I'm writing this from inside a metal tube about 33,000 feet above the North Atlantic Ocean. At home it's 11 p.m. and at our destination, Munich, it's 7 a.m., but whatever time it technically is here, it doesn't feel like sleepytime. Despite the many other things I could be doing right now to pass the time — like doing seven Sunday crossword puzzles, or watching the movie Happy Feet, or reading a magazine so pretentious that it insists on spelling out all numbers, like "five thousand thirty-two" (that would be The New Yorker) — I have instead been listening to Jay-Z while staring at the little animated map that I can call up at the touch of a button on the LCD screen behind the balding head of the man in front of me. (That was a lot of prepositions. Whew!) This map amuses me to no end, because (a) I am a huge dork, (b) it gives distances in miles even when displaying them in German (show me one German person who has any sense of how far "1431 meilen" is), and (c) it depicts extremely obscure cities but not important ones. Apparently this cartographer lives in an alternate dimension where New York and Paris are not worth noting on maps but Stephenville, Newfoundland and Keflavik, Iceland are. I mean, if you're going to mark a city in Iceland, surely Reykjavik is the natural choice, no?
While I'm on the theme of stream-of-consciousness rants, let me tell you about how cool my computer's current desktop background is. It's a manga-style cartoon of Boston Red Sox pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka hurling a flaming, planet-like object, accompanied by some Japanese characters I can't read. I downloaded it from The Onion's website, where it accompanied a story titled "Excited Red Sox Fans Eagerly Await Debut Of Matsuzaka's 'Ultimate Galactic Dragon Gyroball Pitch Power Explosion'." I love The Onion; I really do.
Continuing with the randomness, here's something I've been worried about lately. When you enter the town of Fraser, Colorado (the town line is just a few hundred feet from my house in Winter Park), a sign proclaims Fraser "The Icebox of the Nation." Ever since I moved there, I've heard it said as gospel truth that Fraser has the coldest annual average temperature in the lower 48. But a recent New Yorker article about Sublette County, Wyoming, notes that it, too, claims to be "the icebox of the nation." Disturbed, I did some Googling and discovered that at least five other towns — International Falls, Minnesota; Pellston, Michigan; Truckee, California; Stanley, Idaho; and West Yellowstone, Montana — also claim the title. Which one is truly the Icebox of the Nation? And more pressingly, why do they all insist on the anachronistic word "icebox," anyway? Wouldn't "The Refrigerator of the Nation" be more au courant?