When The Chlorophyll Flees

IMG_3373It’s autumn.  That means it’s time for you to once again reflect upon the many valuable things you learned during high school science class, in that smelly room with the stone-stopped tables and the Bunsen burner devices and the sinks with the odd curved faucets.  In addition to dissecting frogs and enduring that first whiff of formaldehyde, a smell that you will dread for the rest of your life, you learned about photosynthesis, and why leaves change color during the autumn.

Photosynthesis is the process by which our arboreal friends take water and carbon dioxide and convert them into oxygen and glucose.  The leaves have chlorophyll, a substance that is the crucial agent in the photosynthesis process and uses the power of sunshine to complete the chemical change that is essential to life on our planet.  You learned that chlorophyll is a deep, rich green, and during the height of spring and summer, when the chlorophyll is hard at work, its presence masks the other colors found in the leaves.

But when autumn comes, and winter approaches, and the supply of water and sunshine will decline, the chlorophyll decides that it’s time to take a vacation.  It leaves the leaves, and when it does the other hidden colors emerge — like the bright reds that you see in sugar maple leaves.  And sometimes you can see this process in action.  It’s the sort of thing your high school science teacher would enjoy.

The World’s Longest Flights

Want to revel in your own little corner of airline hell?  Why not take one of the world’s longest flights, and really get seriously into a case of airline cabin fever?

There are a number of direct airline flights that clock in at more than 16 hours.  Los Angeles to Dubai, Atlanta to Johannesburg, New York to Hong Kong — all of them will cost you an arm and a leg and take about as long as the waking hours in an average day.

IMG_1023Many of the flights shown in the linked article have fancy seats, special tables, and extended entertainment options to make those 16 hours fly by.  (Pun intended).  But let’s face it:  16 hours on a plane is 16 hours in the company of total strangers, 16 hours in which you could be annoyed by the shrill laugh of the woman sitting behind you or the unpleasant odor of the guy one seat over, and 16 hours that you would rather have spent almost anywhere else.  The unpleasant, unavoidable reality is that you’re trapped in a metal tube, bored out of your mind, and you can’t get out.

And let’s not kid ourselves, either — your seats might be comfortable on these marathon flights, but what do the bathrooms look like after, say, 10 hours?  When we flew on an eight-hour trip from JFK to Rome some years ago, by the final hours of the flight the bathroom looked and smelled like a disgusting war zone, with wastebasket overflowing and indeterminate liquids everywhere.  I can’t imagine the toxic condition of a bathroom at the end of a 16-hour flight, and I’m not sure I ever want to personally find out.  I might be tempted to break that 16 hours up, for sanity’s sake.

Friday Night On The Patio

Last night Kish made a wonderful dinner and then she, the Carroll County Cousin, and I moved onto our patio for the evening.

IMG_3347We sat in perfect temperatures, sipping glasses of wine and chatting as dusk fell and the last glimmer of sunlight faded from the treetops.  At full darkness, the summer insects performed their nighttime symphony, and the pleasant background buzz of chirps and chitters rose from surrounding bushes and shrubs and grass up to the stars above.

A football game was being played at New Albany High School.  For the most part the announcer’s voice was muddled and just one more part of the background noise, but from time to time his words could be heard with sharp clarity.  At one point during the halftime show we heard a his excited announcement of “Sweet Home Alabama” and the first few notes of the band’s no doubt rockin’ arrangement of the Lynyrd Skynyrd classic.

It was a classic middle American moment, hearkening back to an era when electronic devices did not rule our lives and people spent their evenings in the warm late-summer air, enjoying the simple pleasures of a good night-time talk.  We sat there for hours.

The Barn

IMG_3309Last night, the Carroll County Cousin, Kish, and I went to the newest restaurant in our neighborhood — The Barn at Rocky Fork Creek.  You’ll find it at the intersection of Route 62 and Morse Road, on the border between New Albany and Gahanna.

The Barn is located in a huge, barn-like structure that formerly was a Hoggy’s restaurant.  Hoggy’s, a barbecue joint, featured a large antique tractor hanging from the ceiling that I always assumed was designed to encourage table turnover by incentivizing diners to wolf down their food and get away from the presumed kill zone if the tractor ever were to fall.

IMG_3314Thankfully, The Barn has removed the Tractor of Damocles from the ceiling.  However, The Barn fortunately has kept the meatcentric orientation of the old Hoggy’s, with a few steps in the upscale direction.  It bills itself as a destination steakhouse, but it’s not the kind where the waiters wear black jackets.  Instead, it has a kind of rustic flair, with the servers sporting gingham shirts and the menu featuring some smokehouse and barbecue options as well as a fully array of steaks, seafood, salads, and sides.

I had a shrimp cocktail and the “king’s cut” of prime rib — a full 16 ounces — because sometimes only a red slab of beef with flavorful fat around the edges will do.  The shrimp cocktail was packed with shrimp and a sinus-clearing, horseradish-heavy cocktail sauce that let you know this restaurant isn’t afraid to offer bold flavors. The prime rib was great — a large, juicy, perfectly cooked cut that I savored bite by bite.  The prime rib is served with a large baked onion, and we got some very tasty creamed spinach for the table to complete a classic, old-line steakhouse meal.

The Barn just opened last weekend, and it’s still got some kinks to work out.  The place was packed when we were there, and it took too long for our food to arrive — which was a source of some concern because Kish and the Cousin were on their way to a show.  I’m hoping they iron out the kinks, because the food was quite good and we really need more restaurants — especially hearty, beef-oriented ones — in this neck of the woods.

Vince Vaughn On True Detective?

HBO has confirmed two of the four leads for the next season of True Detective.  They are Colin Farrell and Vince Vaughn.

Wait . . . Vince Vaughn?

Is this the same True Detective that featured tough, riveting, two-fisted portrayals of Louisiana cops by Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson?  You know, the one that followed two radically different personalities over a number of years and believably depicted how they became close friends while they were trying to track down a terrible, twisted serial killer?

The same True Detective that Kish and I concluded was one of the very best TV shows we’d ever seen, period?

I thought Vince Vaughn only made stupid, cookie-cutter comedies with Owen Wilson that people stopped going to about five years ago.

HBO is pretty good at casting against type.  Maybe Vince Vaughn is tired of portraying an oily, bloated, fast-talker and wants to get into a serious role that allows him to show he can actually act.  I’m not sure it will work, but it’s certainly an intriguing casting choice.

As for Colin Farrell, if he shows the same acting ability he showed in In Bruges, I’ll buy it.