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!
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)
There was a time, not too long ago, when there existed ‘wonderment’. It occurred in an ordinary day, during an ordinary hour, doing perhaps something considered ordinary. Hanging out the laundry on a clothes line, and suddenly a rainbow would appear. Watching a magic trick where a man in a black cape would retrieve a rabbit out of his top hat, or a telephone call from America to Europe; all these things created a smile, a moment of awe, an appreciation for what appears and feels like magic…
The age of wonderment was an era when extraordinary things were not taken for granted; all eyes were glued on the television when we landed a man on the moon, and all were amazed at the first heart transplant. To think our ability to become mystified has all but disappeared is a great loss indeed.
Wonderment to the 21st century person may be a feeling that has essentially become numb. So much goes by unnoticed, ignored, and not even a footnote in the news. And so, lament we should for those who may have lost a uniquely human quality, the ability to be wowed.
Today’s post brings you the namesake of this blog, the esteemed thinker: Albert Einstein (1879-1955). Little introduction needs to be made for he is clearly a wonderment. Born at Ulm, in Württemberg, Germany, Einstein is one of the most influential physicists of the 20th century. Acknowledged for having developed the special and general theories of relativity, in 1921, he won the Nobel Prize for physics for his explanation of the photoelectric effect.
From his book titled The world as I see it (1949), I have prepared a small parcel for you to read. For within this small passage one will see that even a pragmatic mind like Einstein had time to appreciate the wonderment and mysteries of life.
“…The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. He who knows it not and can no longer wonder, no longer feel amazement, is as good as dead, a snuffed-out candle…”
Moments are tiny elements of time… a cough, a sneeze, a glance…if we were to calculate how long it takes to react or to perform one of these events it would be correct to say…”just a moment”. And so we see that such a modest allotment, however, can manufacture an enormous memory…a memory so grand and so big that you can carry it about with you and resurrect that instant back into the present. A chance greeting with a dignitary in a receiving line, a hug from grandmother, or even the first time you listened to the air circling about in a conch shell…a moment that has endured for such a long duration that if it had been a rose it would have lost its brilliance and dried into a petrified flower.
Walk by a bakery and the wisp of baked goods will linger yet it was but a brief encounter that set the olfactory in motion. Small pleasures in comparison to big events do not always leave the same mark for it is not always the largest occasion that leaves the most favorable memory. Rather, there are moments which were not trifles happenings, but in its place have severed a wound or engraved a wedge so profound that its removal seems overpowering… a quick glib, a sarcastic comment, an angry glare… the same amount of time yet its effects we wish or hope would disappear as quickly as they were created. Moments in time happen in day and night and its effects are as different as its counterparts light and dark…
How often have we heard someone say… ”Oh, wait just a moment,” or “it will arrive in just a moment.” Yet we know deep down that the accuracy of the statement is not truthful; for the calculated “moment” dwindles in a quagmire of reinterpreted time.
A moment -in -time is a constant measurement like the twenty-four hours it takes the Earth to rotate; it is always the same yet the impact we feel in a given moment can be small or big, tiny or enormous, it can leave us feeling light in thought or heavy with burden, so little like a whisper yet so strong like a hurricane….strange …isn’t it?
Today’s blog invites you back to revisit our esteemed thinker: William Hazlitt, a Romantic era writer. This English author and philosopher turned criticism into an art form. His prose and essays were eloquent in style and language, although not without controversy for he was a most principled and outspoken in his thinking.
Let us now take “a moment of time” to read a portion snipped from his essay, “Great and Little Things” (1821) . Here is the ever so expressive Mr. Hazlitt…
“ … The great and the little have, no doubt, a real existence in the nature of things; but they both find pretty much the same level in the mind of man. It is a common measure, which does not always accommodate itself to the size and importance of the objects it represents. It has a certain interest to spare for certain things (and no more) according to its humour and capacity; and neither likes to be stinted in its allowance, nor to muster up an unusual share of sympathy, just as the occasion may require. Perhaps, if we could recollect distinctly, we should discover that the two things that have affected us most in the course of our lives have been, one of them of the greatest, and the other of the smallest possible consequence. To let that pass as too fine a speculation, we know well enough that very trifling circumstances do give us great and daily annoyance, and as often prove too much for our philosophy and forbearance, as matters of the highest moment. A lump of soot spoiling a man’s dinner, a plate of toast falling in the ashes, the being disappointed of a ribbon to a cap or a ticket for a ball, have led to serious and almost tragical consequences…
The truth is, we pamper little griefs into great ones, and bear great ones as well as we can. We can afford to dally and play tricks with the one, but the others we have enough to do with, without any of the wantonness and bombast of passion—without the swaggering of Pistol or the insolence of King Cambyses’ vein. To great evils we submit; we resent little provocations. I have before now been disappointed of a hundred pound job and lost half a crown at rackets on the same day, and been more mortified at the latter than the former…”
Every day we use numbers and though they are part of our daily life we take them for granted. Yet isn’t it a curious notion that something we use so often is actually not a real or tangible thing but rather an abstraction? Numbers are a made-up concept. We can’t hold one, or touch one, or even eat one. Numbers are merely a representation of items. They represent the years we have lived, the amount of candy in a box, or how long it takes for a person to travel from one place to another.
Numbers are used in a calendar and on a clock whereby we can calculate another made up abstraction we call time. Time is a sequential relationship to events that mark the past, the future, or the present. The numbers are a collection of the events such as 24 hours in a day; which again represents a practical way of measuring a sequence of a specific duration. How chaotic would life be if we did not have numbers.
Which leads me to another very important integer, the zero! Yes, I know what ou are thinking, zero mean nothing…whereby I will remind those skeptics that the zero was a most ingenious invention as the universal place holder …let’s face it, without zero we would never get above 9………..
So the next time someone tells you that are not good in math, look upon them with a bit more empathy for after all, numbers are all just a bunch of made-up notations. (Might as well use x, y, and z…oh wait we do!!)
Today’s blog brings to you the esteemed thinker: Benjamin Banneker (1731- 1806) African-American mathematician, surveyor, astronomer, and publisher of a popular almanac. Born in Baltimore, Maryland, he was the son of a free woman and a former slave father. Banneker did not have much of a formal education, although he was taught to read by his grandmother, he was able to only briefly attend a Quaker school because he was needed to work on the family farm.
Banneker was a self- motivated and self-educated man who gained national acclaim for scientific work in the 1791 surveying the Federal Territory (now Washington, D.C.). In 1753, he built one of the first watches made in America, a wooden pocket watch. His interest in how the celestial world worked eventually gave him the insight to learned to predict lunar and solar eclipses based on what he absorbed from his learning and mathematical equations that he formulated.
His skills as a mathematician continued to dazzle when he published an almanac with astronomical calculations. (1792-1797).
I now bring to you a portion from his letter to Thomas Jefferson, where the correspondence between these two great men can be seen today at the home of Jefferson, Monticello.
“… Sir, although my sympathy and affection for my brethren hath caused my enlargement thus far, I ardently hope, that your candor and generosity will plead with you in my behalf, when I make known to you, that it was not originally my design; but having taken up my pen in order to direct to you, as a present, a copy of an Almanac, which I have calculated for the succeeding year, I was unexpectedly and unavoidably led thereto.
This calculation is the production of my arduous study, in this my advanced stage of life; for having long had unbounded desires to become acquainted with the secrets of nature, I have had to gratify my curiosity herein, through my own assiduous application to Astronomical Study, in which I need not recount to you the many difficulties and disadvantages, which I have had to encounter…
I industriously applied myself thereto, which I hope I have accomplished with correctness and accuracy; a copy of which I have taken the liberty to direct to you, and which I humbly request you will favorably receive; and although you may have the opportunity of perusing it after its publication, yet I choose to send it to you in manuscript previous thereto, that thereby you might not only have an earlier inspection, but that you might also view it in my own hand writing…”
First image: Vocational Printing math class. 1916,Fall River, Massachusetts photographed by Lewis W. Hine
Second image: “Benjamin Banneker: Surveyor-Inventor-Astronomer,” mural by Maxime Seelbinder, at the Recorder of Deeds building, built in 1943. 515 D St., NW, Washington, D.C.
The world of business is thought to be ever so complex however it appears to revolve around two events, the passing of time and the passing of money. Both involve good planning and good luck; for without them both working hand-in-hand, one could stymie the other. For those readers that like examples, let us take the film industry. Production on a new movie does not occur without first deciding upon time involved in production and the finances to put the idea into action. However, how often do we hear that the making of the movie is “behind schedule” and “cost productions” are over budget.
Such an occurrence is not rare but rather common practice. The identical business scenario results ever- so- often in the construction industry. Plans are created however, for whatever reason, perhaps a building permit or poor weather, construction is placed “on hold’ and as the company sorts things out, one-thing-leads to another, costs increase, and extra time is needed for the project to be completed. One can delve into a multitude of examples yet the more we look the more we not that the business world appears not to really have a hold on keeping to a schedule, even when they plan so many planning meetings that one has to wonder how they have so much time to plan.
Yet, there is one set of workers that complete their job everyday on time, regardless of money or the lack of time….teachers. Go into any classroom and one will find a diversity of clients (students) under the management of one and regardless of the weather or the lack of materials, when the bell rings and their day begins, in spite of distractions, interruptions, or disgruntled kids, work goes on according to plans.
So, perhaps the next time a business cannot seem to get the job completed according to schedule, rather than pouring more money into it…why not call in the experts of time management… the teacher.
Today’s blog brings to you the esteemed thinker: Paulo Freire (b. Recife, Brazil 1921-1997) Brazilian philosopher and teacher who developed educational theories that helped transform the field of education to better literacy to the poor. His studies centered around the relationship between teaching and learning where he endorsed that the teacher should help students in developing freedom of thought that would enable them to use their knowledge to take constructive action. In 1962 the first experiments in Freire’s method of education saw extreme success when 300 farmworkers were taught to read and write in just 45 days.
Freire was a child during the Great Depression where his experiences from this time later framed his life’s work; making changes in the development of education and literacy. His book ‘Pedagogy of the Oppressed’ is considered one of the foundational texts of critical pedagogy.
I now bring you a snippet from the great Paulo Freire’s work, Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Take time from your busy day and afterwards, if you could read this…thank a teacher.
“A careful analysis of the teacher-student relationship at any level, inside or outside the school, reveals its fundamentally narrative character. This relationship involves a narrating Subject (the teacher) and patient listening objects (the students). The contents, whether values or empirical dimensions of reality, tend in the process of being narrated to become lifeless and petrified. Education is suffering from narration sickness…Education thus becomes an act of depositing, in which the students are the depositories and the teacher is the depositor. Instead of communicating, the teacher issues communiques and makes deposits which the students patiently receive, memorize, and repeat. This is the “banking’ concept of education, in which the scope of action allowed to the students extends only as far as receiving, filing, and storing the deposits. They do, it is true, have the opportunity to become collectors or cataloguers of the things they store. But in the last analysis, it is the people themselves who are filed away through the lack of creativity, transformation, and knowledge in this (at best) misguided system. For apart from inquiry, apart from the praxis, individuals cannot be truly human. Knowledge emerges only through invention and re-invention, through the restless, impatient continuing, hopeful inquiry human beings pursue in the world, with the world, and with each other…”
First image early 1890s.
Today’s post invites you to take a walk, where we traipse among trees and come upon a dwelling in the woods, where a poem beckons to be written. And so it has………………