austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

Yes, I'm gonna make you a star

What bunny_hugger and I had not planned on was my getting sick. Somewhere along the lines, albeit not in Cleveland, I'd picked up a mild cold. skylerbunny quipped that of course I got sick, I was visiting bunny_hugger, but the truth is I don't get sick every time I visit her. There is a somewhat ominous trend, though. My first visit, in July 2009, she was sick. In November 2009, she contracted the California Plague (fromskylerbunny, by the way). In February this year, I got some norovirus and spent a night vomiting. I still think it's coincidence, but it's not always me.

But sick I was, although it was never a really serious sickness, the kind where you retreat to the bed, cover yourself, and hope for death. It was more of nagging sneezing, runny nose (the worst of it) and coughing. This was at its worst Sunday evening, really, but traces of it --- particularly coughing --- simply would not go away.

bunny_hugger was concerned that it might be worth postponing or cancelling dinner with her parents, but I didn't want to do that, and I was feeling better Monday. (Her parents were also concerned, and called ahead of time to double-check.) I have a lurking fear this might be giving me a reputation for stoicism, or at least a willingness to carry on despite personal inconvenience, that I don't deserve, but really: it wasn't that bad a cold. Mostly it was sniffling. I was basically fine.

When her parents arrived, her father wanted to get some pictures of us together. What makes this exceptional was that he had a stereo camera, the sort to use for making 3-D pictures. This is on a classic old camera, the sort of heavy 1950s gear which could be used as an impromptu murder weapon, Her father credits its heft to its ancient origins, although I'm not sure it's not simply the need to have the double lenses and camera barrels that's the real weight source. I had seen one vaguely like it before --- Harold Lloyd took a good number of 3-D photographs, and some of them (and pictures of his work) were included on the DVD set of some of his movies a couple years back.

I was happy posing for pictures, although her mother was worried that this was wearing out our patience. He'd wanted to take ``just one more'' picture, too (or is that set of pictures?), and if I remember right we got photographs of ourselves in bunny_hugger's living room and out front. I haven't heard how the pictures came out, but apparently it can be tricky getting someone to develop the film, not just because there are only four film developers remaining in the world but because three of them see the stereo pictures developing with apparently identical duplicates of each picture coming out on the negatives and throw half of them away as some weird production error.

For dinner we went to a restaurant made out of an ancient and long-closed railroad station. bunny_hugger didn't have high hopes for the place, as she'd remembered its food as being pretty generic, but her father wanted to eat somewhere without too exotic a meal, and this would quite satisfy that requirement. Actually, the food turned out to be quite good, really quite satisfying, and with a healthy mix of pastas and sandwiches and, I believe, even a quesadilla.

The setting itself was lovely, with the old pointy high-roofed ceiling making the place feel open and spacious, and plenty of charming, dark woodwork coming pretty near slathering on class to the place. I know you can't really slather on class, but that was the effect. There were various slightly randomly selected historic artifacts decorating the station, and there was even an old Pullman car outside where we did not eat but apparently under the right circumstances could have.

Also during dinner I stepped into the midst of an odd running obsession of her father's. He asked me in a question which did not feel at all like the setup to something who I thought was the greatest mathematician? It did have the feeling of something being laid out as a trap, but, I couldn't think of a sensible alternative than to answer the question honestly. And if you're going to ask for the greatest mathematician of all time, there's a pretty compelling set of names to top the list: Newton, Liebniz, Gauss ... probably Gauss ahead of Leibniz, maybe ahead of Newton. Maybe Euler. I picked Gauss.

A-ha! And he was German? Well, yes, although I would not be able to answer just exactly where in Germany he was from. (He was born in Braunschweig, in Brunswick-Lüneburg, that is, Lower Saxony; he worked mostly at the University of Göttingen, also in Lower Saxony.) It turns out that bunny_hugger's father has a long-running and slightly odd obsession with the idea that the German thing is the greatest example of whatever the thing under question is. Nobody seems able to explain this other than to admit that it exists, and I of course had simply stepped directly into it.

Well, my answer was honest enough, although part of me feels I should have answered Leonhard Euler, who was Swiss (although, admittedly, from the German cantons, and he worked much of his life in Berlin).

And that was dinner, the centerpiece of the day and honestly not the burden on my immune system that anyone was worried about.

Trivia: At Frederick Henry Harvy's death in 1901 he and the Santa Fe owned and operated 15 hotels, 47 restaurants, and 30 dining cars. Source: The Story Of American Railroads, Stewart H Holbrook.

Currently Reading: The Light Years Beneath My Feet, Alan Dean Foster.


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