Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Always Say Yes

An excellent few days past on the road. Of all the wondrous joys of travel, I dare say I love the way it so quickly shakes us clean from the tedium of daily routines - how mere dislocation so swiftly leads the mind down new and ever-curious paths.

In that spirit, here be some random facts, objects, and observations collected in the last 100 or so hours [with considerable help from The Know-it All and the Smithsonian]:

(1) The wisest, most humbling words of the English language: "This, too, shall pass."

(2) There is no substitute for experiencing historical sites with our own senses. Hanging out under the Lincoln memorial for an afternoon, I am forced to agree with Locke. As poetic as it sounds, the colour scarlet is just not the sound of a trumpet (#11). Mere words are no match for standing there.

(3) Added a classic souvenir to the collection at a Presidential memorabilia shop off Pennsylvania that hosted a superb collection of primary campaign buttons. Instead, I opted for the packet of 6 tickets that were “good for one drink” at the 1973 Inaugural Ball celebrating Nixon's re-election. Now I just need a time machine.

(4) Burt Rutan is a modern day magician that I really, really would like to meet. His SpaceshipOne and Voyager hang in the Smithsonian. We may all have a shot at visiting space one day thanks in large part to his genius. On a video monitor near his planes, Rutan evokes his hero and mentor, Wernher von Braun:
Someone once asked Braun [JFK, according to legend] what's the most difficult thing about going to the moon, and he says, "The will to do it." The engineering is just calculations, but the decision and the will and the courage to try to do it, that's the most difficult hurdle.
(5) Also seen at the Smithsonian? Truly the Milestones of Flight. All the original aircraft. The 1903 Wright Flyer. Lindbergh's 1927 Spirit of St. Louis. Yeager's Orange 1947 Bell X-1, affectionately titled (get this!) "Glamorous Glennis". The Armstrong/Aldrin/Collins 1969 Apollo 11 Command Module. Oh, the Right Stuff, indeed. Lindbergh's story in particular is one whose magnitude I never fully appreciated - all too many details of that glorious quest here.

(6) In 1842, John Tyler invited Dickens to the White House. The famed writer arrived, knocked on the door, and when no one answered, Dickens just let himself in. Needless to say, we did not gain access so easily. Did pick up an information card from one of the few protestors of the lazy Saturday. The latest in wild conspiracy theorists? Targetted electromagnetic radiation attacks. Check out newnationaltheater.com for the bizarre charges.

(7) I simply love the title of James Hogg's 1824 Gothic classic: "The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner". I also love books that are freely available on the Internet. More to quotes to come from this one, you can be sure.

(8) My favorite new writing style is the Boustrophedon. Might take awhile to learn to implement. Such an efficient idea, of course the Greeks thought of it long before I ever might have.

(9) Finally, the last word goes to Bond creator, Ian Fleming. “Never say no to adventures. Always say yes, otherwise you’ll lead a very dull life.” Amen. The world is wide. Where will that next voyage lead?


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