Maybe my daughters are right; everything does remind me of a story about me. This news certainly does.
In 10th grade physics, during the unit on measurement, the teacher told us that measurement systems are arbitrary. "The length of this lab table could form the basis of a measurement system," he said. Several of us developed the Foofnagel system; the length of the lab table was one Foofnagel, and the measurement of weight was one cubic Foofnagel of water. It was a tad impractical, because a cubic Foofnagel of water is extremely heavy, so most normal weights were in micro-Foofnagels. We did an exhibit for Benson High School's Back to School Night, the Tech Show. It was mildly popular. I don't know if we taught anyone about the arbitrary nature of measurement systems, but we had fun.
I find that few people realize that, while the meter was originally defined as the distance between two scratches on a platinum bar, it was calculated to be "one ten-millionth part of the quadrant of the earth," the so called "Meter of the Archives" was based on a measurement of a meridian between Dunkirk and Barcelona. Since then, it has been defined in terms of multiples of the wavelength of light emitted by a variety of substances. The most recent definition is "the length of the path traveled by light in vacuum during a time interval of 1/299,792,458 of a second." I guess I am still a sucker for measurement systems.
My daughter Marlow shared two very funny videos with me, since she used to live in Holland. The first, I'm From Holland, is, I think, intended as serious music. The remix, by Boom Chicago, and English-speaking comedy troop in Amsterdam, is intentionally funny. Very much so.
On a more serious note, Marlow forwarded a video link:
What really happens between the time that a crop is grown/product is designed and the moment you pay for it over the counter? What happens after you're done using it? These are all things we'll need to be conscious of in the new era of sustainable business, and it directly applies to certain aspects of our business. http://www.storyofstuff.com/
Just back from NYC where I saw Laura and Jenna bush introduce their new children's book. They also read the thing and projected the pages on the screen behind them. It actually isn't a bad book and has great illustrations. They also brought the illustrator out at the end and introduced her.
It was a pleasant evening. Laura said that they were selling the "ranch" and looking for a house in Dallas. (guess they don't need the election prop any more). She also says she's a great fan of harry potter and reads a lot of mysteries. Jenna and Barbara aren't interested in Harry Potter.
I'm reading Michener's south pacific again after about 40 years. Can't say I remember anything from it and I didn't originally notice the disfavor he has for the white officers being interested in the native women. he mentions that he met Admiral Mccain (McSame's grandfather). I saw the new south pacific production at Lincoln Center about a month ago (ordered my tickets in November for the preview). It was fantastic.
We had long planned a bicycle ride on the American River Bike trail this weekend--second for Vicki and me, first for our daughter Marlow. Marlow and I are going to ride 50 miles in two weeks through the Napa Valley on the Tour de Cure to raise money to find a cure for Diabetes. The round trip from Sacramento to Folsom is 60 miles. A good training ride, we thought. Vicki was going to come with us and ride only half the course. Then she thought about coming back early. Then, late in the week she was socked with something--allergies? Cold? Pneumatic flu?--that simply drained her of all her energy, so Marlow and I went by ourselves.
I took the train from Martinez to downtown Sacramento and stayed in the most convenient hotel in town, the Holiday Inn-Capitol Plaza. Clean, quiet enough, well-appointed, expensive but not ridiculous, a two block walk from Old Town (where the trail starts) and a two-block walk from the train station. I had a lovely prime rib dinner at Morton's, and made plans to do the same with Marlow on Saturday night. I also found a frozen yogurt stand, where I had frozen yogurt all three days of my visit. "Why don't you just marry the frozen yogurt," Marlow asked. "I would if I could," I said.
She arrived late Friday night. Bless her, she got my message and picked up some bananas and grapes. I have been having three bananas a day since I got back from Duke, and I kind of lean on having them for appetite control. She also bought red grapes the size of ruddy English school boys, complete with seeds.
Saturday morning we were up at 7 for breakfast and out at 8. We were biking early to avoid the mid-day heat of Sacramento. The average temperature on April 19 is 75°, which, for me, would be warm enough to break a real sweat, especially since I wear a long-sleeved bike jersey to avoid sunburn. However, the prediction was for 60°, and the final high on Saturday was closer to the prediction than the average. In short, it was brisk with a high wind. We made a stop at Hagan Park because I forgot to refill our water bottles, then arrived in Folsom (30 miles away) at 10:30, maintaining our average of about 12 mph, which, rain or shine, hilly or flat, with or without rest breaks, is about the sustainable average speed for Marlow and me. She's faster uphill, I'm faster downhill. We had a light brunch at a lovely little place called Karen's, just a few blocks off the Folsom "exit" from the trail. During brunch, we checked in with my nephew Paul and told him we'd like to see him for lunch on Sunday. He said OK.
Then we climbed back on our bikes and rode back to Sacramento, arriving at 2:30. We rested for a bit, had some massages, and got to Morton's just as the prime rib sold out. Also, to my surprise, the maitre' d took my beret--no hats (that has never happened to me before). Well, the cajun rib eye was good, but it was no prime rib. We were tired, and so walked the two blocks back to our hotel and went to bed early.
Sunday was a day of delicious decadence. We ate breakfast when we felt like it (me at 7, Marlow at 9--they made me go back upstairs and put shoes on, as stocking feet were not considered legal), then read until checkout time at noon. We called Paul on our way to Sacramento. Pandemonium! What phone call? I don't remember Marlow calling me. Suddenly, we remembered that Marlow felt she had, perhaps, awakened Paul from a sound sleep. It seems he'd forgotten the call. He met us anyway for a quick lunch at Habit Burger. Then to home. I cannot imagine how it could have been more fun.
Tipped by the New Yorker, I read and recommend Goodbye to All That II by Robin Morgan. In her first essay by that title, written in 1970, she ripped the radical movement a new one. She pointed out the revolution's inherent sexism, stating that membership in the leadership collective was more likely to get you an STD than it was to get you power. She also wrote that Charles Manson was the "logical extreme of the normal American male's fantasy" (sic). In this essay, she rips everyone who's being sexist about Hillary.
I was just setting up my first iTunes playlist this week (better late than never). It took me nearly five days to dredge out of memory Yada Yada La Scala by Dory Previn. All I could remember was that it was a very catchy ballad by a woman who had just been divorced in a nasty way and was using the recording studio as therapy. I tried searching for "angry divorced female singer." Lots of hits, just not the ones I was looking for.
Then I woke up one morning saying, "Andre Previn," and from there found Dory Previn, and then found the name of the song. Imagine my disappointment! Itunes has exactly Zero Dory Previn. I could find her at Amazon, but it was the same rook job the record business pulled on me 36 years ago, only worse. It is still the only song worth listening to on the album--it has a different producer than all the other tracks, and so a much different sound. The only difference between 1972 and 2008 is that this time I had to pay $19 for a double-album reissue to get the one track I wanted. So now I have paid for the LP in vinyl to get one song and a double album on CD to get one song.
And the music industry wonders why it is dying. Screw your customers. That's a great business model.
The year 1976 was a powerful and evocative year for me, when I was working for UPI in Hartford and falling in love with the wrong woman. So was 1968, when I was a DJ for an underground station (KVAN) in Vancouver, WA near Portland, OR. Anyway, these are the songs I remember loving from those two eras.
Afternoon Delight: Starland Vocal Band
Marrakesh Express: Crosby, Stills & Nash
Suite: Judy Blue Eyes: Crosby, Stills & Nash
Muskrat Love: Captain & Tennille
Lovin' You: Minnie Riperton
Lay, Lady, Lay: Bob Dylan
White Bird: It's a Beautiful Day
Midnight at the Oasis: Maria Muldaur
Who Do You Love Pt. 1: Quicksilver Messenger Service
Yada Yada La Scala: Dory Previn
And that's my personal soundtrack. I'm glad to have them back in my life.
My friend Kevin Sullivan is busting his buttons over the decision of Educational Housing Services, a commercial website to reprint his daughter WhitneyKate's blog of life in New York City. There's a cute backstory; if you know Kevin, write him about it.
Sean Hannity: Well, we've got the transcript right here and it looks like Mr. Lincoln's really put his foot in it this time. The question for our panelists is: "After Gettysburg, Does Lincoln still have a chance for re-election?" Pat?
Pat Buchanan: I'd have to say no Sean. Right from the start he's set himself up as another liberal elitist, hopelessly out of touch with the voters. "Four Score and Seven..." The number he's looking for is eighty-seven. Maybe if he put down his chablis and brie plate for a minute he'd understand how real people actually speak.