Friday, May 21, 2010

Under the Volcano

(pace Lowry)
Approximately 65.5 million years ago, dinosaurs looked into the skies. They weren't able to comprehend the atmospheric darkening that signaled the end of their existence. For these were cold blooded creatures. No warmth from the sun, no continuation of life. Only a few (then) insignificant small field mice-sized creatures survived. They generated their own heat and were able to endure the long atmospheric winter. They ultimately were designated - as are we - mammals.

The phenomenon which caused the dinosaur extinction was not a volcano, but an extraordinarily large meteorite which plunged into the ocean in the vicinity of the Caribbean. Regardless, the result was (on a vastly larger scale) similar to the eruption of a volcano - an enormous quantity of sun-blocking material ejected into the atmosphere.

We bipedal mammals have also quite recently looked into the skies. We, like the dinosaurs, see a partial dimming of the sun. But we understand what has caused this. (For we are intelligent, self-aware creatures). A volcano in Iceland awakened, spewing megatons of ash into the atmosphere. It isn't life threatening, but it is extraordinarily inconvenient. We are temporarily disallowed to jet across thousands of miles. We miss important meetings, experience interruption of our cherished, long awaited vacations.

What a bother! After all we have 'conquered the earth' (or so we like to believe). However, it would seem the earth has little interest in our being bothered and goes about its own evolutionary path. As far as the earth is concerned, we are merely ant-like things moving across its thin plates floating atop a molten sea.

We seldom (if ever) stop to consider that, sometime in the future, a curiously large fiery object may again appear in our skies. Will we, like the dinosaurs, peer at it with incomprehension? How dare it threaten us! Like the earth, the large fiery object will have little interest in what we comprehend or don't.

Who or what then will inherit the earth?

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Your Home Depot Installation in the Year 1066 (!)

I recently received a phone call from Home Depot inquiring as to my experience with the installation of an electric range in 2007! (Full disclosure: I am prone to forgetting what I had for breakfast yesterday morning).

Admitting to the woman on the line I had no memory of said event, she launched into a dissertation regarding a survey to determine whether the range had the “tip and tilt” anchor done at installation. In utter bewilderment, I could only answer, “Oh, I don’t really know. And, what exactly is a ‘tip and tilt’ anchor?” Her reply was not entirely enlightening, so I told her the range seemed to be adequately stable and thanked her for checking (three years later!).

Subsequently, my (admittedly bizarre) imagination wondered: should said range not have this “anchor” installed, could removal of a particularly heavy baking dish from the oven cause the universe’s center of gravity to shift, thus making me the unfortunate victim of human immolation as it resolutely tipped over and enclosed me within its fiery interior?

Further reflection suggested that additional work was required to reign in my imagination, and I’d be better off doing exercises to improve my short-term memory.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


Nora's is no more.

We went there some months ago to have lunch. When we got to the front and peered in, a workman inside returned our impertinent stare and resumed his job. The place had been almost emptied.

We liked Nora's. Not just for the food (which was good), but because we would - if everything went well - be treated badly. (”I'd like an Italian soda, please”. “Monsieur, this is a
French restaurant, we don't serve Italian sodas”.) It was the closest we'd found in our area to a real French cafe; we looked forward to eating there and being treated badly.

The pièce de résistance for me was the coffee. Nora's served really good, strong, smooth French roast. Each serving was brewed individually in a large cup with a wonderful crema. It satisfied my caffeine addiction wonderfully.

On that last occasion we wandered up the street in search of another place for lunch. We came across Café Brioche. It was crowded. At first glance it looked promising. So we decided to give it a try. How bad could it be?

It was bad. Definitely not like Nora's in quality or atmosphere. The MOD was definitely not French, nor was the staff. And we were decidedly not treated badly. The food was odd, at best. And the coffee - mon Dieu - was poor. While suitably strong it was very acidic. I didn't finish it.

We settled the tab, and left - disappointed and dejected.

Time has not allowed us to seek out a suitable replacement. Surely the French expats have found another place by this time!

Meanwhile, with fond memories of Nora's, we sigh with hope and anticipation.

There must be another Nora's. Like Shangri-La it exists somewhere, hidden, on the peninsula.

We just have to find it.