Monday, July 26, 2010
Saturday, July 24, 2010
I've been away for a bit - not really away, away, just not writing here. A few ideas have dropped onto the stony ground of my imagination over the last week or so, but none seems to have taken hold. I thought the I had a BIG IDEA for a post about the metamorphosis that earnestness has taken over the last 150 years or so while I was reading Lytton Strachey's biography of Queen Victoria last night.
Turns out that when Prince Albert, future consort of Queen Victoria, and his brother Ernest were examined for their confirmation by the German Bishops of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, crowds gathered to watch. Strachey reports that every one was riveted. The princes did well and this was considered a good show. Hmm. I thought. Times have changed, haven't they? Earnestness remains, but no one seems to be looking for it in the correct religious sensibilities of future princes. What's the equivalent these days? Maybe some students presenting an alternative energy project at contest sponsored by Bill and Melinda Gates?
That's kind of as far as I got. I kept reading. It's really a great book.
So, just so you few who continue to stumble in here don't go away empty handed, I thought I'd dispense some advice. I know how we all enjoy getting advice. I especially enjoy the nuggets dispensed for me by Whusband. I enjoy it so much that I have decided to fine him for any sentence that begins with, "What you should do is..."
But that's us. I am sure you'd be happy to take advice from me! And who knows, someday when I am gone my kids might read this blog looking for maternal wisdom. (The picture above of the Understudy was snapped this week by one of her friends. "How soon hath time...")
So for you and them, my best piece of advice is "Drive slow in parking lots."
I know I have already shared this but I am offering it again because it is really excellent advice. If that's not enough, or you find it a bit shop-worn, I'll also add, "Don't smoke."
And, if you must smoke, don't smoke on the street or at least never walk with a lit cigarette. It looks really cheap.
I hope inspiration is being kinder to you all. Bon weekend.
Sunday, July 11, 2010
I always have been and ever shall be a TV person. Deplorable in many quarters, I know, but there it is. And, I'll say it, there's actually a lot of good stuff on TV. Lately I like American Pickers. Of course there's also a lot to be depressed about. The saddest, next to infomercials, is the network news- no, strike that, the commercials during the evening news.
"I got my Hover-Round delivered straight to my home and it didn't cost me a dime."
People born before 1940 are apparently prone to a certain kind of credulousness. Put someone in a lab coat and give her a stethoscope and they're sold. I also love how the perscription drug ads attempt to paper over the ominous side effects the government has forced them to reveal: "May cause internal bleeding, dry throat, blindness and death. Tell your doctor if you're taking any medications, including antacids, as this may cause a certain form of paralysis." These warnings are always accompanied by images of barefoot middle-aged people flying kites on a beach at sunset. I amuse myself by thinking of the gap between the reality of the people who are meant to go to their doctors and request whatever drug and the actors who fly the kites on the beaches.
Best of all (for purposes of the credibility gap) are the ads for exterminators and home alarm systems. In case you missed it, the super competent young-ish people of America have decided to forego careers at NASA or in Special Forces so that they can monitor alarm systems and keep bugs out of people's homes. E.g.:
Dear Dr. Granger,
After long, hard consideration, I am afraid that I am going to have to decline JPL's offer of a post-doctoral fellowship in Remote Sensing of Atmospheric Composition Ground-Based Spectroscopy. I know it represents a very fine opportunity, but I have been offered a position as a security alarm monitor by a national home security provider. So, despite my abiding interest in the measurement of atmospheric species and aerosols that affect air quality and ozone chemistry in Earth's atmosphere, I feel that I can better use my talents keeping my fellow Americans safe from intruders who are even more directly menacing than greenhouse gases. Thanks so much for your interest and best of luck in filling the position.
Dear Colonel Granger,
As you know, I have been mulling over whether I should re-enlist next month. I have been very tempted by the opportunity to fly a FA/18 Super Hornet Jet, and by the prospect of getting into anti-submarine warfare and mine countermeasures. However, after much deep thought, and prolonged counsultation with my family, I have decided to take up a new mission as a civilian. As you are no doubt aware, insects and pests of all kinds are, at every moment, attempting to penetrate food storage areas and otherwise hygenic areas of the homes of our countrymen and women. Terminix (TM) has offered me an opportunity to combat these waves of vermin and I feel I must not let it slip by. Plus, I prefer the Terminix (TM) uniform. Thank you for the confidence you have shown in me.
Wednesday, July 07, 2010
How are you spending your heat wave?
My grand plan for this week - one that I hatched in my bed in the early morning hours of winter days months ago - was to use this week for a multi-day bike tour of the Erie Canal bike path: my own personal shake-down cruise.
Welllll. As things transpired...
The Understudy had been willing to wager that I would not make my bike trip, which obnoxious of her (whereever does she get it?).
Suffice it to say that Shackleton and I are here, not far from the Erie Canal Bikeway, at my Dad and Stepmother's house near Albany (where else do we ever go?)
O.K. So the Understudy was mostly right with her forecast, but partly wrong since I brought my bike along (not my vintage English roadsters but something more modern that resembles a shark, in its way). And for each of the last three mornings I have taken my shark with its 21 gears and its bum-saving seat out for a spin. An hour the first two mornings, on roads around Dad's house, and two hours yesterday - actually along a section of the Canal Bike Path. Given the heat (96 degrees yesterday) I was more or less compelled by health and safety considerations to finish up these rides by 9 AM. (That, and the fact that I had reached the limits of my endurance - no way could I have ridden that bike for a whole day).
The section I rode yesterday could have been marked Memory Lane, well known to me as it was from my ever receding childhood, adolescence and early 20s.
In some shoe box somewhere there is a picture of me on this stretch of path astride my new red Ross 10-speed in a "Virginia is for Lovers" poly blend T-Shirt, flare jeans and Tom McCann sneakers. I am sporting a hair cut that could have been achieved by cutting around the bottom of a mixing bowl Oh, 2003 where have you gone? (kidding! this was darkest 1977). I went by the little league field where my brother once got his jaw broken by a bad hop, and the GE lab where my father has toiled for decades, making possible the house where I have been luxuriating in AC, bathing in a big whirlpool tub and watching the Netherlands push past Uruguay in giant HD splendor. (No wonder we never go anyplace else).
Here's some of what I saw on these trips: (Taking picture with my camera phone provided cover for my need to hop off the shark and pant).
An old school building...
Where once we came for field trips...
Lock 7 on the Mohawk River
Pathetically short as my little bike tours have been I have been inspired to ride a lot more this summer. It was really great to feel a little sore and get the old metabolism moving. Oh, and have I mentioned how I had no misgivings at all about loafing at the parental palace all day after an hour's work in the mornings? It's so freeing to have accomplished a bit of exercise first thing - like buying an indulgence.
Shackleton, however, has spent his days here a little lonely, without the Understudy (though he refuses to admit it). He mostly spent yesterday in the kid zone (read, "basement") making videos of the local toys (camera was taped to "truck man") and watching TV. I took pity on him and joined him for a little TV around dinnertime. We watchd a PBS show which included a section about kids bowling.
"Let's go bowling!"
Great. Wii bowling has a lot to recommend it - like no bowling ball and high likelihood of high scores, but real bowling meant leaving the house and it was time for that. Also, downtown Albany has a throw-back alley that I went to once for a charity bowling event 20 years ago. Here was a chance not only for bowling, but for a cultural experience for a Vermont boy.
Suffice it to say we had a great time at the Playdium. (See today's banner). It is in a racially mixed neighborhood - something we don't have much of in northern New England. It was mobbed with people of all ages and colors and there was a snack bar and a regular bar and insufficient air conditioning. We worked up a sweat. The scoring equipment featured little videos that mocked us for throwing gutter balls. A good time was had by all. Well, maybe not so much by the two young guys who got the alley next to me and Shack. They listed their bowling names as Ice-T and T-Rex and I think my presence dampened their good time. (Middle-aged broad who looks like she might be a teacher or some otherwise unwelcome entity). I noticed that despite their quasi gangster appearance and youth, they bowled really bad, like, worse than me and looked kind of gay doing it. More than a little gay. It's good to get out and see the world!
Back to VT at noon today. No AC awaits once we get back there. Oh dear.