Sunday, January 25, 2015

Mission to Mars: suicide, or romantic opportunity?

A lot of people are reportedly dying to be the first on Mars, even if it is a one-way trip. I can think of several politicians I would like to nominate for astronaut duty. But I, for one, do not want to look up at Mars at night and imagine dead bodies.

It's bad enough I have to look at the moon and think of the dune buggies and golf clubs and pet rocks we left. Every time I look up there, I picture a Native-Moonian, perhaps made of cheese, surveying our litter with a tear running down his cheek.

I do not see the appeal of a one-way trip to Mars, even it would mean nine months off work followed by eventual suffocation.

Supposedly 200,000 people applied last year with a Dutch project called Mars One, which aspires to create a "permanent human settlement" on Mars, no painful grasping at one's throat required. Just clean livin', in interconnected white podlike buildings like on that old TV show, "Space: 1999."

They had great hair on that show. Low gravity.

To paraphrase the old ad from "Alien": "In space, no one need see you preen."

Generating sustainable food and oxygen in space is on Mars One's to-do list, really high up. But for now they have an online store where you can buy hoodies and mugs.

Their schedule is to send four people to Mars in less than a decade, people pre-tested to not go nuts on each other after the first month. I do not know anyone who would qualify, especially since wi-fi probably drops out beyond the moon.

It would be a shame to lose a "One small step for man" opportunity on Mars because an astronaut, tormented after nine months in space, drops to his knees and shrieks to the heavens, "But who won the Game of Throooooones?!" 

I bet Nicholas Sparks could write the heck out of a space romance on Mars, though. Movie tag line: "Two's company, three's a crowd...but four is kind of wonderful."

NASA is researching a there-and-back mission to Mars, but its fruition is a couple of decades away still. That is fine with me. By then my kids will be old enough to go. A hundred reporters will ask them what they did there, and they will answer the way they always answer that kind of question: "Stuff."

I will be so proud.

. . .

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Wednesday Wa Pic - It's not just for your kitchen any more

 Monitors your frozen foods AND warns you when your friend on Facebook has posted that your favorite character on "Game of Thrones" died.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Broken dishwasher creates time for idle musings

Our dishwasher died recently, with a final exhale of foul, melted-plastic-smelling smoke from its steam vent. It had been running fine for an hour, but then...Maytaggeddon.

Somebody had accidentally hit the "Heated Dry" button, which, at our dishwasher's advanced age, might as well have been labeled "Euthanize."

We have been washing by hand ever since, while debating getting a new washer vs. having money.

The daily act of washing dishes is a mindful task, and in the last decade, mindfulness has definitely become the new oat bran. There was a time when oat bran seemed to solve everything, but now being mindful does. You can totally cut off a guy in traffic as long as you are mindful of what a jerk he was being.

I learned this from Oprah. The sound was muted, but I am pretty sure I got the gist of it.

Washing dishes by hand, my mind is free to wander in a way that it never was when I was just sitting and listening to the dishwasher catch fire. Random thoughts arrive, as if from the "Cloud" I have heard so much about, which apparently contains, not rain, but my old resumés. 

Random thoughts like:
  • "Hell to the no" would make awfully good L.A. freeway driving directions.

  • I wonder if anyone has ever made a meal of cool beans and awesome sauce.

  • Any schmuck can build a nuclear reactor. I want to see somebody come up with a nuclear anticipator.

  • My thoughts drifted to my daughter's driving school. Part of their curriculum was for parents to refresh their knowledge of current driving rules online so that we could give her good information as she practiced. My favorite tidbit was this: "Driver's education is a critical part of the learning-to-drive process."
I am mindful that I could not love that sentence more if it were covered in hot fudge.

Then my mind served up a random, helpful tip for characters in movies:
  • Do not cross that rope bridge. Ever. Just don't.
Washing dishes by hand saves water and electricity, and comes out of the time I would have just wasted anyway reading great literary classics or gambling online. It is peaceful­—the ritualistic sudsing, the rinsing, the picking pieces of shattered coffee mug out of the garbage disposal.

I could really see this becoming a habit. Then again, I said that about oat bran.

. . .

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Sunday, January 11, 2015

College Football Championship Team Shows Real Colors

I am not a big sports fan, by which I mean the only way I follow college football is by observing my next door neighbor's expressions.

But the Oregon Ducks' neon yellow and green uniforms have pushed their way into my consciousness via the Internet. They sit there glowing, like a wedge of cheese I had once in my mini-fridge in college.

The colors are garish, in-your-face, as if the Green Bay Packers had a love child with a radioactive banana.

I see these colors as I walk the dog, see them flying on team flags from my neighbors' porches, as if to say, "I wish I were back in college and could let my cheese just go to hell."

Tomorrow evening, the Ducks will play the Ohio State Buckeyes for the NCAA football championship, and word is that their bold colors will inexplicably be gone, replaced by silver, black and white.

Like some sort of Raiders farm team. Couture by Ansel Adams.

Actually, it turns out, by Nike. Perhaps market research revealed that people outside of Oregon do not buy fan jerseys which make them look like college cheese.

And it’s all about the fan jersey sales.

Or maybe the redesign is just a way to generate free buzz, just a way to get people who don’t normally follow sports yakking about…heyyyyyyy!

Well, I guess I am committed at this point. So I did a little research, and it turns out the Ducks completely change their uniforms every few years. It does seem like this is the first time their colors have been taken from the palette "Volcano ash-fall," though.

Change is in the air. An entirely new championship trophy has been designed to replace the glass football of yore, probably because somebody finally noticed the Cinderella symbolism.

The new trophy is much more manly, a club, basically, made out of bronze and steel, and it has an official, manly name—the "College Football Playoff National Championship Trophy presented by Dr Pepper."

Drink up, stud-muffins.

The town of Oregon, Ohio, almost changed its name because of the rivalry, but decided ultimately to just append it for one week to "Oregon, Ohio: Buckeyes by the Bay, City of Duck Hunters." The town of Ohio, Oregon cleverly responded preemptively by not existing.

I hope the Ducks go back to Day-Glo this fall. Colorless may be chic, but it doesn't play.

. . .

Update: Final score, Ohio 42, Oregon 20. Coincidence? Color doesn't just belong in commentary...

                                                         It's just not the same, it it?