by Play Now
The Afternoon Mess blog



Some people take frequent breaks outside. Others bring in a sweater, a scarf or an “office blanket.” Some block air vents with cardboard, or quietly switch on space heaters under their desks. If you’ve ever sat shivering in your office in the dead of summer, you too may be a victim of excessive air conditioning.

Even as the temperature outside rises to sweltering temperatures, America's extreme air conditioning habit mean that people in offices, movie theaters and restaurants end up being chilled like TV dinners.

How did this happen? How did America become the land of overpowering air conditioners? Will it ever change?

It's not just a matter of taste or personal comfort. Some studies have found that worker productivity falls with the temperature. Customers aren't happy either: In a 2008 survey, 88 percent of people said they find at least some retail establishments too cold, and 76 percent said they bring extra layers of clothing with them to movies and restaurants. The Post's Petula Dvorak has observed that in offices, the trend exacts a particular toll on women, and, of course, it wastes huge amounts of energy. The U.S. uses more electricity for air conditioning than Africa uses for everything.

America, it turns out, is addicted to A/C for reasons of fashion, physiology, gender norms, architecture and history. Over the last century, air conditioning improved our health, happiness and productivity. But somewhere along the way we grew dependent on it, and now we don't know how to find our way back.

The battle of the sexes

If you've spent time around the opposite sex, you may not be surprised to hear that women tend to get chilly more easily than men.

Part of that is just due to the difference in male and female bodies. Men tend to be bigger and heavier than women, meaning they heat up and cool down more slowly. Men also typically have more muscle than women, which helps to generate heat. Women tend to have more body fat, which holds heat into their cores, but can leave them with icy toes and fingers that make them feel colder.

These differences are the origin of countless domestic spats over the thermostat and the covers. It's also why some sleeping bags have two temperature ratings, one for “standard woman” and “standard man.”




CEMENT, OKLAHOMA — They are still experiencing those painful firsts; weekends, sporting events, seasons where a husband and father used to be and where, now, he is not.

“He was diagnosed in September,” says widow Sandy Seibold. “He passed away in May.

“He’s a great person,” says his 13 year old daughter Saige before covering her face to hide fresh tears.

On the first Father’s Day since Johnny Seibold’s funeral, Saige and Sandy paid a visit to his burial site near the town of Sterling.

Johnny’s unfinished marker lies near his father’s and other members of the Seibold family.

Sandy thought it might be helpful that afternoon to release a bunch of balloons with a message.

The handwritten note asked the finder to please contact them.

“We thought the idea of sending balloons to heaven sounded good.”

Saige’s release didn’t go very well at first.

The ribbons tying the balloons together caught in a power line.

Sandy recalls, “It upset Saige and I just remember praying, ‘please God. Let these balloons fly for her.”

Then, minutes later, a gust of wind caught them and away they went.

Sandy and Saige left the cemetery, ran some errands.

It took a few hours for them to make the 25 mile drive north, back home to Cement.

Saige went downhill from their house to the pasture where she and her father often worked together.

There, tangled in a fence, was her message.

“It was right here,” says Saige pointing to a section of barbed wire a few hundred feet from the house.

The same letter she’d released earlier that day had flown on a southerly breeze straight home.

“What are the chances?” asks Sandy.

“I think I started crying,” she says. “It felt like a message from him.”

They are both still mourning, but after what happened on Father’s Day they both say they feel a little more free now.

It’s hard for them not to believe that Johnny sent them a message, that he is free now too.

“This has given us a lot of peace and good feelings about where he’s at.”




2015-08 | 2014-04 | 2014-03 | 2013-10

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