1518: "Typical Morning Routine"

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squall_line
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Re: 1518: "Typical Morning Routine"

Postby squall_line » Wed Apr 29, 2015 2:59 pm UTC

More to the point, "floor vents" are more likely to be found in homes with an excavated/non-slab foundation, whether that's a "crawl space" area or a full "basement".

Certain areas of the United States do not have excavated foundations for various reasons:

New Orleans: most of it lies below the water table, making excavation of anything rather problematic. See also: above-ground vaults for cemeteries, rather than below-grade grave sites.

South-central Plains and Desert Southwest: The ground is just too damn hard (not to be confused with areas in New York, where the Rent is Too Damn High) to excavate for a reasonable cost. Ironically, in some parts of the area known as "tornado alley", there are few excavated foundations, and separate community storm shelters need to be built to protect residents in the event of dangerous weather.

My home, built in the 1920's, in Iowa, has a fully-excavated basement. It originally had a "gravity" heating system, so named because it relied on the "weight" (yes, I know, it's actually density... I didn't name it!) of cold air relative to hot air to circulate heat without any fans or other forcing. The (likely coal-fired) furnace was replaced at some point with a forced-air gas-fired system, which retained 95% of the original vents, but replaced most of the duct work. Having a full, unfinished basement, it's quite easy for me to get to any of the ducts to work on them if the need arises, other than the few areas that still have asbestos around them.

All that said, I'm not sure if people are joking about the whole "Thanksgiving" thing or about their ignorance of non-steam heating systems, but I'd think by now that XKCD has been running for long enough that readers would understand that it's a comic written/drawn by someone in the United States, and therefore will ALWAYS have more US-specific references than European references. I wish people would get past their 50Hz, metric, "not European, therefore not funny" xenophobia. It's all played out on here already...

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Re: 1518: "Typical Morning Routine"

Postby Himself » Wed Apr 29, 2015 3:08 pm UTC

Ignitus wrote:I see a surprising amount of people with floor vents in this thread. They are actually rare in construction for obvious reasons.

Given the people who have mentioned they did not know there were homes with floor vents, it seems this thread would naturally attract such comments. Though I think you're right. I can only ever recall being in one house that had them.
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Re: 1518: "Typical Morning Routine"

Postby Copper Bezel » Wed Apr 29, 2015 3:32 pm UTC

squall_line wrote:All that said, I'm not sure if people are joking about the whole "Thanksgiving" thing or about their ignorance of non-steam heating systems, but I'd think by now that XKCD has been running for long enough that readers would understand that it's a comic written/drawn by someone in the United States, and therefore will ALWAYS have more US-specific references than European references. I wish people would get past their 50Hz, metric, "not European, therefore not funny" xenophobia. It's all played out on here already...

That's my usual feeling, that it's simply a played-out joke. I very much enjoy seeing the discussions of how things work differently elsewhere; those can happen just as readily without being couched as some kind of missing-the-point criticism of the comic.
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Re: 1518: "Typical Morning Routine"

Postby HES » Wed Apr 29, 2015 3:43 pm UTC

Now that it's been pointed out, I have stayed in "caravans" (/trailers/prefabs) with floor venting. But they don't really feature in traditional brick-built UK housing.

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Re: 1518: "Typical Morning Routine"

Postby Marsh'n » Wed Apr 29, 2015 3:46 pm UTC

So if we have concluded that this "vent" is a heating vent, I think there's a simple solution to this. Turn on the heat, wait until the ductwork reaches at least 30°C, and then start filling the duct with gallium. Once the phone rises to the top, retrieve it, and then make sure the house cools to below 30°C and stays there - you'll never lose anything down that duct again. And if you want to have fun, you can show people how you can penetrate solid metal with your hand by plunging* it into the duct.

Oh, and hope that the ductwork isn't made of aluminum. Usually it's galvanized steel, so it should be OK, right?

* For relatively unimpressive velocities of "plunging" of course. Otherwise you'll break your fingers.

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Re: 1518: "Typical Morning Routine"

Postby rmsgrey » Wed Apr 29, 2015 4:02 pm UTC

Here in the UK, we generally have a water-based central heating system (well, a few die-hards still use a per-room localised heating system powered by lignin combustion) - water transfers heat around better than air, though you it only directly heats lumps of metal in each room where an air-based system can feed heated air into the room directly. Where air-based systems have the advantage over water-based systems is in cooling, and that's rarely a problem here in the UK - the highest temperature recorded over here is 37.4C (or 99.3F) - normally we're surprised when/if the temperature reaches 30...

So we're well set up for water-based temperature control systems over here.

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Re: 1518: "Typical Morning Routine"

Postby golden.number » Wed Apr 29, 2015 4:16 pm UTC

I've lived in 10+ houses during the past 40+ years in Cali, Oregon, Indiana, Florida, Texas, Utah, Colordao, and Washington. Every one of those houses had floor vents. This is one of those bias things were I am so used to something that I am astonished to discover that there are people who don't know that something exists. Typically the vents are placed in front of windows and doors so that when the hot hair comes out it will rise and help compensate for the fact that even insulated windows/doors let more chill into the room than the walls.

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Re: 1518: "Typical Morning Routine"

Postby AndrewGPaul » Wed Apr 29, 2015 4:29 pm UTC

Yes, it's always a surprise when I go into a building and it's cooler than the outside. As it stands, I've turned off my central heating, and am currently trying to convince myself that it's not cold in here right now. :)

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Re: 1518: "Typical Morning Routine"

Postby Pfhorrest » Wed Apr 29, 2015 4:36 pm UTC

Copper Bezel wrote:I grew up in a single-wide. I was told to call it a "mobile home," because "trailer" was derogatory.

I live in one now and I call it a 'trailer' specifically to be derogatory of its size and tangible frailty and closely-packed parking-lot-like arrangement in a field of similar structures, even though the image of it actually trailing behind a vehicle down the street is ridiculous. (Calling it 'mobile' would be equally ridiculous for the same reason, which is why the new preferred terminology is apparently 'manufactured home' instead.)

I want a real solid foundation under my feet and nothing but my own yard adjacent to my home, damnit.
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Re: 1518: "Typical Morning Routine"

Postby golden.number » Wed Apr 29, 2015 4:37 pm UTC

I've live in 10+ houses all over the US (florida, indiana, cali, utah, oregon, colorado, washington, texas) and all of them have had floor and ceiling vents. The floor vents are typical when there is a basement under the first floor, or on the second floor. In a forced air home there are two sets of vents. One set are the return air vents (typically one per floor) that circulate air back to the furnace and the other set carry hot or cold air from the furnace throughout the house (typically one per window/door). They floor vents are usually put in front of an exterior window or door. I'm actually astonished that there are people that aren't familiar with floor vents. Obviously I am so accustomed to them that I assume everyone else must be as well. Now I need to do some google searching to see how people in other countries heat/cool their houses without central heat/air.

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Re: 1518: "Typical Morning Routine"

Postby CelticNot » Wed Apr 29, 2015 5:07 pm UTC

All this talk of forced-air v.s. water heating is making me nostalgic. I grew up in a house with forced-air heating (including a "fan" as a sort of primitive AC) and an unfinished basement, but when I first moved out, all the apartments I stayed in had baseboard radiators. It took some adapting, especially in winter where we had to make sure to leave the heating on all the time, or the pipes would freeze. When we finally bought a house for ourselves, my lifemate and I, my childhood came rushing back the first time the furnace came on; there's a certain hush to the sound of forced-air heating that radiators can't match, and I didn't realize how much I missed it until I had it back.

I still miss that "fan" setting, though; they apparently don't add it on to systems any more since integrated AC is more common. We don't have that yet, though. Might wait until we move and find a place that already has it.
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Re: 1518: "Typical Morning Routine"

Postby orthogon » Wed Apr 29, 2015 5:11 pm UTC

Copper Bezel wrote:
squall_line wrote:All that said, I'm not sure if people are joking about the whole "Thanksgiving" thing or about their ignorance of non-steam heating systems, but I'd think by now that XKCD has been running for long enough that readers would understand that it's a comic written/drawn by someone in the United States, and therefore will ALWAYS have more US-specific references than European references. I wish people would get past their 50Hz, metric, "not European, therefore not funny" xenophobia. It's all played out on here already...

That's my usual feeling, that it's simply a played-out joke. I very much enjoy seeing the discussions of how things work differently elsewhere; those can happen just as readily without being couched as some kind of missing-the-point criticism of the comic.

I'm sorry if anything I have said has come across as xenophobic or anti-American. At worst I intend it as a kind of light-hearted ribbing: if there's a better way of fostering peace and understanding between two cultures than having a jolly good laugh at ourselves and each other, then I'd like to know what it is. I know I've posted many times on the question of SI (not metric per se), but unless I'm mistaken it's always in the context of a kind of weird admiration that you manage to achieve stupendous feats of science and engineering despite making it so much harder for yourselves by using an inconsistent set of units. And it's generally not critical of the comic itself; where it is (as in the Horoscopes one) it's more a case of holding Randall to his own high standards of internationalism and inclusivity. I believe that I acknowledged squall_line's point - that RM lives in the US and is allowed to be as US-centric as he likes - explicitly in that discussion. And often it really is just a genuine interest in a newly discovered transatlantic difference of the type that you (CB) mention. We get so much American TV that we think we know most of the differences of language and culture and to realise there are yet more examples to be discovered is fascinating. I don't see anything in Envelope Generator's original post to suggest that it was intended as a criticism.

In wholly British company I often find myself arguing against a kind of knee-jerk anti-Americanism that's rife in the UK and really gets on my nerves.
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Re: 1518: "Typical Morning Routine"

Postby neremanth » Wed Apr 29, 2015 5:12 pm UTC

squall_line wrote:I'm not sure if people are joking about the whole "Thanksgiving" thing or about their ignorance of non-steam heating systems, but I'd think by now that XKCD has been running for long enough that readers would understand that it's a comic written/drawn by someone in the United States, and therefore will ALWAYS have more US-specific references than European references. I wish people would get past their 50Hz, metric, "not European, therefore not funny" xenophobia. It's all played out on here already...


Copper Bezel wrote:That's my usual feeling, that it's simply a played-out joke. I very much enjoy seeing the discussions of how things work differently elsewhere; those can happen just as readily without being couched as some kind of missing-the-point criticism of the comic.


Huh. I saw people basically saying "Floor vents? What are those? Never heard of them, is that a US thing?", but I didn't see anyone adding "The comic's not funny because I didn't know what floor vents were." I thought people were (presumably having enjoyed the comic anyway, but not necessarily) just interested in a detail that the comic included, and asking about it here because they were curious for more information (admittedly, phrasing their question in some cases in a somewhat US-teasing manner).

I too, being from the UK, find heating vents an unusual architectural feature (unusual in the sense that I never see them, rather than in the sense that I find them bizarre). I was aware of their existence; I'm pretty sure either from a much earlier XKCD or from some other comic. And I found it interesting that people elsewhere had different means of heating their houses.

I'd definitely take vents or radiators over Japanese house-heating methods. I lived there for a year and heating was by freestanding kerosene heaters. You had to buy kerosene at the garage every so often to keep yourself supplied, then keep the heaters filled with it. It seemed like a tremendous bother (particularly when you hadn't been keeping an eye on the fill level and then ran out in the middle of the evening and you had to go out in the cold and bring in some more), and I was also a little afraid both of carbon monoxide poisoning and accidental fires, to the point where I wouldn't use them while I was asleep but bought some electric heaters for that instead (which always had me waking up with a dry throat). (It also seemed a little incongruous in a country that installs multifunction electric toilets, and baths that keep the water hot, as standard in houses.) This was an area that had a meter of snow continuously from late December to the end of April as well, so it's not like they just didn't expect to have cold enough weather to need heaters much! It's ten years ago now that I lived there, so I guess it's possible that things have changed - but everyone there seemed perfectly happy with this way of doing things so I'm guessing not. That has to be one of the very few things I don't miss about Japan. Kotatsus, on the other hand, are absolutely brilliant and I would love to have one again - they're tables (at the right height for use sitting on the floor) with an electric heater on the underside; you put a blanket over the table that reaches to the floor all the way round, put a table top over that so you have a flat surface again, stick your legs underneath and get all toasty!

EDIT:
orthogon wrote:We get so much American TV that we think we know most of the differences of language and culture and to realise there are yet more examples to be discovered is fascinating.

That's very well put! Exactly.

Also, I meant to say originally that this
Perspicuity wrote:You call it pools of mercury. We call it Hg Wells.

is awesome!

(Also, fixed a typo.)

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Re: 1518: "Typical Morning Routine"

Postby operagost » Wed Apr 29, 2015 5:42 pm UTC

Copper Bezel wrote:And "boiler", corresponding, connotes old steam-based heating in the US (radiators and things), which isn't used in new construction.

If you have hydronic heating, the appliance that heats the water is also called a boiler. This is a misnomer, because the water is heated to only 180 degrees F, but it's used a lot to distinguish from a furnace used in a forced-air system, which has a heat exchanger.

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Re: 1518: "Typical Morning Routine"

Postby operagost » Wed Apr 29, 2015 5:42 pm UTC

speising wrote:Please, tell me which smart phone lasts for weeks! I want that so badly.

The kind that is put into airplane mode, as mentioned in the comic.

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Re: 1518: "Typical Morning Routine"

Postby speising » Wed Apr 29, 2015 6:20 pm UTC

operagost wrote:
speising wrote:Please, tell me which smart phone lasts for weeks! I want that so badly.

The kind that is put into airplane mode, as mentioned in the comic.

But surely not when the alarm is constantly ringing.

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Re: 1518: "Typical Morning Routine"

Postby rarsiii » Wed Apr 29, 2015 6:41 pm UTC

EMP, anyone?

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Re: 1518: "Typical Morning Routine"

Postby Anglave » Wed Apr 29, 2015 6:50 pm UTC

In case the Archimedes solution proves impractical (that much mercury is expensive!), it occurs to me that one could over-volt the blower fan in an attempt to push the phone back up the vent with air pressure. It's science!

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Re: 1518: "Typical Morning Routine"

Postby Copper Bezel » Wed Apr 29, 2015 6:53 pm UTC

neremanth wrote:Huh. I saw people basically saying "Floor vents? What are those? Never heard of them, is that a US thing?", but I didn't see anyone adding "The comic's not funny because I didn't know what floor vents were." I thought people were (presumably having enjoyed the comic anyway, but not necessarily) just interested in a detail that the comic included, and asking about it here because they were curious for more information (admittedly, phrasing their question in some cases in a somewhat US-teasing manner).

orthogon wrote:I'm sorry if anything I have said has come across as xenophobic or anti-American. At worst I intend it as a kind of light-hearted ribbing: if there's a better way of fostering peace and understanding between two cultures than having a jolly good laugh at ourselves and each other, then I'd like to know what it is.

Oh, yeah, this topic's totes cool. I was just responding to the comment in the general case, I guess, that I've seen some rather silly responses to US-centric references before and do find them a bit tiring. Like, I giggled at the "Is that a Thanksgiving tradition?", but also braced for impact for how the next person might pick the point up.
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Re: 1518: "Typical Morning Routine"

Postby Flumble » Wed Apr 29, 2015 6:59 pm UTC

*flumbled

speising wrote:
operagost wrote:
speising wrote:Please, tell me which smart phone lasts for weeks! I want that so badly.

The kind that is put into airplane mode, as mentioned in the comic.

But surely not when the alarm is constantly ringing.

AFAIK the speaker uses a lot less energy than the screen and probably less than the difference between two CPU SoC power modes.
Okay, maybe it won't hold out for a week, but it should get close.

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Re: 1518: "Typical Morning Routine"

Postby speising » Wed Apr 29, 2015 7:04 pm UTC

Flumble wrote:*flumbled

speising wrote:
operagost wrote:
speising wrote:Please, tell me which smart phone lasts for weeks! I want that so badly.

The kind that is put into airplane mode, as mentioned in the comic.

But surely not when the alarm is constantly ringing.

AFAIK the speaker uses a lot less energy than the screen and probably less than the difference between two CPU SoC power modes.
Okay, maybe it won't hold out for a week, but it should get close.

But the processor can't go to deep sleep, as it is decoding the sound file. And that's the real battery killer in the long run. Just look up music playback times of the phones.

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Re: 1518: "Typical Morning Routine"

Postby Tyndmyr » Wed Apr 29, 2015 8:41 pm UTC

orthogon wrote:I'm sorry if anything I have said has come across as xenophobic or anti-American. At worst I intend it as a kind of light-hearted ribbing: if there's a better way of fostering peace and understanding between two cultures than having a jolly good laugh at ourselves and each other, then I'd like to know what it is. I know I've posted many times on the question of SI (not metric per se), but unless I'm mistaken it's always in the context of a kind of weird admiration that you manage to achieve stupendous feats of science and engineering despite making it so much harder for yourselves by using an inconsistent set of units. And it's generally not critical of the comic itself; where it is (as in the Horoscopes one) it's more a case of holding Randall to his own high standards of internationalism and inclusivity. I believe that I acknowledged squall_line's point - that RM lives in the US and is allowed to be as US-centric as he likes - explicitly in that discussion. And often it really is just a genuine interest in a newly discovered transatlantic difference of the type that you (CB) mention. We get so much American TV that we think we know most of the differences of language and culture and to realise there are yet more examples to be discovered is fascinating. I don't see anything in Envelope Generator's original post to suggest that it was intended as a criticism.

In wholly British company I often find myself arguing against a kind of knee-jerk anti-Americanism that's rife in the UK and really gets on my nerves.


*shrug* I certainly don't mind. A lot of it's just whatever you get used to as a kid and see as "normal", and bam, everything else is strange and different. Floor vents, for instance, I see as entirely routine. My current house has them and...I can't think of a house that didn't. And I've never lived in a prefab home. They don't seem at all unusual among the many other houses I've been to, either...so they seem a common US thing at least.

Dropping thing into them SUCKS, in part because now you've gotta unscrew a grate, and reach into some black unknown pit because it probably slid/rolled off to the side into a place that's likely full of spiders or something. Oh, and you also gotta watch 'em if you have small animals(like hedgehogs) scampering about, because they can put a foot in 'em and hurt themselves.

Now that I think about it, floor vents really do seem like a pain.

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Re: 1518: "Typical Morning Routine"

Postby Quaaraaq » Wed Apr 29, 2015 9:04 pm UTC

A lot of the houses in the New England region have forced hot air heating with vents, which is where Randall lives as well as myself. I much prefer them to radiators as you can heat up a house or cool it down in a matter of an hour or two.

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Re: 1518: "Typical Morning Routine"

Postby Flumble » Wed Apr 29, 2015 9:36 pm UTC

speising wrote:
Flumble wrote:*flumbled

speising wrote:
operagost wrote:
speising wrote:Please, tell me which smart phone lasts for weeks! I want that so badly.

The kind that is put into airplane mode, as mentioned in the comic.

But surely not when the alarm is constantly ringing.

AFAIK the speaker uses a lot less energy than the screen and probably less than the difference between two CPU SoC power modes.
Okay, maybe it won't hold out for a week, but it should get close.

But the processor can't go to deep sleep, as it is decoding the sound file. And that's the real battery killer in the long run. Just look up music playback times of the phones.

Indeed, it can't go to (deep) sleep, but on newer systems it can power off all but one (low-performance) core on the SoC.
I don't know how much longer you can extend the playback time with a custom OS (that really disables all peripherals and other unneeded things), but some phones should work for more than half a week, e.g. 90 hours.

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Re: 1518: "Typical Morning Routine"

Postby serutan » Thu Apr 30, 2015 2:24 am UTC

Though I am now woefully curious about the basis for your Thanksgiving inference. Possible use in the cooling of pies?
It's just one of those things like "junior prom" that we hear about all the time but only have a vague idea what they are. Also,
furnace

I remember reading this word in Gone Girl and being puzzled for a while. We would call it a "boiler", though we tend to favour water-based central heating, so I don't know what we call the thing that heats up the air in a hot air system. But I'm pretty sure it's not a "furnace": that's something industrial-sized used for melting steel and the like.
'

Back before heat pumps became standard, lots of homes had forced air central heating driven
by either a natural gas or coal furnace. And the houses I grew up in all had floor vents. Don't
think they're build anymore, though
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Re: 1518: "Typical Morning Routine"

Postby Mikeski » Thu Apr 30, 2015 5:48 am UTC

serutan wrote:Back before heat pumps became standard, lots of homes had forced air central heating driven by either a natural gas or coal furnace. And the houses I grew up in all had floor vents. Don't think they're build anymore, though

I don't know about "coal," but natural gas ones are still a huge industry (Trane, Carrier, Bryant, Lennox, etc). And you can get fuel-oil or propane ones for places where the gas lines don't run. I've lived in houses with all 3 kinds. (Though the other two have been refitted for natural gas since I lived in them. One is my parents' house, the other is now owned by one of my parents' godchildren. Small world.)

I'm pretty sure 99% of houses that'll be built in Minnesota this year will have a forced-air furnace installed. And over half will have an accompanying central air-conditioning unit that uses the same ductwork. And floor vents.

ObComic: I've never seen a floor vent you could drop a cellphone through, though. An iPod Nano, sure.

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Re: 1518: "Typical Morning Routine"

Postby Copper Bezel » Thu Apr 30, 2015 11:33 am UTC

Yeah, at least here in the Midwest US, gas heating is the norm and electric the exception. It's apparently cheaper for us to pipe the gas than to convert and pipe the energy (the plant would have heat losses, obviously, which means losing heat there instead of at the house.)
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Re: 1518: "Typical Morning Routine"

Postby armandoalvarez » Thu Apr 30, 2015 11:56 am UTC

orthogon wrote:It's just one of those things like "junior prom" that we hear about all the time but only have a vague idea what they are. Also,

I'm guessing you know what prom is or you wouldn't have specified "junior prom," but prom is a big dance at the end of the school year for high schoolers where they wear formal attire (boys in tuxedos, girls in fancy dresses. I mean, I guess you could wear whatever you want, but most people are wearing that).

Americans often refer to 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th grades as freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior year, respectively.

My high school only had one prom. It was for the seniors (12th graders), although they could invite any guest they wanted. (That is, if you were dating a junior (11th grader), or you were friends with a junior and wanted to bring your friend to the dance, you could, but an 11th grader couldn't buy their own ticket.) Some high schools have a prom for juniors and a prom for seniors. The prom for 11th graders is therefore called "junior prom." (I imagine the deal is the same- any junior can go and can also invite anyone else they want).

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Re: 1518: "Typical Morning Routine"

Postby orthogon » Thu Apr 30, 2015 12:47 pm UTC

armandoalvarez wrote:
orthogon wrote:It's just one of those things like "junior prom" that we hear about all the time but only have a vague idea what they are. Also,

I'm guessing you know what prom is or you wouldn't have specified "junior prom," but prom is a big dance at the end of the school year for high schoolers where they wear formal attire (boys in tuxedos, girls in fancy dresses. I mean, I guess you could wear whatever you want, but most people are wearing that).

Thanks for the info. I guess I said "junior prom" because the digram is quintessentially American to British ears, whereas prom on its own has other meanings, including a paved strip along the seafront and one of a series of classical concerts. Your numbered school grades were alien to us until a decade or so ago when numbered years 1-11(or maybe 12?) were introduced. Before that we had separate numbering systems for infants (age 5-7), juniors (7-11)and seniors (high school) (11-16), though this system varies by region even within England, so I guess the uniform numbering is a good idea. As you can see, we use junior and senior in a different way to you.

I guess I've seen enough US movies and cartoons to know roughly what a prom is, though the idea horrifies me. It seems like something that's great for the popular/attractive/confident kids and hell on earth for the more shy and insecure (not to mention anyone still unsure of their own sexuality). I suppose that it could be a useful exercise to be forced to ask out girls until you find one that agrees, but I'm sure I'd have found the experience deeply scarring. And I gather that schools here are starting to introduce the concept, which, notwithstanding my earlier comments about anti-Americanism, is something that I definitely think we should have left safely on the other side of the ocean.
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Re: 1518: "Typical Morning Routine"

Postby Copper Bezel » Thu Apr 30, 2015 12:48 pm UTC

armandoalvarez wrote:I'm guessing you know what prom is or you wouldn't have specified "junior prom,"

Senior proms are the norm, though, like you're saying, and they're just called "prom." I kinda like the idea of someone being haunted by the phrase "junior prom" without knowing what a "prom" is or whether there's a non-"junior" version. Preferably from hearing the phrase, only ever in passing, instead of from seeing it in writing, so they spell it "June yerpram" or something.

Edit: Thanks for the info, orthogon. That sounds like a much more sensible use of the words "junior," "senior," and "prom" as well, and the dances are almost universally agreed to be quite scarring events for most kids.
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Re: 1518: "Typical Morning Routine"

Postby pkcommando » Thu Apr 30, 2015 1:05 pm UTC

I miss floor vents. Growing up in the North Country in NY, my parents' home (built ~1980), my grandfather's old farmhouse, most of my aunts' & uncles' places, our church - all had the floor vents. Yeah, as stated above, there's nothing like the sound of a furnace kicking on compared to my what I live with now. Both of my apartments have used that hot water baseboard heating system. That clicking sound that moves throughout my place (in an almost random pattern I might add) as the heat comes on would give Lovecraft nightmares. You just get the sense that - SOMETHING - is there and scrambling about your home, scratching at the baseboards as it comes looking for you....

The vents were especially awesome when we came inside from playing in the snow. You'd stand your wet gloves up over the vent and let the hot air blow into them to speed drying, the same with your boots. Assuming, of course, that the cat hadn't decided to take a nap on top of that vent. He also disliked finding that one of his preferred napping sites had been taken over.

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Re: 1518: "Typical Morning Routine"

Postby armandoalvarez » Thu Apr 30, 2015 1:28 pm UTC

orthogon wrote:I guess I've seen enough US movies and cartoons to know roughly what a prom is, though the idea horrifies me. It seems like something that's great for the popular/attractive/confident kids and hell on earth for the more shy and insecure (not to mention anyone still unsure of their own sexuality). I suppose that it could be a useful exercise to be forced to ask out girls until you find one that agrees, but I'm sure I'd have found the experience deeply scarring. And I gather that schools here are starting to introduce the concept, which, notwithstanding my earlier comments about anti-Americanism, is something that I definitely think we should have left safely on the other side of the ocean.


In my opinion, movies and TV (especially '80s/early '90s movies and TV) give the impression that prom is this much more stressful, high stakes experience than it actually was for me or my friends and family. I was not a confident high schooler, didn't think of prom until a month before, asked maybe three friends to go with me and they all had dates, so I went alone. When I got there, a friend of mine arranged for me to dance with a girl she was friends with who also didn't have a date. I ended up having a nice time that I basically never think about. Totally un-scarring.

It's basically just a fancy dance party. If a fancy dance party doesn't appeal to you, plenty of people skip it. I would think the only way it becomes scarring is if you let TV get into your head and develop weird expectations.

Do you guys not have frivolous end-of-high-school ("senior school"?) traditions? No dances? The prom is the big dance, but a typical high school also has various smaller dances. My school had annual "semi-formals" (you wear semi-formal attire, i.e. suits and dresses that are less fancy than prom dresses). Also not a big deal. I'm not big on dancing so I didn't go to them, but my friends who did had fun.

Also FYI- our universities are also typically four years, so we also use the freshman, sophomore, junior, senior systems there.

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Re: 1518: "Typical Morning Routine"

Postby CharlieP » Thu Apr 30, 2015 2:09 pm UTC

armandoalvarez wrote:
orthogon wrote:It's just one of those things like "junior prom" that we hear about all the time but only have a vague idea what they are. Also,

I'm guessing you know what prom is or you wouldn't have specified "junior prom," but prom is a big dance at the end of the school year for high schoolers where they wear formal attire (boys in tuxedos, girls in fancy dresses. I mean, I guess you could wear whatever you want, but most people are wearing that).

Americans often refer to 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th grades as freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior year, respectively.

My high school only had one prom. It was for the seniors (12th graders), although they could invite any guest they wanted. (That is, if you were dating a junior (11th grader), or you were friends with a junior and wanted to bring your friend to the dance, you could, but an 11th grader couldn't buy their own ticket.) Some high schools have a prom for juniors and a prom for seniors. The prom for 11th graders is therefore called "junior prom." (I imagine the deal is the same- any junior can go and can also invite anyone else they want).


I'm glad you posted that. I blithely assumed that a junior prom was a prom held for the leaving class of a junior high school (which I'm guessing would be 13- or 14-year olds?).
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Re: 1518: "Typical Morning Routine"

Postby rmsgrey » Thu Apr 30, 2015 2:29 pm UTC

armandoalvarez wrote:Do you guys not have frivolous end-of-high-school ("senior school"?) traditions? No dances? The prom is the big dance, but a typical high school also has various smaller dances. My school had annual "semi-formals" (you wear semi-formal attire, i.e. suits and dresses that are less fancy than prom dresses). Also not a big deal. I'm not big on dancing so I didn't go to them, but my friends who did had fun.


The ones I've been aware of are mostly of the "last day" variety - people running slightly wild on the last day of classes before exams or the day of the last exams...

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Re: 1518: "Typical Morning Routine"

Postby CharlieP » Thu Apr 30, 2015 2:45 pm UTC

From what I can ascertain, English (and presumably Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish) schools imported the tradition of the school "prom" about ten years ago. About the same time, young men started talking about "tuxes" to mean dinner jackets. :(
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Re: 1518: "Typical Morning Routine"

Postby HES » Thu Apr 30, 2015 2:58 pm UTC

We had leaver's "proms" in year 11 (end of secondary school, age 16) and 13 (end of sixth form (college) age 18). Went to the first with friends, skipped the second. They are definitely a thing in England now.
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Re: 1518: "Typical Morning Routine"

Postby orthogon » Thu Apr 30, 2015 3:12 pm UTC

armandoalvarez wrote:It's basically just a fancy dance party. If a fancy dance party doesn't appeal to you, plenty of people skip it. I would think the only way it becomes scarring is if you let TV get into your head and develop weird expectations.

Do you guys not have frivolous end-of-high-school ("senior school"?) traditions? No dances? The prom is the big dance, but a typical high school also has various smaller dances. My school had annual "semi-formals" (you wear semi-formal attire, i.e. suits and dresses that are less fancy than prom dresses). Also not a big deal. I'm not big on dancing so I didn't go to them, but my friends who did had fun.

We had "school discos", which were pretty awful but at least there was no expectation that you'd take a "date" along and the dress code was casual. The idea of boys and girls dancing together in pairs, except for the obligatory "slow dancing" (a swaying embrace in which the feet remained firmly planted in one place), was totally out of fashion throughout my childhood and early adulthood. Then suddenly everyone was dancing salsa, foxtrot, lindy hop, tango, swing and what have you, leaving mine as a kind of lost generation between the baby boomers and whatever today's youngsters are called. (I remember my baby boomer parents impressing all my friends at a house party by doing rock 'n' roll dancing on our front driveway).
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Re: 1518: "Typical Morning Routine"

Postby mathmannix » Thu Apr 30, 2015 5:11 pm UTC

orthogon wrote:
armandoalvarez wrote:
orthogon wrote:It's just one of those things like "junior prom" that we hear about all the time but only have a vague idea what they are. Also,

I'm guessing you know what prom is or you wouldn't have specified "junior prom," but prom is a big dance at the end of the school year for high schoolers where they wear formal attire (boys in tuxedos, girls in fancy dresses. I mean, I guess you could wear whatever you want, but most people are wearing that).

Thanks for the info. I guess I said "junior prom" because the digram is quintessentially American to British ears, whereas prom on its own has other meanings, including a paved strip along the seafront and one of a series of classical concerts. Your numbered school grades were alien to us until a decade or so ago when numbered years 1-11(or maybe 12?) were introduced. Before that we had separate numbering systems for infants (age 5-7), juniors (7-11)and seniors (high school) (11-16), though this system varies by region even within England, so I guess the uniform numbering is a good idea. As you can see, we use junior and senior in a different way to you.

After reading about your alternative meanings of the word "prom", I went to wiktionary. Oddly enough, the third - and the familiar (US) - definition says
(US) a formal ball held at a college near the end of the academic year
So... is this a different meaning of "college" that Brits use to really mean "high school" (as opposed to "university" maybe?), or is the definition wrong? Because I have never heard of a college prom. (I don't think I have ever edited Wiktionary, unlike Wikipedia, because I think there should be a higher burden of documentation (or knowledge of etymology, anyway) than I feel I possess. But I think the definition is wrong.)

...

As far as the floor vents discussion, all the houses in which I have lived (in Indiana, Illinois, North Carolina, and including my current one in Virginia, built in the mid-90's) have had floor vents on the main floor, but wall vents upstairs, contrary to what others have said about floor vents upstairs, although that would make more sense to me... anyway, the only house where I had a floor vent next to my bed was the single-story one in North Carolina. However, I think my newest smartphone could maybe fit through any floor vent if my toddler got a hold of it. (This could potentially be a problem! Thanks, Randall!) The gaps between slits in the register are about a cm I think, which is about what my phone is in thickness. (And I know there are thinner phones.)
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Re: 1518: "Typical Morning Routine"

Postby orthogon » Thu Apr 30, 2015 5:31 pm UTC

mathmannix wrote:Oddly enough, the third - and the familiar (US) - definition says
(US) a formal ball held at a college near the end of the academic year
So... is this a different meaning of "college" that Brits use to really mean "high school" (as opposed to "university" maybe?), or is the definition wrong? Because I have never heard of a college prom. (I don't think I have ever edited Wiktionary, unlike Wikipedia, because I think there should be a higher burden of documentation (or knowledge of etymology, anyway) than I feel I possess. But I think the definition is wrong.)

I agree that the Wiktionary entry is a bit odd. However, there are a few subtleties: "college" with zero article ("I learned that at college") normally refers to university, but would only be used with an article in reference to the colleges of Universities that actually have such things. There are also "colleges of further education" which traditionally offer more vocational courses and qualifications from 16-18, and also "sixth-form colleges" which offer more academic courses ("A-levels") for the same age range. But there are also schools that have a "sixth form" for A-level students; it all varies by region and there can also be a mix within a region. The sixth-form, of course, comes after year 11, which used to be the fifth year of high school and before that would been known as the "fifth form" (back when there were "masters" instead of teachers). The sixth form lasts for two years, which used to be known as "lower sixth" and "upper sixth". I'm not sure whether these have been rationalised to "year 12" and "year 13" or whether there's an "lower 12" and "upper 12", or if the old names are still used. Over to my younger compatriots for that! (Yeah, we could all google it, but what's the fun in that?)
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Re: 1518: "Typical Morning Routine"

Postby freezeblade » Thu Apr 30, 2015 5:34 pm UTC

I grew up in a house with forced-air registers in the floors, there are a few reasons for installing them there:

1. The house is on a raised foundation, so there is room under the house for air ducts to go, but not so for the ceiling, or there is no easy means for moving air ducts from the furnice to the upper parts of the house (sometimes done by a hall closet).

2. The house was designed to use one form of heating system, but was convered to forced-air later. Thus you had to work with the walls, etc, that were set up for the previous system. This was the case of my parents house, which was designed as a "gold medel house" in the 60s, meaning everything was electric. The heat was provided through heating coils in the ceiling (this only heated the top of your head). This combined with reason 1 meant that the easiest way was to run new ducts through the raised foundation.
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