Friday, November 25, 2005


Who uses it: Southern California drivers
What it means: Any traffic incident that ties up two or more lanes of highway traffic for at least two hours. The term comes from Loyd Sigmon, a southern California highway traffic reporter who first devised an electronic signal for authorities to alert the media about serious traffic tie-ups.
How you can use it: To describe a bad traffic jam.

Roads around Augusta were treacherous yesterday afternoon, but the snow had turned to rain by the time we got to Freeport. This morning the snow on the ground is mixed with enough ice to make it all sparkle, as if someone had scattered diamond dust on the surface.

The Lechners live just up the road from LL Bean, which is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Their Thanksgiving tradition is to go to LL Bean after dinner, so I tagged along, and bought my first-ever pair of ice skates.

Dizzy and I got home around 8:00. I gave Dizzy a glucosamine tablet and an aspirin, and he passed out until 9:00 this morning, a new record for him. I slept in too, despite having a great deal of work to do today.

One of the books I read this week took a great deal of my time and attention, and will take much more, because it's a book I'll go back to often. The other one... eh, not so much.

What I Read this Week

Paul Elie, The Life You Save May Be Your Own: An American Pilgrimage. Part literary criticism, part biography, part history of American Catholicism, this book examines the writing lives of Dorothy Day, Thomas Merton, Flannery O'Connor, and Walker Percy, who were roughly contemporaries, read and admired each other's work, and in a couple of cases, became friends and allies. For each of these authors, writing was a way of examining their own beliefs, and reaching toward God. This book makes me long for a time when mainstream culture took serious ideas seriously, and The Seven Storey Mountain was a national bestseller.

Jerrilyn Farmer, The Flaming Luau of Death. I've liked previous books in this series, featuring L.A. events planner Madeline Bean, quite a lot; she's independent, competent, a little disorganized, a little anxious. I don't know what happened to her in this book, where she plans a bachelorette weekend in Hawaii for her assistant, and every practical and realistic element to her seems to disappear. The book is a great travel guide for anyone who wants to visit the big island of Hawaii, but the mystery -- which involves a stalker, a murder, and the difficulties of growing wasabi -- is far-fetched, and the resolution is inappropriately benign. Read the earlier books in the series instead.

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