I’ve spent a fair amount of time in Europe the past two summers. I’m not that into the America/Europe comparisons, but there is one thing I always wonder about and I thought this would be a good time to ask, since we’re all in an international soshulist frame of mind with the World Cup and whatnot.
Why don’t Europeans use screens? They’ve got mosquitos and flies (at least the places I go, they do) and it’s warm enough at night that you need some kind of breeze but not so warm that you need A/C (again, at least the places I go). In short, it’s perfect weather for opening the window at night, provided you’ve got a screen. So why no screens? I don’t get it.
I would also ask why wingers never bring up this cultural shortcoming, but I think I already know the answer — real Murkins don’t need screens, they just fire up the central air or head for the air-conditioned comfort of the Applebee’s salad bar.
I seem to remember screens at a friend’s apartment in Vienna. It’s 7 or 8 years since I’ve been there though, so I’m not 100% certain.
Wingers never bring up this cultural shortcoming because they had no idea it existed, because Real Amurkins don’t go to Europe.
The places I’ve visited in Yurp had shockingly fewer flies and mosquitos, but then, I live in Georgia. Above the gnat line, though.
True, but the NRO crowd goes all the time, from what I can tell.
Pisa, for example, has almost as many mosquitos as Georgia, though not quite.
Which explains why all the wingers’ complaints about Europe are fiction.
Cause our skeeters and flies carry guns and knives.
@JGabriel: They have those cool roll-up screens there too.
Hmmm….I’ve never been to Vienna.
Wile E. Quixote
Because the high taxes, nationalized health care systems and other social welfare policies of the European countries make it too expensive for people to buy screens.
Jeebus, you have just touched on a long-dormant WTF? of mine. I have a particularly vivid memory of arriving at a hostel in Linx, Austria, checking into our stuffy muggy room, and opening the windows for some fresh air before leaving to find some dinner and wander around town. When my friend and I returned (umm, very tired and ready for sleep), we walked into a room covered with mosquitos. I live in Wisconsin now, and I still have never seen as many mosquitos packed into one room since.
I spent a few hours trying to kill as many as I could and still woke up with hundreds of puffy bite marks. Ever since then, I’ve been wondering how it’s possible that noone has successfully marketed window screens in Europe. (Maybe Yurpeens are immune to mosquito bites??)
@Wile E. Quixote:
Wile E. Quixote
Here’s another one for you: When I lived in Germany it was cheaper for me to take a cab than it was for me to do so in Seattle. And the German cabs I rode in were nice and clean, usually late model Mercedes, BMWs or Audis. Compare and contrast this to Seattle where the cabs are filthy, expensive and pieces of shit, this despite high European taxes on automobiles and fuel.
They have many fewer bugs, and screens don’t let nearly as much air in.
And yes, I am sure about both of these things.
Amen. Client put me in a golf resort in suburban Rome. Broiling hot and a hojillion mosquitos. And this was not a cheap place.
This. Winger complaints about Europe are based on garbled second and third hand reports, frequently from people who visited Europe during or shortly after WWII. You can’t expect them to be sensible, coherent, or relevant.
Are you suggesting that there is a winger complaint that is sensible, coherent or relevant? Or were you engaging in hyperbolic redundancy?
@Wile E. Quixote:
This reminds me of one of my pet peeves; how Americans give so much to charity in proportion to Europeans. Perhaps true, but they take care of their citizens through their social programs, paid for with high taxes; ours have to wait for a “charitable handout”.
Speaking of bugs…(ok that was a lame transition) long time reader but total lurker here …
I need some advice from the peanut gallery.
I got a weird virus today on my laptop (this is my desktop). I have been paying Norton for several years to keep me safe and warm so I contacted their tech people. Turns out the virus is too new for them to have a fix. So their solution is to have me pay them $100 to have a tech remotely clean my laptop – or if I don’t want to pay them – have the geek squad do it for $100.
I tried downloading another antivirus program but apparently one part of the virus is that it prevents doing that.
Isn’t there something wrong with this picture? What have I been paying Norton for if the first time after years of subscription fees they want to charge me extra to do what they are being paid to do in the first place.
Does anyone have any suggestions? The other problem is that of course I can’t find my original Norton disk – though scarily enough I did find my unopened copy of Windows for Workgroups 3.11 and my MS Visual Basic CD. (I actually may not have gotten one because I paid for it to be pre-installed on the computer.)
@The Dangerman: I don’t believe that Americans actually give that much to real charities. Fundigelicals give 10% to their churches and those are straight up political organizations. Take all of that noise of the numbers and they’re much more comparable.
I hate Norton. I had something similar happen to me, I eventually figured out how to fix it but it took me like 20 hours. I started using Kaspersky instead and it seemed to work much better.
How did you fix it?
@Wile E. Quixote:
I’d guess the main difference is public transportation. If you drive some place, you’re usually not going to take a cab once you get there; you’ll take your own car instead. So cabs tend to be a big deal only in places where many people don’t have their own cars around, namely airports and cities with good public transportation.
There’s also a factor about how the cabbies spend their time. When you pay for a cab, you pay not only for the time you’re in the cab, but also for the driver’s time cruising around looking for fares. In an environment where there are lots of people taking cabs, that cruising around time is minimal and fares can be lower; in an environment where not many people are taking cabs, cruising around time is longer and fares have to be higher. There’s obviously some feedback there. If fares are low, more people will want to take cabs, reducing cruising around time and bringing down fares further; if fares are high, fewer people will take cabs, increasing cruising around time and driving fares up further.
@Miriam: Without knowing what the beastie is, no advice on getting rid of it specifically.
One general piece of advice, get to another machine, download the iso of the ultimate boot cd and burn it, and boot and run the virus check from that. Booting from a clean disk makes getting rid of bad stuff a lot easier in general.
Try a free copy of malwarebytes;
Ditto for hating Norton; Trend Micro is what I use (also free). Also, Spybot, Windows Defender, etc.
Once in a great while, I’ll run into something odd and will download the 30 day trial of Norton or similar; I find, once again, no added benefits and it’s back to the free stuff.
Here in Scotland, we have the usual houseflies, horseflies etc., but especially Scotland’s fearsome national bird – the midge, a minute, swarming, biting insect that’s been known to suck animals dry of blood, and which formed the basis for a form of torture or punishment back in clan rivalry days (they’d stake the victim out on the moors and leave them to be bit to distraction or death, depending on mood or offense).
Any time after mid-June, when our summer rainy season usually starts, they can make life unbearable outside when it’s still, especially after dusk, unless you daub yourself with repellent or wear a veil of some sort.
This year, because we’ve had a very prolonged heatwave with low winds and needed to have the windows open (Air conditioning? What’s that?), they’ve been coming in the house in droves. So I’ve had to install simple fabric mesh screens on key windows. It’s made the world of difference.
As for why they’re not more widespread, I’ve no idea. Other means of stopping larger flies coming in are quite common (strings of beads or multicolored plastic strips hung in open doorways are one traditional method), or just hermetically sealing the house and getting on with it.
The focus is often more on dealing with the feckers once they’ve got in – charmingly decorative sticky flystrips, aerosol fly killers, it’s a major industry. None of this works against midgies.
@MikeJ: That is GREAT advice. I’ll do that right now.
Now. Someone is WRONG on the internet. Tell everyone you know that Norton SUCKS. Wait. Um. Actually, everone has been telling me that for years but I never listened because I never got viruses so …
Touché, though you have to admit that there’s some tautological sorting going on. The thing that lets us know that something is a wingnut claim is that it fails the “sensible, coherent, and relevant” test. Complaints that are sensible, coherent, and relevant have to be taken seriously rather than dismissed as wingnut raving.
Complicated: I bought Kaspersky, put it in super-detection mode, where it told me every single possibly suspicious thing that could be going on (some of which was annoying, since my configuration of emacs scared it), then googled its description of what I thought was the genuinely bad activity. After googling, I learned it was a Vundo virus, spent some time in some help forums, downloaded a bunch of stuff for this, ran it all, then ran Kaspersy three or four times, took off all the files it wanted me to, including some parts of my Java runtime library. And then everything was fine.
I’ve found this to be a fine site for finding tips and tricks:
You may need to check around that site and drill down to find your fix.
Edit: Of course, I’m assuming because you have a virus, you must be running Windows.
@Leeds man: Well that seemed to be working – it actually downloaded onto the infected machige – then I got the dreaded hand of death when it went to update the files from the malware server. Maybe I need to download it onto this machine and move it over.
That’s understandable; escape meta alt control shift is scary to a lot of people. I’ve been using it on and off for 20 years, and I still need to refer to a cheat sheet if I want to do anything tricky.
I noticed the difference in screens; for my part of Europe (Brittany) I assumed it was simply because we don’t have as many bugs but there are places in Europe that are a lot more bug-ridden than Brittany so I don’t know for those.
As for letting the breeze in, do screens do that ? In my experience not much.
Building standards might also be a factor. For instance I had screens in Los Alamos and I don’t remember it being too badly bug-ridden; maybe in the US people had necessary screens where there were lots of bugs and screens became a standard everywhere in the country, and maybe the standards in Europe are based on places with fewer bugs. Except that I’d expect different countries to have different standards, so I don’t know.
FWIW, it took a major, major public health campaign (EBBIL SOSHULLIZM) in the 1920s and 30s by the federal and state governments to teach Southerners the need for screen doors (and windows if possible) and to help them get them so as to cut down on the number of deadly diseases suffered when flies would fly straight from the outhouse fecal party into the house and walk all over food and drink and eating utensils.
When I lived in Britain nearly everyone still had two separate taps on their sink. Every singe time I went to wash my hands it was a mad shuffle between water that was scalding and ice cold. My German friends and I speculated (usually after a few pints) that the man who introduced ‘the magic arm water faucet’ would be an instant billionaire.
Similarly, when I lived in Japan I was astounded by how uncommon insulation was. Most homes are not centrally heated (even in the ski resort where I was living) so a few minutes after the space heater is turned off each night the indoor temperature raced to meet the outside temp.
Then again, every country I have lived in outside the U.S. really has had vastly better health care, go figure. (Seriously, much, much, much, better. So much better that when I go to the doc now, a little voice endlessly screams ‘It… doesn’t… have… to… be… like… this!!!!!!’)
@The Dangerman: Vista no less.
Bill E Pilgrim
Where in Europe, Dougj? I was just discussing this the other day with an American friend here in Paris, she suddenly realized that there are no mosquitos to speak of. I had never thought about it, but no there don’t seem to be screens on most windows and the occasional stray fly getting in doesn’t seem a big deal, especially since it can get out again just as easily. I sort of assumed that in the country people must have screens but I haven’t been out of Paris in a while and can’t remember.
Europe is a big place though, so can’t say that’s why everywhere else. I don’t remember either screens or mosquitos when I lived in Rome either, but again these are big cities.
How would screens impede the breezes?
I spent about a month in Greece a few years ago and one of the first things I noticed was the lack of screens. I asked an American expat about this and the answer was: they don’t need them. And sure enough, I don’t remember seeing a single fly or mosquito during my visit. We ate virtually every meal outdoors, and not once did I have to wave my hand over the food to shoo away flies.
I can’t speak for other parts of Europe, though. I’ve visited other countries but they were all thoroughly air-conditioned.
They can’t get any mosquito bites because the citizens of Europe don’t exhale any carbon dioxide. It’s taxed too heavily by their ecosocialist fascist governments, stifling freedom but allowing for this single benefit.
Hey, I just realized that this might be a legitimate reason to be late with my research. Kind o like the dog ate my homework or my grandmother died or I got too drunk at the frat party. Drat we have backup.
Chad N Freude
Holland and Belgium (many years ago) and Spain (now) appear to be bug-free. I suppose they don’t use Norton. (Merging two themes! Brilliant!)
Have you tried cleaning your computer (with Malwarebytes or Housecall, or both) while in safe mode? I had a similar problem, and that’s how I fixed it.
Antivirus software is useless imho.
Another very important point is to treat this as a warning. If you’re like most people, a huge amount of your life is stored on your computer, so you should take some serious steps to protect it. Have a plan to back up your important data. If possible, keep a recent backup some place well away from your computer, ideally far enough away that a disaster that destroys your computer won’t get the backup, too.
@Bill E Pilgrim:
Mostly northern Italy and the south of France. Yes, I didn’t see any mosquitos in Paris, that’s true.
Chad N Freude
@Hippie Killer: My opinion is different. I’ve had A/V s/w catch infections (before any damage) several times. Do you believe vaccination (of children) is useless also? /snark
Puzzles me to some extent, and I lived in Spain until I was 29.
One common solution is the strings of beads, mostly on open doors but occasionally on windows too. They work fine for larger bugs but mosquitos usually make it in especially if there’s no breeze.
Another thing to account for is that in general windows aren’t sliding but open inwards, which make the installation and integrity of nets more troublesome. I think many Spaniards would also feel weird if they couldn’t stick their heads out of the window for checking the street out or just rumormongering with the neighbor below.
That said, they are getting more popular. We finally installed a rolling net after one too many mosquito feasts in my bedroom a few years before I left my homeland and it worked fine as long as I remembered to roll it down.
@37 for sure. I’ll trade the central heating for health care. Also, many parts of Japan just don’t get that cold. Up in Hokkaido of course it is very cold, but most people live in the Tokyo-Osaka latitude and winters are fairly mild. Where I live there are only two or three nights a year that drop below freezing. So even without running any kind of heat at night it is still in the 50’s(low teens?) in my house on a winter morning.
But the lack of insulation is a problem here. I think people forget that insulation also works in the summer when you run the AC, and nearly everyone runs the AC in Osaka in summer. It’s bloody hot.
Health care isn’t as good as some places in Europe, but it is light years ahead of the States.
You could try restarting your computer in Safe Mode (tap F8 repeatedly while it’s rebooting) then see if you can proceed with any AV fixes.
Other sources of online help include forums that use HijackThis and some other tools to help diagnose and fix your problems. The full process can be quite time-consuming.
There are a bunch of good forums that offer help in diagnosing problems like yours (they usually ask for a donation, and it’s well worth dropping them a few bucks in exchange for the conscientious work the best of them do).
This one’s proven useful and reliable in the past: http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/forums/forum22.html
If you do decide to try them, be sure to read the relevant FAQs at the top first.
@Hippie Killer: I’m afraid to turn the thing off to try rebooting in safe mode because it might never turn back on and ok, well, I admit it, I’m not that current on my backups though it will probably take me more time to clean the computer than to redo the work.
@YAFB: Thanks, I’ll check that out.
Oh. This is very clever. They have disabled task manager.
Chad N Freude
@Miriam: It’s the Applecalypse.
Bill E Pilgrim
@DougJ: There might also be a specific resistance or fear to the idea. Or it just never caught on.
For a long time air conditioning was almost unheard of in most of Europe, including and especially in Italy which lets face it could use it especially in the south. Didn’t believe in it, “it’s bad for your bones” is the line you’ll hear, over and over.
More common in France now after a series of heat waves, but you still hear the bad for the bones line here. Which strikes me as nothing but old wives tales, I mean bad for the environment, artificial, okay those seem valid, fair enough.
Somewhere in David Lodge’s wonderful series about life in England he describes the character’s father, based on his own you can assume, who refuses to get central heating because it’s “bad for the furniture”. So he’d cloister himself in the kitchen every year for the entire winter, huddled in front of the heat wearing sweaters and blankets, living in one room and refusing to allow the son to install heat because he was certain that the moment he did he’d return home one day to all his furniture fallen apart at the joints as the glue gave way.
Part of the charm of Europe. They also believe that people should take a month off work each year to reset, go figure.
@magurakurin: I think you are on to something, I know most of the population is in the southern half of the country so it sounds like solid reasoning. I was in the mountains of Miyagi-ken so during the winter I kept my toothpaste in the fridge to keep it from freezing.
I am originally from Alaska but I honestly found northern Japan to be a tougher place to live in the winter!
Bill E Pilgrim
Very, very good point. In Paris also people still habitually shake out carpets and water plants on the window sill and so on, plus check out the street, yes I can’t imagine people not being able to just open the windows and lean out to look up and down the street, I do it myself several times a day in fact. One of the great pleasures of where I live.
In Italy, feggedabout it. The building I lived in in Rome, most social life seemed to go on halfway out doorways– the restaurant below me where people would get halfway out the door and then stand there talking for hours, the people above hanging out their windows to talk– yeah screens would never work.
I always figured that, as magurakurin suggested, it has to do with their window designs. A lot of the windows I’ve seen there flip down, with the bottom part of the window jutting out and the top part jutting in. Not sure how you would screen that realistically.
Speaking of window screens, has anyone tried PollenTec window screens: http://www.pollentec.com/? They claim to let fresh air in and keep allergens out. I’m skeptical (for obvious reasons). Anyone ever use one of these screens?
Just a maybe, but could the age of so many buildings/houses play a part? Cost of retrofit, etc. ? My sister & her family live in the Netherlands (stationed w/NATO), their house was built in the 1400’s. No screens, few bugs tho.
Wile E. Quixote
If you’ve got emacs on your system can’t you just run C-x M-c anti-virus to scan for viruses and other malware?
@Wile E. Quixote:
Have lived in Mammoth Lakes in the winter, lived in the midwest for a decade, except when I was home in the winter the heater was on only high enough to keep the pipes from freezing. So, used to cold, and I still would never have thought to warm up my toothpaste by storing it in the fridge.
That was good for a chortle or two.
In L.A., rent-controlled bldgs. are inspected annually by the Bldg. Dept., & screens on the windows is one of the requirements.
As El Cid said, I’ll bet.
The Main Gauche of Mild Reason
Owing to the apparent un-American-ness of San Francisco, I’ve found that many (most?) apartment buildings here don’t seem to have screens. I’ve always chaulked it up to the cost of retrofitting, since most are the “tilt out” kind of windows rather than the sliding kind that screens are simple for.
A mid-1960s public health film from Georgia on the deadly threat to the whole family posed by houseflies.
And even more EVIL FDR NEW DEAL SOSHULLISM DESTROYIN’ OUR FREEDOM:
How dare these federally-funded Nazis impose their weird Yankee anti-malaria ideology on proud, independent rural Southerners?
I lived in a Japanese house in Yokosuka for 2 winters and thought it was damned cold with no insulation in the house. I could see my breath in the middle of the night and in the morning in any room that didn’t have a heater on. The military barely gave us enough housing allowance to cover rent so we couldn’t afford to run the gas heaters that were built into the rooms, instead we had to buy kerosene from the base, haul it home in gas cans and use portable kerosene heaters. It wasn’t a lot of fun. I would kill to have a Japanese shower and Ofuro in my house though.
I”m in Whistler, BC at the moment (Canada-It’s America lite, with half the paranoia and maple flavored!) The condo I’m staying in has screens on all the windows, but on the inside. There are little hinged flaps on the screens so that you can open the glass windows on the outside. You do need screens; the mosquitoes here are fierce.
@The Main Gauche of Mild Reason:
There aren’t many mosquitos in San Francisco. They were priced out long ago.
Bill E Pilgrim
@DougJ: In which case Portland must be absolutely swarming with them, I bet they have screens. Now.
OT, but why is Chunky Bobo messing with my head, sounding like a damn hippie? Is he trying to impress some girl he met on the Metro?
@DougJ: And they found the studio apartments too small.
@burnspbesq: Uh oh — Bobo junior may be soon on the South side of Republican favor.
@burnspbesq: Sounding like a hippie? He says we already tax the rich plenty and we need to make it harder for people to get out from under bad debt, presumably because the bankruptcy laws are too easy on people.
@MikeJ: And then he goes on to say Social Security should only be available to those already easting cat food, so that when only “those people” people get it, it will be easy to kill it entirely.
Bill E Pilgrim
@burnspbesq: I know I just read that and had the same reaction, waiting for Gagme Withherspoon to get to the David Brooks part where he starts with a reasonable idea and then concludes “and this is why Reagan and conservatives are right…” but he actually stayed on point.
Of course there’s this:
No, actually, the instinct is to do exactly what you said, stop bailing out the rich corporations AND ask the rich to pay their fair share of taxes.
No screens in Europe ??? Nonsense. I live just outside of Rome and have screens for all windows.
I’d tend to guess that the relative rareness has something to do with French Windows (also called glass doors come on). A screen door works with them, but a fixed screen doesn’t (we have sliding screen doors).
In the 60s and 70s I lived in the the USA in a house with screen doors so obviously they aren’t a new invention.
Wile E. Quixote
Can’t we do both, tax the fuck out of the rich and end the net of subsidies they use to stay wealthy?
@MikeJ: Did someone say “cat food“?
Bill E Pilgrim
@Robert Waldmann: They’ve been around in the US for longer than that, it’s Europe where they’re relatively new.
Wile E. Quixote
Plus you have those crazy British plugs, you know, they’re like the plugs that we have in the US, that we use to plug in arc-welders running on 440 VAC three phase power.
@IndyLib: That sounds really familiar. I had a ground floor apartment right next to the Hotel Yokusuka (4-tatami living room, 2-tatami bedroom) in 1973-1974. That apartment had no hot water at all and only a single gas burner, no shower and a flush benjo. No screen on the window, which was partly below ground anyway. I used a space heater and slept on a futon with a couple of comforters.
Fortunately there was a bathhouse across the street (20-50 yen admission, I think). I was always, always the only gaijin in the place. Got lots of weird looks.
You know, I’ve been reading Chunky David Brooks regularly and the truth is, he’s nowhere near as bad as actual David Brooks. I thought his blogging at the Atlantic was poor and his first few months at NYT were bad — and he’s written some truly awful columns — but he’s not that bad in general. I may stop referring to him as Chunky David Brooks at some point.
Glad to hear that. But you will admit that they are much rarer in Italy than in similarly mosquito-stricken parts of the US.
Yep, stayed in a flat in Prague that had no screens (damn hot that summer IIRC) and my host employed a sort of custom-made screen/cover for her baked goods to keep the flies off of them. I wasn’t too terribly scarred by this experience, since I am a veteran of many a camping trip.
@Wile E. Quixote: Oh, you are so right, I had forgotten all about the plugs. I had the same thought, that everything looked like it might be involved in heavy industry somehow!
After I arrived in the UK I purchased a digital alarm clock so I wouldn’t be late to my first day of classes. When I got back to the flat I was shocked to find that the cord ended in a bunch of bare wires. I was surprised to discover that some devices come with cords but not a plug. A second trip to the store set it straight. It wasn’t actually much hassle but it definitely reminded me not to assume everyone does things the same way.
You may need to qualify this statement, especially considering I find his writing, beyond the conservative point of view, rather uninspired.
Wile E. Quixote
You know as soon as you do he’s just going to publish another one of those Worst Penthouse Forum Letters Ever.
Wile E. Quixote
You know, every time I see that picture of Chunky Bobo that runs with his column two words come to mind “pubic chin”.
in russia, no screens, pick and roll always finds you. don’t even get me started on the give and goes in the scandanavian countries.
We live in Spain and there are a ton of mosquitos. Yes it is both design and a custom. In all of our apartments we have had windows that open like French doors. Last year I had to staplegun screens to one window in the front and the back of the apartment and on one of the sliding doors to a terrace. It was impossibly to sleep otherwise. Bugs are down but we do not get as good of a draft anymore. We have to use the AC more. People use sprays, candles and for children bed nets.
People are used to passive cooling. Shutting everything up during the day and then opening at night to cool things down and trap the air. It does not work as well with screens.
@Wile E. Quixote:
i think “chamber of whores” should be a tag line.
Wile E. Quixote
That, along with “Harvard Man-meat”.
Up north at least, mosquitoes come and go in waves. So you worry about the wave coming in the next couple of weeks. I’m trying to remember proportion of screens versus no screens in Alaska, Sweden, Finland and Estonia. I can’t remember any pattern in particular. and I cannot remember big problems with mosquitoes as long as there is a buffer between the house, or neighborhood and any serious woods.
The mosquitoes up there are humongous, and seems like they can barely keep themselves airborne. In rural areas of Alaska out in the bush, I remember people just waving their hands around periodically keeping the mosquitoes at bay. Unless I was out in the deep woods where they could ambush you, I forgot about mosquito repellent and started doing the same. It was more convenient.
Problem with those big mosquitoes is that screens or no screens, one or two will get inside. And it just takes one or two to make things intolerable. You have to go hunt them down and destroy.
Anyplace with influence from coast or lake, then wind tends to keep mosquitoes down everyplace I have been up north. Inland basins in Alaska and Canada are where I remember massive swarms.
Mosquitoes in lowland areas in California tend to be speedy little bombers that swarm. Gotta have screens out on the farm in the Central Valley. CA Mountain Skeeters are more like their northern cousins, but not so big.
That’s my opinion. Except to pay no attention to what they do in the British Isles, since everyone I’ve talked to is puzzled and frustrated by how they do things.
My understanding is that they evolved SWAT armor and scuba tanks, all the better to infiltrate through the toilets.
Here in Greece we use lots of screens – and we have lots of bugs. Mosquitoes and flies are a real bother. In fact, the new window treatments include glass, with a shutter on the outside and a screen in the middle.
Don’t know where in Europe you were traveling, but here in the south, we use screens – can’t live without them!
Just occurred to me how much of my youth I spent outside in places that are infested with some kind of mosquitoes.
I hate hate hate mosquitoes. Gawd I hate them. Been bit up and down all over by them gdamn mosquitoes. Mostly doing farmwork in CA Central Valley.
Mosquitoes in Scandinavia and Baltics more under control that in Alaska. I do not remember any bug problems in them Yurrp places, except when walking out in the woods.
Some of it is building patterns, and lifestyle. They used to have malaria up there. In Scandinavia and Baltics, I think people are more careful about standing water around neighborhoods, which makes a difference, Or there are standing water totalitarian home guard police forces oppressing the population.
One reason mosquitoes are bad in rural areas and many suburbs in lowland CA is that people are awful about policing their standing water. In Alaska, I think the buildings are so spread out, that there is insufficient buffer between compact built area and woods or muskeg or swamp, or marsh.
Mosquito behavior is more influenced by very local conditions than most people realize. At least that is what mosquito experts have told me and that accords with my experience.
I suppose now is not the time to mention that somehow mosquitoes just aren’t attracted to me? Not sure why, when we would go camping as kids the rest of my family would get eaten alive and I barely got a bump. It’s still true to this day.
@Yutsano: Because you’re cold-blooded. Mosquitoes like warm blood. They eat me alive. I hate them with a passion–which, considering they are our state bird, is a big problem for me. I am allergic to the bites, so they swell up like crazy. A friend swears by meat tenderizer paste, but I haven’t tried it yet.
@jl: You are correct. We have so many damn ponds and lakes, it’s a veritable haven for mosquitoes. I just took the trash out, and I got three bites on my ass just as I was sorting the recycling in the garage.
Heh. Do you know how many of my exes bitched about this exact fact? My body temperature runs at 97 degrees. Consistently. A fever for me is 99. If I’m over 100 I’m practically dying. I’m an ice cube to snuggle up to in bed. The nice part of that is I can handle temperature extremes a lot better than most folks I know.
@asiangrrlMN: Ever tried taking brewers’ yeast tablets? The theory is that it changes your body chemistry just enough that you don’t smell like “food source” to mosquitos any more. Downside is, you have to take it for approximately 3 weeks before it’s fully effective, and then keeping taking it through skeeter season. So I never manage to get organized enough before it’s too late… although, praise goddess, one of the small rewards of growing older is that I’ve gotten a lot less mosquito-attractive since I was free to stop worrying about birth control. I’ve known plenty of people who swear by brewers yeast — and it did work a treat for keeping fleas off my dog even in the worst Michigan summers.
Mosquitoes in a socialized part of the world are fed by the government. They see no point is dragging their asses off to second floor to bite and piss someone off.
@sven: “the man who introduced ‘the magic arm water faucet’ would be an instant billionaire. “
That’s due to a lot of UK properties having the cold water taps connected directly to the mains water supply instead of a tank in the loft.
Because the water pressure from the mains supply is so high most of the time (but also can drop off if many people are using cold water at once in the street) it is very difficult to match the water flow from the cold tap to that of the hot tap.
Hey Robert at 76:
Glad you have screens, but I have to say, as a long time ex-pat in Europe, you’re in a very tiny minority.
Here in Eastern Europe, there are zero screens, and killing skeeters is a way of life. You’re at them every night. Screens simply do not exist, and even if they did, they wouldn’t fit the shapes of the windows.
But wait – in my experience, this is true of Western Europe, too. I spent a lot of time in the Bordeaux countryside — no screens. Nightly war against the bloodsuckers — -and this, at a rich dude’s posh chateau.
Spent a lot of time in Venice, too. You guessed it — NO SCREENS, and this in a city defined by stagnant water. My American friend who lives there tracked some netting down somehow, somewhere, maybe even in the States, and covered up his windows in an adhoc fashion.
Paris — again, congratulations Robert, you’ve done well for yourself, but the Frenchies I knew had NO SCREENS. If you lived the Canal St. Martin, or low to the ground, you had skeeters. If you lived higher up, or in a dryer part of the city, you did better.
So yeh, the question remains — can we get some screens over here on the Eurasian landmass?
I think it mostly has to do with the age of the buildings in and around the European city centers. Most of the fees apartment owners pay go towards plumbing, electrical work, maybe putting in an elevator, so there’s no cash leftover to install screens on the exterior of the buildings. Then there’s the problem that windows are also often patio doors, the fact that there isn’t much history using them. At least in Spain, metal blinds are common which are used to keep the place cool more than anything. Once night rolls around, you plug in the mosquito repellent!
An American in Exile
I’ve lived in Europe for three years now, and the window screen/screen door issue is a huge pet peeve of mine. When we lived in the UK I mail ordered DIY kits and spent weeks making my own window screens, but now I’m screenless in Switzerland and trying to figure out how to rectify the problem without making any permanent alterations to our rented accommodation. We have LOTS of mosquitos, so the rarity of screens continues to baffle me.
Because anything you do to save money by not giving it to a corporation (i.e. buying something) is a liberal anti-business pro-commie agenda, which means the only way for fright wingers to stretch their already extremely tight budgets patriotically is to demand the destruction of the American government. So it’s not in their interest to remind people that when the temperature drops to the mid 80’s they could turn off the AC and open the doors and windows.
BTW, this is the first summer in my memory that Virginia has experienced a dry heat. The humidity is only 80% right now, which I know sounds like a lot, but usually when the temperature dances in the 90’s like it’s doing right now it feels like you’re swimming through the air. Not so much this year.
Born in Scotland, but live in Canada, and all of my UK relations are always taking about this. They mainly complain about houseflies, etc, rather than mosquitos. No-one seems to know why they can’t buy them, presumably nobody’s actually started up an operation to make them – retrofitting existing windows it is the kind of thing that is usually done locally.
I own a company that makes magnetically attached storm windows, and the UK folks keep telling me that I could make a fortune if I setup over there…
Heh. I remember sitting in a park in St. Petersburg drinking a beer and watching a huge mosquito land on my knee. Watched it drill down through a pair of jeans and a pair of tights (worn for insulation.) Unbelievable.
Oh, yeah, lack of insulation in standard Japanese houses. Traditional farmhouses are much better. I lived in a 30-year old house in Tokyo and in the winter it continuously remained 3-5 degrees colder than outside. And let’s not talk about the wildlife the rest of the time…beetles, bugs, ants, lizards, and those Japanese cockroaches from hell. And something unidentifiable. that ran over my forehead one night.
Screens do Impede the air. But essentially, I never underestimate the iron hand of Custom when it comes to inexplicable things which people keep doing.
Grew up in the Pac NW and never saw a screen on a window. On the East Coast everyone has screens, of course, except my lunatic niece who moved out here and promptly took the screens off her windows because they “ruined the view”. She learned. Boy, did she learn.
Norton: the anti-virus program that acts like a virus!
Ah, a question I have pondered a lot.
In my experience, the reason many European houses have no screens is the shutters on the windows (a device I wish I could put on my own windows). As pointed out above, it is the Custom in many parts of Yurp to lean out the windows to chat with neighbors or call in the kids. It is also the Custom to close and adjust the shutters according to the time of day/year to moderate the heat/cold. I’ve been in houses with these shutters AND pull-down screens: if you are pulling the screens up and down several times a day, they rip. And they are in the way.
So instead they burn these stinking incense circles all night to fight the mosquitoes. And keep a fly swatter handy.
Some of these comments have reminded me of the years my wife and I spent living in southern Germany. So, yes: funky complicated windows that swing open like doors but can also be jiggered to tilt inward; these would be tough to retrofit with screens, I think. There was also a dependence on more “local” solutions: you can pick up cup- and bowl-shaped screens that you flip over and put on plates of food and other stuff. (This is analogous to putting your Bierdeckel [coaster] on top of your glass in a Biergarten when you get up from the table–bugs don’t get in, and people know you’re still drinking.) As for the bedroom, We ended up finding an enormous mesh canopy that we hung over our bed to keep the bugs out when we slept.
the part of germany i’m from, mosquitoes weren’t that much of a problem, especially the urban parts.
i wouldn’t call it a shortcoming, but rather a different take on life. it doesn’t make a lot of sense to ugly up homes and apartment building for something that’s only a problem a couple of months out of the year. and even then, mosquitoes can be annoying but that’s just part of life. they don’t carry diseases where i’m from either.
Mike in NC
We spent two weeks in central Europe last month and visited Prague, Vienna, Budapest and several places in between. Didn’t recall seeing a single flying bug anyplace, even along the Danube where our boat docked every night.
This question drove me nuts for the years I lived in Europe. Especially Sweden. Damn mosquitoes.
Just moved back from Germany, and my take is that it has everything to do with the kicka$$ windows that they have. Turn the handle halfway up and the window will swing out to open. Turn the handle all the way up and the top of the window will tip out slightly. Awesome.
That Other Mike
@RSA: Whereabouts? I used to live in the middle of Baden-Württemberg, in a genuine Fachwerkhaus. Excellent windows; I used to love those.
Mammoth Lakes was my home for eight years. Hi, neighbor!
For two of those years I lived in a two-story house right above Canyon Lodge, that had floor-to-roof windows facing Lincoln Mountain. The windows were single-pane. My toothpaste never froze solid, but we did have to store bananas and tomatoes in the fridge to keep them from freezing on the kitchen counters. Also I had to knock ice off my dogs’ indoor water dish most winter mornings.
I miss Mammoth…
@Miriam: Norton Anti-virus is crap. Unmitigated crap. My advice is to turn off the money tap to them and go to http://free.grisoft.com and use avg; will protect you just as well, will not turn your filesystem into molasses, and won’t cost you a penny.
As you have learned, the money you’ve been paying them hasn’t really got you a lot of help. The only downside is that it’s basically unpossible to uninstall the Symantec Norton crap… but seeing as you’ve almost certainly been rooted anyway the only safe way to go is to RRR (reboot, reformat, reinstall).
Alan in SF
I’ve been in places in Europe that had tons of mosquitoes, hot weather, etc., stayed in a very nice country inn with no screens. Torture! I totally don’t get it. OTOH, long-time visitors to Europe will recall it wasn’t that long ago they didn’t have shower curtains either, and they’ve come around on that one, so maybe there’s hope.
Another one, tho much less common — when I first started going to Europe in the mid-80s, it was fairly common at budget hotels and pensiones not to have toilet seats. Never did figure out the logic of that one, but I was glad I wasn’t a girl.
Been there. I ditched Norton after my last annual subscription expired; I was sick of the way it hogged my CPU and RAM and slowed down the whole computer. Now I use AVG Free.
I’ve had a few malware incidents (including one that blocked my access to the Task Manager). But I’ve always been able to set things right with Malwarebytes and Spybot Search & Destroy.
I had one weird incident a few months ago that culminated with me having to reinstall Windows. But I’m not sure that was actually caused by malware; I may have unwittingly deleted some important system file.
@Miriam: I’d seriously consider buying a Mac ! I’ve been using them for the last 5 or 6 years, never had a virus or needed an anti-virus program.
Glad this thread is still semi alive. I forgot about mosquito coils in Alaska. These are coils of some kind of poison infused punk that are on a stand. You light the end and set them down and the smoke keeps the mosquitoes away. Most of my family did not use them, because on the stand, it always said, as I remember: DANGER! Do Not Use Indoors. POISON!.
But many real Alaskans paid no mind, because they are tough and rugged, and different from inferior weaklings that lived in the inferior Outside.