Monday, February 27, 2006

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Sunday, February 19, 2006

Cold Day In ... My House

I keep my thermostat set to 50F when I'm away from home. I turn it up to 55F when I'm home if I'll only be awake for a few hours. I turn it to 60F, and sometimes even up to 65F, when I'll be home for a few days.

This weekend, I'm off work and was planning to have a (reasonably) warm house while studying for an exam on Monday. When I walked in on Saturday morning and turned up the heat, my (very old, in-the-wall, natural gas) furnace made a loud BOOM!! sound. A few minutes later, I realized that there was no heat accumulating in the furnace and the fans had not turned on to blow hot air.

Along with other unfortunate events recently, this was not a good thing. It was yet another 'bad timing' experience. Why? Because, outside yesterday, there was ice and snow on the ground and the temperature was 14F. The temperature in my living room (where the thermostat is), was below the lowest turn-on value. (50F is the lowest setting to turn on the furnace. The thermometer was below 50F one more 5-degree mark.)

After a few phone calls, I went to the neighborhood hardware store and bought a 4000W, 240V, Fan-Forced electric 'ultra-power utility convection heater'. Back home, I ran it at full force for several hours before the thermometer on the thermostat moved up to 55F. That's as warm as it got, but it was a start.

From there, I moved it to my bedroom. The bedroom is closed, so the heat is staying in there a little better than in the living room (where I am now with almost-numb-with-cold fingers). The bedroom is where I am spending the bulk of the weekend with cats and dogs piled in around me. (Only one tough-guy kitty refuses to go in with the rest. He's out in the freezing part of the house.)

At this point, there is still ice and snow on the ground. The temperature outside is 21F. From what I can tell from the thermometer on the thermostat, it's maybe 40F in my living room. I have the faucets all open enough for a slow drip.

Last night, I kept a fire in the woodstove with bags of newspapers, and stood in front of it wearing a coat while watching Castaway (Tom Hanks). I didn't mean to watch it all. It's amazing that it was so fascinating to watch what was almost completely a one-person movie.

Today, I'm saving the remaining newspapers for tonight when Grey's Anatomy comes on. I plan to either be finished studying by then or sick of it. Either way, I'll stand in front of the open wood stove and try to stay warm for an hour. Maybe the temperature in this room will rise at least to 50F for that hour!

Someday soon, after this exam and during normal business hours, I'll call in someone to repair the furnace. The guy at the hardware store told me what he thinks the problem is. The part costs $100. He told me I can replace it myself. It's that easy. I'm not so sure. I think I'd rather pay someone for an hour of labor, someone who has done it before. Anyway, the natural gas company will have to turn off the gas to my house before that can happen. So, it's not even an option right now. I'm still using the gas to have hot water. Maybe in a few days.


Bipolar Life

I don't have a bipolar diagnosis. I don't have the symptoms of bipolar disorder. But, I've certainly been thinking about it recently and wondering what it's like when all the ups and downs are on the inside rather than on the outside.

So far this semester, my experience in school has been wonderful and terrible. I have felt wonderfully happy, encouraged, positive, capable, and on my way to good things. In turn, I have felt deeply sad, discouraged, negative, completely lacking, and headed straight for hell.

It is only fitting that in the past day or two, I've begun to wonder if having bipolar disorder is like having all these wonderful and horrible external events going on inside your head. So, that even though I can (at least in theory) walk away from my bad situations, people with BPD have it on the inside and fight a much more difficult battle.

Am I way off the mark here?