Was experiencing some serious breathing complications

It wasn’t too long ago when I went to the doctor.

  • I was experiencing breathing complications and what seemed to be an irregular heartbeat in my mind.

When the doctor checked me, he said there was absolutely nothing wrong with my heart which I was grateful for. He did say that my breathing troubles were likely due to the HVAC system in my home. He said he dealt with patients having trouble breathing all the time, and it was unfortunately due to negligent HVAC system care. He asked me if I could breathe better during my visit to the hospital and I had to admit it was much easier for me. He explained that was because they had a UV air purification system installed in the hospital. He told me how the UV light works to eradicate harmful pathogens so sickness doesn’t spread through the hospital. He also said the system uses HEPA filters which filter out 99.9% of contaminants. I realized he was right and he easily proved his point, so I went straight to the HVAC company after leaving the hospital. I picked up a couple of portable UV air purifiers, some HEPA filters that were the correct size for my HVAC and the HVAC expert even talked me into getting a smart thermostat. The smart thermostat was a wonderful idea because now I am saving a lot of money on my energy bills, I’m breathing easier, and I feel less stressed out like there really isn’t anything wrong with my heart. Maybe I was just having a panic attack before.

 

 

duct sealing

The portable AC unit was great for our party spot

It started out as a party spot, and then developed into our full-time hangout spot.

Eventually we spent more time there than we did at home, but that took a little doing.

It was an old cabin in the woods, in the middle of logging country. We guessed it was an old hunting lodge, but it hadn’t been used in twenty or thirty years. It was empty, just four walls and a roof, but the doors and windows were sound. It was a great place to drink beer and get stoned. We really wanted air conditioning for it, though, to make it more like home. Chairs would be nice, eventually, but I didn’t mind sitting on the floor if I had some AC on a hot summer day. We all pooled our scant amount of money, and realized we would have to go without beer or weed for a whole week to pay for the air conditioner. We put it to a vote, which passed, so we got the portable air conditioner and then started working for “party supplies” to enjoy with it. Having air conditioning in our own cabin changed the game, and made us very popular on weekends when everyone wanted a place to chill and drink. Once we had A/C and were old enough to not have to go home every night, a few of us started just staying there for days at a time. When the winter came we used the old fireplace to keep us warm. I went back to see it after twenty years, and wouldn’t you know it, that portable air conditioner was still there! It didn’t work, though.

 

whole home air purification

Granny Tanis likes her AC very cold

My grandmother Tanis was very kind to take me in.

Especially since she is not related to me by blood at all, so there is no real family obligation.

She has been a close family friend for my entire life, and much longer, so I always considered her an extra grandma. When I fell on hard times thanks to all this COVID nonsense, she offered me a place to stay. It was a couch, in a one bedroom apartment, but it was someplace safe to live for a few months. I had to make a lot of adjustments to live there, but the biggest of them was probably the thermostat. Granny Tanis likes the AC set as low as the thermostat will go. If you don’t know this already, turning the thermostat all the way to the lowest temp will keep it on all the time without cease. The central HVAC system cannot lower the temperature that far, so it keeps running, keeps trying, never quite getting there. This makes it meat locker cold in her house, and it also smells terrible due to the cats affecting her air quality. I suggested opening the window for the natural ventilation, and giving the air conditioning a break for a few hours, but she refused. Whenever she went out to the store I would turn off the A/C and open a few windows to let in a little blessedly fresh air. Then I would have to seal it back up and crank the AC back down the lowest setting before she returned.
Help with indoor comfort

A rescue lodge provides heating in the storm

I will be the first to admit that I have no survival skills.

If I didn’t know that already, this last weekend definitely proved it.

My girlfriend and I were going up the mountain for some skiing. We had no reception that high up, and had to rely on a map, which went as poorly as you might expect. We got lost, turned around, and ended up getting stuck in a snowbank. Thankfully the map had marked on it some rescue lodges, one of which was a quarter mile away. There we found bottled water, canned food, and a furnace to keep the cold at bay. Of course the only furnace I knew how to use was connected to a smart thermostat, and simply required the flick of a switch. This was a wood burning furnace, and although there was ample firewood, I had no idea how to build a fire! Our good fortune kept on coming, though, because the person who kept the cabin thought to idiot-proof it, and left a laminated card with instructions on how to use the wood burning furnace. The instructions even had pictures ,like IKEA for heating, to step me through it. We were able to get the furnace nice and hot, and maintain the fire through the night, thanks to those instructions. We made sure to leave a note of thanks the next morning, and said we would come back later with fresh supplies for the cabin and firewood for the furnace. Whoever it was really saved our lives that night, and we owe them big.

 

 

furnace

Using the HVAC system to help his pot plants grow

I have known Billy since the first day of first grade. Mind you, this is a very small town, so I can say the same thing about a dozen other people, too. We all started first grade in the only school in town, and ended up graduating from the only high school in town years later. Of anyone, Billy was my dog, my partner in crime, and we did everything together. When it was time to move out from our parents homes, of course we got an apartment together… and then things changed. First it was about the thermostat, but then there was a lot of other stuff too. He kept turning the thermostat up, and I mean way up, to where it was over 80 degrees in the apartment, and the humidity was insane. I kept turning down the thermostat, but whenever I turned my back he would crank it back. We had a huge fight about it, and he left… only to return an hour later with a portable air conditioner for my room. His gift to me, because he was sorry he needed the climate control to be so warm, but he did for the next few weeks. With the portable A/C unit my room would stay ice cold, so it was a fair compromise. Then I came to find out he needed the climate control so warm not for himself but for his collection of pot plants. Since he didn’t have a greenhouse he was using the HVAC system to help repl;icate the ideal growing conditions for his cannabis!

 

air conditioner tune-up

Written instructions for the furnace and fireplace

No one asked me to look after the rescue lodges, I just decided that if no one else was going to do it, then I would.

I live very remotely, a good three hour drive from the nearest town.

This is rich, fertile hunting grounds, and in the off season it is a well traveled hiking spot. The point is that no matter how wicked the snowy weather gets, there will be someone out here in the woods. The rescue lodges are a series of small cabins set up with bottled water, canned food, blankets, and a heating source. Since there is no electricity we can’t use space heaters, but some of the cabins have fireplaces, and the others all have wood burning stoves in them. We always leave a week’s worth of wood for the fireplaces and stoves, but we have found that it wasn’t enough, and that we needed to leave instructions as well. It turns out the kind of people who get lost in the snow are the same kind of people who don’t know how to build a fire in a furnace or fireplace. I made a series of drawings and written instructions, like IKEA instructions, nailed to the wall near the furnaces and fireplaces so people could see how it was done. You can see why I do this work, because I didn’t provide shelter and heating spots in the deep woods, there would be a lot more frozen bodies come the Spring thaw. I just hope someone else takes over when I get too old to do it.

heating dealer

Air conditioning the whole neighborhood

I guess I was just raised in a very frugal family, and those habits remain through into adulthood.

For example, turning off the lights when you leave a room.

40 years ago there was a power shortage, so it was probably more important to turn off all electrical fixtures you weren’t using. But I am still insistent on it to this very day, nagging my kids about turning off lights. I know it wouldn’t make more than a few cents difference on the utility bill, but it still feels like a big deal to me. The same thing goes with the thermostat, which I watch constantly, and adjust it several times a day for maximum efficiency. Although I mess around with it a lot, I decided I did not want to act like my parents did when it came to the thermostat. As a kid, I thought that touching the thermostat was one of the Seven Deadly Sins, this is how mad my folks got about it! Although I don’t like wasting money, I also don’t want my kids to see me act like that over something as trivial as running the A/C a little bit more. So I have a rule where the kids are allowed to turn on the air conditioning if they get hot, but they have to tell me about it first. This way I can see if the house is genuinely too hot, or if someone just left a window open and is trying to air condition the whole neighborhood. Oh no, I already sound like my parents!
gas furnace

Enjoying the hot summer

From what I hear, it’s a hot summer most everywhere. I live way up north, and I mean WAY up north, so if we get a 60 degree day it’s a very rare occurrence. We did get a few weeks of no snowfall, so for us that’s a pretty hot summer too, but to me it felt amazing. I was still chopping wood and doing the other chores, but it is so much easier to do them in a tee-shirt, instead of a heavy parka in three feet of snow! I was soaking in the sun as much as possible, and opened up the whole house for some fresh air and natural ventilation. I don’t get a lot of natural ventilation during the snowy season, because it is simply too cold to open a single window. It may not sound like a big deal to you, because I’m just one guy, and how bad can the air quality be? One guy locked in a tiny cabin for months on end with no natural ventilation of fresh air can get more rank than any professional sports locker room! I have no electricity so there is no air filter or purifier here, I have my wood burning furnace to provide heating and cook my food and that is all. A blistering hot 60 degree day is such a rarity I took full advantage of it, getting ventilation in my cabin and airing out all my clothes and bedding, too. Four hours later the temp had dropped 40 degrees, so I was firing up the furnace and closing up the cabin once again.

furnace/heater tune-up

Clashing with roommate over thermostat

I do not like my new roommate at all.

We got matched together through one of those services, because we both needed a room to rent quickly, and couldn’t afford one on our own.

His name is Dave, and he plays acoustic guitar very poorly, but thinks he’s improving. Just between you and me, Dave is not improving, he is bloody awful at it, but I admit I may be prejudiced since I have to listen to it for 4 hours a day. Dave is a big, smelly guy, and it isn’t that he doesn;t shower regularly, he is just naturally smelly. Another thing, he cranks the thermostat down way too low whenever I am not home. That is something I have noticed about a lot of overweight people, that they need to turn the thermostat much lower to stay comfortable. This is fine, I am not judging or fat-shaming in any way, I’m just saying that having too much air conditioning in my own home sucks and I am over it! We decided the best option would be to upgrade the HVAC system to give us zone control air conditioning. That way we can keep our own bedrooms whatever temperature we want, and then agree on a middle ground thermostat setting for the common rooms. That is going to take a couple of months to save up for, though, because HVAC upgrades are not cheap! Once we get the thermostat issue settled things will be a lot better, other than his terrible guitar playing. Let’s hope for the best.

air conditioner tune-up

The furnace is the source of life

I have to resort to melting snow for my water most of the time, which means melting it down and then boiling out the impurities, so the furnace is essential to having clean drinking water.

I can go for weeks at a time without seeing another human being. This COVID stuff didn’t impact me too much, because I am always self-isolating. I live on the side of a snowy mountain, which stays snowy for a good nine to ten months a year. My nearest neighbors are in a small community, which is also where I get all the supplies I can’t provide for myself. I keep money on the books at the general store there, to get canned veggies and sundries like snowmobile parts, or replacement parts for my furnace. Out here I need 4 main tools to survive, a sturdy blade for cutting and chopping, a gun for getting food, a furnace to provide heating, and an axe to provide wood for the furnace. Of course I also need things like water, but the catch is that without the furnace I don’t have water, either. I have to resort to melting snow for my water most of the time, which means melting it down and then boiling out the impurities, so the furnace is essential to having clean drinking water. The same goes with my food, which I need a gun to hunt, but I can’t eat it raw I need the furnace to cook it so I can actually eat it. These are just some of the uses for my furnace, and I haven’t even mentioned how it provides the heating that keeps me alive through the cold months. Without reliable heating I would be dead in a single night, so the furnace is my source of life.

 

 

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