Is Maria Dead?

USA Today has run a front-page article announcing that names used for last year’s devasting season have been retired, never to be used again.  If the newspaper, or those who killed the names for storms had done any research, they’d have learned that Maria stands apart for all storms and should have never had her name retired.

Maria was the name George R. Stewart had his Young Meteorologist give the tiny storm he was tracking.  Maria would grow into a hearty adulthood, reshaping the human and natural world over the twelve days of her life.  She was a West Coast/Sierra Nevada version of a great hurricane.  Her interaction with humans gives his fine novel its ecological focus and can’t-put-it-down drama.

Stewart’s naming of the storm was an idea borrowed from Napier Shaw.  (Always ethical, GRS admits it in the beginning of the book.)

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STORM is the book that gives us the practice of naming storms.The book was widely-read, especially the WW II paperback version issued to GI troops, (The GI version had the kind of racy cover encouraging young men to read it in search of the action the cover promised.)  After the war, some of the military  readers – Vic Moiteret comes to mind, since he eventually became “Chief Areologist” (Meteorologist) for the Navy and had influence – and the idea was adopted as a formal practice.

better infantry journal storm

Now we’re told  Maria’s name is no more.  (Ironically, it’s not Maria that caused the greatest human suffering, but national inattention to post-storm conditions in Puerto Rico.)

Be reassured!  Stewart’s Maria has NOT been put to death.  If the World Meterological Organization or the national  fishwrap had bothered to do some research they would have discovered that the first named storm, the one which gave us the practice of naming storms, is NOT “Maria,”  “Mar-ee-a.”   It’s “Maria” – pronounced, as GRS puts it, in the old-fashioned way, with a long i:  “Mar-eye-a.”  Since Walt Disney filmed the novel for TV and Lerner and Loew “borrowed” the name for one of their best-known songs,  Maria will thrive whether the WMO puts their Maria out to pasture or not.

Long live our Maria.

 

Philip Aaberg’s sheet music for “Earth Abides” is published

For nearly a decade, I was a traveling Educator for NASA.  Most school work, in those long-ago days on the NASA Education highway, was with 4-6 grades. Sometimes, though, we’d work with High school students.  That age group can be a challenge.  A former high school teacher myself,   I had a few appropriate activities to use.  One was to work them through The Drake Equation.  (See also this BBC Interactive Page.)  Another,  a head-down bedrest exercise that let the chosen briefly experience and document the fluid shift caused by microgravity.  The third was to read from George R. Stewart’s Earth Abides.

 

 

At Galena High School in Reno to work with Science Teacher Richard Brong’s students, I included the Earth Abides reading with other activities.  After the session ended, Richard asked, “Do you know Philip Aaberg’s music?”

 

 

“Aaberg’s written and recorded a composition called ‘Earth Abides.'”

 

It was the beginning of a quest:  To find a copy of the music; then, if possible, to find Philip Aaberg.

 

Fortunately, Missoula’s legendary Rockin Rudy’s had a copy of the Windham Hill CD, Harvest, with Aaberg’s composition.

 

 

Then, with some detective work  on the web, I found the phone number for Sweetgrass Music, Phil and Patty Aaberg’s music (etc) business.   Calling the number connected me with Patty Aaberg; Patty connected me with Phil.

 

Phil is an exceptional musician.  In high school he regularly traveled 600 miles by train from Chester, Montana, to Spokane, Washington, (and 600 miles back)  to study with a Julliard teacher who’d moved west to find students like Phil.  He received a full scholarship to Harvard.   When he found himself depressed by the Vietnam war, unable to create music, his brother sent him a copy of Stewart’s Earth Abides.  The book, and others by Stewart, encouraged and inspired him, and he could once again create.   The composition was his honoring of Stewart and Stewart’s great novel.

 

The friendship with Phil eventually led to his participation in a George R. Stewart Symposium at the annual CONTACT conference.  There, Phil spoke of Stewart’s profound influence; then played several compositions, including Earth Abides.

Now – thanks to sponsors Bob Lyon,  Junlin Pan, Ross and Charleen Bogert, Alan Kaplan, Joyce Stewart, and Doug Raybeck – the sheet music for Aaberg’s Earth Abides  has been published.  It’s for sale at a reasonable price, here:

If you play the piano or know someone who does, this is worth buying.

 

Even if you don’t play, buy it – the cover is worth framing.

 

If Stewart’s iconic novel becomes a successful mini-series, this will be a collector’s item.

 

Highly recommended.

 

Here’s more about Philip Aaberg, from an excellent website about simplification:

 

 

CONTACT speakers

Here’s the final list of speakers for CONTACT 2012. In addition, there’ll be the ongoing astrobiology project, Cultures of the Imagination. If you’re interested in the perspective on Earth from OutThere — a perspective pioneered by George R. Stewart in Ordeal by Hunger, Storm, and Earth Abides — this is the conference to attend. And the price is very reasonable:  book by tomorrow, 2-15, and it’s only $55 + the banquet and lodging.

SPEAKERS AND TITLES FOR CONTACT 2012

Robert McCann – “Kepler Report – Habitable Planets”

Jill Tarter – “Getting Earthlings on this World to Help with our Searches of the Kepler Worlds”

Chris Ford – “Watch the Skies: How Technology and Media are Revolutionizing Amateur Astronomy”

Gerald Nordley- “Interstellar Commerce”

Michael Shermer: “UFOs, UAPs, and CRAPs”

Donna Duerk – “Concepts for Moon Habitats”

Bruce Damer – “The EvoGrid and ChemoGrid: Genesis Engines Driving to a New Origin of Life”

Douglas Raybeck – “Sex and the Spanning Spacefarer ”

Bill Clancey: “Belief Systems and Cross-Cultural Communication”

Al Harrison – “American Cosmism”

Seth Shostak – ” Broadcasting Into Space: Recipe for Catastrophe?”

Penny Boston – “The Persistence of Microbial Life in Geological Materials: Implications for Evolutionary Biology on Earth and Astrobiology”

David Sanborn Scott – “Always Begin with the End in Mind: Hydricity”

Melanie Swan – “Human Body 2.0: Redesign, Democracy, And Next- Generation Intelligence”

Kathryn Denning – “If You Love This Solar System…”

Jim Funaro – “Some Thoughts on the Origins and Future of Love”

Reed Riner – “Turning Hindsight into Foresight: An Anthropological Approach to the Study of Futures”

Gus Frederick – “Graphics of the Gilded Age: The Original Steam Punk Art”

Roberta Goodman – “Learning Cetacean Languages”

Phil Aaberg & Don Scott – In Memoriam: Ted Everts

Frank Drake (Keynote) – “Optical SETI, Gravitational Lens Telescopes and the Current Status of Radio SETI”

Jim Pass – “Medical Astrosociology: A Combination of Space Medicine and
Social Science”

Chad Rohrbacher – “A Curriculum Guide for Using SF to Teach Science”

Dennis Etler – “China’s Vision of the Future”

Jeroen Lepre – “Arthur C. Clarke’s Maelstrom II: A Case Study for Digital Production in the Cloud”

Philip Aaberg, composer of “Earth Abides”

Grammy-nominated Philip Aaberg is one of the finest musicians of place. He’s composed many works about the places he knows, especially Deep Montana.  Inspired by Wallace Stegner and George R. Stewart, the very experienced film composer composed “Earth Abides.” It’s a beautiful piano composition, available from iTunes, or as part of his “Christmas” album. The album is available at Sweetgrass Music —

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