Monday, January 10, 2022

warm-hearted; cold-blooded

When I told my friends I was moving to Mexico, the response was nearly unanimous: "You hate the heat."

That is true. I seldom don a jacket until temperatures drop below the mid-30s, and I kept my house in Salem at a very-serviceable Carteresque 55-degrees in the winter. My friends Ken and Patti Latsch would always ask: "Should we wear a sweater -- or a sweater and coat?" I was not so much green as my guests were blue.

My first extended encounter with heat was when I was stationed in Laredo for my Air Force undergraduate pilot training. Even though I arrived in the midst of a Texas winter, my quarters were far too hot for me. In the first month, I burned up (or froze up) three air conditioners that I ran at maximum. All day.

One night a fellow student (and chum (Larry Gana) asked if I wanted to see what was playing at the base theater. It was some forgettable schlocky horror film dressed up in contemporary clothes to look "modern." Count Dracula goes to Marin County. That sort of thing.

Nothing in the film was memorable. But I do recall one scene. A neighbor comes to the count's house to invite him to a neighborhood welcome party. When he steps inside the house, he says: "This place is as cold as a morgue."

Larry turned to me and said: "I get it, now. You're a vampire."

Well, I wasn't. And I still am not. I suspect you either have to be European (or a Europhile) to be a genuine vampire. I am nether.

But there is a grain of truth embedded there. Cold seems to retard rot. Heat increases it. It is certainly true with meat and plants. I have now discovered that plastic should be added to the list.

I knew that plastic left outside would decay faster than an Englishman's teeth. Something about UV rays, I have been told. For the plastic, not the English enamel. Plastic chairs left out in the sun here quickly splinter and are a nuisance to dispose of.

Some other factor is at work in my kitchen, though, other than direct sunlight. I suspect it is both the heat and humidity. 

I have several sets of glass and pyrex bowls that were sold with plastic lids for ease of storing leftovers. Convenient. Efficient. But they are convenient and efficient only if the plastic lids are in working order. Every plastic lid I either brought with me from Oregon or bought here in Mexico is now unserviceable.

Like our own lives, the rot starts around the edges. A few nicks here. A crack there. A chip on what once was a smooth surface. Until the day the lethal crack inevitably occurs and the lid is reduced to another un-recyclable contribution to the local landfill. An end not dissimilar from our own appointed fates. Once again, proving Newton's First Law of Thermodynamics. Heat is energy.

I have seen some flexible silicone lids on Amazon that may resurrect the utility of my topless bowls. But something tells me that Newton's Second Law of Thermodynamics will put paid to that hope. Entropy applies -- even to plastic lids.

But there is a simple answer. Saran Wrap and a dinner plate. I slip the plate between my wrapped bowls and, voilà: problem solved.

That is how we deal with Newton's observations on heat and entropy in the house with no name. We don't need no stinkin' European vampires for that. 

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