Hitching A Ride On the ISS

Last week, Russia’s state news agency, TASS, announced a Russian cosmonaut had told them living bacteria have been found on the outside of the International Space Station.

The lead of Russia’s ISS crew, launching in December, Anton Shkaplerov, had said the station’s Russian segment was swabbed by previous cosmonauts during spacewalks, called Extravehicular Activities, taking samples with cotton swabs from the ISS external surface. They sent their samples back to Earth for analysis, where tests concluded the swabs held bacteria that had not been on the module when it was launched into orbit. The questions immediately arose: Is the bacteria alien? Do they pose a threat to Earth? Or are they stowaways who hitched a ride to the stars? 

This report has not been verified, and important information still is missing; including if the report has been vetted by a peer-reviewed journal, or exactly when and how the full experiments on the swabs were conducted.

At this point in time, it is believed a more plausible explanation than the bacteria being of alien sources, is the ISS was contaminated by earthly organisms, which are known for surviving the extremes found in space. It is common knowledge contaminants have been deliberately sent to space, such as E. coli and rocks covered in bacteria, to evaluate how they would react to the conditions found there.

Microbes that have found their way off planet Earth have had to deal with powerful temperatures, cosmic radiation, and ultraviolet light. Earth, however, already has been home to many hardy organisms that can survive in these extreme environments, like the virtually indestructible Tardigrade.

The possibility of finding bacterial contamination from space to Earth, or Earth to space will never be dismissed, because these types of discoveries are precisely what scientists are trying to limit, or contain, if verified. By mutual cooperation and communication, safety for Earth and other planets during exploration will continue to be a top priority, and maintained for the well-being and benefit of all.

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Posted in Aliens, American History, Baby Boomers, Current Events, Education, International Space Station, Learning, Space, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ph.D For A Flat Earth Theory

As the end of another year approaches, no argument or subject of research has seemed more nonsensical and without reasonable merit than that of the Flat Earth Theory. Yes, as we approach 2018, people far and wide, including academia, are seriously discussing the shape of the planet on which they dwell.

To understand, most proponents of the Flat Earth Theory believe the Earth is a disc with the Arctic Circle at the center, and a 150 meter tall wall of ice around the edge, in Antarctica. They explain day and night are a result of the sun and the moon being spheres, measuring 51 kilometers, and moving in a circular motion 4989 kilometers above the plane of the flat Earth. Like spotlights, these celestial spheres illuminate different parts of the planet in 24 hours cycles. In the Flat Earth Theory, there also is an invisible Anti-Moon that obscures the moon during lunar eclipses. In addition, gravity on the flat Earth is actually nonexistent, since the shape of the disc would collapse on itself. According to proponents of the Flat Earth Theory, the flat Earth disk spins up to 9.8 square meters per second and is driven by a mysterious force called dark matter.

Regardless of photographs and videos recorded from space, there still are believers who argue the Earth is flat. One of them is a doctoral candidate who recently shook up the Arab scientific community when she presented her thesis claiming the Earth is flat and stationary, the center of the universe, and approximately 13,500 years old.

As noted by Gulf News, people on a global scale are reported to have found this thesis ridiculous, because it soundly rejects all modern science. Others, however, are seeing this as very disturbing, since the thesis has been written by a Ph.D candidate, that being the highest degree in academia awarded graduate study.

To sum up this student’s doctoral thesis, she suggests the Earth is flat, very young, and that it remains stationary in the middle of the Universe. She also claims the Sun has an average diameter of 1,135 kilometers and not 1.4 million. The moon has a width of 908 kilometers, and are located 687 and 23 times closer to Earth, respectively.

After five years of serious study and work, the student presented her thesis, submitting it to two assessors, and eventually passing the first stage of approval. The next step is scheduling for defense of the thesis.

There has been criticism posted online, suggesting this has been a hoax, and there is no student nor a thesis. However, that has not been proven, whereas the thesis has been circulated. If it should prove to be authentic and successful, the student will be awarded her Ph.D, and the Flat Earth Theory will have gained legitimate standing in academia and the scientific community.

Posted in Baby Boomers, Current Events, Education, Flat Earth Theory, Learning, Life Journey, School, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Just The Right Word

Taking time off to think, or even not to think, is a rich and delicious experience. For one who thrives on writing, it is a difficult decision to set aside the very thing that has defined, throughout my life, vocation and avocation, melding them into one.

Leaving words, sentences, paragraphs, those pesky frenemies behind; freedom ensues, allowing a new dawn, a new day to re-evaluate the why of so much effort, including the why of so much distraction. Is there actually purpose to each painstakingly crafted word? Does anyone, besides me, care how many synonyms I try out before choosing just the right one? How can a person spend so much time writing when the end of it all may just be drivel?

Thinking, thinking, thinking. Slowly and achingly, I reached some much needed answers, and now understand more than before my hiatus.

I have to write. It is of necessity that I put my thoughts, or imaginings, out there, somewhere. They will bang against the inside of my head and my soul until I do. And once written, I must stop being distracted by numbers of people who read, or do not read those words. I care, because it always has been rewarding to know someone else allowed me to touch them, however brief the encounter. But now I realize the number of times I am read cannot, nor ever should, define me as a writer, nor be a measure of my success.

For the duration, words matter. Thoughts, imaginings, tales, truths; they spring up and out as they will, and this writer is happiest expressing them. I appreciate all who take a moment and read; however, worth is in the writing, and that is where I shall keep my cache of treasure. No walls or boundaries, just an Akashic compendium in my soul.

Posted in Baby Boomers, Career, Communication, Learning, Life Journey, Reading, Uncategorized, Writers | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

All Gave Some, And Some Gave All

Memorial Day. I love this annual holiday. It is the unofficial kick off of summer, and there are never too many barbecues, sunny days, and happy voices for me to tire of this oncoming hot, sweaty, shorts and sandals season. But more than the joy that accompanies evenings of winking fireflies and waves crashing on vacation shores, I have memories of those people who filled my life with humor and purpose; people who set before me the goals of honor, integrity, and commitment simply by living out their lives doing the best they could. There is not a single memory of holidays back in my little valley home that does not include each of them fulfilling their part in the family tapestry of love. 

And there is more. There is the sacred part of this day which forever draws me to the history, recent and distant, of those who also are part of the we of me; my ancestors who participated in every conflict fought here, and in foreign lands, since the Revolutionary War. 

I do not know how brave they once felt, how scared they might have been in battle, or how they died. I do know they loved their country, proudly wore the uniform of that to which they were devoted, and saluted their flag with dignity and honor. 

All this is legacy. It is the legacy which was passed to me, and which I have passed to my children. We humbly remember on Memorial Day what it cost to be here, celebrating another year of freedom in this country. And with our social compasses pointed north, our plumb line straight and true, I believe there still will be an enduring legacy for passing on to future generations.

Posted in American History, Baby Boomers, Childhood, Current Events, Family, Heroism, Home, Memorial Day, Memories, Nostalgia, Summer, Uncategorized, USA | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Losers, The Main Stream Media, And A Coup 


Main stream media has become dishonest, disreputable, and deceitful. I can find no historical precedent in the US where sore losers deliberately and publicly avowed to take down a duly elected president, aided and abetted by the main stream media.

This is an attempted coup being worked out daily, in plain sight, all the while misguided participants believing they are doing something respectable and worthwhile.

Civility is gone. Honor is gone. Integrity is gone. It is a national disgrace, and the peaceful transfer of power guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States of America is being destroyed.

This must stop. Now. It is time to wake up, remember who we are, and begin a reinvigorated commitment to the principles and values that define the United States of America, a Republic, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Posted in American History, Baby Boomers, Communication, Current Events, Life Journey, Newspaper, Presidents, Protest, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

When Angels Intervene

I awoke in the middle of the night with incredible abdominal pain. Probably the worst I had ever experienced. Certainly worthy of an immediate trip to the Emergency Room at my local hospital. 

Memories of that night still are as vivid as when everything unfolded. No beds available in the ER; I was on a gurney in the hallway, somewhere in the hospital, so grateful someone finally had given me a big injection of pain medication. 

X-rays had been taken, and I was able to settle down a bit, lying in the hallway, staring at the ceiling, wondering what had gone wrong. My gurney was outside a room with large windows separating me from it and the hall. Two doctors walked into the room carrying my x-rays; one patted me on the shoulder as they passed by. Turning my head to the side, it was easy to watch them as they looked at my x-rays. 

What I heard next was not easy. In fact the words forever will be etched in my mind as possibly the most startling thing, ever. 

“Oh my God, she’s not going to make it!” 

Somewhere during the shock of such drastic words, and extreme speed with which everyone was moving around me, the doctors said my one remaining ovary had twisted, just as the other previously had done three years earlier, requiring emergency surgery when I was two months pregnant with my daughter. This time, it was even worse. Due to lack of blood supply, the ovary had become gangrenous, and there was seepage into my abdominal cavity. Surgery had to be performed, immediately. 

It is with crystalline clarity that I recall the next event of that night. Moved to an area with a little more privacy, I had been flipped on my side, people were buzzing all around, and I was being given a spinal anesthetic. My face was towards a wall, and I could only hear what was going on behind me. 

As the pre-surgery activity increased, all I had on my mind were my children. Two little ones, ages three and one, who, when I died, would be left alone with a not particularly competent father. I silently cried out to my God, in whom I had put the weight and trust of my life, asking him over and over, “What about my babies? What will they do without me?” I could not begin to imagine what would happen if they were left alone. 

Mid-plea, mid-cry to God, the anesthesiologist began to sing as he worked. I was shocked! My favorite song from childhood being sung to me by a Japanese doctor, whose English was very challenging to understand. Yet, there it was, perfect and beautifully appropriate. 

“Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so. Little ones to Him belong, they are weak, but He is strong. Yes Jesus loves me, yes Jesus loves me, yes Jesus loves me; the Bible tells me so.” 

And that was all it took. My fears and concern vanished. I knew at that moment if God could cause a Japanese physician, whom I could barely understand, to sing my favorite childhood song, He had it under control. If I went home that night to be with Him, He would make sure my babies would be all right. Peace. I felt complete peace after that little song. 

I woke up in recovery, so surprised and elated to be there, all I did was shout repeatedly, “I’m alive, I’m alive!” The nurses laughed, and one stroked my forehead, saying of course I was alive, that’s what they were there for. Fading in and out of a post-surgical fog made it impossible to explain just how miraculous I believed my successful surgery was. It was all right, though, because I would be returning to my family, and nothing could ever be more important than that. 

Jump ahead one year. We had moved from Tacoma, Washington to Spokane. During the previous year, I fully recovered, but could not forget about the singing doctor, and impact his song had on my life. At one point, when I could not shake the memory, I wrote a letter to the anesthesiologist, thanking him for singing that night, and explaining how much it had meant to me. 

A couple weeks later, I received a phone call from his office manager, who was crying. She called to tell me the rest of the story. She, too, was a Christian, and had been answering her doctor/employer’s questions about God, Jesus, and Christianity, but felt he wanted more than she could tell him. 

When my letter arrived, she gave it to him, and he was stunned. He swore he had not sung to me that night. He was so curious, he took the letter to the hospital, and showed it to everyone who had been involved with my surgery. Each stated, emphatically, he or she had not sung my song. 

The doctor was so moved by the experience, his manager said he was convinced an angel had sung to me, and to him that meant God was indeed a personal, caring Heavenly Father who made sure His children would find comfort in times of life and death struggles. He had become a Christian. As had the rest of his family. 

To this day, I am so grateful to be alive, to have seen my children grow into the amazing adults they are, and to know that in my moment of being separated from death by a very thin veil, I was and still am but a child. And this child has an Abba father who can cause an angel to sing a song that reaches from His heart to mine, and stills all fear and concern. 

Yes, Jesus loves me…

Posted in Baby Boomers, Death, Faith, Family, Health, Heaven, Life Journey, Memories | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

The Songs Of My People

Last night I dreamed of Rosannah, my great great grandmother. The things I know of her have been gleaned from years of searching for my family. And I’ve learned, the best of her are not the dates and places that define a brief sojourn that we call life; but rather, the small, powerful, daily activities she and all those surrounding her called “jest bein’ happy”. 

As my dream began, she was showing me inside the cistern, which was in her back yard, and in which I knew snakes swam. She told me not to be afraid, they wouldn’t hurt me. Really, Rosannah? Not you too! I will never buy into that nonsense that a snake is more afraid of me than I am of it. Never, not even in a dream. I told her, rather hysterically, to put the cover back on, and she cackled at my silliness over a little old snake.  

Then, we instantly were sitting on her porch, rocking in our respective chairs, and she asked if I had brought her tobacco. Because we can do anything in a dream, I naturally pulled from my pocket a bag of Granger Twist Tobacco; her favorite. I thought this particular type was for chewing, but Rosannah smoked it. She was delighted. 

It was sweet to watch as my little great great granny packed her corncob pipe and lit it, took a deep drag, and with her eyes closed, exhaled that beloved tobacco. She had been smoking a pipe since she was twelve, and according to her, was the reason she always felt so good and strong. 

No way was I going to contradict, and advise smoking was bad for her health. I mean this was a woman of courage and fortitude who had outlived three husbands, was the mother of seven children, lived alone in the middle of nowhere, chopped her own wood, cooked everything from scratch, polished her floors and furniture with wood ash, and had snakes swimming in her drinking water! She could do precisely as she wished. 

And next, two of her boys, Amos and Thomas were with us in the living room, playing music she loved most. Amos with his violin, and Thomas strumming his guitar. Mountain music. Songs that were taught to the boys by their father so many years ago, handed down to him by his father and uncles. All the tunes and songs having originated in Ireland, and with a creative twist here and there, became the music of mountain folk who settled in the Appalachians before we were a nation of our own. 

I woke up with those notes still fresh, lingering, as though my people and I had just bid farewell to another day in our mountain home, another day on our prairie farm, another day with those we loved. I felt peace and a sense of joy, which always is a good way to begin, or end any day. 

It is a gift, for which I am grateful, to be accompanied in life by family memories, songs, and music; those parts of the we of me which have brought us this far, and will see us through each of our tomorrows. Yes, it is a gift being forever accompanied by the love of home and family; those are the songs of my people. 

Posted in Aging, American History, Baby Boomers, Courage, Dreams, Elderly, Family, Genealogy, Irish, Life Journey, Memories, Music | Tagged , , , , , , , | 11 Comments