Monday, February 25, 2008

Sam Gamgee and vivisection

Noodling around in some library catalogs, I came across an entry for:

Gamgee, Sampson. The Influence of Vivisection on Human Surgery. 2nd ed., 1882. (No publication information provided.)

Is this a descendant of Samwise Gamgee, Frodo's valiant companion in The Lord of the Rings? Wikipedia has an article about Sampson Gamgee, with his father mentioned, but nothing further. Let's hope someone investigates further ....

Wikipedia also has an interesting article about Samwise, and a letter Tolkien received from someone of that name, who might have been a relative of Sampson.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

I Should Have my Head Examined

The title of this post is what my mother, of blessed memory, would say when she had done something foolish. It ran through my head this morning as I sat in my car in the supermarket parking lot, debating whether to get out and go into the store, or to just turn the car back on and go home. The reason? Today, Sunday, February 3rd, is the day of that televised sports extravaganza that:

1. Is the cause of about 5% of the annual avocado sales in the US;
2. According to urban legend (probably untrue) causes municipal water levels to fall during the commercials and half-time show as most of the US population flushes toilets during bathroom visits.
3. Is the basis for numerous media reports/studies before game day of the commercials to be aired and those previously-aired during this annual show, and of post-game day analyses of the ones seen;
4. Is so protected by its team of lawyers that I wouldn't dream of using its trademarked/copyrighted/whatever-it-is name in this post, for fear of finding not heavy-duty linebackers at my door as legal enforcers, but the even-more-to-feared said lawyer team.

So, why was I so indecisive in the parking lot? Well, it's also true that the said extravaganza produces a lot of what I think of as amateur shoppers at the grocery store prior to the kick-off, not to mention truly scary drivers racing to get home in time for said kick-off.

I hadn't planned to go, but I fell into auto-pilot. My typical Sunday morning starts with coffe and the newspaper at a nearby outlet of the fast-food chain whose coffee was rated higher by a national consumer magazine (which also doesn't like its name used in connection with its ratings) than the coffee at the number one barista chain in the entire universe. Then I go to the 99 cents store to start my grocery shopping --- a bag of six bananas for 99 cents! two quarts of milk in recylable plastic for 99 cents each (that's a half gallon for $1.98!) a bag of small carrots for 99 cents! I love that store.

Then I move on to a chain grocery for other stuff. And that's what I was doing there, despite the fact that I had carefully looked in the paper to see what time the kick-off was (at the mysteriously exact time of 3:17,) with the idea of going shopping later. But auto pilot won out, and there I was at about 10am.

The parking lot was jammed. I finally decided to go in, rather than go home. I managed to grab one of the few carts available (that's par for the course a lot of times on Sunday --- said national-chain store doesn't do a good job of having carts available) and headed in. And, indeed, the place was chock-full of gentlemen, singly or in pairs, loading up on what I hope were supplies for their sports extravaganza parties, because otherwise there are a lot of them who subsist on chips, salsa, and beer, all eaten off of paper plates. (The good news: they use a lot of napkins, too.)

Really, it wasn't too bad. The worst part is ongoing: the store was remodeled about a year ago, as part of a "life-style enhancement" or something like that. That seems to consist of an olive bar and a branch of the afore-mentioned barista chain in the store. One result of the remodeling is that three aisles are a lot narrower, and have support posts further blocking them in addition to the usual cardboard displays. Those aisles are always inconvenient, but put a lot of people in them (as this morning,) and they're grim. It's the only grocery for about two miles in any direction, so I keep going there, but I grumble every time.

Today, thought, I got in and out in a reasonable amount of time, given all the guys wandering around. As inexperienced shoppers, they lack the basic foraging skills more regular shoppers know: salsa? Try condiment aisle, or potatoe chip aisle. (Salsas are in both.) I will admit that paper plates are tough: this store, for some reason, puts them across from the soup cans. No one was buying frozen pizzas as far as I could tell, and I carefully avoided the beer/wine aisles.

The whole experience reminded me of a photo in a book I recently gave my sister as a present. Titled Porn for Women, it lacked nude/scantily-clad guys in suggestive poses, but, instead, consisted of photos of good-looking, fully-clad guys doing things to make any woman's heart rate go up. (The cover shows one vacuuming.) The one I was reminded of was a photo of a guy reading a newspaper, and saying, with a genuine smile on his face, "Honey, the play-offs are today. We should have NO trouble parking at the crafts fair." Be still, my heart.