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The Pants Seat I’m Not Flying By

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This has been a week of Deep Thoughts ®. Bear with me.

Conversation Of The Week

Sensing that I’m a friendly person – or perhaps that pesky, Go Ahead, You Can Say Anything To This One sign was flashing on my forehead, again – the stranger behind me in the checkout line begins chatting with me while she unloads her cartful of groceries. I had just a few items, including a bag of son K’s favorite cookies, which she commented on (“I didn’t know they came in mini-size!”). She hefted a 10 lb. bag of potatoes onto the scanner belt, followed by several other fresh vegetable items, and began to complain about the produce selection at the “new store.”

Woman Whom I’ve Never Seen Before: “I was really disappointed at the produce selection at the new store. There’s hardly any variety in vegetables – nothing like here.”

Me: “The new store?” I assumed she meant that a new franchise of the supermarket chain she and I are in has opened.  “I didn’t know they’d built another one.”

WWINSB: “Yeah, the new store.” She paused, anticipating the light of recognition in my eyes that never appeared. “You know the one. It’s right by where I live.” 

Me (as sweetly and patiently as humanly possible): “I have no idea where you live.”

WWINSB: “Right by the new Wal-Mart.”

We were not in a Wal-Mart.

 

WTF Spock

*   *   *

Fess up. Neither you nor I nor the rest of the world, I bet, have ever seen someone actually flying by the seat of their pants. For some reason, this is bothering me.

I’ve a general awareness of the definition of the idiom (“to proceed or work by feel or instinct, without formal guidelines), and also that it has several origin stories, including, no surprise, an anecdote from the early days of aviation.

But that story doesn’t help to explain the images that come to mind or are implied when that expression is employed.

 

pantsflypng

 

Does that mean that you are able to fly by, what, flapping your pants’ seat? Or, is it that the seat of your pants is flying, as are you, and you are flying “by” (in formation, alongside, or proximity to) the seat of your pants…in which case, if your pants are flying by themselves then you are flying pants-less, and the wind-chill factor is likely to do a number on your noonies.

Yeah, I know: A mind is a terrible thing to waste.

 

facepalm

*   *   *

Department Of My Brain Hurts

Just a sample of the thoughts spinning through (orbiting?) my head after listening to Neil deGrasse Tyson’s StarTalk Radio podcast , “Colonizing Mars with Bas Landsdorp.” [1]

Some of my questions/thoughts were addressed or at least acknowledged…but not fully answered, IMHO…by  my buddies, Neil and Bas. The issues facing the successful, long-term survival of colonists do not, to me, seem to be primarily those which will be solved [2] by engineers and – oh, I love the chance to type this – rocket scientists.  The main obstacles of establishing and maintaining a colony on Mars would seem to be psychological and sociological. Some of my concerns include:

* What kind of person volunteers for a no-return trip? Are you going to end up with a ship (and then colony) full of highly intelligent, scientifically and technologically literate, highly motivated…sociopaths and misanthropes? I know there will be psychological/personality testing up the wazoo for any volunteers…and I also know that highly motivated and highly intelligent and highly manipulative people can figure out how to beat those tests.

* Establishment of a long-term or permanent colony brings up the dilemma of how the colony members will be replenished: by continuing trips from earth, or via reproduction?  Humans evolved to live in social groups; most people instinctively crave the love and support of family life, want to pass on both their genes and their experiences, and find pleasure in raising children. If you assume that people will do what people will do and plan to let nature take its course…will nature even be able to find a course?  Can humans, who evolved on earth, even reproduce in different gravity environments, and what will happen with pregnancy and fetal development?

* Humans are humans. If you don’t send already established couples to the colony, there will be competition/jealousy when it comes to the finding a mate issue. Also, the pickings, initially, will be slim. Will the desire or need for reproduction (to keep the colony going) rule out sending gay male scientists and explorers? [3]

* If/once you have a colony rug rat or two, ay yi yi. How can you give a child a normal life without endangering the colony and/or driving both the parents and the child insane via the need for constant vigilance? It’s one thing if little Marina kicks a soccer ball through the neighbor’s plate glass window, quite another if she inadvertently takes out a solar panel or other crucial piece of equipment.

* The most important question of all: will I live to see any of this?

 

 

mars

 

*   *   *

Department Of This Is What Happens When You Talk Loudly Next To A Blogger
Aka, With Friends Like These, Who Needs Lunch Dates?

After my Qigong class at the community college I treated myself to lunch at a nearby pasta restaurant. Two women in their mid-to-late sixties were seated at the table next to me, and I had no problem catching parts of their conversation about a friend of theirs who had bailed out on their lunch invitation.

Friend #1: I probably shouldn’t say this…

(But of course, she does.)

Friend #1: I know there is such a thing as migraines, but sometimes I think she just doesn’t want to get out of bed.

Friend #2: “Well, that’s her problem.”

Friend #1: “She takes one or two prescriptions, but she won’t take the prescriptions that the doctor gives her.”

Friend #2: “So why bother going to the doctor?”

Friend #1: “That’s what I told her. She said she doesn’t want drugs, she only (#1 sniffs disdainfully) wants ‘natural stuff.'”

 

gossip

*   *   *

Department of Great Movie Lines

One of the greatest (IMHO) pieces of movie dialogue consists of only one word. Oh, but what a word. A Golden Scroll from the Department of Cultural Literary ® if you can remember [4] where this one comes from:

Ovaltine?

Think hard, and this trophy can be yours.

Think hard, and coveted this trophy is yours.

*   *   *

May you never have your lunchtime gossip chitchat recorded by a stranger;
May your flights by any kind of pants be safe and turbulent-free;
May we all live to see a (human) Mission to Mars…
and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

[1] Bas Lansdorp is a Dutch entrepreneur best known as the founder of the Mars One Project , not a kind if rocket or an extra planetary colonization technique. But you knew that.

[2] And I believe the mechanics of getting people to mars and housing and feeding them while they are there will be solves.

[3] Gay women can still conceive and bear children.

[4] Hint: no.

The Lab Specimens I’m Not Sniffing

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Department of Big Surprises

Son K is enjoying his job as a research assistant for a medical diagnostics company, and I love to hear his stories about his tasks. Recently he was preparing lab specimens used to cultivate proteins. Specifically, he was working with  e. coil bacteria. Dare you guess how descriptive K was when trying to convey to MH and I what the lab samples smelled like?

 

bad smell

 

*   *   *

And now, a related breaking (sorry) news story, which I shall classify under

Department of Tempting Fate

From The Looks Of Things © , I am probably the youngest student in my Tai Chi-Qigong class.  And from the sounds of things, I am also the only student who has not (yet) inadvertently let one slip – if you know what I mean and I think you do – during one of  the class’s twisting routines.

 

qifart

*   *   *

By Grabthar’s Hammer…

…this is one actor I am really going to miss.

Alan Rickman played an amazing range of characters over the years. Praised for his performances across the board in the theatre and television, he was most widely known for his movie roles. He was perfectly cast to play the complexly nuanced, ostensible-villain-turned-heart-rending-hero, Severus Snape, [1] and probably most widely known for turning what could have been just another wise-cracking action film (Die Hard) into Something Truly Memorable, with his performance as arguably the greatest bad guy of all time, German terrorist Hans Gruber.

My favorites of Rickman’s many movie roles included the reticent, infatuated, honorable Colonel Brandon (Sense and Sensibility) and Alexander Dane, the hilariously frustrated classically trained actor fallen on hard times who finds himself stuck repeating a catchphrase from his role in a sci-fi Television franchise he despises (Galaxy Quest).  And I managed to forgive Rickman for so convincingly playing the conflicted husband who broke wife Emma’ Thompson’s heart in Love, Actually. For a real cinematic treat, revel in his “gloriously nasty” portrayal of the Sheriff of Nottingham, by which Rickman steals Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves right out from under Kevin Costner’s spasmodic British accent.

When I read the news of Rickman’s passing I noted he was the same age as David Bowie. The world lost two truly Great Brits, esteemed and beloved in their respective fields. Thanks and RIP – you guys rock (ed).

Now, if you believe the old husband’s tale that “these things [2] come in threes,” who’d you put $$ on to be the next to go? I hear O.J. Simpson is turning 69 this year….

 

 

*   *   *

Yet Another Reason To Hate/Quit Writing Go On Living

I belong to several professional writers associations. The Authors Guild is the largest, oldest and most influential of the lot, and the one I most admire. As per its mission to “…advocate for authors on issues of copyright, fair contracts…protect authors’ copyrights…establish fair royalty rates for both e-books and print books…” the AG has its work cut out for it, especially in these days of the digital and electronic piracy and royalty grabs changes in publishing.

 

book

 

The AG are the good guys; they fight the right fights. There are so many fronts, so many battles, for authors these days, I truly wish I could – as per the suggestion on the AG’s membership renewal form – add a donation in addition to my dues to further their work.

Except for one pesky detail: I have no spare writing income with which to do so.

The AG has a tiered membership dues structure, based on author members’ annual income from book and magazine writing.  There are four levels: I ($0 – 24,999; II ($25 – $49,999); III ($ 50,000 – 100,000): IV ($ over $100,000), with dues rates increasing with each level.

I am (surprise!) at the lowest level. My writing income-loss sheet [3] has remained the same as last year, and the AG’s Level I dues have jumped 38%, from $90 to $125.

 

sob

*   *   *

Department of Apparently It’s a Thing ® Now

…to leave up your Christmas or solstice tree year round, and decorate it according [4] to whatever season’s or month’s commemorations strike your fancy. For example, you might hang paper flags from the branches during July (to celebrate Independence Day);  Bunny and Easter egg ornaments in March (Spring); candy corn and mini pumpkins in October (Halloween); Quaaludes and still photos from The Bill Cosby Show in April (Sexual Assault Awareness Month)….

Well. I’ve left our tree up, but I’m not sure you can call it decorated (I did leave two of my favorite ornaments on it). I just like having it around. I don’t know why, but I derive much sinple contentment from looking at the little blinking lights.

 

tree

*   *   *

May your enjoy whatever constitutes your own blinking lights of contentment,
and may the hijinks ensue.

 

 

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

 

[1] I don’t need to reference the Harry Potter series of books and films, do I? I do not require readers to be fans of either; I do assume a certain amount of cultural literacy.

[2] In this case, famous and/or infamous peoples’ deaths.

[3]  I’ve not done the figuring for 2015, but already know it will rival last year in pathetic-osity.

[4] Simply not enough footnotes in the New Year.