Carouselers

Shannon and I are packing up for our night out and away from the girls, which will start pretty soon now. The four of us had a nice morning at the Red River Valley Zoo. Here are my better three-quarters in front of the rather grand carousel there, having seen the camels, the llamas, the baby goats, and assorted other creatures.

Carouselers
Carouselers

This will be my first-ever night away from the girls when not on a business trip, and as far as I can recall, Shannon’s first-ever night away from Julia except when in the hospital delivering Genevieve. It goes without that this really doesn’t count, and that she’s never spent the night away from Vivi (or both girls, for that matter). I imagine that the two of us will manage the sleeping all right (hotel bed, no infernal baby monitors humming), but I’m a bit worried about whether we’ll remember how to eat dinner without the distraction of monitoring two toddlers. We’ll soon see!

Mystery Coil

In my numerous walks and couple runs around Moorhead, I’ve noticed objects like this in the overhead lines.

Mystery Coil
Mystery Coil

I naturally wonder what the hell it is. Some options:

  1. It’s part of the city’s (decent and cheap) municipal wi-fi service.
  2. It’s a way to manage the civic problem of the many, many people who are sticking their bare feet up on the dashboard of vehicles using Moorhead byways.
  3. It’s an attempt to make the grass grow on any, some, or all of the incredibly patchy lawns in this town.
  4. It’s a public-health effort to prevent suicides among the readers of the horrific stories on the front page of the Fargo Forum. (Thankfully, the paper requires registration to read the articles, so I can avoid hyperlinking to the gore.)
  5. It’s a means to try to help the city’s coffeehouse baristas remember more than one item in an order. On three different occasions, I’ve had the barista need me to repeat a two-item order two times; on one of those occasions, I had to say it a third time. Gawd.

What’s that? People are dying in Iraq and Afghanistan? Perhaps that’s related to these mystery coils, too…

(Update, 8/22: According to a well-informed commenter, this is a “fold-back” created with “extra fiber optic cabling that has been relooped on that strand” to make repair or replacement easier later. I LOVE THE INTERNET.)

Cashless Economy

I spent a couple hours this afternoon finishing the grading for my online course, a task which became slightly less onerous when I was able to do it at a nice little coffeeshop here in Moorhead. Though the people-watching wasn’t as good as it is in Northfield or in Minneapolis, there were some good moments. For instance, the author of some crazy-seeming “political” books stopped in and surfed on one of the public computers for a good hour. (His van was parked across the street.)

A few minutes after that, a young-ish woman came in with two cute kids. She went up to the counter and loudly asked how about the price of a certain (complicated, girly) drink. When the barista told her, she energetically hunted in her purse for some money, only to discover she didn’t have enough. Throwing the expensive-looking bag on her shoulder and clutching a big Blackberry-type smartphone in one hand, she trooped back out with the kids. I guessed to a friend that she must have all her money in bonds; he snarked back that she probably blew all her cash filling up her Tahoe or Excursion.

At Five, I’ll Use My Jetpack to Fly Home

Spurred by my scratched-cornea ordeal,  I just ordered some prescription sunglasses online through a sunglasses website. I used a Wikipedia entry to understand my prescription card, a ruler to measure my pupillary distance according to instructions on another store’s website, Paypal to handle the transaction, and our office copier to make and email a scan of my Rx to the vendor. All very casual; I hardly noticed even doing any of this until it was all done.

Why I Have a Scratched Cornea (Again)

1. I absent-mindedly used silicon spray, not saline solution, to clean my contacts.
2. Because I wanted to see how many different eye medications I could get. (Three and counting!)
3. I make the poor decision to act on my life-long desire to kiss a porcupine.
4. I recently led a secret Special Forces mission in western Afghanistan which included an ambush of al-Qaeda forces during a sandstorm.
5. The gods answered my prayer for the opportunity to hear the phrase “epithelial erosion” again.
6. I tried to perform LASIK on myself with a CD-player laser, a thimbleful of whiskey, and a paring knife.
7. Because after you get one scratch on your cornea, you’re forever susceptible to renewed scratches in that same spot.