Jan. 9, 2014
I attended a high school whose name was colorless and odorless: Central
High School. It was called that because it was built in the middle of town,
so that students could converge on it equidistantly. Then the city added
other high schools, all named after illustrious men. The students there
could associate their schools with these figures, but we at Central could
no longer even associate our school with centrality, since by then the
city had expanded and become lopsided. The name Central had become
totally abstract. After sixty years the structure was deemed inadequate,
and a new Central was built—in the northwest corner of town—discon-
necting the school's name from its last vestige of meaning.
In the many times I have returned to my hometown I have never once
driven out to see the new Central. Instead I cruise past the renovated old
structure that now is used as an office building. In my mind's eye I dash
up the steps and into the hallways crowded with students who only an
hour ago were lost in sleep. I enter room 212 and take my seat at the back
of the center row and feel the day click into place when the bell rings and
Miss Quesenbery looks at her roll book, brushes back an errant strand of
hair, and starts down the alphabet. A rush of anticipation rises in me as
she approaches my name, and when she says it, I answer "Here" in a voice
that makes me feel useful, like a brick.
It was on this day in 2001 that Apple Computer introduced iTunes. Since that day, more than 10 billion tracks have been downloaded from the iTunes store. Six years later, on this day in 2007, Apple unveiled the iPhone. Afterward, they made available a software development kit, the set of tools enabling a person to create a third-party application, or iPhone "app." There are now more than 1,000,000 iPhone apps, with 60 billion downloads — helping people do things like learn Japanese, train for marathons, monitor infant diaper activity, access news stories, find cookbook recipes, keep time with a metronome, make espresso and boost productivity.
It's the birthday of Cassandra Austen, born in Hampshire, England (1773). She was a good watercolor painter, and she was extremely close to her sister, novelist Jane Austen. Neither one of the two sisters ever married and they shared a bedroom all of their lives. When they were apart from each other — when one traveled to visit distant relatives and the other stayed home — they wrote letters, hundreds of them. And it's from these letters between the Austen sisters that scholars have been able to piece together many of the details about Jane Austen's life.
We also know what Jane Austen looks like because of drawings by her sister Cassandra. One of Cassandra's illustrations of Jane is on display at the National Portrait Gallery in London.
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®