Groundhog Day 2001 
Minor quibble: why did groundhog day catch on so big in this country?  It's not 
like we grabbed onto Boxing Day (which is a practical holiday, if nothing else) or 
Pancake Day, or anything like that.  We don't check a jar of bear fat to try to 
tell if spring is soon to appear. 
Kind of like wondering why astrology is still with us, but tea leaf reading is 
pretty much gone.  Heck, anybody can get a hold of tea. 
In other news, I had some weird perspective ideas rolling about in my head: 
While on the subway this morning, I had to hold onto one of the poles that is to 
one side of the door of the car.  Now, it was rush hour (approx. 8:15am), so I had 
plenty of company around that pole.  What was odd was that when I looked at the 
hands grasping the pole, I couldn't tell which one was mine.  I mean, I could 
logically figure out, from the sleeve, which was mine, but I didn't feel viscerally 
connected to that hand. 
Very odd. 
I was in that early crush, rather than my usual hour later, because I had a guitar 
lesson at 9am (I am moving up mentally -- I now know why when one is backing up a 
good soloist in a jazz piece, dropping the 5 out of a seventh chord is a good 
idea.  Besides, it's the least important note in the chord.  A minor seven, dude!) 
Well, this morning, I didn't need to bring my guitar, because Stu's electric guitar 
hadn't been set-up yet and still had all its strings and was sitting at Chris's 
place.  So, for once, I was walking down Chris's hall without a guitar, and the 
hall felt alot shorter than usual. 
Last thought: 
I've been reading _The Pinball Effect_ by James Burke of Connections fame.  Yes, he 
seems to repeat a lot of the same themes as in previous books, but there are some 
people and ideas which have profound effects elsewhere in the world.  Such as the 
invention of the typewriter, making it more common for women to work, and gaslight, 
making it easier for these women to take night classes.  Thus, the rise of 
feminism?  Well, definitely the rise of demand for boots. 
And yes, I know those were all sentence fragments.  Get off my case.  I will split 
an infinitive later, if I feel like it.  Do you people understand the point of 
grammar?  Do you have any perspective? 
Which takes me back to my idea:  Two years ago, I bought some journals with creamy 
smooth paper and some lovely pens to write on this paper.  I thought I'd write a 
common history of what it was like to live in 1999.  I never started on this idea, 
and it may be a while before I actually get to it.  However, unlike some, I am not 
jealous of my ideas, especially since I know there's someone out there who can do 
it better. 
I like to read history, especially from odd angles, like the history of 
epidemiology and public health, the history of technology, the history of 
map-making -- those kinds of things.  I do this partially because I find 
"standard" histories, the great leaders/great wars/great discoveries models leave a 
great portion of life untouched.  I mean, do =you= know when most urban dwellers 
switched from chamber pots (or just using the streets) to flush toilets?  At what 
point did women start wearing corsets?  When was newpaper reading common?  What 
kinds of foods did people eat, and how did they prepare them?  What was expensive 
and what was inexpensive?  What was being made cheap or obsolete by advancing 
technology?  What were the =small= policy decisions made by government?   
For example, something I found interesting: Copernicus figured out a solar system 
made more sense than an earth system because he had been commissioned by the 
Catholic Church to fix the dates of Easter, because celebrating Easter at an 
improper date was considered a sin.  Though Ptolemy's original system was okay, the 
precession of the equinoxes (and that extra 1/4 being an =over= estimation - we 
didn't see this, because 2000 was a regular leap year, but 3 out of 4 
century-end-years are not leap years anymore) made a time creep that made it 
evident to everybody that much longer and Easter would be in winter, which didn't 
make any sense.  In any case, Copernicus realized that it would be easier to 
calculate things if one assumed the Earth was in a circular orbit around the Sun, 
rather than have the Sun do these weird epicycle things around the Earth.  In any 
case, all the first-class observatories were built and owned by the church in order 
to fix this problem, and if they had been a little less worried as to when Easter 
came, they wouldn't have had to deal with Copernicus first, and later Galileo, who 
was called in for similar work. 
What I find interesting in all this is how often small, ordinary details can end up 
creating vast pressure and change.  I realize this is partially what Isaac Asimov 
had in mind with psychohistory, but like much of his fiction, he kept the ideas 
understandably hazy. 
So anyway, I wanted something on the small, as in things I actually do every day, 
as well as large, how I see (or I think people in general see) the outside 
world.  Too many people are turned inward, and think some greater wisdom will come 
from looking in the mirror and showing it to others.  I find it more interesting to 
see how the mirrors reflect each other and get stuff to start happening.  I'd 
rather not be seeing the infinitely nested images that often pop-up in mutual 
admiration societies, as I often see created online. 
So, my initial idea for organization is around stuff like: Money (what it is and 
how we use it), Food (what we eat, how we define ourselves with what we eat, all 
the different ways we get what we eat), Health (the good, the bad, and the ugly), 
Shelter (suburbs and apartments and covenants, oh my!), Entertainment, Other People 
(this will include communication issues), Philosophy and other Brain Food, Work 
(and status and point back to money), Power.  That kind of stuff.  I don't intend 
it to be a census-style/USAToday-style infographics informing of what it is like to 
live in the U.S. right now.  I want it to be a personal account of how one person 
sees the current world.  My intended audience are my grandchildren -- people of 
that generation, perhaps later generations.  I want to answer the questions that I 
ask of the 19th century and earlier. 
That's enough for now. 
Prev Year Next