keeping cool


Here’s a simple truth.  Americans are hogs.  Their washing machines, dishwashers, and dryers consume vastly more electricity than European versions of the same devices.  We use air conditioning as though it wasn’t actually causing the heat we are fleeing from, assuming that air conditioners somehow are miraculous perpetual motion machines that have no social cost. 

But here’s another simple truth: on really hot days (and there were summer days in June and July 2007 that were the hottest days in Hungary’s recorded history, a bunch of those days in a sweltering row in a row...) the people who know how to cool things off in Budapest, the only people, are the ugly Americans.  Head for a McDonalds or a Burger King.  Find a reason to justify sitting in the lobby of an American hotel chain.  Other than spending the day at one of the thermal baths, that’s pretty much your only hope.


Like much of Europe. Budapest clings to the belief that it never gets really hot enough to turn on the air conditioning.  Perhaps this is because, most places, there is no air conditioning to turn on...But global warming has brought a series of summers in which Europe's first line of defense has been breached -- the massive stone exterior walls of most buildings which stay cooler than the outside air for many days have finally yielded to weeks of constant high temperature and become radiators.