I was always fascinated by regurgitated milk. The coldness of the milk showed that it had recently been in the glass before passing into the stomach and then reappeared intact. It seemed magical to have something reappear from beyond-the-grave as it were, the stomach being as unimaginable a zone as Hell or China or the surface of the Sun. Yet here was milk, still cold, still drinkable, just the way it was when it went down. My childish conceptualization of the stomach was less blackbox and more furnace, making the reappearence of edible food from the stomach no less amazing than the reappearence of a readable newspaper out of the smoke of a trash fire.
Andrew's brother Paul went further in this fascination, devising experiments of a deeper kind. Paul got in the habit of eating King Dongs with the foil still on to see how they survived the "furnace" down there. It disgusts Andrew, even now, but I can only feel envy for the creative urge of the young scientist.
By the way, if you wait too many minutes to regurgitate milk it is indeed too late to find it intact. The stomach of milk drinkers has an evolutionary adaptation to increase the efficiency of nutrition absorption. A rennet-like enzyme in your stomach makes a crude Farmer's Cheese from the milk. It has to do this because liquids and solids are passed through the stomach at different rates. Milk as a liquid should be passed into the small intestine without much processing in the stomach but, because milk contains protein, it behooves the body to hold milk over in the stomach for a little while. It does this by changing the liquid milk to solid curds. Now that it is solid, the body knows enough to retain it for a little while while the stomach lyses some protein bonds. So, whether you are handy in the kitchen or not, you turn out a homemade cheese every day that you drink milk.
Last month in Portugal I took a private tour through a 500 year old
abandoned monastary. Although it's a rock house it is, strangely,
lined with cork on almost every interior surface, making for great
acoustics and providing a modicum of comfort for the monks in their
super-tiny, dark, rock floored cells. In a world where docents are
extremely protective of some things one can only appreciate the
Portugese docents who say, "Sure you can touch it. Have a seat on the
500 year old cork covered bench!
The convento viewed from above and below.
It's dark in the monastary and the rooms are tiny. And dark. And tiny.
This is Fran the man. He got the stigmata. Cappucins, before they were a Starbucks
beverage were a sixteenth century rebellion by Franciscan monks trying
to get back to basics and remove the worldliness that had crept into
Franciscanism. So Cappucinos are a subset of the Franciscans. It's exciting to think that this fresco is not only
extremely old but also by an artist working in isolation from the
Hello, we are the smartest guides in the world, and very motivated.
Kevin hypothesized they were actual Franciscans. My guess was they are
history grad students at the University in Lisboa. That's Kevin on the left.
We had to wait a good forty minutes for the tour to start so we jumped around a lot and drank vending machine coffee -- not in that order. Left to right: Evan, Kevin, Rich.
There were, conveniently, cork trees growing nearby.
My mom once said she doesn't like PB & J sandwiches but that I make them look good. That's how I feel about this gloss on a 1970's Batman comic by Ezrael. I ended up spending 20 minutes of quality time scrolling through it, the comic greatly enhanced by Ezrael's imaginative annotation.
There was a mini Oakland University reunion last night when Eric, Andrew, and I met Eric's wife on St Mark's Place. Talk inevitably turned to Oakland friends not present. Jessica:I was in line at a Starbucks, staring at a shop window across the street. This guy ahead of me in line must have thought I was staring at him, because after he bought his coffee he walked past me in line and handed me his card, saying, "I don't know you but I'd like to see you." Anyway, I threw the card away. If he'd looked like a keeper I would have fixed him up with one of my friends but he wasn't handsome, just bold. Me:And that's what survives in the male gene pool. Hey, Carl 's cool like that. Andrew:Carl is bold and see what it gets him -- a whole lotta nothing. Me:Cmon man, he's broadcasting his seed, right? Andrew:He's broadcasting it at home...
Two New York things that girls don't like: 1) Jonathan Franzen's Corrections. A cynical, depressing view of life in the city, masculine in the way that T. Coraghessan Boyle is masculine. 2) McSorley's Ale House. Sunday night we pushed through the saloon doors, desperate for warmth and drink but we ran up against the sour, overhanging air. An odor of vomit, spilled beer, and musty garage wood made all of us woozy and for Leslie, in town from Michigan with Andrew, it was enough to issue a, for her, rare veto vote sending us immediately back out into the chilly night before we even ordered anything.
Standing in McSorley's, shoulder to shoulder with a hundred Jets fans, all seemingly eating something made of onions, all I could think about was my neice's book: Real Life Frankensteins. Back in Harrisburg at Christmas Emily shared a story with us about the 1952 brain-transplant (!) where a Russian doctor supposedly managed to sew a dog's brain into a second dog's gut to see if it would stay alive and be aware. So, back in Manhattan, I have to say that standing in the middle of McSorleys feels like being a brain inside someone's gut.
Far and away my best present this year for Xmas was an old wool cap. This gift scores points for its combination of thoughtulness and homemadeness. Last summer my mom found a red ski hat in our closet. Wow, I bought that in 1997 with Tracy at Ohio State. It has sentimental value. Unfortunately, after a trip through the washer the cap emerged with a half-dozen holes (moths?). It could be fixed, my mom claimed, by a process called darning. (What's that?) Well that was all last summer. Time passed. I forgot all about the hat until it reappeared under the Christmas tree last week, a red hat, not just darned but -- adorned. She darned away the holes by installing big white needlepoint snowflakes! Check out the photo. This gift goes on my all-life Top 6 of gifts. The only problem is hats get lost. This one will too. This cap seems certain to be left beneath a theater seat by the end of December : ( The alternative, archival enshrinement, would dishonor it though; better to use and lose than to dishonor by imprisonment.