The Unreality of Life During Hot Weather

Mon 11 – Sun 17 July 2022

My previous blog (read it here) held out the promise that the week gone would be a quiet one. ‘Quiet’ after a few busy weeks both in my own life and the world in general. Unfortunately it turned out not as quiet as I hoped in terms of getting to the gym and dealing with personal health issues. This alongside the surreal leadership contest to succeed Johnson: a group of non-entities elected by a fraction of the population.

But last week was also defined by the hot weather. It’s been a scorcher of a week and with the ‘promise’ of reaching the highest ever temperature in England on Monday or Tuesday coming. Obviously this exceptionally hot weather is not actually exceptional any more. It’s all about the impact of climate change. And now temperatures of around 30 degrees are usual in England during summer with little chance of snow in winter any more.

This crazy hot weather is a symptom of climate change but it will also contribute to other features of modern life that are developing due to climate change:

  • Water shortages and restrictions
  • Disrupted agricultural production making food more expensive
  • Sea levels rising and flooding
  • Wildfires (Portugal currently has these due to temperatures of 47 degrees!)
  • Unpredictable weather such as storms
  • New pests and diseases arising (Covid, Monkeypox, Zika, etc)

Welcome to the future 🙁

“We can only see a short distance ahead, but we can see plenty there that needs to be done.”

Alan Turing

Sustainability

Adjusting to how we live in hot weather

Basically we are going to have to adjust the way we live due to the hot weather. Gradually we will get used to these changes. But meanwhile it feels so unusual to live through this heat. London feels more like a city in the Middle East than one in the north Atlantic. It was the same with our recent time in Berlin when it was mid-30s every day. You can read my blog about it here.

It feels like our lives now are an unreality. Living life as much as possible outside such as when we are socialising. The parks are packed at lunchtime and after work. But we also need to think about the impact of the sun on our health all the time making sure we use sun tan lotion though the damage may already be done (see ‘Health and Efficiency’ below). Plus trying to keep cool indoors and trying to sleep during hot weather. There is a good German article on ‘How can Europe adapt to extreme heat?’

hot hot hot

Work Life Balance

The challenge of not being full-time

I’ve previously mentioned how I have lost my drive to climb the career ladder. It’s almost impossible if you work part-time. You are nearly always perceived as uncommitted. Indeed, all structures within the modern workplace are based on the assumption that people are working full-time or at least no less than 4 days pw.

The result is that so many people who work full-time burn-out early. It happened to me. Looking back I burnt so much energy at the start of my career that it means I just don’t feel I have the energy to work full-time now. And this is one of the big drivers of the ‘Great Resignation’: the increase in people who are leaving their jobs and so many jobs being hard to fill. Life is short, why be someone’s full-time wage slave when they would replace you in a heartbeat?

Hot weather will drive WFH (working from home)…

But beyond this, living with hot weather as the norm is going to do two things to the world of work that employers need to think about.

First, it is going to mean that people will want to work at home. Who wants to spend hours in hot cars or public transport and uncomfortable workspaces simply to go on a zoom call? I am lucky in that my current employer is fine with me doing my two days wfh. This is far-sighted and I am amazed at some companies and politicians forcing people back to the workplace. Though the latter is largely pandering to baby-boomer voters who are only happy if they think younger generations are suffering as much as they perceived that they did in the past.

…And flexible working

Second, hours and styles of work are going to change. I constantly get annoyed with the racist stereotyping of Spain as having a ‘manana’ work style. The reality is that not working during the hottest point of the day makes sense. Better to work in the morning and the evening. Indeed, let people work when they want. And then we need to be less frenetic. The successful employer of the future will be one that can operate more on Mediterranean and Middle Eastern habits than the take no hostage freneticism of American and East Asian capitalism.

Same shit different day

Health and Efficiency

Gym

My previous blog laid out how I expected to get in 3 gym sessions for the week gone. I am so tempted to go swimming instead with this hot weather but I do so enjoy just being in the gym. As I do my workout, I get into the ‘zone’ and it creates a natural high.

Managed to get to the gym on Monday and Tuesday mornings. Had planned to go on Thursday morning but I had to instead grab (literally) an appointment with my GP to deal with the two issues detailed below. Could also have been a good thing as I did some damage to my knee on Tuesday – good to rest it.

In terms of my running total: 44 gym sessions since the start of the year divided by the annual membership = just under £11.25 per session.

Skin damage due to the heat

One of the impacts of hot weather will be increased skin cancer. Indeed, last week I went to my GP about a dodgy mark on my forehead. Thankfully it’s not skin cancer but it is permanent damage due to over-exposure of the sun. Something I’ve got to learn to live with and the recommendation that I do my best to keep it under cover with a cap and sun tan lotion.

Ongoing prostate issues – the joys of getting old

As an older man, it’s sort of inevitable that you get prostate issues. This was the other thing I talked to my GP about. Basically I am on the right meds but some problems persist like the constant need to go for a wee. Key thing is to keep a check for cancer via blood tests. The next stage for non-cancerous prostate problems is to have some of it removed. I’m really not at that stage yet so I’m gonna just try to live with it unless it gets unbearable.

Books and Reading

‘Fault Lines’ – a modern Japanese version of Brief Encounter

One of the best things to do during hot weather is to sit (in the shade) with a coffee and read a book. Managed to finish this one last week by Emily Itami. It’s a first novel and it’s like a modern Japanese version of the old black and white British movie ‘Brief Encounter’. The story of a family in modern Tokyo where the wife has an affair. It definitely links into my love of urban life.

The husband is trapped in a job that demands all his time and energy. His wife looks back on missed opportunities and bad decisions. Is her future just to bring up the children? But when she meets someone – is it really the promise of escape that it presents itself as? Some great themes for modern life and relationships – sort of stuff that we all experience at some point.

I won’t ruin it by telling you the outcome of the story. Read the novel – it’s good and relatively short.

‘Atomic Habits’

A flawed personal development classic

A modern classic in the categories of Business, Management, and Self-Development. I like to read these types of books now and then to help me think. Though they do go out of date so quickly even this one only written in 2018. Things now like the pandemic, Russian and Chinese expansionism, damaged supply chains, drives against globalisation, and climate change are all changing assumptions that were considered rock solid only a few years ago.

Atomic Habits (sub-titled ‘An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones’) is pretty much set in the idea that the key to success is how we behave as individuals – the atomised view of society. And there is definite sense in what James Clear says about the importance of making small changes that will, cumulatively, lead to bigger changes. And this is through making habitual actions more or less frequent based on whether they have a positive or negative impact on us.

How to create a good habitHow to break a bad habit
– Make it obvious– Make it invisible
– Make it attractive– Make it unattractive
– Make it easy– Make it difficult
– Make it satisfying– Make it unsatisfying

It can’t just be about me, me, me

Overall, yes we should definitely strive for better in our life for ourselves. But life is more than just about us getting richer, more powerful, more successful, thinner, etc. If we are doing stuff that ultimately makes us worse off and perpetuates waste or destruction then that is not a good thing no matter how incrementally we do it. If me getting richer bit by bit means someone else being economically exploited or ongoing environmental destruction then what is the point?

The system is stacked against many of us

Plus can small changes really make a big difference when the whole system is stacked against so many of us? Again, it’s like the baby boomers telling young people not to eat avocados, drink coffee, or subscribe to Netflix so they can save pennies that will never pay for extortionately priced homes. The simple fact is we need to build more homes but high house prices are to the advantage of too many people i.e. home owners, landlords, and builders.

Family and Friends

A quiet week overall included quietness based on not meeting people. Hot weather mitigates against over-activity including meeting up with friends and doing less when you do meet with them.

Mum

Mum and Dave are fine. The former does not deal well with the heat but then she also moans about when it is cold, raining, windy, etc. I’m sure she does it for devilment and to wind me up. But it is important that we keep an eye on older and vulnerable people during hot weather so I spent time with her and made sure she was OK.

Dave

He’s doing alright. Indeed, last week was when he started going back to swimming. His pool is near my gym so if we walk there together then he is more likely to go. He’s also spending a lot of time getting around London on the Boris bikes. I should probably do the same though I simply enjoy walking which suits hot weather.

Me and Dave are also honest enough in our relationship so that one can do stuff without the other if they are not motivated by it. Thus, Dave went off on his own last week one night to see a musical on stage and on another to see a film neither of which were on my list to do.

Patrick

Saturday morning and me with Dave had a coffee catch-up with this old friend. He is doing fine and taking it easy with the hot weather. Indeed, there was a plan for Dave to go with Patrick and Frances to visit Portsmouth via the train on the coming Monday. But I am delighted that they have decided to heed the advice about the extreme hot weather and postpone it. I remember how me and Dave were stuck on a coach with no air conditioning during the UK’s previous hottest day and there was nothing nice about it.

Sun with glasses

Art and Culture

As said, Dave managed to do a lot more art and culture than me last week. One musical and two cinema outings. I was quite envious that he went to see ‘Cabaret’ on a day I was with mum. I love that film and it seems amazing that it is 50 years old.

So, overall, a week of limited art and culture experiences for me beyond my reading and listening to the radio. Nothing better than listening to the radio and reading a book in bed before I snuggle down to sleep.

tunes in darkness

Love Island

I have mentioned before how much I am enjoying this programme this summer. Yep it’s trashy, silly, and completely throwaway. But it’s ideal viewing during hot weather and with the real world crises of leadership elections, Ukraine, and Climate Change. There is something totally relaxing about watching beautiful half naked people in a bubble copping off, arguing, and simply thinking that they are the centre of the world. Their fame won’t last and it’s a wonderful reminder of what it’s like to be young, on holiday, and ‘in love’.

Personal Development

The whole pace of life has to cool down during hot weather or we simply crash. But it’s still important to me that I continue to develop as a person. As such, I am getting on with my daily Duolingo lessons in Spanish and German – building the foundations to one day really target on getting proficient in both languages. I’ve created a habit of doing them in the morning after I get up and make a cup of tea but before I get in the shower.

“Knowledge is love and light and vision.”

Helen Keller

The Week Ahead

  • Hot weather moves into extreme hot weather on Mon and Tues so we have to adapt. Not sure I will get to the gym on those days. Need to keep a special eye on mum and other elderly friends.
  • Normal two days of work on Wed and Fri – on both I’m working from home. Me and Jeantine are working on an interesting new project.
  • The ‘INR police’ have caught up with me and I need to go for a test on Wednesday
  • Nothing planned for seeing friends in person but catch up calls with Phyllis and an old colleague Sarah
  • I’m reading a great novel – ‘Cloud Cuckoo Land’ by Anthony Doerr. And started on a new non-fiction book on my kindle: ‘Four Thousand Weeks. Time Management for Mortals’ by Oliver Burkeman
  • Carry on with trying to save the planet and my own personal development as well as watching Love Island

And Finally…

America is a crazy place

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