09 October 2017

What If He'd Had A GPS?

Today Columbus Day is being celebrated in the US.  When I was growing up, it was always observed on 12 October.  But, some time during the '70's, many traditional holidays were moved to Mondays because folks in the government realized it was cheaper to close offices for three days in a row rather than to interrupt the work week.  Of course, not too many people complain about the three-day weekend.

This morning, I was talking with my friend Mildred.  She is not a terribly political person, and she doesn't normally involve herself with what much of the alt-right derisively calls "identity politics".  Today, though, was different.  The first thing out of her mouth was, "They should take down his statue! They should re-name that circle at 59th Street!"

From her daughter, she recently learned that he was a "murderer" and "rapist".  I assured her that there was much I didn't know for a very long time, so she shouldn't flagellate herself.

I tried to make light of the situation.  "And on top of everything, he got lost."  She laughed.

She shares an Italian-American heritage with me.  So she practically applauded when I said, "We have Michelangelo, Galileo, Dante and Armani.  Why do we celebrate a guy who got lost?"

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That got me to thinking about another feature of this holiday: sales.  All of the big department stores are running them.  So are many smaller retailers.  Interestingly, bike shops don't seem to follow their example.   I guess there's no particular reason for them to have a sale today.  What could they offer?  GPS devices?  What would history have been like if Chris had a Garmin Edge?  

I think I'd get lost even if I used one.  I may have descended from the same line of people as Columbus.  Sometimes, though, I think that all I inherited was his sense of direction!


  1. It is not as if he was the first across! He had seen maps in libraries before he set off and still he got lost! Still he did invent roast turkey and pumpkin pie for you didn't he?

  2. Coline--Of course he wasn't the first across! There's plenty of evidence that Vikings got here before him, and there may have been others before them.

    Roast turkey and pumpkin pie are OK. I don't hate them, but I'm not wild about them, either.

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  4. It takes a lot of cojones to walk up to a group of people who've been in a place 14,000 years and say "this is mine now".

  5. Phillip--I agree. And that is one of my objections to Columbus.

  6. Love him or hate him, I have to give ole Christopher a lot of credit for finding his way back home.

  7. Paul H--True, that. So, perhaps, he wasn't such a terrible navigator after all!