My Rosemary dropped me of today on Burrard and Davie in Vancouver at 9:35 for my 9:45 appointment to see my urologist for a post operation chat (I had my prostate reamed in early May). I will not bore readers with any of the details except that I taught my urologist an expression in Argentine Spanish — “cero kilómetro”. This expression is used to describe a brand new (really brand new) car that has zero on its odometer.
As a 74 (just about) man who is obsolete, redundant and retired (soon to be a hit country song) I can never aspire to cero kilómetro. Like on my 2007 Malibu my warranty is long expired. The doctor and I decided that there had been a negligible improvement in my health and to expect more was not realistic.
From the doctor’s I walked (I could have taken a MacDonald bus across the street on Burrard that would have left me five blocks from home) to Granville knowing that I could take any trolley that came my way to get home except for two, the one that goes on Granville beyond West Broadway and the Arbutus that almost takes me home. I got off on Broadway and Granville.
I crossed the street and entered the last and only big box bookstore (Indigo and formerly called Chapters) left in Vancouver proper. I went upstairs to the fiction section and checked out novels, mysteries and poetry.I almost purchased a brand new and very thick volume of Emily Dickinson. I found Jorge Luís Borges’s Labyrinths (in English, 2007) with an introduction by William Gibson. I sat down at a lovely and very large wooden table and read the introduction. As expected it was lovely.
I could not have done years ago what I did today which was to leave a bookstore without a book.
On Broadway I took the UBC fast bus that dropped me off at MacDonald and Broadway.I went into the Kitsilano Branch of the Vancouver Public Library (just half a corner north on MacDonald from Broadway.
On the used book sale cart I almost purchased an illustrated (with photographs) Odyssey. I fell for 6 magazines at a quarter each.
In the beginning and early 60s I was an avid reader of one of the finest magazines then and I must state now, too.
In several of those 60s magazines there was a striking ad that I could never forget. It showed an airliner with had been propped up from the tarmac by a very sophisticate hydraulic jack. One of the wheels was resting (!) on an egg. The egg was not cracked.
The magazine in question is Scientific American which has been published since 1845. I guess it must compete with another American magazine, Harper’s or is perhaps older.
I have been reading the six magazines all day and I will be up tonight reading about memcomputing, black holes and the advanced mind capabilities of Neandertals.
At the end of the magazines I found one of my favourite former sections called 50, 100, & 150 Years Ago. This one caught my eye:
“A Lucifer match is now in the market that differs from anything hitherto in existence. Upon the side of each box is a chemically prepared piece of friction paper. When struck upon this, the match instantly ignites; when struck upon anything else whatever, it obstinately refuses to flame. You may lay it upon a red-hot stove, and the wood of the match will calcine before the end of it ignites. Friction upon anything else that this prepared pasteboard has no effect on it. The invention is an English one, and by special act of Parliament, the use of any other matches than these is not permitted in any public buildings. There is not a particle of sulphur in the composition of the lucifers in question.”
Alas another fave, the puzzle seems to be gone!
I am most tempted to perhaps get a year’s subscription to this fine magazine.
Originally published at blog.alexwaterhousehayward.com.