This Tale of the Temperature begins, like so many do, with Christmas. One joyous holiday evening last year I slogged home from work, having been released early from my toils, Cratchit-style, by my benevolent employer, and schlepped my briefcase down the hall.

I stopped in mid-schlep because there was a gift-wrapped box attached to the wall, which is not something you see every day, even on Christmas Eve. The box was addressed to me.

Now you may ask, “What does this have to do with searing late summer heat, Mom, Interrupted?”

I’m getting to that.

As it turned out, the box on the wall was one of the best gifts ever, and one of the surest signs that I am one of the geekiest wives around. It was a thermostat.

But not just any old thermostat, mind you. This one turns itself off when it senses we’ve been away from the house for a couple of hours, sends me emails to tell me how long the air conditioner has been running, and it pays attention to how we adjust the temperature so it can anticipate my hot flashes.

And it’s not just a programmable thermostat. That would be easy. No, it’s one that I can control from my iPad, or from my phone, or adjust from my computer during a meeting at work when a kid texts me to ask if I could take pity on his non-electric-bill-paying behind because it’s getting hot in the game room and could I lower the temperature just a little bit more?

Which, if we’re going to give it a literary twist, is more Oliver Twist than Bob Cratchit, but it’s still Dickensian. Either way, I enjoy the power, not to mention the electric bill that we’ve managed to bring in just south of the gross national product of Peru each month.

I named the thermostat “Elektra.”

Elektra reminds me to change the air filter, identifies trends, and best of all, lets me lock her up, which is a feature I wished I had after that disastrous summer weekend years ago when a houseful of guests turned the air down to 62 degrees and opened all the upstairs windows.

So the other day I was shocked to discover that an anonymous heat protester had managed to crack my password and turn the air conditioning from a sensible, retirement-protecting 78 degrees down to 68. I wasn’t shocked so much that my four-digit password took all of 30 seconds to crack, because there are only something like 10,000 possible permutations and my teenaged sons are nothing if not determined. And hot.

However, one thing that my sweaty offspring did not anticipate was the extremely cool (pun completely intended) feature in my boss Christmas present that tells me exactly when the perp got his hot little paws on my electric bill. Elektra does everything except cough up fingerprints and DNA, but I’m pretty sure they’ll include that in the next upgrade.

And when I knew just when it had happened, I knew who had done it.

Well, that and his little brother sold him out for a Hungry Howie’s pizza and a liter of root beer, another feature I expect Elektra to add very soon.

• Ahwatukee Foothills resident Elizabeth Evans can be reached at

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