Today’s Daily Stoic writing prompt: Where can I pitch in? Where can I help?
Wherever I see an opportunity and a need. Right now, we’re in the final hours of SMASH, and I’m finishing up an item that I just took up about half an hour ago. All of the items today were ones that I did not take on initially.
Even then, there’s a limit. There was one item I was hoping to do and just could not find a way to work. It was making garb out of old or thrifted clothing, and my trip to Talize today turned up empty as to something I could use. (I realized after the fact that I could have picked up either a fur or a leather item to make either a fur-trimmed hat or a pair of simple shoes. Oh well. I will have done 26 of the items. I think I’ve pulled my weight this time.
It’s a roll of the dice which century we’re born in. Some of us think we’d have done better in an earlier time. But what about those who are super successful in the 21st century? Pick a famous person in 2021, and write a paragraph-long bio for who or what they would have been in an SCA period of your choice, complete with period portrait.
Sir Jeffrey Bezos was a scientist and explorer at the court of Queen Elizabeth I who became most widely known for his founding and expansion of the Great Amazon Company. Trained as a mathematician at Oxford, he developed a keen interest in shipbuilding, working to build the English fleet into the powerhouse naval power of the world. Not incidentally, he also helped to secure England’s place in the race of discovery around the world. However, he lacked the funds to take part in these voyages himself, and so he began a company that used his connections with the shipping industry to build a thriving business in the trade in printed books, which was just beginning to explode at that point. He chartered a company, naming it for the great river recently discovered in South America, the Amazon, explaining that a company that began with the letter “A” would appear at the top of any list of merchanting ventures. Soon, he was able to use the contacts he had made through the shipping of books to expand his trade to all manner of goods, from clothing to tea and coffee to spices, and to began to fund missions to explore the unknown parts of the world. He was rewarded for his work with a charter from the Queen as a Royal Company, and was able to amass such a fortune that was able to build a ship based on the most modern shipbuilding methods, so that he himself could travel on a voyage into the unknown parts of the globe. Bezos’ fortune was such that he was known as the richest man in all of England, with many thousands of men employed to make sure that the goods he imported arrived properly at the doors of those who ordered them, although many complained about the low pay in comparison to the riches he came to possess. Bezos disappeared in 1607 on his third voyage of exploration and his company was subsumed into the much-better-known East India Company.
It is impossible to date when humans first began to use candles to mark time. However, the first mention of a “candle clock” occurs in the 6th century in China, in a poem by You Jiangju. He describes a clock made from six candles, each with a precise measure of wax, each 12” in height. Each of these had 12 marks and burned in four hours, so each mark was 20 minutes. The candles were placed inside a wooden frame with transparent horn panels for observation. An almost identical system was supposedly invented by Alfred the Great.
My candle clock, like You Jianju’s, consists of six candles of identical size. However, mine is rather more crude, as the only candles at hand were a bag of tea lights rated at 4 hours from IKEA. I did a test burn of one of them, and it does, indeed, burn for just a little over four hours. Because of their small size, it’s impossible to devise a proper series of marks on the candles to measure time precisely, although an experienced observer would likely be able to learn at least the hour.
Here’s a fun one: I had to create a finger painting while lying on my back as if I were painting the Sistine Chapel: