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Rambling man

I may have to apologize to the people of central Pennsylvania. Yesterday, Jamie and I were shopping at Target for some godchildren’s birthdays (I personally am worst. godfather. ever), and since Target is next door to Dick’s Sporting Goods, I mentioned to him that this might be a good time to get him that sand wedge I promised him at the end of our golfing exploits last season, since which, I believe, we have had only eleven months of winter.  “And loft wedge,” Jamie replied, to which I said, “ah, no.  First you learn to hit the sand wedge. Then we think about a loft wedge.  Remember what I told you—I still don’t know how to hit the dang loft wedge.” Which is true.  Sometimes I open my stance and swing outside-in and send a ball that’s buried in tall grass somewhere up into the clouds, landing it softly and deftly thirty yards away within a few feet of the pin.  And sometimes I move a large clump of earth a few yards, and sometimes I skull the ball, line-driving it into a bunker or a swamp or a stand of trees or maybe a sulfur pit.  Jamie has developed enough skill over the past two years to pull off some very nice finesse shots around the green, but he’s still a menace in sand, and of course I have to rake the bunker after he’s done because that’s the house elf’s job. 

Anyway, I bought him the sand wedge, and he hit some very nice shots off the astroturf in Dick’s practice room.  (Having seen his brother use Dick’s practice room, Jamie would not be denied.) But I now fear, seeing the frost on the grass and on the car windshield, that by getting Jamie a golf club I have doomed my fellow Pennsylvanians to another six weeks of winter. Real Feel® at 10 am as I type: 18 degrees.

I got home (at last!) on Saturday, and Janet left for Connecticut yesterday.  It’s a dizzying series of comings and goings here, and Lucy the Dog is beyond confused.  Last week, I had a moment when Jamie and I were flying back to Harrisburg from Baton Rouge, via Atlanta, and I had no idea where I was or where we were going.  Fortunately, I recovered my bearings in time to remember where we’d parked the car in Harrisburg.

And fortunately, the talks seem to have gone well.  At Grinnell three weeks ago, Jamie and I had a Minor Incident during the talk, when he tentatively came up to the podium at more or less the 40-minute mark of a 50-minute talk, and asked if I would get him Milo and Otis.  Sometimes Jamie sits through his father’s droning talks and writes lists of things on his legal pads (which is great, because it looks like he’s taking diligent notes), but whenever it’s possible, I set him up with his laptop, his headphones, and a movie.  He’s never interrupted a talk before, and I was briefly flummoxed.  “Sweetie, you have to wait,” I said, whereupon he lay down on the windowsill behind the podium for a few minutes before getting up and asking me again.  This time, I said “excuse me a moment” to the assembled crowd of 150 or so, turned to Jamie, checked my watch, and said, “I’ve got about eight more minutes here.  You have to wait until I’m done.” It wasn’t terribly disruptive, but it was weird, since I’ve long assumed he knows better.

When the talk and the brief Q-and-A were over, I asked Jamie, “weren’t you watching your movie?” He said no, and I realized that he’d simply been playing pinball for 40 minutes, and then got bored.  “You were playing pinball all that time?” “Uh huh,” Jamie said, at which I felt terrible, because I had been pretty damn sure that I’d put a DVD in there before the lecture began.  Later that day, when I packed us up, I realized that he did have a DVD in there—it just wasn’t Milo and Otis.  What’s more, next to the laptop he had his Talismanic Object, the DVD of Mamma Mia, a movie of which he is so fond that he insisted, a few months ago, that it would win many Academy Awards.  “Jamie,” I said softly but sternly when I put him to bed that night, “you have to understand something about what happened today.  You cannot stop me in the middle of a talk like that.” He hunched and squinted, which is his way of acknowledging that he knows he done wrong and doesn’t quite want to face up to it.  “I’m not angry, good kid,” I assured him.  “I love traveling with you.  But you had two movies to watch, and you shouldn’t have asked me to go out to the car and get Milo and Otis.  Listen.  I know this sounds strange, but those talks are my work. That’s the reason we went to Iowa.  And I can have fun with you and we can visit people and everything, but then when I do the talk, that’s business.  So if you do that again, I really can’t bring you on these trips with me.” More hunching and squinting.  “OK, I know you understand.  I won’t say any more.”

And I didn’t need to.  Jamie had a blast at LSU, not only because of that alligator tour but also because so many different people played ball with him (literally!), took him to the zoo, and dined and danced with him.  Seriously: the moment we got off the plane we were whisked away to a place called Boudin’s, where Jamie and I had some fine fine gumbo and Jamie danced to two or three songs played by a local cajun band.  In return, my good kid sat through a ninety minute event last Monday—a 4:40 lecture whose Q-and-A ran past 6.

Then I turned around and went to Toledo, becoming even more disoriented along the way.  Fortunately, when they took me to dinner after my talk, I got a kind of cuisine GPS.  In Baton Rouge, you understand, everything is gumbo this and remoulade that, and Jamie and I made our way through crawfish upon crawfish.  The killer was Sunday night’s meal, at which Jamie dined on crabmeat au gratin and I got a fish that came smothered in crawfish and shrimp and crabmeat and then more sauce and then some more food of some kind.  “We’re trying to make Michael gain ten pounds,” said one of my hosts.  “Mission accomplished,” I replied.  In Toledo, by contrast, our server announced that tonight’s special was a cajun steak, but, he reassured us, “it’s not too spicy.” Aha!  I thought.  That helps—I must be somewhere in the Midwest.  Indeed, the entire table found this announcement somewhat strange, and wondered why a restaurant would bother cooking a steak “cajun style” in the first place if it wasn’t too spicy.

Oh, and I did finish the His Dark Materials series.  More on that later this week, in which I prove everyone wrong.  In the meantime, here’s one last item from the latest Travel with Jamie installment.  One reason he’s enjoyed his excursions to Nevada, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, California, Nebraska, South Dakota, Iowa, and Louisiana over the past few months is that he wants to visit all the states.  So far he’s been to 35; when I was his age I had been to 12, and had never been west of Buffalo, NY except for one crazed road trip to Cleveland to sell bootleg Fleetwood Mac 1978 U.S. Tour t-shirts (long, long story).  Lately he’s taken to collecting the commemorative state quarters, which is weird, because that’s precisely what Nick used to do back when they first appeared in 1999.  Jeez, you’d think they were brothers or something.  A few weeks ago we found that Jamie had 42 of the 50 quarters, and that Jamie, being Jamie, could tell you which eight states he was missing in alphabetical order.  OK, so we set out to collect the quarters from Arkansas, California, Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin.  Whenever someone at a checkout counter realized that Jamie was combing through his change looking for state quarters, he or she helpfully asked him which ones he needed and went through the cash register; for my part, I got a couple of $10 rolls from the bank and poured them out for him.  Within two weeks we were up to 49, and then last week, woo hoo, we finally got a hold of Minnesota.

But that’s not the story.  The story is that while we were doing this, I began to keep track of when each state joined the union, since that crucial information is of course printed on each quarter.  (It is also carved into the steps of the state house in Baton Rouge, as we learned last week.) So at a dull moment in our travels, as Jamie and I and 80 other people waited in our plane for a gate to open up in the Baton Rouge airport, I decided to ask Jamie a question.  I also wanted to keep him from asking me to sing Beatles songs, not only because I didn’t want to sing but also because Jamie now demands that I tell him how old he was when I first sang each song to him.  This new wrinkle gave me an idea.  “Jamie,” I said, “when you collect your quarters, do you look at the years for each state?”

“Uh huh,” he replied.

“You know those are the years each state became part of the United States, right?”

“Right, exactly.”

“OK, then, what year was Missouri?”

“1821.” Holy Moloch.

“Yep, that’s right. Colorado?”




“All right then, wise guy.  Virginia.”


Now, I’m very familiar with Jamie’s cognitive strengths, and I believe that on this very blog I’ve mentioned his uncanny ability to memorize hundreds of baseball cards.  But still, I never fail to be amazed.  He did miss a few, thank goodness—but then, so did the Baton Rouge state house, which inexplicably gives the year 1958 for Alaska.

Also, some of those designs are pretty cool.  Many of them suck, and were clearly designed by committee, like the quarters from South Carolina (1788) and Illinois (1818), which throw a whole bunch of crap on the back like an Abe Lincoln plus a palmetto plus a Sears Tower plus a Yellow Jessamine plus a state outline for good measure.  But Montana (1889) and Colorado are quite nice, and for you bison fans, there’s North Dakota (1889) and the surprisingly spare Kansas (1861), both of which forego the temptation to clutter their designs with “The Sunflower State” or “The Peace Garden State” and state outlines combined with birds.  But the household favorite here is Connecticut (1788).

OK, now to settle in.  Not going anywhere for the next few weeks.

Posted by on 03/30 at 08:52 AM
  1. at the end of our golfing exploits last season


    1) Golf is for lawyers.
    2) Lawyers are for Sucks.

    Now would be a good time to review the Transitive Property of Sucks.

    Posted by  on  03/30  at  10:50 AM
  2. Cool. My kid just picked up Hawaii to complete her set last week. We like Idaho and Alaska, and think that Oklahoma is OK too. See ‘em all here.
    (captcha: head, not tail)

    Posted by  on  03/30  at  10:52 AM
  3. All hockey players play golf, Mr. MacKenzie (if that is your real name).  The difference between us and the lawyers is that we play on public courses.

    And Sven, I’d have included those states too (OK is kinda beautiful) but I got tired of all the hyperlinking.  It’s curious how cool the far western states generally are; I like to think they learned the horrible lesson of the earlier states—not only SC and IL but also LA, OH, and TN, which really really suck—and went with striking designs instead of motley state officialdom.  The result is that New England (excepting MA) and the Western states have most of the best designs.

    Posted by  on  03/30  at  11:00 AM
  4. Your story brought a couple of things to mind. The first ironically was Rudy Giuliani at his first inauguration for mayor of NYC. He was almost human then. (He would go on to back Mario Cuomo against George Pataki. Mario Cuomo - from the guy that said “Thank God! George Bush is President!"). His son by his firs .. prior wife .. interrupted his speech multiple times.

    The second image related to something I’ve been doing recently - bird watching. More accurately, I’ve been looking out for birds at certain places and when there are a bunch around. I try to catch a picture of ones I’ve not seen before. The habit reminds me of when I was a kid and on long rides my father would ask us to count how many out of state license plates we saw, and which states. Looking for “new” birds seems very similar to looking for another state plate. The thrill is almost comparable.

    Near where I live there’s something called Coney Island Creek. It’s the west half of what used to be the north waterway when Coney Island was an island. Apparently Robert Moses decided to build a highway over part of the creek, thereby separating Sheepshead Bay from Coney Island Creek.

    Anyway, in my youth the creek was better known as “Perfume Bay” for obvious, if ironic, reasons. It stunk. The creek was lined by probably dozens of auto repair shops and collecting old oil for recycling wasn’t exactly a religious practice then. There was also the gas tank of the gas company. About a year ago a clean up effort was made at the east end of the creek and it actually looked pretty nice. The water anyway. It’s still no Venice in terms of water side sights.

    One night on a fairly regular cycling route I take I caught a beautiful evening sky over the “bay.” I took some time exposures and only after “developing” the images on the computer did I notice what looked like a strange bird stalking the edge of the creek. It turned out to be a Black Crowned Night Heron. And so began my looking a little more closely at the details of Perfume Bay.

    I’ve since seen a Belted Kingfisher (distinctive because of it’s punk rock crest) dive from a tree straight into the water and then burst out, going back to the branch it had left, only to juggle a small fish into proper position for swallowing. I’d seen a Cormorant do something very similar in Sheepshead Bay after resurfacing from one of it’s minute or so underwater swims.

    Some of my recent “new” sightings include a Red Breasted Merganser, which also has a punk crest, a Great Blue Heron, a Great Egret and yesterday, a raptor (probably a hawk - maybe a young Red Tailed Hawk). Oh. How could I forget the Buffleheads, which still make me smile? Their small size (among the larger Mallard Ducks) and diving behavior give the impression of kids playing in the water. Speaking of ducks, I also forgot the Scaups, which with their yellow eyes and purple (if the light is just right) heads sometimes remind me of Daffy Duck.

    The big part of the wonder isn’t simply that I’m only now first noting the little beautiful things around me but that they could find a home in what was a very dirty and polluted place.

    Certainly self promotion, but if you’d like some visuals (of very varied quality) to go with the names ..

    I hit the word limit so I made a set of images:

    Posted by  on  03/30  at  11:38 AM
  5. Michael, seriously—bootleg Fleetwood Mac t-shirts??

    Posted by  on  03/30  at  11:55 AM
  6. Welcome back Michael. I too want to hear the bootleg T-Shirt story.  Fleetwood Mac in 1978 must have paid for college and grad school at the very least. But that’s not why I’m throwing my state quarter in here. Look, how hard is it to be a godfather?  You grant wishes at daughters’ weddings, order the odd hit, attend to the needs of those family members who are in prison, stay in touch with the old country, and make sure the child is raised a good Catholic. Piece of cake. (While you were away the Rangers have really raised some eyebrows and turned some stomachs.)

    Posted by  on  03/30  at  12:24 PM
  7. Ah the “spicy” food of the midwest.  Back when we lived in the Twin Cities we went to see a show of local stand-up comedians.  The best one told us she’s been married a really long time: they were on their THIRD bottle of Tabasco sauce.

    Posted by  on  03/30  at  12:43 PM
  8. The Prairie State’s quarter is being redesigned. Young Lincoln is getting Blago’s hair.

    Posted by Dr. Drang  on  03/30  at  12:57 PM
  9. both of which forego the temptation to clutter their designs with “The Sunflower State” or “The Peace Garden State” and state outlines combined with birds

    Right. Crowded, weak-willed committee designs are lame and state outlines downright silly since the state name’s already there by rule. Too many words is also problematic because, dude, it’s a visual situation: the quarter’s pretty dadgum small, minimize the wordage already.

    That (virtually) said, the Kansas bison is indeed cool, but it would have been a big bowl of awesome if the Jayhawkers had gone with “Sunshine, Sunflowers, and Sons of Bitches,” with the apropos numismapicts, just for the hellofit. Maybe Conan did something about that with his running State Quarters gag.

    Posted by  on  03/30  at  01:35 PM
  10. (I personally am worst. godfather. ever)

    “I’ll make him an offer that should be to his liking.  If not, I’ll drop it.”

    when I was his age I had been to 12, and had never been west of Buffalo Syracuse, NY


    and Janet left for Connecticut yesterday.

    Yessssss.  Which was my real plan all along

    Oh, and, uh, nice post.  Something about… Jamie playing Quarters while enrolled at Grinnell?

    Posted by  on  03/30  at  01:46 PM
  11. Point of clarification:  That’s the John Hancock Building (now the Hancock Center), not the Sears Tower (now the Willis Tower) on the Illinois quarter.  That might be the Sears-Willis Tower on the right, but it is not clear.  Especially since the Sears Tower would be on the left of the Hancock building if viewed from the lake.

    Any more questions about arcane Illinois geography can be sent to Professor Berube.

    Great post, BTW.  You make me (almost) wish I went to State College instead of Madison for my undergrad.

    Posted by  on  03/30  at  01:56 PM
  12. We finished up our set this weekend - last state, Oklahoma - rounding out 10 diligent change-checking years. 

    Connecticut is far and away the best.  It’s the only one to acknowledge that a quarter is a ROUND OBJECT, so the image should be designed to fit into a ROUND SPACE.

    Kansas is second best, then Oregon.  Delaware is tolerable. Idaho and Minnesota would have been fine if they’d left off the stupid maps.

    But most of them really do suck.  Wisconsin is perhaps the very worst.  Although it gets stiff competition from Indiana and Ohio (which has a chip on its shoulder over North Carolina’s usurpation of the Wright Brothers.)

    And Alaska wins the prize for scariest.

    Posted by  on  03/30  at  02:36 PM
  13. Michael, seriously—bootleg Fleetwood Mac t-shirts??

    Seriously.  We sold anything and everything, d00d.  In Philly that summer I made $300 in two hours selling Rolling Stones shirts because—are you sitting down?—the word on the street was that 1978 would be their final tour.  I mean, the guys were nearly forty.

    But we had to drive to Cleveland for the Fleetwood Mac show because the people in charge of Fleetwood Mac merchandise, Winterland, stopped us from bootlegging in Philly by pretending to be cops and throwing us in cars and driving us around and confiscating our stuff.  We eventually negotiated a deal with Philly’s License and Inspection people, but . . . ahhh, I told you it was a long story.

    While you were away the Rangers have really raised some eyebrows and turned some stomachs.

    I read in yesterday’s NYT that Avery is quite the fashion bug.  I wonder what Karl Lagerfeld thinks of the Blueshirts coughing up a hairball against Atlanta after being up 4-1?

    “I’ll make him an offer that should be to his liking.  If not, I’ll drop it.”

    Yep, that’s basically it.  And I once left a hobby horse in someone’s bed.

    when I was his age I had been to 12, and had never been west of Buffalo Syracuse, NY

    Yeah, I thought you’d go after that part.  But surely someone here can confirm that Buffalo is in fact west of Syracuse?  Via a three-lane road of some kind?

    That’s the John Hancock Building (now the Hancock Center), not the Sears Tower (now the Willis Tower)

    O sweet mother of Willis Reed.  And I suppose the things on the back of the Colorado quarter aren’t technically “mountains,” right, Mr. Stormcrow?

    Posted by  on  03/30  at  02:40 PM
  14. Connecticut is far and away the best.  It’s the only one to acknowledge that a quarter is a ROUND OBJECT, so the image should be designed to fit into a ROUND SPACE.

    Exactly. Bloix gets the rest about right too.

    Posted by  on  03/30  at  02:43 PM
  15. And Alaska wins the prize for scariest.

    Yeah, the image of Ted Stevens bringing back those earmarks in his teeth is hard to shake off.  And yes, Oregon is good, and Wisconsin is terrible.  The delicious thing about North Carolina and the whole birthplace-of-flight is that their quarter actually does a fine job of featuring the dang plane, whereas Ohio settles for a plane and a spacesuit (because, uh, you know, some astronauts came from Ohio) plus also a state outline.

    Now that I think of it, the whole Left Coast is pretty crunchy:  you’ve got John Muir in CA, Crater Lake in OR, and that fish jumping over the mountain in WA.  And no unsightly state outlines anywhere.

    Posted by  on  03/30  at  02:47 PM
  16. Some astronauts?!!! THAT’S JOHN GLENN!!! NC can say first in flight all it wants, but Ohio is first in flight AND first in SPACE!!FIRST FIRST FIRST*!! SO BLAH BLAH BLAH NORTH CAROLINA WE CAN’T HEAR YOU!!!

    *uh, except if you count that Yuri Gagarin guy.  Which we don’t.

    Posted by  on  03/30  at  03:37 PM
  17. Hey, how’d you know I was a geologist?  Although they claim they are mountains, it actually looks like a roche moutonee.  Or a pile of Paul Bunyan’s laundry.

    Posted by  on  03/30  at  04:02 PM
  18. except if you count that Yuri Gagarin guy

    As well as Shepard and Grissom on the US end, and Titov’s 24-hour flight in Vostok 2.  But never mind that.  O-HI-O!  O-HI-O!

    Posted by  on  03/30  at  04:24 PM
  19. Ramblin’ is right, and amen to that.  For a minute there I was afraid you were gonna go all Lileks on us with a Target tale.

    Posted by  on  03/30  at  05:28 PM
  20. I would just like to express solidarity with Mister Bérubé the younger because I, too, want my dang Milo and Otis.

    Posted by  on  03/30  at  05:57 PM
  21. And I suppose the things on the back of the Colorado quarter aren’t technically “mountains,” right, Mr. Stormcrow?

    Whatever could you be getting at? And I of course humbly defer to LL’s expertise in this matter.

    As a son of Ohio, I must agree that the Ohio quarter is TEH SUXXOR. Not that Ohio has a chip on it’s shoulder about the flight thing, much. The U.S. House voted 378-3 for a resolution naming Dayton, Ohio - home of Wilbur and Orville Wright - as the place where aviation was born (the 3 votes against were North Carolina’s delegation). From the same article, Ohio is also the state that has produced the most astronauts, 24 in all, including John Glenn and Neil Armstrong.

    Maybe they should have shown a megachurch, or a smokey giving a trucker a ticket, or a long line of voters at an inner-city polling place, or a shopping mall. A, O, Way to go Ohio.

    Posted by  on  03/30  at  06:22 PM
  22. but then, so did the Baton Rouge state house, which inexplicably gives the year 1958 for Alaska.

    They may have gotten confused by events at the time. The following thanks to a great series on the recent 50th anniversary of the event at the Anchorage Daily News site (which between this and its election/Sarah Palin coverage appears to be a good little newspaper):

    June, 1958: Senate passes Alaska Statehood bill. ADN seems to have run with a massive “STATEHOOD!” headline and a photo of the 49th star being added to large flag on June 30th.

    July, 1958: Ike signs the bill, and is apparently a bit confused himself (teleprompter must have gone on the fritz...)“Now we have 49 states.” But the President quickly added, “Maybe we don’t do it until the plebiscite.” Morgan replied, “We don’t do it until the plebiscite.” (there was also an article predicting a population of 30 million in Alaska by 2008 ...)

    August, 1958: Alaskans vote overwhelmingly for statehood in a plebiscite (this is the one that the Palins’ pals in AIP protest because “independence” was not a choice). ADN hauls out the banner “STATEHOOD!” headline again, but at end of article notes, While the vote is conclusive there still is a bit of red tape before statehood is formally completed.

    December, 1958: An article from December 6th states that January 3rd, 1959 will be the date. It mentions that the state canvassing board is tallying votes on December 27th (not sure from what, the August plebiscite?), but the Senate Disbursing office asked that Ike not sign until January 3rd since it was legally forbidden to pay any senator for more than a six-year term. Otherwise, there will be complicated issues that no one wants to face. So bureacracy wins out in the end, because no one expects wants to face the Senate Disbursing Office!

    Note also that Hawaii statehood was then quickly pushed through, so as a Republican state it would balance Democratic Alaska! Okay, I’ll stop now ...

    Posted by  on  03/30  at  06:58 PM
  23. I didn’t see it in any other comment, but I believe you may want to let Jamie know there is also a District of Columbia quarter that may be the coolest of them all:


    They’re also doing the territories this year.

    Posted by  on  03/30  at  07:51 PM
  24. My snark is that any country that goes to the trouble to make one dollar coins to honor women the size of quarters, is a nation that doesn’t deserve to have its quarters collected.  And the new Presidential series is just as atrocious. 

    Wayback in the Peabody & Sherman days of the Spring of 1972, i was sitting in a nicely filled lecture hall for the first UCLA talk by the soon to be professor Rogers Albritton.  Getting comfy i didn’t realize that my doctoral mentor had approached me with a well-dressed and proper woman.  He leaned over and asked me to step outside, as Prof Albritton was being introduced.  Balking, but obedient, the three of us went outside in the quad/sculpture garden, where my mentor proceeded to introduce me to the great professor’s wife; and then he suggested (told me) that she would much prefer to not hear her husband speak, but would love to learn to play with a frisbee (now that they were to be Californians). 

    My dear professor then mentioned that the talk was not about the philosophy of religion, so i wouldn’t really be missing anything that important, and the frisbee lesson would be seen as a valiant and wonderful gesture.  Thus, i am known in some circles to be the wise fool who taught a Regis Professor’s wife to play frisbee.

    Posted by  on  03/30  at  08:16 PM
  25. They’re also doing the territories this year.

    So I need to get a whole ‘nother quarter-holder map for that? At least it’s something else to look forward to:


    Posted by  on  03/30  at  08:57 PM
  26. There were two groundhogs copulating on the SE corner of Neil and Windsor last week, so Spring has officially arrived in Cham-bana. Michael, I’ve given up working out our petty disagreements in email, so you have the last word.  The next words will be over a nice mind-altering drink!  Enjoy your rest.

    Posted by  on  03/30  at  10:36 PM
  27. Some astronauts?!!! THAT’S JOHN GLENN!!! NC can say first in flight all it wants, but Ohio is first in flight AND first in SPACE!!FIRST FIRST FIRST*!! SO BLAH BLAH BLAH NORTH CAROLINA WE CAN’T HEAR YOU!!!

    Yeah, Bloix, but you’re not counting Michael Jordan!  THAT guy could fly!!!  Ohio might have first in space, but the Tarheel state can claim first in Space Jam.  John Glenn?  Drew Carey?  Admit it, y’all just wanna be like Mike… heck, I would settle for being Tyler Hansboro right now.  Go heels!

    Posted by Derek T.  on  03/30  at  11:31 PM
  28. Crater Lake is great, but it’s at the remote end of the state: been there just twice in my thirty years’ Oregon residence.  Before that I was born and raised in Alaska, and I remember Uncle Ted bringing home bloody earmarks in my junior high years… whoa.

    When are you and Jamie coming to Portland?  We have a cool aerial tram!

    Posted by  on  03/31  at  04:02 AM
  29. Ooooh, DUke Ellington on the DC quarter. I like it.
    Territory quarters?? They shoulda put a brown treesnake on Guam’s, and Uncle Duke (and/or Junior Seau) on Samoa’s.
    In 2010, quarters for Gitmo, the Green Zone, and Halliburton!

    Posted by  on  03/31  at  04:46 AM
  30. My snark is that any country that goes to the trouble to make one dollar coins to honor women the size of quarters, is a nation that doesn’t deserve to have its quarters collected.

    You don’t think women that size deserve recognition?

    Posted by  on  03/31  at  09:49 AM
  31. I’ve long thought women the size of quarters deserve more recognition.

    Posted by Lance  on  03/31  at  03:23 PM
  32. Oops--sorry Spokane. I misread your comment. I’d never steal a joke so blatantly (and obviously). I’d be much sneakier about it.

    Posted by Lance  on  03/31  at  03:29 PM
  33. At least the Canadians had the good sense to put a loon on their loonies, though i am not sure about the soon-to-be extinct polar bear on the twoonies.  And they got the best funny paper money, all pretty colors, with braille strips and raised numbers.

    Posted by  on  03/31  at  03:57 PM
  34. What, no love for Wyoming? They rejected my entry, portraying the Official State Accident (one-truck rollover)—but they went with our enduring symbol of ruggedness and one-handed equine subjugation since-retired license plate logo.

    Posted by David J Swift  on  03/31  at  06:25 PM
  35. Y’know, Fafnir and Giblets obviously designed the Wisconsin quarter (it was supposed to be purple), so, so . . . that just shows ya.

    And spyder, that Canadian funny money has been worth more than greenbacks recently. They just do things better up there—dollar coins, sugar in cartons, universal health insurance, milk in bags, solvent banks.

    Posted by  on  04/01  at  12:14 AM
  36. So THAT’s why the Wyoming design is flat and featureless.  I thought it was a cowboy but ... it’s a license plate!!  I guess to commerate Wyoming’s leadership in prison industries?

    Posted by  on  04/01  at  01:04 AM
  37. This seems like a good time for a joke about women the size of quarters!

    I was away from the Internets all day yesterday, doing things like filing my taxes and cleaning the basement.  Yes, cleaning the basement.  The weird thing about cleaning the basement is that it somehow involves putting things away in every room of the house.  And lots of trips to the dumpster.

    For a minute there I was afraid you were gonna go all Lileks on us with a Target tale.

    Oh, if it’s a Target tale you want, awlsdad, and if it’s Milo and Otis you want, thepuppethead, maybe I can tell you the story of how Jamie got the DVD of Milo and Otis by boldly asking the adenoidal kid in the electronics department to check back in the storeroom—where, lo, there was one copy left.

    That DC quarter is way cool.  Now I have to get one.

    When are you and Jamie coming to Portland?  We have a cool aerial tram!

    Just as soon as somebody out there invites me, Romy!  I believe there’s a PSU of some kind out there, isn’t there?  Jamie would love that tram.  And I think it’s great that Oregon put just one thing on their quarter, no matter how remote it is.  By contrast, the quarter from Illinois is such a mess precisely because the downstate folks wanted their barns and silos in the design next to the Sears Willis John Hancock WTF Tower.

    And speaking of downstate folks, I just want to explain those “petty disagreements” I’ve been having over email w/Catherine @ 26.  We’ve actually been arguing for quite some time over whether the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is a more imperialist institution now that christian h. has decamped for UCLA.  Catherine says yes, but I say “hell yes,” and apparently I now have the last word.  Win!

    Posted by Michael  on  04/01  at  12:23 PM
  38. Michael is being coy.  He’s going to Portland this June, for the Reed College Reunion “Alumni College.”

    I don’t go to alumni things, but the idea of meeting you, Michael, is tempting. The only thing I don’t get is, why didn’t they invite David Horowitz?

    Posted by  on  04/01  at  04:23 PM
  39. PS- when I was there, Edward Said gave a lecture.  There was only one place in town he wanted to visit - the Pendleton Woolen Mills outlet store.  He had a thing for their shirts.

    Posted by  on  04/01  at  04:26 PM
  40. Michael isn’t being coy, he’s being forgetful!  Weird, because I just got off the phone with someone from Reed.  And just got finished explaining to Jamie that he can’t go along on this one, tram or no tram. . . .

    Posted by Michael  on  04/01  at  06:08 PM
  41. Here’s hoping that the next coin commemorating North Dakota doesn’t include the “Flood of ‘09 that wiped Fargo off the map.” I, too, like our Bison (a rather unproblematic mascot, no?).

    Posted by DocMara  on  04/01  at  11:21 PM
  42. worst. godfather. ever

    Sonny was the worst godfather ever.

    Posted by  on  04/02  at  12:21 AM
  43. OMG!

    Connecticut IS by FAR the BEST!!

    I Must have one!!

    Posted by OVERLADY  on  04/02  at  12:58 AM
  44. He definately had a thing for the shirt!

    Posted by nye mobiltelefoner  on  04/02  at  03:31 AM
  45. Nice posting,very informative, i also interested in the Milo Otis services and commemorative quarter development.Thank you, very interesting to read, you should be proud of your blog. I was really enjoying to check your messages from time to time. We are looking forward to your future posts.

    Posted by Faithful reader in Chennai  on  04/02  at  04:01 AM
  46. DocMara, I’ve been thinking of you all lately.  Here’s hoping things dry out and quickly.  On Monday, while I was cursing under my breath because it was 20 with the wind chill all day, SE PA got hit with a tornado—a tornado—and ND continues to get hammered.  But maybe someday there will be a commemorative statue in downtown Fargo of the bison who saved the city from the Flood of ‘09, just as Johnstown, PA has a statue of the dog who saved the city from the Flood of ‘36.

    Posted by Michael  on  04/02  at  08:17 AM
  47. Ciao Michael, I’m VERY partial to the Connecticut quarter too, even though we were all kind of rooting for a big old nutmeg!  My kids like Vermont with the sugaring scene.

    I look forward to your post on His Dark Materials now you have finished it.  The parts with Mary and the mulefa reminded me of the soft, grey beasts who comfort Meg in “A Wrinkle in Time.” I think L’Engle books were also an influence on Pullman, what do you think?

    Posted by  on  04/02  at  01:39 PM
  48. OK, that’s completely weird, Fiorentina, because what book do you think I opened after 20+ years just two nights ago as I was cleaning the basement?  Why, it was A Wrinkle in Time.  I’d forgotten about those beasts!  I was thinking that the parts about Mary and the mulefa were a lot like Ransom’s sojourn with the hrossa in Out of the Silent Planet.  But you’re quite right, and I’ll be gobsmacked if L’Engle’s books didn’t influence Pullman in this respect as in many others--

    Posted by Michael  on  04/02  at  02:14 PM
  49. Michael, nice to see you blogging again. I missed your return! As always, Jamie is the man. I am very impressed with both his ability to sit through academic lectures and his encyclopedic mind. His movie taste is another matter altogether, although not too different from Russell’s. We love Milo and Otis in our house too but don’t have it on DVD so haven’t watched it in a while. Must remedy that.

    I see you’re doing the keynote in Halifax in May. I normally go to those conferences but won’t be there this time unfortunately.

    Posted by Clare  on  04/14  at  12:54 PM
  50. It’s late in the thread of course, but time seems to compress in the Bérubé universe.  Seems like only yesterday that I mentioned the Portland tram here, and it’s too bad that Jamie won’t get to experience it in June. 

    Do try to give it a preview cruise while in town, Michael: June is a lovely time to visit Portland, and you may find yourself seeking excuses to return.  In fact, my sister teaches at that PSU thingy you mentioned, and we’ll spare no infinitesimal clout to ensure that they engage you in the near future.

    Posted by  on  04/15  at  02:40 AM





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