Ramblings and Revolutions

I think, therefore I'm dangerous.

The Cost of the Final Frontier

The exploration of space is an amazing achievement for humankind. To realize that we have left the planet on which we live and explored what lies beyond its atmosphere is astounding, a dream men and women have had for hundreds of years. But it has not been without its costs.

The last week of January is not a good one for the U.S. space program.

Every astronaut death in the past 48 years has occurred between Jan. 27 and Feb. 1.

On January 27, 1967, Gus Grissom, Roger Chaffee and Edward White died when their Apollo 1 capsule caught fire during a launch pad test,

On January 28, 1986, the space shuttle Challenger exploded 73 seconds after launch, killing Richard Scobee, Judith Resnick, Elison Onizuka, Michael J. Smith, Christa McAuliffe, Ronald McNair, and Gregory Jarvis.

On February 1, 2003, the space shuttle Columbia disintegrated while returning to Earth, claiming the lives of  seven more astronauts — Rick Husband, William McCool, Michael Anderson, Kalpana Chawla, David Brown, Laurel Clark and Ilan Ramon.

That’s 17 Americans in all, lives lost in service to the desire to explore, to find out what’s “out there.”  Other nations, particularly the former Soviet Union,  have seen their own spaceflight-linked tragedies as well. A terrible price, to be sure.

Yet both the United States and other nations persist in sending people into space. Why?

Because it’s in our very nature to be curious, to go beyond the boundaries. It’s part of what makes us human.  Exploring space is the culmination of the legendary sea voyages that led to the discovery of new lands. It’s a choice people have been making since time immemorial.

So while we pause this week to remember all those who have lost their lives in our quest to explore the great vast beyond, we also note that they would want us to do what we’re doing — to carry on.

Per ardua ad astra — Through hardship to the stars.

 

The Great Blizzard of ’15!

So the East Coast is bracing for a gigantic blizzard, the first monster storm of 2015.

As folks Up North are buying milk and bread, and scrambling to get safely indoors ,  the appeal of living in Florida has never shined brighter.  Stay warm, Northeast friends, and stay safe.

Of course, you can feel free to remind me of this snarky little post when hurricane season rolls around….

R.I.P., SkyMall

Darn you, Internet, you’ve killed another beloved artifact of the pre-digital age!

You’re responsible, with your in-flight wi-fi, for the death of the SkyMall catalog. Yes, the company that gave you the opportunity to order litter box disguising furniture and Yeti statues for your garden is no more. The parent company filed for bankruptcy Friday.

So now what will we do on those flights to St. Louis, Charlotte or Seattle? How will we be able to imagine life would be like with that amazing motivational poster in our office that says SUCCESS! Or the garden without the handy-dandy lights, gnomes and grill cleaners? How will we pass the time in the sky between airports?

Did anyone ever actually order from SkyMall? Maybe, but that’s not the point. Especially after the advent of AirPhones in the seatbacks, the key was that we COULD order if we wanted to, not that we had to. And now it’s gone, off to that great seat pocket in the sky. Oh, wait….

The dream is gone. Sure, we still have Brookstone, and Hammacher-Schlemmer and the other companies that often advertised in the SkyMall book, but who else is going to aggregate all those fabulously impractical, overpriced products in one handy catalog that we can peruse while our seatmate dozes?

Ah, SkyMall, we hardly knew ye.  Farewell.

These Are The Good Old Days

Yes, that title is directly stolen from a Carly Simon song that got turned into a ketchup (or is it catsup?) commercial.

But it’s true.. These are great times to be alive. Many of us take that for granted every day.

Sure, I’ve tapped this vein of thought before, and no doubt will again in the future. But every once in a while, I can’t help but marvel at how much things have changed for the better just within the past few years.

Case in point — I occasionally browse thrift shops on my lunch hour. I enjoy looking for bargains amid the castoffs of other people’s lives.  One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, as the cliché goes. So I went today to one of my favorite haunts. As I gazed upon the shelves of tired VCRs, out-of-style lamps and other oddities, what to my wondering eyes should appear?

No, not a miniature sleigh and eight tiny reindeer, although those have been known to turn up occasionally.

No, what caught my eye was a typewriter. A portable typewriter. A portable, manual typewriter. A portable, manual Royal typewriter, eerily similar to the ones I pounded out countless term papers on in my college library way back in the dark ages before St. Jobs and St. Gates brought computers to the masses.

I put my fingers on the keys and typed out a few words for old times’ sake. I could almost see the little desk, smell the musty books in the stack, gaze out the window on the rainy streets of my youth.

Then I laughed to myself, muttering “Thank God those days are over.”

Sure, those heavy, clunky old beasts got the job done in terms of putting thoughts on paper. (rapidly becoming a rather quaint thought itself.) But getting the job done was a pain in the rear. The keys were heavy, they clattered like an old diesel bus, and if you made a mistake, you had to a.) erase and retype; b.) use Liquid Paper and retype; or c.) type the whole page over. No delete key, no spell-check. Oh, and did I mention that if you typed too fast, the keys jammed?

And let’s not forget where cut-and-paste comes from. That’s literally what one did in the old days to move paragraphs around.

Comparing that machine to the computer on which I’m writing these words is like comparing Henry Ford’s Model T to a modern-day Tesla. Both will get you from point A to point B, but one will do so a lot faster and with a great deal more comfort.

So with a nostalgic smile for days gone by, I flipped the thrift shop typewriter’s carriage return lever and walked out, happy to return to my modern computer. Who knows? Perhaps in a few years, when I come across a machine running Windows 8 in a thrift shop, I’ll have the same reaction to it.

I can’t wait to find out what comes next. That, my friends, is what makes these the good old days.

This Just In…

Comedy Central is planning a “roast” of Justin Bieber.

Would it be too much to ask for deep-fried instead?

 

 

Don’t Forget

The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

 

Which side of history are YOU on?

Aftermath

Twenty-four hours after the senseless massacre of 12 people  in Paris, let us take comfort in one small thing.

The most powerful weapon in the world is still this:

 

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Almost 2015!

So this is Christmas,

And what have you done?

Another year over,

A new one just begun.

OK, so it’s a little bit past Christmas, but the question is a good one. How was your 2014?

What HAVE you done? What did you do in 2014 that you enjoyed? What have you done to help make the world a better place, either for yourself or for others?

As we close the book on 2014, it’s a good time to reflect, and see what we accomplished in the past year. Let us also look forward to the new year, with hope and joy for good times with good people yet to come.

Happy New Year.

Important Holiday Safety Tip!

Do not attempt to actually EAT fruitcake. It’s designed for use as doorstops.

 

 

Seriously, Merry Christmas to all from Ramblings and Revolutions.

Words To Live By

T-shirt being worn by hipster guy at the mall on Saturday:

“That’s What”

– She

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