I’m currently reading The Cider House Rules by John Irving, and there’s this recurring theme of “waiting and seeing”. The main character, Homer Wells, is an orphan, and knows all about waiting and seeing. This week, I’ve also come to know a lot about waiting and seeing, but perhaps in a different way.
At some point in the middle of last week, it started raining. We’ve had a lot of rain this summer — part of the deal with the La Niña weather system — so when it started and didn’t stop, no one really thought much of it. But then the rain continued into the week-end, and it was unrelenting. Creeks were filling up, the river was rising, and damn levels were climbing steadily. By Sunday, countless streets were flooded, people were evacuating, and many had lost power.
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Thermodynamics was not something I expected to think much about after high school, but as I grasped my coffee cup with both hands while going up the stairs at work, I found myself thinking about thermodynamics and the transfer of heat, and about how wonderful it is that these concepts exist and have been explained.
It suddenly got very cold here around the middle of the week. On Wednesday when I left work, my watch told me that it was 18 degrees (Celsius) outside. I was surprised and thought it must be a mistake. But when I got outside, I felt like it was about 10 degrees, the air was so icy cold.
So on Thursday morning, I got a coffee from the cafe a few floors down from my workplace. They have a tendency of making the coffee quite hot (or a friend suggested I might just have a sensitive mouth that cannot handle high temperatures), but that morning I was grateful for the extra hot coffee, as I could allow the heat to warm my cold hands.
As I walked back up the stairs, I thought about the idea of heat energy, and of the movement of molecules caused by this energy. I thought most of all about how heat always goes from a warmer object to a cooler object, and about the concept of specific heat capacity, which explains why different materials absorb or lose heat at different rates.
And I thought about my high school chemistry/physics teacher, and about that semester of learning thermodynamics, and how most teenagers who don’t intend to pursue science or engineering careers probably think it’s all pointless. But how positively wonderful is it to be able to experience these phenomena — like the phenomena of heat transfer — and be able to know why and how it happens?
We’ve had a lot of rainy days and rainy weeks this year, and I’ve discovered that it doesn’t take much for everyone to get sick of rainy weather. It must be something about the gloomy grey, and the fact that everything is always wet, and nothing really dries properly because there’s so much moisture in the air.
Of course, it’s all the more wonderful when the clouds disperse and the sun reappears. Oh, we can do laundry again! And our towels will be dry before we use them again!
I took advantage of the good weather to cycle to work yesterday. I made it to work in what I believe to be record time, averaging almost 21km/h. I felt good the whole day, right up until I cut my thumb in the afternoon while trying to cut up some boxes. (It sure is hard trying to keep an injured thumb inactive, especially if it’s on your dominant hand.) It was at about this time that I seriously questioned my decision to not have coffee that day.
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Driving home from work in sub-pitter-patter rain that barely qualifies as rain, I glanced at my car dashboard. The fuel efficiency bothers me — I can’t get it down any lower. Mostly because of this traffic, not helped by the rain, as pitiful as it is.
I wonder, “why does this bother me so?”
I’m not driving far, I can afford the petrol, I don’t fill up that often anyway.
But it’s the perceived impact — the impact on a world that’s already dying. And yet, looking at all the cars around me, what difference does it really make?
My actions are a drop in the proverbial ocean — a piddly raindrop on the face of the earth. It’s the corporations that must change! It’s the governments that must enforce change!
Still, it’s not an excuse for inaction.
So what if I’m a raindrop?
Following the cars in front of me, I think how we’re all sheep. Raindrop sheep.
But surely in a herd of sheep, you occasionally get one that breaks away from the group. Don’t you?
There was a report on the news this morning about some study on climate change. A woman was saying that people probably think this last decade was exceptionally hot, but with climate change, the next decade will be much hotter such that our current temperatures will seem relatively mild.
When I heard this, my first thought was, “why is this still being reported like it’s some surprising news that no one considered before?” But I was in the middle of doing other things, so I continued on with my morning without thinking much more of it.
That is, until just a moment ago when I was reminiscing about how relatively carefree life used to be, and lamenting how troublesome life seems to be right now. Pandemic aside, I feel like this year has brought a lot more “responsible adult” tasks for me.
(Is there a point in adulthood when there is no more to learn about being an adult, and you can just get on with life i.e. relaxing, doing nothing, etc? Probably not?)
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Looks like we’re in for a bit of a rough summer. We’ve already had some really hot days followed by fierce storms, and some hail too. And it’s only the start of November!
There’s also been a lot of dust and pollen in the air recently, and my workplace has just gotten something done to the aircon, so the air’s been quite cold and dry too. As a result, my sinuses have been suffering, and they’ve made sure I’m well aware of it.
Having come through winter relatively unscathed, I suppose this is just a small inconvenience, but it’s inconvenient all the same.
Still, one ought to be grateful that one has a home, and a sofa on which good books can be read and enjoyed. I think that will be my week-end taken care of.