austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,
austin_dern
austin_dern

One with big webbed feet

I am sometimes thought to be exaggerating or making stuff up when I describe how things happen to be going. There's good reason for this: I rely on hyperbole to fill in my sentences and to make up the parts of my personality that aren't references to obscure and unspeakably awful cartoons of the 1970s. For the most part that's just good clean fun, but it does mean I have to put out allegorical warning flares when I want to point out something remarkable that I did see and that did really happen. With that warning in place, let me share a bit about the Nor'easter that's been dumping all sorts of water-themed product over the Northeastern United States.

My parents live in a golf club-slash-retirement community, and their backyard ends at one of the water traps. On dry summer days my father will go out and pick up golf balls that have somehow gotten the better part of a mile off course to land on this side of things. But it does mean that when there's a lot of rain, the flood waters will rise and we get our own little local version of shore effects. So far it's never overflowed the banks, but this week's storm gave it a good try, and we spent a fair bit of Sunday and Monday watching things. During the rains, in fact, it was heavy enough that the ducks were having trouble keeping their normal keel above water. Literally.

I'd have been glad to stay inside through all this, but I had nagging thoughts and realized that I had a library book coming due today. I could have used the online systems to renew it, but I know that if I can start renewing books I will do it, until I have a pile of several dozen books that I fully intend to mine for trivia points of the day. I do realize, now, that I rather miss the university library system, which sent out e-mail nagging notes two days before the book was due. That way I wouldn't be in danger of just forgetting the due dates and letting them run long. Of course, the evidence is that I didn't just forget about the book until after its due date, but I'd like something more reliable than me to depend on.

Trivia: P T Barnum spent thirty thousand dollars to bring Jumbo the elephant to the United States. Source: Seeing the Elephant, Eric Scigliano.

Currently Reading: The Dopplegänger Gambit, Lee Killough. I recall this being one of james_nicoll's Millennial Reviews, but that seems odd since the theme of that series of reviews was science fiction stories set in the year 2000, and this is set in the late 21st century. (The Miranda ruling of over a century ago is mentioned; I don't think it gets more specific.) The story: in a future where every financial transaction is logged with fingerprints and nearly every public space is under video surveillance, a guy plans to cover up his trail of fraud (resulting in killing the population of a colony ship along the way) by murdering his partner. But he'll have the perfect alibi, set up by calling dozens of acquaintances out of the blue to ask them leading questions about how to arrange for a lookalike to wander around in public while he drugs his teetotaller partner. I probably couldn't come up with a foolproof murder scheme on the fly, but I'd like to think I could do better than a plan which assumes everyone will immediately forget everything I ever say to them on the off chance that the police ask obvious questions. (It's an enjoyable book, just the lead murderer is a doof, which spoils the cat-and-mouse game of police versus criminal. It's hard to believe the police have to work hard to avoid this murderer escaping their reach when you expect the murderer to wander in to the chief's office and spontaneously say, ``Boy, I sure am glad I didn't murder my partner in trying to cover up my fraud!'')

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