Adventures Neato People


There’s no official birth certificate, but tradition has it that Shakespeare was born on April 23, 1564.

It is certain that, today, April 23, 2021, in the wee hours of the morning, a SpaceX Falcon rocket launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Four astronauts were onboard. They’ll spend the next six months working and living in the International Space Station.

Today’s launch represents the continued advancement of the partnership between NASA and privately-owned space flight companies. Among the achievements realized through this work is the development of a reusable rocket.

The rocket used in today’s launch is designed to return to Earth and land on a platform that is floating in the ocean. There won’t be a splashdown or broken bits and pieces falling into the sea. Instead, the intact rocket will gracefully touch down and will eventually be used once again on future launches.

Understandably, Shakespeare didn’t write about space flight. But he did write about doing things we think we cannot do, about imaginary worlds and seemingly impossible dreams. So perhaps there’s a little symmetry between his birthday and today’s space launch. A bit of a cosmic connection.

Men at some time are masters of their fates;
The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves, that we are underlings.

Julius Caesar, Act 1, Scene 2

Adventures Nature


Today is International Mountain Day. Established by the United Nations in 2003, International Mountain Day is focused on the protection and sustainability of mountains.

I once read that, when choosing recreation-y, vacation-y options, Introverts prefer mountains, while Extroverts prefer water. I don’t know about the scientific accuracy of that information. As somebody who leans Introvert, however, I do know that I’m more likely to head for the hills.

There’s something about being in the mountains that makes me feel free. That’s strange, perhaps, because being surrounded by ancient stone formations isn’t typically associated with feelings of freedom. But when I’m in the mountains, I don’t see barriers. I don’t feel surrounded, closed in. What I see are expanses, vistas, views – green and blue and brown and white, stretching out into the distance and into the sky. What I feel is clear, unconstrained lightness.

I’ve also never really considered mountains to be something that need protecting. After all, they’re solid rock formations, tall and strong, ancient and unyielding.

Then again, rocks can be crushed. Time and water can carve canyons and valleys. Mountain life can disappear due to fire, climate changes, and man-made circumstances.

The fact is, nothing on our planet, this home we call Earth, is indestructible. Even mountains.

So, here’s to International Mountain Day and its goal of protection. And, here’s to the tales of time and nature that exist within the ancient rock and stone.

Adventures Neato


I first heard about the Nazca lines when I was a child. My mom grew up in South America and learned about them in school. As far as I know, she never actually visited them, but when I was growing up she’d talk about them from time to time.

One of the things that she’d talk about, the thing that fascinated me the most, is why they existed. I grew up in a time when aliens were a hot topic, and there were books and tv shows that speculated about the link between the Nazca lines and visitors from space.

My mom and I would talk about the theories, about the fact that the figures are best seen from above and of how difficult it must have been for people who couldn’t fly to envision and complete the designs. Back then, it made perfect sense to me that the symbols were some type of navigation system that was used by alien astronauts.

Today, I’m skeptical, because, well…logic and reality. While it hasn’t been proven, some scientists and historians believe that the lines were created as a means of locating and communicating about water supplies. Others speculate that the lines were part of religious rituals, similar to Stonehenge and other ancient man-made creations. We may never know for sure, but what has been proven is that it’s possible to design and create the symbols without aerial views, even though the lines are designed to be seen from the sky. So, a down-to-earth explanation for the creation and existence of the lines seems most likely.

Still, it’s fun to imagine that, just maybe, the lines have some otherworldly origin or purpose, especially with the latest discovery, the one made this year. I read about it yesterday and woke up thinking about it this morning.

On the side of a hill, eroded but still faintly visible, is an image of a cat. Efforts are now underway to restore and preserve the design.

I imagine cats all around the world took in the news with a knowing, wise look on their whiskered faces.

Adventures Life


There’s something magical about finding a penny on the ground.

When I take Mollie for a walk, part of the fun is the possibility of finding a penny. I almost always do.

Some of them are in bad shape, their edges rough, their faces scratched. I think about what might have brought them to that place, there on the concrete, in that condition. Where they’ve traveled, the people who’ve carried them in their pockets or purses or backpacks.

Some of them are pristine, newly-minted. They are easy to spot, shining in the sun. They haven’t yet had the opportunity to experience the world but are still an exciting prize.

Occasionally, I’ll find a dime, a nickel, or even a quarter. Once, I found several of each, lying on the road like an unplanned path, and I paused to scoop each one up as I made my way along the distance.

Those types of finds make me happy, but finding a penny brings a slightly greater thrill. I suppose it’s because pennies are associated with good luck.

Little magical lucky stars, just waiting to be discovered.

Adventures People


Researchers recently discovered the source of the largest stones (called sarsens) that make up Stonehenge.

The sarsens originated approximately 15 miles away, from a place called West Woods. The discovery came after an analysis of stone from the inside core of one of the sarsens and a comparison to stone in the surrounding area.

The source of the sarsens has long been a mystery. The origin of the smaller stones was solved a while back, but until now, the origin of the largest stones was unknown.

I visited Stonehenge not too long ago. It’s out in a large empty field, and there’s a bit of a walk to get to it. There are cows in the area, and small rolling hills. Off in the distance, trees. And then, there it is, just sitting there, patiently waiting, as it has for centuries. Waiting for…people? Time? Sunrises and sunsets, clouds and rain and wind? Yes, perhaps all of those things.

Having seen pictures of it, I wasn’t completely unprepared for what to expect. What did surprise me was the size and scale. It’s difficult to get a sense of it from photographs. Standing next to it, you realize what a true effort it had to have been to build it, especially in a time when there were no machines to assist.

I was also struck by the sound. Many people were visiting on the day I was there, there was picture-taking and pointing and amazement, but everyone seemed to speak in hushed tones. There was a lot of silence. There were occasional small gusts of wind, and they sounded whispery and hushed, as well. It was as though we were in a museum, a solemn place, a place of memories.

I’ll be thinking about that visit today. Like many others, I marvel at the fact that people long ago designed and built Stonehenge with little more than their imaginations, their commitment, and their strength.

We human beings can do sometimes do wondrous things. I’m grateful to have experienced one of the most wondrous.

Adventures People


It’s Amelia Earhart’s birthday. Let’s celebrate with a quote.

“Everyone has oceans to fly, if they have the heart to do it. Is it reckless? Maybe. But what do dreams know of boundaries?”

Here’s to the journeys that take us beyond our imagination.

Adventures Neato


I saw the comet NEOWISE last night.

I was only really able to see it through binoculars, but it was there, a shining dot of light with a blazing tail sweeping out behind.


“Comets, importing change of time and states,
Brandish your crystal tresses in the sky.”

-William Shakespeare, Henry VI, Part 1, Act 1, Scene 1

Adventures Life


I’m cheating a bit with today’s cuppa picture.

This cuppa photo is from five years ago. It was taken on a family vacation. When I saw it this morning, I started thinking about the trips I’ve taken over the years.

Traveling is one of my favorite things. Going to new places, experiencing new things – I love everything about it, even the stress of planning and the anxiety that sometimes comes with the execution.

That’s not to say that I’m always a happy camper, that I don’t freak out if the luggage gets lost or we can’t find the hotel. Oh yes, I’ve had my Travel Panic Moments, moments that I regret and wish I could do over. But mostly, my travel memories are good. Mostly, they make me smile.

The current circumstances don’t make it advisable or even possible to travel. I support the fact that adventures away from home must wait. Safety is the priority; wisdom must prevail. But one day – I hope, I believe – the door will open again.

Until then, I’ll enjoy my memories. I’ll reflect upon and be grateful for all the things I’ve seen and heard and experienced, the cities and neighborhoods, the mountains and beaches and forests, the people and food, songs and stories. I’ll consider where I might want to go in the future, search for new destinations, evaluate the logistics and the practical realities.

And as I remember and dream and imagine, I’m sure I’ll be smiling.

“Not all those who wander are lost.” — J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

Adventures Life


My perspective on aliens was greatly influenced by the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Directed by Stephen Spielberg and released in 1977, it tells the story of of a small group of people, each affected by personal encounters with alien visitors, each on a journey to make sense of their experiences and learn the truth.

For a time when I was a youngster, I was obsessed with this movie. I don’t specifically remember seeing it in the theater, but that was the only way to see movies back then, so I must have. I’ve seen it many, many times over the years since then.

A companion book, which told the exact same story but in written form, was released around the same time as the movie. As a kid, I read (and re-read) everything I could get my hands on, including this book. Even today, I can remember parts of the book word-for-word.

There was also a soundtrack (on vinyl) that I listened to over and over. I loved the part where the aliens and the humans communicate with a musical sound-off, back and forth, the notes blending together. In the movie, that scene includes flashing lights, with different colors representing the various notes and tones.

You might say I was a weird kid, being so fascinated by these things. And yes, I would probably agree. In my defense, however, it’s not unusual for kids to become obsessed with things. Ask any parent who’s listened to multiple descriptions of the most minute Minecraft creations or who instinctively cringe just a bit when they hear, yet again, the theme song to a popular kids’ show that seems to be everywhere (all the time it never goes away there it is once more it never stops).

Anyway. Aliens. I believed, based on CEotTK, that it was entirely possible that aliens existed, and that one day, when they thought we were ready, when the time was right, they’d show themselves to us Earthlings. Later, E.T. the Extraterrestrial came along (also a Spielberg movie), reinforcing this hopeful belief.

And then, in college, I took an Astronomy class called E.T. – The Search for Extraterrestrial Life, during which we worked through the Drake Equation and came to the conclusion that the likelihood of a Spielbergian event actually happening is just about zero.

Crash. Burn. For a while, the possibility of alien magic vanished.

But then one day, I saw the movie Contact. I didn’t become obsessed with it as I had with CEotTK. It did, however, restore my hope in the possibility of aliens. A more educated, wiser, pragmatic hope, certainly, but the magic came back.

This morning, as I was waiting for the coffee to perk, I read a news story about the recent discovery of fast, repeating radio bursts coming from a distant galaxy. The pattern is radio bursts for 90 days, followed by 60 days of silence, then the radio bursts start over.

It’s likely the pattern has nothing whatsoever to do with aliens, that it’s caused by some type of natural galactic event.

Then again, maybe that’s what the aliens want us to believe.

Adventures Life People


CBS All Access is creating a new limited series based on Stephen King’s novel The Stand.

I read The Stand when I was in high school. It was my introduction to the world of Stephen King. Like many others, I was hooked – and for years, eagerly dove into each of his new books as soon as they were released. It was scary stuff wrapped in vivid adventures, the kinds of stories that created a rush of adrenaline and made you check under the bed (and in the closet and behind the curtains) before turning out the lights.

After my first son was born, however, I stopped wanting to read them. Becoming a parent changes the way you perceive fear. Every dangerous or terrifying scenario, even if only in a fiction novel, becomes a trigger for late-night worry and anxious overthinking. You empathize with imperiled characters in new ways. Monsters don’t seem as imaginary.

Then an interesting thing happened. As my children grew older, I found myself wanting to re-read some of my SK favorites. The Stand was one of them. Weirdly, I found comfort in the characters and the plot, despite the awful premise and the disturbing descriptions.

What changed? This time around, the fear didn’t take center stage. Instead, my attention shifted from the scare to the relationships and the resilience. The people and their perspectives, their experiences. The way they came together, and faced the impossible, and prevailed. I found hope in the story.

I will watch the new series; I’m looking forward to it. The cast looks great (Whoopi Goldberg as Mother Abigail! Alexander Skarsgård as Randall Flagg!). It will be interesting to see a new take on the tale. But I won’t be tuning in for the fear. Fear is everywhere. Fear is easy.

I’ll watch because I want to see the true story. The one that inspires me because it speaks of tenacity, empathy, trust, and hope. Fear is the distraction. The true story is courage.