World needs more poems
About bipedal beavers
Living on the moon
World needs more poems
About bipedal beavers
Living on the moon
Everything is better with them.
July 23, 2016
Car games can be fun
Bipedal lunar beavers
Not easy to guess
I recently traveled to Boston to cover the joint ACTRIMS-ECTRIMS meeting for my job. My originally scheduled flight was cancelled due to the anticipation of bad weather, but that was fine with me since it meant I didn’t have to get up at OMG-early-thirty to get to the airport on time. I was rebooked on an early afternoon flight, and, upon receiving my boarding pass, I was completely unsurprised to be in boarding group 18 of 4. I invariably find myself in the last possible boarding group, as if the powers that be are planning to let me on the plane only when everyone else is not only seated but has been served a round of cocktails and is napping comfortably. I miss the good old days when planes were boarded from the back to the front, as I also always seem to get a seat in the back of the plane. This time was no exception. Of course, the overhead space near my seat had been full for roughly a decade before I arrived. A flight attended told me she’d figure something out and instructed me to wait in the area at the end of the aisle. After several minutes, it became apparent that said flight attendant had forgotten about me, and a second attendant inquired as to why I was standing around at the back of the plane with my bag.
“The other woman told me to stand here and wait, but then she disappeared.”
Second flight attendant told me she would look into it and scurried off. Not too much later, first flight attendant reappeared and motioned for me to come forward. They had found a spot for my bag in first class. I found myself slightly jealous of my bag’s luxe accommodations as I hoisted it into the overhead bin and shuffled back to my seat in coach.
The flight was uneventful, and for the next few days, I spent most of my time on conference coverage. I’ll spare you the details and just mention a few highlights.
By mid-afternoon on Saturday, I was done with conference coverage, and it was time to prepare for a bit of fun time in Boston, which included a brief shopping trip for emergency tights. The weather was much cooler than I had anticipated, and I knew I would be chilly wearing only the dress that I had brought for Saturday night. I needed tights and a scarf or wrap. The irony here is, not only do I own about a metric ton of tights and boatload of scarves and wraps (all of which were at home), but also, I usually over-pack for every trip I take, ensuring that I have many options and am fully prepared for unanticipated meteorologic phenomena. I’m not sure why I neglected to bring tights or a wrap, but I was able to properly equip myself with a quick trip to Marshalls.
My brother Chris, who lives in Cambridge, met me at my hotel, and we had a drink at the bar before heading out to dinner at The Gallows, where my friend Jenny also joined us. I liked The Gallows from the moment I walked in and saw this on one of the walls.
I was also highly amused to see this on the menu.
I was somewhat aghast at the price, though. I’m not sure what Boones costs at the supermarket these days, but when I was in college (which was, I admit, a shockingly long time ago), it cost about $2.50 per bottle. But then again, how can you really put a price on an experience that is like licking a unicorn?
As tempting as it was to drink in some college nostalgia, I opted instead to order a drink called the chupacabra. I really enjoy saying the word chupacabra, so I’m pretty pleased any time I can easily work it into conversation. It was also a delicious drink. The Gallows menu also offered something I don’t recall ever having seen before: vegetarian poutine. I’d never tried poutine before, mainly because of the paucity of vegetarian versions, but also because it always sounded to me like something that could be really good, bad-for-me comfort food but also had the potential to go very wrong and be a soggy, repulsive mess. The vegetarian poutine at The Gallows, however, was great.
After dinner, Chris and I headed to the American Repertory Theater to see The Donkey Show, which I can only describe as an interactive, glittery, disco-dancing, Shakespeare extravaganza. Not once, but twice, during the show, my brother was pulled up on a platform to dance with a chorus dancer, and I couldn’t help but think that this will be a cherished family memory for years to come.
A List of Very Brief E-mails and Texts From My Mother:
Just to clarify, branch is not a metaphor here. He was using it as a large walking stick.
Never a Dull Moment
Naked man with tree branch strolls
In forest preserve
Like most people I know, I have had the problem of the occasional widowed sock. Losing a sock every now and again is understandable if you use shared laundry facilities. Socks are relatively small, and it’s easy to see how one might get left behind from time to time. Even if you have your own washer and dryer, losing socks for some period of time is understandable. Sometimes, mates get separated during the laundry sorting process. One black sock emerges clean but mateless and must wait until you do another load of darks to be reunited with its partner. Socks can also become tangled up in sheets or other garments and resurface the next time you change your linens or wear that grey sweatshirt.
The socks that stay missing, the ones that seemingly vanish into thin air, are the ones that puzzle me. I have frequently sorted through my pile of widowed socks and wondered, not only how I could possibly have eleven white socks but no actual pairs among them (different weights, different lengths, different colored logs, etc), but also–where do all the freakin’ socks go?
I was in elementary school when I first learned that matter cannot be created or destroyed. Was there some footnote* that I missed?
As I have pondered this question over the years, I have noticed that, if you walk around enough and pay attention, you are bound to notice a sock sitting on a roadside every so often. Once you are attuned to this, you will pay even closer attention and find that, damn, there are a lot of roadside socks in this country. It’s as if motorists frequently fall victim to urgent itches or extremely localized hot flashes that prompt them to take off a shoe and remove a sock with such frenzied vigor that it flies out of the car window and lands on the side of the road.
That’s one possible explanation, but at some point, an idea occurred to me that would explain both disappearing laundry socks and roadside sock appearances. What if, I reasoned, something about the the combination of hot air, damp clothing, and tumbling occasionally created dryer wormholes? These wormholes would be small and short-lived, but if the timing was right, a sock could slip through. Also, what if these wormholes were somehow connected to roadsides across the country (or the world, I’m not sure if I’m well traveled enough to speculate about roadside socks abroad)? One second, a sock could be tumbling about in the dryer, and then zap! Suddenly, it’s on the side of a highway in rural Wisconsin! This explanation might be unlikely, but it would explain a lot.
There was a point when I became all but convinced that this, or something equally nutty, was actually happening. When I moved into my house, I had my own appliances. Surely, no more shared laundry facilities meant the end of permanently widowed socks. A few months after I moved, a sock was widowed in a load of laundry. I really liked this particular pair of socks (the were a dark and light brown herringbone pattern and like no other socks I had), and I distinctly remember that both socks went into the washing machine but only one came out of the dryer. I checked the washing machine and the dryer. I checked the hampers, thinking that maybe I had imagined the complete pair going into the washer. I checked all of these places three more times, and then, with a sigh, I set the widowed sock aside, thinking it’s mate would turn up eventually.
I kept that sock for years. The mate had to be somewhere, after all! I’d mused about dryer wormholes, but that was all just silliness, right? But then, where was my damn brown herringbone sock? Finally, in one of my closet purges, I threw the lonely sock away. My heart was heavy as I did so. It hadn’t been an expensive pair of socks, but I had liked them, and I somehow felt defeated as I bid that sock adieu.
Not one month later, I was in the laundry room when one of my earrings fell off and rolled underneath the dryer. I moved the dryer to retrieve the earring, and there it was–the long-missing herringbone sock! Of course, by now, the other one was long gone, but at least the mystery had been solved.
Now, when I discover widowed socks, I remember to check underneath and behind the dryer for wayward mates. I still have a quite a few mateless socks, though, so I’m not totally discounting the wormhole idea.
*Except socks. Those will totally defy the laws of physics and disappear.
The morning I was to leave for Vienna to attend the European Congress of Radiology, I woke up to snow, predictions of 8 to 10 inches of snow to come, and news of hundreds of flight cancellations. According to online flight tracking, my flight was still on, so I left for the airport early. O’Hare was a virtual ghost town. On one hand, I was happy that my flight was still listed as on time. On the other hand, why the heck was my flight practically the only one not cancelled? Isn’t there something to this whole not flying in inclement weather thing?
Anyhow, after only slight delays, we got off the ground and to Stockholm only a tad behind schedule. During the brief layover in Stockholm, I happened upon a stuffed moose (as in actual moose that was once walking around, possibly getting drunk off of fermented fruit) in one of the airport shops. Of course, I had to take a picture, and I was promptly chastised (first in Swedish, then in English when it was clear I didn’t understand) for doing so. I’m not sure why one would put a moose in the middle of the perfume section of an airport shop and not expect people to photograph it!
I flew from Stockholm to Vienna on Austrian Airlines. The most memorable thing about the flight, by far, was the uniforms of the flight attendants. Bright red from neck to toe! I supposed they are easy to spot, but man, that’s a lot of red.
I arrived at my hotel in Vienna to find that my room was not yet ready and my phone had no service. I was travel weary and grumpy at the time and appalled that the hotel lobby did not have free wifi. Once my room was ready, thankfully, I was able to call my carrier and clear up the phone situation quickly. My colleagues headed over to the conference center to pick up our bags (which, by the way, were not your typical conference bags–I may actually use this one again!) and then went out to dinner.
For dinner, one of my colleagues suggested Cafe Mozart, which, according to her guide book served Austrian specialties and a variety of vegetarian delicacies. These vegetarian delicacies, as it turned out, primarily referred to desserts, as the only vegetarian item on the main menu was a pancake, which was almost like a dessert, but I had it for dinner, along with some bubbly. Then I had dessert too. I’m pretty sure calories don’t count in Austria, so it’s okay.
The next morning, a couple of my colleagues and I had some time before our sessions began, so we headed out to see some sites. When I had been exploring places to see in Vienna, one of the first things I came across was the Wiener Riesenrad at the Prater. I had never really planned to make going on Ferris wheels in Europe a thing, but it seems to have become one for me, as I have been to the London Eye, the Wheel of Gothenburg, and a Ferris wheel at a traveling festival in Amsterdam. So, of course, I had to add another to the list. My colleagues and I headed to the Prater.
After riding the wheel and walking around the (mostly closed for the season) amusement park, we went to Stadtpark.
After our sessions were over for the day, my colleagues and I headed to Gmaokeller for dinner. This time, the guide book had indicated that, in addition to being one of the friendliest restaurants in Vienna, one of it’s specialties was a vegetarian-friendly spinach pasta. Upon arriving, we saw no such dish on the menu. When we asked about it, the waiter informed us that they did not currently have the dish but directed us to several vegetarian options, none of which appeared on the English section of the menu. It was then we noticed that the German menu was at least 3 times as large as the English menu. However, with my new inside information, I enjoyed a lovely meal!