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Thursday, February 15, 2018

Both are unbelievable but one is true, one is false. Any guesses?

We were thrilled when Henry bicycled across the moon with ET in his bike basket.

 We were also thrilled (sort of) when the red Tesla streaked past the earth on it's way past Mars.

OK, everyone knows ET will never reach home in the basket of Henry's bicycle. But could a red Tesla ever speed past Mars, with David Bowie's Space Oddity blasting on its audio device, and drive forever into space? Most incredibly amazing, it could. That IS an actual photo you're looking at.

Is there anyone today more interesting and inventive that Elon Musk? Truly this South African born
Elon Musk
Canadian American billionaire at age 48 has done more than even the best fiction writer could imagine... but it's true. He founded Xcom which became Infinity which bought PayPal which was bought by ebay. He founded the automotive company that developed the Tesla automobile and founded SpaceX which developed the most powerful rocket booster that put his red Tesla with a manikin driver behind the wheel into space forever. Even more astounding, two of the three rocket boosters on the most powerful rocket actually returned to base, landing as if reverse of the take-off. Take that NASA.

So his failure is that the space-bound Tesla that was supposed to land on Mars but missed, is destined to drive forever, at 25,000 miles per hour, into outer space for infinity. It joins with NASA's two Voyager missions to infinity. Imagine the incredible gas/electric mileage per gallon and what would happen if it was ever pulled over for speeding by an alien patrol officer with radar. "Sorry officer, I was running late for Mars so I stepped on it and didn't realize how fast I was going."

Consider that perhaps, eons from now, a distant civilization will encounter both Voyager spacecrafts with their golden records of us saying 'Hello" in 140 different languages and also the Tesla playing David Bowie's Space Oddity and wondering who in the hell those people are/were.

Well, that's space for you.


Friday, January 26, 2018

Yes, it is proven, you absolutely CAN BUY HAPPINESS... and here's how.





 
You can, you really can buy happi-
ness.

There are no tricks or gimmicks. It can cost nothing or almost nothing--that's up to you. And best yet, it has a positive spin that goes beyond just you.

Behavioral scientists have discovered though, that money isn't the currency... dollars may lead to a lessening of sadness, but happiness is not materially for sale.

There is a history of lottery winners showing, for many, a loss of friends, social placement, extravagance and ruin that a sudden infusion of millions of dollars can cause, because winning the lottery is everything material. (I'd still like to take my chances though, but the catch--you have to buy a ticket.)  

The quality of close relationships with family and friends, the blessing of health and satisfying work or hobbies are the big deals for happiness and they come with no tariff. It is the small, day-to-day stuff that can benefit a disposition on the spot, no matter where you are on your 'happiness scale.' It's like a no-cal piece of chocolate or slice of pie alamode if that's your thing. THAT happiness, you can buy... if you know how.

Michael Norton, a professor of  Business Administration at Harvard Business School, has found a real-life way to buy happiness with positive results. Here he is on TEDTalks . If you have 10 minutes, It is worth your time.

For you busy folks, here's what he showed:

Doing studies in a number of venues, from Vancouver to third world Africa, and in different ways, he basically asked random people how happy they were at that moment, expressed in a number from 1 to 10. Many said  6, 7 or 8. Then he gave each participant an envelope containing anywhere from $5 to $50. Each envelope asked the recipient to use the money that day. Some were told the money was theirs to keep, no strings attached. Some were told they must use the money benevolently on someone else, and some were given a choice to keep the money or give it away.

Of those who kept the money, they typically just put in in their pocket or purse, bought a Starbucks coffee or just used it as part their cash. Those who were told to give it away gave it to street entertainers, someone they saw seemingly needy or benevolently in any other way.

The almost universal worldwide results (only The Congo was different), showed those who kept the money for themselves still rated themselves at the same happiness number. Those who were benevolent almost universally rated themselves one number greater on their happiness scale.

Moreover, Norton wondered what would happen if he gave dollars, under the same circumstances, to a basketball or dodge ball team (which he actually did) or an office sales staff or to some other like group. You really have to watch his talk for the full effect, but in virtually every case, the benevolent recipients' use of the gift (donuts for the office, new sweat bands for the team, for example) performed better... universally. The sales team sold more that its test counterpart that kept the cash, the benevolent teams dramatically improved their records, etc.

Personally, I once stood behind a young father ordering breakfast for his family at McDonald's. When he heard his order would cost $18.75, he told the cashier that he had left his wallet in the car and had to go get it. I watched him go outside to his wife and small children waiting for breakfast. He got into the car and had a moment's conversation with his wife. He  shrugged his shoulders and shook his head, then drove off. I realized he didn't have the cash. I was sadly so sorry I didn't recognize the need and pay for his food that my happiness scale dipped two numbers. Opportunity to buy happiness missed. I hurt for a while after that.

It is dramatic what spending money for someone's benefit or need can do for your personal happiness. And it really is that easy. It IS BETTER to give than receive and that happiness plays out in simple or complex ways to the recipients as well as the donors.

Try it yourself. Give someone you perceive may need a lift, a few bucks and watch what happens to the recipient... and see what it feels like to you. It's such a easy gesture to be--in ways big or small--benevolent.  And, as Norton's experiments showed, it doesn't take much to make a difference. It pays dividends in life. And really, don't we always need more things that make us feel good?

Is there a richer story to that point than O. Henry's The Gift of the Magi, a worthy read in any season?



Thursday, January 25, 2018

How many is 6 million?

In honor and remembrance on Holocaust Day, Saturday, January 27, 2018

If you wrote one 3-letter word in type so small that it takes a good magnifying glass to read it... and you printed that word, again and again, in a book large enough to fill a coffee-table, with each word butted against the other, border to border, six-million times, the book would be 1,250 pages thick and almost illegible.

That book is titled And Every Single One was Someone. Its only word is "Jew."

Each word represents one Jew killed during the Holocaust... one human being who breathed, worked, loved and lived. It's new, available at Amazon and elsewhere.

There is a much larger book at the Holocaust memorial and museum in Washington D.C. simply titled Book of Names. It is 6 1/2 feet tall, 46 feet in circumference. In it are the documented identities of 4.3 million of the those victims. 

      What exactly was the difference? he wondered to himself. And who decided which people 
     wore the striped pajamas and which people wore the uniforms?”
     ― John Boyne, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas 

In Peoria, Illinois, there is an outdoor Holocaust memorial of 18 Star of David shaped glass columns filled with 11-million buttons that represent six-million Jews and five-million  “enemies of the state” who were murdered--political and religious leaders, Roman gypsies, Serbians, Catholics, homosexuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, the trade unionists, alcoholics and the handicapped. Each targeted group wore a different colored triangle to identify their “enemy” status. The columns, filled with buttons from different parts of the world, are wrapped in yellow ribbon labeled "No Hate Zone."
  
     Monsters exist, but they are too few in numbers to be truly dangerous. More dangerous 
     are… the functionaries ready to believe and act without asking questions. 
     ― Primo Levi
 I wrote this three years ago and it will always be relevant. 

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

A QUIZ: Who has the best selling album in history and which Golden Record is a cinch to beat it by a million miles if only... ?




No, it's not him, though I can't imagine why not.

I can tell you though, the upstart that will ultimately out-distant eveything ever recorded and is filled with "Golden Oldies" and has a lock on a vast, untapped market that is guaranteed to 'rock your socks!'

Hint: It features Johnny B. Goode (as in Back to the Future), written and performed by Chuck Berry. And that is ironic, as it is in the future that this will/might break all records by a million miles, literally.

Got the answer? Here's the play list:

  • Bach, Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 in F. First Movement, Munich Bach Orchestra, Karl Richter, conductor. 4:40
  • Java, court gamelan, "Kinds of Flowers," recorded by Robert Brown. 4:43
  • Senegal, percussion, recorded by Charles Duvelle. 2:08
  • Zaire, Pygmy girls' initiation song, recorded by Colin Turnbull. 0:56
  • Australia, Aborigine songs, "Morning Star" and "Devil Bird," recorded by Sandra LeBrun Holmes. 1:26
  • Mexico, "El Cascabel," performed by Lorenzo Barcelata and the Mariachi México. 3:14
  • "Johnny B. Goode," written and performed by Chuck Berry. 2:38
  • New Guinea, men's house song, recorded by Robert MacLennan. 1:20
  • Japan, shakuhachi, "Tsuru No Sugomori" ("Crane's Nest,") performed by Goro Yamaguchi. 4:51
  • Bach, "Gavotte en rondeaux" from the Partita No. 3 in E major for Violin, performed by Arthur Grumiaux. 2:55
  • Mozart, The Magic Flute, Queen of the Night aria, no. 14. Edda Moser, soprano. Bavarian State Opera, Munich, Wolfgang Sawallisch, conductor. 2:55
  • Georgian S.S.R., chorus, "Tchakrulo," collected by Radio Moscow. 2:18
  • Peru, panpipes and drum, collected by Casa de la Cultura, Lima. 0:52
  • "Melancholy Blues," performed by Louis Armstrong and his Hot Seven. 3:05
  • Azerbaijan S.S.R., bagpipes, recorded by Radio Moscow. 2:30
  • Stravinsky, Rite of Spring, Sacrificial Dance, Columbia Symphony Orchestra, Igor Stravinsky, conductor. 4:35
  • Bach, The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 2, Prelude and Fugue in C, No.1. Glenn Gould, piano. 4:48
  • Beethoven, Fifth Symphony, First Movement, the Philharmonia Orchestra, Otto Klemperer, conductor. 7:20
  • Bulgaria, "Izlel je Delyo Hagdutin," sung by Valya Balkanska. 4:59
  • Navajo Indians, Night Chant, recorded by Willard Rhodes. 0:57
  • Holborne, Paueans, Galliards, Almains and Other Short Aeirs, "The Fairie Round," performed by David Munrow and the Early Music Consort of London. 1:17
  • Solomon Islands, panpipes, collected by the Solomon Islands Broadcasting Service. 1:12
  • Peru, wedding song, recorded by John Cohen. 0:38
  • China, ch'in, "Flowing Streams," performed by Kuan P'ing-hu. 7:37
  • India, raga, "Jaat Kahan Ho," sung by Surshri Kesar Bai Kerkar. 3:30
  • "Dark Was the Night," written and performed by Blind Willie Johnson. 3:15
  • Beethoven, String Quartet No. 13 in B flat, Opus 130, Cavatina, performed by Budapest String Quartet. 6:31 
Got it yet? Of course, it is NASA's Golden Record... the two-disk album  aboard spacecrafts Voyager 1 and Voyager 2, rocketing as we talk (read) out of our solar system into unknown space to possibly reach another civilization in perhaps, several billion light years or so. And word of mouth in the record industry is that these people... er, aliens, are really hip and buy records like crazy. Besides, that is where Michael Jackson may now be living... I mean dead... er, living dead.

But wait! Buy this record and get free, greetings in every known language on earth (really). And That's not all! If you buy now, you also get 115 classic images that show how we live on this planet. Order in just two billion light years, and we'll also give you the all the sounds of earth... jackhammers, musical instruments, farts... no not farts, and more. If you are an alien and haven't yet invented a record player? We'll throw that in absolutely free!

And, folks on earth, you too can get in on this great deal. Those golden discs have been reproduced in human scale (CD-ROM) so you can buy your set (really) on Amazon (of course) and a number of other places. Also available in many public libraries (really again).

"The spacecraft will be encountered and the record played only if there are advanced spacefaring civilizations in interstellar space." Carl Sagan (also dead)

 
PS: The Beatles actually sold the most earth copies... but you just wait!



Saturday, January 6, 2018

Believe it or not, every one of us needs a porpoise. (OK, I really mean Purpose, not Porpoise, but I couldn't find a good picture of a Purpose.)



Each of us needs a purpose in life. 

"So tell me something I don't know."

Okay, I will:

Research has proven that the nuanced will to live---something most of us take for granted, like breathing--is more vital to our health and well being than we have recognized. Better yet, it is within our power to control, with amazing, life-rewarding benefits.

The corollary to living is often listed as a cause of death for many older: Failure to thrive.

In a New York Times article, Finding Purpose for a Good Life, But Also a Healthy One, by Dhruv Khullar, says that diagnosis's bold preposition implies "humans, in their natural state, are meant to thrive."

Khullar cites the evidence that leads him to the conclusion: "Having a purpose isn't about finding the meaning of life, but but building meaning into your life."

"My patient, however," Khullar adds, "was not in his natural state. Cancer had claimed nearly every organ in his body. He'd lost a quarter of his body mass. I worried his ribs would crack under the weight of my stethoscope.

" 'You know,' he told me the evening I admitted him, 'A few years ago, I wouldn't have cared if I made it. Take me God, I would've said. What good am I doing here anyway? But now you have to save me. Sadie needs me.' "
Sadie is his cat

"He'd struggled with depression most of his life, he said. Strangely enough, it seemed to him, he was
most at peace while caring for his mother when she had Parkinson's, but she died years ago. Since then, he had felt aimless, without a sense of purpose, until Sadie wandered into his life."



Not surprisingly, sharing life and love with a pet is a common purpose with responsibilities in itself.

Studies have found that only one of four of us have a recognized sense of purpose that makes life more meaningful. About the rest, half of us see ourselves neutral or without purpose.

Research indicates that having a specific purpose, even if unrecognized as such, decreases one's risk of dementia and has a positive influence or controlling depression, neuroticism, socioeconomic status and chronic disease. Those with a greater sense of purpose were 2.4 times less likely to develop Alzheimer's or minor cognitive problems.

Moreover, Khullar continued, "of  6,000 studied individuals followed over 14 years, it was found that those with a greater purpose were 15 percent less likely to die than those in their group who were less driven... and that having a purpose was protective across the life span--for people in their 20s as well as those in their 70s."

One remarkable study compared the effect of group therapy for patients with metastatic cancer.

One "support focused" group met weekly and discussed things like "the need for support" 'coping with medical tests," and "communicating with providers."

Another "meaning-centered" group focused instead on spiritual and existential questions like, "meaning before and after cancer," "What made us who we are today," and "Things we have done and want to do in the future." This group of patients experienced fewer physical symptoms, had a higher quality of life, felt less hopeless--and were more likely to want to keep living.

In a study of teen age volunteers--those who chose to help elementary students with homework, cooking, sports or arts and crafts verses a group that was put on a wait list without such a project--those actively involved students had lower levels of inflammation, better cholesterol profiles, a lower body mass index and grew in empathy and altruism That group also showed the largest reductions in cardiovascular risk.

In every scientifically designed study, the benefits of a purpose-filled life resulted in higher self-esteem with more social connections, better mobility and stamina.

The author's final truth: "Finding purpose is rarely an epiphany, nor is it something you pick up at the mall or download from the app store. It can be a long, arduous process that requires introspection and conversation, then a commitment to act. And (my interjection) is worth gold.

Or, if this is all to complicated, check out Monty Python's The Meaning of Life.  That'll do it for you.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

This tickled the Dickins out of me... again!


The exceptional cast of A Christmas Carol

Imagine: it is the Ghost of Christmas Present as you watch 22 talented, energetic middle school youngsters (and all of the behind-the-scenes skill set for sure) bring Charles Dickins' Scrooge alive once more. This was in the Boston area but A Christmas Carol is repeated annually across the country and world time and again as we celebrate this holiday season.

As I sat in wonder enjoying the performance, I saw my grandchildren and others growing richer in their world as they "broke a leg" for seven performances over two weekends. For those fortunate enough to be part of a grand production, be it acting, part of a band or orchestra or any activity where working together is the only way to do it right, skills are polished and life lessons are learned.

This performance was funded privately by a youth theater project but it is the schools that often offer, if they can, more broad based opportunities like this. The tinge of sadness is that more don't have such opportunities as school and personal budgets constrict such broadening activities. With school budgets being pinched to a point of making educational opportunities a lower priority, we often can't even get the basics done right. 

And what is more important? These youngsters are our future and too many of them just miss out on important stuff and more.

It is criminal that most teachers cannot live on a teacher's salary, let alone a broad based scholastic program be implemented.

Enter Stage Left--The Ghost of Christmas Future: "You scare me most, oh Ghost. What can you show me?  What does the future hold? 

When you wake from your fitful dream, will the largest goose still hang in the butcher shop down the street? Will there be a boy, a wonderful boy, there to run and get it for the Cratchit family? Or was it not a dream after all?

 

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Nothing lasts forever, right? WRONG! I know two things that will be around til the end of time. They are both man-made... and they are not Buzz Lightyear!

Buzz Lghtyear


Those two things are spacecraft--Voyager I and Voyager II--launched in 1977 and 1979 respectively. Voyager I, traveling at 31,000 miles-per-hour, is now about 18 billion miles from earth (Voyager II is a mere 2 billion miles behind) and flying out of our solar system past the sun and into deep space for at least 13,500 more light years. (A light year is 31,516,000 seconds x 180.000 miles per second... forever... or until the end of time--as Buzz Lightyear would say, "To Infinity and Beyond."

Yeah, yeah, you've heard the story... but have you really?

Here's a clip from television's 60 Minutes that will blow your mind, if you have a desire to be mind-blown! It's about 13 minutes long and you will have to watch two 30-second commercials but it is worth it.

To accomplish this 'eternal mission' in 1977, we used a primitive  'state-of-the-art' computer system that took up almost all of the large room it was housed in. Your smartphone is 10,000 times more powerful than that was. Then there were the human computers that put this thing all together. Here's my 2011 post with more information.

I have two more posts to follow on Voyager.
  • A review of the Golden Record: The Sounds of Earth aboard each Voyager for the aliens who discover our spacecraft--if ever. These records have been made 'earthling viewable' and have just gone on sale to the public. You will see how Carl Sagan tried to relate to unknown beings to tell them our story. (Hint: Chuck Berry performing Johnny B. Goode is there as are hundreds of other photos and data that may surprise you.
  • The backstory of Hidden Figures, the black women who were called 'computers' by their associates, because that's how it was done before today's computer age. One of them literally saved John Glenn's life by finding a calculation error in critical data.

"TO INFINITY AND BEYOND!" 

Sunday, November 26, 2017

The value of a dollar just went up

 



Being the sharp trader I am, I think I have just wiped out the US debt and had $98 trillion left over for incidentals.

Yep, it's a $100 trillion bill, just like a regular dollar bill but bigger. And yeah, I had one even though I'm not even on the billionaire list. Don't tell anyone but I got this on the black market for my 2006 Honda CRV... think I found a real sucker... the car burns oil like crazy. 

So who's richer now Bill Gates... er, Jeff Bezos, the new world's richest man at $100 billion or Scrooge McDuck... not counting me, of course?

Thought I'd play a practical joke and bought a McDonald's senior coffee for 84 cents and paid with this $100 trillion dollar bill. Joke's on me, I guess. I got $99,999,999,999,999.16 in change... mostly ones and fives with a lot of nickles and dimes. 

In real life, a person could buy a lot with $100 trillion dollars. Just think Nutella, for example. I could eat it by the jar and it would last trillions of years. And feed the world's poor too with chump change.

Then I found out... the Zimbabwe, $100 trillion dollars is worth... ready for it?... 40 cents. In Zimbabwe, it takes over a jillion to fill a gas tank. Now THAT'S inflation for you. Sad thing. 

In the end, there is one truism... Money, Money, Money cannot buy happiness (but it does help ease the pain just a touch.)

Enjoy the links and if you see a $100 trillion bill laying on the street, don't bother.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

A Tribute to The Man in the Moon... really, there is one






No, I don't mean this guy, depicted in a 1902 French film, Le Voyage dans la Lune. (Those French, they have a different word for almost everything.) The movie was a furthering of Jules Verne's 1865 novel, From Earth to the Moon, but it wasn't til that glorious day in 1969 that Neil Armstrong actually set foot on our celestial shadow.

Eugene Shoemaker
It is this man, Eugene Shoemaker, the only man
that is actually buried on the moon. Didn't know that, did you?

Trivia question: How many humans have been to the moon? Answer: 24, with 12 of those actually setting foot on its surface... not counting Eugene Shoemaker.

Actually, a small number of us have been "buried" in space forever... or to be re-creamated if their tiny projectile reenters earth's atmosphere. There is a company, Celestis, which seeks 'remnant space' from anyone, including NASA one time, that puts payloads in space, contracting for any small unused ride-share area that might be available for a celestial memorial burial. Celestis's first memorial flight was  in April, 1997 from the Canary Islands on a rocket payload that also contained the ashes of Gene Roddenberry, the Star Trek TV producer and original Trekie and LSD guru Timothy Leary, plus 22 other nerds and normals.

So how did Eugene Shoemaker 'score?'  He and wife Carol with David Levy were the 1994 discoverers of the Shoemaker-Levy comet that fractured and crashed into Jupiter, a first such observable celestial collision. Shoemaker had a celebrated career helping to create the field of planetary science. When he died in a 1997 car crash, a close colleague petitioned to have the wanna-be-but-couldn't-make-the-cut Apollo astronaut memorialized in the grandest fashion. NASA, not in the space-burial business, liked the idea as a one-time shot and in January 1998 his remains were on its Lunar Prospector sent to crash into the lunar south pole ice cap. Thus, Shoemaker is the only man actually buried on the moon.

The 'urn' containing some of his ashes is a polycarbonate capsule wrapped in brass foil and laser etched with his name and dates over an image of the Hale-Bopp Comet and Arizona's Meteor Crater where he trained to be an Apollo astronaut. There was also this quote from Romeo and Juliet:

And when he shall die
Take him and cut him out in little stars
And he will make the face of heaven so fine
That the world will be in love with night
And pay no worship to the garish sun.

   
Rest in peace man in the moon.

Final note: To date, Celestis has flown 14 missions. Shoemaker's burial on a celestial body, says Charles Chafer, CEO and founder, "may be the first but it won't be the last. I think we are entering an age of abundance in terms of commercial access to space. The largest hindrance to space burial is finding a rocket to take even a small amount of remains out into space, but with the rise of independent programs such as Space X and Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin, the number of opportunities to fly those secondary payloads is increasing , meaning that more people will have the opportunity to be sent into the cosmos."    

Sunday, October 29, 2017

The BIG and Small of it All











He was first, Ferdinand Magellan, to see how big our world was at the time. He set out from Spain in 1519 with five ships seeking fame and fortune by finding a western sea route to the spice islands.

En-route, he discovered the Strait of Magellan (How's that for a coincidence?) in the south of Chile which opened to the Pacific Ocean. Magellan was the first European to cross the large and dangerous Pacific and while he did find spices from the East, only one of his ships and just 18 of his original crew of 270 made it home. Magellan himself was killed in a battle on the journey but, as history records, "his ambitious expedition proved that the globe could be circled by sea and that the world was much larger than had previously been imagined."

That was when our world was truly BIG.


In 1873, Philius Fogg of London with his valet Passepartout fictionally made the trip in 80 days in a hot air balloon and numerous other modes of transportation and madcap adventures on a $20,000 bet... big money in those days. Jules Verne wrote this fun adventure tale that has been made into a movie in 1956 and remade in 2001. Both have great casts and are worth the look.

In 1924, a flimsy-looking bi-plane was the first to make the 25,000-plus mile journey by air but it took 175 days.

Today, the International Space Station at 5 miles-per-second takes less than 90 minutes to go around once... then again and again at 17,150 mph.

So the world is getting smaller all the time.

More proof:

Did you know that nearly half of the United States population is within a days drove of Columbus, Ohio?

Not only that but 90 percent of our population lives within 10 miles of a Walmart according to Harper's Index.

The equivalent of half of the planet's population has flown on a 747.

If you have ever taken a road trip of 2,500 miles or more, you have actually driven the equivalent of 1/10th of the way around the world.

Now go sing It's a small, small world this time... and mean it!

So you see, we are getting smaller all the time!

The scary part... North Korea can now reach almost every part of the globe with a nuclear war head... and so can every nuclear power on this earth.

Your angry neighbor is right next door... and on your Facebook page and in your face.




  


Monday, October 9, 2017

I Just drove 1/10th of the way around the world!





Really, on a road trip in our RV, I just drove 2,500 miles-- 1/10th of the way around the world at the equator.

So how big is our earth if you can take a road trip from North Carolina to Oklahoma and back--1/10th of the circumference--in just a few leisure weeks? The answer: Not very big at all.

Of course, one might have a spot of trouble driving across the oceans or over the Andes but theoretically, the earth isn't so large that you could drive it without much of a sweat. The cost of gas at 8mpg might kill you though.

Want another perspective? Here's this:
The earth, upper left, the moon, lower right
 
That's an actual black and white photo taken from NASA's OSIRIS-REx satellite on September 25th, this year. We see the moon's face, about the size of Australia's map image from where we stand but in space, we both look pretty puny and fairly close at 238,99 miles--less than 10 times around the equator--in space scale. And in the universe, we're less than a speck of sand.

We're not even so big in our planet line-up:
L to R from the top: Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Earth, Venus, Mars, Mercury
 
 
But, if you have ever look out of an airplane window from 30,000 feet over Kansas and marvel at the vastness of the prairie or taken a flight lasting 15 hours and you're still not there, don't you imagine our world is enormous?

 Now how does that song go again? 
 
Perhaps the most diabolically addictive song ever written is It's a Small World After All. (Try to get the tune out of your mind... good luck with that.) But maybe it makes an important point. If we are now all within range of a nuclear weapon, then we are all closer together than we ever conceived we could be. 

Technology has come so far as to realize that just one person--one crazy person--could bring the sky down on all of us. There are now 7.5 billion of us and that number will grow to 9.5 billion by 2050. On a smaller scale, we've seen the evil power of one with every mass shooting. 

As a civilization, we have rarely enjoyed a prolonged period of peace in the world. There is hate, envy, revenge, guns, bombs, super bombs, germ warfare and a total lack of respect for so many from so few. There are wars all over the place almost all of the time. Thanks Adam and Eve.

Social media makes our world even smaller by giving everyone a world-wide soapbox to spread both fact and fiction so that one can't often be told from the other, and--true or not--so many of us believe every word passed along, especially if it fuels our fire.

In Mark Twain's lifetime, he could play to standing room only crowds with the same material and it would be new to the audience's ear every time. Today, a tweet is heard by all instantly and new material is only new for the blink of an eye.

Wouldn't you think we'd have learned something by now. Sadly, I don't think so. We would be wholly brilliant if we just realized that the world is much too dangerous for anything but truth and much too small for anything but love. So a plea to God and/or your higher power... HELP! We need you desperately.

The redeeming take-away... there is more good in our world than bad... and we're all trying hard to make it better... but it takes so little to taint the human pool that it makes for a tough battle, won only by a greater realization that we need each other so much more than we don't. Otherwise, who is going to buy from Amazon and Walmart?

Take a deep breath... now All together:
 
 It's A Small World After All


its a world of laughter and a world of tears
its a world of hopes and a world of fears
there's so much that we share
that is time we're aware
its a small world after all

its a small world after all 
its a small world after all 
its a small world after all
its a small, small world

there is just one moon
and one golden sun
and a smile means friendship to everyone
though the mountains divide 
and the oceans are wide

its a small world after all 
its a small world after all 
its a small world after all
its a small, small world


 NOTE: It's A Small World plays 1600 times a day. How'd you like to work that ride?

Phew! Got that off my chest.