What is the terminal velocity of an unladen sparrow?

If you respond with, “African or European?” you’d be corrected by my friends this morning, as I was.

“The line is actually ‘the airspeed velocity’,” they said.

Image from Wikipedia.

But out of curiosity, we decided to look it up. And to our astonishment, everywhere the internet asks about the terminal velocity of a swallow, the internet replies: Don’t you mean airspeed?

No, internet. No we do not. So we figured it out. Because this is what my friends do on a rainy Saturday morning.

Here, for your Monty Python-inspired yet strictly speaking off-script queries as to the terminal velocity of a sparrow, I bring you … The Math.

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Word(s) Count: Revolutionary-Style

If you’ve been following me on Facebook or Twitter, you might know I recently spent some time in Philadelphia. My first day there, while waiting for my cousin (of October 27th fame) and her fiancé to get home from work, I stopped by The Continental for coffee.

But in Philly, nothing stands on its own. There’s always history. And on the Continental building was a Historic Sites in Journalism plaque explaining that, way back in the late 18th century, this was John Dunlap’s printing shop.

What, you don’t know John Dunlap? He’s only the printer who first stamped out distributable copies of the Declaration of Independence.

Early blogging. (Image from Wikipedia.)

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New Life for the Death Strip

As a big fan of thrift stores and ApartmentTherapy.com, I love seeing how people make something beautiful out of what was once far from it. To understand where I’m coming from, please bear with a bit of a world history lesson, then a personal history reflection, before I get into the Death Strip.

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How to Go Underground in Berlin

I didn’t name my blog “in transit” just because I like to travel. It’s really (primarily!) because my life is always transitioning. Take the past month, for example, while I’ve transitioned into full-time job search and part-time transcription work. But this morning I looked up from re(re)(re)customizing my résumé and realized I never wrote about Berlin Underground!

While I was visiting my friends in Berlin (now with a blog of their own at Adventuring Pandas), we had dinner with Rob, once of the This Week in Germany podcast. When he found out I was undecided about my plans the next day, he recommended the Berlin-Underground Tour (which he’d featured on Episode 105, around the 10 minute mark), and Rob, I’m here to say thank you. I only wish I’d had time to take ALL of the tours they offer that day instead of just one!

Conclusion of the notes I took after the tour:

Great tour, great price, go go go!!!

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Driving Through the Highlands

Glancing at my calendar yesterday, it hit me that tomorrow, it will have been three weeks since I flew back to the States. Three weeks, that is, without updating my faithful and patient readers on all the cool, non-farming, non-disillusioning stuff I did while I was away!

Allow me to rectify that oversight starting now, with a Scotland omnibus similar to my Trial By Fire post a month ago.

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Deep Breath

Langston Hughes wrote a famous poem about a dream deferred. I’ve been reciting it in my head a lot during the past month, ever since reality hit in Scotland and it became clear that the pursuit of my sheep farm dream was ending up far unlike I had, well, dreamed it would.

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I spent a lot more time shredding tree branches than tending sheep. Really quite meditative, as jobs go.

But this poem—a brilliant piece of art, go read it if you don’t know it—is about putting off a dream. As Hughes writes, when we put off our dreams, they can dry up, fester, or even explode. It’s scary to put off dreams. But we do it anyway.

Why?

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Ich bin (ein) Berliner

When I was in high school studying German, my teacher told us about JFK’s famous Ich bin ein Berliner speech, pointing out that, in German, we don’t say, “I am a Berliner” or “an American” or “a Pennsylvanian,” but simply, “I am Berliner,” or “I am Pennsylvanian.” Adding an article before Berliner kind of made it sound like he said, “I am a type of gooey jelly donut famous to this region.”

But I digress. Whatever the literal translation, his meaning was clear. And today, I feel exactly the same way.

SidewalkMauer

Berlin Wall 1961–1989

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“What do they need that your talent can provide?”

Today a friend tagged me in a Facebook video of Jim Carrey. In it, he says,

Risk being seen in all your glory. . . . Fear is writing the script, and the working title is I’ll Never Be Enough. . . . How will you serve the world? What do they need that your talent can provide?

All month, my working title has been I’ll Never Be Enough, as I’ve managed to fail at everything they’ve given me to do, and at even understanding them half the time. But today, on my penultimate day of volunteering, I have figured out what they need that my talent can provide.

Beauty.

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