Friday, October 4, 2013

North Star and Lovebugs

“Thuban, the next North Star...
Earth is located inside the Dipper Bucket.  I think.
and other stuff.”

    ROOFTOP – Let me apologize to those of you expecting a lawn chair to be waiting for you up here. The lawn chairs were scratching my metal roof, so Kay ordered that lawn chairs be used only at ground level.

    I do hope you know that I’m not afraid of Kay. I’m fairly sure she couldn’t beat me up in a fair fight, but that girl cheats. At some point she turns into all knees and elbows. Oh, and she pinches. Boy, can she pinch.

    So, during daytime roofsits I’m now using my big blue pillow and sit smack dab on the peak. Keep that in mind for the next daytime roof experience.  At night I commission the hallway rug, and lie flat of my back at an angle for a perfect view of the night sky. See, this isn’t bad at all, is it?

    You know what’s weird? I cannot lay flat of my back on the floor without feeling as if my ribs and spine are gonna snap. But, it doesn’t hurt nearly as much if I lie down on an incline. I was not in the least satisfied with Isaac Newton’s explanation of that principle. The guy was pulling stuff out of his… out of thin air.

    I’m actually sorry I didn’t think of using the rug before. A much better view from this position.  It’s moonless tonight, so the stars appear especially bright, and the airliners just out of Bush Intercontinental are disturbingly bright.

    The rushing sound of the cars speeding by on the highway about a half mile away, added to the sound of the neeker breekers singing in the dark, make for a lot of nighttime activity. No bats, though. That’s a good thing.

    The view of the stars tonight remind me of a trip Kay and I took a couple of summers back to Alpine, Texas. I told you about that. Remember, one night we went to a star viewing session at the McDonald Observatory? An astronomer with the most powerful handheld laser pointer I’ve ever seen was pointing out different stars and constellations.

    It was so dark, I couldn’t see somebody’s hand in front of my face. The astronomer was interesting as all get out. He told us that the North Star (Polaris) hasn’t always been the North Star. In 3000 BC, Alpha Draconis was the North Star. Of course, the 14 or so people who knew about the North Star back then referred to it as “Thuban.” Named after a foot ointment. My guess.

    You may not be aware of this, but 13000 years from now, Polaris will have veered so much away from north that Vega will be the new North Star. Worry not. Twenty-six thousand years after that, Polaris will once more be in position to take over its reign as the North Star. Had you worried, didn’t I?

    It has something to do with the earth having a slight wobble as it rotates. Something about an equatorial bulge. The Astronomer explained how it works, but I was too busy trying figure out whose hand it was in front of my face.

    Wasn’t that a fascinating story? Are there any questions? Anyone? Oh, Cheryl? You want to know if those neeker breekers we’re hearing right now are cicadas? I was hoping you had an astronomical question, but since I didn’t specify, the answer is no. Those are neeker breekers. They’re mystical nighttime noisemakers. Kay told me that Tolkien mentioned ‘em. She is such a smarty-pants. 

    But, since you brought up cicadas, let me ask you something. What the Sam Hill happened to the onslaught of cicadas we were supposed to witness this past summer? Every news channel in the country was warning us about the 17-year cycle of cicada swarms.

    I came close to buying a pair of bug squashing boots. One news station even demonstrated how loud the sound of a few million cicadas would be. The sales of earplugs shot up drastically. Almost as much as the sale of firearms did when Obama started taking away all of our guns.

    Anyway, the cicada threat never materialized. I believe the exoskeleton of a couple of ‘em were seen hanging on a tree somewhere in the Northeast. But, that’s about it. From what I read, it was a combination of climate change and deforestation that likely transformed the predicted-phenomena into the reality normality.

    We find ourselves in a time when we hand people the power to prevent “disasters” by stirring us up about ‘em. Now I’m beginning to wonder about the shift of the North Star. I can’t get over how convincing the astronomer guy was.

    What? Oh, that was Kay yelling for me. I thought she was in bed. Look, nobody climbs off this roof until one of you helps me up. It feels like my back will snap in two if I try to sit up. -- Somebody? Anybody? Don’t make Kay come up here. Please. – Next time.

End &

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