Itâ€™s interesting to talk to Jonâ€™s physicist colleagues, who often have a very different spin on things that happen in life. â€œNobody wants to do local galaxies anymore,â€ they say in passing at parties.
â€œI mean, why bother even measuring? We might just as well call anything local d10 mega parsecs away and have done with it.â€ Stuff like this can make you rethink your own personal scale of distance. For example, today I bought a pint of milk from Duane Reed because it was one block further to buy it 5 cents cheaper at Morton Williams.
We were talking about star registries. The kind where well meaning bridesmaids or family members pay to have a star named â€œMr and Mrs Steeleâ€ to commemorate your lasting love (this always seems like a risk to me) or â€œIrene Smithâ€ because by the time you turned 70 there was literally nothing left in the world to buy you.
â€œItâ€™s a waste of money,â€ said Ingyin. â€œItâ€™s not like astronomers actually use those names. Youâ€™re just paying to have a certificate and a name in a book, which the certificate guys print. If you want to really have something named after you you have to do it the old fashioned way. Discover it and publish about it.â€
â€œExactly,â€ Jon backed her up, â€œand itâ€™s not like aliens are looking up at their sun and thinking, â€œDamn it, we have to call it â€œSarah on her Graduationâ€ now.â€
â€œThey do put the register book in a safe in a vault,â€ noted Yosi. â€œItâ€™s official in that sense, I suppose.â€
â€œYes,â€ agreed Ingyin. â€œThough by the time itâ€™s important to know what any specific star further away than Cygnus X 1 is called, the Sun will have swallowed the Earth and the book in the safe in the vault wonâ€™t be too much help.â€
The others nodded in agreement.
â€œLetâ€™s have another drink,â€ I said.
With the last few weeks of rhubarb on the fruit stalls of New York, preserving it as much as possible has been on my mind. One of the nicest ways to do this is by making rhubarb vodka. Essentially, you could just chop up some rhubarb and leave it in some vodka, shaking occasionally until you have a pale pink liquid that smells of the essence of rhubarb.
This method actually makes more of a rhubarb liquor â€“ the sugar sweetens the tart stems and the cinnamon adds a subtle warmth.
Rhubarb vodka takes some patience, but itâ€™s absolutely worth it in August, when youâ€™re drinking rhubarb vodka tonics with ice on a hot sunny day.1 mason jar full of vodka (about 2 cups) 1 large stem of ripe rhubarb 1 scant tbsp sugar 1 tsp lemon zest 1 small cinnamon stick Â
- Dice the rhubarb, then blend in the processor or in a pestle and mortar with the sugar. Cover and leave overnight
- Tip the rhubarb mixture into a clean mason jar and add the lemon zest, and cinnamon. Top up the jar with vodka
- Leave the jar in a cool dark place for 2 weeks, shaking daily
- Strain the vodka through a fine sieve, return to the jar, and leave in a cool dark place for a month before straining again and drinking
If You Can Make That You Can Make This
- Add the rhubarb vodka to chilled tonic, citrus San Pelligrino, cranberry juice, gin and cranberry juice or lemonade to make cocktails
- Or these appletinis withÂ rosemaryÂ lavender vodka
- Or this cherry bourbon