Wednesday, September 30, 2009

"You're 20 feet short"

First up, name the movie. A movie that, I will note is despised by Mrs. BA. But it's a great movie.

There is never a time that, if I find myself in the Lincoln Tunnel, will I not think of the scene in The Stand, where two of the characters make their way out of New York City by walking across the roofs of cars filled with people who have succumbed to "Captain Trips." We have a few tunnels in the DC area (though not one like the one depicted in Live Free or Die Hard), but none that go under water. The Baltimore Harbor Tunnel and the Fort McHenry Tunnel in Baltimore take traffic under Baltimore Harbor and I can recall visiting my sister, when she lived in Maryland, and waving at the attendants in the booths in those tunnels. There's a job that surely doesn't pay enough, nor I imagine is even one that exists anymore, with camera technology being what it is now.

When I spotted these (on kottke) maps of tunnel networks, I was also reminded of my days in college, where one could go from one's dorm building to classrooms and never have to go outside, via a system of underground passages. In the winter, that came in very handy.

Did you figure out the movie yet?
[update [red-faced]: It was only twenty feet and not thirty - now, "we're back on the rope!"]

Monday, September 28, 2009

It Looks Greek to Me (well, not really)

Another good recipe from Cheverly's premier chef, Scott. This recipe scream "comfort food" and makes me think of my mother's beefaroni, which I love to make and it's really easy. As Scott remarks, this one is certainly a keeper.

from Everyday Food

This is the ultimate Greek comfort food, a hearty casserole of cinnamon-spiked ground lamb baked with penne and a Parmesan cheese sauce.

  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 pound penne, cooked and drained
  • 2 pounds ground lamb
  • 2 medium onions, diced
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 6 TB butter
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cook pasta, and drain; reserve. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, over medium heat, cook lamb, breaking apart pieces with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink, 6 to 8 minutes. Add onions; cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 5 minutes.
  2. Transfer to a colander; drain fat, and discard. Return lamb to pan; add wine. Cook over medium heat until almost all liquid has evaporated, about 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in tomato paste, cinnamon, and 2 cups water; simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 15 to 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Make Parmesan Cheese Sauce while mixture is simmering: In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat; whisk in flour until incorporated, about 30 seconds. In a slow steady stream, whisk in milk until there are no lumps.
  5. Cook, whisking often, until mixture is thick and bubbly and coats the back of a wooden spoon, 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in cayenne, if desired, and Parmesan.
  6. Add pasta to lamb mixture; transfer to a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Pour sauce over the top, smoothing with the back of a spoon until level. Bake until browned in spots, 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from oven; let cool 15 minutes before serving.
Serves 8

Friday, September 25, 2009

Got Some Political Sklls?

The National Journal's 2010 Almanac of American Politics, is out and full of facts sure to satisfy every political junkie. Here's a quiz to sharpen your political acumen. Answers next week. Up front hint, Joe Wilson is not any of the answers.
  1. Who represents the wealthiest congressional district? (a) Steve Israel of New York. (b) Gerry Connolly of Virginia. (c) Anna G. Eshoo of California
  2. Who represents the congressional district with the highest percentage of Hispanics? (a) Silvestre Reyes of Texas. (b) Ruben Hinojosa of Texas. (c) Lucille Roybal-Allard of California.
  3. Even though he won by six percentage points, this incumbent senator spent the most money in 2008. Name the senator.
  4. How many women in Congress have given birth while in office? (Bonus question! How many can you name? Hint: five current members, three former.)
  5. Which congressional race was closest percentage-wise? (a) Fleming vs. Carmouche, Louisiana. (b) Perriello vs. Goode, Virginia. (c) McClintock vs. Brown, California.
  6. Which three former members of Congress were defeated in their party primaries in 2008?
  7. Which U.S. representative is a former governor?
  8. Which freshman senator became his state's senior senator in 2009 after spending just 16 days as junior senator?
  9. Who is the youngest senator?
  10. Who is the longest-serving Republican senator?
  11. Who are the two Buddhists in Congress?

Monday, September 21, 2009

I Smell BACON!

Sometimes at our house, Mrs. BA will make quiche (this recipe from the list below most closely models Mrs. BA's). Your basic quiche, not the one posted here last October, with cheese and bacon. As a result, she often does not use the entire pound of bacon, leaving a few slices that go in the fridge for breakfast accompaniment in succeeding days. But now, with this article, there are no end to the recipes using bacon. Here are at least 100 of them. The pictures all go to recipes for using a single strip of bacon.

"Give me a strip, Vasily. One strip only, Vasily." Here's my favorite of the 100, although the bacon pancakes would certainly be a close runner-up. And the bacon caramels. And the . . .

Bacon and Egg Pies
(adapted from Donna Hay’s Modern Classics I, page 158)
  • 1 sheet ready-made puff pastry
  • 6 strips of bacon
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese (or the cheese of your choice)
  • 1 – 1 1/2 teaspoons wholegrain mustard
  • 4 eggs

  • Preheat the oven to 200C (400F).
  • Place bacon on a baking sheet and place in the pre-heated oven for about 8-10 minutes. You just want to get the edges a bit crisp. Remember you are going to be baking it again with the tart! When done, drain on paper towels.
  • Thaw pastry and cut to fit two 1-cup capacity pie dishes
  • Spread mustard on the pastry bases and sprinkle with the cheese.
  • Top this with three pieces of bacon for each pie. I like to curve them around so they will cradle the eggs.
  • Break two eggs over each pie.
  • Bake for 15-18 minutes or until the pastry is golden and the eggs have set to your liking. Serve immediately.
  • Serves two.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Working the Internets

A neighbor and good friend is having brain surgery tomorrow. I am putting the word out through this blog to ask all my friends and readers to take a moment and keep "Coach Jim" in your thoughts tomorrow. Last month, Jim was diagnosed with a brain tumor, which will be removed tomorrow.

Jim has remarked of his situation tomorrow:
Tomorrow is the surgery. I am strong and confident.

I feel strong because I have an amazing family and amazing friends. I am overwhelmed and humbled by all of the cards, messages, phone calls, emails, and wall posts I have received. I want to map where all the prayers will be coming from tomorrow from all over the world.
So let's add to Jim and his family's queue of good wishes, positive thoughts, and prayers. Many thanks.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Last one out - Turn off the Light

So I watched it. I taped the final four episodes (having missed Monday's) of Guiding Light and watched two of them last night. I watched Thursday's episode earlier and will watched the final episode a little while ago. Earlier, as Mrs. BA bravely watched alongside me, she made a snarky comment or two about this being unwatchable dreck (but isn't that the point?). I was able to fall back into the groove of knowing what was going on - although I have not watched the soap with any regularity for nearly twenty years. I previously posted about the end of Guiding Light back in April, when I heard that CBS would be shutting down the longest-running soap opera.

I said then that it was my mother who got me started watching the show. She watched religiously, always the CBS lineup. One of the best days she had in the latter years of her life was when she got to go to a fan luncheon and got to have lunch with "Alan Spaulding." Alan is the primary villain of the show, head of Spaulding Enterprises and patriarch of the Spaulding clan. Alan had "died" several times on the show, showing up again when his reports of his death were exaggerated. So it was with some shock that I watched Tuesday's episode and saw Alan Spaulding, dead of a heart attack, sitting on a bench, discovered by his son, Phillip (who is not really his biological son, but I digress - if you really need a family tree lesson on the family trees of Springfield, which I did, you can find them here).

A note about the family trees, I used them while watching the final episodes to become current with both old and new characters. It was extremely helpful to track the younger characters on the show, who are all prone to SORAS, or Soap Opera Rapid Aging Syndrome. I mean, really, Alan (who is reported to be 72) is Philip's (reported born 1969, revised twice to 1965, and then to 1961) father, and Phillip is Lizzie's (born "on screen" in 1990, revised to 1986, to deal with the aging of her own daughter) father. Ron Raines, the actor who plays Alan was born in 1949 (making him 60), Grant Aleksander, who plays Phillip was born in 1959 (50), and Marcy Rylan (playing Lizzie, a role that at one time featured Hayden Panettiere) is 29, instead of the 23-year old she is portraying. But again, I digress.

The family trees also featured a legend:

  • m. Married
  • c. Child
  • a. Affair
  • r. Rape
Now there's a key that you shouldn't have in most family trees.

Where was I going with this? Oh yeah. I really wonder what my mother would make of all of this. When Search for Tomorrow ended its run, they tried a last bit effort to pull in ratings by flooding the town in a Johnstown-type flood, leaving only the major character's, Joanne, house and business standing. The final episode featuring Joanne and Stu thinking about "Tomorrow." I really believe that my mother watched the final episodes with Charita Bauer and other GL alums who have gone on to their great rewards. I'm pretty sure she cried. My mother cried easily. I'm thinking about her a lot today.

So in the end, many things came back full circle - Phillip got back with Beth (although evidently she married Alan and had his child at one point - ICK!) and they are getting married. Billy Lewis married Vanessa (his longtime love), Ed Bauer and Holly Norris left on a round the world cruise (possibly one of the best couples on the show), Fletcher Reade came home to take Alexandra (Alan's sister) away from Springfield, many others "left" Springfield, while some others came home to stay. We find out (one year later) that Rick Bauer and Mindy Lewis get married and the starcrossed lovers of all time, Josh Lewis and Reva Shayne rode off into the sunset together.

It's OK if you don't know who those people are I talked about in the last paragraph. I'll still like you anyway.

From an archival standpoint, there's a lot out there to be concerned about. Guiding Light was the longest running soap opera (having gotten its start on radio). There have been clips of the radio shows and the early television episodes on TV of late, let's make sure we hold on to those, shall we? And what of the countless web presences, some of which I linked to above? Only time will tell, but unfortunately, we will have to do it without the Guiding Light. (sorry I couldn't resist)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Constitution Day

Today is Constitution Day.

Here are a few points of interest to ponder while you consider the importance of this founding document.
  • Delaware was the first state to ratify the Constitution on December 7, 1787. At this time the population of the U.S. was around 4 million.
  • 39 of the 55 delegates signed the Constitution, which was written in under 100 working days in Philadelphia.
  • At age 81, Benjamin Franklin was the oldest delegate to sign.
  • The Bill of Rights was not added to the Constitution until 1791.
  • When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, the Constitution was moved from its home at the National Archives to Fort Knox for safekeeping.
If you are in the DC area, take a trip to the National Archives and see the documents up close.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Three Years and Counting

I can't quite believe it, but September 5 marked Order from Chaos's third birthday. What started out as an experiment in procrastination has become a real devotion for me. I am extremely grateful to all of my readers and the friends I have made through this portal. I thank you for coming by and hope you will continue to do so.

Now why do I do this? That's a good question. A meme made the rounds of the blogosphere last year. It asked three questions. Andrew Sullivan himself answered the question, "Why I Blog" in the Atlantic last year.

Is this a good blog? Another fine question. Last year Merlin Mann posted his qualities for a "good blog."

I hope everyone has enjoyed reading as much as I have enjoyed writing. I'll keep trying to find things to talk about if you keep coming by from time to time to say hi.

Monday, September 14, 2009

"Kiss My Grits!"

To start with, bonus points for identifying the person who always said that quote above.

Recently, while Adam (the Amateur Gourmet) was on vacation, he turned over his blog to others to fill in for him. The first sub in wrote of his love of grits. I am a late comer to the grit. But with a best friend who grew up in the south, I have come to love the well-prepared grit.

He adapted the recipe below from Charleston's own Lee Brothers from their Southern Cookbook. Note: Most every Southern chef will tell you to use Anson Mills grits, but alas I don't drive so I had to use whatever I could find at the local grocery store. Enjoy.

SIMPLE CHEESE GRITS - makes about 4 decent sized servings
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup stone-ground grits
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 cup (packed) grated extra sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup (packed) grated Monterey Jack cheese
Lightly butter the bottom and sides of a cast iron skillet (or small baking dish).

Pour milk and water into a small saucepan, cover, and heat on medium high until milk mixture boils (about 5 minutes). Uncover pot, add grits and salt and reduce heat to medium. Stir constantly until grits are the consistency of thick soup - about 8 minutes. Reduce to simmer, stirring every 2 minutes for about 20 minutes until grits thicken. Cook for 15 minutes more - stirring constantly - to prevent grits from sticking to bottom of the pan.

Remove from heat and stir in 3/4 cups of the cheddar cheese, 3/4 cups of the Monterey Jack cheese, and the butter. Pour into the skillet and top with remaining cheese.

Turn oven to broil. Place skillet directly under broiler for 2-3 minutes or until cheese is melted and starts to brown. Remove from oven and serve immediately.

Friday, September 11, 2009

To Remember

It was such a nice day. Eight years later now and we need to stop, reflect for a moment and remember. Always remember. Previous posts about this dark day in our history here and here.

To help remember this dark day, I joined Project 2,996, where bloggers around the world offer to post memories of those lost on September 11. I was asked to remember William Chalcoff. I ask that you do so as well.

Mr. Chalcoff, 41[the same age I am now] was a computer systems developer at Marsh & McLennan. He and his wife immigrated to the United States from Argentina. They both became naturalized citizens in 2001. "He was so proud to be an American," Mrs. Chalcoff said. He was also proud that his accent was disappearing and that people no longer asked where he was from.

On the morning of Sept. 11, Chalcoff and his wife were were talking on the phone when she heard a very loud noise, and the call was disconnected.

Chalcoff lived on Long Island in Roslyn, New York.

Update: The Big Picture (from the Boston Globe) has a series of photos out today remembering September 11.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Labor Day Clambake

Today is Labor Day, the unofficial end of summer. Time to fire up the grills and enjoy some charred flesh or if you like have a clambake right there on the grill. As one who vacationed in Maine most summers and has a fair amount of melted butter in my veins, I applaud the presence of lobster in this recipe. The recipe, which appeared with an article in the Washington Post does include shrimp, and the article notes that "some people consider it heresy to put shrimp in a clambake" but it's your clambake, put what you want in it.

Grill Clambake
There are two ways to go about enjoying this truly American event in the back yard using a kettle-style grill. One way is to steam the shellfish and their accompaniments in seaweed directly over smoldering coals; the other is to cook everything in sealed, aluminum-foil packets several inches above the coals. The first way makes a bigger mess to clean up, but the smoky, briny flavor that results approximates the beach experience more closely.

Cooking the clams and mussels in sealed packets with broth or water allows steam to get to them directly, helping them to open. You may substitute hard-shell clams for soft-shells (steamers) if you must, but they are not nearly as delicate in flavor. Some people consider it heresy to put shrimp in a clambake; the choice is up to you. (Note: Buy all seafood and shellfish in their raw state.)

Serve with plain or flavored clarified butter, cocktail sauce and garlic mayonnaise (see related recipes).

MAKE AHEAD: The potatoes can be parboiled (then cooled and refrigerated) a day in advance. The butter may be clarified and frozen a week ahead of time. The flavored butters and sauces can be made up to 2 days in advance.

For the steamed-over-seaweed method, you will need: heavy-duty aluminum foil, parchment paper, 4 flour-sack cloths (24 by 36 inches), 8 pounds of seaweed and a large aluminum bucket; 1 cup wood chips is optional.

For the sealed-packet method, you will need: heavy-duty aluminum foil, 4 flour-sack cloths (24 by 36 inches) and 1 pound of seaweed. 4 servings

For the clambake
  • 2 pounds mussels, cleaned
  • 4 pounds (10 to 12 per pound) steamer clams (may substitute 2 dozen littleneck clams)
  • 1 bunch thyme
  • 8 medium cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 cups clam juice (may substitute water)
  • 4 to 8 12-ounce beers (may substitute water)
  • 4 lobsters, 1 1/2 pounds each
  • 4 ears corn, husk and silk removed
  • 4 lemons
  • 8 small (2/3 pound) cipollini onions (about 2/3 of a pound), or 1 large onion, any variety, peeled, and quartered lengthwise
  • 8 red bliss potatoes, parboiled for 15 to 20 minutes, until just soft
  • 4 (about 13 ounces) garlicky sausages, such as linguica, chorizo or andouille
  • 4 sprigs rosemary
  • 1 pound (U-16) shell-on jumbo shrimp
For the steamed-over-seaweed method: Soak the mussels and clams in separate bowls of cold water for 30 minutes to allow them to expel any grit. (Discard any that do not close when tapped.)

Soak the seaweed in water in a large bin, placed next to the grill.

Prepare the grill. Light the charcoal in a full chimney starter (100 briquettes) and let it burn until the briquettes are just starting to turn gray and low flames are licking from the top (15 to 20 minutes). Carefully pour the coals onto the charcoal grate, spreading them out evenly using long grill tongs, and evenly place another half-chimney full of briquettes (50 count) on top of them. Allow them to burn until the briquettes are covered with gray ash (10 to 15 minutes).

Meanwhile, prepare packets of clams and mussels: Lift the clams from their water with your hands, place them in a strainer and rinse them. Do the same with the mussels.

Cut an 18-by-22 length of aluminum foil and a slightly shorter piece of parchment paper (15 inches wide). Lay the parchment paper on top of the dull side of the foil. Place a quarter of the mussels and clams in the center of the parchment. Top each portion with a few sprigs of thyme and 2 crushed garlic cloves. Seal the packet lengthwise with crimped folds, then one side widthwise. Pick up the packet so that you can pour a half-cup of clam juice into it without it spilling out; then fold and crimp the open end to seal the packet completely. Repeat with the remaining three portions of mussels and clams and refrigerate the packets while you prepare the rest of the components.

Place the flour sack cloths in a clean sink and use the contents of 2 bottles of beer to dampen them. Spread a cloth on the counter. Place a lobster, a clam packet, and an ear of corn, and a lemon in the center of the cloth and then top with the onions, potatoes, sausage, rosemary and one-quarter of the shrimp. Tie diagonal corners of the cloth together and then the other diagonal corners to make a hobo bundle. Repeat with the remaining three cloths. Place the bundles in a large metal bucket and take them to the grill.

Lift two-thirds of the seaweed from the bin, lightly shake off excess water, and spread the seaweed evenly over the coals. (It will start to pop and smoke.) Sprinkle with wood chips, if an extra smokiness is desired. (They do not have to be soaked.) Place the four bundles on top of the seaweed, with the lobsters closest to the center. Cover the bundles with the remaining seaweed and place the lid on the grill with the vents open. (If you have one, place a perforated grill pan on top of the seaweed before putting the bundles on; this will help keep the coals from scorching the flour sack cloths.)

Allow the bundles to steam for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and pour one or two bottles of beer (or the equivalent amount of water) evenly over the bundles to help keep everything moist. Cover the grill and continue steaming for another 30 minutes.

Remove the lid from the grill. Using tongs, push the seaweed to the side and open one of the bundles. The lobster should be bright red all the way through and all of the other ingredients of the packet should appear to be cooked to you. If not, rewrap the bundles loosely, recover with the seaweed, sprinkle 1 or 2 bottles of beer, cover the grill and cook for 15 minutes. (More than likely, everything will be done after 1 hour and 15 minutes, but the lobster may not be red on top; turning them over before rewrapping the bundles will help color them evenly.)

Remove the lid. Remove and discard the seaweed on the top. (Use heat-proof gloves or long grill tongs to put all of the seaweed in the bin of water in which it soaked. This assures that the fire is out.) Remove the lobsters from each bundle and place them on a platter. Open one of the clam packets. If more than a few are not open, reseal the packet and place them all directly on the coals to continue cooking while you prep the lobsters. (Or place the contents of the packets in a covered pot and finish them on the stove, and serve them in their pot.) Loosely retie the bundles, pile them into the bucket you brought them out in. To serve, place a bundle in front of each place setting.

Before serving the lobsters, use seafood shears to clip the ends of the claws by 1/2-inch. Pick each lobster up by the tail, hold it over a bowl or sink, and allow water to drain through the claws. Remove rubber bands from claws and pull of the narrow pincher from each side. Then, use a mallet or hammer to crack the claws (Cover the claw with a dish towel to keep it from splattering all over you when you do this.) Serve the lobsters with drawn butter.

For the sealed-packet method: Spread each dampened flour sack cloth on two sheets of heavy-duty foil that overlap to be an inch larger than the cloth. Place a big handful of seaweed (1/4 pound) on the center of each cloth, then a lobster, an ear of corn, 2 potatoes, 2 onions, mussels and clams (no need to make a separate packet), a sausage, some thyme and rosemary on top of the seaweed. Tie into a hobo bundle. Bring the foil up over the bundle and seal it tightly.

Prepare the charcoal in the same manner as in the first method, but place the grate above the coal and the packets on the grate. Cover and cook for 1 hour.

Friday, September 4, 2009

15 Books and the National Book Festival

This meme is making the round on Facebook and to commemorate the upcoming National Book Festival (on the National Mall) on September 26, here's my list of 15 books. The book festival is a great time. There are authors galore, giving talks about their latest books, signing copies of your books and it is just a great way to spend a fall afternoon.

In this list you name fifteen books, not just writers, which have inspired or influenced you. These are not necessarily the books you most liked, but the books that shaped you. In no particular order, with comments:
  1. Fatal Vision - the first non-fiction book I ever read by choice. I was working in a library as a page and pulled it from my cart, and instead of shelving it, checked it out and read it.
  2. The Stand - by far the best of the Stephen King books. If you are familiar with the miniseries, get the book. It's so much better.
  3. Salem’s Lot - also by Stephen King and the first one of his books that I read. In Maine. In a cabin on a lake. By myself. Think I slept with the lights on for the rest of the vacation?
  4. My Brother Sam is Dead - a children's book by Christopher Collins, I read it as part of a summer reading program and it made a big impact. I think it's part of why I am such a big history geek.
  5. I’ll Love You Forever by Robert Munsch - from my son's library. I can't get all the way through it without choking up at the end.
  6. A Walk in the Woods - Bill Bryson's escapades on the Appalachian Trail. The best first book to explore if you want to get into the Bryson genre.
  7. From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler - as My Brother did for history, it's possible this book did it for me for museums.
  8. John Adams - from my favorite period in history, by one of the greatest writers of our generation. A stellar examination of our second president.
  9. Ordeal by Fire - required reading for a class I took in college on the Civil War. While a textbook, by strict definition, it read really easily, though that may have had a lot to do with the professor teaching the class.
  10. The Flowers in the Attic books - no snickering. So what, I read them. And since we're talking impact here, um, yeah.
  11. The Beverly Cleary genre - and while we're on the subject of pre-teen reads, I hope I'm not the only one waiting for the Encyclopedia Brown movie to come out. Am I? Anyone? Anyone?
  12. Catcher in the Rye - because it did. Sure, it was required in High School English, but what high school teenage boy couldn't identify with some part of Holden Caufield?
  13. 1984 - More required reading but on the edge of my reading spectrum. If it's Orwell, I preferred Animal Farm.
  14. Boy’s Life - the magazine of the Cub and Boy Scouts. From the era when one looked forward to getting mail addressed to you. There's always Highlights Magazine here as well, but that just makes me think of the dentist [shudder].
  15. Tao of Pooh - read in college. It goes back to that whole thing about me trying to be a better person.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Watch Where You Step

Growing up on Long Island, I had the opportunity to be close to beaches - the Long Island Sound was fifteen minutes away and the Atlantic beaches were twenty minutes away. One summer day I was swimming in the water off Robert Moses State Park and I saw a bill float by - it was a five dollar bill. Bonus! I brought it out to my blanket and set it aside and returned to the water. Minutes later another five dollar bill floated past me. It wasn't the equivalent of money growing on trees, but finding ten bucks in the vast Atlantic was a nice return on the day.

I spent most of my summers in Maine and swam in the chilled waters of the North Atlantic. One day, while wading in the water at my grandmother's house, I stepped on a ray fish. Definitely not the same experience of finding money in the water. On a few summer occasions, we spent our vacation on one of Maine's many lakes, where the swimming was fine, but walking on the mushy lake bed was a little disconcerting.

From kottke recently, I spotted this article where New York Magazine mapped the floors of the waters around New York City. I shall not be swimming in those waters anytime soon. Or ever. Beginning today I will have the advantage of swimming in the waters of the Delaware beaches, and that will present its own set of adventures.