4 I had the day off yesterday. I went for a hike around the lake.

I am fortunate to live in such a beautiful place. This particular lake is right in the middle of town. There is a research and education center there, and a whole bunch of trails, and it lies between the two major north-south roads. You can be driving along the highway and never know it’s right there by the mall, and you can be walking there and never notice that the highway is there.

There are a bunch of trails there to choose from, so that you can walk a couple of miles or five and a half miles, as you prefer. I walked for an hour and a half. It was very invigorating.

Later, I watched Numb3rs, an extremely cool program. It’s visually stylish, and while it does have some weird academic characters, I think that may be a language problem.4

That is, if you are making a program in which people are supposed to be mathematicians chatting about stuff the way mathematicians really do, but you are showing it to people who aren’t mathematicians, how do you make the characters sound recognizably like mathematicians?

In this program, they say things like, “If I’m sitting in a black hole, what do I see?”
“Everything — and nothing!”
“Ah, but is it a charged black hole?”

And everyone laughs and quaffs beer.

This is not realistic. People talking about their own field do not make show-offy remarks about common things that everyone already knows.

4That would be like having people who are supposed to be knitters say, “So I decided to knit socks with double pointed needles!”
“Ah, but do you use four or five?”

And they laugh and quaff beer.

It makes no sense.

I think they should have done it the way the writers of Oceans 13 did. Remember when George Clooney and Brad Pitt had personal conversations? They said things like, “So I said, ‘What do I look like? A pancake eater?’ and it just sat there on the floor.”

People are not bothered by incomprehensible stuff as long as it is background music. 

Anyway, while I watched this cool program, I cut and pieced the bias binding for my table runner, and made a 4 nice lemon cake for dinner. Here you see the lemon cake, with lemon glaze and a sprig of lemon balm.

Below you see a clearer picture of my binding.

I put a pork roast in before I went to my tutoring gig, and it was ready when I got back, filling the air with lovely herbal smells.

It felt like such a nice normal day.

Indeed, I got so engaged in my nice normal day that I missed the moment for Amazon Vine.

Amazon Vine is the splendid program by which people like me get to pick free stuff to review. When I have been sent things to review before the Vine program, it has generally not been the kind of thing where you pick. Either someone sends you something, or there are big tables at a booksellers conference where you take as much as you feel you can without looking way too greedy. There is something a little bizarre about the Vine system, though. Each month, there are items posted and we can choose a couple to 4 review. The list goes up at a precise time, and it is the custom to hover over the computer like a vulture, hitting your refresh button every few seconds to get the list at the first possible moment. Then you race through it madly, clicking on things in hopes of getting something before it is taken.

The electronic things are always snaffled by the people with really fast computers who don’t bother looking at the books at the top of the list. Then the member forum is filled with laments on the parts of those with less high-powered computers who ended up with free Gatorade. These are immediately followed by posts from people pointing out, correctly if sanctimoniously, that we are all getting this Gatorade for free and shouldn’t complain. I don’t do either of those things, of course.

Actually, I sort of liked it better when it was all books. We didn’t have feeding frenzies over books, and I always like free books. Now, we have fewer choices for books, and only the truly saintly can help thinking, “Oh, man! I4 didn’t get here in the first few nano-seconds so I missed out on the [insert extremely expensive electronic device here]!”

Yes, well, I missed not just the first seconds, but the first twenty minutes of the feeding frenzy this month, but I am still going to have a couple of fun things to review.

I have bought more of two of the items I’ve reviewed because I liked them so well. I will tell you which ones: the Venus razor and the 7th Generation Laundry Soap. I love the one expensive electronic item I snagged, and I could never have bought it for myself, nor could I have bought the expensive software. Apart from the dismal case of the Vista software (I still haven’t come up with an enemy who will allow me to install it on his or her computer for testing purposes), I think I have been able to provide useful reviews of all the items. And it is just flat-out fun to have things arrive in your mail like presents. Even Gatorade. Which, by the way, is disgusting.