Thursday, August 24, 2006

Pluto, we hardly knew ye

Why does it bother me so much that Pluto is no longer a planet?

I mean, I've never been there. And it's not like I've always been meaning to go but just never got around to it, the way it was when Jerry Garcia died and I had to confront the reality that I was never going to see The Dead - the real Dead, not just Bob Weir and Friends - and that I should have made more of an effort to see them when I had the chance, and I really blew it that time in the days before cell phones when I kept circling Madison Square Garden, leaving and retrieving answering machine messages from pay phones, trying to meet up with the guy who had my ticket, and finally giving up and going drinking with friends instead. It's not at all like that.

But I am really, really upset about Pluto.

I think it's because Bud is such a fan of the planets. He's got glow-in-the-dark planets hanging from his ceiling, with little Pluto far away in the dark corner of his room. He's got a full-color, beautifully laminated solar system poster on his wall. We frequently sit in his dark room, watching his glowing planets, belting out a mean duet of the planet song from Blues Clues:

Well, the sun's a hot star;
Mercury's hot too!
Venus is the brightest planet;
Earth's home to me and you.
Mars is the red one
And Jupiter's most wide.
Saturn's got those icy rings
and Uranus spins on its side.
Neptune's really windy
and Pluto's really small.
Well, we wanted to name the planets,
And now we've named them all.

Pluto's really small. Too small, it seems.

A couple of weeks ago, when things looked a lot less bleak for The Pluto Formerly Known As Planet, I explained to Bud that there might be three new planets in the solar system.

"New planets, Mom?" he asked. "On Blues Clues?"

"Well, I guess they will have to write a new song," I replied.

"How about Teletubbies?" he said.

"I guess they'll have the new planets, too."

But, no. I haven't broken the news to Bud yet, but there will be no new planets for the Teletubbies. Just one fewer planet for Bud.

I suppose Blues Clues will still need a new song, though.

And Mary's Violet Eyes will still Make John Stay Up Nightly. But even religion takes a hit now that John has stopped Praying.


Well. Here's to you, Pluto. We'll miss you, old friend. But I just want you to know this:

If it had been up to me, I'd have lobbied for keeping you and getting rid of Uranus.


Anonymous said...

We love that Blues Clues song, too. My ten year old collapses with laughter at "Uranus spins on its side." My seven year old couldn't stop saying "wash your Venus" in the tub last night when told to attend to personal hygiene, so there you go.

I recently discovered your blog (via AutismDiva) and have enjoyed having a peek at another family's experiences with PDD-NOS. We don't know anyone else who seems to have similar experiences -- everyone else is either "more autistic" or less. I've learned a lot from the other families, but the things you relate seem more like ours. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Ah, sad the demise of Pluto...what will become of Mickey's friend? Will he become "The Dog formerly named after a former planet, now called Uranus". Doesn't have the same ring as Pluto does it?

kristina said...

I was trying to think of a way to blog about this; thankfully, you've done it-----though I'm still thinking of what to make of Pluto's newfound ranking as "dwarf planet."

It is a matter of the god of the Heavesn (Uranus/Ouranos) beating out the god of the Underworld (Pluto).

Kaethe said...

Pluto will remain a planet for me, just because I can't give up on the little guy. Dwarf planet sounds so disparaging, doesn't it?

Besides, we love the Animaniacs Planets Song:

And cold and tiny Pluto
It's the furthest one of all

Tara said...

I am leaving this new development in the solar system, up to my husband, to explain to Littleman.
No more Pluto????I can hear the cries ringing in my ears.

Jenn said...

Bwaaahahahaa - Your last line had me howling. I vote to get rid of Uranus too.
Pluto is still there - demoted and sad, but there all the same. Sort of sad that we send the message that Pluto loses "planet status" merely for being a little different. It's the ASD planet - a little different, needs it's own category, but little Pluto could surprise us all - you just never know what fantastic things they could discover on Pluto! This is why Plutoniom is so valuable isn't it? ;)

Wendy said...

If it makes you feel any better, my husband is a rocket scientist and I've decided it's all his fault and have been giving him heck about it for 2 days. Let's just blame him! :)

Love the last line of your post. Funny!

Unknown said...

It pretty much had to happen. They either needed to make objects larger or about the size of Pluto planets as well, or demote Pluto. I kind of liked the draft proposal that left Pluto a dual planet with Charon. Wikipedia has a good summary of the redefinition.

Anonymous said...

"Space is big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind- bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the road to the chemist's, but that's just peanuts to space."

- Douglas Adams

"Just remember that you're standing on a planet that's evolving
And revolving at nine hundred miles an hour,
That's orbiting at nineteen miles a second, so it's reckoned,
A sun that is the source of all our power.

"The sun and you and me and all the stars that we can see
Are moving at a million miles a day
In an outer spiral arm, at forty thousand miles an hour,
Of the galaxy we call the 'Milky Way.'

"Our galaxy itself contains a hundred billion stars.
It's a hundred thousand light years side to side.
It bulges in the middle, sixteen thousand light years thick,
But out by us, it's just three thousand light years wide.
We're thirty thousand light years from galactic central point.
We go 'round every two hundred million years,
And our galaxy is only one of millions of billions
In this amazing and expanding universe.

"The universe itself keeps on expanding and expanding
In all of the directions it can whizz
As fast as it can go, at the speed of light, you know,
Twelve million miles a minute, and that's the fastest speed there is.
So remember, when you're feeling very small and insecure,
How amazingly unlikely is your birth,
And pray that there's intelligent life somewhere up in space,
'Cause there's bugger all down here on Earth."

- Monty Python's "The Meaning Of Life"

Pluto's not going anywhere. Truth be told, I think he's a bit relieved that he doesn't have to live up to some crazy reputation. (It can't be easy being the pet of an over-rated mouse. Who needs that kind of pressure?)

- Uncle Penguin

MOM-NOS said...

"Too much bloody perspective."
- This is Spinal Tap

Penguin, you're probably right about Pluto. But I can't help thinking that our collective reality-television-mindset has gone too far when planets start getting voted out of the solar system.

Alana said...

You know, this has been bothering me as well...profoundly. And i can't put my finger on why. It has just been really disturbing. And as much as I hate to perpetuate the whole "misery loves company" ideology, it is comforting to know that there are others out there that are having trouble coming to terms with the loss of Pluto.

KathyIggy said...

This is so funny--when I told Megan this news, her first reaction was, "Well, they'll have to change the Blue's Clues song now. They can't show that episode anymore." Of course, she was very confused and wondered if Pluto had moved to another solar system.

Daddy Background said...

How about that. Your blog came up in a Google search where I was looking to link the lyrics to the Blue's Clues song to a post I was making about my son's reaction to the ultimate demise of Pluto as a planet.

As we have always been told, we are not alone in the universe.

I've linked your site to my post (Eight is Enough).

Laurel Kornfeld said...

What you may or may not be aware of is that after the vote to demote Pluto, which was conducted by only four percent of the IAU members, an immediate backlash began by both planetary scientists and lay people to reverse the demotion. Don't count Pluto out as a planet just yet. Dr. Alan Stern, Principal Investigator for NASA's New Horizons mission to Pluto, is leading efforts to restore Pluto's planet status, beginning with a conference of 1,000 astronomers later this year. You can find many petition sites on the web advocating for these efforts. I wouldn't change a thing being taught to children or at most tell them there is an ongoing debate. My family and I are continuing to teach my three and a half year old nephew that there are nine planets. With many astronomers up in arms over a vote viewed as "hijacked," there is a good chance that this decision will not stand beyond the next IAU General Assembly in 2009.

Magpie said...

So that song is from Blues Clues? Huh. My child just learned it in pre-school.