austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,
austin_dern
austin_dern

A silver bicycle you shall ride

[ My apologies if this post turns out wholly bizarre. My local telephone service is completely out --- Verizon will only commit to saying it should be restored by Saturday (!) --- and it's taken the Internet out with it. I'm attempting to make do with my iPad. This isn't an ideal fix, but, it's better than my simply going insane by myself. I apologise also that I haven't put the bulk of this test behind a cut, but I can't remember how to do it without my Livejournal client right now. ]

After the thrills and excitement and intensity of that day at Great Adventure bunny_hugger and I knew we would need something different, something more tranquil, something less passion-stirring to give us time to recharge. We were thinking, dinner with my parents.

Actually, our earliest thought was this would be a good time to do some letterboxing, following clues to a little box hidden somewhere in a publicly-accessible location. We had been curiously unable to find letterboxes in the big database bunny_hugger preferred which were near home; they were all on the order of thirty miles away to start. It was only after a burst of inspiration that we located some nearer me: the key is, New Jersey has about 14,330 municipalities, but only about fourteen names for municipalities, distinguished with little variations like adding ``Boro'' or ``Junction'' or a directional prefix like ``East''. When we got less ambiguous about home, we found letterboxes that weren't outrageously far away.

Our first attempted target, and one we figured we could locate and get back home in time for 6 pm dinner with my parents, was located in a state park and wildlife preserve and we were almost immediately sidetracked by how lovely a flower garden they had up front, with a rich assortment of butterflies and also bees and other insects fluttering around. We would put our cameras' depths of field controls to the test getting all manner of shots, some of them fantastic.

Inside the building we got genuinely intrigued with the nature displays. Some of them included local fauna which had become taxidermy figures, including quite a few brands of squirrel, a surprising number of whom were posed in the middle of hollow logs like they were secretaries on The Jetsons. They also had a few aquariums showing off the shore life, or what would have been shore life if it weren't in aquariums, and it showed off What Native Mammals Eat, using as example of the carnivore the otter, of an herbivore the squirrel, and of the omnivore the raccoon. Underneath these demonstrations were cartoons of otter, squirrel, and raccoon, holding signs reading ``Feed Me!'' (the squirrel's added ``Please''), with holes for the head and in the belly. Presumably there might be something kids could put into the animal mouths, and take out of their bellies, but we couldn't find it.

What we also could not find out back was the letterbox. We were pretty sure we understood the directions, although as usual they seemed to start from a point that didn't quite exist and send us off into directions that weren't quite accessible. But if we didn't read them wholly wrong then the letterbox was probably meant to be underneath this slightly elevated wooden walkway leading out to the marshes, and there was nothing there. This sort of ``bit rot'' is endemic to the hobby, unfortunately, although looking around we were able to pick out a couple spots which looked like better locations for a box --- ones less likely to be accidentally washed away, or taken by well-meaning staff, or taken by passers-by, or whatnot. We had to make do emotionally instead with simply spending a lovely afternoon near the shore watching birds, walking along a marsh-dwelling trail, spotting a real live turtle in the wild, and seeing lots of squirrels of various levels of inbuilt agitation.

We drove back home, aware that we were getting there pretty close to 6 pm, the nominal dinner time, and we hadn't picked a restaurant to eat at yet, but we trusted we'd settle something with my parents on the spot. Instead we arrived just about at 6 pm and found my parents were just finishing dinner, hamburgers. Apparently they decided we had forgotten about dinner and fended for themselves. I felt a certain lack of good faith in their waiting for dinner.

They suggested we call my brother, sister-in-law, and niece to see if they'd want to meet for dinner instead, which was insane. It was already past 6 pm, and they're about an hour away, and my niece needs to be in bed by 8 pm, earlier if possible, which it never is. Yet my mother was still confident enough in her suggestion that I called my sister-in-law, who thought this was insane, and pointed out she already had plans for the evening, and it was impossible to get a family with a three-year-old to move any faster than an aircraft carrier battle group can move from one ocean to the other. (It also came out that I had failed to mention to them when I visited the previous week that bunny_hugger was visiting, but fortunately, they're accustomed to my being scatter-brained.)

We went to dinner ourselves, at a small quasi-diner in a local strip mall at which we'd already eaten for sushi, and for ice cream; we'd also look around a video game store, teased by its promise of classic old games from having an Atari 2600 in the front window.

After dinner we didn't have any real plans, so we watched some TV instead, if I haven't let the event slip from Wednesday to Tuesday in my mind. The major watching was an episode of the new Doctor Who --- ``Amy's Choice'', picking reality out of a pair of possible dream-nightmare images, and bunny_hugger picked out the secret identity of the villain before I did, although in my defense I thought the villain was being set up to be some character from the Original Who which had not been yet reintroduced to the series, possibly Aldric or whatever that annoying Companion was. (I understand he's supposed to be dead, but let's not pretend that matters.) I also had the two-parter with the Silurians in the machine, but we didn't get around to that, which was a good thing as she's not got BBC America and hopes to watch the series as it becomes downloadable to her Wii/Netflix, which will take a while. ``Amy's Choice'', whatever one may say about it, doesn't spoil anything major about the season arc. The Silurian one would be a huge spoiler for the season arc, seen out of order.

We also watched five (count 'em) episodes of Carson's Comedy Classics, although unfortunately none of them the ones with a baby coati. (At the risk of overgeneralizing, it seems to me whenever a coati is on a talk show Stare At Animals segment, it's an infant. This may be because infants are easier to handle.) But the shows included some really typical Carson segments, with the most interesting to bunny_hugger being Carson's compelling performance as Floyd R Turbo, American. She is, one may well know, a fan of Stephen Colbert; the centerpiece of her trip this time would be a Colbert Report taping.

We can't be the first people to notice how Floyd R Turbo is a precursor to the Stephen Colbert character. But it is bracing still to realize it. Also it's striking to see Johnny Carson's performance as Turbo; his speech patterns, his body language, his eye movements are wholly unlike Carson's, and manages to be such a twitchy, halting, anti-charismatic mess that it becomes compelling. It's easy to see why people would listen closely to Colbert; there's a different and stranger dynamic that makes Turbo hard not to listen to.

It would make an interesting appetizer for Thursday.

Trivia: By 1933 Japanese imported pencils had captured about sixteen percent of the United States market; their pencils sold (wholesale) for about 23 cents per gross, compared to the dollar or two for domestic manufactures. Source: The Pencil, Henry Petroski.

Currently Reading: Newton and the Counterfeiter: The Unknown Detective Career of the World's Greatest Scientist, Thomas Levenson. The title oversells it a bit, as it's less about his whole career in prosecuting coin-forgers (as Warden of the Mint, which gets a little more attention in scientific histories than Newton's time in parliament, but only barely) and more about prosecuting one particular case.

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