Sunday, December 15, 2013

How low can you go?

Now, here's a thing.  This 3rd blog about the use of technology in our B&B, I thought I'd better make sure I knew what technology actually is!  It turns out that the word comes from the Greek techne, "art, skill, cunning of hand".

No, that's not what I thought either!  But then, the more I think about it, the more it seems to be appropriate.  Let me give you an example.

Imagine that it is 3:30 in the morning, and somebody, me, a guest, whoever, lets go of the toilet seat and it crashes down with a bang which is amplified not only by the stillness of the night, but also by the startled waking up of the listener.

At our Carlisle House, technology has come to the rescue with soft-close toilet seats and lids!  Ah, the art and skill required to invent this is surely a technological advance that can only benefit society!  So what else can we attribute to Low(er)-Tech?

Well, the older of our two buildings at 148 South Hanover Street in Carlisle, PA was built in 1826, and there are two interesting features that fulfill the "art, skill, cunning of hand" requirement.

First, the staircases are necessarily long, because the ceilings on the first and second floors are both 11 feet from the floors.  But with a rampant disregard for the lateral space they take up, the rise on each step is about an inch less than in a modern house.  There may be a lot of steps, but they are definitely easier to climb, particularly when carrying ladders long enough to actually give access to the said ceilings!

And at the top of the staircase to the third floor is another feature of interest.  Where the first staircase from the ground floor is an elegant straight run from the first floor to the second, the stairs from floor 2 to floor 3 have a landing halfway up where the stairs do a U-turn.  From that landing you can look back down the stairs you just climbed, but if you look UP, there is a window from the top room which opens out ... over the stairs!

The architect of our home back in 1826 applied his knowledge of technology and physics with this simple window.  By opening this staircase window and the dormer window in the roof, warm air rises through the home dragging cooler air in at the ground floor level, creating an airflow throughout.  A simple but very effective technology!

The last example is one which we have never yet had to use.  It seems that we are becoming well known for our breakfasts, particularly our breakfast quiches.  But what if, Horror of Horrors! there was a power cut at breakfast time?  Well, I want to reassure you that I have been practicing hard and with the aid of my trusty gas grill I am all ready to make quiches outside!  And if by any chance the gas runs out, I have a charcoal option as backup.  What do you think a cherry-wood smoked English ham, leek and cheddar quiche would taste like?  Even though I'm ready, I hope you won't need to find out!

The next techno-blog in this series, we'll be more up to date!

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