Look, Up In The Sky

Since watching the video today, I’ve been reading as much as I could about the Russian rocket that burned up over the Rocky Mountain States, Thursday.

The beautiful video came from a Denver TV station’s helicopter starting its early morning run aloft. Lucky catch, and well done.

What you see burning up in the atmosphere, the rocket, had only been up since last Wednesday. That doesn’t seem very long.

NORAD says they tracked it all the way. Hey, guys, thanks for the heads up – not!

This rocket was part of the launch vehicle for a French satellite, COROT. Very international – French satellite with six international partners: the European Space Agency (Esa), Austria, Spain, Germany, Belgium and Brazil, launched on a Russian rocket in Kazakhstan. But that’s not the interesting part.

COROT will look for planets, hospitable to life, outside our solar system. There’s a practical idea! What didn’t get funded so this could?

These planets, hopefully around Earth-sized, are too far away to see. We can, however, detect their shadows across the stars they orbit. This is beyond geeky.

I’m sure in the long run, there’s important scientific knowledge to be discerned, but if we find a nice place, it will be much too far to visit. Imagine, a journey taking entire generations. The distant ancestors of the people who decided to go would be the passengers upon arrival.

Not gonna happen.

Someday, COROT too will fall to Earth. Probably a whole less spectacular then.

A Smidge Of Winter

Most people here in Connecticut will gladly tell you, this winter hasn’t been too bad. Sure there have been cold spells, but our snow storms haven’t been as bad as recent winters.

In fact, yesterday was a perfect example of an ‘almost storm.’ Much of the state saw snow turn to rain. The farther north you were, the slower that turnover and the more snow you got.

Here at the Casa del Zorro&#185 it was a slushy mix.

The footprint picture tells the whole story.

From the top, whatever it was that covered the ground almost looked like snow. As soon as pressure was applied, it was revealed for what it truly was – yucky!

The problem is, this slushy stuff is going to turn my driveway into a skating rink by morning. If I’m lucky, it will have enough surface texture to provide traction. That is not assured.

In a typical year, we’re still a few months away from the last snowfall. In a dreadful year, add another month to that… maybe more.

In my heart-of-hearts, I am pleased the winter hasn’t been awful. I am also suspicious that something big is still to come.

&#185 – Our Spanish speaker, Steffie, is still in Florida with my folks. I think I just wrote “House of Fox” in Spanish. If I’ve written something like, I’d like to make love with your barnyard animals, please let me know asap.

Maybe The Revolution Will Be Televised After All

Gil Scott-Heron said “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.” I’m not sure this was what he was talking about, but based on what’s come out of London with the subway and bus explosions, he needs to rewrite the song.

The advent of cellphones with still and video cameras and the proliferation of fixed security cameras has changed everything. Not only did we see still images from the tunnels of the London subway system, we saw video too. It won’t surprise me if, as was the case in Spain, higher quality images from security cameras come out later.

The quality of the hand held cameras isn’t all that great, but it will get better with time. Actually, the quality of the video is inconsequential. The mere fact that we’re all able to be eyewitnesses is what’s important. We saw that demonstrated during the Gulf War when jumpy, pixelated videophones were the only live way out.

This trend of every significant human event being documented was even more evident in the pictures that came out of Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Thailand during the December tsunami. With many of the cameras connected to the Internet, these photos are available immediately.

Today convenience store robberies… gas station fires… even police traffic stops are all seen on TV – and seen often.

How will this affect us? Recently, while watching a baseball game on ESPN, a fan ran onto the field. The cameras immediately left the field so as not to encourage others.

Will all of this coverage encourage more terrorism? It’s possible.

On the other hand, there are many who believe the major factor in turning public opinion away from the Vietnam War was the constant images on the nightly news. Could images of carnage stop the violence we saw yesterday in England? That’s possible too. Or it just might serve to galvanize the resolve of those targeted.

This will be much easier to judge in hindsight. All I can say now is, things have changed. This genie is not going back in the bottle.