Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Springtime in Montgomery

Of all the times we’ve visited our daughter in Montgomery, Alabama, this is the first time in spring. We were totally unprepared for the floral display that greeted us: azaleas, snapdragons, geraniums, camellias, dogwood, bridal wreath, gardenias, and scores of other blooms I can’t begin to identify. The place is a riot of blossoms, and our daughter’s is the most colorful on the block. Not that she has time to tend flowers. Four grandkids live there, after all, ages 12 to 2. It just sort of grows wild.
Today, after an overly huge breakfast at the local IHOP (green eggs and ham!), we attempted to walk it off around the neighborhood. I love her neighborhood. It’s in the Dalraida district – very hilly with tidy middle-class homes nestled among towering pines and hardwoods. My daughter didn’t know the names of all the white and pink flowering trees and bushes but we enjoyed them just the same. Some folks who have the time for trimming and cultivating had neat hedgerows of solid blossoms.

Yes, the water's pink. Breast cancer month.

Other outings to more affluent areas like Eastchase found mosaic-like paved parks with fountains and statuary. Montgomery is a very beautiful city – with only one problem: the highly transient nature of their most popular eateries.

The kids, meaning Daughter and Son/law, were so eager to take me to the India Palace. By the time we made it up there, it was gone. No visit to Montgomery was complete without a night at Stevie-B’s pizza buffet. Gone. This time, before the GPS could zero in on the Pizza Hut, it was gone. Once there were even two What-A-Burgers, our fave fast food place. No more. Also vanished into Montgomery’s mysterious black hole: the China Buffet, Smoky Bones, Shoney’s, Lone Star Steak House, Taco Bell (one still remains, thank goodness), Oak Tree Market, etc. Why? Other businesses don’t seem to be suffering.

If the local newspaper, The Montgomery Advertiser, answers my Facebook query, I’ll let you know!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Where Does Space Begin?

Star Trek sonorously announces before each episode: “Space…the final frontier.” But where exactly does that frontier lie?

Well, according to the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale, the world governing body for this sort of thing, outer space begins 100 kilometers (roughly 62 miles) above sea level. This barrier is called the Kármán Line. Above that, the air is too thin for a vehicle to maintain altitude. So…once you’ve crossed Kármán, you’ve been to space.
Ah, but now the USAF weighs in. By military standards, Space starts 12 miles sooner, or 50 miles above sea level. For Americans, crossing that threshold makes a pilot an astronaut.

All of which gave NASA a bit of a headache. During the 1960s, 8 American test pilots flew the experimental X-15 above the 50-mile mark, but only 5 of them passed Kármán. Astronauts all by American military definition, but to the FAI, 3 hadn’t even been to space.
For nearly 40 years, NASA waffled on whether to recognize these X-15 pilots as astronauts. Then in 2005 the agency relented, finally awarding astronaut wings to the remaining three.

This info, including the illustration, was shamelessly copped from the March/April 2021 issue of Mental_Floss.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Egg & I

Anyone who follows me on Facebook knew this was coming. I love this place. I eat here every chance I get!

The Egg & I was created in 1987 in Fort Collins, Colorado. Its name comes from a 1947 movie by the same name. A movie poster, featuring Fred MacMurray and Claudette Colbert, hangs by the cash register. Appropriately, the movie is based on the true story of author Betty MacDonald, whose husband informs her on their wedding night that he’s purchased an abandoned chicken farm. Also (FYI and TMI for us older types, it’s the movie that spawned the Ma and Pa Kettle series.) Now back to The Egg.
Open from 6am to 2pm weekdays (2:30pm on weekends) The Egg & I offers gourmet coffee, 100% pure-squeezed orange juice and a mind-boggling variety of menu offerings.  There are no less than six choices of benedicts, seven types of “Skillets & Scrambles,” and ten ways to enjoy “Omelettes & Frittatas.” There’s also a lengthy listing under “Eggs Olé” and don’t even get me started on the pancakes and waffles.

While the menu trends to the international, healthy, and unique (whole grains and elegant veggies like asparagus, spinach, portabella mushrooms, etc.) there’s lots of that he-man stuff, too. You know: steak, sausage, ham, biscuits & gravy, bacon, potatoes, and the like. The last time I was there, one of my brunch companions mentioned the outstanding hollandaise sauces. So I forsook my Santa Fe Huevos for a Parisian Benedict and, oh, was she right!
Of course, there is an assortment of non-egg dishes, too. At lunch, you'll find creative sandwiches, entree salads and hearty, homemade soups. But – and this is very important to me - you can always have breakfast for lunch! Okay, so I’m a breakfast freak…

So far only ten lucky states have Egg & I restaurants. If you don’t live in one of them (follow the above link to check) plan a road trip soon!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Following THE HOBBIT?

Have I got the links for you!
What could be better than having a friend in Wellington, New Zealand at a time like this? In my case it’s Glenis Thomas, author of the definitive and colorful Blueberry Recipes. Not only were many of her friends and relatives extras in the LOTR trilogy, Sir Peter Jackson has his own studio there.
I can always count on Glenis to keep me updated on events down under, and goodness knows there are plenty! Earthquakes, stranded penguins, earthquakes, World Cup events, earthquakes, and now “The Hobbit.”

The local news media, TVNZ, is right there, of course, witnessing the action and interviewing stars and staff. There’s such a wealth of material for Tolkien fanatics like me to devour. The following links cover movie trailers, in-depth video blogs, and nightly news reports. Great stuff!

Okay, that will keep you busy for a while! Can’t believe the release date is all the way into 2013! Thanks, Glenis – and keep ‘em coming!