- 9 April 2005
- No. 9,876 (cartoon)
- I try to bring joy wherever I go.
You bring me joy whenever you go.
- 10 April 2005
- Bread Incense
- Henriettas on one of those fad diets, so I was surprised to smell baking bread when I walked into her flat.
I thought you werent eating carbohydrates, I remarked.
Im not, Henrietta replied.
Then why are you baking bread? I asked.
It keeps the apartment a little warmer, she replied, and I love the smell.
What do you do with the bread? I continued.
I throw it all away, Henrietta explained, but I toast some of it first. I also like the smell of toast.
- 11 April 2005
- Geordie Alert!
- The good people of Newcastle upon Tyne are colloquially known as Geordies throughout grey Britain. This moniker is widely unknown on foreign shores, and apparently completely unknown in that most foreign of places, Texas.
A friend of a friend working on a computer project in Dallas reported that some Texans overheard him refer to one of his colleagues as a Geordie. They assumed that it was spelled Jordy, and that if he was a Jordy he had to be from Jordan.
The Texans withdrew the Geordies security clearance to work on the project, and, since there were no Jordanians listed as a subcontractor, they withdrew his parking permit as well.
At last report, the Brits were still arguing with the Texans, the latter maintaining that if he really was a Geordy he should spell it Gordy. And so on.
As long as they dont lock up the unfortunate Geordie as a potential terrorist, those Texans certainly provide good entertainment value!
- 12 April 2005
- Why Arent We All Dead Yet?
- It seems that one damn thing or another wipes huge numbers of species off the face of the planet every sixty-two million years or so, give or take three million years.
Richard Muller and Robert Rohde, writing in Nature, conclude that this sixty-two million year cycle suggests that we should be more or less extinct by now. Although the scientists have found ample fossil evidence to support their theory, they have yet to come up for a persuasive reason for the periodic calamities.
We have tried everything we can think of to find an explanation for these weird cycles of biodiversity and extinction, Muller said. So far we have failed. And, yes, we are due one soon, but I would not panic yet.
Im not panicking, but thats mostly because I have no descendants, and because Ill be dead in a few decades if not sooner.
- 13 April 2005
- Im confused by some new slang. Once upon a time not that long ago, the people I met in pubs here would say Brilliant! instead of a simple, Thanks. Hold the door open for someone? Brilliant! Pay for a drink? Thats brilliant! And so on.
While Ive been away, chizmay seems seems to have replaced brilliant as an expression of gratitude. After using the new colloquialism successfully, I asked Bonnie where the word came from.
Bonnie was confused; she claimed shed never heard the word before. She asked me to use it in context, which was all she needed to solve the minor mystery.
David, she explained, youve been saying cheers mate without realizing it.
- 14 April 2005
- A Week Without Money
- Being an artist in residence here at The Old Chain Pier has resulted in one unforeseen development: I havent touched money in a week. All I have to do is go to the kitchen, say fish on my dish is my wish, and, voilà! In a few moments, the chef has prepared a huge plate of smoked haddock, potatoes, cauliflower, and broccoli. Similarly, the nice people behind the bar cheerfully provide everything from ale to Bunnahabhain to espresso and back again.
As a result of this generous arrangement, Ive had no reason to touch money in over a week. And thats just as well, because I have dollars, euros, but not a single penny, let alone a pound sterling.
Ive enjoyed an idyllic week without money, but its not going to last much longer. There are some things one just cant get at even a good pub, and toothpaste is one of them.
- 15 April 2005
- Wine Tasting Fiasco
- My learned friends at The Old Chain Pier take their wine list seriously, and so it was that they invited me to a wine tasting session this afternoon. I gladly accepted, for about the only drink better than wine is free wine. Unfortunately, things didnt go very well due to one of those cross-cultural differences that crop up all too often in these transatlantic interactions.
When I walked in, my friends were all standing around the bar with teeny, tiny wine glasses. Having been a friend of the grapeand vice versafor some time, I knew such dinky drinks were unsuitable for the task at hand. And thats when I poured myself a pint of 1994 Picpoul de Pinet from the Languedoc coast. And thats when the trouble started.
Excuse me, Callum said, Arent we being a wee bit greedy?
Not at all, I replied, arent we being a bit daft drinking out of those wee glasses? Do you know how important a wines specific gravity is? Have you ever tasted what happens when a vintner fails to notice when the wine yields a terminal gravity reading of .990 or .995?
Of course I do, Callum shot back.
Well, then you know the specific gravity cant be the same at the top of the bottle as it is at the bottom, I continued. The wine around the punt is under pressure from the wine above, not to mention closed to the center of the earth. Taking baby sips isnt going to tell you anything; a pint is the smallest valid sample if youre serious about wine.
Even if youre rightwhich youre nothow can I sample the 94 since theres not another pint left? Callum asked.
The short answer is that you cant, I explained, so Ill tell you how it tasted in a few minutes. In the interim, theres nothing to stop you from opening another bottle.
I think Ill try the 1985 St. Èmilion, Callum agreed.
Actually, that was my next choice, I told Callum, why dont you check out this bottle of sensational wine I brought from San Francisco instead?
And thats how Callum discovered just how good a two-dollar bottle of wine can be.
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©2005 David Glenn Rinehart