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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.