Re: Check this out!


        From: ah567@xxxxxxxxxxx (George W. Miklas)
        To: harp-l@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx
        Subject: Check this out!
        In today's paper, I read an article where the author referred to the
        harmonica in outer space.  I don't know how to react.  The quote is
        "...If astronomers annonced that they had detected...a harmonica
        measuring 67 light-years across, we'd print this...with a little chart
        converting light-years to football fields so that you...would have a
        better grasp of the story....."
        This statement is almost to demean the harmonica in comparison to
        football.  What do you all think?  With alot of funny reading to get
        into the quote, here is the article:
                     <...67-light-year-long article deleted...>


I wouldn't worry about it too much, George -- I think he's
clearly proposing using football-field lengths to describe the
less familiar concept of light-years, not harmonicas.

(Actually, Dave Barry should probably get some kind of
educational award for pointing out to a mass audience that
light-years are a unit of length at all;  lots of folks think
it's a unit of time -- like the amount of time it takes for light
to travel in, uh... a year... or something. :)

In fact, rather than be concerned about the honor and notoriety
of harmonicas, I'd take real comfort in the fact that he chose
to use the image of a ~harmonica~ at all, with no further

This tells me that he assumes (and correctly, I'd say) that just
about every single one of his millions of daily readers knows
(and can visualize) ~exactly~ what a harmonica is -- or the whole
point would be lost, along with his credibility and readership.

He could've used a toothbrush or a ball-pean hammer, but of all
the random objects in the world, he chooses a ~harmonica~ -- as a
symbol of ~virtually universal recognition~!  And then he
challenges his readers' imagination to envision one that's 67
LIGHT-YEARS LONG!!  And then he even suggests a football-field
conversion table to ~make sure~ they understand HOW BIG THAT
REALLY IS!!!  Whew.

You know, the more I think about it, I'd say that Dave Barry is a
true ~Harp Hero~.  I therefore respectfully and seriously propose
that he get a letter of commendation from SPAH for conceiving and
conveying to an international mass-media audience the image of
our Humble Harp as the ~biggest doggone object in the entire
universe~ -- talk about Preservation and Advancement of the

I'd even suggest that he should be invited as an honorary keynote
speaker to the 1995 SPAH convention!

In fact, it occurs to me that Dave Barry is reportedly online,
and I think if we can track down his e-mail address (anyone know
it offhand?), it'd be perfect if he immediately got an e-mail
letter from SPAH commending him for his terrific acknowledgement
of the harmonica and harp players worldwide -- and "virtually"
signed by everyone on HARP-L.  (Judging from his usual columns, I
wouldn't be surprised if that might just inspire a whole new
harp-dedicated piece based on such a response to this one!)

It also occurs to me that maybe the reason that harmonica came to
mind so readily for him is that he's a harp player himself --
hey, I bet he's got a beat-up old Marine Band sitting right next
to his keyboard, just for inspiration.  (But he should really be
turned on to HARP-L in any case...)

Whatcha think, boss? :)  Thanks, B*

PS:  I did some quick figuring and it turns out that there are
approximately 1.03393*10e19 football fields in one light-year --
that's 10,339,300,000,000,000,000, give or take a few end zones.

For our international friends who might have some trouble easily
relating to a 100-yard-long American football field and need a
more universal, familiar point of reference, an extraterrestrial
Special 20 that's 67 light-years long would be about 6.2346*10e21
times actual size.  Hope that helps.

(I'll let George or Danny do the honors for a bass harp. ;)

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