Posts Tagged "hermes"

This Little Piggie Went to the Marathon

Dear Kid,

Today is the Flying Pig marathon.

I have a thing for all those flying piggies.

And I don’t object in the least to other people running or walking or marathoning.

In fact, I’m quite impressed with all that.

The first time a friend of mine ran a marathon was in grad school when the fab Karen ran her first 26.2 miles. I remember showing up in couple of places along the route to cheer her on.

Cheering is a very important part of marathoning, so to everyone participating in today’s events Oink! And Go For It! You Rock! Keep on Keeping On! Great Job!

In 1896, the first modern marathon was run as selection race for the Athens Olympics.

It wasn’t until 1984 that the Olympics added a women’s marathon. This was probably longer than it should have taken. The amazing Joan Benoit (she was the Boston University track coach in case you were wondering) won that year.

The Flying Pig ends at the Finish Swine.

Love, Mom

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Old McDonald, Io, Prometheus, and the Gadfly

Dear Kid,

Once upon a time, there was a god named Zeus. As you may recall, fidelity was not high on Zeus’ priority list and he was often out in the world cheating on Hera. As you may further recall, Hera did not appreciate or approve of these adventures.

This upon a time, Zeus happened to have become infatuated with Io (pronounced Eee-oh, not E-I-E-I-O). Io was wise and kind and beautiful even if her parents were so poor they couldn’t afford consonants. Throwing on a quick disguise, Zeus began hanging out with Io. And by “hanging out” I mean something else entirely.

Hera, like most gods and goddesses was big on revenge. But she wasn’t stupid and she realized she couldn’t really get back at Zeus except by putting her cold feet in the middle of his back on winter nights. So she went after the floozies. And by “floozy” I mean girls who had no idea that the dude paying attention to them was married much less head chief number one god.

Hera headed down to punish Io. Zeus wasn’t the greatest guy in the world, but he really liked Io and so to save her, Zeus turned Io into a white cow. Yes, there probably would have been better solutions. No one is claiming Zeus is a genius. Also, the whole cow bit didn’t fool Hera for a minute.

Hera said she wanted the cow and Zeus couldn’t really keep the cow without admitting why so after a short argument, Hera took the cow. (Saw that coming, didn’t you?)

Zeus didn’t like the situation at all, but he was afraid of Hera and didn’t say anything. Io didn’t like the situation at all, but all she could say was “moo.” It amounted to the same thing.

Hera had a watchman named Argus who had a hundred eyes. It would have been tough to fit him with glasses but he had great eyesight so it didn’t matter. Argus never closed all his eyes—only half of his eyes fell asleep at any one time, so Io couldn’t escapes and Zeus couldn’t rescue her. (Don’t ask why he didn’t smite Argus because I don’t know.)

Eventually, Zeus bellowed for Hermes (who, as we all know is the messenger of the gods, the god of business men and thieves, and the symbol of the Columbia School of Business). Zeus sent Hermes down to Do Something as he so eloquently put it.

Hermes played his flute and put Argus to sleep. Then Hermes cut off Argus’ head (which was messy but effective) and took Io the Cow into town.

Hera was mightily upset (and you should probably take a moment to imagine what a mightily upset queen of the gods might be capable of). First she took all of Argus’ eyes and put them in the tail of a peacock (now you know where those eyes came from). Then she got mad.

Hera found a gadfly. A big gadfly. A huge gadfly. A gadfly as big as a bat. And she sent the giant gadfly to pester (and by “pester” I mean drive just short of insane) Io. The gadfly buzzed, stung, nipped, and otherwise tormented Io.

The gadfly’s name was Bob. But no one ever remembers that part of the story.

Have you ever been chosen by a mosquito to be the Meal of the Day? That was nothing compared to what Io endured.

Io ran. She became the long distance runner of cows, but no matter how far she ran the gadfly kept up.

Eventually Io came to a place in the mountains where she found Prometheus (Prometheus was just hanging out having his liver eaten daily because Zeus was annoyed that he had given fire to man).

Io felt sorry for Prometheus and Prometheus felt sorry for Io. Big pity party. Prometheus told her (being one of the Titans he could remember into the future) to go south and then west and that she’d get her original body back and eventually be the mother of a race of heroes, one of whom would free him.

Io said, “Moo” but she meant it nicely.

On she trotted. And eventually she got to the Nile where she collapsed in a heap of Tired Cow (she’d been running for more than a year, so you can see why she might need a small snooze).

Right about that time, Hera decided to take a beauty nap. As soon as she began to snore little godess-like snores, Zeus went down to Egypt. He didn’t bother talking to Pharaoh, but he let Io go out of her cow body and back into her sweet girl body. Then he zoomed off, getting home before Hera woke up. You’d think the king of the gods might not worry about getting in trouble, but you’d be wrong.

Sooner or later, the king of Egypt married Io and she lived happily ever after. Many, many generations later (there are too many “greats” involved for me to want to draw a family tree), a hero was born who freed Prometheus. Extra points if you know who that particular hero was.

Love, Mom

The Prometheus-freeing hero in question was Hercules.

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High School Football and the Persied Meteor Showers

sycamore-football-helmetDear Kid,

High school Football Practice Season is in full swing with doubles and singles and staying-after-practice-to-work-some-more. The Green and Gold scrimmage is this weekend and it is not at all clear who will be kicking. All we can say for sure at the moment is that you are related to the only football player with a hot red streak in her hair.

We also know that the scrimmage and the BBQ (which I’m guessing means “food” but not “bar-be-que”) will be at the high school now that the new field is ready. says there will be scattered showers on Saturday which I interpret to mean there will be a monsoon that will last just as long as we want to be outside. Yipee.

Dad is talking about watching the Persied meteor showers this weekend. I believe they peak early next week but since the best time for watching is some crazy hour of the middle of the night (an hour suitable for college kids and newborns, but not for me) I’m not sure what we’ll actually see. I can guarantee that if there are monsoons I will be snug in a dry bed not lounging on the driveway hoping to see pieces of burning comet debris.

Persied refers to the Sons of Perseus. You may recall that Perseus was the son of Zeus and Danae. (Not recalling? Read on.) Perseus grew into a strong young man and an excellent warrior (which happened a lot in those days). He was a Good Kid who protected his mom (you see why this is an important story?) and the king sent him off to kill Medusa hoping that while Perseus was away and mom had no one to protect her he (the king) would get friendly with mama. (For the record, while Perseus was gone Danae—the mom—did quite a credible job of taking care of herself.)

Medusa was a Gorgon in a perpetual state of Bad Hair Days (her hair was snakes), and she was so, um, attractive that everyone who saw her turned instantly to stone. You would think this would make her an excellent curator for a statue museum, but apparently Gorgons don’t think that way.

Skipping over some of the good parts of the story (involving sharing eyeballs and dental implants and which you may research from the comfort of your own room if you like), Perseus got some help from Athena and Hermes (it just all ties together, doesn’t it? I love mythology.). He avoided becoming a pile of rubble by looking at Medusa only in the reflection of his shield, lopping off her head with utmost efficiency, and stuffing it into a handy trash bag.

He sped off home to check on his mom, who was handling herself but getting a little tired of the king’s nonsense, so Perseus used the head as a Weapon of Mass Destruction and turned a bunch of royalty and courtiers into stone. After a while he gave the head to Athena as a decoration for her aegis (a fancy word for shield or breastplate). Which all goes to show that Goddesses are not like the rest of us, because I can guarantee that most girls would not be impressed with a rotting, snake-haired head as a gift.

Perseus married Andromeda who he had rescued on the way back from Medusa killing (but that’s another story for another day). They had a bunch of sons with impossible to pronounce names who are now immortalized as flaming bits of comet dust.

Hope you have an easy to pronounce, dust-free day.

Love, Mom

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The History of Fire and S’mores

Fire Charles Dudley Warner quoteDear Kid,

Once upon a time, there was the first fire. Since there were no newspapers around to record the event, scientists who care about such things are busy arguing about when it actually happened. I’m not a scientist who cares about such things, so I am not worrying. My in-depth research shows it was a long time ago and that ever since then “don’t leave the fire burning when you go out!” has been bellowed by parents everywhere. At least until 1915, when the British song Keep the Home Fires Burning was recorded.

People began to actively use fire once someone figured out that steak tartare is quite delicious when served medium rare on a bun with various condiments, and that fish fries are considerably better when the fish isn’t sushi style.

There is lots of mythology about fire. The Greek god Hephaestus (the Romans called him Vulcan) was the god of the forge and volcanos, and Prometheus gave the gift of fire to man. (It is not clear if anyone ever wrote a thank you note.) Gerra is the Babylonian and Akkadian god of fire. Jacawitz was the Mayan fire deity. In Norse mythology, Logi was the fire god. There are lots of other cultures that have fire gods/goddesses; you are a Bright Young Thing and can look them up in the comfort of your own home if you are so interested.

As an aside, Prometheus and Hermes,  both have a claim to the gift of fire. Prometheus gave fire to people. Hermes is credited with discovering how to produce it. More importantly, Hermes is the god of business people and thieves (I love that) and the symbol for Columbia University’s School of Business.Hermes Columbia Business School Logo

The point is, we are fascinated by fire. It is a wonderful useful thing that can also wreak tremendous damage (just ask Shere Khan). For as long as there have been people (a date I leave others to argue about), we have controlled and been controlled by fire.

Fast forward to the early 1900s when Milton Hershey got around to inventing the Hershey bar, completing the triad of ingredients necessary for scouts to make s’mores around a campfire.

Since then (possibly before then too) people have been arguing over the proper way to roast a marshmallow. On one side of the football stadium we have the “Gently rotate the marshmallow until it is a rich, golden brown on all sides” group. On the other side we have the “Char the sucker!” camp. Each side shouts at each other (“Less filling” “Tastes great”) until someone’s marshmallow lands in the fire and everyone starts concentrating on the task at hand. Or at stick.

In my opinion, the only improperly roasted marshmallow is one that has dirt, pine needles, or ants on it.

As I mentioned, s’mores are the proper campfire food. S’mores and banana boats, but banana boats are basically bananas stuffed with s’mores and what can be bad about that?

In recent years there have been lots of variations on s’mores. Pi prefers them with a Reeces peanut butter cup rather than plain chocolate (although will happily use peanut butter and a Hershey bar if there aren’t any peanut butter cups in the vicinity). Pinterest has taken the whole s’more thing to an entirely new level with Peppermint Patti s’mores, s’more brownies, pretzel s’mores, s’more pancakes, s’more fudge…sigh. I love Pinterest. There was an entrepreneur on Shark Tank who made S’muffins which (presumably) were s’more-like muffins (although the sharks didn’t think they tasted like s’mores).

Thanks for building a great fire last night. A good time was had by all.

Love, Mom

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