Coming full circle

It’s early Saturday morning, which means my vacation is rapidly coming to a close.  By this time tomorrow I will be tucked into my bed, snuggled under the covers and anticipating (or dreading) going back to work.  I’ve purposefully stayed away from my place of employment so as not to interrupt the flow of work (hopefully) happening in my absence.  I expect things haven’t been going completely hunky-dory.  Certainly they didn’t the last time I went on vacation, and despite my best efforts to be sure my relief had all the tools he needed to get the work done, I expect it’s going to be a wreck when I go back on Sunday.

Needless to say, I haven’t missed being at work all that much.  I do get four weeks of vacation per year and as I’ve said many (many!) times, I’d be content taking two weeks of vacation and just getting paid for the other two weeks.  But my employer prefers that their employees take all of their alloted vacation.  Basically ‘Use it or lose it‘.  So I use it.

This week has not been so much sitting on my ponderous butt, watching TV.  It just so happened that my wife and I had scheduled four medical appointments, and we were on the go for most of the days that I was off.  Monday and Wednesday were the only exceptions, but Wednesday was gobbled up by an emergency dental appointment due to the fact that my wife slightly broke one of her teeth.  So that needed to be attended to.  And was.

Even though I spent some time helping a friend furnish her new apartment, I didn’t necessarily neglect my own domicile.  I ordered 4 large plastic storage boxes from Amazon (actually probably larger than I needed) and have been sorting through some things that I haven’t had use of in several years, that need to be secreted away before something nefarious happens to them.  I have to say I’d be pretty devastated if something did happen to them, and certainly I wouldn’t forgive myself easily.  If at all.  Once I have that attended to, I think I’ll breathe a sigh of relief.  That’s been a long time in coming to get accomplished.  At least when I have need of them again, I’ll know where they are.  I hope.

Anyway, it’s back to work tomorrow.  Only one more week of vacation to take for this fiscal year, then I’ll get another four weeks to agonize over on April 11.  Never ends, does it?

Interstellar Littering

So NASA successfully deposited another lander on Mars today.  Although in the process, they managed also to leave a bunch more debris on the surface of the planet, that will never be used again, certainly not for its intended purpose.  Basically, it’s just tossed aside because it has served its need in getting the lander to the planet.  By my count, we have put seven landers on the planet, along with assorted heat shields, balloons, parachutes, and (so far) two sky cranes which don’t have anything to do with the machines themselves, except for they were absolutely necessary to get the equipment to the planet in one piece.

It’s quite ironic to me that both JPL and NASA are very circumspect about not wanting to introduce Earth microbes onto other planets in our solar system, but they don’t seem to care too much about littering them.  Certainly, the Moon has been turned into a junkyard of sorts over the last 54 years, and near-Earth orbit is practically a shooting gallery of defunct satellites, space junk and it’s a miracle no one’s been killed in a space station from flying debris.  Space Command is currently keeping track of more than 4,000 objects in orbit around the planet, and that’s just the tip of the problem.

I’m all for exploring the solar system, and finding out about ancient life on the other planets that we have here, but do we have to make each one as cluttered as the one we’re currently living on?  Honestly, it doesn’t say much about us as a species if the only thing another space-faring civilization that comes across us discovers is we can’t pick up after ourselves.  I can actually see aliens arriving, dropping a pile of our space junk on the red carpet, and leaving, without so much as a word in their first contact, just a look of disgust.

Update:  Upon reading this again this morning, I feel it’s worth it to say that the United States space agencies aren’t the only ones to blame in this.  Certainly, the now-defunct Soviet Union, its successor Russia; India, China, Japan, the UK and I think South Africa, as well as South Korea, have all managed to put rockets into both low-Earth orbits as well as put landers and rovers on different planetary bodies in the interest of exploration.  In the coming years, I expect it’s only going to get worse, as the exploration of the cosmos steps up, in the expectation that we’re going to be putting people on the Moon as well as Mars.

In any plans though going forward, I would think there should be a serious discussion about what to do with the stewardship of these planetary bodies.  After all, they don’t really belong to us.  Or they will when we’ve treated them like the fictional planet of Sakaar from the MCU Universe, or Arcadia 234 from the movie Soldier.

Really, Tiger?

I have to admit, I just lost a little respect for Tiger Woods.

There’s a little situation brewing at the upcoming PGA Championship this week, and it just happens to involve Tiger Woods and John Daly.  Woods, who just recently came back to the PGA Tour (and won The Masters again) was taking questions after a practice round at the Bethpage golf course on Long Island, where the tournament is being played again.

He was asked what he thought about another golfer, (John Daly) being allowed to use a motorized cart to get him around the course.  Pro golfers walk the course as a rule, though they have caddies toting their bags, so they’re not completely burdened while they play.  Daly has had knee issues for years, and he’s not exactly young anymore.  (He’s 10 years older than Woods, FWIW) He asked for an exception to be made by the tournament (and Tour) and it was granted, though he did have to invoke the ‘Americans with Disabilities Act’ in order to plead his case.

Woods was asked his thoughts on the issue, and Tiger, being Tiger had to say something.  He opted to be smug, invoking his performance at the 2008 US Open where he played through what must have been pretty excruciating pain caused by two stress fractures in one leg as well as a torn ACL, not to mention he’d had knee surgery a couple of months prior to the tournament.   Going completely against his doctor’s recommendations, he played the tournament.  And he won.  How he managed it is anyone’s guess.  Of course, it wasn’t a blow-out, he had to endure an 18 hole playoff the day after the fourth round since he was tied with the runner-up after 72 holes.  One wonders what would have happened if he’d lost.  How many would have looked down their noses and said ‘Told you so’.

But in this instance, Tiger could have sidestepped the question.  Or he could have been non-committal.  Instead, he opted to say “I walked with a broken leg, so…” as if that was the end all and be all.  What he’s conveniently forgetting is that he made the choice to go against doctor’s orders and play anyway.  He didn’t have to.   He chose to do it.  And yes, it paid off for him.  It very well might not have.  So, simply because he lucked out and managed to win, he gets to make that sort of value judgment.  Yeah, BS.   Others have made similar noises, but honestly, unless they’re in that situation themselves, maybe they need to keep those comments off the record.  We’re fairly certain Daly isn’t going to be contending for the lead, he’s playing out his time, and he’s a pro golfer, so why not let him ride in a damn cart.  It’s not as if he’s getting some huge advantage after all.

Tiger Woods needs to come back down to earth, where the rest of us reside.  He’s not invincible, he’s damn sure, not perfect.  And come 10 years from now, when he’s as old as John Daly is now, I wonder if his back and knees are bothering him as much, is he going to be the one asking for a helping hand?  I’d be curious to see.