Esteemed thinker: Eli Terry

Salvadore dali

The sun rises and sets, the day begins and the day ends; and then… we have night. It is nature’s way of giving us a sense of time. That is, until the onset of man and woman’s need to keep order, whereby the application of a clock becoming most of humanity’s wakeup call. A clock, a watch, an alarm are not just a visual guide to get you through the day, but the things that sends us scurrying or slows us down. The clock reminds us we are late for work, need to get to the airport, or a badgering cue to “get to bed”. A timepiece is essentially a device that nags us into doing things we rather not do. However, in spite of our unwillingness, we generally and reluctantly abide.

The clock is often blamed for things that are not its fault, such as “the alarm did not go off,” or, “it is slow.” But since time is a made-up, the clock really is not at fault; can it be wrong or is it perhaps not on our time-schedule.

So, the next time you are in London, and see Big Ben, perhaps it is really not just a time-piece hoovering above, but rather a reminder of your obligations! eli terry

Today’s blog brings you the esteemed thinker: Eli Terry, American inventor and modern thinker (1772-1852) Born in East Windor, Connecticut, Terry became an apprentice to a watchmaker at the age of fourteen.  Clocks at this time were handmade luxury items and considered quite a prestigious item to own. In 1793 he opened his own clock shop.  He had heard of Eli Whitney ‘s methods of interchangeable parts and realized the potential in applying this to his clock making business. Terry adapted his machines to be powered by water and with the help of hired workmen to cut the individual wheels, cogs, and other clock parts, he was able to assemble and produced finished clocks. Such a feat would change the art of clock making into mass-production by factory process.

By 1816 Eli had changed the style from pendulum to ones that were small enough to sit on a mantel. They were sold mainly to rural buyers by travelling merchants, which significant played a role in transforming the rural North from overwhelmingly agricultural to a modern market society.

The entrepreneurship and success of manufacturing clocks in large numbers grew and by 1830, western Connecticut was home to over a hundred firms, large and small, making clocks with wooden movements. Up until his death, Eli Terry continued to improve upon his inventions and help us to “keep time!”

First image: Oil on canvas by Salvador Dali, Persistence of Memory (1931)

Esteemed thinker: Anne Sullivan

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The alphabet is one of our most progressive inventions, a unique concept with such profound implications. The act of stringing together characters to create a word, which has the ability to change meaning by the mere manipulation of its placement in a row, is indeed extraordinary. The word “but” is a conjunction, however switch the letters and we get “tub”, a noun.  Then if we add a few letters we can have the word “cat” and with the addition of an “s”, placed before or after the word, we get two distinct words and two different definitions,  “cats” or “scat”. Put them together with a space between and we have a sentence “scat cat!”

One can all agree that the inventions of the 21st century certainly have improved our lives, but let us not forget those that came before us… the offering that has most likely contributed most universally, impacting and influencing effects on civilization to the greatest degree… the alphabet.

Today’s blog brings you the esteemed thinker: Anne Sullivan (1866anne sullivan-1836) (Born Johanna “Anne” Mansfield Sullivan Macy). An accomplished American educator, she is best known as the teacher and companion of Helen Keller. Anne was born in Feeding Hills, Massachusetts to Irish immigrants who came to the United States to escape the notorious potato famine.  Sullivan and her surviving siblings grew up in impoverished conditions, and struggled with health problems. Anne contracted an eye disease, trachoma, at the age of five and nearly caused her to lose her sight. Her mother suffered from tuberculosis and died when Anne was eight years old.

Left with an abusive father, she and her brother were sent to live at an almshouse for the poor, however after a short time the younger brother dies and Anne is left alone.  Wanting to get an education, she convinces a prominent group of inspectors of the almshouse to allow her to leave and she is sent to the Perkins Institution for the Blind. Having never attended school, she proves that she is intelligent and quick learner, tutoring other students at the school. After undergoing surgery, she regains some of her own vision back.

sign language

Overcoming her own disabilities, in 1887, Anne Sullivan accepts a positon of teaching six-year-old Helen Keller, who lost her sight and hearing after a severe illness at the age of 19 months. To prepare herself, Sullivan studies the case of a former Perkins student who was also blind, deaf, and mute who had been taught to communicate through the use of raised letters and manual language.

Under Sullivan’s tutelage, including her pioneering “touch teaching” techniques, the previously difficult and defiant Helen Keller flourishes, eventually graduating from college and becoming an international lecturer and activist. Sullivan, later dubbed “the miracle worker,” remained Keller’s interpreter and constant companion until the Sullivan’s death in 1936.

 

First image: Photograph of sculpture by Robert Indiana, 1970