May 18, 2017 (Thursday)

by Yule Heibel on May 17, 2018

What a night… Slept really badly because of the heat. We hit 91/92ºF yesterday, and at 10p.m. it was still 82ºF outside – and it felt that way inside, too. Actually, the thermostat upstairs read 83ºF.

But, cheapo and environmentalista me, I refused to turn on the air conditioning, in retrospect a huge mistake. You tell yourself, “Oh, it will cool off – to 70ºF, yes – during the night it will cool off, and those open windows are going to ‘air condition’ the rooms ‘naturally’…” Riiiight. Except: it stays at 80ºF for the whole night, and – worst of all – all the birds are screeching from the first light onward (you know, that hour you finally managed to drop off?), and your open windows – all four in your bedroom, plus the additional six upstairs and in the stairwell – conspire to make it sound as loud and amplified as possible. You cannot sleep, at least not deeply, and get up at six thinking a truck in the shape of a giant sparrow just landed on you, picked you up, and dragged you through the streets.

Oh, the streets? Did I mention the traffic noise? Why was there a huge construction truck rumbling – roaring, actually – at twenty miles over the speed limit, crashing on all the many many potholes on that street, at sometime around oh-dark-thirty? Presumably because the driver was on his way to nighttime highway construction somewhere on Rt.128, but, you know, thanks, open windows. Today is supposed to hit the same infernal temperature again. The AC is going on later, dammit. It will help filter out the pollen, too (I hope).

Yesterday I started re-watching Hypernormalisation, Adam Curtis’s fabulous film. At three hours, it’s hard to watch in one go, and I didn’t manage it, as other commitments intervened.

While I waited for someone with whom I had an appointment, I listened in on a conversation. A woman was taking a call from an “adjustment counselor” at one of the private schools her child attends. There had been a little conflict which the woman had asked the counselor to look into (apparently, the child had gotten into some kind of tiff with one of the other kids, which in turn got another friend involved, and the mother didn’t like how her child was “processing” this, so she called the “adjustment” counselor to have her (the counselor) talk to her child (and to the other child). As it happened, I had brought along Nicholas Nassim Taleb’s book, Antifragile, to read while I waited. (I could also have brought along any of Camille Paglia’s more recent criticisms of how current campus culture coddles students too much…) In some ways I couldn’t quite believe what I was hearing as the concerned mother, having ended her call, explained the matter to her friend. It’s a tale of smoothing out the child’s path, I feel, and, in Taleb’s sense, making him fragile. Not sure how this is supposed to help anyone, but I guess that’s what you pay $30,000 for every year, or however much K-12 private school tuition costs these days.

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