Meanderings Of Filosofa’s Mind

Today I am feeling introspective, philosophical.  Perhaps it is because my workspace is temporarily at the kitchen table, directly in front of the kitchen window until my new chair and laptop desk arrive sometime next week.  As I glance outside the window, I see the birds, pecking at the feed my darling neighbor, Maha, has put down for them, and I see the children … one kicking a ball, another attempting to fly a kite, while yet another is taking some of his very first steps under his mother’s watchful eye. Life is happening … the nation’s shut down has not stopped that, nor has the coronavirus, nor has the person in the Oval Office, nor have those who support him.  My flowers are blooming … well, some of them, anyway … a few bees are seen hovering, and even a hummingbird!  And so, Filosofa’s mind begins to wander …

I think about all those people screeching for the economy to re-open, for shops, restaurants and bars to be once again open so that they can spend what little money they may have there.  And then I look at the birdies and I wonder … in the grand scheme of things, do the shops really matter?  Do you really need a new pair of jeans or a dress or new toaster oven?  Will you be happier or healthier in the long run if you dine out tonight, and hit the bars tomorrow night?  For some, no doubt, the answer to that question is ‘yes’ … I am glad I am not one of them.

I never enjoyed shops and malls anyway, and I am definitely not a bar person.  I did always enjoy our Saturday afternoon meals at a favourite local casual restaurant, and then a trip to Barnes & Noble afterward, but frankly, I’m finding that I have adapted, that my life is no less rich without that, and my bank account has grown considerably without our weekend spending!

On May 27th, another space shuttle of sorts will transport two U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS).  I wonder why?  After all, it isn’t as if it matters to most of us, it is historic only in the sense that it is an outside craft, not a NASA-built craft, but rather one created by Elon Musk’s company, that will transport the astronauts.  It really isn’t important … so many things have been postponed, have ground to a halt, including the education of our children … that IS important … that I wonder why this launch continues as planned.  Probably an ego trip for Trump & Musk.  Ah well, it matters not to me, for there are far more important things for me to focus my attention on.

I’ve largely ignored the efforts by Trump & Co to distract our attention to his circus acts of blaming everyone but Thomas Jefferson for his own failures and shortcomings, but some things cannot be ignored, such as his systematic purge of people in the administration who would hold him accountable for his actions.  He is, in essence, creating a ring of protection around himself, giving himself powers that no president was ever intended to have.  I worry about what’s next on his agenda.  Is not that a far more important concern than heading to the local mall, or sending a couple more men into space?

Look out the window … better yet, step outside.  Look, really look at the birds, the trees, the flowers … would you really rather be at a mall packed full of people, choking on the smell of 100 different varieties of tacky perfume, ogling things that you neither need nor really even want?  What’s really important to you?  Is it more important that you can go ‘do stuff’, or that you are still alive to appreciate the beauty of nature?  Do you really care if planes are flying again right now, or thousands of cars are clogging the highways at rush hour?

Yes, I do realize most have jobs they need to get back to, that the mortgage is coming due, groceries must be bought and paid for, the kids need braces and those aren’t cheap.  I realize the economy of the nation is important.  But is it more important than ensuring that our government is looking out for the people of this country … all the people, not just the wealthy?  Is it more important than ensuring that we still have a voice in our government?  Those who eagerly seek a “return to normal” will be sorely disappointed, for I suspect it will not happen any time soon, if ever.  In mid-March, I cared … now, I hope that we find a new ‘normal’, one where people matter more than ‘things’.

But, aside from all that … are you really so eager to return to the battlefield, knowing that many more will yet die?  Nothing has changed since March.  There still is no cure.  The virus is still just as contagious as it was two months ago.  We still have over 1,000 new deaths per day in the U.S.  Human beings.  Mothers, fathers, children, grandparents … people, not merely statistics.  Do you really care if the U.S. has two new astronauts on the ISS right now?  Wouldn’t next year be just as good?  There is no ‘race for space’, no reason for one.  Money down the tubes that frankly could be put to MUCH better use this year, helping the people who are suffering, keeping the nation safe.

As I write this, two young boys walk past my patio, see me in the window, and they give me big smiles and wave as if I were an old friend.  The birdies are pecking away at their food.  The neighbor’s dog is fertilizing the grass in my yard.  And despite all that is wrong in the world right now, I find a reason to smile.

I Am Going To Be An ASTRONAUT!

NASA plans to hire 14 new astronauts! Exciting news, indeed! The notice went out last November that they would begin accepting applications on December 4th through mid-February … meaning that if you didn’t already send yours in, you might as well give it up. I sent mine via “certified mail” two weeks ago and am just waiting for my acceptance letter. I am so excited, even though it doesn’t look like I will be going to Mars, but rather helping prepare for a future generation to actually go there. According to the press release, “This next group of American space explorers will inspire the Mars generation to reach for new heights, and help us realize the goal of putting boot prints on the Red Planet,” said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. “Those selected for this service will fly on U.S. made spacecraft from American soil, advance critical science and research aboard the International Space Station, and help push the boundaries of technology in the proving ground of deep space.” Still, just in case, I am currently reading The Martian by Andy Weir to prepare myself. And I notice I have been going around singing “Fly Me To The Moon” a lot, too!

One small wrinkle is that there are only 14 available positions, and 18,300 people applied for them, a record for NASA. The previous record number of applications was 8,000 in 1978, and only 6,300 applied in 2012, the last time NASA put out a “help wanted” ad. So, let’s see … all other things being equal, that makes my odds about 0.0055%. Sigh. I am glad I polished my resume before I sent it. Having been retired since 2008, it was looking a bit rusty, stagnant. So I embellished … no, I did not say I lied, I said I embellished … just a bit. Rather like a garbage man calling himself a “sanitation engineer”. I went with “chemical analyst” because I use all sorts of chemicals in my daily routine … bleach, toilet cleaner, laundry detergent, etc. And I included “culinary master” because I toss together a meal for three from scratch at least 5 nights a week. And of course “researcher”, as I do a ton of that for the type of writing I do. And last but not least, I listed “animal behaviour expert”, as with eight cats, you know I am da cat whisperer! Plus, as an added edge, I already receive almost-daily emails from NASA letting me know when I can view the ISS (International Space Station) from my house. Now if that doesn’t show my interest in the space program, I don’t know what will! I think I covered all bases, so that should give me an advantage over the other 18,299, don’t you think?

I am curious, though, why all of a sudden so many people want to be an astronaut? The Washington Post espouses the philosophy that it is because many people saw the film version of The Martian, starring Matt Damon as the astronaut stranded on Mars. I don’t know … that doesn’t make sense … I mean, he was stranded! On Mars! He had to grow potatoes using … well, that’s rather disgusting, so I won’t go any further, but let’s just say some of what he went through was not very pleasant. I cannot see that seeing the movie would romanticize the job so much that 18,300 people would want to run right out and jump into a spaceship.

I have my own philosophy about the reason behind the record number of applicants, and it is based on my own reasoning. I think that these are intelligent people who have given the matter serious thought and concluded that being in outer space, even being stranded on Mars, would be preferable to living in this country if Donald Trump is elected the next president! I am covering all bases … I have contacted Justin Trudeau about seeking asylum in Canada, now I have applied to be an astronaut … I need to find one more fallback plan …

Uh-oh. I just remembered something. I am afraid of heights.