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    A pamaypay just isn't good enough

What a blur! I am still dizzy from our summer. First, I am so thankful for air conditioning. I am also thankful for the plentiful variety of lakes and swimming holes in Manitoba. We should all be so lucky. In a recent family trip to Alberta, I asked where the nearest beach was to Calgary and with minor embarrassment in his voice, my cousin said it was one and a half hours away. The beach, Sylvan Lake, happens to be the same distance from Edmonton, so you can imagine just how busy it can get on a hot day – providing a place to swim for the thousands of Calgary and Edmonton city dwellers, not to mention all the little towns in between. We have Grand Beach, Winnipeg Beach, Birds Hill Park, Falcon Beach and West Hawk Lake, to name a few. And who can forget the ever-popular Rushing River. Who hasn’t been camping at Rushing River? When I go, it is the same as if I am walking into the Superstore on McPhillips or celebrating a debut. You know everyone there.

When we can’t cool off at the beach, we benefit from the noisy little box outside our homes. Our air conditioners – or as my dad likes to call it, “aircon” – have been working on overdrive this summer. And what a summer it has been! No complaints here. Every weekend was beach weather and it seemed like everyone took advantage of it. There were more people taking in the rays than ever before. I have darker skin to prove it.

I was reading a local newspaper not too long ago and one environmentalist said that heat waves are in essence, ruining the environment. I thought how is that possible? I knew of global warming and how the Arctic ice shelves are dissipating at an alarming rate, but how can hot sunny weather affect the environment? Grass and trees grow faster and give off more oxygen, so what’s the big deal? Basically this is how the story went:

When it gets hot like it did this past summer, air conditioners are working non-stop to keep the occupants in their households & offices cool. This in turn uses more electricity, which in turn consumes more energy from Manitoba Hydro’s power plants. The environmentalist had offered cost saving solutions as an alternative to using air conditioning. One was turning on a whole bunch of fans and the other was to turn off all your lights – oh and another option was to not use your dryer and stove. Hmm… So, should we just live in caves and catch our food using clubs? And I’m not talking about your nine-iron.

I usually have an open mind, but this was silly. Last I heard, fans use electricity and would have to run allday and air conditioners come on at intervals, which could perhaps use less electricity, right? And how would I feed my five hungry boys without using a stove? Order in or pick up food? That uses gas. You see where I am going with this, right? If I had Home Depot deliver an air conditioner to this fellow, nobody would see him leave his house.

In the end, I applaud his environmental conscience. I did my part recently and chucked my 13-litres-per-flush toilet and opted for a dual-flush model. I even stood in line at 7:00 am in front of Home Depot to purchase said toilet. They had a great deal and as it turned out, I wasn’t the only one who thought so. I was the 30th person in line at 6:50 am waiting to snatch up one of these porcelain bad boys. Every time I flush it, I realize just how guilty I was every time I flushed that old toilet. I guess I felt that my money was going down the drain, so to speak.

As for it being September, I wish all the boys and girls out there a happy first day of school. I look forward to making bag lunches and going to parent teacher conferences. I also look forward to the artwork the boys will bring home. What amuses me is that if I saw it anywhere else, I would mock it. But when they bring it home and present it to us as if they had just purchased a $2 million Monet, I have to say, it is nothing short of art at its finest.

Dale Burgos manages the communications department in a Winnipeg school division.

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