The two Solstices are the only universal holidays I celebrate. There many personal holidays, almost all anniversaries of whatever happened that day: births, weddings, deaths; the arcs of jobs and love affairs; graduations and engagements; all the milestones of life. (The trick is to avoid Marley’s chains and chests.)
When it comes to the world, I see only two true holidays whose meaning every mind on Earth shares; two that everyone can anticipate and appreciate. These holidays are defined by the star that gives us life. They mark our orbit as precisely as the numbers of a clock mark the hours.
In fact there are four such star-marked days; two major, two minor.
Good news, everyone! The star dragon that’s been munching on our local star has finally gotten tired of chasing its food across the sky and will be moving on at last.
(We’re apparently in a migration path, because we seem to get one nearly every year. Every year I can remember, anyway. Good thing they only feed during the day, so the sun as a little time to recover.)
I’m glad it finally left; I was a little worried it might see Parker as a tasty hors d’oeuvre. Or a toothpick. You never can tell with dragons.
And now our star can start to heal and grow back to its lovely warm summer fullness. (Only problem with that is, it attracts hungry star dragons!)
On the one hand, global climate change is likely to make things very — strictly in the curse sense — “interesting” for the human race as this millennium progresses. The effects already are obvious, visual, striking, and — one would think — undeniable.
Randall Munroe, of xkcd, has created another of his brilliant graphics, this one showing the history of climate change. It’s well-worth checking out (do it now). It makes the point in a visually striking, and — one would think — undeniable way.
On the other hand, it’s very — in the usual sense — “interesting” that we’re here at all.
It’s one of those days you remember better than any birthday or wedding. Those were planned; these hit you suddenly, stunning your mind, breaking your heart. “The shuttle blew up!” “The Towers fell!”
The impact was even greater if you saw it happen in real-time. If you watched the shuttle launches. If you caught the breaking news before the second tower was hit. Saw the second plane, realized at that moment, “This is no accident!”
Even if you saw it after, you saw it; saw it as an attack.
“Space is big. Really big.”
When I started blogging here, one of the first bloggers I followed was Robin, of Witless Dating After Fifty. Over the years, she’s several times mentioned a great question her dad often posed when discussing religion with someone: “How big is your god?”
Last week my buddy and I were having our weekly beer- and gab-fest and our (typically very meandering) conversation came to touch on the problems with young Earth creationism — the Christian fundamentalist idea that the universe is only thousands of years old.
In fact, there’s a pair of real whopper problems involved!
It’s Friday, and I’m sure you’re thinking about the weekend, so today will be just a review and some more details about the speed of light.
And speaking of light, today is the Vernal Equinox. For the next six months (for those of us in the northern hemisphere), our days will be longer than our nights. No doubt the combination of spring, the Equinox, and the weekend, have you wondering what you’re doing at your computer reading about Special Relativity.
So I’ll try to be very brief…
Ever looping, ever spinning,
Passes a point.
Ever higher, ever warmer,
Melts all the snow.
Ever turning, ever changing,
Brings forth fresh life.
Winter’s silence fades.
Birds sing, life renews.
A new year begins.
Whoops! I was delighted yesterday when I saw the sun was once again shining into my living room. During the depth of winter it’s too low in the sky for the rays to get past the (rather deep) skylight well in the ceiling.
Seeing it yesterday required three things I’ve been waiting for: The sun to get high enough in the sky (obviously); for it to be not cloudy, which has been a problem recently; and for the snow and (weirdly) the grime to melt off the skylight itself. The snow cover isn’t unusual, but I’ve never seen grime before!
Anyway, hooray, yesterday it happened. And then I woke this morning to winter again!
Those who know me know that I’m not big on calendar holidays. Even my birthday tends to pass without fanfare. That comes from being single, the island that supposedly no one is. After a lifetime of Christmas and New Years’ being ordinary days, you get used to it.
But I do honor the Solar Event Days because (as I’ve mentioned many times) light is so important to me (and because I’m a geek). Christmas may not mean much to me, but the Winter Solstice does! The days finally start getting longer! Summer Solstice is a day of mourning for the opposite reason.
Today — the Autumnal Equinox — marks the halfway point.