Sunday, May 28, 2006

Travelogue II

Music: Miles Davis, "So What." Diana of Stella Errans (see below) notes in her most recent post that the 25th was The Man with the Horn's birthday. She notes that Kind of Blue was the first Davis album she ever heard, and it's mine as well. I hope you enjoy the first cut from that album.

I have returned safe and sound from Mobile; and, as I sometimes have been known to do in the past, I bring you good reader(s) tales from that faraway land.

Before I begin, though--yes: you have time to get some snacks before the real show begins--I cannot help but note that some time while I was away the 9,000th unsuspecting soul paid a visit to good old Blog Meridian. As always, I am grateful to my reader(s) for visiting in the first place and--even more amazingly--deciding to return later. No: I take that back: What really humbles me is that some of you are not afraid, via your links lists, to declare not just that you are readers of this blog but you actually think others might want to read it as well. Thank you for that honor. Indeed, I have two new people in particular to thank here: Diana of Stella Errans, who lives in Mexico City and blogs in beautiful Spanish and who wrote me to say that she finds my blog "interesting," and j.d. of the Kansas blog Evolution: Take the Next Step, who blogs in beautiful Kansas conservative-Populist (if my ears don't deceive me) and who identifies this blog as a "popular Kansas blog." I'll take your word for it, j.d., and thank you for the kind words.

And now: on with the show.

Listening to "Jambi" from Tool's 10,000 Days on the way down Sunday, I realized one of my students--the very one, in fact, who had burned the CD for me to listen to in the first place--had passed off verses from it as his own for a graded assignment.

From now on, I have a perfectly-legitimate professional reason for listening to Tool where not only had none existed before, I hadn't even bothered trying to invent one.

G. has completed 5th grade, and this past Friday the 5th-graders' parents threw a festival for all the kids. I attended. I had to endure the pleasurable embarrassment of constantly hearing extraordinarily wonderful things about her from not only teachers but other parents.

Nicest teacher compliment, after relating the story of how her daughter had told her, "Some parents would kill to have a kid like me": "G. is the kind of kid who people know that about without her ever having to say so."

G. cannot stand this particular teacher.

Which--of course--made the compliment especially pleasant.

And especially embarrassing.

Nicest parent compliment: "G. reads like a fish."

Well, okay: that was the most intriguing compliment.

C.'s class has been studying the Amazon rain forest. Each student had to choose a rain forest animal from a list her teacher passed out and create a project. Due the Friday of the week I arrived.

C. chose the gecko: an animal of which there are 300 species and subspecies, only 7 of which are native to the Americas and about which, judging from the dearth of information about them, nobody seems to give much of a damn.

C.'s mother is skilled with the dark arts of Google and lives down the street from a veterinarian who cares for squirrel monkeys; as of last Sunday night when I arrived, though, their combined efforts had turned up squat on a single gecko species who clearly, indubitably, lives in the Amazon.

It is not likely you know more about turnip-tailed geckos--or, for that matter, about geckos generally--than I do now.

The turnip-tailed gecko is so-named because its tail's shape is like that of a turnip.

They live in the northern and western reaches of the Amazon, preferring to live in trees up to 60 feet high.

See? I know from geckos.

The clinging power of some geckos' feet is such that some scientists think a gecko clinging to a ceiling could theoretically support the weight of a child weighing up to 90 lbs.

That is an image I have been unable to shake since I read that five days ago.

C. weighs about 60 lbs.

The house she lives in has 12-ft. ceilings.

Now you see why.

Some species of geckos (not the turnip-tailed, though) are parthenogenic.

In relating this to Mrs. Meridian over the phone, she thought I said "carcinogenic."

Me: "The Surgeon General has determined that gecko smoking is dangerous to your health."

Anyway. Don't look at me with the naked eye.

Contrary to emaw's claim here, I am now the last person in the cosmos to have read The DaVinci Code. Other than Mrs. M., who refuses to.

Off and on from Wednesday to Saturday, in case you were wondering.

Dan Brown is the sort of writer for whom frequent reminders to the reader of his main character's claustrophobia is what passes for character development.

The girls' maternal grandparents recently bought this breed of dog.

C. pronounces it "Lasso Ass-oh."

Sign seen in Arkansas: "O.J. Commercial Cleaners: The competition can't lay a glove on us!"

Signs NOT seen in Oklahoma by the Muskogee Turnpike: "Failure to pay toll strictly enforced." They've been removed--clearly because of the blogosphere's great hue and cry over these signs.

Unusual moment: On the return trip, I stopped just south of McGehee, Arkansas, to buy some gas and a bottle of water. The total came to $28.28. Three men were loitering around the (very) pretty woman running the register; one of them said, "That sounds strange." "What--the number?" another asked. "Yeah--strange."

"Well," I said, "It's an echo."

They just looked at me; no one spoke again--not even when I wished them all a good day when I left.

What I had said was, apparently, a mystery to them; their silence (very rare in the speak-when-spoken-to South) a mystery to me.


fearful_syzygy said...

Welcome back, John.

Just a quick note on the inspirational quality of your blog: the little 'Get Your Own Blog' button at the top is currently the 2nd most popular outgoing link.

John B. said...

Thanks for the welcome back. As for the "inspiration" part, that is very kind of you.

Speaking of inspiration: You'll be pleased to learn, I think, that on your long-ago recommendation, today I finally bought Lark's Tongue in Aspic. It still sounds like music no one else has made/is making--to my mind, an amazing thing to say about an album that's 33 years old.

Andrew Simone said...

"Dan Brown is the sort of writer for whom frequent reminders to the reader of his main character's claustrophobia is what passes for character development."

THANK YOU. I have been saying things like this for months. It is nice to know that others think this as well.

John B. said...

I'm happy to oblige.
I'll just say by way of extension that, as I was reading, things like that and Brown's tendency to remind the reader of things that had happened, quite literally in one case, only a couple of paragraphs previous led me to decide that Brown (and others as well--I noted Stephen King doing the same sort of stuff in Bag of Bones) just flat has low confidence in his audience to hang with him. I gather from the accolades that this sort of writing is considered top-notch, state-of-the-art writing for this sort of book, and that's fine as far as it goes. It's just that it doesn't go very far.

poco said...

Missed you, glad you had a safe and fun trip. Was thinking gas must be cheaper near you, or you drive a small car. Only $28.28? Wow.
and actually that is kind of a weird number...

John B. said...

Thanks for the welcome back.
In answer to your thinking: Gas IS cheaper down South (I paid about $2.65/gallon on average), but this particular station was charging 15 cents more/gallon than the stations in McGehee (which are new since my trip down in January) were charging and which I would have easily reached had it not been for my fear that the nearest station that I then remembered existing was too far away for me to risk driving to. My car: a 1993 Corolla which just turned 250,000 miles on this trip. It will not die; if/when I get tired of it, I will have to take it out back and shoot it and make up some euphemism for the children when I come back from doing so.

poco said...

yeah...West Coast is definitely paying more than you for gas. A GOOD price if you can find it is $3.32/gal. Average about 15 cents more! I can't believe the difference in price. (especially when you factor in that we produce oil right here in the area I live in.)
Something is wrong with this picture.

R. Sherman said...

Hey, John. Glad you're back safe and sound. It would appear you had a successful trip.


fearful_syzygy said...

Well, the price of petrol in Denmark is currently somewhere around 10.25 kr. per litre, which is roughly $6.63 per gallon.

I don't know what you people are complaining about.

poco said...

I'm not complaining, just comparing. If it really bothered me, I could find other methods of transportation. People in the US really have had it good for so long, we should appreciate that prices were destined to raise eventually.

Raminagrobis said...

See? I know from geckos.

I like this turn of phrase. Is it Texan demotic? It sounds vaguely New-York-Jewish to me.

Yours in ignorance,

A Wellwisher

John B. said...

Yeah--you're right. I just like the sound of it as well. A Texan would say, "I know my geckos," but it just didn't sound quite right.