Wednesday, March 11

It's Not The Heat

Yesterday, I asked Marilee if the printers at her work jam a lot; she said they did. "Why?"

Lately, she's had a persistent cough - one of those little tickle kinds of coughs. Nothing ever comes of it (read produced), but doesn't stay around all the time.

Last Sunday, as she always does this time of year, she went out to Jenn's for the weekly NASCAR race. She said she coughed all the way to Jenn's, but not while she was in the house.

Feeling a sparkle in my eye and a light bulb over my head, I asked "How long have you had this cough?"

"Since about last June" was the reply.

"Do you remember coughing when we were in California?"

A deep thought later, "No, I didn't."

Getting up off the couch and walking over to the mantel, I asked "Did you cough at all after you got back from Jenn's on Sunday?"

"No, only on the way."

I handed her what I had picked up off the mantle. "And you cough all day at work?"

I had handed her a very low-budget humidity gauge. The plastic kind you can get at a home-improvement store like Home Depot; typically they're in the HVAC section.

She took it to work on Monday; she reported the humidity level was about 25.

When she got home last night (Tuesday), she said the humidity level had gone down to 15 percent.

Only when she's in a humidity-rich environment like here at home, or at Jenn's, does she stop coughing. And though the weather in California in December wasn't wet, it wasn't as dry as it was outdoors in Salt Lake City on Sunday.

Or in her office.

And printers are very sensitive to humidity levels. Just a quick look at one of my printer service manuals confirms that - a typical office printer should not operate in humidity levels lower than 20 percent.'s the humidity.

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