Posts Tagged "roller coaster"

Venus, Cassiopeia, Orion, and Unhealthy Vanity

Dear Kid,

If you happen to live in this hemisphere, and if you happen to be awake early enough in the morning that it is still dark, and if you happen to be outside, and if it happens to be reasonably cloudless, take a moment to look up.

Right now, Venus is shining so brightly it hurts. You can tell it’s Venus because it is far too bright to be a star and it’s not moving particularly quickly (you might think it’s an airplane, but it’s Venus).

I love the constellations this time of year. Cassiopeia is one of my favorites. This is probably my favorite time of year for stars. I love seeing Orion and Cassiopeia (she’s the one that looks like a W [unless it’s an M]) in the sky. They are larger than life this time of year and wonderful fall constants.

I’m guessing you don’t know the story of Cassiopeia. So, being the kind of mom I am, I shall tell it to you.

Queen Cassiopeia was the wife of King Cepheus. She was beautiful and vain (you know that when you add Queen plus Mythology plus Vain the story is not going to have a happy ending for the queen).

Cassiopeia boasted that both she (Cassiopeia) and her daughter (Andromeda) were more beautiful than all the Nereids, the nymph daughters of one of the lesser sea gods. Again, if you think you’re more beautiful than a god’s daughters, if you ARE more beautiful than a god’s daughter – perhaps especially if you are – keep your silly mouth shut about it. Look beautiful, be humble, live long.

Not so much for Cassiopeia.

She made her views on her beauty perfectly clear. And Poseidon (head god of the sea) got royally annoyed.

An angry sea god is not a trifling matter, what with him being in charge of floods, earthquakes, and sea monsters all of which can severely damage the infrastructure of a country and the inhabitants therein.

So Cepheus (the king) and Cassiopeia (the queen) decided to consult an oracle to find out What To Do. And once one (or in this case two) has consulted an oracle, one had best do what one is told because otherwise why did you ask?

The oracle said to sacrifice Andromeda. “Oh, the waste of such beauty,” said Cassiopeia, “but at least it’s not me.” So they chained Andromeda to a rock at the edge of the sea where she could look beautiful and await a sea monster.

Fortunately for Andromeda, Perseus happened to be flying by with his borrowed winged shoes (he’d just killed Medusa), and being a Hero kind of guy he rescued her and eventually married her.

To recap, everyone was now happy except Poseidon who thought that Cassiopeia had just weaseled her way out of a red card. So he tied her to a chair and stuck her in the sky in such a way that she is right side up half the time and upside down the rest of the time.

No word on whether Cassiopeia likes rollercoasters or gets sea sick when she’s upside down.

Enjoy the fall stars. And Venus.

Love, Mom

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It’s Officially Official | You’re a College Student

You're a college kid nowDear Kid,

It’s official. Today is your first day of classes.

You’re officially a college freshman. Dad is (very surprisingly) officially not a basket case. Pi is unofficially an only child. Booker is officially (and unofficially) confused. I am officially Mom of College Kid. Cool.

Today is also the anniversary of the official adoption of the 19th Amendment into the US Constitution. In case you don’t have a copy handy, I’ll remind you that the 19th Amendment is the one that guarantees women the right to vote, thereby codifying into the political realm what had been happening in households for eons (women being in charge).

The 19th amendment was adopted in 1920. Let me put that in perspective: less than 100 years ago women were not allowed to vote. Not Allowed. With a capital You Can Just Take Your Pretty Little Ideas Right Back to the Kitchen Where You (and they) Belong. Less. Than. 100. Years.

As with other Major Mistakes in history, the interesting thing is that once women pointed out that they didn’t have the right to vote and they would most assuredly appreciate a quick change in policy or there wasn’t going to be any dinner on the table, not everyone got it. A Whole Lot of People didn’t get it. Giving women the right to vote required fussing and fighting and altering strongly held beliefs (or not in many cases).

The suffragette effort was far less violent than the Civil Rights movement. (I like to think that women—of all colors—are more subtle and sophisticated when it comes to things like changing men’s minds). It also had the advantage that almost all Americans are related in some way to at least one woman. (You had a mother once! [Never!] Then you had an aunt. Extra points for getting the reference. But no penalty points if you don’t know it. I had to call Grandpa to get the details.)

Other important things in history happened on August 26th. In the first mark of true civilization on our planet, in 580 the Chinese invent toilet paper (for which I am truly grateful). Then in 1929, the first US rollercoaster was built. I leave it to you to decide if and how these events are related. On August 26, 1946 George Orwell published Animal Farm. On August 26, 1952, fluoridation of water begins in San Fransisco. Again, I leave it to you to draw any connections. And then in 1961, the Official International Hockey Hall of Fame opened in Toronto, clearing the way for Auntie M to buy you the T-Shirt that would earn you the nickname Snoopy.

History was officially very busy on August 26th.

Hope that you have an officially wonderful first day of classes.

Love (Officially), Mom

P.S. If you haven’t officially “Liked” on Facebook, now would be a Most Excellent Time to do that.


Gilbert & Sullivan; Patience: Act II

Grosvenor talking with Bunthorne

GROS. But surely you would never do that? [In great alarm]

BUN. I don’t know. It would be an extreme measure, no doubt.

GROS. [wildly] But you would not do it — I am sure you would
not. [Throwing himself at BUNTHORNE’s knees, and clinging to him]
Oh, reflect, reflect! You had a mother once.

BUN. Never!

GROS. Then you had an aunt! [BUNTHORNE affected.] Ah! I see
you had! By the memory of that aunt, I implore you to pause ere
you resort to this last fearful expedient. Oh, Mr. Bunthorne,
reflect, reflect! [Weeping]

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