Sunday, December 16, 2012

A Recalcitrant Heater

When I took Dave's knife to Kensington Church Walk the other day, I came across this nameless shop with a cluster of hats in the window. They were perched there like birds or butterflies, tiny impractical hats that would never keep your head warm or shield you from the sun. I think they're technically known as "fascinators."

I suppose if you're in the market for a fascinator, you'd know whose shop this is. I bet those little things cost more than our rent.

A fellow blogger mentioned yesterday being flummoxed by her modern television system, and that reminded me to tell you of my own latest alienation from modern technology. Dave and I have a heating system in our flat that warms the floors. It's controlled by a series of thermostats, one for each room. The landlords told us when we moved in that the system is a little complicated, but they left an instruction guide and I wasn't too worried about figuring it out.

Well, let me tell you, complicated is an understatement. Dave and I have both tried to figure out these ridiculous little thermostats, which have digital screens and 11 buttons each for things like "day," "minute," "hour," "mode" and "program," or marked with symbols like a sun or a suitcase. We have utterly failed. Last spring we finally figured out how to turn the system off, we think, but this fall we've been unable to turn it back on again. So if I bitch about the cold a lot, keep in mind that our fancy heaters are not really heating. (We do have a fireplace, so that helps, even if it makes me feel a bit Elizabethan.)

Dave and I went to see "The Hobbit" yesterday. We liked it, but not as much as the "Lord of the Rings" movies. "The Hobbit" is a lighter story, and it's maybe a bit too cutesy in places. It also lacks the grand, metaphorical epicness of the first trilogy, which beneath all the elves and dwarves seemed to really be about Europe's disintegration in the first half of the 1900s. (I've read that Tolkien disputed that, but come on.) So, I dunno -- I have mixed feelings about the prospect of two more "Hobbit" movies to come!


  1. Huh, I've always thought those floor heating systems were great. I was jealous of the people that had them as they seemed to work really well. (We mostly saw them in the Netherlands). We had plain old radiator heat (which I LOVED) and you don't see much of anymore.

    I've heard The Hobbit is not getting the best of reviews. We are seeing it today, so we'll see. Maybe the digital 3D will make up for whatever it lacks? Maybe we shouldn't compare it to Lord of the Rings because what could possibly hold up to that epic?

  2. In the Steve Jobs biography, he is quoted a lot as saying that so many technological systems are "stupid" which makes consumers feel stupid when they can't figure them out. He spent his life trying to make technology smart. I think there is a lot to this.

  3. uh, did you think about maybe calling the landlord and having him come over and give you a tutorial? just a thought, instead of being cold.

    Anyway, love the pic of the storefront with the hats. Love the hats though I would never wear one.

  4. Lynne: I'm sure they ARE great, when you can figure out how to work them!

    Ms Moon: Yeah, technology needs to be somewhat intuitive to be successful, I think.

    Ellen: Unfortunately, our landlord lives in the states!