Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Measuring Distance With Time

How far are you from the New York border? Oh, about forty five minutes.

Where does your mother live? Two and a half hours north of here.

Forty five minutes traveling by horseback to the New York border? Does your mother live as far north as a snail would travel in two and a half hours? I think most people understand the measurement of distance by time as the time it takes to travel by car, observing speed limits (reasonably well), and without traffic.

I had occasion to reflect on this this morning when my oldest son mentioned that the ancient Chinese people could more easily use Indian ink for their beautiful writing because, as he put it,
"China was at least a whole month closer to India than either Portugal or Spain."

Not by car, surely, but by seafaring vessels that took precarious routes around Africa? Yes.

***Of course, none of this has anything to do with the fact that the Chinese made their own "Indian ink."

1 comment:

Beck said...

By horseback. Hee.