Betsy Devine: Funny ha-ha and/or funny peculiar

Making trouble today for a better tomorrow…

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Entries Tagged as 'Pilgrimages'

Hotel fun, fun, fun till Daddy took the microwave popcorn away

January 18th, 2015 · Comments Off on Hotel fun, fun, fun till Daddy took the microwave popcorn away

It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. It was a time when @frankwilczek was on sabbatical, so that the Marriott Residence Inn of Tempe AZ became our temporary home.

We spent fun time with our children in the Marriott Residence Inn of Austin, TX, over Christmas break. Contrary to what your image may be of Texas, this was a smaller location with smaller rooms and a much less useful kitchen (no actual oven, and double beds rather than queen size.) Still the presence of children makes up for a lot, and the nearby-ness of Austin’s amazing Drafthouse Ritz Cinema makes up for almost as much.

But I digress. The point of this blogpost is that the delicious hotel-provided free microwave popcorn here needs to cook for about 5 or 10 seconds less than the Popcorn setting on the admirable hotel-provided microwave oven. So that tonight, we ended up setting off our smoke alarm, which is very very loud. And which predictably caused the nice people at the front desk to call the Tempe fire department.

If you should experience this exciting event, here is my advice. Drench the smoking bag of popcorn under your faucet asap. This stops it from making new billows of black popcorn smoke.

Call the front desk (or send someone down there) to alert Tempe’s Fire Department that nothing is currently on fire in your hotel room. Turn on the fan of the microwave. Prop open the door to the hallway with one chair or even two. Open some windows. And the hideously noisy alarm will stop making noise.

Then you can smile quite complacently and write a blogpost…

I almost left out the best part! When I went downstairs to the front desk with my dripping, formerly smoking bag of popcorn, the very sweet people behind the desk (besides calling the Tempe Fire Department, etc.) asked me, “Would you like another bag of popcorn?”

I love you, Tempe Downtown Marriott Residence Inn!

Tags: Frank Wilczek · funny · Pilgrimages · Wide wonderful world

Then longen folk to goon on pilgrimages

May 20th, 2011 · Comments Off on Then longen folk to goon on pilgrimages

Lakeland view by eleda 1
Lakeland view, a photo by eleda 1 on Flickr.

William Wordsworth, 1810, says the Lake District is beautiful this time of year. Sitting in Logan Airport, hoping that’s so ….

Yet, as most travellers are either stinted, or stint themselves, for time, the space between the middle or last week in May, and the middle or last week of June, may be pointed out as affording the best combination of long days, fine weather, and variety of impressions. Few of the native trees are then in full leaf; but, for whatever maybe wanting in depth of shade, more than an equivalent will be found in the diversity of foliage, in the blossoms of the fruit-and-berry-bearing trees which abound in the woods, and in the golden flowers of the broom and other shrubs, with which many of the copses are interveined. In those woods, also, and on those mountain-sides which have a northern aspect, and in the deep dells, many of the spring-flowers still linger; while the open and sunny places are stocked with the flowers of the approaching summer. And, besides, is not an exquisite pleasure still untasted by him who has not heard the choir of linnets and thrushes chaunting their love-songs in the copses, woods, and hedge-rows of a mountainous country; safe from the birds of prey, which build in the inaccessible crags, and are at all hours seen or heard wheeling about in the air? The number of these formidable creatures is probably the cause, why, in the narrow vallies, there are no skylarks; as the destroyer would be enabled to dart upon them from the near and surrounding crags, before they could descend to their ground-nests for protection. It is not often that the nightingale resorts to these vales; but almost all the other tribes of our English warblers are numerous; and their notes, when listened to by the side of broad still waters, or when heard in unison with the murmuring of mountain-brooks, have the compass of their power enlarged accordingly.

There is also an imaginative influence in the voice of the cuckoo, when that voice has taken possession of a deep mountain valley, very different from any thing which can be excited by the same sound in a flat country. Nor must a circumstance be omitted, which here renders the close of spring especially interesting; I mean the practice of bringing down the ewes from the mountains to yean in the vallies and enclosed grounds. The herbage being thus cropped as it springs, that first tender emerald green of the season, which would otherwise have lasted little more than a fortnight, is prolonged in the pastures and meadows for many weeks: while they are farther enlivened by the multitude of lambs bleating and skipping about. These sportive creatures, as they gather strength, are turned out upon the open mountains, and with their slender limbs, their snow-white colour, and their wild and light motions, beautifully accord or contrast with the rocks and lawns, upon which they must now begin to seek their food.

Tags: coasttocoast · England · Pilgrimages · Travel · Wide wonderful world · writing

Santiago scallop-shell of quiet

October 18th, 2007 · Comments Off on Santiago scallop-shell of quiet

pilgrim path to Santiago de Compostela

Originally uploaded by Nós da Montanha

Like the medieval scholar on pilgrimage (“And gladly wolde he lerne and gladly teche”), Frank is spending time with a whole new group of scientists. And Chaucer would have loved our current location in one of Spain’s loveliest cities, Galicia’s Santiago de Compostela.

A long pilgrim path winds all the way from France to the plaza in front of its glorious Baroque cathedral, next to a hotel established by Ferdinand and Isabella as a refuge for needy pilgrims in 1492.

Our kind hosts are putting us up in that very hotel, where we have spent some time wandering semi-lost among various fountained courtyards and huge granite corridors. After a lonnngg day of travel yesterday (it began with a 3:45 a.m. wake-up call in Dublin), we especially enjoyed the silence and darkness made possible by granite walls and huge wooden shutters that let us sleep until almost 9 a.m. today.

Many thanks to you, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella!

Tags: Pilgrimages · Travel · Wide wonderful world

Too fast a good-bye to the safest place on Earth

September 17th, 2005 · Comments Off on Too fast a good-bye to the safest place on Earth

Just home from Storrs, CT, the safest place in the US, according to Slate.
It’s a tiny college town ringed by stone-walled meadows. At this season, apple trees hang down heavy and fall colors are starting to paint some leaves.

The University of Connecticut has morphed from ag school into a powerhouse of science and basketball. The Katzenstein Distinguished Lecture Series honors their first physics Ph.D., Henry Katzenstein.

I recommend Storrs not only for beauty and safety but also for warm hospitality, a pretty B&B called Still Waters (no website, alas, but it does have good wifi), and legendary ice cream at the Dairy Bar.

We raced home this morning right after breakfast, however, because Hurricane Ophelia was threatening Storrs with flash flooding. Eek!

Now it turns out that Ophelia skipped Storrs, and all the rest of New England.

We should have listened to Slate, not the weatherman!

Tags: Pilgrimages

Ex-bookie London taxi driver part of conspiracy?

September 5th, 2005 · Comments Off on Ex-bookie London taxi driver part of conspiracy?

The waitress with a British-y’all hybrid accent who just got back after 10 years in Memphis. The elegant housekeeper who has “managed” historic houses around the world. The taxi driver with 4 ads for his new book decorating the back of his high-topped London cab.

“It’s a book of racing stories, each one with a twist,” Roy Granville told us. “No sex, no violence. No four-letter words–well, no four-letter words for swearing.” Of course our friend Naomi now owns a copy of Baxter and the Bookies (its BBC review)–it is delightful.

When I first came to London, a friend told me his theory that many apparent “Londoners” had in fact been hired from Central Casting to play the parts of typically English eccentrics. I wouldn’t discount that, based on my experience.

Tags: Pilgrimages

A cacophony of physicists?

September 4th, 2005 · Comments Off on A cacophony of physicists?

What’s the collective noun for a group of physicists? Frank sugggested “confusion,” I voted for “trajectory,”Craig Hogan came up with “cacophony.”

I’m supposed to be packing, but you can see bigger versions of my Cambridge/Trinity photos here, with better captions.

The bigger version of the photo with Stephen Hawking has Lord Coke’s deceptive portrait in its background.
The bigger version of physics polyphony in front of Newton’s apple tree is a bit blurry, so I’m hoping someone will email me a better version to post. I know this same picture was taken with multiple cameras…

Tags: Pilgrimages

Not an early entrepreneur in dark brown soft drinks

September 3rd, 2005 · Comments Off on Not an early entrepreneur in dark brown soft drinks

Some of us were playing a silly game over dinner last night with the portraits of Trinity College notables (including Newton and Macaulay) who watch over the dining room of the Master’s Lodge:

If they were CEOs of modern companies, which modern company would you select for each portrait? A long-haired Isaac Barrow won ”Microsoft” (he looks surprisingly like a young Bill Gates), while a nearby notable (who shall remain nameless here) suggested “Enron.”

For “Google” both Frank and I picked a serene, mild Elizabethan who turned out to be Lord Coke. If he is in fact Sir Edward Coke he was famous for his savagery as a prosecutor, his extension of the Magna Carta principles, and the catch-phrase “a man’s home is his castle.”

People are more complicated than they appear.

Tags: Pilgrimages

Frank Wilczek at work under multifarious circumstances

September 2nd, 2005 · Comments Off on Frank Wilczek at work under multifarious circumstances

FrankTrinity: Frank Wilczek at work in Trinity College guest room, Cambridge, UK.

I love this photo of Frank at work in the Masters Lodge of Trinity College, undistracted by

  • finding out that our bed was slept in by Queen Victoria, whereas for my part, I think sharing a bed with Queen Victoria’s memory will make it seem even smaller tonight than last night
  • two days and counting of losing all his luggage
  • being mostly dressed in a purple Tshirt and other stuff we bought at Heathrow

This inspired me to seek out some earlier photos of Frank working happily under earlier trying circumstances, now here and here.

Tags: Pilgrimages

Goodbye to revolving-and-cloud-spangled-Earth

August 30th, 2005 · Comments Off on Goodbye to revolving-and-cloud-spangled-Earth

Gorgeous movies from space in my mailbox this morning, thanks to Marc Abrahams.

Frank and I are headed out today–but not that far out–he to Bonn, I to London, and then we’ll meet up again in the other Cambridge.

As usual, the need to finish packing inspires a wish to spend time instead on my blog.

If Mercury Messenger shared this weakness of character, can you just imagine its wonderful blog?

Tags: Pilgrimages

What a world-record wine collection looks like…

July 5th, 2005 · Comments Off on What a world-record wine collection looks like…

A lot of bottles

Have you read Stu Savory’s intergalactic cometary warning?

It’s 3:25 a.m. in Stockholm, our flight leaves at 6:50 a.m. Blogging own my inner thoughts would come out close to “Mmmzzzzz,” so farewell.

Tags: Pilgrimages