What you are about to read may stun you. Or not.

What news would really surprise you?

At a party last year, I posed this question to a rocket scientist from the Rochester Institute of Technology. (He's a physicist with a specialty in rocket technology.) His response was, “I'd be surprised to learn someone's discovered a real fuel alternative to gas and oil. That would truly stun me.”

What news would surprise you?

I'd be surprised to hear we'd been contacted by aliens. Surprised, but not stunned. Carl Sagan imagined such an event in his fantastic novel, Contact.

On a more trivial scale, I saw or heard two things on my recent trip to New York City that surprised me.

The first was that Russian composer Peter Iliych Tchaikovsky, on a trip to America, sent a postcard to Russia from a train station in Utica, New York. The postcard says, in Russian, “Visions of sugar plums are dancing in my head.” This was pre-Nutcracker.

The other thing that surprised me was the Gershwin Hotel in Manhattan, nestled between various bars and the Museum of Sex. It's near the site of the old Tin Pan Alley. Walking by with a bunch of friends, I saw glowing, protruding horns sticking out from the front of the hotel facade. I got curious, and walked into the Warhol-esque lobby. Two huge, furry beanbags flanked a grand piano. A brochure said the place caters to foreign, frugal travelers (rooms are $109 a night), and given the number of languages we heard standing in the lobby, it's an international place.

The Gershwin Hotel. This place surprised me. Mildly.

What surprises you?

For the curious: http://www.gershwinhotel.com/




My goodness, Brenda, I thought you were going to give away my car secret. BTW, I saw a car in Eugene that had the "Welcome to the Episcopal Church" bumper sticker and thought of you.

Suzi's comment about my car

Hi, Suzi!

Thanks for trading car secrets at the NEA conference. Your secret is safe with me!

No doubt that Eugene car's owner has ulterior motives for slapping the bumper sticker on his car. Shhhhh!