Thursday, July 20, 2006

Running on Empty

When trying to think of something to enter into my blog today, there are so many things that come to mind. None of them stay very long, and none of them makes much of an impression. Perhaps this is in no small part due to the fact that over the past couple nights I have gotten about three hours sleep.

This heat wave is a major bummer to me! I am having trouble sleeping because the house is like a sauna. Sure, the Victorians built to last, but that means that the walls of The Villa (as we have come to call the house that my company maintains for visitors to the Thames Ditton office) collect heat all day as the sun beats down. The fifteen inches of solid clay bricks then radiate the stored heat all night long. I may not have been good enough at physics to be a rocket scientist (like my brother) but I do understand enough about thermodynamics to realize that if you have a warm air mass and you surround it by a warm layer of bricks that are radiating heat at or above the temperature of the air, there is little chance that the air will actually cool off.

And it doesn’t. The air in the bedroom is just about as warm when I get out of bed as it was when I got into bed. And since I do not sleep well when it is warm in the room, I am not sleeping well. I love nothing more for sleeping than leaving the windows open at home (in Colorado) when it is a cool fall night (temperatures down into the 30s) and climbing between the featherbed and the down duvets!

Perhaps, if I pretended that it was in the 30s here it would feel cooler! I mean, I am half way there! They announce the temperatures here in Celsius and so the temperatures here have been in the thirties for days. Unfortunately, that means that it is in the nineties on the Fahrenheit thermometer that I am used to reading. I believe that they have switched to centigrade over here so that we dumb Americans (who were to backward to go metric when they tried to do it back in the sixties) would be permanently confused.

Do you remember when they tried putting the metric system in place back in the sixties? I do. I remember that it was supposed to be the wave of the future. “The whole world will be going metric.” We were told and they made us study metric measures for weight, volume, temperature and length. Unfortunately, like so many other things that seemed like idea at the time, we dropped it when it started looking hard.

And speaking of things that they do over here presumably just to confuse visitors, every once in a while the BBC completely catches me off-guard. They (at last on BBC 4) give the time in GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) rather than in local time. For those of you who have never been over here and (like me) thought they were one and the same, ah! No. They are not the same thing. GMT is a fixed time that is equal to the time it is in London during the winter. Right now we are on British Summer Time; it is one hour later here in London than it is wherever GMT is currently being used.

I guess it makes sense to not adjust GMT for daylight savings time, but could you at least give the time on the radio in the local time?!? Every once in a while, especially on mornings like this morning where I have not been sleeping so I am about as sharp as a marble, I hear that is 05:15 GMT and think to myself: “Damn! I could have slept another hour!” Of course, I couldn’t; because locally it is 06:15 and I am due at the office in 15 minutes. Oh well, I guess I should cut this screed before it becomes a full-blown rant. Besides that, it is 06:15 and I should probably be getting to the office.

Please excuse the rambling nature. I am, as I have said, running on empty. Perhaps I will sleep tonight.

I hope that wherever you are, you have had a good night’s sleep.

Don Bergquist - 20 July 2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK

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