I travel a lot with my work. One of the challenges of staying in a hotel for the first time is getting the shower to work. Certainly here in the UK, there is no universal shower fitting – sometimes there can be an assortment of taps, dials and plungers and getting the water to flow out of the shower hose can be a challenge at what I call “06:00 BC” (the “BC” stands for “before caffeine”).
Having got the water flowing, the next challenge is getting it to the right temperature. I’m sure we’ve all had experiences where it takes a few seconds for any adjustments to the temperature dial to affect the temperature of the water coming through the pipes. This often leads to a reinforcing and amplifying feedback loop: The water isn’t hot enough, so you turn the dial towards the “hot” side. Nothing seems to happen, so you turn the dial a little further… then a few seconds later the water is much too hot so you turn it back down. But then a few seconds later the water is ice-cold again, so the process repeats. This leads to an oscillation whereby you’re turning the shower controls backwards and forwards, never quite settling on the “perfect” temperature.