Ten Uniquely Everyday Objects:
10. Plastic Army Men
08. Steering Wheel
04. Deck of Cards
Walking into my apartment, I hear the click click click of greased-up bike gears. My roommate, Pete, lives for and probably on bicycles. I have seen him take a trashed frame from the gutters of Albany that he discovered on one of his two-wheeled journeys and magically transforms it into three hundred dollars from Craigslist. His obsession has consumed the dinning room. I’ve grown strangely comfortable having a bowl of Fruit Loops in the cluttered company of a few Serottas, a couple Bianchi, and an Schwinn. As much love as Pete has for bicycles, I haven’t sat on the stiff, butt-aching, seat of a bicycle since I had reached puberty. I couldn’t even say if I could ride one anymore; however, I’ve heard its not something your likely to forget, but I probably have.
An interesting fact about bicycles is that the longest tandem bicycle is 92 feet long. Its creators, Dutch engineering students and likely mad scientists Teigi Meier and Jan Bart Brink set the world record in 2009 by riding, “100 meters unaided” (http://www.cyclelicio.us/2010/92-foot-long-tandem-sets-new-world-record/). When they were rewarded with the honor, Meier may have said, “I hope you have a big trunk because I’m putting my bike in it” (40-Year-Old Virgin).
Book: The Golden Age of Handbuilt Bicycles: Craftsmanship, Elegance, and Function
After my first few years of college, I nearly had to stop drinking all together. Alcohol had grown stale and the thought of the dry taste folded my stomach over like origami. Then I tried a glass of Pinot Noir while at dinner with my folks one night. Since then, I have joined my parents a couple nights a week for a drink or two or three at their favorite bars in downtown Saratoga. They are somewhat retired and the company they keep are all in their sixties, seventies, and yes, even eighties. It certainly makes for some interesting and partly philosophical conversations. However, I usually have my last glass of Chardonnay at about seven or eight o’clock, as my parents have recently adopted an early bedtime. Wine, as strange as it sounds, has vastly improved my relationship with my mother and stepfather.
Recently, I stumbled on an article about 168 bottles of Champagne in the sunken wreckage of a schooner that are nearly 200 years old. The divers took a sip before shipping it to wine sommelier, Ella Grussner Cromwell-Morgan, “despite the fact that it was so amazingly old, there was freshness to the wine” (http://io9.com/5695539/worlds-oldest-wine-and-beer-finally-gets-drunk-after-200-years). I wonder what Miles Raymond (played by Paul Giamatti in the film Sideways) would say about it?
Book: The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil
The last hand I played with Alex Carsky-Bush was a King High Flush. He had four Nine’s and before I knew it, all my chips were between his arms and being clumsily dragged to his corner of the table. I put out my last cigarette, vowing to quite, smothered a slice of pizza into my mouth, and headed for the road. Two years later, Alex broke into a CVS, stealing a legion of anonymous pills, only to be found a frozen corpse by a woman walking her dog in the nearby park. Playing cards hold the fond memories of my old friend but they also foreshadowed his death. Alex kept track of every hand he ever played and every cent he won or lost on them. He was addicted to gambling and the addiction evolved dangerously.
One question I have always asked myself is, why does the Ace of Spades look so different compared to the other 51 cards? According to Andrew J. Speirs (http://andrewjspeirs.wordpress.com/2009/10/27/10-interesting-facts-about-a-standard-deck-of-playing-cards/), French bureaucrats came up with the lovely scheme to tax only the Ace of Spades, due to the popularity of playing cards. But playing cards nowadays are most famously used for playing the game of poker. Poker has become so popular that every Tuesday night on ESPN they bring their hungry audiences poker tournaments, most famously the World Series of Poker. So now, instead of getting a few friends together and playing poker, you can watch other people play the game on television.
Book: The Power of Playing Cards: An Ancient System for Understanding Yourself, Your Destiny, and Your Relationships