Thursday, January 21, 2016

Poetry (part 1) - Snow

snow/everystockphoto.com

As I'm looking out my window this bright January day, I see a blanket of snow.

Thinking analytically, snow's fundamental element is the snowflake. To the eye of the beholder, snowflakes may be beautiful. But are they unique?

As seen in the clip below, science and history has much to say about snow and snowflakes.



But chance and physics do not take away the snowflake's fleeting beauty. Often it's hard to find the words that describe the wonder of nature. And that's when the arts, such as poetry, take off.

Almost thirty years ago, I wrote a poem about winter, pondering a scene, such as what I'm looking at now:

Snow

Clean and bright
The winter scene
Pearly snow 
Is everywhere seen 

Yet the snow 
Is still not pure 
Formed from dust 
Like mortals, here 

Dust is woven
Crocheted to snow
And robes the world
From heaven, below 

Frozen and still
The sleepy land
Under snowy blankets
Till Spring, again 

S. K. Smith 
(c) November 1986


So starts another thread - Poetry. 

And on this poetic note, may I leave with this thought about the Creator:

For He saith to the snow,
Be thou on earth; ...
Job 37:6 (KJV)


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Other posts on this subject:

ELM (part 3) - St. Crispin's Day Battles in English History and Literature (2013)

Touching the Face of God ... (2011) 

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photo: snow/everystockphoto.com

Monday, January 11, 2016

Music (part 1) - Winter

Northern Lights/everystock.com

Music predates history...  

One of the oldest pieces of literature is the Book of Job. Most likely the oldest book in the Bible, the back and forth dialog between Job and his miserable comforters end on this note when the Lord finally speaks:

Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation
...
while the morning stars sang together
and all the angels shouted for joy?
Job 38:4, 9 (NIV)

The singing stars...

Music is woven into creation before it came into our consciousness. Volumes have been written on this subject, but the clip below gives a good introduction:




As I start this new thread, it's winter... 

In the spirit of the season, Antonio Vivaldi composed Winter.

Below the piece is played in the background of beautiful winter scenes. It's where the audio and visual meet in the rhythm of life and existence.



For more information on this composer and this work, check out:

Antonio Vivaldi - BAROQUE COMPOSERS AND MUSICIANS

* The  Four Seasons - Work by Vivaldi  


And on this note...

Music is a moral law.
It gives soul to the universe,
wings to the mind,
flight to the imagination,
and charm
and gaiety
to life
and to everything.

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Other posts on music:

Nostalgia (part 5) - Big Band and World War II (2015)
 
Pray4America (part 16) - God Bless America, 1938 (2014) 

 
Culture 101 (part 10) - Summertime! x 3 (2013

 
America's Story (part 5) - Amazing Grace (2012) 


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photo:  Northern Lights/everystock.com

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Nostalgia (part 5) - Big Band and World War II

Maj Glenn Miller/wikipedia.com
Remember the Big Band Era?

The music of  Big Band in America may have found its origins after World War I with Jazz and Swing. But after the stock market crash of 1929, it rose in popularity during the Great Depression and World War II with such composers as Duke Ellington, Tom Dorsey, Glenn Miller, and Benny Goodman.

[reference: The Big Band Era - Or How America came out of the Great Depression and Went on to Win World War II ]

Salute to Major Glenn Miller

One of the most memorable musicians of the World War II generation was Glenn Miller. In 1942, Glenn Miller had enlisted in the Army and later transferred to the Army Air Force. There, he headed up the US Army Air Force Band and boosted the morale of the troops with his music during the war.

In August 1944, Captain Miller had been promoted to the rank of major. Sadly, Major Miller's military flight from London to Paris disappeared on December 15, 1944. His death remains a mystery as neither his body nor the plane had been found. But as thousands of other men, he gave his life serving his country.

[reference: Glenn Miller Biography ]

And 70+ years later during the Holiday Season....

In the spirit of Big Band music, the USAF Band, Washington DC, dance troupe from New York City put on this show, as described in the comments: 

A special holiday musical presentation from Union Station in Washington, DC celebrating the service and sacrifices of our nation's World War II veterans and commemorating the 70th anniversary of the end of the war.



Timeless music?

The Glenn Miller Orchestra and Big Band are still going strong into the 21st century. The music is even popular in SciFi, as shown in this scene below from Doctor Who: The Doctor Dances (2006):


Recognize the song?  Glenn Miller's In the Mood (1939)


As the Holiday Season passes for 2015 
and we enter 2016, 
may you dance into
a Blessed New Year!

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photo from: Maj Glenn Miller/wikipedia.com

Thursday, December 17, 2015

America's Story (part 20) - Patton's Weather Prayer

Battle of the Bulge/wikipedia.com

The picture above is a diorama of the Battle of the Bulge. 

December 1944, as World War II turned in favor of the allies, Hitler's Army made a last ditch effort in an offensive against Belgium. The Nazi attack caught the American troops off guard and outnumbered.

As a consequence, the Germans bottled up the 101th Airborne in Belgium in what has became known as the Seige of Bastogne. And I previously blogged about this in the post:  Christmas 1944, when we said NUTS to the enemy

General Patton to the rescue

Patton's Third Army did a 90 degree turn and moved quickly from northeast France to Bastogne, Belgium. Yet, another enemy was the weather. And Patton looked for help from the top of the chain of command, the Almighty, as shown below.



The Third Army Chaplain, Father James O'Neill, wrote the following prayer:  the "Patton Prayer"

The weather cleared. As Patton's troops linked with the defenders of Bastogne, the seige was broken.  Despite overwhelming odds, the Americans defeated the Germans.

In January 1945, the Battle was over. April saw victory in Europe. The Patton Prayer is now in the annals of history and the subject of many movies.

But that fighting spirit to not give up against overwhelming odds,
to look up to heaven for help,
is part of
America's Story.


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Other posts in this series:



America's Story (part 19) - Trinity and "The Long Peace"  (2015)


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photo from: Battle of the Bulge/wikipedia.com

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

CC (part 7) - Buzz Aldrin

Buzz Aldrin/wikipedia.com
Apollo 11 was a watershed mission. It was unique. It would never be repeated to have another first human being walk on an extraterrestrial world.
[For more info:  Apollo 11 Mission Overview ]

In 1969, an estimated 530 viewers watched Neil Armstrong take his first step on the moon:



And he said these words: "...one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind"

What about the second man? 

Buzz Aldrin is the man in the spacesuit in the photo at the top of the page. And Neil Armstrong took his picture. His words were most poetic recorded in the clip below:



"Magnificent Desolation"

And that became of title of one of his books: Magnificent  Desolation: The Long Journey Home from the Moon

And speaking of books ....

In the first book of The Commander and the Chief series, His Tribe of One, Chief Nova Orlovic remembers the second man on the moon as well as the first. The following excerpt takes place in the Middle-Eastern desert with Nova, Colonel Jack Sheffield, and Commander Reginald Barrett during their search for Admiral Quinn:

Mid-morning, Jack stopped on the crest of a bluff and surveyed the landscape. “I need to do a recalibration.” He turned on his smart tablet, then connected a cable into the KNOSE.

Magnificent desolation.” Nova scanned the wilderness—edifices of stone, rising like fortresses, floating on an ocean of pale yellow sand.

“I’ve heard that before. Somewhere.” Reggie skimmed the desert-scape from his backseat window.

Nova turned around. “Buzz Aldrin.”

Buzz who?” Reggie squinted at her.

“How quickly we forget.” Nova shook her head. “Buzz Aldrin was the second man on the moon…after Neil Armstrong, of course.”

“Right-o.” Jack chimed in. “Admiral Quinn was an astronaut. So you know this ancient history.”

“Doesn’t seem that long ago, though it happened before I was born.” Nova panned the moonscape-like desert. “Yet this place reminds me of the Badlands in the Dakotas, only with sand and stuff.”

Jack said, “So these Badlands look like the moon?”

“In many ways, they do.” Nova returned a fond look. “Actually Jack, parts of Wyoming have been likened to Antarctica.”

from Part 5: The Badlands, Chapter 1: The Backside of the Desert.
[for more info on the book:  smithsk.com/cc.htm ]

To Infinity and beyond ....

Though Neil Armstrong had shunned the limelight and passed away in 2012,  Buzz Aldrin has been more active in popular culture as well as promoting his vision of space.

And he inspired Disney's Toy Story character, Buzz Lightyear. In the clip below, one Buzz coaches another Buzz for a coming shuttle mission to the International Space Station.  [reference: Buzz Aldrin FAQ ]



To echo the Buzz Lightyear catch phrase, to infinity and beyond,  Buzz Aldrin has a plan to colonise Mars by 2040

To the 21st century ...

In step with the times, Buzz Aldrin is active on social media, such as twitter @TheRealBuzz and Facebook Buzz Aldrin as well as his own website: buzzaldrin.com.

And Buzz created quite a buzz with this cameo on The Big Bang Theory :




Astronauts are heroes. 
And a very elite subset of them have walked on the moon. 


To find out more about a fictional astronaut hero, Admiral Connor Quinn, please read the book and its coming sequels.

His Tribe of One, now available:

* Paperback:  CreateSpace

* eBook:   Kindle
                  Nook

Your readership is much appreciated.

S. K. Smith

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For other posts in this series:
CC (part 1) - The Commander and the Chief: His Tribe of One (2014)

CC (part 2) - Universe in a Glass of Wine  (2014)

CC (part 3) - Happy Bill of Rights Day  (2014)

CC (part 4) - Stories and the Brain (2015)

CC (part 5) - Audie Murphy  (2014)

CC (part 6) - Pavle Orlovic (2015)

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photo from: Buzz Aldrin/wikipedia.com

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Signs of the Times (part 8) - #JustPray

Lord's Prayer/everystockphoto.com

The Church of England has launched a new site, Just Pray, to offer advice on what prayer is and how to pray. The campaign is geared for the digital age, and one of its chosen venues to promote the new site is to advertise in theaters.

The clip below (which was cleared by the Cinema Advertising Authority and British Board of Film Classification) was scheduled when the new Star Wars movie, The Force Awakens, debuted a week before Christmas.



But the Digital Cinema Media, which handles most of the cinema advertising in the UK, barred the ad. They believe it "carries the risk of upsetting, or offending, audiences".

[reference: Church 'bewildered' by refusal to screen Lord's Prayer adU.K. Theaters Deny "Just Pray" Ad In Front of 'Star Wars' Screenings ]

Really?

As our Lord said, after He taught us to pray:


But I tell you, love your enemies
and pray for those who persecute you

Matthew 5:44 (NIV)


So

Let us 

#JustPray

for these are just

Signs of the Times .....



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Previous posts in this series:

Signs of the Times (part 1) - Camping in the Parks (2012)

Signs of the Times (part 2) - Layaway (2012)



Signs of the Times (part 5) - Staycations (2013)

Signs of the Times (part 6) - Fear of Missing Out (2015)
 

Signs of the Times (Part 7) - Leap Second - the new Y2K? (2015)


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photo from: Lord's Prayer/everystockphoto.com

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Physics (part 3) - 100 years of Einstein

wikipedia/GPB circling Earth
November, 2015 marks the centennial of Einstein papers that rocked the world and withstood the test of many experiments. Let me tell of story of a couple of these.

Gravity Probe B and Me ...

Briefly, I worked on the Gravity Probe B (GP-B) project. I say briefly because budget cuts curtailed my tenure, though I moved on to other projects. And that is another story.

Yet the decades old GP-B soldiered on and its satellite was launched in 2004. The experiment tested two elements of Einstein's Theory of General Relativity.

(1)   The Geodetic Effect, a precession (like that of  a spinning top) in curved space-time.

(2)   The Frame-dragging Effect, space-time getting pulled out of shape by a rotating body.

For more  information on this project and its results, please check out the official Stanford website: Gravity Probe B | Testing Einstein's Universe

Below is a good video that sums it all up.



But let's start at the very beginning ....

November, 1915, was a watershed month for physics. Einstein submitted four papers, one per week, to the Prussian Academy in Berlin. They launched the gravitational revolution of general relativity, overthrowing Newton's theory of the universe. [reference: Einstein's genius changed science's perception of gravity ]

Meanwhile, during this time, astronomers were on a serious

Search for the planet Vulcan ... no kidding

Newton's classic view of gravity led scientists to believe there was a hidden planet, which they called Vulcan, that caused Mercury's perturbations. But it took Einstein to crack this mystery, as explained below:



As Gravity Probe B in the 21st century would provide more evidence to vindicate general relativity, explaining the anomalies in Mercury's orbit gave convincing validation at the birth of this theory in the early 20th century. 

Also,  I wrote about this search for this planet that wasn't there and posted it on my website in the article: Mr. Spock and Dr. Einstein

As Einstein's General Relativity turns 100, it seems the theory will ...

Live long and prosper!

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Previous posts in this series:

Physics (part 1) - Picking Feynman's Brain (2013)

Physics (part 2) - Flat Earth? It depends ...  (2015)

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Photo from:  wikipedia/GPB circling Earth