Hi! It's R. Eric Thomas. From the internet?
I am writing this from the past! If all is going according to plan, as you receive this I'm flying back from someplace called "The Equator"? Now, while I don't believe in "space" (long story), I do believe the earth is "round". Nevertheless, when I got the opportunity to go on a work trip to Brazil and I realized that I'd be traveling to the Southern Hemisphere for the first time in my life, I suddenly had to ask myself "Do I actually believe in this?" Like, I'm just saying the globe as a general concept is a lot of take in. Seems ridiculous, to be honest. Every time I'm reminded that the planet is actually round and connects on all sides and whatnot I'm like "Okay, but what am I supposed to do with this information?" It's stressful.
And I can't tell you anything about what I've learned about the further curvature of the Earth because I'm writing this sitting at my flat desk in the flat past (the past is flat; the future is wavy gravy). I'm writing this before I even go (went?) so I have no idea what's going on in reality. I could have gotten down to the Equator and been like "Oh no indeed! This is all a fraud. Flat fraudulence and fakery!" Am I expecting the roads and buildings of Brazil to mound up like a full belly button on Thanksgiving evening? Absolutely. Am I thinking that when you look at the ocean you'll be able to see it curve down on either side like a scene out of Inception? I'm going to write a letter of complaint to the United Nations if it doesn't!
So, as you can see, I'm stressed about the whole meridian situation. I also never write this newsletter in advance (to my on-going detriment!) so I'm also stressed that something big and important is happening and I'm over here nattering about the equator like Magellan with an anxiety disorder. What if aliens have landed and solved all of our problems and you folks are like "Uh, Eric, can you focus?" Actually unfortunately I cannot. The Earth is round. This is going to take up all my attention.
Anyway, I just wanted to say hello. I'll be back soon. I might be back now. I don't know how long it takes to fly around the globe. 15 minutes? This is one thing I didn't really learn from my years of watching/playing the many iterations of Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? I love that the big plan for teaching geography in the 90s was introducing kids to a charismatic super criminal with no moral compass but a great sense of direction. You know what kids love? Red trench coats. You know what kids hate? Extradition. Everybody knows this.
Carmen Sandiego never had jet-lag, I'll tell you that. She'd get off a 12-hour flight to Mozambique and next thing you know she's zip-lining out of a bank on to a cruise ship. Sis, what is your secret?
I'd love it if Carmen Sandiego was like "Oh, the secret is a neck pillow. Y'know, I do the crimes and whatnot, then I smuggle myself on board a cargo plane heading to Greece in my loud-as-hell red trench and I get a great night's sleep with my neck pillow that leaves me refreshed and ready to ransack some more priceless treasures whilst an a capella group beat boxes furiously. It's a neck pillow. I'll send you the Amazon link."
Can you imagine Carmen Sandiego shopping on Amazon? She can get her hands on the Shroud of Turin but she runs into supply chain issues buying something like Shout stain sticks (cuz you know she has to keep that trench looking fresh!). Carmen Sandiego definitely shops local whenever she can, though. I mean, she's always local to somewhere. That's kind of the whole point of the show. Carmen Sandiego has a very long list of independent bookstores in every city on the globe and if you don't stop into them and say Carmen sent you, she will come to your town and steal the weirdest tourist attraction. No remorse!
Anyway, those are my thoughts on the Hypsographic Curve. My plane is probably landing now sometime in the future so I gotta go take this red trench coat off and figure out how I'm going to get the Eiffel Tower through customs. Take us out, Rock-a-pella!
Random Thing on the Internet
I love a capella so much. We can get into this another day. I am completely unabashed in my love of a capella. It is my greatest trait.
The Earth is round. This is going to take up all my attention,
My new YA novel, Kings of B'more, a contemporary riff on Ferris Bueller's Day Off, is out everyone on May 31, 2022. Pre-order it here or from you favorite indie bookstore, or request it from your local library!