A Delicious Scab

I woke up with a feeling of urgency this morning. I’m not sure exactly what spurred it. I checked my phone and saw I had an email from one of the people at Roads & Kingdoms saying one of my pieces had been accepted, and took a small minute to rejoice. I decided the other day that the next time I got an article accepted I’d use the money to buy a year membership to the shared bike program here called MIBICI. It actually only costs about $20, so I’ll have a few bucks leftover. Then I lay in bed for 15 minutes, rating Instagram ads for Appen, and then got out of bed and walked to Pan Regio, where I bought a costra.

I’d been interested in the costra at Pan Regio because costra means scab in Spanish. I don’t know why you’d ever name a pastry a scab. This is probably why the costras are always fully stocked and there hasn’t been budín for weeks. I purchased one for five pesos and once in the street ripped off a chunk and bit in.

It was bland. What else would you expect from a pastry called a scab? But then I kept eating, and kept eating, and by the third or fourth bite it was as if the costra was taunting me, daring me to still call it bland. I did not accept the dare. The costra was a work of subtle beauty. I don’t know if I’d ever buy it again. If there was budín I’d probably still go for that, drawn in by its gravitational pull, but the costra is what I SHOULD be eating. The costra is how I should be living my life.

Back in my apartment I made my bed and got ready to seize the day. I said hi to Bill, my aloe plant, who’s looking better and better by the minute. I attribute this of course to his new planter with drainage holes on the bottom and premium potting soil, but also the fact that he’s now surrounded by other plants. I’ve put him in the courtyard, where he’s last in line in a line of much taller, much greener, much more impressive plants. He’s the new kid on the block. Like any parent, I watch nervously, biting my nails, hoping the others will accept him. Bill is an aloe plant. He’s sweet. He’s sensitive. I just hope the others can see him for the person he really is.

And now I’ll walk to the school where I teach, not to teach but to use their blazing fast internet since I have a Skype class at ten and I’m worried the bandwidth here might be taken up by the Czech couple and also by Rodolfo and Adriana, who are also still here. I don’t think Adriana works on Mondays. My days are considerably better when I give good classes, so for this first class a good internet connection must be a priority.

(intermission)

And now I’m finishing this post, sitting at El Terrible Juan. I didn’t realize I hadn’t finished this post. I’m a bit embarrassed. This blog must be the number one priority in my life. Why does the waitress here hate me? I don’t get it. I bow my head and order as quickly as possible. I would love to just ask her, “Excuse me, I’m just curious. It’s obvious that my presence to you is about as agreeable as repeatedly getting punched in the stomach. Why exactly is this?” But of course I would never ask this.

It would be uncomfortable.

A special thanks to Barry Sevig for his contribution to this “błoġ.”

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The Compact Object of the Pastry World

pan regio guadalajara

One of my English students via Skype is an astrophysicist. She’s taught me a lot about “compact objects,” which are things like black holes, dwarf stars, and neutron stars. Today I decided I would give her a presentation on astrophysics, because she was feeling a bit tired and might’ve had a headache and didn’t feel like talking that much. This worked out perfectly, because I love talking, and love making stuff up. I gave her a short presentation on High Mass X-Ray Binary Systems, and explained about things like accretion, compact objects, coherent pulsation, supergiants, quiescence, flares, etc. And the interesting part was that, on  some of the stuff, I wasn’t that far off. In fact, at one point she asked, “How did you know what that was?” and explained that I didn’t, that I was guessing.

Of course, for most of the stuff I was completely wrong and had no idea what I was talking about. One of the graphs had a jagged blue line with a spike in it, for example, and a bunch of red dots, and I said that the red dots were plankton and that the blue line represented whales’ hunger before and after eating the plankton. The best part was she wanted to participate, and she forgot she was speaking English. Whenever I asked if she had questions she played the part of the skeptical student perfectly, unmasking my spurious knowledge. It made me realize I need to strive for this more as a teacher. Forget about grammar, or correcting, or anything like that for at least 15 minutes a class, and just focus on getting the student as engrossed in a topic as possible. So much so that which language they’re speaking becomes secondary, and the focus is on communication.

After giving the class I headed out into the fresh Guadalajara morning. It’s getting hotter here. Yesterday the high was in the mid 80’s. I come home from teaching, strip down, put on my board shorts, and hang out barefoot in the cool inner sanctum that is the living room and kitchen of my house. It’s only bad for a few hours. And even during those few hours it’s not that bad. When evening comes the temperature is perfect again. Twilight is my favorite time of day Guadalajara.

As I did yesterday, today I got a bread pudding from Pan Regio for six pesos ($0.32). It was the last one left. On the way back I took a picture of it, because I knew I would want one for this blog. Also on the way back I remarked on the density of the bread pudding. It’s only about the size of a large brownie, but weighs about 30 times as much. How do they make bread pudding so dense? Is it filled with lead? But then I realized it must just have properties similar to those of a compact object. When the bread pudding (called “budin” in Spanish) sits on the shelf in the bakery, it attracts other objects towards it, slowly at first, but then they gain speed rapidly until they slam into the bread pudding, resulting in accretion. Some of the matter from the original object becomes assimilated into the bread pudding, and some of it is spewed into the atmosphere, in this case in the form of particles called “crumbs.” This process continues, croissants and buns and rolls and danishes slowly sliding toward the bread pudding when the shop employee isn’t looking, slamming into it, leaving their mark (and their mass).

And now this compact object is in my stomach. I have a neutron star in my stomach, a dwarf star, a black hole. Which finally explains my eating habits.

A very special thanks to Stefan Peter-Contesse for his (second!) contribution to this “bweeg.” 

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