Category: Cosmic Musings
Life’s Unanswered Questions
So, I was taking a break from transcribing this 1 hour and 12 minute magnum opus for Rev.com, that jive outfit I work for, since I don’t get enough from Social Security to live on, and I was working an Otto and Victoria puzzle that I made on Jigsaw Planet (Otto being Victoria’s pet octopus), and a stray thought drifted through: “Why do they call then tentacles if there are only 8 of them?”
Well, according to the interwebs, the word “tentacle” has nothing to do with numbers. It comes from the Latin, tentaculum, from the verb tentare, meaning “to feel or to touch.” Having been a medical transcriptionist for some 27 odd years (some of them odder than others), I’m familiar with a thing called a “tenaculum,” a medical instrument for holding things — from the Latin tenēre meaning “to hold, to keep,” so I felt there was bound to be a connection in there somewhere. (BTW, in inflationary language, an enneapus has elevenicles. I knew you’d want to know that.)
So my stray question was not, as it happened, one of life’s unanswered questions. My favorite of life’s unanswered questions is, “Who built the Batcave (and what did they think they were building)?”
While we’re in an interrogatory vein, how is it that we managed to put a man on the moon before we figured out it would be a good idea to put wheels on luggage? Why is “bra” singular and “panties” plural? If all is not lost, where is it? Inquiring minds want to know.
Oh, and BTW, the next time you are beset by the Borg, remember: Resistance is not futile. It’s voltage divided by current.
Ready To Go
Yesterday, I finished the Meadowsweet bonnet and got all the ends woven in and buttons sewn on all the stuff, and everything is ready to go except the afghan, which hopefully will go by the end of the week “under separate cover.” This is good, because according to the latest word, the baby is due “any day now.” The package will contain the following:
All the above is what is going in the first load, together with this darling little bonnet I got at historic Fort Stanton. The baby will be living in Galveston, Tx, and this is the kind of hats babies need there — sunhats! It probably won’t fit her until next summer, but it will be so darling on her. Looks like we may be seeing the baby in October. The Pearland Heritage Society luncheon that mom wants to go to is on a Saturday. She wants to go down to Pearland on a Wednesday. We will be staying with mom’s niece (the grandma-to-be), and there is talk that either Thursday or Friday we will go down to Galveston and see the baby and eat seafood. I hope that means we are going to Gaido’s Restaurant in Galveston. I can remember going to Gaido’s to eat seafood as a small child, and it was always an important destination every time we went to visit relatives in Houston/Pearland. If we do go to Gaido’s, it will be a bittersweet occasion. My dad loved their broiled red snapper.
In other knitting news, my cousin-in-law’s scarf is moving right along. On mom’s, I only put 24 “horseshoes” — 12 in each direction. I think on this scarf, I will put 28. I have reversed the direction of the “horseshoes” — on mom’s the “arms” of the horseshoes pointed toward the ends of the scarf. On this one, they point to the center. The pattern is written so that you can do either configuration. There are three schools of thought about how you are supposed to position a horseshoe when you nail one over a door or on a wall for good luck: One school says the ends of the horseshoe should be pointing up, to “catch the luck” and hold it in the house. Another school says you should put it with the ends pointing down, so that the luck it attracts will be poured out onto the inhabitants of the house. The third holds that it doesn’t matter which direction they point, because nailing a horseshoe over a door or on a wall for good luck is just a silly superstition. I do not subscribe to this last view because it is no fun.
I did a load of sheets and clothes in the washing machine earlier and in the course of remaking the bed, I pondered one of life’s unanswered questions: Whyzzit when you are making a bed using a contoured (fitted) sheet, the first corner you put onto the mattress is always the wrong one?
Small Stone for 31 July, 2015
“If, out of fear, you are constantly watching for danger, you will find it everywhere, and your world will shrink until your fear is all it has room for.” That is the useless bit of nonsense I learned from the silly little fairy tale of escapist fiction I just finished reading. Books that teach you such paltry things as that couldn’t possibly be great literature. The book is called Od Magic, by Patricia McKillip, if you’re interested. The small stone it became and the others I’ve collected over the years are here.
O, Pluto, Where Art Thou?
It’s been all over the news, the New Horizons flyby of Pluto. OK. First thing to take away. Clyde Tombaugh discovered Pluto in 1930. The best image obtainable at the time was a speck on a photographic plate (see arrow at left). Pluto is smaller than our moon and has an orbital period of 248 years, so we’ve only been able to plot its orbital trajectory for a little less than 85 years, and we’ve only been able to achieve an “aim something at it” level of accuracy for the past 15 years or so.
The mission to Pluto was launched in 2006, and it took the New Horizons craft 9-1/2 years to travel over 3 billion miles — that’s “billion” with a “B” — to Pluto. (Light from Pluto takes 4-1/2 hours to reach the Earth.) Unfortunately, although New Horizons was exactly where it was supposed to be when it arrived, it got there 72 seconds early. Well, dang. That’s a disappointing 99.9% accuracy.
The New Horizon spacecraft is the size of a grand piano with a large salad bowl atop it, only has two 32 GB hard drives on it, and has a one track mind — it cannot send and receive data at the same time, — so we had to white knuckle the flyby and wait until it was over to find out if the spacecraft survived it’s passage through the debris field between Pluto and its moon Charon. Because it can only transmit data at 1 to 2 Kbps (!), it’s going to take over 16 months for the New Horizons spacecraft to transmit all 64 GB of its data — that’s apparently all you got for $720 million in 2006. Just for comparison, my computer (bought in 2011) has a 500 GB hard drive (almost 8 times larger) and, according to the Geek Squad, I have a data transmission speed of 5.32 Mbps (1 Mb =1024 Kb), which is 5447.68 times faster.
Still, we’re getting a pretty good bang for our buck so far. This is Hubble’s best shot of Pluto at left compared to New Horizons’ first high resolution image at right.
Collaborating with the New Horizons team is Dr. Brian May. You may have heard of him. Before he got his Ph.D. in astrophysics, he played lead guitar in this rock band called “Queen” That’s him in 1974, second from right.
What I’m waiting for is for Discovery Channel or National Geographic Channel or one of those other “science” channels to do a show with him and Neil deGrasse Tyson talking about Pluto and getting their geek on.
Oh, and I forgot to mention. Clyde Tombaugh died in 1997 at the age of 90, and never got to see the close up images of that little pinpoint of light he found back in 1930, but on the New Horizons spacecraft is a small canister containing some of his cremains, and the legend: “Interned herein are remains of American Clyde W. Tombaugh, discoverer of Pluto and the solar system’s “third zone.” Adelle and Muron’s boy, Patricia’s husband, Annette and Alden’s father, astronomer, teacher, punster, and friend: Clyde W. Tombaugh (1906-1997).” Also on the spacecraft is a CD-ROM with the names of over 434,000 people who wanted to participate vicariously in this historic exploration. I’m sorry I didn’t know about that. I’d have wanted my name on that CD, too.
I was thinking just now: My mom will be 91 on her next birthday. She was born in 1924 during the age of radio. She was 2-1/2 years old when Lindbergh flew across the Atlantic. She was 6 years old when Pluto was discovered. She was 21 when the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan. She was 23 when Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier in a jet aircraft in 1947. She was in her middle 20’s when the television age began and she saw the Apollo 11 moon landing broadcast live from the moon. She was 53 the year the Apple II person computer came out, and she learned to use a desktop computer running the MS-DOS version of WordPerfect word processing software during her last years as a secretary for the law firm she worked for until she retired. (She’s still using the computer she got when she retired, BTW, which runs Word Perfect from MS-DOS and has a floppy disk drive!) She has seen the various space shuttle missions. She’s seen the International Space Station, and the three Mars Rovers, and now she’s seen Pluto. Unfortunately, she’s not likely to live long enough to see humans land on Mars. I hope I do.
Early Tuesday Morning Thoughts
If the advice we were given made as big an impression on us as the things we learned the hard way, there would be a lot less grief in the world and a lot more people would be wiser than sadder.
I wish the word “humane” was applicable to humans a whole lot more often than it is.
I think I feel the same way about people who buy a specific breed of dog or cat, the same way I feel about people who buy designer clothing.
I Don’t Know Much About Art, But I Know What I Like
That work of art that artists create is filtered through who he or she is, what they have experienced, and their own unique perspective of the world from where they stand within it. They imbue their works of art with their own meanings based on their own uniquely personal gestalt. So, too, does the viewer of that art see it through the filter of his or her own self, life experiences, and unique perspective on the world.
It is the miracle of art that the work of art itself is the same thing everybody sees, yet no two people see the same thing, experience it in the same way, or take away the same meaning from it.
In this context, art criticism, art critics, and the reams and reams of writings about art are ludicrous. Knowing about an artist may put what they might have to say in some kind of context, but when it comes right down to it, a piece of art either speaks to you or it doesn’t. You are either interested in listening to what it has to say or you aren’t. What makes a work of art great is how much you want to take it home with you and keep it forever.
Some Thinky Thoughts From C. Monster
Too Much Information!
Squirreling away at work tonight, trying to keep things within turn around time limits on two platforms (dictation that needs to be typed and dictation that the speech recognition engine typed that needs to be proofread and corrected) — Not unlike juggling plates on poles. Could not remember if EMLA cream was all capitals or not, and while I was googling to make sure, I found this which is essentially EMLA cream rebranded and aimed at a specific target market. When I stopped laughing at the name, I realized that there isn’t an equivalent product targeted at women since obviously women are long inured to Suffering for Beauty, have higher pain thresholds (as is well known), and can pull out large areas of body hair without batting an eye so there is apparently no demand for such a product and, yes, because men are basically big wusses when it comes to bikini waxes — or any kind of waxing, come to that
The cosmetics industry has already convinced women that having hairy legs and armpits is nasty, hair in the “bikini area” is suboptimal and that having hair anywhere except on your scalp, eyebrows and eyelashes is not desirable. They’ve succeeded in convincing men that nose and ear hair is yucky (finally!), that smooth shaven is best, that beard stubble is OK but you need to buy a special razor to “groom” it, and a hairy back and chest is suboptimal. Now they’re targeted the “bikini area.” Somebody must have gotten a huge bonus for coming up with this product name.
*Those whose job it is to invent “needs” in order to sell you products to satisfy them have already convinced women to spend a lot of money on products they didn’t know they needed to ensure that they are as bald as escapees from an Ottoman harem, and now the concept of the metrosexual has been foisted off on men in order to mine a new treasure trove of untapped dollars by convincing men to spend money on products that they didn’t know they needed — and, brilliantly, these are essentially the same products they sell to women, only rebranded and marketed specifically to convince men that using them will get them laid.
There’s something basically sick about a trillion-dollar industry predicated on making you insecure enough that you will believe there is something wrong with the way you look, but that you can fix it by spending a lot of money buying their products.
O, tempora! O, mores! O, nuts!
* The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series of books by Douglas Adams. If you like Terry Pratchett, you’ll love Douglas Adams.