February 7, 2017 (Tuesday)

by Yule Heibel on February 6, 2018

Soft gray, all is muted. It feels comfortable. In my “room” (space, more like), not too warm (from scorching sun), not too cold (from thrusting winds). The light: bright in its way, but tamped-down, filtered. Thick, medium-high clouds pulling slowly toward south, south-west, probably part of a much larger vortex I can’t see. They are traveling slowly, almost imperceptibly. They have contours so soft and blurred, it’s hard to define them as distinct shapes. They are hardly distinct, oozing or spreading as the wind dictates, merging and separating so their outlines become inlines, never staying the same.

It’s supposed to start snowing by 10:00 or thereabouts, although I think it might just be rain by then. Here on the coast we’re definitely not having the messy weather forecast yesterday for this morning’s commute. All is calm, as befits before a storm, but below me there is a lot of traffic on Rt.xx/ E. Street. I worry about E. Street and how it’s turning into a highway. There might be an uptick in traffic – although it makes no sense – because of the massive crowds expected in downtown Boston today for the Patriots’ victory parade (with Duck Tour vehicles), which starts at 11:00. W. has already canceled a lunch date with Jefferson (not the dead president) in Cambridge because the MBTA has sent out a slew of alerts about the massive crush of ridership expected on the commuter rail today because of the parade. Going in at 10:30 might not be bad, but coming back, especially given the ridiculous schedule (train at 1:50, next one not until 3:15), could be a gong show.

Skyped for a bit with A. yesterday, who seemed to think we should go in for this “historic” event (the victory parade). But, see “friction.” Actually, we talked about friction. He’s liking Montreal in the same way he liked Berlin: everything is accessible – and there’s a great urban fabric, none of the great wastelands of nothing (built for motordom). Granted, he’s living right in the city, but one of the problems here is that it’s really expensive to live right in town (Boston), whereas it’s possible in Montreal and Berlin. Also, even if you’re on its fringes (sort of), the transportation system (public) takes the travel friction off that because the transportation works. Can’t say that about Boston (& I wonder about NYC, although it’s probably better than here). W. is looking at companies based on their proximity to North Station, because anything further out on, say, the Green Line, would add another 30-40 minutes (and not comfortable ones, not on those old decrepit wagons) to his commute. This is nuts: traveling within Boston is more onerous and actually takes longer than just getting there by commuter rail.

I’ve been thinking about something Catholic. The dignity of “man,” the idea that persons are special because we come into the world already endowed with all the qualities of an individual, a dignity-deserving individual, outside of (independent of) whatever social, political, or religious (?) systems we’re born into. Of course, the downside is that we’re supposed to use that dignity to sing the praises of our maker, which is kind of difficult for those of us who don’t believe. But I can see how and why religion would appeal so strongly to people coming / escaping from an oppressive totalitarian regime where the state tells you that you are made in the image of whatever state power holds the reins. Solzhenitsyn, e.g. Going from one totality to the next…

I’m reading Cal Newport’s book, Deep Work. Obsessively. It’s really good, and describes what’s happened to my brain in these last years.

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