Stare.
 
2005 Notebook: Weak XV
 
   
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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
Henrietta’s on one of those fad diets, so I was surprised to smell baking bread when I walked into her flat.

“I thought you weren’t eating carbohydrates,” I remarked.

“I’m 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 Geordie’s 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 don’t lock up the unfortunate Geordie as a potential terrorist, those Texans certainly provide good entertainment value!

12 April 2005
Why Aren’t 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.”

I’m not panicking, but that’s mostly because I have no descendants, and because I’ll be dead in a few decades if not sooner.

13 April 2005
Chizmay!
I’m 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? That’s brilliant! And so on.

While I’ve 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 she’d 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, “you’ve been saying ‘cheers mate’ without realizing it.”

Aha! Chizmay!

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 haven’t 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, I’ve had no reason to touch money in over a week. And that’s just as well, because I have dollars, euros, but not a single penny, let alone a pound sterling.

I’ve enjoyed an idyllic week without money, but it’s not going to last much longer. There are some things one just can’t 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 didn’t 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 grape—and vice versa—for some time, I knew such dinky drinks were unsuitable for the task at hand. And that’s when I poured myself a pint of 1994 Picpoul de Pinet from the Languedoc coast. And that’s when the trouble started.

“Excuse me,” Callum said, “Aren’t we being a wee bit greedy?”

“Not at all,” I replied, “aren’t we being a bit daft drinking out of those wee glasses?” Do you know how important a wine’s 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 can’t 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 isn’t going to tell you anything; a pint is the smallest valid sample if you’re serious about wine.”

“Even if you’re right—which you’re not—how can I sample the ’94 since there’s not another pint left?” Callum asked.

“The short answer is that you can’t,” I explained, “so I’ll tell you how it tasted in a few minutes. In the interim, there’s nothing to stop you from opening another bottle.”

“I think I’ll try the 1985 St. Èmilion,” Callum agreed.

“Actually, that was my next choice,” I told Callum, “why don’t you check out this bottle of sensational wine I brought from San Francisco instead?”

And that’s how Callum discovered just how good a two-dollar bottle of wine can be.

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©2005 David Glenn Rinehart