Category Archives: Reality

Spring is for Baseball

Ah, spring! The season of renewal, when green returns to the landscape, bringing with it a feeling of new beginnings, of hope arriving again after long nights of darkness. Spring, the season when the entire year seems to truly begin.

I’m talking about baseball, of course. As everyone knows, a new year does not truly commence until someone, somewhere, is playing baseball. And this year my friends Rory, Michelle, and I were able to ring in the new year in central Florida, home of spring training, those casual weeks where professional baseball players prepare for the year while playing casual scrimmage games in cozy little ballparks. It’s nothing like the typical major league game, which has become a circus of sensory input: raucous sound effects, fireworks, glitzy pre-produced videos and advertisements, mid-inning entertainments where six-year-olds play video games to win prizes. Spring training ball has some of those things, but they feel like shrugs, and you grow to enjoy them: the utilitarian scoreboards; the Washington Nationals’ single sound effect for foul balls, endlessly repeated; the Atlanta Braves’ announcer’s irritated blitzes through more or less everything he is forced to say. Actually, the Braves’ stadium, because of its location (inside ESPN Wide World of Sports, in turn inside of Disney World), is the most major-league of spring training parks: there’s a scoreboard that can display images, “The Star-Spangled Banner” is grotesquely punctuated by fireworks (a garish interjection after “bombs bursting in air”; we burst out laughing), and the center field grass is mowed to feature a gigantic Mickey Mouse head.

Speaking of Mickey Mouse... (click any picture to expand it)

But the poor Braves’ circus of a home field is the exception that proves the rule: that spring training isn’t Serious Sports, it’s there for our pleasure. Once a year we don’t have to worry about whether or not our team wins, or how the playoff picture looks, and we don’t have to scream over stupid plays that cost games. Heck, the score doesn’t even matter. This week the Washington Nationals let a game end with their pitcher taking the batter’s box and watching three strikes, because why not? Spring training is what baseball would look like if nobody was watching, except that people are allowed to watch.

Our view of Space Coast Stadium in Viera, Florida

Seeing baseball for the first time in five months, and driving nearly one thousand miles for the privilege, does prompt a question to slip into my mind: why love baseball?

As if it’s possible to answer that. Let’s try. I like to describe baseball as a canvas, the most social of sports. Baseball is the game you go to with friends, and the salient thing is that you’re with your friends, not that you’re watching a game. Football doesn’t permit that sort of casualness, for whatever reason, and basketball takes place in arenas which approach the deafening loudness of jet engines. At a baseball game you can sit back, relax, and watch the flow of action–like people-watching, or going to an outdoor bar with tasteful entertainment.

The tempo of baseball is slower, too. On a television screen, the pace gets boring, because 75% of a game is spent watching a single camera angle of a pitcher preparing to pitch. Plus, there are those annoying announcers, who care so much about the game, whereas if you were there your eyes would be casually scanning the field, soaking everything in, waiting for the action.

Now, there’s another thing. Baseball is the delayed-gratification sport. Basketball games can involve 220 points scored in 48 minutes (the record for a 48-minute game is 320, or one point every 9 seconds). American football goes in fits and starts, with long pauses and spurts of action, like baseball, only in football at least the teams have to move around, and everyone has to run, and for a split-second chaos might break out. In its delayed gratification, slow tempo, and weird timeless feeling–like you could go away for 15 minutes and not miss a single run scored but somehow miss an essential part of the narrative anyway–baseball is most like soccer. I can’t peel my eyes off a soccer match even though I know nothing big is likely to happen; the same is true in baseball. You at least get a sense, in the very small moments of those sports, that you’re witnessing some sort of grand story play out, like the quieter scenes in an epic novel which make the big climax all the more rewarding.

A Houston Astro grounds out. The ball can be seen far off to the left of his hips, as a blur in the grass.

That must be part of the appeal: the slow beat of baseball, the way that every few innings big things start happening, releasing all the narrative tension that has been building up in the expository parts of the game. And then there’s the look of it. Baseball fields are beautiful.

Look, we as Americans have a bizarre obsession with grass. The Boomer generation is fixated on having gigantic lawns around their houses, and mowing all the crisp green Kentucky bluegrass. Our parks are mostly great big green expanses of grass; it’s sort of our all-time favorite plant. And a lot of sports take place on it: soccer, rugby, ultimate Frisbee, golf. But none of them offers the fascinating symmetry, riveting color, or strange curving perfection of a baseball diamond.

Cole Hamels of the Philadelphia Phillies delivers a pitch.

I’ve started to realize how little television captures the experience. On television, you have a constant reminder of the score; when I’m not really watching a baseball game, I care deeply about the score, but I’ve found that when I’m actually at one I can enjoy it without even being sure who’s winning. Plus, television brings close-ups on players spitting or just generally looking fat, things nobody makes you watch when you have seats in the park. And there’s the beauty of the diamond sloping away from you, the behavior of all the other players as they wait for a pitch, the banter between a baserunner and an umpire, the way it’s all so darn relaxing. A training game in Florida is all about fresh beginnings; at the start of a game, the baseball field is clean, waiting for something to bloom upon it. We aren’t in a hurry; we can watch and wait. We’ve seen this before and we’ll see it again but it always feels like we’re coming home.

In other words, baseball is a lot like spring.

Randall Delgado of the Atlanta Braves pitches to Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals. As if it really mattered what was happening in a scene as beautiful as this.

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Friends and Foes: January

It’s time again for that monthly feature listing my friends and foes of the month. I’ll be honest: this is primarily a crutch to ensure that I actually write a blog post every month, which is not so easy to remember to do now that I’m fully employed, not living somewhere exciting, and generally low on blogging material. I don’t feel keen to post stuff about the presidential primary race or other current events (despite having a whole category of blog posts called “Ill-Informed Opinion”), so let’s stick to a quick recap of my life in January.

Friends

Steven Wiggins. For giving Patricia Ladd a brand-new typewriter for Christmas. There was only one thing which could have possibly made Patricia Ladd–playwright, children’s book writer, letter-writing provocateur, and High Priestess/Prophetess of the Sacred Order of Sam Neill Enthusiasts–a more entertaining correspondent, and that was if she wrote all her letters on a typewriter. And now it’s come true! Secretly, I am hoping she never does improve on her return-hitting or spelling or not accidentally capitalizing things skills, because they’re so darn charming.

The city of Austin. I’m sorry I disliked you on first blush, Austin. First impressions were incorrect. I tried to make amends in a recent blog post, but it bears repeating: every time I visit you I like you more and more. Please forgive me. A good friend of mine had a great first impression of you, if that makes you feel better. So it really just was my poor judgment. And I’m all better now. Austin, you’re a great place.

Also, could you pass the Antonelli's cheese plate? Thanks!

Tim Tebow. Yes, I am a socially liberal non-Christian. No, I don’t care in the slightest about football. There is literally nothing about Tim Tebow which endears him to me, except that he is a fellow human being. Oh, and one other thing.

My fellow socially liberal non-Christian friends all seem to hate him. I think it’s because Tebow himself is brashly, loudly Christian, somewhat lacking in humility, and in defiance of people’s beliefs about how football ought to be played. But–I’ll be honest–I think it’s mostly because of the loudly Christian thing. Tebow has staked his whole public persona–the Super Bowl commercials, the memoir, the postgame interviews–on it, and people respond to it with anything from irritation to mocking derision.

So I root for Tim Tebow. I want Tim Tebow to succeed as much and as distinctively as possible, because eventually, if he becomes a good enough football player, my fellow heathens might finally confess that they can be just as bigoted and narrow-minded as they think Tebow is. The man reminds me that ultra-conservative zealots aren’t the only people who can mock or despise someone simply on basis of his beliefs: at some point, ultra-liberal zealots run full circle, from taking pride of their open-mindedness to shunning people they consider inferior. It’s good to be reminded of that every so often.

Besides, he’s a football player, and who cares about football?

Hey, what is this crap interrupting our commercials?!

The good people of New Zealand. Man, that country is on a freaking roll. Back in December, they attempted to put up a 7-story-tall Christmas tree using helicopters. Now, in January, New Zealand has released a list of its wackiest and worst baby names (including Sex Fruit, *, and Yeah Detroit), given us a professional Rube Goldberg device inventor, and had a scare after a flying shark menaced an airplane. What could possibly be better than a country where planes report flying sharks to air traffic control? Maybe a country where the Air Line Pilots’ Association president, asked to comment on the incident, actually used the slang word “goneburger.” We can’t be sure, but while he said that he was probably drinking tomato beer and watching Flight of the Conchords.

Foes

Commute. I recently realized that my commute is 50 miles round trip per day. This is why I try never to count things.

Related note: I’ve discovered that I am able to smell cigarette smoke if the driver in front of me is smoking. Today at a red light I sat through an agonizing moment of cigarette stench because the woman in front was dangling her arm, and her smoke, out the open window. I’m extremely sensitive to the smell of cigarettes, and especially repulsed by it, so things like this result in uncomfortably constricted breathing. When will people wise up and stop trying cigarettes?

Co-workers who bring in amazing-looking cupcakes with two to three inches of frosting on top. I haven’t indulged in any snack/treat-type foods at work since Christmas, but the temptation is not helping.

Not what most people face when they face their demons.

Being a contract employee. I currently do not know if I will be employed on February 1. The odds are very good that my contract will be extended, but if it is, the extension will probably only be for another month. The limbo of not being sure you’ll still have your job in 8 days is frankly uncomfortable.

The Philadelphia Phillies. Some enemies never go away.

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My Top Eleven Discoveries of 2011: Part Two

5. La Sagrada Familia. I went to Barcelona thinking that the Sagrada Familia was a wacky-looking unfinished giant African termite mound of a cathedral that the locals praised because they were stuck with it.

Admit it: you can totally see the resemblance.

Then I stepped inside. And I have a new favorite building. As I point out in the previous blog essay linked to there, I’d never even thought of the idea of a “favorite building” before. Sagrada Familia is a temple of the human spirit, and a reminder that great architecture is as important to art as great painting and great music.

4. The Netherlands and Belgium. What amazing countries! Canals, cafes, flowers, bicycles, charming old streets. I visited The Hague, Leiden, and Antwerp, and although the Hague is necessarily a rather vague, diplomatic city full of Eurocrats, the other two were brimming with character and life–but not with traffic or noise. To list all the things I love about the Low Countries would take hours. To start: double-decker train lines, walking along canals, the relaxed atmosphere in which everyone seems so comfortable with themselves, the friendliness, the flower-boxes…

We ate at the place on the far right. Also: told you this place was huggable

…the street performers…

Street pianist, Antwerp, Belgium, May 2011

…everything. I could move to Holland or Flanders tomorrow. Oh, and what exactly did take me so long realizing that Belgium would be wonderful? For some reason I assumed the country would be sort of bland; but of course it couldn’t be. Any nation that can produce the world’s finest fries, waffles, beer, and chocolate has to be awesome.

3. That I Can Walk 20 Miles in a Day. It’s not easy, especially not with a backpack carrying all my clothes and supplies, but it’s possible! And fellow Rice alum Carina Baskett and I walked across 75 miles of northwestern Spanish hills this summer. The actual walking can bring exhaustion and weariness, especially at about 3 p.m. if you’re up in the mountains without a nearby fresh water source, but there is also a strange way in which walking, and then keeping on walking, becomes reassuring. It’s harder to stop than it is to keep going. And, whether because of the views, the food, the people, or the simple pleasure of knowing that you’re on your own and going where you want to go at your own pace, the experience is truly very satisfying.

Here’s a blog recap. And here’s a photo:

Sunset at Lires

2. That I Can Write a Novel in a Month. I’m as surprised as anybody, honestly. Starting in January, we’ll find out how long it will take me to edit a novel written in a month.

Writing a novel proved, I should say, surprisingly awesome and kind of thrilling. Working without outline, plot, or a feel for any of the characters, I genuinely did have a ton of uninhibited, unplanned fun almost every day, and the story eventually managed to gel into some semblance of a functioning whole. There were maybe three days where the work was hard, two because the chapters were dull and I was feeling uninspired (not to fear; these are earmarked for rewriting) and one because (spoiler alert) the ending of my book is depressing and I didn’t much like having to write it. A trusted friend has told me that the final chapter is “perfect,” so at least it worked. There is much work yet to do, but the actual month-long marathon of writing a novel as quickly as possible proved satisfying in ways I couldn’t have imagined. Second only to finishing my master’s degree for my proudest achievement of the year.

1. Phineas and Ferb. Reasonable people all agree: a cartoon show which gives one of its main characters a three-minute-long Bond-style jazz/rock theme song describing him as a “semi-aquatic egg-laying mammal of excellence” is surely the best thing to ever appear on a television screen.

Also, let’s remember that this is a children’s television show which once created a song called “Give Up” with the lyrics “It’s not really failure / if you’re not even tryin’.” We are in the presence of genius, ladies and gentlemen.

My favorite discovery of 2011? Phineas and Ferb: the only show I ever need to see again.

Bless you, Perry the Platypus!

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My Top Eleven Discoveries of 2011: Part One

I learned about a whole lot of new things this year: places, people, foods, TV shows, music, trends, ideas, factoids, and fun jokes. It’s been a year of discovery, truly–from the very beginning of 2011, when I found myself at a ska club in Barcelona, to the very end, in the Texas Hill Country celebrating the arrival of 2012 with some of my oldest friends. What better way to condense a rich, unforgettable, unsummarizable year of new adventures into a few hundred words of jaunty prose than to make a list of the best things I discovered over its months?

So here we are: a top eleven for 2011, of my favorite discoveries of the year. This first part counts down from 11 to 6:

11. Flipbacks. Flipbacks are these tiny little books you can hold in the palm of your hand. They’re smaller than a deck of cards, and lighter too. You hold them sideways and, if you so choose, you flip the front cover under the back cover to create a super-portable but super-readable tiny book.

This is a Flipback in action.

Flipbacks are awesome for traveling. They’re so small I could fit one in a pocket (unlike those “pocket-sized” books that are always too big), they’re so lightweight you would never think twice about carrying one, and they’re kind of fun to use too. The only drawback is a fairly mediocre selection of books so far; there’s exactly one book per type of reader. If you like Michael Lewis, they have one of his; if you like Stephen King, they have one of his; mine was John le Carre’s masterful espionage thriller Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. I carried it in my pack as I walked across Spain. If your type is “trashy”, then they have A Million Little Pieces, too!

10. Extreme Ironing is a real thing that exists. There is a sport where people compete to iron clothing in the craziest places.

Yes!

Extreme ironing competitors are also judged by the quality of the ironing. So they actually have to get the job done, rather than simply whipping out an ironing board and taking a picture.

Some of you are saying, “OH MY GOSH THIS IS AMAZING SHOW ME A PICTURE OF SOLDIERS IRONING IN IRAQ.” My pleasure.

Extreme ironing, Mosul, Iraq

Others might be saying, “Hang on, I don’t get it. Isn’t this a really silly pointless waste of time? What’s so appealing about it?”

To which I reply: mankind’s noblest pursuits are their own rewards. This man, for example, will always be able to look upon his life with pride, and know that his purpose on this earth had been successfully fulfilled. Because no matter what happens to him, and no matter what hardships he endures, he will know in the bottom of his heart that nothing can stop him. Because one time he ironed clothing underwater.

A true human hero.

9. Austin, Texas, is actually very cool. I feel like I was the last person on earth to figure this out. Everyone else already loves Austin, so I’m late to the party. But you know, we got off to a bad start. The city doesn’t make a great first impression: it’s cramped in the extreme, with tiny traffic lanes, tiny parking spaces, and tiny public areas, but slightly too big and hilly for a conveniently walkable city center. The university atmosphere has a sort of grungy, dirty underside; there’s a lot of town which is unappealing. And the traffic is, incredibly, the worst in Texas, all centered on a huge state school with an unhealthy fixation on football.

But I wasn’t giving Austin a fair chance. On further inspection, the city offers so much that is good-humored, delicious, and all-around wonderful that I really need to reverse my opinion.

How did I finally come to love Austin? Let me (Roman-numerically since this is already a numbered list) count the ways: (i) Book People, one of the best and biggest truly independent bookstores around; (ii) the original Whole Foods, just across the street; (iii) spacious, lovable Zilker Park, with its lake views, hiking trails, rock escarpments, and herb garden; (iv) a real-life frozen banana stand with a sign out front inevitably reading, “There’s always money in the banana stand”; (v) the Omelettry’s uniquely amazing gingerbread pancakes; (vi) cheap and clean public buses on a fairly regular schedule; (vii) maybe the most delightful food truck scene in America; (viii) a truly outstanding local-ingredient and specialty-food scene; (ix) some quiet, cozy neighborhoods which offer shelter from the bustle; (x) an easy-going attitude that you sense would be open to more or less anything; (xi) Hopfields, the too-comfy gastropub with 43 spectacular beers on tap and casual French food on offer (tomato and manchego cheese tart, anyone? what about ratatouille?); (xii) definitely the best taco I have ever eaten. Behold:

The Democrat taco, Torchy's on Guadalupe, Austin, TX. Marinated barbacoa meat, avocado slices, onions, cheese, salsa, and a hint of lime. What else do you need?

I really cannot emphasize enough how amazing this taco is. It’s not one whose flavor jumps out at you and seizes your attention: its glory is, if anything, the exact opposite, the way that the taco welcomes your palate like an easy chair. There’s a certain trend among food lovers today to go for really complicated crazy gourmet stuff: burgers with eleven toppings, macaroni with seven cheeses, penne with chicken, pancetta, and shrimp. But some of the very best things in the world are the simplest. And the Democrat taco at Torchy’s is a taco so perfectly executed it feels like no effort was involved at all.

Austin is the opposite of that, in a way: a city into which tons of effort was clearly put, a city caged in by busy roads and interstate overpasses. But it is the spontaneity, the effortlessness, the easiness of the true Austin spirit which makes this city, well, redeemed. I’m glad I finally learned to like it.

[Other items in the Top 2011 Discoveries, Special Subcategory: Stuff Everyone Else in America Already Knew About but I Somehow Missed: 30 Rock, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, This is Spinal Tap, the glories of melted goat cheese, taco trucks, the city of Dallas, full-time employment.]

8. NotGraphs. Somehow, I managed to be a good baseball fan for years without reading FanGraphs, but I rectified that in 2011. FanGraphs is an analysis site for true baseball nerds, covering every move (and many a non-move) in as wonky, detailed, and stat-oriented a way as possible. Just my thing. But what’s really shameful is how long it took me to discover NotGraphs. NotGraphs is even more just my thing: it’s all silliness, all the time.

As baseball’s leading (only?) devoted humor site, NotGraphs is happy to provide you with old pictures of Ron Paul in an Astros uniform, a battle of the sexes over the worth of fantasy sports, real Mets-logo toilet seats, what prominent players would be if they were food (“The Prince Fielder”: an order of every vegetarian item), comical clips of players making wacky mistakes, and overly-literal illustrations of athletes’ inane Twitter thoughts. Fun, fun, fun!

Also, I’m very much hoping they take up my own suggestion of a “Write a Sentence About Baseball in the Style of David Foster Wallace” contest.

7. Havergal Brian’s Gothic Symphony. Funny; the Gothic Symphony doesn’t place first on my mental list of the best music I’d never heard before 2011 (Schubert’s string quintet in C, or Lutoslawski’s Concerto for Orchestra), nor was it probably the best or most soul-nourishing concert I saw this year (Mahler’s Third live at the Warsaw Philharmonic), but seeing the Gothic live was one of the great concert spectacles of my lifetime. An earlier blog essay talked about this at length, and I’m pleased to report that that blog essay will soon be appearing in the official journal of the Havergal Brian Society. In the meantime, here’s one of my photographs of the 1,000 performers at the Gothic:

The BBC National Orchestra of Wales, BBC Concert Orchestra, organist David Goode, and some of the nine choirs, pre-performance.

6. The sticky toffee pudding at Brown’s Pie Shop, Lincoln, England. The guidebook described this dessert as “earth-shattering.” That’s putting it mildly. Their sticky toffee pudding was the most astonishing thing I ate in England and one of the three best foods I had in 2011, alongside the Democrat taco (above) and a goat cheese salad in Girona, Spain (at Restaurant Vinil).

Served piping hot.

That does it for this installment; stay tuned for my top five discoveries of 2011, coming to this page soon!

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The Real-World Math Test

My job for an education company brings me into contact with lots of math test questions for public school students. A lot of it is stuff like “which of these graphs is a function?” and “Malik wants to paint the sides of a regular tetrahedron. If the radius is 3 inches, what is the surface area he will have to paint?” But occasionally I run into a question that seems uncommonly real-life-oriented, even genuinely useful. And it made me think: maybe there should be a math test to check on your ability to do the math you really need.

So here it is.

The Real-World Math Test

1. Marcia has $1.83 in change. She wants a package of napkins that’s $1.59. If the local sales tax rate is 9%, can she buy the napkins?

2. Dave has a stack of 50 dimes on his desk. He also has a library book that’s exactly 6 weeks overdue. If the library charges 15 cents a day in late fees, does Dave have enough dimes?

3. Brian wrote a 56,596-word novel in November. He didn’t write anything at all on the 23rd-26th. How many words per day is that?

4. Anne got a $5.95 burger, $1.95 fries, and water. Bruce got the chicken parmesan for $8.50 and a $1.50 soda. Celia got a salad for $7.95 and water. Dario busted his gut with an $18.95 porterhouse and $4 pint of beer. The waiter can’t split the bill. Dario only has a credit card, Celia has only ones, and Anne wants Bruce to give her a buck because he ate so many of her fries. Who pays how much, to whom, and what should each of them contribute for the tip?

5. Amazon UK has Perry the Platypus bobblehead dolls for £12.49, and shipping to America is £2.95. Molded Marsupials USA will sell the bobbleheads for $21.95 each and shipping is free. Based on the exchange rate, what’s the better deal?

(Artist's conception by Dr. Heinz Doofenshmirtz)

6. Yoenis is moving to America from Cuba. He likes to tell all the ladies that his biceps are 60 centimeters around, and then prove it. But he has to convert his measurements to English for the American chicks. What diameter are his biceps in inches?

7. Betty has a really awful washing machine. Whenever she puts her husband Don’s new clothes in for the first time, they shrink 5%. If Don’s trousers need to be 32 inches waist by 30 inches in length, what size should he buy?

8. Madison filled the tank of her 2009 Honda Civic when the odometer said 40598 and now she’s filling up again at 40952. How far did she get on one tank of gas?

9. Radovan’s phone company allows him 500 text messages per month (30 days). Over the first two days he has a great big argument with Slavomir and uses up 139 texts. Now how many texts per day can Radovan use for the rest of the month?

10. Add up your monthly income and all mandatory expenses: rent, insurance, utilities, internet/cable, gasoline, etc. Create a budget. How much spending money do you have next month?

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GermanDeli: Best Thing Ever

Q. What is the best thing ever?

A. GermanDeli.com.

GermanDeli.com is a Dallas-Fort-Worth-area-based importer of, well, German stuff. Bratwurst, German-brand cheeses, bulk Haribo gummies, calendars with pictures of beers on the pages, buttercakes, German coffees, German magazines, and so on. You get the idea.

Anyone for Apfel-Streusel Kuchen?

Anyway, GermanDeli is probably an unlikely choice for my Personal Favorite Online Retailer Ever. But, Gott in Himmel, they are!

When I placed an order (kept secret for Christmasy purposes), I was treated to maybe the best online shopping experience ever. First, the actual ordering pages asked me questions like, could they substitute a rival brand if they were out of stock? and, should they just cancel if they were out of stock? and, most amazingly: what day do I need it by?

The first email I got began along the lines of: “Thanks again for your order. Our staff has just downloaded your order…” and then reached these heights of customer-service beauty:

“before we pack your order we’ll first check to see if your order will be affected by FedEx, UPS, or USPS weekend or holiday schedules.  If we determine that what you ordered could be damaged if it is on the road for too many days, we may hold your order until we know it will travel uninterrupted once picked up from our warehouse.  For example, an order received on a Wednesday afternoon that we see would be on the road for 3 business days might need to be held until the following Monday so that it won’t sit somewhere over a weekend.”

Isn’t that amazing?! But wonders were not about to cease!

Your order has been shipped and we want to provide you with an update on your final charges. As is our policy, your shipping charges have been reduced to reflect the actual shipping cost.

Yes! Shipping turned out to cost a dollar less than I had paid, so they gave me my dollar back!

That’s it. I love GermanDeli.com. You should too. Go buy all their stuff. For example, you might enjoy knowing that they have 22-ounce jars of Nutella.

In case I haven’t made myself clear, I love GermanDeli.com. All I ask is that they sell everything ever made so I can buy it from them.

P.S. Some of the runners-up for Best Thing Ever include actors reading lines from Jersey Shore as if they were written by Oscar Wilde, those churros I had in Spain, having a friend I’d trust with anything, and, of course, Perry the Platypus.

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Brush Fire Update September 20

All gone for now!

Over the weekend we had a whopping one inch of rain, the first measurable rainfall in months. This does not end the threat of wildfires in central Texas, not by any means (though due to the regional nature of the rain, some areas very near us had 3-4 inches rather than just one), but it does pretty much eliminate the risk of the fires which had been near our area last week. Before the rains came they had been reduced to contained little smoldering areas of brush; now they should be gone.

This is, however, a very good excuse to post a photograph my father took of the area which went up in flames about three miles from our house.

(This is a color photograph.)

Sorry about the recent blog-silence: nothing much is happening, that’s all!

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