Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Of Cats and Kids and Scientists Who Aren't

Aren't What?
Greenman Tim has tagged me with a meme of eight. Not quite so spendable as a piece of eight. But ...

Odd facts about oneself. There's concern in blogtopia that all the odd facts, the plain facts, the elaborate facts and the disputable facts are available through Dog Pile or Google or something. Being at least as vain as the next one I often Google my name. Before I started the blog I found out a lot about the Norwegian and Danish branches of the family. They might be descendent's of the elder brother of the vikings who settled in Groningen, Netherlands, prior to 1600 something.But they are listed for academic papers, or Swimming feats. Once I discovered my sister-in-law, Frederika Langeland, had published a cookbook and her daughter, Dierdre Langeland, a children's book. Soon after the blog began, that changed somewhat. Poor Martin Langeland, a third engineer, (Scroll down to find the poor chap) late of the Norwegian whaling fleet, was captured in 1941 and may have been repatriated by working his way across on the Star XIV. Still he keeps a toe hold on the first screen at number ten. The rest refer to mine self somewhat gloriously or goryously as may be. But why not add the odd bit to the hopper on the principal of befuddling them with bull shit? Dazzling the slowest witted with brilliance has long eluded me.
1. I come by it by training: At about ten years I and my father observed the July night sky from the big dock. Earle asked me how far I could see? I guessed maybe a mile because I knew I could see across the lake. Earle said he could see much farther. "I can see about 93 million miles in the daytime and further at night." Huh? I queried? "The Sun," he said, "Is 93 million miles from Earth. The stars are further.
2. Get high and it all fits: My Father worked at a plant beside Wolf Lake in Northwestern Indiana. We summered at the ancestral cottage on Mona Lake near Muskegon, Michigan. On Wolf Lake Sandy kept a Piper seaplane at a dock on the plant's property. One summer weekend Sandy flew Earle and a business associate from Wolf Lake to Mona Lake. Mona Lake is three or four miles long and feeds into the 'big lake' (Lake Michigan). About a quarter mile from the big dock, a concrete float bridge crossed the lake. This was a favorite haunt of the local fisherman who reeled in perch and bass and sunfish. Sandy didn't know about this. He saw a long lake spanned by a high bridge: Set down on one side and glide under the bridge to the big dock. So he did. As he passed underneath the prop acquired several fishing lines from both sides of the bridge.
The next day I increased my vocabulary as I watched him pulling the filaments from the prop shaft.
When all was ship shape, Sandy took me and my brothers and sister for a spin. Being the youngest, I got the 'best' seat, in the middle in the back. I still was able to see a bit as the land dropped away. As Sandy turned the piper to head North to Muskegon I saw the cottage among the trees and the dock and the roads to the big lake and to town and how the lake went to meet the little bridge over the channel that joined Mona Lake to Lake Michigan. All of it was laid before me like -- like a map!
Regrettably Sandy disappeared later that year or early the next as he flew some people across Lake Michigan. The plane went down somewhere in the middle to join the myriad hulks that litter the lake's bottom, and was never located. What a great gift he gave me, not only my first airplane ride, but also the sense of maps.

More to come tomorrow...
--ml
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