Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Another *Hot* Personalized License Plate

Seen on I-66 East this evening:


What ever would possess someone to use his license plate to advertise his expertise/interest in a burgeoning Internet Protocol?

I bet that guy is a barrel of laughs at parties.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Shooting Stars

One summer night years ago, I lounged in my parents' backyard with my then-boyfriend. I was 20, he was 21. We were having trouble at the time -- he was thinking we'd marry soon after my college graduation, but when I seriously considered that future, I felt physically ill. That night, we put aside talk of the future and relaxed on our respective patio chairs.

When a shooting star streaked across the night sky right in front of us, our mouths dropped open; we stared at each other in awe. Moments later, another. Certainly, this was a sign from above that we were meant to be together, that we would overcome our troubles in the long run.

A year later, I sat alone in the same yard. I had just returned from a summer in New York City for a magazine internship. In the past months, I'd made great career strides, but my relationship had collapsed spectacularly. I pondered my future.

Suddenly, a meteor blinked into view, and was gone as soon as I saw it. I waited a few minutes, and another appeared, this one much brighter.

I broke into a smile. I had taken an astronomy course that spring, and now knew that the Perseid meteor shower came every August. There was no higher meaning in it. It meant only that the earth was crossing the path of an ancient comet. And it represented a fresh start for me.

Tonight, the Perseid meteor shower will reach its peak. It's easy to watch -- just look at the eastern sky -- but for more information, visit the Bad Astronomy Web site's "12 Things You Need to Watch the Perseid Meteor Shower."

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Pickles and Pickled Okra

Our bumper crop of cucumbers continues. The okra has also become very productive, possibly due to the extreme heat. Okra is from West Africa. It's also a member of the hibiscus family, which accounts for its stunning tropical flowers (see photo at left).

We decided to try to pickle some of the vegetables. We bought some quart-size mason jars and I looked up a simple recipe involving vinegar, water, garlic, hot peppers, and dill seed. Surrounded by the strong aroma of vinegar, we sealed up a jar of small cucumbers and a jar of okra. In six weeks, we'll know how it went.

In the meantime, the garlic in the pickling jars has started to turn blue. At first, I was somewhat alarmed. Luckily, a quick search showed that this is nothing to worry about.

Fingers crossed.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

I Heart Mike Bacsik

In the New York Times today:
“If I didn’t give up this home run, nobody would remember me,” Bacsik said. ... Bacsik is now hoping for a call from Al Downing, the pitcher who gave up Aaron’s record-breaking home run 33 years ago. Like Bacsik, Downing has a healthy sense of humor. Bacsik believes they can appear at memorabilia shows together.
Bacsik is humble. He has no delusions of grandeur. Apparently he studies baseball lore and is excited to be part of baseball history. What a perfect counterpoint to the shady record breaker.

This guy makes me want to go to more Nats games.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

No, I Would Not Like a Hot Sandwich

Today, the temperature is expected to hit 100 degrees or higher.

Looking for a cool caffeinated treat, I cruised Starbucks around 9 a.m. for an iced coffee. As I rolled down my window at the drive-thru speaker, the heat assaulted me. The disembodied Starbucks voice through the speaker then asked if I'd like to try one of their hot breakfast sandwiches.

No, I would not. Thank you.

Throw It Back

Last night, Barry Bonds, currently under investigation for steroid usage, tax evasion, and perjury, broke Hank Aaron's home run record. I never thought I'd say this, but I'll be rooting for A-Rod to break Bonds' record.

Two minor players in this drama caught my eye.

Mike Bacsik

The pitcher who gave up Bonds' 756th homer, the Washington Nationals' Mike Bacsik, told the Washington Post that he'd always imagined this moment.
"I dreamed of this as a kid," Bacsik said. "Unfortunately, when I dreamed about it, I thought I'd be the one hitting the home run, not giving it up."
In the end, the Nats won, 8-6. Even the lowly Nats are better than the Giants.

Matt Murphy

The ball was caught by one Matt Murphy of Queens, New York. The ball is expected to sell for at least $100,000 -- experts said it could have been worth up to $500,000, but investors are worried the ball could lose value if Bonds is proven to have lied about his past steroid use. Murphy declined to talk to reporters.

I was thinking about what I would do if I had come up with the ball. This is of course highly unlikely, because if a foul ball came my way I'd be more likely to cover my head with my hands and pray it didn't hit me. And if I had caught it, I would still have had to hold on to the ball under the melee of fans trying to steal it away. But let's suspend our disbelief for a moment.

I'd like to think that I would have thrown the ball back. Sure, I'd be throwing back at least $100,000. But I have a good job, a good life. I can buy the things I need. $100,000 would not change my life. Eventually, the money would be gone. But if I threw the ball back, I'd have that story forever. For the rest of my life, I'd be "the girl who threw back Barry Bonds' record-breaking home run."

You can't put a price on something like that.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

You Can Take the Girl Out of the City, but...

Today I was driving home from some tax-free Virginia shopping and I found myself sitting at a stoplight, killing time by baldly staring at the occupants of the cars around me. I was second in line at the light. Beside me in the left lane, the left arrow had turned green, but the guy at the front of the line hadn't noticed yet.

In the New York metro area, the horns of the cars behind the leader would have blared at the very moment the light turned green. As the left lane next to me finally moved forward, I reflected on the fact that I now live in a place that is more mellow, lower key, quieter. A place where you can cut your neighbor some slack if he flakes out at the light.

Then, my light turned green. The guy in front of me just sat there. Precious seconds of green light ticked away. So I did the only thing I could do.

I leaned on the horn.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

The Pope Is What?

I must share this hilarious letter to the editor that appeared in the July 26, 2007, Economist.
An article of faith

SIR – Will other members of the intelligentsia be as shocked as you were (“An author and his subject”, June 30th) to learn that a book written by the pope “remains uncompromising in its insistence on the divinity of Jesus Christ”? As you are clearly irritated by his unwavering position, it might help if I let you in on a Vatican secret: the pope is Catholic.

Darr Schoenhofen
Phoenix, New York

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Two Questionable Call Signs

So, according to the Honolulu Star Bulletin, it seems that the FCC recently approved the call sign "KUNT" for a small TV station being built in Hawaii. If today were April 1 I would be certain this was a joke. Two things I find nearly unbelievable:
  1. The guy who requested the call sign claims he didn't realize the problem and is now very embarrassed. Come on now -- really?
  2. The FCC missed this? How is that possible when they are so vigilant about profanity, etc., in so many other ways?
According to the article, two years ago another guy was granted the KCUF call sign and continues to happily use it for his little Aspen station.

Apparently the KUNT guy is going to petition to change the call sign. It was one of two call signs he requested. The other one didn't appear to generate any concern in the article, but it is perhaps the most perfect call sign I could imagine, considering the circumstances.

Ready for it? Seriously. It is: