which synagogue has a/c. We'd have our a/c on 24/7 if we could afford it. As it is, we have it timed to come on for an hour, every two hours, during the night or we'd never be able to sleep. The a/c is on in the car nearly every time we're in the car. People go to the mall or grocery stores just for the air conditioning. We love our a/c.

Except. Israelis love a/c a little too much. We keep our temp set at 27*. Yes, I know, most of you are scratching your heads saying, "27? That's not cold." It is when it's normally 35 outside. (And yes, we appreciate the irony of thinking that 23 was warm when we lived in Vancouver.) However, most stores and offices keep their temperatures set at a balmy "meat locker" setting. When I had pneumonia last month and had to keep going to the doctor, I was literally shivering from chills - unrelated to my fever - when I got into his office.

This makes it just that much harder to go back outside. Because 35 is bloody hot. 35 feels pretty darn hellish when you're coming out of an air conditioned building. But 35 feels like you've stepped into the middle of a raging inferno when you come out of an iceberg.

We know nothing of moderation here. We're an all or nothing kind of people.

*27 celsius = 80 fahrenheit
35 celsius = 95 fahrenheit
Yes, we do frequently get temps higher than 35.


Jay said...

I still have fond memories of stopping in Tiveria in August, getting out of our air conditioned car and thinking, "This place was nice in December, but let's get the hell out of here as quickly as possible."

The amazingly thick condensation on my "cold" camera lens was also memorable.

Arlan Wareham said...

It's significantly cooler up here in Tsfat, especially at night. We just open up the windows at night and close them in the daytime. I use the a/c a little bit in my office, which is the hottest room in the house, and, of course, we usually use it in the car. But we haven't been using the a/c at all in the rest of the house. The daytime highs here have been running at about 30 degrees Celsius (=86 degrees Fahrenheit).