Friday, October 27, 2006

The view from above

I have, for many years, loved viewing the earth and seeing the whole planet really WHOLE, without the artificial border lines. The image of the earth from space that was on the cover of the Whole Earth Catalog was symbolic of what my generation wanted to achieve in our youth - a global village. I think the global mess - I mean, economy - that has evolved (despite that vision) is mostly due to overpopulation. But that's a topic for another day. I discovered a website where you can take a free ride on any of the multitude of satellites (funny word, isn't it? the etymology follows..).

1548, "follower or attendant of a superior person," from M.Fr. satellite (14c.), from L. satellitem (nom. satelles) "attendant," perhaps from Etruscan satnal (Klein), or a compound of roots *satro- "full, enough" + *leit- "to go" (Tucker); cf. Eng. follow, which is constructed of similar roots. Meaning "planet that revolves about a larger one" first attested 1665, in reference to the moons of Jupiter, from L. satellites, which was used in this sense 1611 by Ger. astronomer Johannes Kepler (1571-1630). Galileo, who had discovered them, called them Sidera Medic├Ža in honor of the Medici family. Meaning "man-made machinery orbiting the Earth" first recorded 1936 as theory, 1957 as fact. Meaning "country dependent and subservient to another" is recorded from 1800.

Pick a satellite at random and see what continent it puts you above. You can zoom in and out and everything.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The memory of a coat

I was listening to a podcast this morning called NavelCast, in which this guy picks a topic and then pulls up stories from his life that relate to that topic. The one I listened to was on the topic of "cold weather". But the story that he told was about a coat that he had in third grade, and how he hated it (it was a hand-me-down), and how it almost got replaced..but didn't.

I had a coat in third grade that I remember quite well. I don't think it was a hand-me-down, but it could have been. It was fuzzy and brown, and wrapped up in it, I felt and looked like a teddy bear. I believe that the coat caused my classmates to tease me. It was in third grade that I was became a fractious student. I had a best friend named Carl who lived up the street. He and I walked to school together every day, and I recall that we especially liked stomping in puddles in order to get each other quite muddy and wet.

We were often late to school. My teacher, Miss Calvert, would punish us by making us stay after school. This was not really punishment, because it gave us more time together to play. The cloak room in the back of the room had been remodelled into a long closet with folding doors, instead of a separate narrow room as it was in the other classrooms. We found that you could get into the closet, have your friend close the doors, and then push the doors to "voila" emerge and burst into the room. This was high entertainment in third grade, I guess.

I can't remember much about many of the years I spent in elementary school, but I remember a lot about third grade. Kennedy was shot and killed that year, and we all went home from school in the middle of the day, after Miss Calvert's teary announcement. A boy in our class was accused of plagerism. He sketched a beautiful red cardinal that was so realistic, none of the teachers believed that a child could draw that well. Jim White was his name.. I hope he is an artist somewhere today. I remember that I drew a red-headed woodpecker for the same assignment. Miss Calvert used to put me out into the hallway when I talked in class. In that way, I missed a lot of time studying multiplication. I had to work on my multiplication tables at home with Dad. He would drill me (the 7s and the 9s were the hardest),and I would cry in frustration.

Miss Calvert would have us stand up in class and jump over our chairs as a way of exercising and burning off energy, I suppose. She would have us roll our heads around and stretch out our necks. She had a head of white hair and had taught several of my older brothers. I wonder if they spent as much time out in the hall and after school under her supervision as I did?