The History of Labor Day

What is the point of Labor Day? In the United States, we commonly think of it as the end of Summer. Throw your last party, make your final trip to the beach, and be at work or in class Tuesday morning. Don’t forget to buy your books and coats, mother nature’s about to crank up the freezer. We often overlook the actual origins of the holiday, dating back over a century to the 1700s for the US. Variations on the holiday elsewhere in the world fall on different dates, but share the celebration of worker’s rights.   The Labor Movement Before the 19th century, there weren’t really workers’ rights or any regulations requiring worker safety. There wasn’t a widespread concept of overtime pay, no job site safety, and if the boss said ‘you’re fired because a horse looked at me funny’, there were no laws protecting your employment. It wasn’t a great situation for workers, and it was about to get worse. The Industrial Revolution brought machines into the equation. Factories now had moving parts. If someone slipped or didn’t pay attention, the machinery could remove a finger, hand, arm, or head without ever stopping. It was possible to go to work, lose an arm, and simply be fired for not showing up the next day while you recovered. There were kids working in factories instead of playing or going to school. Just to add insult to injury, there was […]

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The Origins of the HEPA Filter: Nuclear Research

There has been some… grim news recently about a possible war between the US and North Korea over their developing nuclear capabilities. There is a ray of light though, in this grim news. It gives us an excuse to talk about HEPA Filters. It turns out, they were created specifically because of nuclear research and the fall out of nuclear weapons.   Filters Before HEPA Air filters have been around for a long time. The first air filters can be traced all the way back to the 1500s, a primitive respirator to protect the wearer from gases, dust, and fumes. Damp-cloth respirators started to come around in the 18th and 19th century. These used damp wool and valves to filter dust out of the air. The liquid-based approach would end up expanding to water and oil bath systems that essentially washed the air. Most contaminants would end up dissolved or pushed down in the water, while the air could eventually pass through. This technology was used on cars, trucks, tractors, and even some early air conditioning systems. It was pretty much the only known way to clean the air. At the time, there were no electron microscopes and the concept of cells and bacteria was still pretty new. There simply hadn’t been research into all the little things in the air and how effective or ineffective the existing filters were beyond subjective opinions. In the 1940s, there came a very […]

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115 Years of Keeping Cool

115 Years ago today, Willis Carrier submitted his drawings of the first Air Conditioner as we know them today. To get a handle on just how long ago that was, the Ford Model T wouldn’t be released until 1908. Cars were a luxury item and people primarily got around with horses, trains, and the odd trolley here and there. Let’s take a look back at what lead to the first air conditioner.   The Paper Problem To understand the first air conditioner, we need to understand why it was built and the problem it was intended to solve. It was commissioned by a printing company on the East Coast of the United States. They were having a problem though: their prints were getting ruined. It wasn’t that the machinery was shredding the paper, but that it was becoming misaligned and putting ink in all the wrong places. It all comes down to how the process works and the need for strict control of every step. The printing process used at the time was a four color process, perhaps similar or even the same as today’s CMYK printing. The paper stock would advance through the machine to receive one color. Then it would be lined up and run through the same or another machine, to receive another color. This would go on until four colors had been applied. Where colors overlapped, you could create things in between. Blue and Red ink […]

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The (Summarized) History of the American Revolution

Today, we’re going to turn our attention away from Air Conditioners, Boilers, Thermostats, and everything else in our industry to look at history and change. We’re going back before the air conditioner and before climate control as we know it today, to a period when your “air conditioner” was the window and a strong breeze. Building Tensions The 13 English Colonies are on the border of outright war with the crown. In 1765, the Stamp Act tried to raise taxes in the colonies and block smuggling to ensure England got it’s cut of everything entering or leaving the country. The Act was repealed shortly afterward, with Parliment refusing to give up control or provide true representation to the colonies. These unpopular laws lead to the Boston Massacre in 1770, seeing colonists gunned down by British soldiers during a protest. This fueled calls for revolution. In 1773 the Tea Act was created to prop up the failing East India Company. There were widespread protests about the implications of the law. Efforts across the country were made to stop the British Tea shipments entirely. One particular shipment of tea was dumped into the Boston harbor in what we now call the Boston Tea Party. At the time, there was no concept of anyone truly resisting the British Empire. Larger nations such as France and Spain had failed to fight back. Decades after the American Revolution, the British would even defeat China, in […]

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