Saturday, March 1, 2014

Still Life With Robin: Which Way Is Up?

Photo by Vincent de Groot via Wikimedia Commons
by Peggy Robin

Although we are still months away from air conditioning season, I thought I’d throw this question on the table: When you want to make the room colder by increasing the air conditioning, do you turn the A/C UP or DOWN?

I have consulted both friends and family and have found opinion is evenly split…with both sides hot to defend their own point of view. The ones who say that UP makes it colder tell me that you are making the system work harder. “Turn it up” is universally understood to mean increase the power, volume, effectiveness, of whatever system, appliance, or gizmo you are fiddling with. It’s not an ambiguous call -- no other interpretation is possible, by this logic

Nonsense, goes the reply. If the gizmo in question is an air conditioner, whether a whole house system controlled by a thermostat or a window unit with a dial or digital display, if you want to get more cold air, you must take action to bring the numbers DOWN.  So you must say what you mean to do: “Turn the air conditioning down” -- by which you mean, move the dial or the digital display to a lower number. If you turned it up to a higher setting, you would make it warmer. DUH.

While I’m pondering this dilemma, I’m Googling these phrases on my tablet. I pulled up many hits with answers. Here are three of them:

Not only did Google not direct me to a clear and  convincing answer, but it brought up a brand new and even more baffling UP/DOWN question. To get to the results of the search which can be found DOWN below the visible area of the screen, you need to flick your finger UP toward the top of the glass surface. When the motion you make is to move your finger up, are you now scrolling UP? Or DOWN? Hmmmm….


Still Life With Robin is published on the Cleveland ParkListserv and on All Life Is Local on Saturdays.

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