Thursday, April 12, 2012


I spent 8 or 10 or 15 hours listening to the audiobook Longitude, and most of that was how much trying to make a clock that worked at sea consumed John Harrison's life. All of this made me itch to take advantage of centuries of development and buy a practically free, practically perfect pocket watch. It takes two clocks to work out longitude. Here is what you do: Keep one set to the time at the Prime Meridian, where it is 0* and they use Greenwich Mean Time. Then, at local noon, set the other clock. After you subtract GMT from local time and divide by twenty-four, multiply your result by 360* and you are all done! The only thing is, Greenwich uses Mean Time, averaging all the noons in a year, and we are using solar time directly. There's an Equation of Time for that, but I haven't learned it. I made a little reference card for myself and put it into the locket watch.

*You can multiply by 15 but then remembering that the sun takes 24 hours to visit 360* of Earth wouldn't help you remember how to calculate longitude.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Fresh Hindsight Insights

This week I had an impression from my youth invalidated, and a different impression validated. It's funny that it happened in a row like that. 

Friday was glorious, so I took an unscheduled half-day and went for a bike ride. And it was awesome. I went to a part of the marina that I didn't know was there, and it was sunny and breezy and gorgeous. And since I'm living in the town I hated growing up in, I was confused. Back then I had a bike and everything, but I just didn't want to bike around my boring, dumb town. And it turns out I was the boring one? I am glad I didn't know that; I was having a hard enough time thinking I was too interesting and special for this place. 

Today I resumed my ice skating lessons after an 18 year hiatus. I picked out a level from the chart on the Oakland Ice Center website. I decided I am a Beginner 3, because I can't do backwards crossovers. I think that chart might apply to children's lessons only or else I am just bad at self assessment because the beginner's class wasn't for people who are comfortable on skates. Luckily, the intermediate class is at the same time and I fit in fine in that one, except that I was dressed like a child. Not like the children learning to speed-skate in pink and black polar fleece who shared the rink with us, but like I dressed when I was first in ice skating lessons, before my Mom bought me a heap of beautiful leotards: short ruffled plaid skirt over leggings, short sleeved sweater, long green-and-white mittens. Ice-skating clothes. 

I knew how to approximate everything we did today, which is good because I basically couldn't understand what the instructor wanted me to do. Follow something, inside edge, don't push with toe, thighs together, arms square, drive with the shoulders, bilateral something. It was amazing, just how I remember lessons (of all sorts) when I was young. I don't know what the instructor wants or why, and there is no time to play around until I get the hang of things. It was pretty validating to realize that I wasn't unmotivatedly playing around and not focusing when I was in all sorts of lessons- learning to do body things in a group lesson is hard. 

Swimming @14: stretch as long as I can, something something flip turns, push myself, no breathing between designated breaths, something about knees.
Cello @13: pronation, rock on fingertip, stay on the pads of my fingers, f# is third finger but b is second finger, from now on I will practice my scales. 
Gymnastics @5: I for sure don't have to listen to a woman who is 1/4 as stretchy as I am. 
Ballet @4: An enormous mirror is exactly what I need now that I've got all dressed up in pink sparkles; these people don't mess around.