These original Kirt's Cogitations™ may be reproduced
(no more than 5, please) provided proper credit is given to me, Kirt Blattenberger.
here to return to the Table of Contents.
Cog·i·ta·tion [koj-i-tey'-shun] – noun: Concerted
reflection; meditation; contemplation.
Kirt [kert] – proper noun: RF Cafe webmaster.
A Step Back to Today
"Highlights" magazine has been around for a really
long time; I remember reading it as a kid. A couple days ago while waiting in a doctor's office, I spied a few
editions laying on the children's play area table and decided to walk over and take a look - just for kicks. I
expected to find the remembered entertainment items like the Hidden Picture with a dozen or so objects cleverly
buried in it to find, Goofus and Gallant demonstrating good manners and cooperation skills, and the Timbertoes
family (I never have understood them). Everything is still there just as I remembered.
What I did not
remember being there, but was very please to see, were some extremely well-done articles on many topics of science
and engineering. Having begun my engineering studies way back in 1976 in the field of architecture, reading the
piece on Frank Lloyd Wright's "Fallingwater"
house in Pennsylvania was a welcome distraction while enduring the doctor's waiting room experience. Designed in
1935, it was and still is an engineering marvel. At the time, reinforced concrete construction was just gaining
acceptance in the world of large commercial buildings, and Wright exploited the techniques to construct multiple
cantilevered platforms that jut out over the waterfalls over which the house is built. Primary structural beams
are anchored in the natural boulders surrounding the waterfall.
In the same issue was a story on aviation pioneer Glenn L. Martin. Martin was only a short distance behind
Orville and Oliver Wright in development of powered flight. Indeed, he sought after and obtained a lot of
cooperation from the Wrights. Martin is credited with designing and flying the first successful monoplane. He went
on to found Martin Aircraft Company, which has since merged to become part of Lockheed Martin. The article covered
both the scientific aspect of his life and the personal side, including the encouragement he received from his
sister. Interestingly, the Wrights also received major encouragement from their only sister during their own
A different edition had a great article that covered the development of microsensors to detect electrical sparks,
while yet another explored the ecosystem of the Great Lakes. The variety of topics was impressive, and the depth
of coverage was shallow enough to not discourage young readers, while deep enough to keep me enthusiastically
searching for new stories to the extent that I was almost disappointed (almost) when Melanie finally emerged from
the doctor's examination room an hour after going in. The time spent perusing Highlights
actually made the wait tolerable. If you have children in the 5-16 year-old age range, I definitely recommend
signing up for a subscription to Highlights - you will probably find yourself reading it, too.