A Trio of Bakers (plus Overcome by Cute!)

I’m a tired man. Adam and Courtney Baker rolled into town last week. They parked their RV on our front lawn, and I’ve been hanging around with them ever since — going out to eat, talking about blogging, and staying up late to play board games. It’s awesome — for me, at least. (I can’t speak for Adam, Courtney, or Kris.)

Baker's RV parked in front of Rosing Park
Baker’s RV, Kris’ flower garden, and the ever-present Oregon rain.

Adam and Courtney have been driving across the U.S. in their RV since January. They started in Baltimore, and have made a U-shaped traverse of the country, coming up the West Coast during the month of May. They’re not alone. They also brought their three-year-old daughter, Milligan, who is as cute as a bug’s ear.

Milli tells me how old she is
At dinner, Milli tells me how old she is. That muffin is nearly as big as her head.

All parents think their kids are cute and smart and wonderful. But Milli actually is cute. I think she’s adorable. Plus, because she spends so much time with adults, she does a good job of interacting with them. She’s still three, of course, but she’s a precocious three. She’s smart and friendly and funny.

She’s also cuddly at times. Here, she’s giving Kris some spontaneous snuggling:

Milli and Kris

I spend a lot of time with Kris (which is good, since she’s my best friend and my wife!), but I don’t get to hang out with my other friends very often, except at the gym. It’s been far too long since I’ve been able to linger with anyone, playing games, going to lunch, and so on. But that’s what I’ve been doing for the past few days, and I’ve really enjoyed it.

Thankfully, Adam and I are working in separate spaces today, which means we’re able to be productive. (I am, anyhow.) But I look forward to playing games with the Bakers again soon: Carcassonne, Ticket to Ride, Dominion, and more! And I look forward to mingling with Milligan.

Lost and Found

Because I have a lot of gadgets, I have a lot of little fiddly bits to go with the gadgets. I have cords and adapters and attachments galore. In general, I know where all these fiddly bits belong. I wouldn’t say I’m organized really, but I do try to keep all of this Stuff collected in a handful of spots.

In general, for instance, the docking stations for my iPod Shuffles live in the desk drawer. (Yes, I have two iPod Shuffles. I love them.) The camera connector kit for the iPad lives with my travel gear. And my portable hard drives tend to stay in one of a number of spots, including our safe.

When we returned from Africa, however, a lot of these fiddly bits got dumped on the dining room table, where they hung around for a week or more. I was using the hard drives to back up all of our television shows and music, and I recharged the iPod Shuffles a couple of times.

Then a couple of weeks ago, I realized I couldn’t find either of my iPod Shuffle docking stations. They were just gone. And last week when Kris wanted some old Amazing Race episodes to watch, I couldn’t find the portable drive with our media archives. Finally, last night Rhonda asked to borrow our camera connector kit for the iPad. When I looked for it today, I couldn’t find it.

I’ve spent the past two hours scouring our home and office for these fiddly bits, but I can’t find them anywhere. I’ve checked every drawer. I’ve checked every closet. I’ve searched through my travel gear. I’ve searched through my computer cables. I’ve even looked in Kris’ kitchen stuff. I can’t find these things anywhere. It’s exasperating.

Where could they be? Did Kris or I accidentally throw them out? That seems unlikely. Could they have fallen out of my bag at a restaurant or meeting? I often carry these items with me, so this isn’t impossible, but it seems improbable that I’d lose all of this stuff an not notice. And if I cleaned these things up, where’d I clean them to? It’s baffling.

In a last-ditch effort to locate these fiddly bits, I just went out to the workshop, which has become a vast sea of Stuff I need to purge. For two years, Kris and I have been stacking things out there instead of just getting rid of them, like we ought to. (Anyone want a TV?)

I sorted through the old records and role-playing manuals and computer magazines and photographs and books and t-shirts and comic books and notebooks and board games and boxes. I couldn’t find the missing fiddly bits. They’re nowhere to be found.

However, I did solve another mystery. For the past six months or so, I’ve been frustrated because somehow most of my camera lenses had disappeared. My two main lenses are where they ought to be, but I can’t find my wide-angle lens or my macro lens or any of the junky lenses. I thought maybe I’d loaned them to somebody. Or maybe I’d left them somewhere.

Nope. As it turns out, the lenses were stowed in a box in the workshop, a box hidden beneath several other boxes of Stuff. It’s a relief to have found them. But what I’d really like to find are my missing pieces of computer gear. I suppose they’re going to turn up six months from now while I’m hunting for a missing comic book…

Note: Dear friends, if you happen to have seen my fiddly bits, please let me know. It’s very possible that I left the hard drive and cables and connectors at somebody’s house. Thanks.

J.D. Roth…Time Master

“Ha ha. This doesn’t make any sense,” I told Kris the other night. I was reading in bed with my red head-lamp on. She was trying to fall asleep.

“Mmflphh?” Kris said.

“This comic book,” I said. “It’s Rip Hunter…Time Master. Rip and his friends are going back in time, but they’ve got it all wrong.”

“Mmflphh?” Kris said.

“See, they start from one point on Earth and then boom they’re back in time at the same point. But that’s not how it would work. All time-travel stories make this mistake.”

Rip Hunter...Time Master

“You know time travel’s not real, right?” Kris asked.

“But pretend that it was,” I said. “If you were going to travel to Earth’s past, you wouldn’t just have to travel through time. You’d have to travel through space, too.”

Kris laughed and covered her face with the blanket.

“What?” I asked.

“Time travel’s not real!” she said. “It’s not like it’s an actual phenomenon and someone just forgot to work out the details. Besides, space and time are two sides of the same coin. You can’t move in time without moving in space. They’re connected. When you move back in time, you move to where something was in the past.”

“That doesn’t make any sense,” I said. “Time and space are different. If I move back in time just an hour, for instance, but I don’t change my location, I’ll appear in the middle of space, right? Because the Earth is moving and the sun is moving and the galaxy is moving. If I want to appear in the same spot on Earth, I have to move in space, too.”

“J.D.,” she said. “It’s the space-time continuum. It’s physics. Space and time are the same thing!”

I couldn’t wrap my head around it.

xkcd on the space-time continuum
The great xkcd on the space-time contiuum.

Time passed.

“I know!” I said, as I finished my issue of Rip Hunter…Time Master.

“Mmflphh?” Kris said. She was almost back to sleep.

“It’s like passing a football,” I said. “When the quarterback passes the football downfield, he’s actually throwing it into the future, right? I mean, he’s passing it to where the wide receiver is going to be in a few seconds, not where he is now.”

Kris sighed and muttered something I couldn’t hear. I set Rip Hunter aside and picked up an issue of Amazing Adventures.

“I told my co-workers about you and your fascination with time travel,” Kris told me the next day.

“What did your little friends have to say?” I asked.

“Well, they laughed at your inability to grasp basic science, but they were more amused by the fact that you read comic books in bed,” Kris said.

“Doesn’t everyone?” I asked.

A Vegetable Preoccupation

It’s been a long time since we read a classic for book group. Kris and I have been suffering in silence as we slog through tedious book after book of poplit. Sure, some of this stuff can be fun, but very little of it is actually good, you know? And much of it is downright awful.

What a delight, then, to have two classics coming up in the rotation. Well, one classic and one book that is on its way to be coming one.

This month, we’re reading True Grit, my love of which I documented in December. This is a fantastic book, and I’m eager to re-read it.

Next month, we’re reading The Woman in White, published in 1859 by Wilkie Collins. The Woman in White is considered one of the first-ever mystery novels. And because it’s from the Victorian era, I have no doubt that I’ll love it. (I love British books from that time.)

Because I know True Grit so well, and because I want to listen to the audio version when we drive to Bend and back in a couple of weeks, I’m actually reading The Woman in White first. I’m about a tenth of the way through it, and I’m enjoying it immensely. Collins is an excellent (if melodramatic) writer. I particularly like the way he sketches his characters. Sometimes they feel almost Dickensian.

Here, for instance, is a passage describing a former governess. There’s nothing like this in the crap we’ve been reading for book group in recent months. This is awesome. (Bolding is mine.)

When I entered the room, I found Miss Halcombe and an elderly lady seated at the luncheon-table.

The elderly lady, when I was presented to her, proved to be Miss Fairlie’s former governess, Mrs. Vesey, who had been briefly described to me by my lively companion at the breakfast-table, as possessed of “all the cardinal virtues, and counting for nothing.” I can do little more than offer my humble testimony to the truthfulness of Miss Halcombe’s sketch of the old lady’s character.

Mrs. Vesey looked the personification of human composure and female amiability. A calm enjoyment of a calm existence beamed in drowsy smiles on her plump, placid face. Some of us rush through life, and some of us saunter through life. Mrs. Vesey sat through life. Sat in the house, early and late; sat in the garden; sat in unexpected window-seats in passages; sat (on a camp-stool) when her friends tried to take her out walking; sat before she looked at anything, before she talked of anything, before she answered Yes, or No, to the commonest question — always with the same serene smile on her lips, the same vacantly-attentive turn of the head, the same snugly-comfortable position of her hands and arms, under every possible change of domestic circumstances.

A mild, a compliant, an unutterably tranquil and harmless old lady, who never by any chance suggested the idea that she had been actually alive since the hour of her birth. Nature has so much to do in this world, and is engaged in generating such a vast variety of co-existent productions, that she must surely be now and then too flurried and confused to distinguish between the different processes that she is carrying on at the same time. Starting from this point of view, it will always remain my private persuasion that Nature was absorbed in making cabbages when Mrs. Vesey was born, and that the good lady suffered the consequences of a vegetable preoccupation in the mind of the Mother of us all.

“Now, Mrs. Vesey,” said Miss Halcombe, looking brighter, sharper, and readier than ever, by contrast with the undemonstrative old lady at her side, “what will you have? A cutlet?”

Mrs. Vesey crossed her dimpled hands on the edge of the table, smiled placidly, and said, “Yes, dear.”

“What is that opposite Mr. Hartright? Boiled chicken, is it not? I thought you liked boiled chicken better than cutlet, Mrs. Vesey?”

Mrs. Vesey took her dimpled hands off the edge of the table and crossed them on her lap instead; nodded contemplatively at the boiled chicken, and said, “Yes, dear.”

“Well, but which will you have, to-day? Shall Mr. Hartright give you some chicken? or shall I give you some cutlet?”

Mrs. Vesey put one of her dimpled hands back again on the edge of the table; hesitated drowsily, and said, “Which you please, dear.”

“Mercy on me! it’s a question for your taste, my good lady, not for mine. Suppose you have a little of both? and suppose you begin with the chicken, because Mr. Hartright looks devoured by anxiety to carve for you.”

Mrs. Vesey put the other dimpled hand back on the edge of the table; brightened dimly one moment; went out again the next; bowed obediently, and said, “If you please, sir.”

Surely a mild, a compliant, an unutterably tranquil and harmless old lady! But enough, perhaps, for the present, of Mrs. Vesey.

Love it! Ah, if only everything we read could be like this. (Or Proust.)