Sunday, January 21, 2007

1/21/2007 - Battling for knuckles and doomed moons

"Walk down that lonesome road all by yourself
Don't turn your head, back over your shoulder
And only stop to rest yourself when the silver moon
Is flying high above the trees.

If I had stopped to listen once or twice
If I had closed my mouth and opened my eyes
If I had cooled my head and warmed my heart
Id not be on this road tonight"

I think James Taylor speaks for all of us when he suggests that if you ever choose to hike from Boston to Alaska, you should probably bring a companion.

On the home front

I am suffering through a civil war of my own making. The first thing you have to know is that "knuckles" was one my eldest's first words. We were driving to the family on Friday afternoon and the wife was letting him hold her hand to keep him calm. The position became too uncomfortable and the she pulled her hand back to the front seat. It turned out he had been rubbing her knuckles, which were now sore. As the beloved hand return to the front seat my eldest whined:

"Knuckles..."

Ever since, he has comforted himself by grabbing someone's knuckles and going to work. Well, it was inevitable, but the baby would see this process and learn through imitation. The baby doesn't really get into it the way the eldest does, but he does indulge. Well, lately, the eldest has decided that my left knuckles are preferable to my right knuckles. Why? Because they have more dry skin, apparently.

That's fine, the elder can have my left and the younger can have my right. Alas, the toddler continued to learn from his idol. During dinner this week, I offered one hand to each. The toddler immediately pointed at my left and burst into tears.

Just a typical evening in a typical household.

Presidents

My sister and I used to use "Chester A. Arthur" in our e-mails in the place of :) I must confess that I new next to nothing about him at the time, I just liked the way it rolled off of my e-mail. I recently listened "Assassination Vacation" by Sarah Vowell (excellent book) from which I learned the following:

Garfield, as a president, felt like Civil Service reform was probably the top priority facing the nation. He may well have been right. But that wasn't much of a campaign slogan, so he ran on his Civil War heroism and "waving the bloody shirt," similar to referring to Democrats as "cheese-eating surrender-monkeys." Regardless of these guaranteed tactics, Garfield could not have won the presidency without the help of Roscoe Conklin, and the New York political machine, so a deal was struck: In return for New York's support, Garfield would take on Arthur as his VP. Let's just say that Arthur was a prime example of the kind of civil service that needed reforming.

Well, Arthur, like most VPs of the time, didn't play a very active roll in the shaping of policy until a deranged would-be ambassador took it upon himself to assassinate Garfield. Shortly after Arthur took office, he angered his ex-Patrons by pushing through the civil service reform that Garfield had championed, sort of as a tribute.

For reasons I can't explain, I find that action heroic and touching. 25 points to Garfield and 5 to Arthur.

Astronomy

Mars' moons are very unlike our own. Ours is an erstwhile piece of us, dislodged after a comet hit us. It is slowly spiraling away form us and will someday burst free from our gravitational grasp.

By contrast, Mars' moons are most likely asteroids that came too close and got trapped by Mars' natural charm. The one that interests me most is Phobos. Unlike our moon (which something like 400,000 kilometers away) Phobos is less than 10,000 kilometers away. Why? I'm not really sure, but it is trapped in an orbit that brings it closer to Mars with every pass. In a mere 50 to 100 million years, Phobos will crash into Mars, accompanied by an unbelievable display of fireworks.

Book your tickets today.

9 Comments:

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okay, now *that* song you can put on my iPod.

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