Yesterday was one of the first days in what seems like an eternity where I was genuinely too hot for comfort and needed to get some cooler air in my house. I flipped a switch and just like that, my entire life got a lot more comfortable.
Air-conditioning, as far as I’m concerned, is freaking witch-craft. I have no idea how it works or why it works. It’s completely amazing to me. Growing up in Springs, I remember vividly my house not having air-conditioning, and being in my room, literally on the floor, with a towel filled with ice wrapped around my neck. I’d go into the freezer and stick my head in for a minute or two, and pray I could figure out a ride to get to the beach. I remember being so uncomfortable with the heat that I used to walk into the large freezer at the restaurant Pacific East in Amagansett (anybody else remember that restaurant?) where I used to work as a food runner about a decade ago, and I would just stand there for a solid ten minutes, trying to cool down from carrying hot food in 90 degree heat for five hours straight.
These days, air-conditioning is a big deal to me. I view it as a complete luxury in life. A lot of people, believe it or not, cannot afford the electric costs that comes with running an air-conditioner.
I really think that the guy who invented air-conditioning deserves a national holiday. Too many of us overlook this incredibly important piece of machinery that has done nothing but make our lives more pleasant.
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, an American born in New York.
In 1906, Carrier discovered that “constant dew-point depression provided practically constant relative humidity,” which later became known among air conditioning engineers as the “law of constant dew-point depression.” On this discovery he based the design of an automatic control system, for which he filed a patent claim on May 17, 1907. The patent, No. 1,085,971, was issued on February 3, 1914.
I think that May 17th should be a national holiday. I really do. And it’s coming up. We could create the Haviland Vodka Martini, we could have a parade where ice is thrown at people and frozen foods are celebrated. And of course, for one minute, the whole nation could turn off their air-conditioners for ten minutes, break a sweat a little, and be reminded of how damn lucky we are to have figured out this magnificent piece of technology.