Doll Heads

Among the art pieces in one of the rooms of Nellieville, at Nervous Nellie’s Jams & Jellies, are two doll heads on a table. I suppose you could admire the craftsmanship of the dolls’ creators, or consider the different artistic messages that might be conveyed by making doll heads part of the composition — but not me.

Doll heads give me the creeps, and I’m not sure exactly why. Is it the wide, staring, unblinking eyes? Is it the fact that they’ve been dismembered? Is it the placid, vacant, painted-on expression?

I’m not sure, exactly, but I know that the presence of doll heads interferes with my full appreciation of art.

Advertisements

Inferences From A Magazine Rack

When you’re killing time during a long layover in an airport, and a Hudson News is the only non-fast food place to visit, you tend to check out the magazine rack. So, what does the generic airport magazine rack tell you?

First, it tells you that magazines aren’t exactly thriving. The current magazine rack is pretty shrimpy by comparison to the full wall of magazines you found in the old days. Airport book options are shrinking, too.

Second, it suggests that modern Americans aren’t all that interested in serious reading. Once you go past The Economist, you’ve pretty much exhausted the serious reading category. Time and Newsweek have become the print equivalent of clickbait and don’t even try to present themselves as serious journalism. The rest of the shelves are devoted to the celebrity culture and the Royals — which is pretty much the same thing. How many interviews with, say, Taylor Swift is a person going to read?

And third, has any celebrity couple been the subject of a longer run in the romantic speculation/break-up/make-up category than Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt? Didn’t they first hit the gossip rags more than 20 years ago? And yet here they are, the subject of rumor and speculation and disclosures by purported insiders. In the history of American popular culture, is there any other couple that has had greater tittle-tattle staying power than these two?

Out Of Whack

I’ve been on the road a lot recently, and I feel like it’s had an impact on my normal routines.  I’ve moved back and forth between time zones, spent a lot of time on planes, gotten up at odd hours (even for me) and stayed up later than normal, and am no longer on the schedule that I’ve typically followed.

a41_lot271_2-maxAnd I’m feeling all of that, too.  My circadian rhythms are out of whack and off kilter.  I feel like an old golf ball that has lost its crisp bounce and now is just landing on the fairway or in the rough with a pathetic, disappointing thud.

The hoary saying is that you are only as old as you feel.  Of course, that saying suggests that there are times when you do feel older, and are reminded by mind and body that you’re not the spring chicken you used to be.  The realization that your rebound process seems to be taking a lot longer now than it did in the past is one of those times.  But right now I’m just too tired to care.

Pity The Poor Apostrophe

Is any punctuation mark more misused than the poor apostrophe?  How often do you see a sign, like this one in downtown Columbus, where an apostrophe has been weirdly inserted for some mysterious reason, causing inevitable confusion?  In this case, are multiple condos for lease, or is the sign supposed to communicate a contraction of “condo is for lease”?  And don’t get me started on whether there’s a person named “Condo” involved in some fashion and there is supposed to be any possessive element to what is being conveyed.

It’s amazing how many commercial signs have apostrophe errors.  If you are going to put up a big sign about something for sale, wouldn’t you also invest in a proofreader?

Robots In Space

Tomorrow Russia will be sending a humanoid robot into space.  The robot will be one of the passengers on a Soyuz capsule that will take the robot and other crew members to the International Space Station.  Once there, the robot will perform certain tasks under the direction and supervision of a Russian cosmonaut.

190723192309234a3550372iThere are some signs that the robot’s trip is a bit of a publicity stunt, with a whiff of the old “space race” about it.  For one thing, the robot’s name was recently changed, from “Fedor” to “Skybot F-850.”  For another, the Russians say the robot will occupy the commander’s seat on the Soyuz, rather than being carted up in the cargo compartment — although Soyuz being a capsule, there really isn’t a commander’s seat or much piloting going on.  The robot also seems to be a kind of multi-purpose robot who is largely controlled through immersive teleoperation (i.e., controlled by a human) rather than fully autonomous.

As for the whiff of the old space race days, there’s a conscious effort to compare Skybot F-850 to an American robot called Robonaut-2 that worked at the International Space Station a few years ago and is ready to return.  Robonaut-2, the Russians point out, was shipped to the ISS as part of the cargo rather than as a member of the crew.  Good thing for Robonaut-2 that robots can’t feel embarrassment!

Even though the Russian effort seems to have a lot of publicity elements to it, I’m still glad to see a focus on moving forward with robotics in space.  Astronauts are great, of course, but a lot of the hard work involved in tackling space is going to be done by robots who don’t have to worry about atmospheres or food.  If a little taste of the space race will help to move the process along, I’m all for it.

Atop Camelback

I’ve enjoyed spending some time in Boise, Idaho, over the last few months.  It reminds me of Columbus in some ways — it’s a growing town with a good foodie scene and a significant college vibe, thanks to Boise State University — but of course it’s different in come ways, too.  One difference in the overall vibe is the foothills (in flat Columbus, we’d call them mountains) that are found very close to the downtown area.

We decided to hike up Camelback, which is only a few blocks from the core downtown area, up 8th Street through a very cool neighborhood.  Once you reach the trail head, you can walk straight up to the Camelback overlook, or vie with the mountain bikers, horseback riders, joggers, and dogwalkers on one of the main trails that fan out into the area.  We took one of the trails first, heading out into the sagebrush and arid scenery, then ended the excursion with the cool Camelback overlook and its nice view of downtown Boise and the Idaho Statehouse dome.

It’s amazing what a little elevation near downtown can do for you.  Of course, I’m not sure that many downtown officeworkers hike up dusty Camelback on their lunch hours.

In The Delayed Luggage Delivery Waiting Zone

Yesterday I had a plane flight that involved a very tight connection in Minneapolis-St. Paul.  The B.A. Jersey Girl and I made it, thanks to some speed-walking on the rolling lanes and light jogging through an underground tunnel, but unfortunately our bags didn’t.  Instead, they got routed to Detroit, for some reason, and were supposed to make it to Columbus late last night.

So now, I’m in the delayed luggage delivery waiting zone.

When we found out at the Columbus airport that the luggage wouldn’t make it to town until much later, we had a choice:  either have the bags delivered last night, or this morning.  I figured there was no way I wanted to wait up for a delivery that probably wouldn’t happen until well after midnight, so I chose this morning instead.  And because I’ve read about the scourge of Amazon porch pirates and therefore think it’s probably not wise to leave two fully stuffed bags sitting out on the front steps for the entire day, this morning I’m in the delivery waiting zone.

The problem with being in the delivery waiting zone is that the estimates of arrival time are regrettably . . . imprecise.  The websites and 1-800 numbers are nice, and certainly give you a lot of information about the torturous route your bags have followed — in addition to giving you more than ample privacy disclosures — but the reality is that you’re still looking at about a six-hour window, and you’re never quite sure whether your stuff is being successfully delivered until it actually hits your doorstep and you hear the doorbell ring.

Time for another cup of coffee!