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Retired publishing executive ecstatic with the idea of spending most of his time on the coast of Maine

Monday, December 3, 2012


After not being Maine for several weeks, I returned to a house colder than usual. A twist of the thermostat produced no instant response. I was in for a long service call.

Somewhat later, after the woodstove took the chill out of the air, after I calmed down about the length of that service call, I thought of our incredible expectations for the world. We've gone way past instant oatmeal - now a lawn appears in the course of a day, a thousand people can tweet Madonna in a second, teachers get feedback while they're teaching, your smartphone gets you tickets and trivia. Conversely, if a webpage takes two seconds to load, I'm mad. Traffic is a personal insult to efficiency. Slow walkers raise blood pressure. We do not suffer fools or slow waiters gladly. We expect the steady compression of time and tasks by at least 10-fold every model year.

I submit a new infection - instancy - to the CDC for classification. It's got all the hallmarks: fever, racing pulse, sour stomach. It is spread by airplane travel, it is communicated by the Joneses. And the cure? Stare at something, like surf or a tanager, for minutes on end. Take the Internet with a grain of salt. Drink lots of fresh air. Wait like a patient, patiently, for warm relief. Then take a fool to lunch.

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