typical dinner

Head of table

This Christmas was just delicious. I had asked Catherine for an encore of Thanksgiving; perfect turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, macaroni&cheese, spinach, brussels sprouts. We did it again, Kitty! Nate the Great helped decorate gingerbreadstars and ninjabreadmen. Nana and Alldaddy and Nicholas brought more treats to Greenport in various forms of chocolate from Vienna and Manhattan. It was a wonderful feast.

We wondered, if we could be blessed with a beautiful cocoa-flavored snowman, why then could not our precious Mimsie the Cat (who came to us this year) enjoy a nice fowl-flavored angel? The assembled Concept team directly commenced with product research and will report back on this project promptly on 1/1/2016.

All kinds of food ideas fed all kinds of thought. In fact we talked about such a wide array of subjects under The Sun it is a challenge to summarize. Luckily, just as black is the new black, five is the new five,* so we have room to work. As the five or so Pattersons at hand indulged a range of fancy over the past few days, I ask Ogilvys and Pattersons at large to allow a little creative filing in the following notes on random and delightful conversation: I. CELESTIAL; II. INTERNATIONAL; III. NATIONAL; IV. LOCAL; V. NAVEL

books to read

Contemplating the Heavens

I. OUTER SPACE (OUR SOLAR SYSTEM AND OTHERS)

To give you an idea of how we stretch an idea, let us select an item randomly. Picking a present from under the tree, it turns out to be a boxed set of Percy Jackson adventures for Nathaniel. Percy Jackson is a contemporary half-mortal son of Poseidon, the famous Olympian god (OG). Not to be confused with second-largest planet Neptune, named after a Roman god in turn named after the Greek god Poseidon, the eighth moon of Jupiter officially named Pasiphae in 1975 was unofficially called Poseidon in the 1960’s. Now it all makes sense!

Nate likes many different books. Gazing at a cardboard astronomy chart, looking up stuff on The Internet, and pointing out things in the actual sky, Uncle Nick supplements aplenty. We all encourage each other.

Then we let dumb ideas go. Nate gets back to Nintendo. Of course! Of course we try scientifically and with our gut to reject as many absurd notions as we cultivate in our pretend lab. There’s more where that came from.

How about cloud cities over Venus? Have you heard about this? It’s the latest of NASA’s astounding announcements. Although the planet itself is inhospitable to humans, like the fiery core of the Earth, the outer cloud layer of Venus is comparable to climates we favor. Closer to home than Mars, we could arrange efficient back-and-forth transit between that outer atmosphere and the outer atmosphere here by constructing an orbital elevator. As you know, the hardest part of space travel is the first part; achieving escape velocity. Ships allowed to stay away from planet surfaces by commuting from one space station to another would be free of tons of extra rocketry. At the idea, however, of a space station tethered to Earth by means of a 60,000 mile carbon fiber maglev rail, Nate exclaims, “Dr. Quackers!” as if to say, enough!

Another sizeable lump in the dustpan among so many pine needles and other smaller sweepings is Interstellar, the Ridley Scott picture. Not a particularly big year for movies, 2014 afforded us a view of a middledistant future with this Matthew McConaughey Anne Hathaway vehicle. Here we find Michael Caine, who shines in everything, no bleeding matter what, even if it’s a dog, struggling with the problem of gravity. He’s looking for a way to get a sort of ark aloft so at least a fraction of Earth’s populace may make it to a place in another galaxy where plants will grow. If he can just get it up out of Earth’s orbit, then getting it over to the connecting wormhole will be a cakewalk. Our suspension of disbelief engine may be fueled by a practical dose of Theoretical Physics (TP). Just as the Weak Force counteracts the Strong Force causing atoms to decay and reform, and Electricity and Magnetism turn out to be one and the same force, perhaps the Gravitational Force may be reversed in combination with the Weak Force, the Strong Force, the Electromagnetic Force, or a mix thereof. Perhaps, as is suggested by physicist Michael Caine’s astronaut daughter Anne Hathaway, a fifth force exists, called Love.

I am Groot. Another of “the big movies of 2014” was Guardians of the Galaxy. “Oh my god!” says Nate (Skype being broken during Christmas, his unwrapping of the good ship Milano in Lego is captured via telephone to Ogilvys in Castle Valley, Utah).

from The Best Infographics 2014, a favorite Christmas gift

Actual Discoveries

II. WORLD MATTERS (EARTH)

The biggest movie event of the year was almost a total nonevent when Sony pulled The Interview from official distribution. That would have been all. Then we could have moved on and forgotten about a forgettable film. Unfortunately for North Korea, they demanded Sony remove the film from The Internet and everywhere or suffer consequences. That did it. Sony withdrew from any “negotiations,” and decided to show the thing to the public after all. Unfortunately for the rest of us, who enjoy Sony’s amazing library of content, this could signal the end of Sony as we know it. It could still be funny if the studio gets taken over by a dictatorship interested in high-powered propaganda and we start seeing new material on a par with the bizarre narrative of the immortal Ed Wood Jr., Kim Jong Un fancying himself a great director. We’ve managed to ignore most of the kerfluffle so far, and we might expect much of the public to turn a blind eye to surviving mutations.

Meanwhile, it’s hard to ignore the Pope. What a guy! Seriously, don’t you suppose he would be in a position to fix a thing or two if only he could rule unchecked by all those other clowns in the Vatican?

Here’s an idea. Democracy has been working so hard since Perestroika and the rise of Capitalism in China, we could let Democracy take a little break, just to catch some air. We let nice people like Japan’s Emperor Akihito and England’s Queen Elizabeth II and Sweden’s Carl XVI Gustav run things for a while.

What we really need is a whole new slew of dictators. With Saddam Hussein and Muammar Qaddafi out, who’s going to keep everyone in line? Well, it looks as if Hosni Mubarak could resume office.

Our escape plan (don’t tell anyone) is over The Isle of Skye by Faerie Trail.

big old tree

Holly tree

III. DOMESTIC AFFAIRS (US)

Papadaddy Patterson aka GDP2 having had the National Parks on his beat for the IRS, GDP3 and I got to talking about the National Parks again. Kitty’s ongoing efforts on their behalf are ongoing. In addition to her work on the ground, we entertain visions of quiet airships replacing cacophonous helicopters over the Grand Canyon. If we’re going to deploy airships over Venus, we should get good at cloud life down here first.

Zion National Park in Utah is my idea of the Promised Land. This gives rise to a device for peace and prosperity somewhat related to World Matters and the ‘Nineties bumper sticker “Think Globally, Act Locally.” Ever since Ogilvy family genealogist C. Stanley Ogilvy traced Ogilvy roots among Crasto roots in Spanish Sephardim via Holland, I have been proud of my Jewish heritage. Now I boldly propose a New Zionism constellated around the park in Utah. The park itself should be kept protected and undisturbed by development. In the surroundings, however, of Washington, Iron and Kane Counties, the entire Jewish diaspora is invited to come live. We want the Jewish population to continue to grow, but this is at odds with the promise that any Jew shall be guaranteed a home in tiny little Israel. Indeed, to fulfill such a promise, many Palestinian homes have been destroyed in the course of a seventy-year war. So many Palestinian homes that we might do well to invite their people to come live in Southwest Utah too. Perhaps Northwest Arizona in Mojave County would be more suitable. The deserts and mountains of nearby Lincoln County Nevada could additionally be annexed for refugees of other wars. New Zion interstate government would of course be run by Native Americans. Stay with me. Just as the Chinese built our transnational railway, and the Irish and Polish built New York’s underground rail system, these new immigrants would be responsible for a transnational pipeline of water running from the Great Lakes region to Southern California. Wind and solar pump the water up one side of the Rockies and, from the top, the waterflow itself generates electricity all the way down the other side on its way to verdant farmlands and golf courses. There’s some money in that. Everyone lives in fiscal harmony! And it’s all about sustainability!

The problem of course is that we don’t have a dictatorship to push the initiative through. I’m joking about that part. And, yes, I am joking about the whole proposal, but I’m seriously wishing for a radically integral solution to people needing as much protection as are trees.

Peconic Star, Alldaddy, Superkitty, Kung Fu Flash Kid, Nico Pico, Fireboat

This pier used to put steam trains onto ferries bound for Boston via Stonington, Connecticut.

IV. NORTH FORK (SUFFOLK COUNTY)

Back at the local hideout, we observe petty disagreements between Southold and Southampton. People of the North Fork and people of the South Fork can be as neighborly to each other as Dwarves and Elves of Middle-earth. Must everything be a challenge?

In this context, it’s no surprise to encounter a total lack of cooperation from such an organization as Long Island Railroad (LIRR). One of our crazy concepts that could have actually been made manifest if LIRR had been willing to play along was a fully restored steam engine pulling an immaculately appointed dining car serving the finest in local fare between Ronkonkoma and Greenport. That’s a stretch of track which is underutilized, but with beautiful views. Interested farmers and fishermen and other local businesspeople were lined up to underwrite track maintenance. The engine and dining car were available for a song. The tracks, however, were not available at any price. Oh, well.

Elves and Dwarves are not the problem. Trolls are. Trolls don’t just huddle under bridges and squat on top of patents. They go to work every day at all kinds of organizations and do whatever they can to interfere with the flow of commerce. Down with Trolls! Out with Trolls! Reform for Trolls!

Our fairy tale life in town and country is underwritten in part by the advertising business. Although, in its finer moments, we may refer to the industry as The Communication Arts, and it really is not inherently evil, as livelihoods go, it is business that really is plagued with Trolls. How can we help them?

We must feed our brains with fresh sea air, feed our bellies with farm-fresh food, and feed our spirits by gazing at flora and by listening to birds. We must tend to our sanity. The reality of the machine is complimented quite nicely by the reality of nature.

V. INNER SPACE (A FIFTH DIMENSION OF SORTS)

Another reality, facing us every day, is Love. Not just a far-out suggestion by Anne Hathaway’s very fictional character in Interstellar, but also a down-to-earth hypothesis by Felicity Jones’ portrayal of the very real person Jane Wilde in Theory of Everything. Either it’s an aspect of each of the four basic forces in the universe (to review: Gravitational, Electromagnetic, Strong, Weak), or it’s a fifth fundamental interaction unto itself. If the latter, it’s unlikely any self-respecting scientist would present a paper to the Royal Society on it. Yet the wife of one might document her findings in an account of day-to-day life as a human.

Another fantasy, still more radical than New Zion, even less plausible, is a plan to harness explorations into other dimensions. If, in some incredibly distant future, it did become reality, then it would give the word ‘practical’ a new meaning. Experimentalists learn how to control wormholes.

In the field of Physics, the Theorists are at one end of the spectrum and the Experimentalists are at the other, with Phenomenologists in the middle trying to unite everybody. They do not admit Professional Physicists such as, for example, the great financial modeler Fischer Black. Among the purely Academic Physicists (again, as far as they are concerned, the whole of the field), the Experimentalists are the practical ones.

But let’s say the Experimentalists learn how to control wormholes. What would be the more practical applications? Logistics! Related to the above Domestic Affairs fantasy, and again to otherwise tenuous rural economies, old port towns designed for loading and unloading vast lots of shipping containers could be revived with ports into a fifth dimension. The already interchangeable populations of Portland, Oregon and Portland, Maine would thrive. And think how much we’d save on gas.

At the very least, for now, we can be grateful for the interconnectedness we have in the Internet.

fireplace hearth

Wrapping paper ready to burn (with illuminating Santa Claus tapers)

*In the late Nineteen-nineties, in the universe of Fashion, the phrase “____________ is the new black” was coined in order to encourage a more federated restoration of the practice of celebrating a new color each year, to be reflected by every major designer in both seasons (Fall and Spring) of a given year. The annual practice, planned in secret and conducted with a decade at time in mind, though uninterrupted, had been eclipsed by a general tendency among everyone in the industry and their followers to wear black every day, year after year, since the flourescent ‘Eighties. Also around the close of the Twentieth Century, in the universe of Business, the number of key points permitted in any communication shrank from five to three. Up to and through ‘Eighties, every fledgling middle manager and company president alike was instructed to restrict all memos and speeches to five key points. Any more and the audience would be lost. You may have noticed at some stage the number was reduced to three. You may have noticed subsequently, very recently, effectiveness of type-ahead SMS and Twitter notwithstanding, we have re-evolved into five-fingered creatures, thank goodness.

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