Seize the freakin’ day.

3 11 2007

In this presentation from the 2002 TED Conference, science journalist Stephen Petranek lists the 10 most likely ways the world could end suddenly. That sounds depressing, but there are things we can do about most of them. And we can always, um, colonize another planet.

Anyway, this is a good reminder to live life to its fullest—now.


Happy Halloween!

31 10 2007

Upright Candy Corn

Dear Autumn: Move on.

30 10 2007

Yellow Leaves
I’ve been sick for several days now—since Thursday, I guess. And I know what to blame: autumn. I get sick about this time every year. Actually, I usually get sick a couple of weeks earlier, but autumn started out pretty warm this year in Philly. I’ve finally succumbed. I’ve got the congestion, the sore throat, the fever and chills, the all-out exhaustion. Egad.

So, no, I’m not a fan of autumn. You shouldn’t be, either.

My October illness isn’t my only tradition for early autumn. Another tradition is that I reprint the grumpy memo to autumn that I first wrote several years ago. It pretty much sums up what I’m thinking today.

TO: Autumn Lovers
: Getting (you) in touch with reality
DATE: October 30, 2007

It has come to my attention that many of you claim that autumn is the best time of year. Every day, it seems, I hear co-workers or fellow commuters saying that autumn is their favorite season. A common theme of your comments is that you thrilled to summer as a kid but that you love fall more and more as you get older. You go on and on about football, the new chill in the air, the yellows and the rusts in the leaves, and Thanksgiving.

I want to call your attention to some other things, though. There’s that tickle in the back of your throat. The way you’re so congested that you can only breathe through your open mouth. There’s that cough that makes you sound like Typhoid Mary. The way you can’t decide whether to turn the air conditioner or the heater on. I want to call your attention to the way you’re feeling right now. To the way you’re alternately chilled and feverish. I want to call your attention to your sudden need to have cough syrup right there on your desk.

Yes, friends, I want you to realize that the congestion and the horrible, unending hack-ack-acking cough (and, really, can you just keep that away from me, please?), well, they go right along with those rusty leaves and that chill in the air. The reason you feel so crappy right now is directly attributable to the change in the season. Your body is trying to figure out how to cope, but the weather just won’t cooperate. It’s warm one day, cold the next. It’s cool in the morning, almost downright hot in the afternoon.

Your so-called favorite season is making you sick.

P.S. If there’s any justice, I’ll win the lottery soon and move to New Orleans or Key West or San Diego or Honolulu. There, I’ll enjoy the sameness of all those warm days strung one against the other, from January to December. You’ll be welcome to visit, so long as you promise not to go on and on about how you enjoy that chill in the October air. Ugh.

Please send NyQuil.

Free Burma

4 10 2007

Free Burma!

Ahoy, me hearties!

19 09 2007


It’s Talk Like a Pirate Day. Where be me treasure?! Arrrghhhh!

(Also, check out the International Talk Like a Pirate Day website, which has some helpful advice about how to pick up a pirate. “Ya know, darlin’, I’m 97 percent chum free.”)

Update: There was actually a man dressed like a pirate on my morning train.  I especially appreciated the scarf decorated with tiny skulls-and-crossbones.

Longwood Gardens

3 09 2007

Lily Pads
On our final day together, the Jag took me to Longwood Gardens in southeast Pennsylvania’s Brandywine Valley. Longwood is one of the nation’s premier botanical gardens, and it recently celebrated its 100th anniversary. Longwood was built by Pierre S. du Pont, who, of course, had loads of money—and was interested in trees, fountains, and pipe organs. (You weren’t expecting that last one, huh?) All those interests show in the 1000+ acres of gardens.

I especially enjoy visiting the Conservatory. (Mandatory Clue reference: Professor Plum did it in the Conservatory with the rope.) The Conservatory consists of four acres of greenhouses, showing all manner of flora that wouldn’t normally grow in the mid-Atlantic states. I’m particularly fond of the Silver Garden, the Banana Room, and the Palm House.

The Banana Room and the Palm House contain just what you’d expect. The Silver Garden contains plants of all sorts of dusty green and gray hues. They’re mostly cacti and other succulents, and the subdued coloring is just one feature that helps them survive in difficult terrain. I’m drawn to these plants—to their spines and prickliness, their otherworldly shapes, their general non-leafiness. Let’s face it: I like whatever’s different.

I’m also drawn to the waterlily ponds at the Conservatory. Some of the waterlilies, especially those from the Amazon, are several feet in diameter. Once again, I’m drawn to the extremes. (Hmm, this trip to Longwood Gardens seems to have put some of my quirks in focus.) Anyway, at one of the waterlily ponds, I saw a tiny, gorgeous yellow-green frog. His startlingly loud croak got my attention, but he really blended into his surroundings. When he made nose, his throat expanded incredibly.

Longwood is a sort of odd mix of the natural and the man-made. (Who’d build a Banana Room in southeastern Pennsylvania?) I’m drawn to the plants, but put off sometimes by the Versailles-quality grooming. (Is it just me, or are topiary gardens actually obscene?) I had fun today, though. I enjoyed walking around for three or four hours, getting some sun, being the intrepid explorer of a manicured setting.

Happy Labor Day!

3 09 2007

Construction Worker