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better late than never

February 18, 2009

Charles Darwin

Belated happy 200th birthday to the venerable father of evolutionary biology. I cringe to think where we’d be without the theory of natural selection. In a perfect world there would be a copy of The Origin of Species in seedy motel rooms instead of the Gideon Bible. It might reduce the number of hotel room suicides. Or defer them, at any rate- the book’s actually quite an absorbing read, erudite but not boringly scholarly.

The excellent website Daily Routines has this entry on the great man’s… well, daily routine:

7 a.m. Rose and took a short walk.
7:45 a.m. Breakfast alone
8–9:30 a.m. Worked in his study; he considered this his best working time.
9:30–10:30 a.m. Went to drawing-room and read his letters, followed by reading aloud of family letters.
10:30 a.m.–
12 or 12:15 p.m.
Returned to study, which period he considered the end of his working day.
12 noon Walk, starting with visit to greenhouse, then round the sandwalk, the number of times depending on his health, usually alone or with a dog.
12:45 p.m. Lunch with whole family, which was his main meal of the day. After lunch read The Times and answered his letters.
3 p.m. Rested in his bedroom on the sofa and smoked a cigarette, listened to a novel or other light literature read by ED [Emma Darwin, his wife].
4 p.m. Walked, usually round sandwalk, sometimes farther afield and sometimes in company.
4:30–5:30 p.m. Worked in study, clearing up matters of the day.
6 p.m. Rested again in bedroom with ED reading aloud.
7.30 p.m. Light high tea while the family dined. In late years never stayed in the dining room with the men, but retired to the drawing-room with the ladies. If no guests were present, he played two games of backgammon with ED, usually followed by reading to himself, then ED played the piano, followed by reading aloud.
10 p.m. Left the drawing-room and usually in bed by 10:30, but slept badly.

Pretty intense considering he was in poor health for most of his life.

Also check out The Darwin Awards, a site developed to salute the improvement of the human genome by honoring those who accidentally kill themselves in really stupid ways.

Consider one of the finalists for 2008:

(3 February 2008, California) Two dirtbikes, two drivers, two passengers. Zero helmets, zero headlights, and a new moon. Four friends were tearing around on private land, where helmets and lights are not required. The Highway Patrol said the two couples were killed when their bikes collided between 1:30 and 3:30 AM in Modesto. Emergency room workers have a name for people who ride dirtbikes without a helmet. They’re called ‘Future Organ Donors’ and that is the only career now possible for Thomas, 33, Michael, 33, Kelly, 30, and Cynthia, 29.

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