Ice Storm

It Was a Very Slippery Celebration

My sixtieth birthday fell on January 13, 2005. My brother Dan decided to help me celebrate the date by flying up to Portland, Oregon, with me and taking me for a $100 shopping spree at Powell’s Books, which touts itself as the world’s largest independent bookstore.

We landed at Portland International Airport on my birthday and took a Portland Streetcar from PDX to our hotel, which was located in the center of town (I forget the name of it). Unfortunately, with our arrival there was a giant ice storm which crippled vehicular traffic and made walking on the sidewalk without crampons and ice axe quite iffy. We saw the cars swirling around in the streets, and we were lucky in not breaking any bones on the icy sidewalks.

Yet we managed to get around on foot … slowly.

Powell’s Books was fabulous. The last time I had visited a multi-story bookstore was Foyles on Charing Cross Road in London in 1977, on my way back from visiting Hungary and Czechoslovakia. I could have spent days—and a fortune in purchases—at Powell’s, but I managed to stay within a $100 limit, buying such books as Michael Cunningham’s The Hours, a book about the Middle East by Freya Stark, and three or four other titles.

My only regret was that when my brother turned sixty, I was unable to return the favor in a timely way. I was working in an accounting firm, and April 5 (his birthday) comes during tax  crunch time, when I had to work seven days a week to meet the April 15 deadline. Now that I am retired, I would like to find some way to return the favor, because what he did meant a lot to me.


¡Adios Muchachos!

See You All in February!

In the wee hours of tomorrow morning, my flight leaves for Guadalajara, where I will putter around for three hours, and then take another Volaris flight to Mérida. I will drive to the airport with Martine, and Martine will drive back by herself. (She’s not coming with me because she is allergic to anti-malaria medications.)

During my absence, I will not blog. Instead I will go into experiential mode to get something to write about when I return in February.

Incidentally, today is my 75th birthday, which is a milestone for me. My father died at the age of 74, so I had always wondered whether I would outlive his span of years. It appears that I already have, so that is one less morbid imagining. To spend the time after my birthday in a place I love (Yucatán) can only lengthen my life, no?



Another Birthday, Already? Jeez!

Another Birthday, Already? Jeez!

Again I survived! Today is my 44th birthday. Before you smirk, I now measure my age strictly in the hexadecimal numbering system, which counts 0, 1, 2, 3 and on to 9, A, B, C, D, E, and F. I think you will agree that it’s a much more flattering number, until the letters of the alphabet start showing up, making people say, “Hold on thar!” Of course, I won’t get to be 4A years old for another six years. By then, I may have to find a still more flattering number system—perhaps vigesimal (to the base twenty).

If you are not a computer wonk and want to find out how old I really am now—in the decimal numbering system— you just follow these simple steps:

  1. Take the number of Muses in Ancient Greek mythology.
  2. Add the number of the current Baktun in the Long Count of the Mayan Calendar.
  3. Multiply the result by the number of Theological Virtues in Catholic dogma.
  4. Add the number of scoops of raisins in every box of Kellogg’s Raisin Bran cereal.

There, that wasn’t so very difficult, was it? Easy as pi!