We Didn’t Start the Fire

Today, day two of our extended stay, we moved downstairs to another room. It must be the children’s suite. The bedding, curtains, and shower curtain all have prints of Sleepy the Travelodge bear in drowsy sports poses. The television in this room is new enough to accept DJ’s Xbox. DJ, however, forgot the power cord. Right now he’s destroying the extension cord I brought with my Swiss army knife in order to provide juice to his addiction: Tiger Woods PGA Tour. I’m a little concerned. He just muttered, “This is going to be rough,” under his breath to the console. He assures me that at worst we’ll blow a fuse. I reminded him that at worst, Janice and I will already be at the hospital.

After our noontime visiting half-hour at the hospital, we’re going to the Dynamic Earth underground mining exhibit to complement yesterday’s trip to the parking lot in Copper Cliff at an actually mining plant, to stand next to a giant Canadian nickel, and then walk across—not over—Onaping falls, about forty minutes away, on the suggestion of Mike who previously managed the CD and DVD store in a sparsely populated “mall.” Two days ago Mike gave his notice; he’s not allowed back in the Zeller’s next-door nor does he ever want to go again. He loves fishing and promises that Onaping, while far away, is well worth the distance. Mike is not a professional cartographer, but he did get us to the movie’s last night.

Jason, soon-to-be Superboy, is going really to resent Superman once he gets a little older. Lois shouldn’t leave Richard; this situation is just no good.

DJ just successfully McGuivered his Xbox; the rest of us are leaving to avoid a fire.

Fresh Air and Sunshine

We begin day three in Sudbury, ON, at about the same time we did yesterday. Apparently it wasn’t the travel that knocked us out until one in the afternoon, it was just us. Although, it could also be the air. Mom, JC, and Janice have touted the superiority of the so-called fresh Canadian air up here. Having lived in Toronto before, I wasn’t convinced of its immediate and pristine perfection.

Sudbury is a small city to me, but up here, with a population in excess of 150,000, the Greater Sudbury metropolitan area a behemoth in the Near North. I am constantly baffled by this mismatch of opinions. Mining is the primary industry, and it seems that most people have a personal connection to it, either directly, or through family ties. We met another couple here to see their mom. Like ours, she had been airlifted from hundreds of miles away for heart failure. Like ours, too, she is young; this one even younger, clocking in at only 47 years. Sudbury’s renown for cardiology, at least in Ontario, is wide-spread. Sonny, a man at the the Peddler’s Pub, told me that the first bypass surgery was done right here, and that he knew the patient. Sonny is an old man. We have plans to visit him on his seventieth birthday, November 2, 2009.

The daughter’s name is Mel. She and her boyfriend Jason were the first to arrive. They agonized during the mandatory wait period. Janice and I visited our mom, who was relatively stable by comparison, and left them. Before leaving, I ran to the car to fetch the camera from the car. DJ and I had been working on a 500-piece jigsaw puzzle of Paddington Bear, the smallest, least complicated puzzle we could find. While we did not finish it, we had assembled enough of it that the image was recognizable. And the scattered, extraneous pieces, which were mostly of a solid color and filler anyway, framed the interior nicely. So nicely, in fact, that we thought it fitting to capture the whole set-up for later.

When I returned from car in the adjacent lot owned by CTC college—the adjoining building has space to lease if anyone’s interested—, I discovered Jason tooling about the elevator in the main lobby. He paced back and forth, stopping only long enough to decide whether we had met before. I spoke to confirm his suspicions, and to be nice, “So, we meet again.”

He responded, “I hate this place.” I had to leave Jason. I was on a mission; Paddington and his toggles were waiting.

Janice and I made it back for the next round of visiting hours. We didn’t expect to see the doctor. I was told she wouldn’t be around until the morning, but she was there now. So were Mel and Jason. This time a huge crowd of people accompanied them. Family, Mel told me.

Janice has found the courage to walk into the room and sometimes even speak to my mother. However, her focus and strength are not unlimited. From time to time dizziness overcomes her and she has to leave the room to sit. The doctor winked at the nurse, Bonnie, “It must be all this fresh air.”

“From those two smoke stacks,” Bonnie agreed.

Because of the mining culture, the three hospitals that serve Sudbury see all sorts of perverse diseases caused by airborne nickel and sulfur in uncommonly high concentrations. So much for that fresh air.

We’re looking into medivac options to bring mom to Boston. She has to go somewhere else for the transplant, anyway. She’s well beyond a bypass.

Everyone else is doing fine. We haven’t used the pool yet, but I plan to tonight.


Presently I am in the bed nearest to the bathroom in a hotel room across the hall from but within the same hotel as my mother’s fiance and one of his boys. My sister is with them just now. DJ is trying to sleep in the other double. Our window looks out onto the offices of Dr. U. O. Kau across the street. This place is a city by Canadian standards, but in Massachusetts, hamlet might be more apt. The traffic is no more dense than in my small hometown. On the other end of the city, there is a hospital. On the fourth floor, the floor parallel to mine, in the critical care unit, is another room. There, a nurse observes my mother’s body from the corner of the room.

A vast array of medical equipment surrounds a bed placed in primary position. To the left, a number of IVs drip medication to keep her blood pressure low enough for what’s left of her heart to maintain a pulse. She receives liquid nutrition through a tube that enters through her nose. Another, snaked down her mouth, aids her breathing. Her medical outfitting is extremely unconfortable, and when she is awake, she is very adamant about letting her medical staff know. They tell me she tries to take out the tubes, complains that her throat is sore—she first went to the hospital because her throat was sore; she exhibited serious flu-like symptoms, common for women, and diabetics in particular during heat failure—she is so violent in her opinions and actions that they have tied one foot and arm to the bed and doubled her sedation treatment to keep her more comfortable and more manageable. My mother’s strong, stubborn personality is to her benefit. The nurse marvels at her surviving this long. Right now she’s resisting everything, treatment and death alike.

Her body makes a small amount of urine, which proves that her kidneys are functioning, however slightly. The same is true of her lungs. If her condition does not improve quickly, her organs will fall into disrepair due to their disuse. The heart medication also damages the kidneys. Unfortunately, last night she was not strong enough even to be transported to another hospital for a transplant. I will check today soon.

Dead Man Floats

When I woke up yesterday, something told me I ought to go back to sleep. To celebrate the fourth, DJ and I hit up Christopher’s in Porter Square after we saw off Steve in a cab headed for his ship with his crewmate (Uncle) Dizzy, someone whom I had only just met but had immediately adopted me as his own because I refill my pint glass with an athletic celerity.

Scott, the bartender, told me that last call on the fourth was scheduled for midnight. DJ and I left, the last ones to leave, close to 1:30am. Just months after my college graduation, I’m too old and too out of practice to close a bar and not pay for it twelve hours later. The sun is too unkind. The trees are too loud.

After work, Janice picked me up at the Braintree T. She was tinkering under the hood in a no standing zone near the main entrance. Her car burns oil and we had quite a drive ahead of us, and it was already close to midnight.

“JC called. Mom had a heart attack,” she told me as she helped me load my bag in the trunk.

“I told her to go to the hospital yesterday when I talked to her. I thought she needed a few liters of fluid,” I answered.

This morning JC called again. This time I picked up. My mother was air-lifted about four hundred miles away to a hospital in Sudbury, second best in Canada he said, but things looked bad. Her heart had failed her. Only about a quarter was still functioning, the rest of it was probably dead. I stood in the middle of Commercial Street, the main thoroughfare in Provincetown with my father, sister, and her boyfriend Andrew. We were on a mission: to find Andrew a bathing suit. I had just picked up a pair of navy blue running shoes for myself, a purchase about a year over due.

“Thanks for calling. I appreciate your taking care of my mother,” I told him with utter sincerity.

“Well, I didn’t do a good enough job, now did I?” he answered. JC and I have never exchanged more than 250 words, less than a middle school book report. Now his voice was shaking. Emergencies can make strangers into family.

I replayed critical scenes every movie I’ve ever seen in mind head, measured my words, and tried to be comforting and appropriate. “You’ve done the right thing. There’s nothing left to do. All we can do now is wait.” My voice was noticeably flat. I put on a smile for my audience to explain that my mother was ill and almost certainly going to die. Now I know why couples break up in public. No one was angry. No one cried. We continued on our way to the next shop, to find Andrew a suit.

On the way I snapped at my father and apologized.

Once there, I ducked out again, this time to talk to my grandmother for the second time that day. I thought we were done talking, but she interrupted our goodbye with a very simple and moving prayer. I winced but the public setting saved me. I didn’t cry.

The walk back to the hotel lasted about twenty minutes. On the way Ellen, Paul’s wife, pulled me out of the crowd. She was with her daughter Gracie, who was happily nursing in the stroller, and Alice, their dog. A moment later Paul bounded out of the cigar store across the street. I walked into him, head down, and quickly. It seems to surprise everyone every time. For a moment I was able to suspend the severity of reality; I smiled without thinking too much about it. He reminded me that I find out about a job tomorrow. Even if I don’t get it, “there’s still purpose to your life,” he told me.

On the walk back, I pondered what that purpose might be. My dad filled the time with talk of submarines. The Germans or the Swedes, he couldn’t remember which, have developed a new submarine that leaves an almost invisible signature. It uses diesel and fuel cells rather than conventional nuclear technology. The hull is rubberized to absorb sonar, and all of the metal, even the dishwashers, are magnetically neutral. Maybe I’d take that commission in the navy, I thought. I could fight the good fight against Ikea.

There wasn’t much to do back at the hotel except swim. My dad challenged me to a few races. I gave him a crash course to the butterfly. Then we stewed in the jacuzzi a while. As he lounged, I practiced holding my breathe. First trial: 70 seconds; then: 63; third: 71; and finally: 82. I laid on my stomach with my arms and legs extended and my eyes closed. I tried to imagine what it’s like to be dead. I aimed to last longer at the start of each go and to be more convincing, at least to me, of my death. I let my limbs go limper than before. Over time I found muscles I hadn’t realized her tense and relaxed them. The bubbles turned me onto one side. I floated. I felt free.

Janice and Andrew left for the pool just as dad and I returned. Now there wasn’t anything left to do. I played a little Tito Puente in the background and started my routine of push-ups and crunches. My mother isn’t stable enough even to be a candidate for a heart transplant. The first from a collection short stories by Judy Budnitz, Flying Leap, crept into my mind.

In this story, a woman needs a heart transplant. Her sisters cajole their nephew, the woman’s son, to donate his. At the end of the story, the woman lives and thanks the son, who promptly dies. I’ve read most of the other stories in the book, and heard this one on NPR, and even installed an AC for the author’s sister a few weeks ago, but I just can’t get into it. Magic realism just isn’t my thing.

Tonight my sister made her signature boiled dinner. Tomorrow I may be in Ontario. Check me out if you’re in the Greater Sudbury area.

For Non-Spanish Speakers

Please excuse my unannounced blog hiatus—I started a new job and moved into a new place. Hopefully it won’t compromise my safety to mention that my days off are Thursday and Friday. Expect the follow-up posts I promised then. I hadn’t planned to write but dinner has moved me in unforeseeable ways.

Tonight I strolled down the street to my favorite Mexican, cheap-eats place for some pozole and enchiladas. Each summer I try to establish myself as a regular. Ordering the soup helps me stand out from the rest of the clientele. It also means I can sit down and eat right away while the rest of my meal bakes in the oven. About half way through the bowl my ears perk up and shoulders cringe forward.

“Um, quiero un más de queso,” I heard a shrill, female voice say. In high school my French language teacher, M. Labouiere used to say that bad French made his ears bleed. Not being fluent in Spanish myself, I can only guess how the man behind the counter’s ears felt. Even still, I shuddered. She continued. Whenever asked if she wanted to include some ingredient or other in her bean and cheese burrito extra grande, she had the gall to answer “sí” or “no” in a painful accent that mimicked, I guess, what Americans must think the Spanish sounds like. Since working at my new job, I’ve let on that I might understand more Spanish than I claim to and have been challenged thus. Just today Juan tried to get me to show off my [sadly lacking] skills when I butt into a conversation he and one of the workers were having in Spanish about the World Cup. Neither knew that Korea and Togo were matched in the morning game. My boss, Stephen, who spent a year in Quito while in college, thinks it shameful that my last name is Mexican and that I don’t speak Spanish. I may stick to Latin and Old English despite my so-called heritage. I was raised Boston Irish, after all.

But this shrill female, she didn’t know when to stop. Her trouble ordering clearly couldn’t’ve been her fault, so finally she checked, “Excuse me, are you speaking Spanish or Brazilian?” By now blood ceased to flow out of ears. Instead it was boiling within. I almost spoke up. It’s Portuguese, not Brazilian. Keep your sixteenth century, Catholic super powers straight.

Five minutes later, she was happy, burrito in hand. Her boyfriend didn’t speak much. He responded a simple and slightly embarrassed “sí,” I think for solidarity. The customer next in line asked for only a little bit of cheese on his quesadilla. I wonder it was surprising to learn that the man behind the counter was not only fluent in either Spanish or Brazilian but also fully conversant in American.

Now I know what my madrileña blockmate Verena means when she says that Americans speaking Spanish are among the world’s most obnoxious people. And it struck right here, in Cambridge, USA.

A Long Ride

This morning, at about 7:30am, just as my train rolled into the the JFK/UMass stop my ears perked up. Across the aisle and to the right of me stood, at least according to my observations, a middle-aged woman, though I’m willing to contend that she was actually much younger than she looked. She was missing her left leg and leaned against a crutches and grasped a bar for support as she pleaded with the man to her left. He was leaving her. In fact, it wasn’t clear that he was ever with her. After all, he had been with eleven or twelve mistresses and girlfriends. Even now he was on his way to meet one of them at South Station.

Why the woman recounted these facts to him, to her, and to the entire car—it was a truly public event—I couldn’t tell. Her voice was both angry and desperate. She wore a cream colored dress plastered over with a bold floral print and bunched up sock and sneaker. It looked like her nice dress, one that she surely prized above herself and brought out only when circumstances were especially proper or dire. “I’m telling you about the past—the past has nothing to do with today,” I heard her say.

Something stirred inside me. I couldn’t tell if I was going to cry or be sick. She clung to her msiguided and unfounded hopes, denying the consequence of her words even as she spoke them. She wouldn’t be happy with him anyway. He maintained his silence throughout her rant. His disinterest was palpable.

The man left at South Station, as planned. The woman continued at him until the very end. “And now you’re going to meet this women who’s had four abortions? You could’ve been with me, and we would’ve conceived right away,” she yelled at him. “And instead you choose this woman who’s had four abortions?” He left without speaking a word.

“Just go around smirking. That’s right, go around smirking,” she launched at one of the passengers once the doors closed and the train resumed its course. I didn’t look up.

She continued past South Station, past Park, past Central, finally leaving at Harvard. But all the while she stared, like the man had before, silently in space.

On the Road Again

Yesterday, Michelle, DJ, and I made it to New York in time for last night’s Tool concert despite Mass Pike’s being closed from the 128 Exit all the way through Auburn, at least. I’m not sure why I was there—I didn’t want to see Tool; I didn’t even have a ticket; nor did I intend to get one.—but as I’ve said before, “Danny has no soul, and I have no will.” And that’s probably why I spent from 9-11:30pm alone at the Pig & Whistle on the corner of 58th and 3rd. The Mets were playing the Yankees, but no one seemed to care much. In fact, it was just my luck that I wandered into what may be the city’s only Irish-gay-sports bar. Well, it wasn’t overwhelmingly any of those things. Popular Irish phrases were painted on some of the wooden rafters in Celtic script. And the waitress I chatted up towards the end of the game had come from Northern Ireland. She wasn’t sure of the rules of baseball. I admitted that neither am I. But I did explain that all it takes is one pitch to decide the game. My timing couldn’t’ve been better. It was the bottom of the ninth with two outs and two strikes. The teams were tied at six runs each. The last pitch let up a double, bumping the Mets up 7-6 to win just as I spoke. Four people cheered. I was one of them. I heard an unemphatic boo. It was time for my new friend to bus a table.

I read that at 11pm the bar was going to host an event which featured “Party Tunes.” I couldn’t guess if this would be worse than the Robbie Williams Millenium they had been quietly pumping during the game. Luckily, the crowd thinned out, giving me hope that I could finally start what I had come to do in the first place: math. All night I had lugged around my backpack, fully stocked with laptop, a few pages from a book on type theory and functional programming, one of my books on general relativity, and the things Michelle thought people might steal from DJ’s car. [Someday I will return her camera and CDs.] All night I had been spying a table by the door. From my view, it was free. When I got there, I saw that the man whom I asked to watch my beer while I stepped outside to talk to Susannah earlier in the night hadn’t quite left yet. It was obvious that I wanted to sit; perhaps it was harder to guess that I wanted to study geometry and not talk to strangers. And so for the next forty minutes we talked about race, the theater, and Harvard. When DJ and Michelle returned, he left immediately. Having only eaten two double cheeseburgers and about three-quarters of a pound of salted cashews all day, I was a little hungry. Not wanting to incur food costs, I forced DJ to dare me to ask for some nachos from the table of girls neighboring us. So I picked out the one who was closest and begged from some food under the pretense of saving my pride over a dare that I had concocted myself. They all thought me very brave and waived to us when we left moments later.

Being from Boston, we had no problem finding free parking on the street. However, in the excitement of the moment, DJ forgot to turn off the fan to the motor in his all-too-custom car. The battery was dead. But ho! I am a platinum-level AAA member. I’m covered for towing up to 150 miles and as many jumps to my battery as I need. The problem is, though, the service isn’t especially prompt. We waived down an unmarked, gypsy cabby who stopped and started us right up. At least we were on our way now.

Perhaps inspired by Harold and Kumar, DJ went out of his way to stop at a White Castle. I knew I would regret it. This morning I was right. Stick to the big three: McDonald’s, Burger King, and Wendy’s. There’s no reason to take in local cuisine. Ever. It’ll only make you sick.

Two hours and twenty minutes later, we were back in Boston. By this time the T had started running again, so we dropped Michelle off at a stop convenient for DJ and me and headed home. Rather than spend the following twleve hours on DJ’s couch, I accepted his offer, took his keys and car, and drove home. Now it makes sense to stop a moment to describe DJ’s car a bit more: it’s a 1981 Camaro Z-28 (or something close to that) with T-tops, painted in seven glorious and distinct shades of black, brown, grey, and blue, with a working panel of instruments—even the clock—except for the spedometer, and for some reason it speeds up initially when you put on the brakes. It’s like someone beat up the Batmobile and DJ found the corpse. Not knowing my speed, and without cars in front of me to use as a guage, I tried not to go too fast as I passed a police car waiting at a speed trap in the parking lot of the old golf range. I watched him edge out in my rear view mirror. But he decided against it. Still, DJ drives over two hundred miles averaging about 100 mph and nothing happens; I drive 35 in a 30 mph zone for fourteen seconds and I almost get pulled over. How does he do it?

Puppy Surprise

This weekend Ian and I drove to LL Bean in Freeport, ME. After investigating home goods on the second floor, we came across a canoe—Bean’s is peppered with them—filled with clearance and seasonal items. In this Old Towne red a pile of iridescent spring time frogs. Each had its mouth zipped shut. Not heeding the lesson learned by the cat, curiosity got the better of us and we unceremoniously unzipped one of the frogs thereby revealing a string of insects, which, we are to believe, the frog had caught sometime before being zipped. Their colors were fantastic and shiny. The cheerfulness in design presented a bold contrast to the morbidity that necessarily accompanies partially digested prey. It creeped me out a little bit, and I’d venture it creeped Ian out a little, too.

We stuffed the bugs back into the frog’s mouth, secured them with the zipper, and put the frog back in the canoe for someone else to discover. As we walked down the stairs over the trout pond, Ian mentioned that he had never seen such a disturbing toy. It was horrible, but not nearly as bad as what they had cooked up in the early nineties. “Oh, come on. Don’t you remember that stuffed animal dog with the litter inside, and you grabbed in the womb and pulled out the puppies?” I asked.

“No, I don’t think I do,” he responded. He face agreed, though, what a terrible toy indeed.

I continued in a slow, dry tone, “Surprise, surprise! Puppy Surprise: how many puppies are there inside? There could be three. Or four. Or five.”

At this he remembered. The consequence of the toy was startling. It wasn’t clear if the five-dog mothers were the most desired. Many dogs from the larger litters died. And so to receive a mother with five dogs in her litter was often the same as one with only three or four in practice. These dogs then required a burial for one or more puppies. While it teaches the child a perhaps valuable lesson in mortality without the grave circumstances surrounding, say, the death of an aunt or a playmate from down the street, it is nonetheless a delicate and difficult cross to bear. Most of the kids did not know just how real the toy makers had made Puppy Surprise. My sister was lucky enough to get a four-puppy dog. They were all very small. Smaller than the puppies in the three-dog versions which had more room to grow and didn’t have to compete so strongly for nutrients. One of hers was born with a broken leg. It’s not clear if it were broken during the violent birth process, and if my sister were just a little to excited to reach in and tear the babies out, or if the leg broke during transport from the factory to the store. A clumsy attendant could have easily dropped the box, causing long-lasting reprocussions. It wasn’t his Puppy Surprise, so I guess he didn’t have to take that much care.

Another less awful though still disturbing toy from about the same time were the Pillow People. The new-age security blanket, these Pillow People were rectangular creatures with exaggerated faces. My sister had a Little Miss Muffet-type. It didn’t bother me because it wasn’t in my room. Mine, however, was terrifying. He was a blue, sleepy Sand Man. He wore a red and white striped night cap and carried a small pouch of sleepy sand. I wanted to do anything but sleep with him around. He was in constant yawn. His eyes were large ovals which were permanently drowsy. Yet his stare was penetrating, aware, and deep. His gaze followed me both in day and in night regardless of my position in the room. I remember turning him toward the wall before I turning the covers over my head for protection as I slept. It’s hard to know if my slight paranoia was caused by or merely identified because of my dozing Pillow Person. My Lincoln logs never caused me this much trouble.

Physics or Food

I started out today a little earlier than I had anticipated. Of course, Maura had emailed to confirm our meeting time, but somehow 10:30 am has the ability to sneeks up on a person — especially if that person had accidentally stayed up until 4 am. The night before really started off sometime in the mid-afternoon.

Michelle called to say she was on errand in the Square. Tracy had called moments before, and I told them both that Abby got first priority, as she may’ve been moving to her new appartment and I had offered to help. She, however, was too tired to bother leaving me to meet with the sisters Dionne in Davis.

I focused mainly on notational and layout design problems seiging my thesis; the theory of connections in an appendix on the geometry of principal bundles got some attention, too, but mostly Tracy and I listened to music while what appeared to be alumni members of a college anime society gathered in the back of the cafe.

Air Show
By the time we finished deliberations and started to leave, my father called me to say he was in the area, ready to take the keys from the Stratus away. Indeed, the engine had seized. The oil intake pump did not take in a sufficient amount of oil, and, despite little warning from the instrument panel, the piston’s metal-on-metal interaction heated up the cars internals until they melted together. The entire process gave us cause to donate the car that once was to Special Olympics as scrap metal. My dad needed the keys, I suppose, to deactivate the LoJack, or, perhaps, he needed them simply for closure. Whatever the reason, I handed them over. He handed me a CD with pictures taken at the air show. To the left you can see a characteristic sample.

The three of us, Tracy, my dad, and I, respected tradition by dining at Boca Grande — the only restaurant my dad knows by name in Cambridge.

Afterward, it was anyone’s guess as to what I’d be doing or where. DJ had promised to come up to watch the game with me at a bar to be determined, but it had rained all day and his car isn’t well equipped to drive even in most climates, let alone mildly inhospitable ones. Tracy reminded me that I had not seen her new appartment nor had I met her 53″ wide-screen, high definition television.

So it was off to Watertown to see the TV and play with the cats and the rats. The academic year before last my U-mates and I babysat Tracy’s hermaphradite Siamese pure-bred Sky(e) — I don’t remember the correct spelling. Tracy, Sky(e), to you I acknowledge my gross insensitivity and send my deepest apologies — until she found an appartment that would allow the both of them. Since then she had been forced out of that appartment by water damage incurred by a fire in the appartment directly upstairs and moved to a much nicer place near Mount Auburn Cemetery, replete with its scenic and historic graves and prehistorically large slugs.

We watched the Sox versus Tampa Bay, flicking back and forth between some Chapel stand-up during the commercial breaks.

Inertia, as anyone will tell you, is a powerful force. Not wanting to walk all the way downstairs to wait for the bus, I decided to stay a bit longer, play with Castor, a rat Tracy is babysitting — sadly, his friend, Pollux, died some time ago — and watch bootleg DVDs of The State, a sketch comedy show first on MTV and then CBS from the mid-90s. Two full DVDs later, the bus had stopped running and it was time to walk home. A few hours later it was time to meet with Sullivan to discuss the grave matter of decimal representation. I think we both suffered ever so slightly.

Afterward, I napped until work at 3 pm, staying until 6 pm. Oh the life of a student worker! By this time I was long overdue for a meal. Uno’s, I recalled correctly, runs an all-you-can-eat special for only eight bucks on Tuesdays. So, I stolled to the Square, walked passed Uno’s, and pointedly entered The Coop to see if they carried a copy of Lisa Randall‘s new book Warped Passages. (Prof. Randall has, by the way, updated her photo on the faculty website since the release of her book. I showed Paul the new picture; we agreed it was nice. I would comment further, but I think it would be unprofessional of me, and, as Susannah proved to me recently, I have no way of knowing who reads this thing. That’s the point, I suppose.) They did. I knew it was either a new, casual physics text or dinner for two days.

I am happy to annouce both that I am a full three chatpers in and that Sox won again tonight.

Tomorrow I must wake up even earlier; this time to babysit Robert, a “fiesty and ubiquitous” five year old, son to our resident dean. (Properly speaking, Catherine is our Allston Burr Senior Tutor, but who’s that proper these days?)

Maybe Robert will walk away knowing a little something about splitting exact sequences, and I’ll walk away with money enough for dinner all this week.