Friday, December 07, 2007

A Weturn To The Gwory

Recipe for a grand day:

The Guest and I, after a perfectly delightful breakfast (I humbly admit), headed off to what is still one of the bestest things in town: the Roman exhibit at the Art Museum.

Even second time around, even with Philistines whispering*, the impact is not lessened. There's something about being right-the-dickens-there, the wonderful objects and the faces and bodies of the past just as close as your coffee cup, that cannot be conveyed in any other way. And to see it once again with another friend who has a working knowledge of the Republic and Empire that greatly exceeds my own makes it all the better! ...I'd go on and on but I've already enthused about this collection. It's a marvel!

(Here's a tip: Cultivate intelligent, well-read friends; if you do nothing else to improve your mind, you'll still end up way ahead of folks who stand around gossiping about the celeb of the moment or the horrawful thing that Joe at the barbershop did at Bubba-Sue's wedding.** What, you knew that already? Then why didn't you tell me long ago?)

Another marvel on this visit was a scattering of "uniformed" teens from some school, their preppy attire distinct but hardly military, each with his or her artist's pad and producing very fine pencil sketches of the various pieces in the exhibit. One young man with the look of an athlete stumbled a bit as he stood from a tailor's squat before a large candelabrum. "Sorry, I sat too long," he grinned to the adults and his classmates, his well-rendered drawing flashing for a moment as he made his apologies. Y'know, the Western Civilization thing, it's really a pretty good idea.

We were able to take a few extra minutes to watch a conservator at work on a priceless 16th-Century painting, and none of this "through glass," stuff, either; there's a string on posts to remind you to stay out of the way and a nice young man to answer the questions you'd best not be bothering the conservator with, but that's all that's between you and all that history and skill. If you wait long enough, the conservator herself is pleased to speak with visitors during her breaks. --Now that's how you get folks connected to Art!

The entire museum, always a gem, has become a lot more playful since the most recent renovation: the collections form a maze with sightlines varying as you walk, distant and interesting things appearing, being hidden and reappearing as you get closer. There's no telling what will be around the next corner; before you know it, you're deep into the labyrinth and the only minotaur who haunts it is your own delight.

Time's remorseless and we were fair famished, so 'twas back to my neighborhood and Yats: "Cajun. Creole. Crazy." Two people can eat like royalty and get change back from a couple of sawbucks. Chili-Cheese Etoufee, Ropa Veijia, the good rice, crisp garlic bread, exotic soft drinks and coffee as good as anything they pour in Naw'lins -- I should go back for seconds! Okay, you do eat like royalty with overly-familiar servants; when I walk in, whoever's behind the counter sings out, "Hi, RX! Here or to go?" I like that! Yats has streamlined the process of ordering: you belly up to the counter, have a look at the blackboard to see what's in the kitchen tonight, name your pleasure and pay. By the time you sit down, there's a young man with a smile and steaming plates of goodness waiting for you.

Alas, after dinner it was time for The Guest to pack up and head out. "All good things...." 'tis said. And today was definitely good!

* Best one: looking at a marvelously carved stone sarcophagus, girlfriend to boyfriend in serious, dimwitted awe: "Isn't it uh-mazing how they could start at one end and do each section and finish at the other end without running over or leaving space?" D'ya know how darned difficult it is to not snicker when you're trading OMG-she-means-it looks with your traveling companion?

** Bubba-Sue is the generic double-wide ijit; when sufficiently frustrated by such persons in traffic, I have been known to improvise lyrics about her to the tune of Buddy Holly's Peggy Sue. This is terribly unfair and yet ever so much nicer than simply ramming them while cackling with demented glee. Umm, not that there's, like, anything wrong with being two axe-handles wide and twice as solid through the skull.


phlegmfatale said...

But what? No mention of their glowing response to your guest towels?

Sounds like a perfectly grand time. Hanging around with erudite friends is a rising tide that raises all boats. Good stuff. I'm having hang-out envy.

Roberta X said...

What I can say? I used double strach and extra blueing, too. ...Maybe buying the blueing from Numrich wasn't the best plan?

"Hang-out envy:" That's what Yankees have in the Winter when we're payin' Power & Light to run the clothes dryer while y'all are still able to hang things on the line in the backyard to dry.

phlegmfatale said...

That's true - there's many a barbecue on New Years' Day in Texas populated by attendees in shorts and flip-flops. Honestly, I HATE the heat and sunshine, but I LOVE the people here, generally.

In my mind's ear, I kept hearing "Are these your earth towels?" ("Is this your earth kiss" is my most-oft bastardized Star Trek quote.)

Dr. StrangeGun said...

Careful now, the good Doc* grew up in a double-wide :)

*not a doctor, just play one on the internet

Roberta X said...

Ahh, but doc (look, y'all are a doctor of guns, 'specially the dear little mutants of the litter; at least in my eyes, that makes you a doctor!), you are not an ijit! "Double-wide" is an intensifier kinda like "super-deluxe" or "very very" here in the hinderlands of my mind. 'Cos it's at least twice as good, see?

...One or more of the techni-freebie mags I get at the Skunk Works arrives addressed to "Dr. Ecks," an' the only degree I have is a BDTCSFY.* I read the thing anyhow and enjoy the fraudluent title.

...Which reminds me, do you read "The Industrial Physicist?" It's superkewl, now in e-zine form only; you might have to talk mildly fast to get on the list but they're pretty good about sharin' the wonderfulness. I'll try to dig up the link at work.

(Industrial Physics is how we synthesize -- synthesneeze? Eww! -- our crude Earth towels, btw).
* "Been Doin' This Crazy Stuff For Years." Or something similar.

Dr. StrangeGun said...

Nope, never heard of "Industrial Physics" but I will be looking for it.

I did get Hiscox's "1800 Mechanical movements, Devices, and Appliances" in the mail the other day though, lovin' it :) Nothing heavy, just illustrations and descriptions of the basics through the best of 1921, but it's cheap brain fodder. Eventually I'll head to the living room and start back into "American Diesel Engines".

Did get a response to the "where do I start?" email I sent to UTK's engineering department the other day. Maybe I'll go make the title legit...

Tam said...

I swear if we put the two of y'all in a room together, some critical mass of "geek" would occur and the invention fallout from the resulting explosion would blanket us knee deep in widgets, gizmos, and thingamajigs from here to Omaha.

Roberta X said...

Okay, thanks for the suggestion, Tam! --Your basement or mine, Doc? And before you answer, just one more thing: I have a Unimat and I almost know how to use it.

I've been lusting after "1800 Mechanical movements..." for quite awhile. (Reminds me I have to get on Lindsay's mailing list at the new addy). I'd like to build a clockwork full-auto, iambic, radiotelegraphy key and coming up with a mechanism that will stay in sync in the proper ratios, can be startered and stopped at will and which will do the iambic thing is well past my horological skills.

Sure, it's been done with horizontal pendulums -- thrice! (Melvein E. Hansens's "Mehelan Valiant" milled from hen's-tooth unobtainium, the GHD GN907 from Japan [Morse Express has 'em. Yah, cute URL:] and a local boy, WB9PLU [ You will not believe the quality and lateral-thinking of his work]. But nobody's ever done it with gears!

Besides, "A Clockwork Bug" has a certain ring to it.

Dr. StrangeGun said...

I sat down at the shop once after being on a steampunk kick, and about 10 minutes later I had nailed down how to make a synchronized image coder/decoder network unit from 1890's technology.

Yes, a fax machine that runs over telegraph line. Clockwork spiral table, arc lamp light source, lens focus and a copper oxide light resistance cell with a relay operated voltage comparator, and on the other end you have a solenoid and a quill with a nib the same size as the focal point from the sender. Might take a few hours, but you get a decent copy and the spiral direction means no direction changes, makes it real easy to time and avoid skew.

Dr. StrangeGun said...

btw, the Hiscox book is on Amazon for ~$12...

I actually emailed Lindsay publishing once and asked how much for one of everything... it was over $10,000. I should have asked what was in the *catalog* :-D