Sam WHITBY #204

Letters to the Editor

from Sam WHITBY in CMO #204

  I have seen the latest CMO web page and enjoyed especially the sketches. When Hellas was at its brightest, it was indeed impressive. Thinking about it makes me long to get started observing the Red Planet again.
  Finally I had a fairly good look at Jupiter. I have read that MIYAZAKI has found that the long enduring ovals BC and DE have merged. The new oval is tentatively called BE. Now that is big news! Having watched the classical 3 ovals for a number of years, I feel almost a sense of grief at the loss of one of them.
  The young man who was struck by lightning here in Hopewell survived and seems to have sustained no permanent damage. The school nurse no doubt saved his life by starting CPR immediately. As a small boy I was standing near some ponies who were struck and killed by lightning on top of Mill Mountain in Roanoke, VA. My parents were distraught because my brother and I and my cousins would have been riding the ponies if it had not just begun to rain. That incident left a vivid awareness of the danger of lightning.
(27 May 1998 email)

  I have collected some newspaper clippings about flowers native to our area. I plan to mail them to you and hope that you will forward them to Mr. MURAKAMI. We are unsure how much he reads English, but perhaps, even if the writing is difficult, the pictures may be interesting. The pink lady's slipper is a flower that I knew in my youth but did not see for many years. We were very pleased to find many of the flowers near our home when we lived in Prince George County. They bloomed in the middle of April. I have a less certain memory of having seen yellow slippers also. We would not try to move the flowers unless they were certain to be destroyed by development. I once read that pink lady slippers can be successfully moved if one tries doing so when the ground is frozen and the whole root system can be transplanted in a frozen block without damaging any part of it. The roots are said to be as fine as human hair and to be barely below the surface of the ground. One problem with moving them when frozen is that the plants are dormant then, so one would have to mark their location months ahead of time. Another problem is that the oak trees that provide the symbiotic organisms are themselves no longer as common as they once were, having been replaced by trees that grow faster, such as pines. Still, I would try to move the plants if they were going to certainly die anyway.

  I would like to add a P.S. to the previous message, in which I mentioned Isao MIYAZAKI's observations of Jupiter. Having seen the images published on Skyline, I am less certain that one of the classic big 3 ovals has disappeared for good. On the later of the 2 images there is one bright and well-defined oval. Preceding that oval, however, there is also an area that may be an oval that is not presently white. It may be, to use John Rogers' phrase, "morphing". I think we had better wait and see, studying the drift lines and gathering more observations, before we write a final obituary to one of the big 3. In other words, maybe BC is reddening, and perhaps it may even change back to white. With no academic tenure riding on the outcome, I am free to make such speculations, as long as they are identified as such. Anyway, it will be interesting to see what will happen on Jupiter.

(1 June 1998 email)

  Thank you for the news that the clippings reached you safely. Thank you also for sending CMO 203. ......
  You are right that many people here enjoy gardening. I think that vegetable gardening is one of the most popular hobbies. Fewer people seem interested in wild flowers, but there is enough interest for the Richmond newspaper to often publish articles about wild flowers. I wish you success in your driving. My relatives who moved to VA from New York City had a similar experience, for public transportation was available there (and parking space was not). When they moved to VA they had to buy cars and learn to drive them.
  Today I am taking compensatory leave in order to be at home to care for Tyler. His Grandmother, who usually cares for him, is having surgery on her eye today. The surgery is minor and is not expected to have any complications. We will all feel relieved when the surgery has been successfully completed. In spite of living in a culture in which it is customary to complain about one's mother-in-law, I will gladly tell you that I have a wonderful mother-in-law who has been very kind and generous to us.
  I look forward to being able to observe Mars again.
(8 June 1998 email)

Samuel WHITBY ( VA, USA ) :