Who uses it: Astronomers and meteorologists. Also, Robert DeNiro in The Deer Hunter.
What it means: A pair of "false suns" on opposite sides of the real sun, caused by the refraction of the sun's rays through ice crystals. Sundogs almost always appear in pairs, because of the phenomenon that causes them, and they appear most often in winter, when the sun is low in the sky. The scientific name for sundogs is parhelia.
How you can use it: When you see wonders in the sky.
The sun's actually out today, but I didn't see sundogs this morning. I lived in Los Angeles long enough to get used to the idea that if the sun was shining, it would be warm. I've been here a year now, but it's a mistake I still make sometimes.
The song in my head this morning: Elvis Costello, "Every Day I Write the Book." It has my all-time favorite song lyric that makes no sense at all once you actually think about it: "Even in a perfect world, where everyone was equal/I'd still own the film rights and be working on the sequel." Would anyone like to explicate that? Feel free to leave your comments below.
I hit the road again at the end of this week, for ten days. Before I go, I need to finish a few projects, clean my apartment, and do something about the pile of books teetering next to my kitchen door. If I am honest with myself, I know I will never read half of these books -- none of the ones that feature ghosts or friendly witches as detectives, none of the ones in which animals solve the crime, and probably none of the ones set in small towns similar to my own. (I have these books because their publisher sent them to me for free, which makes me feel obligated at least to skim them.)
That feels prejudiced and judgmental, and I'm uncomfortable about that, but how can I read all of those books and still finish the 550-page spiritual biography of Thomas Merton, Walker Percy, Flannery O'Connor and Dorothy Day that's been calling my name for a month? I'm reading as fast as I can, as it is...
I read once that Thomas Jefferson was the last person on the planet who had probably read everything that was available to be read, in every language he could read.