I took most of this week off to visit home and spend time with my sister’s family. My twin ni (my plural for niece) had their birthdays this week, so I got to celebrate it with them. It’s hard to believe how old they’ve gotten. I still remember when they were born while I was at summer camp. And now they’re little people. As always, it was awesome to spend time with everyone, and it went by far too quickly.


Speaking of milestones… Tomorrow marks the final voyage of NASA’s shuttle program. Atlantis, barring any weather restrictions, will lift off tomorrow for a roughly two week mission to resupply the ISS. It will be the 135th, and final, shuttle flight since the first launch on April 12, 1981.


Thirty years is a pretty long time for a vehicle to be in use, let a lone a reusable space vehicle (a brand new concept at the time when the shuttle was first conceptualized in the late 60’s). I know public interest has long since stopped focusing on travels to space, but I still believe that it has the power to captivate everyone and anyone. I hope our love for exploration and revealing the unknown doesn’t retire with the shuttle tomorrow. I hope we keep dreaming of what could be, and where it could happen.


If space is a sports stadium, we are like an ant exploring the crack below the door. There are so many things still for us to see. We can’t turn back now. We’re just getting started.


Commitment to the Game

That’s exactly what a great majority of my teammates on my just-finished recreational softball team did not have. We had seven games for the spring season. At only one of them did we have a full team. Thanks to our competitors having abundant team sizes we were able to borrow a few players to have a game for fun, after forfeiting the real game of course.

There were probably only two of us on the entire team that came to 6 out of 7 games. I missed one because I had planned a trip for one weekend long before signing up. There was a husband and wife couple that signed up, who had a newborn baby, who signed up and they only came to one game. That’s totally understandable – you have a newborn, so you don’t have the time or energy to play softball. I get it. So why did you sign up?

When you sign up for a sports league, please have the decency to think it through and make sure you can commit to the schedule. Don’t think of it as optional to go to your games. Your teammates, and opposition, are counting on your presence so they can have a ball game.

Here’s to a better summer league. And kids, don’t sign up and bail.

Dreaming Mondo Beyondo

Click to get the real deal

A little while ago I was catching up on reading the posts my sister has been making on her blog and was struck by this one in particular. First, let me say that my sister is awesome. Like all of us she has doubts, and maybe, Big Sister, you experience them more intensely than others. But I don’t think you have any reason to be hard on yourself. You’re a great person with beautiful dreams that are realized in beautiful ways. Though I don’t often comment on your blog, your posts are often thought provoking, and this Mondo Beyondo one kinda struck me.

I started thinking about what kinds of things I would put on an “I really want to” list, but didn’t get too far. Then I started sifting through the plethora of posts by The Bad Astronomer. Usually I just peruse his frequent posts, because he writes often and I don’t have enough time to read everything he writes. However, the BA posts a lot of beautiful pictures of the stars, galaxies and other cosmic phenomena that surround us in the night sky. And as my thoughts of my sister’s post were fading, I came across a very special post. In it, Dr. Plait has posted a picture taken of the space shuttle Endeavour docked with the International Space Station. It’s a beautiful photo, though I prefer the one I’ve posted above (which is now my computer’s desktop as well), taken from the same disembarking Soyuz capsule.

Pictures of stars, galaxies, nebula and the like can be beautiful, but after a while, they can become old news. Only the rare exception will make you say wow and look twice. To capture the wow-factor again you would need to be looking through the telescope’s eyepiece yourself. But this picture.. OK. I’m going to slow down for a second, because what’s even more captivating than this picture, is the video that is linked to from the BA’s post. The video, taken by Italian astronaut Paolo Nespoli, is of the ISS docked with Endeavour. The video isn’t so much different from a photograph, but something about the motion of the camera makes the ISS and shuttle seem more real.

Many people might find the video boring. There’s no sound, the lighting isn’t always great. But if you feel that way, let me try to convince you otherwise.

Thousands of years ago, the edges of maps were shrouded in mystery and the stars were looked upon with superstition. It wasn’t for another 1500 years that the New World was discovered, and the maps of the world began to fill in. Hundreds of years later, the interiors of remote locations, like the Amazon, were still being mapped by the Western world. Then the world began to shrink as the steam engine, and then the combustion engine brought everyone closer together. Yet even though the world was more traversable, we still could not venture outside it. Only in the last hundred years, first with flight, and then finally with rockets, have we been able to even begin leaving our small home. To think that we now have the ability to propel ourselves into the stars, and to sit there, high above the ground – what is more inspiring than that? This is certainly one of the most exciting times of frontier breaking to be living in. I hope there are still many more to come, but for now I am simply awestruck with inspiration and admiration at how far we have come. We can now visit a place that used to exist only in our dreams of what the night sky might be.


So, Big Sister, in answer to your Mondo Beyondo list, there are a great many things I could put in mine. But right now, a dream that I wish for above so many others is to visit space.


It’s hard to put into words how breathtaking the idea is to me, but Carl Sagan reading from his book, Pale Blue Dot, does a pretty good job.

P.S. The photo at the beginning of this video is indeed of Earth. It was taken by the Voyager 1 spacecraft after it finished its mission and flew out of our solar system. As it was leaving, it turned around, snapped a picture of us from far far away, and signaled it back to us (how cool is that?).

Softball Fun

My recreational softball league has had four games now. I’ve attended three. We’ve lost all of them.

In a recreational league, we are by far the most recreational team. A band of individuals slapped into the same group. Too bad we can’t slap each other into attending more games.

In our first three games at least we had enough players to play (we had to borrow a catcher a couple times, though). But today’s game we needed to borrow more than a catcher. Our league requires having at least three females in the field, and only one on our team showed up.

The opposing team was gracious enough to lend us a couple players, and we ended up playing one of our best games yet – ending with a tie. Too bad it didn’t count for anything. Borrowing two players is definitely reason to forfeit.

Oh well. So far we have an anti-perfect season. And you know, when there isn’t the pressure to win, it let’s you laugh at your mistakes and enjoy the small victories that much more.

Go Indies go!

An Unfinished Story that Popped into My Head

When Sal started on a project her excitement was always too much to bear. But this emotion sprang less from her interest in the project, than from her thirst to learn. Her father had always said to her that the ability to learn was the greatest calling. And though neither she nor her father had ever reached great heights in academia, they both nevertheless enjoyed a great multitude of hobbies.


Knit, purl, knit, purl – the pattern of a clean row of knit yarn. Keep the strand taught across the fingers of your left hand, but not too much.

“Don’t let your hands get too sweaty” was a warning her father always gave her, though it was never a problem that she encountered.

“Yours are the sweaty hands” she would say.

“Are yours too cool to sweat?” her father would invariably ask. She smirked every time he said it, though the humour of this jest waned in recent years.


“How much is needed today?” Sal asked one morning, pointing to the skeins of yarn scattered atop the breakfast table.

“Well, let’s see,” said her father. He pulled a crinkly sheet of paper from underneath a tangled mass of bluish-grey yarn and held it stiffly in his hand. “Four more squares today to keep up our schedule,” referring to a silent agreement kept between Sal and her father.

Musings on Travel

This weekend I had the privilege of flying out to Calgary to visit my sister and her family, something I have now been able to do twice in two years. As always, seeing everyone was a lot of fun. Special highlights include playing on playgrounds with my nephew and ni (niece plural) and playing a LOT of board games.


One thing in particular that was special about this trip was seeing my old English/Drama teacher from high school. It had been 7 years since I last saw her, and I was blown away by how much I had forgotten and how much I remembered. In particular, I just wanted to give her a shout-out here and let her know how amazing I think she is. PH, the way you can so effortlessly find the amazing-ness in people is really remarkable. You are motherliness incarnate. It was great seeing you, and next time I’m in town, I’ll be sure to drop by again.


To change gears completely, I wanted to talk briefly about my trip to Calgary. It started with a very early morning wake up.


There’s something strangely magical about the wee hours of the morning. Maybe magical isn’t quite right – more like other-worldly. In any other circumstance, being up at 4am is a rude awakening and a soporific foreshadowing of a sleep deprived day ahead. But for some reason, when I enter the early morn with purpose, it takes on a whole new feeling. It almost feels like a privilege – having an excuse to be softly padding around the city while everyone around me is silently unaware.


It ruins the mood a little, but I also found that being around what are normally busy intersections at those early hours reminded me very strongly of post-apocalyptic/zombie movies.


Such are my jet-lagged musings.

Ending the World with Baseball

For those of you that are still on Earth to read this, you are probably already well aware that you have not been chosen as one of the righteous few, but have instead been picked for the team of the damned. But hey, so far (at least in Toronto) the only difference I’ve noticed between Earth and Hell on Earth is that the weather got a little more cloudy. Not that bad I’d say.

I consider myself lucky that I got to see the Jays play Tampa Bay before the Rapture arrived. They didn’t win that first game, but with all the errors that were made, they did mount a surprising comeback to lose by only one run.

And then for the day of the Rapture, I got to see the Jays whoop the Houston Astros. A pretty good way to spend the last real day on Earth.

Then, for my first day of Hell on Earth I got to play my first softball game since my days at camp. Even though we lost, it was a pretty great time for our first game playing together. But then I saw the fourth installment of Pirates of the Caribbean. I certainly felt as if the world was ending while watching that film.

Anyway, so far Hell ain’t that bad.

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