Friday, October 31, 2014

Tribute to Thomas Menino

Yesterday LIII Mayor of Boston, Thomas Michael Menino, passed away on his 72nd year of life. He served for the city five terms, and was the longest-serving mayor up to date. During those 21 years he did a lot for the city, and today is a good time to honor his life.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Time capsule inside a lion statue and curiosity leading to idiotism

Today is a very interesting date in the history of Boston. Today a time capsule, which was hidden for 113 years in the place before unknown, was opened. The capsule was hidden inside the statue of a lion, in its head under the crown, which stood all that time on the roof of Old State House, decorating it. A week or so ago I saw some workers dismantling it when I was passing by, but I didn't know what was the purpose of what they were doing. Several days later I read in the newspaper that recently an article from February 24, 1901 issue of The Boston Globe was discovered, which mentioned the time capsule inside the lion's head, reading "The work of the coppersmith is completed, and one of the last things he did was to seal a copper box, which is placed in the head of the lion, and which contains contributions from state and city officials, the Boston daily newspapers, the name of the maker of the lion and unicorn, and others, which will prove interesting when the box is opened many years hence."
Well, it did, the only problem is that 113 years in my opinion is not many. One can easily live this long, and to compare, time capsules which were hidden on the site of 1939 NewYork World's fair were designed to keep their contents for five millenniums.
As soon as this article was discovered, a debate started on whether there is a capsule inside the lion's head, or it's a joke, or it's confused with Faneuil Hall's golden grasshopper statue (which really contains an interesting time capsule from 1761 with a lot of staff in it, still not opened), or it's there for some political reason, &tc., &tc., &tc.
According to the Internet sources, some historians in Woburn opened that shoebox size capsule, and discovered a small red hardcover book there, which turned out to be fragile enough for spontaneous satisfaction of curiosity, so they left us to wait several more days for this mysterious boor to be placed in temperature-controlled area and opened there, freaking intriguers.
My opinion is that they did it for no reasonable purpose. After it became obvious that the statue contents some capsule, they [historians] became afraid that the contents of the capsule was damaged by weather conditions and should be taken away from there. For me, it is obvious that if a time capsule was hidden, it was sealed properly enough to survive really a long time, not just some 113 years. Now this small red book, which by the way had no title on its cover, will be kept in some archive, which is not interesting at all. If this mysterious gift from past (not very distant past for now) was not touched, and passed to our descendants, it would be fair. At least I think so.
I did the same trick with time capsule a lot of times. When I was eight years old, I wrote a letter to myself adult, with the intention of opening this letter when I will be an adult. I sealed the envelope, and wrote in the "to" field, "to myself, adult". In the field "from" I wrote my name and address. Now I regret that I did not write the date on which this letter I intended to open and which age exactly to refer as "adult". Now I plan to open it the day my first grandson will be born, however, there is no need to open it at all because I remember exactly what I wrote there.
All in all, it is interesting to send gifts to the future if you do not tell anybody what they contain, and it is interesting as well to receive such surprises from past. In the example above, people discovered a time capsule as a big and unexpected surprise, however the problem was that it was not indicated for how many years this "surprise" was intended to be kept prior to opening. Even that newspaper article reads "many years hence", but how many exactly? Poste restante? Looks like it's now.
Two years ago I gave my Grandmother a yellow envelope for her birthday, with the proviso that she will open it only when she will turn 100 years of age. Although I'm not sure that she still keeps it (that's my Grandma), I imagined how curious she will be when opening it. I have uncountable amount of time capsules buried in the ground in my grandparents' country site, a lot more outside it all to be opened when discovered. Just like the Old State House one. The purpose of all that, in my opinion, is satisfying one of the human's main features, pry.