Recife, Pernambuco, Brazil

The Cold Shower Shuffle

June 4th, 2012 | Posted by Ian in Oh

Disclaimer: The first section of this post is generally coherent. The second section starts as mildly odd rambling, then devolves into pseudo-scientific fervor and madness.

Hot showers are not a right.

As we prepare to venture into new lands, I have been increasingly aware of the fact that as an American I carry the ridiculous assumption that I should be able to have a hot shower whenever I please without bothering to wonder how exactly such a thing is possible or being grateful for such a luxury.

Yikes! This shower is freeeeeeezing.

If you think this is risqué, you should see the first draft.

This scene that, for you or me, plays out daily (or at least almost daily) isn’t a reality for most of the people on this planet. It is easy to forget that if you are reading this blog post you are almost certainly quite rich by world standards. A $400 water heater and the energy to run it doesn’t seem like a whole lot, but for much of the world such cost is prohibitively high, or at least high enough that there are more important things to spend your income on.

Every day of your life, a small miracle happens. You turn a knob or flip a handle and, in a wondrous bit of modern magic, steaming hot water is instantaneously at your fingertips. (Well, it’s not really instantaneous, now is it? Actually, you have to wait for a ridiculously, horribly, agonizingly long time for the water to make its way through the pipes and up to you.)

The guidebooks are quick to point out that hot water in so called developing countries shouldn’t be an expectation, at least not on our budget. Our admittedly modest experience in foreign lands has borne this out as well. Sixty degree water on a sixty degree morning might not sound too bad, but give it a try and see if your opinion changes. I don’t even want to imagine forty degree water on a forty degree morning.

The Cold Shower Shuffle and Associated Statistics

As a lifelong hot shower aficionado, the thought of our upcoming sojourn with anything less than hundred degree water on demand has slowly crept from the back of my mind closer to the front. It no doubt started as a small seed, but as psychoses tend to do it grew into a roaring beast full of fangs and claws and rage and ice. Like the boogie man it popped up both when I most expected it and when I didn’t expect it at all.

Also like the boogie man, I decided that the situation needed to be confronted head on. And so for the past two months I have been teaching myself the art and science of the cold shower. It has been a two pronged attack, based on both temperature tolerance and technique. The first prong has seen the gradual adjustment of the shower knob further and further to the dreaded right hand side, closer and closer to that despised ‘C,’ with more and more of that curved stripe taken up by blue instead of red. The second prong has seen the trial and error development of efficiency in two statistics I have termed Overall Shower Duration (OSD) and Water Exposure as a Percentage of Shower Time (WEPSTi), resulting in a little jig I call “The Cold Shower Shuffle.” I shan’t go into too much detail here, but suffice it to say the original goal of The Shuffle is for both OSD and WEPSTi to be as low as possible. For most of the past two months my progress was quite encouraging.

However, a strangle signal has just started to emerge in the data. Both OSD and WEPSTi appear to have reached a plateau and then started to rise again:

Cold Shower States

*Note: Assume water temperature falls in rough relation with OSD and WEPSTi until minimum (ambient) temperature was reached on 6/5/12

As an adherent to the scientific method I naturally began to list possible causes for the new trend; stopwatch error, calculation error, water heater malfunction, warmer local weather causing higher ambient water temperature.

Then again, examining each of these possible explanations would be fruitless, for I know the true cause. Yes, I am actually starting to enjoy a cold shower.

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