Tuesday, November 18, 2008

One Mississippi, Two Mississippi, Three Mississippi

Last night we caught the evening news just in time to hear Atlanta TV anchorwoman Brenda Wood say that the space shuttle Endeavor would be passing over Atlanta about an hour later and would be visible for three minutes. We were instructed to look west, where Jupiter and Venus are the brightest objects in the sky, at 6:54 p.m. to see the spacecraft rising. By 6:57 p.m., the show would be over.

Mrs. RWP and I went out to the patio just in time to see the event, and it was quite impressive, the space shuttle Endeavor shining every bit as brightly as Jupiter and Venus and at the same time moving rapidly across the evening sky. To realize that the craft went all the way from one horizon to the other that quickly just boggles the mind, especially when the mind is mine and usually given to such thoughts as, “Why, at a few minutes before seven in the evening, is the sky already midnight blue?”. Suddenly I’m reminded of a bit of Longfellow’s poetry: “One if by land and two if by sea/And I on the opposite shore will be/Ready to ride and spread the alarm/To every Middlesex village and farm” and also of how dumbstruck Paul Revere would be at today’s space riders.

Vehicles orbiting the earth have become so commonplace that we rarely think twice about them any more. The space shuttle orbits the earth every 90 minutes, traveling at a speed of about 18,000 miles per hour. For the mathematically challenged among you, that translates to 300 miles per minute, or five miles per second. On the surface of the earth, traveling that rapidly would be downright phenomenal. For each second that you count -- here’s where the One Mississippi, Two Mississippi, Three Mississipi, and so on come in -- you would be an additional five miles away from where your counting started. For example, if you began counting in West Palm Beach, Florida, each succeeding second would find you in Lake Worth, Boynton Beach, Delray Beach, Boca Raton, Pompano Beach, Lauderdale-by-the-sea, Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood, North Miami Beach. Now that’s traveling. You would arrive at each town nearly as fast as you could say its name. The only way I know of to travel faster is to say, “Beam me up, Scotty” and hope that the Enterprise’s trans-porter has enough dilithium crystals to work properly.

Get out a map and try my little experiment with your own locale. Think about the effect such speeds would have on your morning commute. (Note. Women living on farms are exempted from this exercise as their morning commute consists of walking from the house to the chicken coop in Vonda’s case or from the house to the tractor shed in Jeannelle’s case. My mother was transplanted from suburban Philadelphia to our acreage in rural Texas, and her favorite joke was about the farmer’s wife who went crazy. As the men in white coats were taking her away, they asked her husband, “Do you have any idea what caused her to snap?” and he replied, “Absolutely none. Why, she hasn’t even left the farm for fourteen years.” Thinking about that for a while might be enough to make any of us say, “Beam me up, Scotty.”)

P.S. -- We are leaving on a little trip to Tampa, Florida, in the morning. I probably won’t be writing any more posts until we return.


  1. once you have seen paree, it is hard to keep them down on the farm, also reread my blog after you, yes you forced me to make some changes

  2. That would have been something I like to see...not much in the way of clear skys here for several months now.

  3. We live close enough to see the shuttle right after it lifts off, and it's always cool. Except the time it exploded and we were watching. It was going along and all of a sudden there were pieces going down different ways in long plumes of smoke... awful. Oops, sorry, didn't mean to ruin a beautiful moment. But it's hard to get the other one out of my mind.

  4. Well Rhyme I am glad you got to see the Endeavor coming in and that the computer landed it safely.
    I have some ties with the Garriet family, Dad, Mom, and a daughter. Not Richard though. I have heard his story from family.

    Our dog Adi chose the right path to take (not):
    But Adi can walk the straight and narrow:

    Have a nice and safe journey, tell grandma hello from your blogging friends.
    Thanks too for your helpful adivce for our Santa kissing lady and her fiance.

  5. It's only me, thanking all of you, once again.

    Putz, I like the new look much better. One topic, more or less, per post, that's the ticket!

    thud, our skies last night were almost cloudless, so it turned out to be perfect for watching Endeavor go by.

    rosezilla, we saw one shuttle go up from the middle of Indian River, 3 or 4 miles away. Unbelievable as the sound waves roared right through our bodies from front to back. We also saw a shuttle launch from New Smyrna Beach, 28 miles north, and one from U.S. 27 north of Cypress Gardens, and the Apollo 17 nighttime shot from Palm Beach County. All of them were spectacular. A lot of the debris from the Challenger disaster washed up right in front of our condo in New Smyrna. We were not there at the time.

    Jim,, either I got the name wrong or you're thinking of another shuttle launch. This one will be up there for a while longer before it lands. As for the Santa-kissing lady, always happy to be of assistance.

  6. have you ever had blood pudding, or kidney pie, and jerry who was riding with me mentioned that his father after 20 years of study was going to be baptised and i hit a cow

  7. Putz, I have never had either blood pudding or kidney pie. But what does that have to do with jerry's father being baptised?

    I have another suggestion for you to mull over: Answer my comments about your blog on your blog, and I'll answer your comments about my blog on my blog. Otherwise it gets way too confusing for readers of my blog's comments who have no idea what you're referring to!

    I'm going to leave this message on your blog as well in case you don't see it here.

  8. Wow....amazing to think it would take me only one second to get to Readlyn to buy bananas and then one second home again. I could spend even more time here on the farm! If only......

    Hey....one of the commenters on my MyWorld Tuesday post this week posted a video of the recent Endeavor launch for his MyWorld post. He was ten miles away from Cape Canaveral, I think.

    Have a pleasant trip to Tampa!