Pope Tweets

I don’t know why I laughed when hearing that the Pope made his first “tweet” today. It most likely came from the visual, or perhaps my  burning desire to discover if he was an iphone or Blackberry pontiff. I pictured him surrounded by a gaggle of Cardinals, helpfully guiding him through the process. Without warning one of the imaginary Cardinals became John Cleese. Game over.

He had a million followers when he opened his Twitter account. Not bad #pontifex! Unfortunately all was not roses; the Vatican revealed  a number of negative responses. In particular the subject of abuse within the Catholic church. Not to be discouraged Benedict XVI has announced he will take questions at #askpontifex.

When the Vatican announced a few years ago that extraterrestrial life was possible; as there was no limit to God’s power, I was impressed. Now a Pope that Tweets. There is indeed no end to God’s power.

A Disturbing Reality

The two Australian DJs who pulled last weeks “prank” call to the British hospital where Kate Middleton had been admitted for morning sickness, must have been pleased with themselves. High fives, pats on the back, handshakes; worldwide attention, internet sensation. Sales Managers giddy as they boosted ad rates, station manager basking in a ratings glory.No doubt they were already plotting the next stunt, unwilling to relinquish the celebrity high.

The bubble burst with the news of Jacintha Saldanha’s suicide. The nurse at the receiving end of their harmless little joke had taken her life. Teams of public relations professionals and lawyers took over. Nursing an adrenalin hangover the station pulled the show off the air. The offending DJs issued a statement saying how devastated they were. Not nearly as devastated as Jacintha’s family.

My ponder is reality; or lack thereof.

Perhaps human nature is such that we will never rise above genetic programming. The Roman Coliseum replaced by the “reality” of Honey Boo Boo, Celebrity Rehab., the Botoxed housewives from hell. Reality media is an obsession. We feed on “reality” that looks to me  like an M.C. Escher painting. We laugh at misfortune and excess, shake our heads in mock disbelief as Snookie gets into another bar fight.

All of us are responsible for Saldanha’s suicide. Time to leave the Coliseum behind. Reality may be difficult at first, but at least we will gain some self respect.

Geminid Meteor Shower

The weather outside is frightful, the Geminid shower is delightful. Peaking on Dec. 13 and 14, for those willing to bundle up in pre-dawn hours; expect up to 100 meteors an hour. Named the Geminid meteor shower as it appears to come from the direction of constellation Gemini. Geminid is believed to be debris from comet 3200 Phaethon, Phaethon broke apart after one too many close orbits to the sun melted its icy exterior.

According to earthsky.org the best time to witness Geminid is between 1 and 3 AM on Dec. 14. Bundle up, drive far from city lights, and restore your soul.

The bright streak of a Geminid meteor pierces the night sky over California's Mojave Desert during the annual meteor shower's 2009 peak.

A bright Geminid meteor pierces the night sky over California’s Mojave Desert in 2009.

Photograph by Wally Pacholka, TWAN

My “Ugg”ly Pleasure

Uggs are a sheepskin boot from Australia. Void of shape or style, somehow they managed to adorn the feet of half the women I passed. More accurately; young women, the Lululemon yoga pants set. It didn’t stop there – Uggs supported skirts, leggings, skinny jeans; outfits were built around the ugliest boot imaginable.

I scoffed at Uggs, they were my socks with sandals. My daughter and I joked about “Uggfits”

When my husband announced he wanted to buy Uggs for my birthday, I thought he was joking. Not wanting to hurt his feelings I managed a weak smile. In my heart certain I could wiggle out of it, I played along. He asked me to meet him down town today; with Uggly dread I agreed.

The first store we went to didn’t have my size. Better yet – we now knew they were priced at $200. Things were looking up – fate might just take care of things. We tried again, this time a department store with an extensive Ugg display. Struggling with myself for not speaking up I weakly asked the sales clerk for my size. She was rather odd and cranky, we waited and waited. Five minutes passed, then ten. She emerged from the back room to tell me she couldn’t remember the size I had asked for. Yikes.  The situation was becoming surreal, I took dishevelled and forgetful clerk as an omen that Uggs were not going to be. By now I had plenty of alternatives in mind; my smile was genuine.

Without warning my world came crashing down; she approached us with three shoe boxes. Resigned to my Ugg fate I sat down and pulled one on. Before even standing up, I was converted. My foot nestled in a warm embrace; hurriedly I pulled on the other and took my first steps. I was walking on fairy dust, pillows of magic, with music greeting every step. That was 12 hours ago. My closet lies on the floor as I plan my “Uggfits”. In hindsight my husband knows me best, I wouldn’t have been married for over 30 years if he hadn’t been able to see through my Uggsgust . I may just sleep in them.

Ugg Short Classic Chestnut

4179 Toutatis

On December 12, asteroid 4179 Toutatis will make its closest approach to our planet. At an impressive length of 5 Km., Toutatis is the largest PHA (potentially hazardous asteroid) on a long list of near earth calamities. Passing by at a distance of 7 million Km., Toutatis will come and go, most people none the wiser.

China may be the envy of astronomers; their Chang’E 2 lunar orbiter is estimated to pass within a few hundred Kms of Toutatis on Dec. 13. This enviable front row seat doesn’t come with a guarantee to capture the show; its unclear if the Chang’E fixed cameras will be able to capture images.

Discovered by Christian Pollas in 1989, Toutatis in known for an erratic orbit. In 2004 it came within 1.5 million Km. Still no reason to loose sleep – projections for the next 600 years show it will pass as nothing more than a streak in the night sky.

A computer-generated model of the near-Earth asteroid 4179 Toutatis.

A computer-generated model of the near-Earth asteroid 4179 Toutatis.

Image courtesy Michael Busch

Sandy Media

My world is far from flat. It doesn’t end at the outskirts of my city, the boundary of my province, or borders of my country. Extending beyond  time zones, continents, and hemispheres  my world is round. Layer upon layer, it breaks my heart, feeds my soul, and humbles me. A place crowded with faith, hope, and circumstance; my world is a never ending story.

I grew up believing the six o’clock news. Reporters had integrity, conviction, and purpose. The news was a sacred place, free from the constraints of politics or religion. I thought they were untouchable, above all, I believed they held no bias.

We live in a time where news is dependent on what you want to hear.

Take Hurricane Sandy. Americans lost lives and property; New Jersey and New York took a beating. Millions without power, gas shortages, property damage. Nasty business received with giddy anticipation by media hungry for a “story” to rival Katrina. CNN and Fox aired relentless hours filled with reporters “on the ground”. We watched waves roll in on every beach along the Eastern seaboard. Computer models, predictions, dire warnings – nothing like a good storm before an election.

Sandy was a terrible storm, many Americans suffered, in no way am I making light of that fact. My point is a lack of reporting the full story. I ponder how many people are even aware of the full scope of Sandy’s wrath.  How many know that 15,000 homes were destroyed in Cuba? That 30% of their coffee and tomato crops, up to 90% of banana were wiped out. How about the Bahamas? They estimate damage of 300 million. Sandy took 52 lives in Haiti.

Cuba and Haiti may not be on the “all inclusive” or cruise ship vacation list of Americans. They certainly weren’t part of an election story, nor of consequence compared to a possibly  flooded stock exchange. My dismay comes from lack of regard; dare I say – complete dismissal of their plight. Media wrote the story of Sandy, omitting pages and chapters as they saw fit.

I ponder if the world will ever be round.

Cuban homes inundated by floods in the wake of Hurricane Sandy

Out of my Life, Justin Bieber!

No offence Justin Bieber, but I want you out of my life. I have nothing against you; if I were 14 the story would be completely different. Fourteen was a long time ago.  Bieber – your fans are messing with my blog. I may be taking this all too seriously, the source of my annoyance is innocent enough; I’m not too old to grasp that nugget. My disapproval stems from an innocent reference to Stephen Harper meeting Justin Bieber.

My post “Pondering Stephen Harper” wasn’t about Bieber. I wrote about “my Canada” and how Harper has lost sight of Canadian ideals.  I spent a few hours in naive bliss. My views went crazy; I watched like a proud mother, believing my words had struck a chord.

A few hours later my euphoria was replaced by sickening realization. How could I have been so stupid? As the hundreds of views crossed the thousand threshold – I wanted to scream – Bieber! So mad at myself for not catching on sooner. In hindsight I was too drunk with stat fever to focus in on the fine print. Had I been less eager, the evidence was staring me in the face.

Most of the search terms used to find me had the words Harper and Bieber. Worse still, almost every one had Steven not Stephen. Not one misspelled Bieber. That was days ago; thankfully it has started to settle down – yet refuses to go away. Perhaps I take myself too seriously, after all I’m fairly new at this.

I’ve had a few days to restore faith in my purpose, licking the wounds the Bieber fiasco delivered to my pride. Vowing to chose my words carefully in the future, I’ll learn to live with the multitude of misbegotten hits. Eventually my statistics will even out. With any luck a few Bieber fans will read this and learn that Canada’s leader is STEPHEN Harper.