...to a rousing start...with Happy Birthday greetings to my beautiful wife...
Do we know how to par-tay or what?
We all know what February 14th is, right?
Well yeah, there's that whole Valentine's Day thing, which any man with an iota of common sense - not to mention, the instinct for self-preservation - intuitively understands he'd best not forget.
You didn't, did you?
But February 14th is also "The Pale Blue Dot" day...
...for on that date back in 1990, the Voyager 1 spacecraft took the above photograph from 3.7 billion miles away as it was leaving our solar system...
...and that pale blue dot you see in the 1st image is planet earth.
Carl Sagan, atheist and astronomer, made it (in)famous with this quote:
“Look again at that dot.
"That's here. That's home. That's us.
"On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives...on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam...
"Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light.
"Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark.
"In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves..."
Sagan argues our diminutive size equates to utter insignificance, and yet from our total irrelevance in the universe springs the necessity and ability to save ourselves.
If we're meaningless, why bother? Who in the uncaring universe would notice if we were gone?
Beyond that, anyone with even a rudimentary grasp of history knows how well mankind has done at spreading peace, love and happiness down through the ages.
Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot anyone?
The Scriptures, however, take a distinctly different view of our world:
"The heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament showeth his handiwork.
"Day unto day uttereth speech and night unto night showeth knowledge.
"There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard."
- Psalm 19: 1-3
It's not about us; it's about God's glory.
Not surprisingly, the Scriptures also have something to say about people who actually believe mankind sits atop the apex:
"The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God."
- Psalm 14:1
Rather than underscoring our insignificance, that picture does exactly the opposite:
It proves God cared for us enough to create our world and then sustain us in the midst of His immense universe.
We are important to God.
How do we know this?
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."
- John 3:16
Rejoice that you're a resident of God's Pale Blue Dot.
As a bonus, it comes with a free revolution around the sun every year, along with the opportunity to do good and be kind to your fellow sojourners.
Make the most of it.
...a movie set in 1862 and claiming to be "inspired by true events" (translation: any resemblance to reality will be purely accidental).
The historical event in question is the record setting balloon ascent made by English meteorologist James Glaisher and aeronaut Henry Coxwell.
On September 5th, 1862, these 2 ascended to the incredible height of 35,000 feet above sea level, smashing the previous record of 23,000 feet.
Unfortunately, Glaisher lost consciousness around 29,000 feet, and Coxwell lost the use of both hands shortly thereafter.
When he couldn't get the valve-line to release gas from the balloon so they could descend, Coxwell had to climb the rigging to the top of the balloon and ultimately released the vent with his teeth.
Try doing that sometime at 35,000 ft when you can't feel your hands.
He then lost consciousness, but he had heroically saved their lives: they did descend and land safely.
Giving the movie its due, it does tell the basics of the story pretty much as it happened, but with one truly inexplicable change.
This is Henry Coxwell in real life:
Who, in history, was Amelia Wren?
Well, no one as far as this story goes.
She's been conjured out of thin air, which I suppose was in keeping with the balloon motif.
Ok, Miss Jones is easier on the eyes than the bearded Mr. Coxwell, but if you're going to change not just the name but also the gender of the actual hero of this incredible event, why not go whole hog and drop kick James Glaisher as well?
Sorry Eddie, but we're dumping you in favor of oh, I don't know, how about Lady Gaga?
Lessee, staying with the ornithology theme -
get it? common birds flying high in the sky?
- in the movie she can be "Ophelia Finch". (What? I could have gone with Tufted Titmouse.)
"So Wren and Finch, see, they get this balloon, and they fly it, like, really really high, and then..."
Well, you get the idea.
Did Director Harper have a run in with someone named Coxwell back in the day, so he just couldn't bring himself to film the actual story?
Was he virtue signaling that even though it was a couple of dudes a hundred sixty years ago, you do realize it could have been a dude and woman because women are like, you know, equal and all. No, really. They are.
Or maybe he failed history class in high school and hasn't been able to deal with what actually happened ever since.
Who knows? It's just weird.
It does have cool scenery though.
There are better ways, too.
If you're a germaphobe and the thought of holding someone's hand makes you physically ill, please see the gentleman in the suit for the special exit designed just for you...
|Larry / Skeletor was up north at the Red Bull Snow Scramble this weekend...|
|...serving as Pit Boss for a friend...|
|cool car...expensive, too|
|those were the days my friend, we thought they'd never end...|
|caught red handed…um, hooved|
|home sweet home|
|a winter sunset|
|and that boys and girls is why you build them outside|
You can't tell by looking out the window, but...
* Crass Commercialism Corner *
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