Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Air-conditioned tents in the desert?

Last week I was running a few errands with NPR's Science Friday on. I'm a bit of an NPR junkie, which is probably a good thing, since my taste in music is admittedly a little questionable these days.

The discussion that day was centered around U.S. Military energy use. The conversation came around to insulating the tents in Iraq and Afghanistan. Apparently, we place standard canvas tents in the desert and then spend over 1 billion dollars a year in fuel, 11,000 trucks worth, to air-condition them.

We are air-conditioning tents in the desert. Canvas tents. In the desert.

So the guest was discussing how he'd commissioned a team to come up with an insulation technique, something about spraying foam over the tents, to reduce these costs.

It doesn't matter whether you agree with the war(s) or not, air-conditioning a leaky old school canvas tent in the desert is about as ridiculous as, well, I can't think of anything more ridiculous. So instead of stopping the practice, we crazy Americans come up with a work around. And then, we pat ourselves on the back for it.

It bothered me for days.

So then I started thinking about my own air-conditioned tent in the desert. You know, that thing that I am doing where I find myself trying to come up with some crazy work-around (foam spray? really?) but is really only a problem I've created myself.

I'm pretty sure it is social media. Facebook, blogs, online news, and all the other 140 - 300 - 500 blocks of crap that I am filling my brain with. Now that I am serious about reading and writing, I am finding that it is hard to get my brain to focus on things. Just about a week ago I told a friend of mine that I seriously don't think I am as smart as I used to be. But something tells me that really isn't it.

My tent popped up from loneliness. Being at home is hard for me. Not because of the presence of the kids but more from the absence of adults. So I post status updates on facebook. I blog. I read other blogs. I poke around websites looking for a little something to break up the day. But the internet is, after all, the desert, so of course, bring on the air - the content - which is nothing really. Crank it up. Still nothing. What a waste.

So I am thinking I need to get out of the desert, abandon the mission. But like the occupation of Iraq, its' complicated, and I can't just leave all at once.

Or can I?

2 comments:

Lisa said...

NO, keep fighting, soldier, the troops still need you! Someday your version of tent insulation will change the world!

Jess Holmes said...

Interesting analogy! I'm an event-planner, and I work with a company called carrier air conditioning when we need ac in tent spaces. I'm sure the technology they can use out there is totally limited and very wasteful.