Perhaps because the weather has suddenly turned cold, the apartment is overrun with spiders of bewildering variety: wispy gray spiders that seem at first glance to be mere motes of dust, fat black spiders like bloated licorice jelly beans, leggy little chestnut-colored spiders, and even one repulsive white spider, its chitinous body and legs outlined only in shadow as it scuttered across the white wall away from my desperately whacking shoe and toward freedom.
Yes, I am whacking at them. Usually, I am one of those saps who fishes the spider out of the tub on a string or a card, then escorts him or her outside, but instinct took over when the spider I found in the tub was the size of a plump raspberry. A big, black, fast-moving raspberry with a stubborn exoskeleton. Shudder.
The new downstairs neighbor has an electric bass. He
plays practices for several hours a day, and into the night and early morning. Although he turns the volume down gradually as the night wears on, the clumsy haphazard vibrations travel up from his amp, spreading as they rise to shake my apartment floors. In the living room, I can feel the bass thumping up through the soles of my feet when standing and through my bum when sitting on the futon. Worse, though, is the unsavory Magic Fingers effect it gives the entire bedroom, changing the ambience from luxurious little chamber to sleazy motel.
Although I find this tedious, inconvenient, and nerve-wracking (maybe my reaction will improve when his
playing practicing does), I know he is being reasonable (or nearly so) about his volume, and I havet felt moved to discuss it with him.
This evening, I was getting some static on my half-assed rabbit-ears TV reception, which is piped through my stereo, so I was treated not only to the pervasive thrumming from downstairs but also the occasional blast of friendly-fire static from my own speakers. Correcting the rabbit ears took several minutes of fiddling and a good bit of Nancy-Drew-style invective (“Well, my word —- Goshdarnit, stay put”), so it only gradually dawned on me that each wave of static was met with a caesura from downstairs. Indeed, unless my ears deceived me, during sustained bursts of static I heard something very like the sound of an amp switching channels. By the time I fixed my reception, he had evidently given up and unplugged.
I have no plan to use this knowledge, but I am wondering: if I were to engage in an experiment, would this be more like a Pavlovian bell or a Skinner Box?
update: Since the experiment is based not on positive reinforcement but on aversion conditioning, it would be more like the Little Albert experiment. Of course.