As we deal with another day of sweltering heat in the Midwest, let’s all acknowledge the huge debt we owe to Willis Carrier — the guy who invented air conditioning. Where would we be without Willis and his life-changing invention?
Willis’ invention caught on and air conditioning was implemented in many businesses, but it would be decades before air conditioning became common in American homes. The first two houses I remember living in didn’t have central air conditioning. But now, 117 years after Willis Carrier was touched by a stroke of genius, central air conditioning is commonplace, and it’s really hard to imagine life without it.
Russell ‘s dog Betty is visiting for a few days. I took her for a walk this morning, and since then she hasn’t been straining at the leash to go outside into the dog days of summer. Staying inside on the cool floor with a bone is the preferred alternative.
Imagine being outside with a fur coat in this weather! Betty is one smart pooch.
The Columbus area is bracing for absurd heat today. The temperature is supposed to reach the mid-90s, and the “heat index” (which is kind of the opposite of the wind chill factor, and looks at temperature and dew point, to assess overall mugginess) is supposed to hit 105 degrees. That’s hot enough that the National Weather Service has issued an extreme heat advisory, and some businesses, like my nephew’s pizza kitchen, are adjusting their schedules and practices to try to avoid exposing workers to dangerous heat levels.
In short, we’ll be reaching the thermometer point at which, traditionally, your air conditioning goes on the fritz.
Is there a way to beat the heat in the beachless Midwest? Not really. The National Weather Service heat advisory recommends wearing lightweight and loose fitting clothing (no duh!), drinking plenty of water, spending more time in air conditioned or well-ventilated places, and avoiding doing much outside except in the early morning or late evening. So you can stay inside, drinking cool beverages, crank up their air conditioning, and watch movies — but that’s really just avoiding the heat, not beating it.
Or you can follow the post-enlightenment advice of the Bill Murray character in Groundhog Day and go outside and embrace the heat. Recognize that summers in the Midwest are often crushingly hot and that’s just part of the deal. Walk around in air so scalding and moist that it feels like steam. Note that the squirrels and birds aren’t exactly doing industrious things. And sweat until even that lightweight and loose clothing that the National Weather Service recommended is soaked through, weighs a ton, and is clinging ferociously to every damp, broiling inch of your skin.
And then, when you realize that you are behaving like an idiot, come back inside, drink a cold glass of water, and hope for all that’s holy that your air conditioning doesn’t go on the fritz like it did last summer.
It’s summer in the Midwest. That’s means it’s fly season, indoors and outdoors, and any Midwesterner that wants to be freed from fly-blown annoyance must assemble their fly-swatting arsenal and prepare, at any moment, to do battle with the pesky creatures that are constantly buzzing around.
The other day the B.A. Jersey Girl and I were talking in the firm library when a housefly landed on a nearby notepad. It was a big, ugly, hairy, disgusting granddaddy fly that probably had been buzzing around the office for months, getting fat on whatever leavings he found. By landing where he did, in full view of humans, he was basically taunting us. You could almost see his alien, compound eyes brimming with arrogance as he rubbed his forelegs together with undisguised glee.
The B.A.J.G. rolled up a document to ready herself for swatting. But I have seen too many such swatting attempts prove unsuccessful, so I waved her off and positioned my hands about a foot above the fly, with a hand to each side and the fly roughly in the middle. As I quickly clapped my hands together, the fly flew straight up — as flies typically do — and met his doom in the midst of the clap. The formerly overconfident fly fell to the paper below and was swept into the wastebasket — the appropriate fate of all household flies.
The B.A.J.G. had never seen the fly-clapping technique used before, but it is a time-honored Webner method for sending flies to their ultimate reward. In my experience, it works a lot better than fly swatters, or rolled up newspapers, or other techniques. And, you get the satisfaction of knowing that the last thing the fly feels is a handclap — as if you are celebrating its demise, which you really are.
Feel free to use the fly-clapping when you just can’t take any more of the loathsome creatures buzzing around your house. Clap on!
That’s all well and good, but it’s pretty much irrelevant to the travel that most of us experience. We’re business travelers, and except for rare occasions we don’t stay at places by lakes — unless you count those artificial ponds with the spraying fountain in the middle — or any staggering natural beauty. We’re in downtown areas for the most part, on a block of a city grid that looks pretty much like the next block over. So, the Travel + Leisure ratings might be interesting, but they don’t have much application to our daily business travel lives.
So, what do business travelers care about? Speaking for myself, I’d say the baseline needs are a place that is quiet and clean. Quiet, so I can try to get a good night’s sleep after after a busy travel and work day, and clean, so that I don’t notice dust bunnies under the bed or something left by the person who stayed in the room last night, and I can at least maintain the pretense that I’m not staying in a room that is probably used by hundreds of total strangers every year. After those basics, I’m looking for a room that has the right functional furniture — a desk is a must — a comfortable bed that isn’t covered in accent pillows that need to be thrown on the floor and that might trip me when I go to the bathroom, and an easy-to-use coffee maker that can make at least two cups of decent regular coffee. If you then throw in a shower with lots of hot water and decent water pressure, you’ve got a top 100 business hotel in my book.
No need for a mint on the pillow, or turn-down service, or a huge room. Just make sure I’m not awakened in the middle of the night by a party down the hallway, and I’ll come back.
The model reveals a Rome that was beautiful and sprawling, with a glimpse of what an amazing place it must have been when the Colosseum, the Forum, and the other buildings were intact and in use and buildings and people were packed together. Those of us who have been lucky enough to visit Rome have seen these once-glorious buildings only in ruins and in isolation, without their neighboring buildings to give a complete picture of ancient Rome in full flower. It must have been a bustling, extraordinary place.
Gismondi’s model depicts Rome as it was in the fourth century AD. That time period shows Rome, the city, at its height, but was also a time when the Roman Empire was in decline. Only 100 years later, in 476 AD, the last Roman emperor was toppled by barbarian invaders and the Dark Ages descended in the west.
The Gismondi model is on display at the Museum of Roman Civilization, in Rome. I didn’t visit that museum on our trip to Italy years ago, but I hope to make it back to Italy one of these days, and when I do that museum will be a must-see stop.
Now new research is indicating what seems like a pretty obvious conclusion: people who take selfies are more likely to undergo plastic surgery. The connection is even stronger if the selfies are taken with filters, or if the posters regularly take down selfie postings that they later conclude aren’t very flattering. Cosmetic surgeons are reporting that members of the selfie crowd are coming to their offices with selfies where the features have been digitally altered and asked the doctor to change their appearance to match the altered image.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise, I suppose, that people who take selfies are narcissistic and are interested in changing their appearance to try to reach their own definition of personal perfection. After all, if you spend your time constantly looking at your own pouting face, you’re bound to notice a few imperfections to be cleaned up. The selfie-obsessed also tend to compare their selfies with the countless other selfies that appear on social media feeds and find their looks wanting.
As one of the plastic surgeons quoted in the article linked above notes, that’s not healthy behavior. It’s the kind of behavior that those of us who don’t take selfies, and indeed don’t particularly like to have their photos taken at all, just can’t understand.
But we’ll have to, because the selfie epidemic seems to be getting worse, not better. Researchers estimate that 650 million selfies are posted every day on social media. That’s a lot of potential plastic surgery.