Newman's Notions | January 26, 2022 | FREE
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Me, my fridge, and I

We take refrigeration for granted, but a geriatric fridge plays an important (and humorous) role in one physician's work from home.

I'm working from home more often, like many people around the country. My pets seem to like it, though I am interrupting their all-day nap sessions. But my house is not the ideal place from my perspective, mainly due to a lurking presence. It's large and metallic, and it hums. It sings a siren song, luring me closer, asking me to open it and sample the bounty. That's right, I am talking about my split-door refrigerator. Hold on a sec….

OK, I'm back from getting a snack.

Illustration by David Rosenman
Illustration by David Rosenman

We take refrigeration for granted. In the mid-18th century, the concept of rapidly heating a liquid to a gas to induce cooling was theorized, but it wasn't until 60 years later that Thomas Moore patented the device that he initially called the “refrigeratory.”

The next leap forward was made in Germany when Carl von Linde engineered a process for liquification of gas using a compressed ammonia system, spelling the beginning of the end for ice as a method of keeping things cold. In 1913, Fred Wolf invented the first electric refrigerator for use at home, with the unfortunate name of DOLMERLE (Domestic Electric Refrigerator). It was probably the name and price that sank the effort, but his impact was significant, and he invented the ice tray!

The COVID-19 mRNA vaccines are shipped frozen and then require adequate cooling until administered. The vaccine vials need to be discarded within six to 12 hours after the first dose is given, depending on the brand, but they don't need to be kept cool once opened and they cannot be refrozen. Lucky I'm not in charge of vaccine distribution—I can't even unthaw chicken without getting Campylobacter.

My refrigerator is geriatric. The ice maker is incontinent and the hinges creak arthritically when you open the doors. I have been worried about its loss of normal function, and the fact that it surely won't last another six months, but I just couldn't pull the plug.

Despite my housemate's decrepit state, when I'm on Zoom, or writing an email, or trying to walk out the door, its sweet humming still calls to me.

I think I can scrape the mold off that cheese.