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Pre-eminent astrophysicist and wearer of flashy space-themed vests Neil de Grasse Tyson has declared he doesn’t want to be immortal. In an interview with Larry King, Dr. Tyson comments that the sense of urgency to accomplish something comes from knowing time is limited.

 

 

While I understand and appreciate his point, I’m going to vote for immortality. With several caveats, of course. First, my husband needs to be immortal as well. If for no other reason than I’ll have someone to remember everything we do. It certainly won’t be me. I have a hard enough time remembering what I had for breakfast, let alone a thousand lifetimes of existence. Maybe I should keep a journal…

Second, my animals also need to be immortal. My altar already has five boxes of ashes on it because they don’t live nearly long enough already – can you imagine millennia upon millennia of boxes???

And third, I need my basal metabolism adjusted so I can lose the weight I need and then maintain it. I don’t really mind looking middle-aged indefinitely, but it would be nice to not have to carry a third of my body-weight extra for all eternity. It’s been a bitch lugging it around as it is. I don’t want to think of what my hips might feel like after a few thousand more years of walrus butt.

At some point there will likely be the option of downloading my consciousness into an “artificial” body. Whether it be a vat-grown clone of my own cells, a much less prissy version of C3PO, or a manufactured creation that would put the humanoid Cylons of the updated Battlestar Galactica to shame, I’ll probably have a good deal to say about how it looks and works. And contrary to what others may do, I wouldn’t change too much.

 

terminator

 

Maybe a friendlier smile…

 

 

Yeah, that whole fatness thing will definitely go. But I’d keep the height and the silver hair, though I’d round out the former to a clear six feet because that’s just a ton easier to say than five-feet-eleven-and-a-half, and the hair would be much longer. As in dragging on the ground longer. Weird, I know, but it’s been a dream of mine since childhood, and my first view of Crystal Gayle on television. I’ve met several people since (including a guy) who equaled her pileous splendor, and it always sent me into a fit of envy. Yes, my hair is nearly to my waist now, and that’s where it stops, in a cluster of dry, split ends that have to be trimmed off every couple months if I want to actually get a brush through it all. Such is the joy of fine hair.

Being immortal isn’t all fun and games, though. Even if you don’t have to kill all your challengers or drink the blood of humans, you still have to watch the mortals around you age and die by the dozens. It’s bad enough when one of the animals goes, but now I get to watch all my family and friends go with the same relative quickness? I can see how an immortal would quickly become jaded by their own existence and begin to view shorter- lived species, sentient or not, as something less than important.

And I wouldn’t just outlive animals and people, but civilizations, too. Imperial Rome lasted approximately 1,500 years. China came to be around 1500 BCE, and went happily through its dynasties until the early 1900’s CE, a span of nearly 3,500 years. By comparison, the USA is a mere babe of less than 250 years. All of them blips passing by in what seems like seconds, much like the graphs in this video:

 

 

 

But think what I could see over the course of eternity. The Universe is estimated to be nearly fourteen billion years old. The Earth has been around about 4.5 billion years. Modern humans appeared only 200,000 years ago, with recorded history a paltry 6,000 years to its name. In a little over a hundred years we went from looking up into the sky wondering what the Moon was made of, to actually setting foot on it to find out. Just in my lifetime we’ve gone from seeing flip phones only in science fiction shows, to carrying them around in our pockets.

Years ago Carl Sagan developed what he called a cosmic calendar. He took all the events of the Universe and condensed them into one calendar year to try and show the scale of existence. Humans conquered fire just in time for a late dinner on the last day of that year. We are but a blink of the cosmic eye.

 

Andy Warhol Create

 

But what if it takes me forever to do that?

 

 

Living forever would allow me to see all of that in real time, an eternal witness to the rise and fall of worlds. I could watch us colonize Mars and beyond. Maybe I could even be a starship captain. I would see the amazing technological advancements we make, the great artistry of our creative cohorts, maybe even world peace. Now wouldn’t that be worth hanging around for?

Of course, the down side is as Dr. Tyson noted: what’s the motivation to get out of bed today if you have an eternity of tomorrows? I still have things on my to-do list from forty years ago. And let’s not get started on my various writing projects. Okay, yes, they are STARTED, but my procrastination is epic in scale and execution within my single human lifespan. Just think what that would be like if I had forever.

Which is about how long it’s gonna take for our government to get its head out of its butt, and that’s something I would dearly like to witness so I might as well get started on that immortality thing now. Right after I get out of bed tomorrow…

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Wha…???

 

 

Alphabet Soup cat

 

I think this every time I see a talking head trying to explain our president’s latest gaff. I really need to stay away from the internet for awhile. Too much stooooopid. I think the asylum has finally been overrun by the inmates. Okay, that actually happened back in November, but I kept holding out hope. Man, am I a sucker.

I’m gonna need a bigger bottle of bourbon…

 

Hot Flashes

Welcome to Southern California. Contrary to popular belief, we DO have four seasons here: earthquake, fire, flood, and riot. Presently it is heading into fire season, otherwise known as summer to the rest of the northern hemisphere. Though, like with all seasonal transitions, earthquake still has a few last kicks to it, giving us a M3.2 burp as I write this, only a few miles from my house. At least, according to the news it happened. Anything less than books flopping off shelves I tend to not notice. The jaded laissez-faire reality of living here most of my life.

This transitional period is affectionately called shake and bake by us locals. All the heat without the flavor. Instead of getting mouth-watering pork chops, you just run outside because your house is collapsing, and get fried by the giant bug zapper in the sky. The end.

 

california-the-original-shake-n-bake-eartquakes-wildfires-he-demotivational-posters-1466693472

Do you want fries with that?

 

It’s not that I’m unafraid of such things. I’ve been through several significant temblors in my time, including Ferndale (Cape Mendocino) in 1992, and Whittier Narrows in 1987, the latter of which caught me driving into downtown L.A. on the Hollywood Freeway. You’ve not lived until you’ve seen a skyscraper ripple. But there’s not a lot you can do about earthquakes except ride them out and be prepared for afterwards. They offer almost no warning and cover huge swaths of geography, making them almost impossible to avoid. And the bulk of the shifting is done in a matter of seconds. It may take days, months, or even years to clean up and rebuild, but the sheer terror is over pretty quickly, allowing us to shake our fists at the government for their lack of instantaneous and perfect response all the quicker.

Wildfires, on the other hand, scare the fuck out of me. Part of that, I’m sure, is the primal lizard brain and its programming to fear fire just ‘cause. But the majority is because I’ve seen what they do. Wild, often unpredictable, they can mosey along at ground level keeping down the underbrush while a herd of elk graze nearby. Or they can blast flaming tornadoes a hundred feet tall, incinerating just about everything in the way in seconds.

We’ve been lucky in that we’ve never been directly affected by wildfires. Fires have teased the borders of where we live, leaving the air thick with smoke. But we haven’t had it any worse. Unfortunately, we do know many people who have. From being evacuated as a precaution and then returning to a house largely unscathed, to mad-dashing to the car with child/animal/laptop in hand as the raging inferno engulfs everything they ever owned mere seconds behind them. It may be fascinating to watch on the news, until you recognize the house of your friend going up in smoke. And then it is just heartbreaking.

 

fire-danger-wmrk

Off the chart takes on a whole new meaning.

 

According to the National Interagency Fire Center, there are thirty large wildfires active in the US right now. The majority of them are in western states. Arizona leads the way with seven. Right behind them is California, with four. And these numbers are considered light for this time of year. After the wet winter we had, which encouraged all sorts of wild flora to spring up just about everywhere, the dry summer will cook it all to crispy tinder just waiting for something to spark off the flames until flood season returns and mudslides put out the fires still not fully contained after days – and even weeks – of effort.

A study by the University of Colorado, Boulder’s Earth Lab revealed over 80% of wildfires during the period 1992 to 2012 were caused by humans. Over one-fifth were directly attributed to arsonists. Because, like Alfred said in The Dark Knight, some men just like to watch the world burn. And the study also found that more fires were started on the 4th of July than on any other day of the year. Maybe it’s not such a good idea to have a holiday at the height of summer feature fireworks and alcohol.

 

4th-july-alcohol

Or maybe just stay inside and have ice cream.

 

With climate change bringing about longer and warmer springs and summers, as well as increasing the range and duration of drought, fire season will only grow longer and more dangerous. We as stewards to this fine little blue marble need to take better care of her. The danger isn’t that the planet will be destroyed if we don’t’, it’s that WE will be destroyed. Short of being blown completely apart, Earth will be around long after we’ve led ourselves to oblivion. Just maybe not in a form we would recognize.

So, in the long term, doing something about pollution and renewable energy will serve to give us a nice place to keep living. We have the technology to have our toys and live WITH the planet at the same time. It’s just a matter of will. We need to put the planet and its people before profits. Which means getting the politicians out of the mix and handing things back to the scientists before it’s too late.

In the mean time, we do our part in our own little neck of the world. And we stay prepared. Because no matter where you are, so is Mother Nature. And she’ll get you sooner or later…

 

http://www.redcross.org/get-help/how-to-prepare-for-emergencies/make-a-plan

https://emergency.cdc.gov/preparedness/kit/disasters/index.asp

https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/general-pet-care/disaster-preparedness

https://www.ready.gov/

Naaah…

Can't Adult

Adulting is not for sissies…

 

Grumpy Cat - Nuh

Pretty much all the time…

 

 

don't-wanna

Can we say “lacks self motivation?”

 

 

Hot Hobbit

ONLY 92F today. And three wildfires within 50 miles. So, just another day in SoCal…

 

 

My Generation

Rod Serling

 

Let me set the scene for you. The time is a weekend thirty years in the future. The place is a locale sarcastically known by its denizens as Happy Acres Cyber Warfare and Retirement Home, and more affectionately termed The Dungeon. As this distant Friday fades to dusk, five people gather around a table in the rarely used conference room of said home. With them are a library’s worth of books, a Vegas casino’s allotment of dice, gallons of Mountain Dew, and seemingly every bag of Cheetos in the county. Welcome to the quarterly meeting of the White Walkers, an aged group of longtime frenemies who come together to solve the world’s greatest problems, while killing orcs, and killing time.

After all, time is the greatest enemy…

 

“…I told you I’d be playing Rolo again.”

The group groaned as one, eyes rolling.

“Jesus H. Christ, Marcus. You’ve been playing that bastard hafling for sixty years.” Ellie was slouched behind a cardboard screen of charts and tables surrounded by a faded border of formerly colorful monsters. Her pale blue gaze peered at the offender through holographic readers. Modern medicine had rendered her eyes perfectly fine, but theatrics called for glasses. “What is he now, 100th level?”

“112.” Marcus’ riposte was prideful. He appeared a hulking brute of a man, still trim and agile thanks to nanotechnology, but – unlike his friends – his thick pate of hair and beard a shocking white. “He still has some things he can do.”

“Yeah, there’s gotta be at least one dragon’s hoard he hasn’t pilfered yet.” This from a rail thin blonde across the table. Barely half Marcus’ size, Esteban could hold his own in any company just by the wicked glint in his eyes and the ever-present smile on his face.

“Says the assassin with a river of dead bodies behind him,” smirked Maisie. Even at her advanced age, her chocolate brown skin barely carried a wrinkle, while her natural hair fluffed around her head with only a teasing of grey.

“Hey, I never killed anyone outside of a contract unless it was self-defense.”

“Starting a bar fight doesn’t count as self-defense.” The final member of the group – a pale Asian with a spiked mohawk dyed bright pink, and gold-glitter eyelashes – looked up from one of their rulebooks. “And neither does running into a crowd screaming ‘Kill me! Kill me!’ and then changing your mind.”

“You wanted a diversion – you got a diversion.”

“Oh, please. How many times do we have to relive that one?” groaned Marcus.

Gold lashes fluttered. “As many as it takes, sweetheart. Elves don’t get resurrected. We had twenty years invested in that …”

“…beautiful bastard and you killed them,” the group finished in exaggerated unison. Artificially bright green eyes narrowed at them in annoyance.

“Kim, we’re moving on,” sighed Ellie. “Why don’t you join us? It’s not like the next character wasn’t just a name change on the first.”

“It’s the principle, dear. We had to start from scratch.”

Maisie smacked her hand flat onto the table, jostling dice. “That’s a fantastic idea. We all start from scratch.”

“What? Wait…” The flash of bewilderment faded from Marcus’ face. “You mean, roll up totally new characters?”

“Shit, we haven’t done that in decades,” mused Esteban. “I’m not sure I know how to do that anymore.”

“Yes, you do,” declared Ellie. She leaned back in her hover chair and released a sinister grin. “And furthermore, it must be a character race and class you’ve never played before. Under first edition rules.”

“FIRST edition?” Kim’s mohawk waved with the shake of their head. “My, aren’t we showing our age…”

“Don’t play that card, dear. I see your first edition books in that stack of yours.” Ellie gestured with a well-manicured hand. Kim’s lips tightened and they made a dramatic effort of looking away.

“Well, if we’re going to do this, we need some proper music,” declared Esteban. He called up a holoscreen from the watch on his wrist. “What’ll it be?”

“Led Zeppelin,” from Marcus.

“Aerosmith,” stated Maisie.

“The Monkees,” muttered Ellie. To which her companions laughed. She scowled at them.

“There is only one choice, my friends, for such a glorious new beginning,” began Kim, and they looked tellingly around the circle. “David Bowie, who constantly remade himself as we now do.”

“That’s the problem,” frowned Esteban. “Which version of Bowie do you want? Ziggy? Thin White Duke? Big 80’s Hair? Jareth the Goblin King? Tin Man? Sinister grunge?…”

“Ziggy, of course.” Kim sighed. “That’s like asking which group is better: The Beatles or the Rolling Stones.”

“Stones.” From Marcus.

“Beatles.” From Maisie.

“Hey,” Esteban broke in before the age-old fight continued. “Did you see that Keith Richards is doing another tour? He’ll be using holographic substitutes for Mick and the rest.”

“That man definitely made a deal with the devil,” Maisie shook her head knowingly, and reached for pencil and paper.

“The one on Capitol Hill, or the real one?” Ellie rifled through her stack of books.

“Aren’t they one and the same?” Digging through a large Royal Crown bag of dice, Marcus triumphantly pulled out a badly beaten plastic D20 with no discernible numbers on its face. “Hah! Found my lucky one on the first try!”

“Depends on whose side is talking,” Esteban commented, scrolling through the selections on his holoscreen. “There’s always at least half the country that thinks so.”

“What happened to our politics-free zone?” Kim huffed. “I get enough of that with the grandkids.”

“Mine still can’t get why we do this in person.” Marcus sighed. “Everything’s holo-conferenced now, and computer-supported. They don’t have to leave the house for school like we did. They don’t even have to write. Or read, for fuck’s sake.”

“Good for them,” nodded Kim. “They won’t have to suffer the bullying that we did.”

Esteban raised a dubious eyebrow at them. “Have you been on TwitFace lately?”

“I thought we met in person because Big Brother couldn’t listen in on our grand plans to overthrow the government.” Maisie’s dark eyes glanced over her companions. “You did all leave your syncs in the Faraday cage, right?”

While the others nodded, Ellie’s expression faded into a guilty smile. Maisie stared at her in disbelief.

“You didn’t!” she gasped.

Ellie shrugged apologetically. “You know I’m a tech geek. Now that they’ve got the bugs worked out, I don’t have to worry about headaches from the implant anymore.”

“No headaches, but no freedom anymore, either.” From Esteban.

“You can turn off the GPS function.”

“And they can turn it back on without you knowing it,” Marcus worried. “Jeez, Ellie. You were the last person I expected to do that.”

“It’s okay, hon.” Kim waved a magnanimous hand. “I’ll make sure you’re exempt from the listening rotations.”

“So I guess there’s still some things the President can do?” snorted Esteban.

“Some.” A wry smile played across Kim’s thin, pink lips. “I’m living proof that resistance is NOT futile.”

Fuzzy Brain

Nursing a summer cold, which is leaving me with the mental capacity of a cranky three-year-old, and the energy of a sloth on downers. Here are some examples of what happens when you cruise the Internet in that state:

 

 

 

Go talk amongst yourselves while I fetch the bourbon and chocolate…

Congratulations! Welcome to the club!

 

Captain Obvious Reading

Glad we cleared that up.

 

According to the US Department of Education, 14% of the US population – and 19% of high school graduates – can NOT read. In US adults, one in five reads below a 5th grade level, while nearly three-quarters of American prison inmates are unable to read above the 4th grade level. For juveniles in the system, the number considered functionally illiterate balloons to 85%. Statistics have shown that the lower the literacy rate of an individual, the higher their chance of being poor, on public aid, or incarcerated. [1]

 

if-you-can-read-this-thank-a-teacher-ef-yoo-20035752 (1)

So suri. Wish i cud giv yoo a raze.

 

Despite what the sad literacy rates might indicate, the Pew Research Center reports that nearly 65% of adults read at least one printed book in the past year, and 73% read a book in any format. [2] A slight decline from the 2012 survey, but still hopeful numbers. Sadly, these don’t seem to include the President. [3] When the supposed “leader of the free world” finds reading unnecessary, that can only mean even more cognitive bias and greater misunderstandings.

 

Enter Society

This could get ugly.

 

The digital revolution has increased the efficiency and availability of hardware and software that can take dictation, transcribe music, read print aloud, and anticipate the user’s next need based on previous interactions. However, there’s some argument against our gadgets actually being good for us. The Marist Poll indicates that a majority of poll respondents believed our devices are detrimental to relationships and lives, leaving us – ironically – less connected. [4]

 

cell-phone-zombie

And what about when your battery dies?

 

 

The more our toys do for us, the less we do for ourselves. Cursive is rarely taught in schools anymore, and an angry toddler with a broken crayon might as well have done what printing I’ve seen from the younger generation. Plus our collective attention span seems to be growing shorter by the minute. With instantaneous communication, video-on-demand, same-day shipping, and click-bait disguised as news, trying to focus on anything for any length of time is a growing challenge. But writing things by hand can lead to better comprehension, [5] and reading more can make you smarter. [6]

 

Reading_quotes_crave_book32

Wands supplied by Ticonderoga and Waterman.

 

 

And now that I’ve used lots of pretty pictures to keep your attention, here’s the point of the story: go read. Go read lots. Go read now. Go read printed or electronic. Go read with friends. Go read alone. Just read. We’ll all be better off. And maybe we can stave off the regression back into pictographs just a little while longer. [7]

 

AfraidEmoji

 

[1] “15 US Literacy Rate and Illiteracy Statistics”

http://brandongaille.com/us-literacy-rate-and-illiteracy-statistics/

[2] “Book Reading 2016”

http://www.pewinternet.org/2016/09/01/book-reading-2016/

[3] “Trump ‘does not read books’: report”

http://ew.com/books/2017/01/25/trump-does-not-read-books-report/

[4] “6/21: Is Technology “Dumbing Down” Society?”

http://maristpoll.marist.edu/614-is-technology-dumbing-down-society/

[5] “Why Pen and Paper Beats a Laptop Every Time for Taking Notes”

https://www.communicaid.com/communication-skills/blog/writing-skillsbusiness-writing-skills/taking-notes-better-using-laptop-tablet/

[6] “Warren Buffett’s reading routine could make you smarter, science suggests”

http://www.cnbc.com/2016/11/16/warren-buffetts-reading-routine-could-make-you-smarter-suggests-science.html

[7] “How Emojis are Like Hieroglyphics”

https://www.mabbly.com/how-emojis-are-like-hieroglyphics/

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