Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Beginning of Wonder...

On January 25th 1985 I saw the Space Shuttle Discovery for the first time. On a three day mission launching the day before, the Shuttle flew over my childhood home on Vancouver Island in BC. I remember that only the second day was clear (clouds are a hazard of living near a temperate rainforest) and I patiently waited outside for the Flyby all by myself.

Since about the age of seven I have spent nights outside gazing at stars and other objects or phenomenon one might find in our skies. I often (and still do) feel somewhat insignificant while doing so, a small being on a tiny planet in the vastness of our universe. This day was no different for me and I wondered about all the things in the heavens that there was to know and discover.

When I saw the Space Shuttle Discovery come into view I was at first excited but I quickly became quite intoxicated with the idea of what I was seeing. There were people on that craft in orbit around our planet and we had put them there. Suddenly, for the first time in my life I felt truly significant. It dawned on me the great potential that we humans, myself included, actually had. It wasn't really the beginning of childhood wonder, but it certainly was the moment that I realized such wonder was justified. If I hadn't wanted to be an astronaut before that moment the dream was certainly set firmly in motion!

I felt the same way seeing the Space Shuttle Discovery again tonight, 24 years later. Obviously, now, I am more likely to find my way to space as a tourist rather than an astronaut but that reality does not dampen the dream that space conjures. This time the Discovery was trailed very closely by the International Space Station and seeing them both together was amazing. As a species we really can come together and do great and wonderful things.

The Story of an Idea

We watched this short video tonight at our Red Cross Disaster Management course. It describes the origin story of the Red Cross movement and the birth of the Geneva Conventions.

When I was in the army we studied military law, the Geneva Conventions and International Humanitarian Law - basically the rules of war - from a vastly different (but surprisingly similar) viewpoint than I study it now. Human nature has demanded this body of law evolve (sometimes in leaps and bounds, like after the second world war) because of the new and interesting ways we increasingly find to hurt each other... There is an inherent inhumanity within our humanity, one can not exist meaningfully without the other.

This is both a familiar and unfamiliar place for me. Perhaps it is only my perceived role that has changed within this scenario - to go from a soldier actor to a neutral actor, but it feels like I have come full circle.

Albert Schweitzer (winner of the Nobel Peace Prize) said "When Humanity finally learns to control the elements, when the winds will be quiet and the earth can not be torn apart, when there will be no loneliness, no destitution, no war; when the last hungry man, woman or child is fed, only then will there be no need for the Red Cross."

Humanity. Inhumanity. My struggle has always been to find the appropriate balance. You can't have one without the other.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Look Who's Flying By - Updated

Space Shuttle Discovery

The Space Shuttle Discovery left Earth last night on a two week construction mission (STS-119)to the International Space Station (ISS). This is the 28th shuttle mission to the ISS. The timing of this mission favors sky watchers in North America and Europe, so as long as the weather cooperates, here is a list of times you can see the Flybys:


March 26
SS Discovery 9:38pm - 9:40pm 29° W
ISS 9:39pm - 9:41pm 29° W
(Will appear right after each other in the sky)

March 27
SS Discovery 8:29pm - 8:32pm 45° W
ISS 9:39pm - 8:30pm - 8:33pm 44° W
(Will appear right after each other in the sky)

March 28
ISS 9:39pm - 8:57pm - 8:59pm 27° W
(SS Discovery is landing today)


Times are for the location of Edmonton, Alberta, in Canada. If you are in another location within North America and would like to see a flyby schedule for your area, use this link.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Dreaming of Spring Time

Vancouver Island 2007
Spring blossoms much earlier in BC

Seems like we will be in the grips of -27°C to -34°C weather for the next little while, with more snow (if that's even possible). I am sure hoping this counts as "in like a lion" because I could sure go for the "out like a lamb" part of March.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

I'm Not That Old!

Acting my age... Wait, What's my age again?

Tonight my darling son gleefully told every stranger that would listen that I was turning FORTY. I didn't fully realize the extent of his mischievousness until the cashier at the drug store turned to me and told me that I looked really good "for my age."

I was momentarily speechless, not quite understanding what was occurring, until I noticed that he had turned a slight shade of red trying to stifle his laughter and I put two and two together. "I'm not that old," I informed her, trying to regain some control of the situation - which only made it worse as she backtracked with "oh, of course you're not." So I just smiled.

But what I should have said is that the birthday card my darling, clever son was buying, the one that said "Happy 40th Birthday," was a joke - a mild teasing of my getting older that is all in good fun.

Why I feel the need to reiterate that I am not turning forty (just in case anyone hadn't surmised that yet) I don't know, but I really do.

I am looking forward to the awesome forty year old that will be me when my time comes, but I am not there yet... and what's the rush? I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up.