Sunday, April 13, 2008

Burning down the house

Well, Saturday I managed to pull off a pretty decent drill for the fire brigade. I used the smoke machine and a fireplace DVD to make a pretty good simulation of what the conditions would be like were that particular TV lounge be partially engulfed. I rearranged the furniture into a bit of a maze, and made a tunnel for the firefighters to crawl through, following a rope laid along the floor, that exited right in front of the fire. As they exited the tunnel I threw an exercise mat and pinned them down to simulate a roof collapse trapping them inside the scene. They couldn't fight their way out, and had to remember the may-day training I taught them some weeks back to radio for help and get help to come and extract them from their dangerous plight. I haven't gotten to talk to all of them, but I have heard some good reviews directly from a few and indirectly through the grapevine. It was very relieving to have something go right after a pretty hectic week that ended with some fairly stressful events.

Today there were flashes from the Iridium satellites passing overhead that were very bright in the sky. The angle of the sun and antennas was just right for there to be a rapid (15 seconds) build-up of brightness of the satellites as they passed overhead. This happened once every 9 minutes, and it was pretty interesting to see some other direct sign of man's presence on this planet besides South Pole Station. These Iridium flashes will occur every so often, but I believe that today was some of the brightest flares for the longest duration we may have this year. Cool stuff. It reminded me of only seeing a single satellite pass overhead during the entire 37 days I spent at sea on a tallship sailing from Auckland to Easter Island last year. We pretty much had the ocean to ourselves for all those weeks.

This evening was the final showing of the last two episodes of HBO's "From the Earth to the Moon". It really stirred up some very optimistic feelings, but there is no way that knowing what our history has been since 1972 that those transcendent feelings can be without a melancholy longing for what promise we let slip through our fingers. The will to see the thing through in the long run-to continue to send representatives of mankind out from our "pale blue dot" in the vast blackness of space in search of knowledge and perspective on our place in the vastness of the Universe-just was not there during those turbulent and troubled years of the 1970s. It seems surreal that any body of people could be so fickle and become so quickly jaded about to fact that their fellow beings were living and working on that silver orb up in the sky, looking back with their bare eyes and enjoying a view that encompassed all of human history, all our loves, all our pains, all our hopes, all our fears, all of us.

Every last one.

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