Friday Homestead Dispatch

Pollinating Acerbic Analeptic

My offerings today are somewhat slim as this last week has been one of pre-pandemic activities…rehearsals, out-of-town guests, dinners, car to the shop kinda week. It’s been good but the quiet, more reflective routine I’ve grown accustomed to these past fourteen months abruptly shifted into another gear.

Channeling his orange mentor, Texas Republican congressman Louie Gohmert has been staring into the sun too long. Earlier this week he asked Jennifer Eberlien, associate deputy chief of the National Forest Service (because people from the NFS should know about such things), if changing the moon’s orbit around the Earth, or the Earth’s orbit around the sun, might be a solution for climate change.

“We know there’s been significant solar flare activity, and so … is there anything that the National Forest Service or BLM can do to change the course of the moon’s orbit, or the Earth’s orbit around the sun?” Gohmert asked. “Obviously that would have profound effects on our climate.”

Eberlien said she would have to “follow up with you on that one, Mr Gohmert.”

Apparently, Gohmert’s advisors also write for the World Weekly News.

Anthony Bourdain.

Alex Welsh / The New York Times / Redux Pictures

He left the planet on June 8, 2018 at the young age of 61. As for the reputation of being a “bad-boy chef,” Bourdain proclaimed, “I’m not a chef. I’m not bad. And I’m not a boy.”

Apparently you can can stream Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown on HBO Max.

”One constant, then and now, is my still ironclad ground rule regarding music both during and after work: In any kitchen where I am in control, there is a strict NO Billy Joel, NO Grateful Dead policy. If you are seen visibly enjoying either act, whether during or even after your working hours, you can clean out your locker now. You’re fired.” (The Nasty Bits: Collected Varietal Cuts, Usable Trim, Scraps, and Bones)

"Already cynical by nature, I spent 30 years in a business that, if nothing else, taught me to be cynical about the world—I went from there to television, which if you had anything left you would think would smother it, but the fact is I remained committed to certain notions, that there are good guys in the world worth speaking up for, worth supporting if you can. That there are reasons to hope that there's merit to truth and beauty—you know, true love. I still believe all of those things. It may be a failing, but I believe them." (As told to MUNCHIES, September 2016)

If you have not watched the amazing fashion show scene in Federico Fellini’s Roma, spend the ten minutes. Fellini has a way of portraying his unique vision without forcing a point of view down your throat. The music is prodigious and complements, rather than manipulates, the action. Fellini just seems to say, "and here is how it was on that day in..." while portraying the Romans who "couldn't care less whether you are alive or dead". The scene with the religious fashion show and the Pope nodding off is not to be missed. I am reminded of watching one of George Carlin's last performances – his rant on God and religion. Kidding on the square with a touch of surrealism. George Carlin and Federico Fellini...hmmm. Genius comes in all forms.

Most of the time when we go into our library branch it’s to pick up books on the reserve shelf. Last month we had some spare time during our visit so, in browsing the shelves, Connie stumbled upon a book by Heather Young called The Distant Dead. Cool. Checked it out. She loved it so I picked it up after and dug it as well.

Turns out it’s only her second book (of two written), the first being The Lost Girls which won the Strand Award for Best First Novel and was nominated for an Edgar Award for Best First Novel. The Distant Dead was published last summer and named one of the ten best mystery and suspense books of the year by Book Page.

Stay with me here…in my May 14th Dispatch I posted a funny:

Guy who invented the clock: there will be 12 numbers on it
Friend: so the day will be divided into 12 segments?
Inventor: no, 24
Friend: so will the day start at 1
Inventor: the day will start at the 12, which is at night
Inventor: the 6 means 30

So when I ‘typed’ out a passage I had marked in the book for my Reading List, it went a long way in explaining why we use a factor of sixty for telling time. Here is math teacher Adam Merkel explaining a concept to his young Protégé, a sixth grader named Sal Prentiss.

“Thousands of years ago, the Egyptians invented the sundial, and they divided the day into twelve hours instead of ten. Because they didn’t count in groups of ten like we do. They counted like this.” With his right thumb Mr. Merkel touched the knuckles of his right index finger. “Three knuckles on each finger. Four fingers on each hand. Twelve. All the Western civilizations that came after them kept the twelve-hour day, even if they used a base-ten counting system. So when Europeans decided to divide hours into minutes, they picked sixty instead of one hundred, because sixty is a multiple of twelve.”

It was also a multiple of ten, Sal thought. He’d waited all week for Mr. Merkel to tell him a math story, but this one didn’t make any sense. “What does that have to do with factor trees?”

“Sixty is also a good choice if you want to break your hour into smaller parts. You can divide it by every number between one and six, and also twelve, fifteen, and thirty. You can only divide one hundred by five, ten, twenty, twenty-five, and fifty.”

Sal still wasn’t following. He wondered if Lucas would have. He probably would. He had a remarkable mind, after all.

“Think about the numbers you can divide into sixty that you can’t divide into one hundred,” Mr. Merkel prompted. “Three, six, twelve, fifteen, and thirty. What de they have in common?”

“I don’t know.” Sal hated how he sounded–like a sulky little kid–bet he couldn’t help it.

“They’re all multiples of three. Three is a prime factor of sixty, but it isn’t a prime factor one hundred.”

Then, in a flash of understanding, Sal got it. One hundred was two times two times five times five. Sixty was two times two times three times five, and that made all the difference. He thought of how time was measured, in all its subparts–five minutes or six, ten minutes or twelve, fifteen or twenty or thirty–and how much more fluid it became when the denominator was sixty instead of one hundred. Prime factorization wasn’t just a math game like the Riemann Hypothesis after all. It mattered, in real and important ways, like how we keep time. When Mr. Merkel saw that Sal understood, he smiled, and relief warmed Sal’s face.

A fine read.

And now, you know what to do…