Friday, October 27, 2006

A Useful Lesson

Mad Scientist and a friend were passing a paperback book back and forth and snickering. "Check out page two" advised the friend, and after Mad read it, they both laughed uproariously. "Let that be a lesson to you," the friend said. Later, I had to see what was so funny, and was surprised to see that the book was a collection of short stories by Isaac Asimov. The page two story, in its entirety:


All of Earth waited for the small black hole to bring it to its end. It had been discovered by Professor Jerome Hieronymus at the Lunar telescope in 2125 and it was clearly going to make an approach close enough for total tidal destruction.
All of Earth made its wills and wept on each other's shoulders, saying, "Good-bye, good-bye, good-bye." Husbands said good-bye to their wives, brothers said good-bye to their sisters, parents said good-bye to their children, owners said good-bye to their pets, and lovers whispered good-bye to each other.
But as the black hole approached, Hieronymus noted there was no gravitational effect. He studied it more closely and announced, with a chuckle, that it was not a black hole after all.
"It's nothing," he said. "Just an ordinary asteroid someone has painted black."
He was killed by an infuriated mob, but not for that. He was killed only after he publicly announced that he would write a great and moving play about the whole episode.
He said, "I shall call it "Much Adieu About Nothing."
All humanity applauded his death.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Snow Patrol

My dad called me to say that at his house in Buffalo, they got 26 inches of snow, on October 12.
Since trees in full leaf can't handle the weight of heavy snow, many, many trees have fallen and hundreds of thousands of people are without power, heat, and water. The loss of that many trees is devastating.

This is the sixth snowiest 24 hour period in Buffalo's history, or at least in the 137 years they've been keeping track. I remember that 37.9 inch snowfall in December 1995. It was a Sunday. The entire 37.9 inches fell between 7:00 am and 7:00pm. And yet, I managed to drive to work the next day (and I did not have 4 wheel drive.) We Buffalonians know how to handle snow.

My Dad used World War II imagery to describe the aftermath: "Like Berlin after WWII" is how he described it. Interestingly, my SIL also referenced WWII in describing this storm. She said it made her think of London, being bombed, since you'd hear the crack of a tree breaking, and worry for a few seconds before you heard the thud. With each crack, you wondered if this would be the tree to crush your house. Buffalo hasn't even recovered from the Dutch Elm plague--I think that was 40 years ago--and now 50% of its trees are damaged.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Fifteen nanoseconds of fame

I was reading some old entries at my Xanga site, and I thought I'd share this one that I wrote in September, 2005 since it is of local interest.

Today's adventure: we were filmed in a political TV commercial.

This morning, we noticed all kinds of to-doing in the park across the street and went over to investigate. A commercial was about to be filmed for Creigh Deeds, who is the democratic candidate for Virginia Attorney General. Miss G and Mr. McP were invited to join, as kids playing in the background, and they asked me to be in it too. I was sent to make-up first, the producer saying, "We need to put some powder on, er, that," 'that' being my large forehead. J, arriving late on the scene, wondered, "Who's the hot chick in the chair?" and then realized it was me.

First, we--Creigh Deeds, another woman and I--were filmed talking. I had to stand on a box to camouflage my shortness. Next, Deeds was filmed playing with the kids (a carefully balanced mix of black and white) on the playground, while I hovered in the background as a token parent. Last, Deeds and I had to stand and talk--the focus of this commercial was "Keeping our children safe" and Deeds played the concerned politician, while I played the Concerned Parent. In reality, we talked about how ridiculous we felt. The cameraman kept urging us to stand closer, "That's right, unnaturally close," he joked. The last time I stood that close to a man in a public setting, a priest was saying, "I now pronounce you man and wife.”

Of course, the campaign that commercial was for is now long over with. When the commercial aired, all that showed of me was a brief glimpse of the back of my head. It's just as well. As Deeds and I stood talking for the cameras, I realized I'd walked out of the house without a bra.