Saturday, May 28, 2011

Question and Answer

The first thing you need to know about my father is: If you have a question, he has an answer. The man does not know the words "I don't know." He's pretty famous for this among friends and family, which is why a few days ago as we were all in the car on the way back from my sister's girlfriend's concert, my aunt asked him why the Pigeon Hills were called the Pigeon Hills.

He immediately launched into an answer, and this is the second thing you need to know about my father: About 50% of the time, he is full of shit. If he doesn't know, he'll make it up, and he is good. On a long ago family trip, we passed a sign for a fort. Someone said "I wonder what happened at that fort." Dad launched into a five-minute lecture on the role of the fort in the Civil War and the definitive battle that was fought there, etc., etc., etc. When he was finished my mom asked "Did you see that on the History Channel?"

Dad's answer? "Nah, I just made it up."

That is the good thing-if you call him on it, he'll always admit when he's made something up. The problem is, you have to recognize that you need to call him on it-and when he's giving one of his bullshit answers, he's fairly indistinguishable from a history professor.

Years ago, when I had first started driving, I asked him why some traffic lights have those flashing lights inside the red light. He told me that it was to draw your attention, so you'd always see that the light was red. Years later, we were sitting in the car together, and Dad mused, "I wonder what those flashing lights are for." I stared at him for a moment, then gave him the same answer he'd given me. His response? "Oh, I must have been making that up. But it sounds plausible, doesn't it?" I still don't know if he was right.

So as we were in the car and Dad was giving his response to the Pigeon Hills question, I immediately challenged him. What possible reason could he have for knowing that piece of information? I was absolutely sure he was making it up. But that brings me to the final thing you need to know about my father, which is that if there is a sign or a plaque to be read, he has read it. Going to a museum with him is completely maddening, because he will read every single word that is posted anywhere. And he remembers it all. So on the one hand, when he gives an incredibly detailed answer to an obscure question, you want to think that he's making it up. Yet there's that other 50% of the time that he knows exactly what he's talking about...and he can almost always cite his source.

In this case, it was a historical plaque in Codorus State Park. Apparently passenger pigeons used to roost in the Pigeon Hills, and there were so many of them they'd block the sun when they all flew. Who knew?

My dad, apparently.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Walking Tour

This past weekend was the most relaxing one I've had in ages. I feel like I got a lot done, but in a very laid-back, unhurried way. And the best part-I walked or Metroed everywhere. My car stayed parked all weekend, except for a very brief early-morning trip to take a friend to the airport.

I haven't spent a whole lot of time just walking around my neighborhood. I'm not really big on hot OR cold weather, and I'm really likely to retreat into a climate-controlled car when temperatures are extreme. But I always feel so freaking virtuous when I walk somewhere, and I don't know why I don't do it more often.

On Saturday I walked to the library to return some books. From there I walked up to the Brookland Cafe for lunch, then over to the Franciscan monastery for their plant and herb sale. (Aside: WTF do you do with French Sorrel? I don't have a clue, and I'd better figure it out because I'm currently growing some.) On the way home, I dropped in to the organic market for some milk. All told, I was out for about 2 1/2 hours and walked about three miles, and I felt awesome afterward.

Why don't I do that more often? Now that the weather is nice, I should be taking the bus to work and walking the mile from the bus stop. I should be out enjoying spring while it lasts, and I should be getting to know the neighborhood. I have a slightly half-baked plan to leave my car at my parents' house for part of the summer to force myself to get around without it.

I'm going to try setting my alarm early enough to take the bus to work tomorrow. Getting up early is going to suck, but I know I'll feel better for doing it.