Thursday, January 04, 2007

A gift from me to me

We were unwrapping presents Christmas morning, and I came across one that said, “To Dad from Dad.” My husband gave himself a video.

I liked his idea so much I picked up a gift for myself the next day. I’d gone to get a book for a friend who was coming to visit. So I bought myself one too. I’ve been buying Greg this book for Christmas for at least 20 years. I figured it was time to see why he likes it so much.

There are different versions from different publishers, but I selected The New York Times Almanac of Record, 2007, for myself. There was only one copy of the almanac Greg likes; it’s published by World Almanac Books.

I’ve been thumbing through my copy, and have learned things that might be useful to me if I ever go on a game show. For instance the highest per capita personal income in the U.S. is earned in Loving, Texas ($89,471.00). Wanting to know more, I did an Internet search for “Loving.” After several curious starts, and some bizarre site suggestions, I added the word “Texas” to my search bar.

The town wasn’t named by flower children, it’s named for a cattleman, Oliver Loving. Wikipedia says the 2004 census tallied a resident population of 52. I wonder if they’re loving “Lovingers.”

Thumbing on, I came to a page listing Pulitzer Prize winners in poetry. Most of them are men. I say this simply as an observation.

If I forget my standard weights and measures, some of which I don’t even remember well enough to forget, they’re all in my almanac. I now recall a furlong=40 rods or 660 feet.

There is also a list of major earthquakes over the last 1,700 years or so.

Thales of Miletus accurately predicted a solar eclipse in Asia Minor in 585 B.C.

It’s a fun book, this almanac. It’s also inspiring. I am certain many columns, articles and poems will come forth as a result of my wandering through its pages. For instance, the National Book Awards for fiction have also mostly gone to men. Same goes for the Pulitzer for national reporting. American literature surely has a lot of prize-winning male authors. And now I know that courtesy of my almanac.

It’s a small but big gift, to me from me.

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