I’ve only missed two days: December 4 & October 30 since this streak began on October 11. That’s 62/64 days for those of you keeping score at home. I’ve set an alarm on my phone to go off at 9:45 pm to remind me to write something for the day. This has been very useful on days when I otherwise would have shrugged it off.
If I can keep up this streak for six months, I will consider this goal complete. If my average days of writing stays above 95% through April 11, 2010, then I’ll check off this goal as finished.
Longitude is one of my favorite books. To my mind, stories about how people navigate through space are captivating. I might be jealous of these pre-industrial navigators. In my life, the only decision is wheter to take M-14 or I-94 on my way to Detroit. In Longitude, the protaganist isn’t a navigator, but a watch maker. In his attempt to win the Longitude Prize he built clocks capable of working on ships at sea. I recently learned about two types of navigators that predate the search for longitude, Polynesians and Narwhals.
The latest issue of National Geographic Adventure highlighted the pre-historic method of wayfinding practiced by Polynesian settlers of Fiji, Hawaii, and hundreds of other Pacific islands. Without the aid of radios, compasses, maps, or any aid to navigation they sailed as far as 2,500 miles to found new settlements. How? It starts just after birth. Infants chosen to be wayfinders are placed in tidal pools to become accustomed to the physics of the ocean. As they grow they’re taught how to navigate by constellations and clouds. On ocean-going canoes, the wayfinder rarely sleeps more than two hours a day. All the instruments considered indispensable to modern navigators were hardwired to a single individual.
The tusk of the Narwhal is perhaps the most unique tooth on the planet. It can grow up to nine feet in length on males, it grows in a spiral, like soft serve ice cream, and its purpose is apparently still a mystery to scientists. One dentist has an hypothesis that he has been testing since 2005: the tusk is an aid to navigation in the icy Arctic Ocean. Martin Nweeia believes that the tusk could be used to detect water temperature, salinity, and currents. Is it possible that natural selection has favored this tusk-as-antenna trait? The possibility that navigational aptitude can be an extra sensation like taste or smell is fascinating.
Is it possible that our commuting patterns are driving a new round of natural selection? I doubt it, but people regularly navigate lots of situations outside their vehicles. Sometimes the feeling is called intuition, or conscious, or more plainly, gut. Social triggers can cause that physical reaction, a signal to avoid something. It’s a crude instrument, and I think it’s one that is neglected too often.
Distance is going to be the biggest challenge to planning this wedding. I will be in Buffalo, where the wedding will happen this summer, in about three weeks. Getting some important ducks in line during that window will be critical to managing stress as the date approaches.
Wish me luck :)