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Friday, September 15, 2017

A tribute to the Cassini-Huygens space craft that pulled a Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid ending after a brilliant 20-years hanging around Saturn... but first, a quick look at Jupiter that should make us humble

So this is Jupiter, our largest planet... and that's little teensy weensy us in comparison.

But this isn't about Jupiter... it's just that this image is so dramatic that I had to use it. This post is really about our second largest planet, Saturn, the one with the rings, and the reminiscent finish--like in Butch
Butch and Sundance
Cassidy and the Sundance Kid--of the Cassini-Huygens space craft which took a two-part dive into history on the surface of the planet and its largest moon.

After 20 years of sending information on Saturn and its rings, (made up mostly of water ice and some rocky particles) the Cassini-Huygens will separate and crash majestically into Titan, its largest of 150 moons and the surface of the planet itself.

That's one of NASA's thousands of Cassini pictures that was sent back to earth. (Just think how much more fun it would have been as an emoji if it was taken with the new iPhone 8.) A few facts:

  • Saturn is the only planet that emits more energy than it receives from he sun. Take that, solar panels.
  • Saturn is bigger than 76 earths. To go from New York to Los Angeles on Saturn would be 228,000 miles, or about a 500 day drive.
  • Christmas on Saturn occurs once in 29 years, so we would have to come up with names for 336 more months like the 13th of Huey, or Dewey the 23rd or Wednesday, Louie the 18th.
  • Leap year comes every even century.
  • No President's day holiday.
  • Weather forecast of a nice day is Sunny with wind gusts of up to 1,100 miles per hour from the southwest.
  • A blue moon happens every 20 minutes.
  • The Cassini spacecraft is NOT named after fashion legend Oleg Cassini who designed clothes
    for Johnny Carson and others, but for Jean Domnque Cassini who discovered the Saturn moon Lapetus in 1671. Huygens is the 17th century astronomer who did the first telescopic studies of Saturn's rings.
  • The rings are about 176,000 miles wide and less than one mile thick, made up of water ice and rocky particles. In scale, they are 1,000 times thinner than the sharp edge of a razor blade.
  • Saturn enjoyed a fly-by of Voyager 1 and 2 on their eternal voyages outside our solar system, launched in 1977, now soaring outside our solar system at about 40,000 miles per hour forever. No kidding.
  • The Cassini-Huygens spacecraft is a joint venture of NASA, the European Space Agency and mama, the Italians. (Which makes me proud as a second generation of four Italian immigrant grandparents.
The Cassini-Huygens team. It takes a Village!

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Do You Tattoo?


Three in ten do tattoo. Surprised?

Next question: Why?

Now that's where it becomes interesting, especially to one who doesn't... tattoo, that is.

I have just come from the opening of A Living Canvas, at a North Carolina art gallery. Knew it would be worth my time but I was blown away by the beauty and grace that I saw and the deep meaning of personal art. Some of my friends and at least one of my family are tattooed, but I never gave it much thought. This beautifully photographed opening showing individuals with their messages and some of the models themselves helped me understand the 'why.'

"Tattoos have been a part of American culture since the mid-1800s and in other parts of the world for centuries," says the story. "Body art has been a symbol of rebellion and taboo, making it a misunderstood medium. More and more, tattoos are becoming mainstream, from fashion accessories--for both men and women--to poignant personal statements."

That's what this exhibit is all about.

A man with a battle tank on his forearm pays tribute to his most emotional memory and the tank that saved his life in Iran. One couple chose their joint family crest with the thought "If you don't risk, you don't gain," into their marriage, expressing that love is a risk taken for a lifetime of adventure.

A woman has an angel wing tattoo on her arm as a reminder and tribute to the life she saved when she came upon an automobile accident. Another wears a design as a memorial to the son she lost. Then there was a woman with a tattoo in memory the  of her child that was lost and in thanksgiving for the blessing of a child just born.

Some are adorned with carefully chosen designs that represent milestones in their lives, another s for adventures taken. Some choose carefully for the design and beauty they see around them. And that itself is a tribute to the artistry that goes into most work.

Many who tattoo seem to be military, perhaps because the gallery is near a military base busy with so many deployments and multiple deployments over the past years. Tattooing seems to be as much an emotional expression as rebellion or less noble reasons, but that's life.

I'm guessing the most tattooed group we all see are the professional athletes who play football, basketball, wrestling, etc., perhaps because their bodies are so exposed to us as we watch our favorite sports and perhaps because so many professional athletes have noteworthy achievements, time and money. 

There is good and bad in everything as there is in tattooing itself. Tattoos were used to mark the Jews in Hitler's time and earlier than that, on slaves and in other evil ways. Today, street gangs use tattoos as identification.

There are those who look at a tattoo on anyone as something of a disfigurement that lasts a lifetime. Well, we all have our foibles but to deny those who tattoo their right, privilege and earned respect is to say they are wrong and we are right. Some tattoo modestly... perhaps a simple rose or the words "Peace" or "love," and some use much or most of their body.

We all have personal tastes because, thankfully, we can. The world is a beautiful place from every different set of eyes and beauty is where you find it.