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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.