Friday, June 26, 2009

The Wonder of Air Conditioning

After writing my previous blog, I started to think about the things we take for granted these days. Air conditioning is definitely one of those items.

So I went to that great fount of wisdom--google search--which lead me to Wikipedia, where I found the following information.

"The concept of air conditioning is known to have been applied in Ancient Rome, where aqueduct water was circulated through the walls of certain houses to cool them. Similar techniques in medieval Persia involved the use of cisterns and wind towers to cool buildings during the hot season. Modern air conditioning emerged from advances in chemistry during the 19th century, and the first large-scale electrical air conditioning was invented and used in 1902 by Willis Haviland Carrier.

While moving heat via machinery to provide air conditioning is a relatively modern invention, the cooling of buildings is not. Wealthy ancient Romans circulated aqueduct water through walls to cool their luxurious houses.

The 2nd century Chinese inventor Ding Huan (fl. 180) of the Han Dynasty invented a rotary fan for air conditioning, with seven wheels 3 m (10 ft) in diameter and manually powered. In 747, Emperor Xuanzong (r. 712–762) of the Tang Dynasty (618–907) had the Cool Hall (Liang Tian) built in the imperial palace, which the Tang Yulin describes as having water-powered fan wheels for air conditioning as well as rising jet streams of water from fountains. During the subsequent Song Dynasty (960–1279), written sources mentioned the air conditioning rotary fan as even more widely used.

Medieval Persia had buildings that used cisterns and wind towers to cool buildings during the hot season: cisterns (large open pools in central courtyards, not underground tanks) collected rain water; wind towers had windows that could catch wind and internal vanes to direct the airflow down into the building, usually over the cistern and out through a downwind cooling tower. Cistern water evaporated, cooling the air in the building.

Ventilators were invented in medieval Egypt and were widely used in many houses throughout Cairo during the Middle Ages. These ventilators were later described in detail by Abd al-Latif al-Baghdadi in 1200, who reported that almost every house in Cairo has a ventilator, and that they cost anywhere from 1 to 500 dinars depending on their sizes and shapes. Most ventilators in the city were oriented towards the Qibla, as was the city in general"

There is a lot of information there on that site. And interestingly enough it mentions that "in 1906, Stuart W. Cramer of Charlotte, North Carolina, USA, was exploring ways to add moisture to the air in his textile mill. Cramer coined the term "air conditioning", using it in a patent claim he filed that year as an analogue to "water conditioning", then a well-known process for making textiles easier to process. He combined moisture with ventilation to "condition" and change the air in the factories, controlling the humidity so necessary in textile plants. Willis Carrier adopted the term and incorporated it into the name of his company. This evaporation of water in air, to provide a cooling effect, is now known as evaporative cooling."

So I bet you thought this had nothing to do with quilting or fabric use!!! Wrong!!
Where would we be without air conditioning helping us as we struggle with that quilt in all the heat and humidity as I did yesterday. On the hottest day of the year, so far in Ohio, I was finishing up a huge quilt. Without the AC....I would have been TOAST!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Anybody here from Detroit schools?

I am hoping that someone readng this blog might know someone else who lived in Detroit during the 1950's and graduated from Cadillac grade school. I left there in 1950 and attended Cooley High School until the spring of 1951 at which time I moved to Cleveland Ohio. I have lost contact with everyone I went to grade school with except for two men who lived near me.

Cadillac Elementary School was and is still located on Schoolcraft Avenue in Detroit. We had a large class, about 40 people and they cannot all have disappeared!

So if you know someone about my age, 73, ask them where they went to grade school and then if they went to Cooley High School. They would have graduated in 1954. The high school had a fire sometime ago and all the alumni records were destroyed. At least that is what I was told when I called and asked for information.

Your help would be greatly appreciated.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Summertime and the living should be easy!

WOW! Here it is the end of June already. Where did the first six months of this year go? I haven't done half the jobs I had lined up for this year. I did finally get all my flowers planted. And a few peppers and some tomato plants. They are doing well, but a couple of my quilting projects are still here: in my head; piled up on the table; just waiting for me to get to them.

Now that July is almost here I want to share a story with you. One that I have told so many times I think my family thinks I made it all up. But it is honest to goodness true story and I will tell it again.

I was born during the hottest time in recorded history in Detroit Michigan. You can check this all out for yourself by going to the following website>
You can see the photos from the Detroit newspaper and see for yourself how horrible this all was.
I have reprinted some of the highlights of the article here from the Detroit News website.

Detroit's killer heat wave of 1936

By George Cantor / The Detroit News

August 4, 1996

There were 10 in all on the first day. No one could have known that it was only the beginning of one of the greatest and deadliest disasters in the history of Detroit.

Sixty years ago, the most terrible heat wave ever recorded fell upon the city. At its end, one week later, hundreds were dead and the daily lists started on the front page and filled an entire column inside the paper.

Healthy men and women would start off for work in the morning and never come home, falling in the streets or at work when they were overcome by the sun and heat. Weeping relatives besieged Receiving Hospital and the morgue, where the dead were lined up in corridors since no space remained on the slabs. Doctors and nurses collapsed at their stations, overcome by heat and fatigue. "It's as if Detroit has been attacked by a plague out of the Middle Ages," one observer wrote.

And yet this disaster of 1936 is almost forgotten. Ask Detroiters who lived through it and they probably could not recall the dates or even the year. Those too young to have firsthand recollection very likely have never heard of the July when the summer turned killer. There was no great destruction of property, no visible aftermath, as is the case with most disasters with a death toll that high. Heat depends upon a cumulative impact to make an impression, not one quick and terrible strike that is seared into the memory. After it has passed, it blends in with all the other hot spells of a lifetime.

This one was different, though, not only in the number it killed but in the very intensity of the heat. Records for high temperatures set during that summer still stand in 15 states, including Michigan. In Kansas and North Dakota, it reached 121 degrees, marks surpassed in this country only in the deserts of the Southwest. In Mio, Mich., the mercury leveled out at 112. In Duluth, Minn., which had never topped 100 degrees before, stifling, incredulous residents camped out on the Lake Superior shore. Detroit had counted only seven days of 100-degree readings in the 63 previous years since the U.S. weather station started official readings here. That mark would be equalled in the space of seven days.

And during all this my poor Mother was giving birth in a small bedroom on the second floor of a two family house. It boggles my mind to think how horrible that must have been for her. She went on to have 4 more daughters, but carefully (?) planned for their births in much cooler early winter and late spring months!

Later in the day my Grandmother decided I should go outside for some air(?) in my bassinet and I am told that the even older lady living next door said I would surely die from being exposed to all the "fresh air"

On Wednesday, July 8, the heat reached Detroit. By 4:50 p.m., the mercury registered 104.4 degrees. And the dying began. The health department published some tips: Add a pinch of salt to each glass of cold water. Avoid over-exertion in direct sunlight. Eat lightly and avoid fats. Don't swim after excessive perspiration.

The old-timers wore a cabbage leaf under their hats, but some golfers, more modern in outlook, used a cold towel under theirs.
Beyond that, what else could you do? Air-conditioning was still a pleasure of the very rich. Hudson's had become one of the first department stores in America to install such a system and Crowley's followed a few years later. But even their crowds were down, because few people wanted to brave the heat to get there. Many movie theaters were air-conditioned and ran ads that showed shavings of ice clinging to a sign that said, "It's cool inside." Some stayed open all night and people slept inside. The sleeping cars on many railroads also featured air. But home units were almost unknown.

"The rest of us," intoned The News editorially, "like Joe Louis from the fourth round on must stay in there and take it." Many homeowners went down to their basements, spending the days in the cooler confines there.

On Thursday, July 9, it was 102. A man was caught stealing an electric fan from Kinsel's downtown and demanded that it accompany him to his jail cell. The judge declined.

On McNichols and Livernois, the pavement buckled and formed a concrete mound, four feet high, stopping traffic in all directions. The wrestling show was canceled at the Naval Armory and 22 were dead in the city.

Friday was the first time in history that three consecutive 100 degree days had been recorded in Detroit. It reached 101. As the weekend began, crowds began to throng to Belle Isle. It was a Detroit tradition to camp out on the island when oppressive heat moved in. But never in such numbers. Police reported that there was not a parking space to be found on the island and traffic was backed up from the bridge along East Grand Boulevard all the way to Kercheval. The island looked like a massive gypsy camp, with hundreds of thousands of families sleeping out in the open, wherever there was an open piece of grass. The scene was duplicated in neighborhoods across the city as people took bedrolls out on their lawns to spend the night.

By now, the heat wave had reached the East. In New York, the Olympic trials were being held and athletes were rushed to nearby hospitals after collapsing. All the bridges over the East and Harlem rivers stuck in the open position when the metal joints expanded, trapping thousands of motorists on Manhattan. Heat records fell in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Maryland, in West Virginia, Wisconsin and Indiana.

In Detroit, the death toll took a sudden jump as news came in from Eloise Hospital that 63 previously unreported victims had died during the weekend. Hospitals were not air-conditioned and heat-stroke victims brought in often found no relief. Heroic efforts were made to treat them as all rooms filled up. Doctors and nurses, working 18 hours without a break, administered treatment on cots or on benches in the waiting rooms. Hysterical relatives crowded the lobby, trying to find news of missing loved ones. Newborn infants died in the delivery room. Old people succumbed to heat-induced heart attacks. In a house on Magnolia, a mother and daughter died within 12 hours of each other. The morgue reported 90 deaths in the previous 24 hours.

Still, the heat held on. It was 101 both Saturday and Sunday and 100 on Monday. Rain was expected anytime, moving in from the west. "The city looked like a deserted village," reported the Detroit Times. Nothing moved on the downtown streets as offices closed down. A schedule of sandlot baseball games went on but played to empty stands.

Suddenly, on the seventh day, it ended in Detroit. The temperature reached 104 at 2:15 p.m. on Tuesday, July 14, then started to slide. A massive thunderstorm swept across the city. Crowds on Belle Isle were drenched by the sudden deluge as they ran for buses and cars. By midnight it was below 70 for the first time in a week, and at 5:30 a.m. it bottomed out at 61. It was over.

There were 364 dead in Detroit, 570 dead in Michigan. Only Ohio had a higher death toll. Medical experts said the deaths were so numerous because the early summer had been mild and people hadn't had a chance to be gradually acclimated to the heat. Tourist officials used the death toll as an odd verification of Michigan's status as a summer resort. "People can't cope with heat because they're not used to it here."

But here I am 73 years later writing this story because I think it is an important part of my life history. And to this day I still donot like extreme hot weather!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Time in a bottle!

Did you ever have one of those days when you wish you could capture the whole day, the whole wonderful experience in a bottle and then let it out when you need it?
Wouldn't it be wonderful to call up time when you need it and let it go at other times?

For instance, when you are sitting and waiting for a call in to the Doctor's office, you could just transport yourself away to that wonderful day at the beach.
Or when you are rushed and know you won't possibly make it to the bank or the post office before they close, you can just recall sitting in the sunshine reading a book of poetry that makes your whole body feel calm and relaxed.

Living in the moment hasn't been possible lately for me. So many of my friends and a few relatives have been ill, my dog had a major scratching problem that was driving him and me crazy, my grandson's dog sat down and refused to get up and was in terrible pain. All these things upset me a lot but I have to take it all in stride, try to keep the ball rolling, so to speak, because someone has to remain calm.

So I said a lot of prayers for all those folks who were very seriously ill, and one by one they started to get better.

I took my dog to the vet; we got medication for his itching which wasn't a serious infection, more like an allergy to something in the grass and now two weeks later he is much calmer.

My grandson's dog,on the other hand, will never get better. The vet says his knees and hips are about done for at the young age of 5. Even if we could afford the very expensive surgery to save his knees he will still be somewhat crippled. But today my little guy went to look at the shelter dogs up for adoption and they asked him if he would like to foster a puppy! And of course, he said YES! PLEASE! like me he would have 10 dogs if Mom and Dad said Yes, and he had the room. But like most little boys he only wants a puppy! But maybe,just maybe, his time is now to love another dog as he does the first one and make his heart happier if the older dog does not get well. His time today will be in his bottle for quite a few days and he can look back and be joyful about it.