Friday, August 2, 2013


Today is projected to be the hottest day of the summer in Germany, at least so far. It will get up to 36° (98.6° F) with high humidity. Many are heading to a beach, river, lake, Schwimmbad, or local fountain to cool off, some are filling blow-up pools in their yards, and others toughing it out and going about their regular business.

Central air in public places (including stores, restaurants, and movie theaters) and in homes is not common here, so going shopping on a beastly hot day can be a rather miserable experience for someone like me who hates shopping even when it's a comfortable temperature. So today, I'm pulling a Hemingway and staying home, inside, in the dark, alone.

In our former house in Wisconsin, a day like this would be awful inside without the central air running. The heat permeated through every window and wall of the house. But our house here is made mainly of concrete, and the temperature inside takes longer to change. Granted, it does get very stuffy when the windows are closed, which is why even in the chilliest part of winter we need to turn off the heat and open all the windows for 10 minutes or so to move the air around every few days.

But this blog post is about Rolladen.

If not for the Rolladen, the sun would be heating the bedroom like a sauna

These things are amazing. Judging from the movie "The Holiday," rich people in California have these on their windows, but I never knew anyone in Wisconsin who had them.  "Rolladen" translates to simply "shutters," but they are so much more than the shutters I knew of in Wisconsin, which were decorative rather than functional.  These puppies roll down from a hidden pocket in the wall above the window and close out as much light as I want to. If I want to leave room for some air to get in, I close it most of the way, leaving an inch or so of space at the bottom, which also leaves cracks open between the slats. If I need to sleep in the middle of the day, I can close the Rolladen all the way and make the bedroom dark as a catacomb.

In the living room a little air can get through, but there's not much moving today anyway.

All of our windows have these, so on a day like today, I have closed all of them on the east, west, and south sides of the house, and every room is - at least for the moment - a very comfortable temperature. It's not too warm, and not at all too cold. I swear, the heat and humidity in Wisconsin feels even worse than it is because so many places are chilled like an ice box with air conditioning. I can't go anywhere on the hottest day in Sheboygan without bringing a sweatshirt along, because I feel like a bag of shock-frozen peas when I step through the front doors of a store, restaurant, or friend's house.

I think the body deals better with consistency than extreme and sudden changes. The Germans are convinced of this. Many, many times I have heard Germans say that they frequently get sick in the States in the hot summer, which they attribute to constantly going out into the heat, back into an icebox...out into the heat, back into an icebox.  Just today on the morning news show, people were being interviewed and asked how they will deal with the heat. One woman said it's best to drink warm liquids like tea and coffee because it's less of a shock to the body, and drinking cold beverages makes one sweat more in the heat. I don't know if that's true, but that may very well be why American tourists often say that the beer (and soda)  in Germany is served warm. It's not warm - it's just not chilled to the degree that it is in the U.S..

So anyway, I'll stay inside and relax today (I cleaned the house yesterday, so I don't even have any chores to do except for garden work, which doesn't sound tempting at the moment). I'm keeping the lights off, too, because they produce enough heat to defeat the purpose of keeping the Rolladen down.  I might watch a movie if I can figure out how to turn on the darn system, which has 6 components and 12 remotes...

I'd read, but it's too dark.

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