sprite writes
broodings from the burrow

January 31, 2010

into the stacks: 2010.4
posted by soe 1:40 am

NaJuReMoNoMoLife, the Universe and Everything by Douglas Adams

From the jacket: “Pow! Freeeeoooooo! Pop pop pop! Previous best score … Seven million five hundred and ninety-five thousand, two hundred and … Now join the end-of-the-world party, bring your pink towel and your jogging shoes and find out if potatoes are the answer. Life, the Universe and Everything. Join Arthur Dent, earthling, ‘jerk,’ kneebiter and time-traveler; sexy space cadet Trillian; mad alien Ford Prefect; unflappable Slartibartfast; two-headed, three-armed, ex-head Honcho of the Universe Zaphod Beeblebrox … you’ll learn to fly. Is it the end? Or just the beginning, again. (Over five million copies of the Hitchhiker’s Trilogy books now in the hands of earthlings.)”

My take: I find reading Douglas Adams to be an exercise in contradictions. Really, nothing happens, but Arthur Dent and company save the world. The characters can seem one-dimensional, yet endlessly deep. There is nothing difficult to grasp in the novel, but it tackles all the major issues — y’know … life, the universe, and, well, everything.

In this third book of Douglas’ original trilogy, Arthur Dent is reunited with his old pal Ford Prefect, an alien who saved him, if not his world, when the Earth was slated for demolition. They’re sucked back in time and back to Earth just in time for the conclusion of the Ashes. But not for long, because they’re about to head back into outer space in order to save the universe. Between those two events, they’ll find out that cricket is actually a recreation of a violent interplanetary war, learn how being killed repeatedly by the same man can make you very bitter, and discover that the secret to flying is merely to throw yourself at the ground and miss. Oh, and that quantum physics is much like a restaurant — the math doesn’t add up the same way it does elsewhere in the universe.

A fitting conclusion to the original trilogy of books.

Oh, and it’s worth noting that picking this book up was a pre-destined choice. As I’ve mentioned before, I was having some trouble getting into Jasper Fforde’s Shades of Grey, so went seeking something else to break it up a bit. Jane, a character in the Fforde novel, attracts a lot of undesired romantic attention because of her retroussé nose. Imagine my surprise earlier this evening, when I discovered a retroussé nose in this novel, too! Coincidence? I think not…

Pages: 227

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January 30, 2010

saturday morning errand
posted by soe 12:32 am

I’m off to the DMV early in the morning to get my car registered in D.C.

Wish me luck! (Also, wish me luck getting up early enough to make it to Baked & Wired to pick up breakfast en route.)

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January 28, 2010

egypt, moonlight, secret garden, and unbelievable
posted by soe 11:48 pm

Thanks for all the great bed-related tips. Rudi and I have read all of them and will definitely use the wisdom you’ve shared.

But since we won’t be buying a bed tonight, instead I’ll share three beautiful things from the past week:

1. Sarah remembered I was very excited about the Library at Alexandria during her trip planning. Over the weekend, a postcard arrives from there. Thanks, Sarah!

2. A nearly full moon lights up an inky sky.

3. As we wander the West Village looking for a lunch spot, I glance across the street and spy a garden behind a wall. We cross the avenue and enter into the park at St. Luke in the Field.

And just because this was too amazing to leave off the list:

4. I fail my car inspection on Tuesday. After some repairs yesterday, I plan to head back today, but am running too late to go before work. And then I miscalculate the closing time of the DMV station (but catch the mistake in the nick of time when it occurs to me to double-check). When I pull up to the building twenty minutes before they lock the gates, I’m able to drive right up to the bay. My car goes through practically faster than I can walk the length of the building’s corridor, the attendant gives me the thumbs up and a smile, and I find myself back at the office within my lunch hour with a pass sticker on my car’s windshield.

What’s been beautiful in your life this week?

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posted by soe 4:02 am

Rudi and I have declared 2010 to be The Year of the Bed.

When we graduated from college, Rudi and I each bought a futon for our two apartments. Rudi’s frame was poorly assembled by the delivery men and the slats cracked within a year or two. (Actually, it was probably just over a year, since that would have been the warranty period, I suspect.)

Mine, which I bought from a small, independent Middletown shop the night I signed the lease on my first apartment, was called the Cheapy Sleepy. It cost me all of $200 and was the most I’d ever spent on an item at that time. (Frankly, it still ranks up there.)

Fourteen years later, we’re still sleeping on my Cheapy Sleepy. Sure, we eventually had to shift Rudi’s thin mattress under my slightly more substantial one, but, overall, it’s probably well outlasted the manufacturer’s expected lifetime. The frame has held up remarkably well, and it wouldn’t surprise me if it walks off from the corner quite quickly after we put it out for the scavengers.

Rudi and I regularly wake up feeling achy these days since you can now feel the slats through both layers of cushion, so the futon’s days with us are finally numbered. Our goal this year is to buy a replacement, and we’re thinking an actual bed with a mattress and box spring is in our future. Plus, frankly, it would be nice to actually have an under-the-bed space in which to store things.

However, we don’t really know anything about buying a bed. Does Consumer Reports rank them? Or is it really a matter of walking into a showroom and lying down on each floor sample we can afford to see which one we both agree on? Is there something else we should keep in mind?

Leave us tips in the comments, please. Rudi and I would love to benefit from your advice. Our backs and hips thank you in advance.

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January 27, 2010

my d.c.: fundraiser
posted by soe 1:19 am

Everyone has heard about $1,000-a-plate fundraisers that get held in Washington to raise money for political parties, candidates, or causes. But what makes the District such a great place to live are the smaller, more personal instances of philanthropy.

This shot is from Martin Luther King Day:

bakesale for Haiti

These women arranged a bake sale to raise money for Haiti in the wake of the earthquake. They and their young boys (I’d guess five and seven years old) were selling chocolate chip cookies, brownies, and cups of cocoa (complete with your choice of marshmallows or whipped cream) from a card table they set up on their corner. They were doing such brisk business, Rudi and I had to split a cup of hot chocolate because they ran out while pouring our first cup. (The boys were inside refilling the carafe when Rudi went back to take the shot for me.)

The women remarked to us that this was the first time they’d done this kind of thing, but they were spurred to action by hearing about the devastation. They said they were blown away by how responsive the neighborhood had been to their fundraiser.

I’m not surprised at all. That’s the kind of city we live in.

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January 26, 2010

today’s lesson
posted by soe 1:51 am

When you’re having a hard time getting into a book you’re in the middle of and it has nothing to do with the story itself, you might be better off putting the book down for a bit and picking up a different one.

That is to say, I have put put aside Shades of Grey in favor of Douglas Adams’ Life, the Universe, and Everything. There’s nothing wrong with the Fforde novel; I’m just not finding myself drawn in in the way I normally am with his writing. I assume it’s not him, but me. In the meantime, more erudite British humor…

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