And then I wrote...

by Dick Schilling, Editor Emeritus

... that sometimes, what we think we know turns out not to be true, or maybe not entirely true.
When the archipelago that contains the island of Vanuatu was hit by a cyclone, someone asked how a cyclone was different from a hurricane. We had a whole section on weather at Naval Aviation Officers’ school, and although that was nearly 60 years ago, I thought I had learned that it is a cyclone in the Southern Hemisphere but a tornado in the Northern Hemisphere, because the circulation around the center or eye is clockwise in the south, and counter-clockwise in the north, the same way water goes down a drain in those respective locations.
I used to joke that that’s why Iowa State’s Cyclones were misnamed.
With my stated belief challenged, I went to the dictionary, and if I was confused before, I am more so now.
Cyclone is defined accurately, clockwise circulation around a low pressure area in the south. But a hurricane is defined as a tropical cyclone! I had thought a southern hurricane was a typhoon. But typhoons are cyclones which only happen in an area around the Philippines and China Sea. I may have been right about Iowa State, however. I thought a cyclone up north here was a tornado, which would mean it should be Iowa State Tornados. Because, dictionary says, the only place a storm of that sort is called a tornado is in the Midwestern United States.
There was a π day March 14, when lots of pie was served.
The pi for which the event was meant, however, was the mathematical equation involving a circle’s circumference and its radius. I still sometimes feel like the boy in school when the teacher announced that that day, they were to learn Pi R square. The boy snickered and said that wasn’t true, that his Mom made pie, and pie are round!
Anyway, I thought I had learned that pi is an infinitesimal number. All we learned was the number 3.1415, which made March 14, 1915 a pi day, and that the number continued 926, so that at 9:26 a.m. (or p.m.) we had the first seven numbers. But my dictionary says pi is a transcendental number “with a value to eight decimal points.” Only eight? I think I heard there was a Chinese man who could recite the number to 67,000 points from memory!
Maybe I just think too much about things that are not important to me as part of an effort to “use it or lose it” in regard to brain power, and perhaps stall senility or Alzheimer’s.
Birds and animals don’t bother. The robins are back in earnest, and also in Waukon. A dozen geese circled the park pond as I walked this morning, landed, then minutes later most took off headed south.
And yesterday I watched a squirrel doing its high wire act on a utility line while carrying a chunk of about three-fourths of a large ear of field corn. Several times the lopsided weight flipped him over on the wire so he was upside down, but each time he righted himself and carried on. Literally.