Monthly Archives: August 2011

Heat Frustration Productivity Index: Extremely High

I am being driven crazy by the heat. Above 90 degrees and no air conditioning drains the brain of the ability for useful cognition and makes everyone bitchy.

It is very hard to get anything done. I douse my face with cold water, dry off, and 30 seconds later there are beads of sweat forming on my scalp and dribbling over my face. I want to concentrate, to get work done, but my wet armpits are sticking my arms to my chest as I try to type. Heat is not conducive to productivity.

So here’s my theory: There’s a perfect latitude for getting work done. It needs to take into account two considerations:
1. Temperature
2. Light

Any place too hot for too long, and productivity sinks (think South America). But equally important, any place which may be cool but has long dark winters is equally an unproductive environment for its citizens (think alcoholism and other maladies from the lack of light, think Denmark and Russia).

Defining productivity is a tricky thing, because it can be a lot of things and have a lot of causes. Politics, economics, labor force, etc., etc., all have an impact. My definition is Ken-centric, off course. It is basically where can I be most productive? That mainly means sitting at a desk and gazing into the glow of a computer screen and accomplishing something. So we’re talking knowledge workers.

So, what latitudinally (and longitudinally) speaking may be a Productivity Paradise? I have done an analysis by coordinates. See if you can guess the cities by their numbers:

City One: 37 degrees 46′ 30″ N / 122 degrees 25′ 5″ W

City Two: 47 degrees 22′ 0″ / 8 degrees 33′ 0″ E

City Three:49 degrees 15′ 0″ N / 123 degrees 8′ 0″ W

I am sure there are additionally productive cities based on latitude/longitude analysis, but I am too damn hot to find them.

(Answers: 1: San Francisco / 2: Zurich / 3: Vancouver)

Hot, Hot? Maybe Not.

It’s not supposed to be hot in Switzerland. Which is one of the reasons that there are no air conditioners in the country. Not in homes, not in offices. And if they do exist in offices, there is a law that buildings can not be cooled beyond five degrees of the outside temperature, some environmental and energy-saving thing. Which works if it’s not hot outside.

But it is, and has been. For a week now. Ninety-three degrees. We drip everywhere. As soon as we get out of the shower and dry, drip drip drip. Walking to the un-air-conditioned tram, drip drip drip drip drip. Standing in the sweat box of our apartment with the fan feebly moving around the hot air, drip drip drip.

But when things seemed to get hotter with the sun blasting down as I stood waiting outside the school for Jack and Adam, a friend told me she considered this OK, as last year they had a several-week heat wave in Basel with temperatures up into the 100s. And, here’s the kicker, she was 9 months pregnant. And lived in an attic apartment. With no air conditioning. And two toddlers. And finally ready to give birth, there was no air conditioning in the hospital.

So, maybe not so bad after all.

Meat Bag

There is something so in-your-face, so primitive, so enthralling, about this grossly large curve of meat in a bag. The huge size of the sausage and its capture in a clear plastic bag hanging in the extremely well-lit, clean and organized German grocery store makes it a must-see. Is it food, Dada art, commentary on modern living, all of the above?

Extremely Large Meat in a Bag

Things Sound Better in French

I was shopping in France the other day and purchased something for the house. It is a basic item that cost about $15. Nothing fancy, nothing exciting, extremely common. Here’s how the product is described on its wrapper:

“Tapis coco borde fantaisie”

That sounds awesome!

Without using Google Translate, and disqualifying yourself if you were fancy enough to learn French in high school or college, please choose the correct product:

A. a shoe bag
B. a door mat
C. a garbage can for recycling
D. a mime kit, including black and white stripped shirt, white grease paint and black beret (insufferable attitude sold separately)
E. a poster frame

Page Six / U.S. Trip Confidential

What sexy international couple was seen in wetsuits surfing the afternoon away at beautiful Nauset Beach on Cape Cod?

Which young boy did the Trivia King of New York admonish: “Please do not lick my computer screen.“? (disclosure: No Wilans had their tongues near the laptop)

What 3-year-old little honey created by one of Ken’s best friends and his wife developed a crush on Jack and Adam and insisted each hold her hands as they walked through the West Village towards Union Square?

What super cutie donned a skirt and played on-stage assistant at Cambridge’s most exciting and smart trivia entertainment show? And what brooding relative lurked behind the stage, writing at his laptop and popping out at key moments to act as company photographer?

What children danced in the surging water fountain in Washington Square Park during a 100+ degree day, with the Delhi-in-the-summer stink of the pale yellow-brown fountain spray wafting over to the four parents ignoring the typhoid-water smell and chatting away in the shade?

What tall, handsome, sensitive fella was observed being screamed at in separate incidents by his mother, mother-in-law and sister?

Which NYC house host made a surprisingly tasty lemonade alcoholic beverage and then got so blasted on his own cocktail that he stripped naked, donned a pair of Red Sox underpants, ran out the door and paraded down Sixth Avenue screaming “Yankees Suck, I love turkey so much!”? Well OK, he did make a tasty beverage.

Which Brookline resident and soon-to-be pizza impresario was kind enough to welcome a dripping Ken into his house as he had just run 3 miles from Boston and offer him not only a delicious meal but also a shower?

What smoothed-legged captain of industry came as close as this observer has ever heard to screaming an entire curse — though he stopped after the first syllable — in frustration at a golf ball sent into the ditch on the ninth hole?

Which California girl traveled all the way to NYC from So Cal via New Jersey just to see the Wilans, even after flying out to Basel a few months before to be with them?

What couple and their two boys trusted Ken with the helm of a Boston Whaler as both families plied Pleasant Bay, swam off the boat, almost drifted onto an island, and for brief time periods turned the skippering of the boat to the 7-year-old and under set?

Who took Ken out to a terrific lunch at Elephant Walk and is still owed the best Swiss chocolate from the secret store in Basel?

Which lawyer, sailor, painter and clammer got busted by the Harbor patrol for letting his non-clamming-licensed son experience the joy of raking the bottom of the ocean and coming up with clams?

Which couple sweated out an 85 degree and extremely humid 5-mile run on Cape Cod along with Ken and Jessica? Which male of that couple had to listen to Ken ramble on for the entire 5 miles? Which male and Ken decided while running that the world needs a new uber man a’la Arnold Schwarzenegger in the 90s, and that the first nomination is the smart, brooding, physically fit Daniel Craig?

What group worked like a champion restaurant team and whipped together an amazing birthday celebratory dinner featuring cooked-and-spiced to perfection toasted coconut Asian rice and fish in curry sauce?