Aug 19

Happy National Tell A Joke Day

It is National Tell A Joke Day. (Should that be in all caps? How does national tell a joke day look, in comparison?) Did you know it was National Tell A Joke Day? This is one of those holidays that always sneaks up on me. But, fortunately, I caught it just in time.

I asked Siri to tell me some jokes to mark the occasion, because that’s what one does these days. I think I asked for 15 jokes, and these are the best eight of the bunch. These jokes, then, are the second best part of my day:

Now to put this in my calendar so I don’t miss it next year.

Aug 19

Travel day

Well we made it. Despite the rescheduling of yesterday — apparently several days of storms had thrown off the air traffic patterns of the eastern seaboard and they only needed the one more night, and the passage of one line of storms last evening, to reset the process — and a lot of choppy, bouncy turbulence today, we made it to New York City.

Meaning Laguardia Airport, which is precisely the same amount of mess we left it in our last visit. They say it will be completed in 2022. I say when have you ever known a massive project to hit its target. And, Laguardia is a massive project. The signage also says uplifting things about a better tomorrow, but you’re smarter than all of that. We’re all just hoping it isn’t as bad as today out there.

From a design standpoint this is a fascinating puzzle. How do you rebuild one of the nation’s busiest airports (20th, it turns out) while keeping it one of the nation’s busiest airports? It’s a dreadful experience today, but make it better. You can’t example implode the buildings and start over. You can’t add extra land (it covers 680 acres). You can’t move those 30 million annual passengers someplace else.

So across the Throgg’s Neck Bridge and up the coast of the Long Island Sound. Throgg’s Neck is named after an early 17th century settler, John Throckmorton. It was a Dutch to English name thing, as best I can tell. Anyway, the Bronx and New York grew up around it. And we were on our way out of New York to summer on the Gold Coast, or at least have a weekend with the in-laws.

We used to summer on the Gold Coast here in beautiful Connecticut, but now we are busier, I guess. This year we are having a long weekend and celebrating two important birthdays. So tonight we had a delicious Italian dinner at a local favorite.

I had the chicken marsala, which was great because so far today I’ve had … the bag of Cheez-Its they gave me on the plane. I don’t know why eating and traveling is such a difficult proposition, but this is the way it goes. I had a late lunch at Chipotle yesterday, some fries for an early dinner and a snack last night. I’m sure the little cup of apple juice I also had on the plane kept me at an appropriate caloric level until dinner tonight. It’s a curious thing, that’s all.

The important thing is the birthdays, and that I ate a lot chicken marsala. And it was delicious.

Aug 19

Happy weekend

Tonight we had pizza. I was told I could have whatever I wanted on my pizza. You see, my lovely bride makes the pizza (I retired from pie making my freshman year of college). And she always has a better grasp of what we have on hand for toppings. But, as ever, I am deferential to her tastes and wouldn’t dream of depriving someone else of an ingredient if we had only so much. But, she said, we had plenty of all of the things that she listed. And, thus, I could have whatever I wanted on my pizza.

“Except for whatever smart thing you’re about to say,” because I had the look on my face.

So I said I wanted Mellow Mushroom on my pizza. Mellow Mushroom, of course, being an incredibly tasty pizza every time. Sadly, there isn’t a store here. There’s one on the other side of Indianapolis and I am currently starting a low boil campaign to get them to open a shop here because they do great numbers in every college town they are in.

And they’d kill here. They would absolutely make bank here. I’ve had the consensus-opinion best pizza in town. And I honestly started asking people if I’d ordered the wrong thing. It was fine. It wasn’t bad by any stretch. But best pizza? In town? In a college town? It was Pizza Hut on a good day. I’ve also had their burgers, and their burgers were better. The best pizza joint in town is better at making burgers, is what I’m saying, and Mellow Mushroom should swoop in and capitalize, and we haven’t even started talking about the many side selections their menu offers.

So I could not have Mellow Mushroom on my pizza tonight, but I did want some. We did have some last month. It looks like this:

The Yankee’s pizzas are pretty good. They’ve been a fun experiment this year and great progress is being made. She makes a nice wheat crust pizza and there are fresh toppings and there’s just something about the sauce that I can’t yet quite put my finger on. It’s not Mellow Mushroom, but I think it is way up there on the best pizza in town list.

Unfortunately, I was too hungry to remember to take a photo of it this evening, but it looks pretty and it tastes nice. So it is definitely on the best pizza in town list.

Anyway, that’s the start of an easy weekend, pizza. And also we watched Endgame again. If you download the digital version from Amazon you get seven hours of material. That’s a lot of features, and I’m sure we’ll get to some of those later. Tomorrow we’ll have an early lunch at Chick-fil-A and the weekend will be warm and sunny and lovely and low key, the perfect kind of weekend, then.

Oh, and today I decided to send myself to Mars. I added my grandfather’s name early this year, and now we’re both going to be on a microchip sent to the red planet next year.

You can add your name here. The deadline to do so is September 30th. I mean, if you really need to get out of town …

But if you’re staying closer to home, have a great weekend there, too.

Jul 19

Friday flora

Consider, if you will, the humble saw grass.

This one is called purple saw grass, because not everything can have a creative name. But by way of an apology over nomenclature, it displays a fine versatility. If you look at it from the right angle you can imagine it as something much more exotic, and more importantly, you can imagine yourself as some place much more exotic:

Sawgrasses range over great temperate portions of the world, including most of the central and eastern parts of the U.S. People normally think of the river of grass, as you’d find in Florida’s Everglades. It’s a picturesque image. But there’s a lot to have issue with here, while you’re imagining. The taxonomy is in dispute. Some of these things aren’t even grass, but sedges, which are merely a grass-like plant.

Hey, when you’ve got those lovely culms to enjoy. On some species you’ll see them reach a height of eight feet, but this particular one won’t quite make it. Lovely enough to walk by, however:

They also make for a pretty fair photographic foreground:

But enough about sawgrass, how about something less interesting!? That’s why you’re here, surely. Right?

This is a clump of something called Euphorbia.

It’s a catchall word, covering a wide range of flowering plants (or spurge). Poinsettias would fall into this group, as would a lot of ornamentals. There are more than 2,000 different plants under that genus and is quite large, genetically speaking. And you can find some sort of variety almost everywhere in the world. Carl Linnaeus wrote about Euphorbia in his critically important “Species Plantarum” in the middle of the 18th century, and that’s probably why it’s such a generic thing today. “Linnaeus wanted it that way,” but no one thinks to ask if ol’ Carl was having a bad day.

Some things that look like cacti are Euphorbia. Some things that have flowers which actually aren’t flowers fall into this genera too. I think ol’ Carl was just trying to meet a deadline.

I asked that bee, but he didn’t know either. He just wanted to be left alone, to do his pollen thing. It was almost the weekend, after all.

And to you I say Happy Weekend. (It should be capitalized in every instance.) Have a nice one and come back to tell me about it on Monday.

Jul 19

And sure, I’m now all caught up on everything

Still filling time in this space for the week by catching up on things I haven’t already put here while updating the vacation pictures. Next week I may have to build out a section of the site just for that trip. And some of the stuff will definitely go on the front page. I’ll let you know.

Anyway, here’s something completely unrelated that I’ve re-learned. If you wait, usually for just a few seconds, that flower photograph …

… will reward you with something a little bit better:

I think I may re-learn that every year. Is that possible? Could it be that sometimes you and your brain disagree on the importance of things when you file them away for recall? I’m not speaking of distraction, or short term memory or forgotten things or even a serious neurological condition, but the simple stuff.

No, in fact, Noggin, this is a useful bit of information and I’d like it ready for immediate recollection, please and thank you.

Or it could be that information like this, knowledge which slowed The Yankee and I down from getting lunch on Wednesday by a good 15 seconds is something she’s de-programming. She could be spending the night whispering “That bumble bee thing isn’t important at alllllll.”

(Because it was on a television show somewhere once upon a time we now think this is how we are programmed, by whispered things said over and over while we sleep.)

I’m not saying she’s doing that. It’s probably just something my brain doesn’t prioritize in lieu of, I dunno, which light switch does what on the kitchen wall or where I left my phone charger last night. Nevertheless. Sometime in May next year, when I’ve long and truly forgotten how they sound, I’ll be startled by the sudden and late presence of bees and then two or three weeks later I’ll have this realization: If you don’t rush right off after taking your petals picture a little winged creature will come by and make your composition that much better.

That just doesn’t seem like a thing you’d need to re-learn, is all. And yet I think I might be doing that almost annually.

In these last few days we’ve had something of an anniversary around the house. Seven years ago, last week, I had a big bike crash. I hit something I didn’t see and went straight onto my shoulder and head at a respectable speed. Seven years and two days ago I had a surgery that put me some of the finest medical-grade titanium that Germany has to offer into my shoulder. I was off my bike until the next year January, and the plate and six screws mending my collarbone were just part of it. I don’t remember as much as I should about the next six months or so, owing to the crash and surgery and medicine, I guess. But I remember being amazed at what happened to that helmet. It kind of exploded on impact.

That helmet took a huge blow my skull didn’t have to. It did its job. Maybe it saved my way of life. Maybe it saved more. Of course, after you destroy a helmet you have to replace your helmet. It turns out you should also do this on a regular basis as well. It’s a shelf life thing, basically. The good people at Giro Cycling, who make my favorite helmets, recommend doing so every three-to-five years even if your previous headgear hasn’t been damaged. So keep your purchase dates in mind.

Anyway, it was time for me to get an update, and I got an upgrade. My new helmet, a Giro (with MIPS!) arrived today and we took our first spin together Wednesday evening.

Looks sharp, right?

If you ride a bike and don’t wear a helmet, it’s worth considering. I get it; I’ve heard the arguments against helmets. They all sound thin to me. You’ve heard the arguments for helmets, and maybe you disagree. I simply suggest that it’s worth considering how they can be helpful in some circumstances. Or, as I tell my students I see riding around town, “You’re spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on your brain; protect your investment.”

If you do wear a helmet, make sure yours is still roadworthy, undamaged and up-to-date.