Notes from Underground and Other Curiosities

Does anybody else here remember sleeping in the basement in hot weather, because it was the coolest place in the house? Or enjoying the cool breezes upon entering the subway or tunnel? More to the point, does anybody remember when that stopped? These days the basement is as warm and sticky as the rest of the house, only worse because it has less ventilation and no air-conditioning. Same goes for subways and tunnels. This has perturbed me for a while, so I finally googled “underground temperatures” and found several references to this phenomenon, such as

No, it’s not my imagination (or yours, as the case may be.) Yikes.

Other interesting developments, not necessarily related to climate change: the use of “climate change” instead of “global warming,” which seems to have originated as a conservative reaction on the theory that it would sound less scary. But in fact, it doesn’t. If global warming gets bad enough, one of the results could be a new Ice Age. (Look it up. It involves shutting down the Gulfstream.) So “climate change” is both more accurate and more scary.

The moribundity of Starbuck’s. I rarely visit any of them, though there are something like 7 in a 3-block radius of my office, and another one a block from my home. But, like Bud, I will miss not drinking their coffee. (One of the few correct uses of that phrase I’ve seen in a long time.)

And a bright idea for this month’s crisis—house-sitting services for foreclosed properties. One hears about abandoned homes being vandalized or turned into drug havens, at serious expense to the mortgage holder and the neighborhood. Why not rent the places out, at nominal cost, to otherwise homeless senior citizens? Solve two problems at once. (I will always admire Wendell Berry, BTW, for characterizing livestock feedlots as “turning a solution into two problems.” I wish I’d said that.)


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