My visit to bunny_hugger last week began with driving up to my sister-in-law, to see her and her daughter. My brother was at work.
I also went with my father, because he needed to borrow my sister-in-law's truck in order to move a cupola he'd built for one of his customers. You know how it goes. I figured to take the train from near their house up to Newark airport and this time United didn't cancel the flight on me. We did spend a little longer talking and watching my niece hard at play than figured on, but I'd figured I'd have time for it. We went to a near-to-them diner for a late breakfast/early lunch, and my sister-in-law was startled that bunny_hugger and I had gone to Dutch Wonderland. I startled her further with the revelation that eerie duplicates to her, child, and husband were at Hersheypark the next day.
We did take maybe a little longer than was wise eating, particularly since every road leading to the train station was closed in part or in whole for reconstruction. But I had some margin of time and besides got into a good conversation with my niece about bones, which she explained, I had just as she did. She pointed out they were good for sitting up. I pointed out that the seat belts were doing much of the work in keeping us sitting up, so what are the bones for? To bolster the ``bones are helpful'' proposition she said that if she hit me, I would hurt, because of the bones in her hand. ``How does that help me? That helps you but all the bones are doing there is hurting me.'' As I watched my niece consider this debunking of bones, my sister-in-law told me, ``please, don't''. It was, apparently, hard enough getting the idea of a skeleton straight to start with. So I apologized to my niece for my ``being silly'' and tried to move the subject away from ``Bones: what the heck, anyway?''.
Although the security screeners at Newark pulled me over for the chemical-swap extra screening there was a curiosity about this one: the woman screening me noticed my rather aged used books, and talked about her love of them. Unfortunately her used book stores are in North Jersey and mine are Central, so there wasn't much good swapping sites, but still, I believe I was waved on through before the chromatography result was actually quite in.
Despite its lousy performance last time around United was making good on this part of my voyage: we arrived in Chicago O'Hare ahead of schedule and so I had time to yet again get lost going from one gate to the next even though it's the same gates as the last four times. I blame the signs guiding people to terminals being ambiguous about what direction actually to go for Terminal F.
I arrived at Lansing and phoned bunny_hugger, as planned, since she was near enough to not really need short-term parking. I called her on the last dying gasps of my cell phone, which apparently used up all its battery while I wasn't phoning anybody. I really thought it was fully charged and turned off. She pulled up in moments, though, although she had to get out of the car to open the trunk: something about the trunk release lever had gone wrong and she's been putting up with that until it gets too old.
I should mention this was during the heat wave of last week, so the temperature when I arrived was about 150 degrees. This wouldn't be too bad in the evenings, but it did leave us looking to go somewhere air-conditioned for dinner. We picked somewhere we hadn't been together, a bar which had been one of her grad school hangouts, which besides more or less recovering memories allowed us to wander through campus trying to find the way out of campus. It's not a nearly linear road system. Also we discovered the campus parking lot bunny_hugger always used has been closed and partly demolished so the school can build ... we have no idea. But it's clearly something for some department that's bringing in sexy grant money, rather than, say, a classroom; the building's a rhombic solid with the higher levels larger than the lower, and what appears to be the entrance foyer a large triangular cut in one face. It should make for some great snow drifts.
The bar was a sweet little place, decked out with the logos and signs and T-shirts of area businesses gone past, several of which bunny_hugger remembered or knew by reputation, and some of which are still around and active. Well, I hadn't noticed that kind of baking powder is all. They also had a dartboard which we were just remarking upon when some people actually came up to it and started playing; it made a nice counterpoint to our admitting we didn't really know how to play darts and, in my case, never saw anyone outside Deep Space Nine playing it. There's also a little shelf of books which have just enough titles which make sense being where they are --- a baseball encyclopedia, a movie video guide --- they'd include one that made no sense at all --- an Abnormal Psychology text, Norman Schwartzkopf's autobiography --- suggesting that somebody's been sneaking books onto the shelf to see who's going to notice.
The bar has changed from when it was her grad student hangout; most prominently, there's not smoking in any part of the bar anymore. I didn't miss it, but it felt different to her. Also, they were happy to make an olive burger using a veggie patty, which probably shows how hard it is finding reasons not to eat vegetarian these days. Also, surplus olive-burger topping on top of fries works really really well. Delicious.
It was a warm night, and a muggy one, but that meant the air had that wonderful quality that gives dimension to points of light, and makes the twilight and even the darkness this more tangible object. Beautiful.
Trivia: In early 1898 Montgomery Ward had two electric horseless carriages made, for $3000 each, as advertising novelties to be sent to towns too small to have locally owned horseless carriages. Source: 1898: The Birth Of The American Century, David Traxel.
Currently Reading: Cosmic Engineers, Clifford D Simak. OK, I'm kind of relieved to learn this was originally published 1939, but it's still so un-Simak. This is a tale of space-operatic daring-do with a female woman scientist of gender who spent a thousand years thinking while in suspended animation and super-alien primogenitors of life on Earth searching the Galaxy for aid to wipe out The Evil Aliens What Must Be Genocided Because They Do Evil Stuff No We Swear and then go on to blow up seven-eights of a universe in order to save the remaining one-eighth (admittedly, the uninhabitable seven-eighths, and it's to give the surviving fragment a home in ours that I assume wasn't previously inhabited, although I don't know that they checked). Given that Simak is normally the kind of writer who (as james_nicoll perfectly observed) would end Alien with Ripley and one of the Gigeroids sitting on the west-facing porch sipping lemonade and talking about their grandkids are so much the same, look at how they play, this is like reading Simak's Evil Earth-3 analogue.