The World – The Universe – That Might Have Been… (Part I)

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There’s this thing. It’s called the “multiverse.” Today we think of it as a series of parallel universes that exist simultaneously. This definition stems from a “lunatic” speculative physical interpretation of his mathematical equations made by Austrian physicist Erwin Schrödinger’s in a 1952 Dublin lecture.

Oddly, American psychologist and philosopher William James originally coined the term in his May 1895 lecture “Is Life Worth Living?” presented to the Young Men’s Christian Association of Harvard University. James meant it to mean a chaotic amoral alternative to the universe we live in.

Today, scientists and science fiction writers prefer Schrödinger’s meaning. The multiverse theory officially emerged with a 1957 paper by Continue Reading “The World – The Universe – That Might Have Been… (Part I)”

A Salute to My Greatest (and Most Favorite) Teacher

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What’s the difference between a mentor and a teacher? Dictionary enthusiasts will quickly point out a teacher imparts broad knowledge while mentors provide advice and guidance. Teachers offer lessons you can apply generally to all aspects of life. Mentors show us how to live a very specific aspect of our lives. Teachers educate. Mentors demonstrate.

These are very universal terms. Certainly, teachers give advice and mentors instruct. Since I’ve had great teachers and great mentors (not to mention great coaches, a wholly different creature), I want to make the distinction as stark as possible.

By their very nature, it’s likely you experienced your greatest teacher as a young child. There’s a number of good reasons for this. Youth represents your most formative – your most impressionable – years. Elementary school teachers therefore occupy the greatest Continue Reading “A Salute to My Greatest (and Most Favorite) Teacher”

Was This Written 50 Years Too Early or 50 Years Too Late?

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I‘ve always been puzzled by this thought: Was I born 50 years too early or 50 years too late? This thought resurfaced this week as I rode the train back and forth to Chicago while the rest of the world dazzled itself with remembering the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11.

It reminds me of a skit I once did as Cubmaster for Peter’s pack. We had our meetings in the cavernous Mendon Firehall. It was always filled to capacity. Filled with boys, their parents, and their siblings.

That night I donned a pair of Buzz Lightyear “wings” (actually they were my young nephew’s and I don’t know how I fit them over my shoulders without overstretching them). After strutting a few steps with those wings, I added a Woody hat on top of my head.

Maybe one of the Toy Story movies was out that year.

In either case, I asked the pack to guess who I was. Some of the boys says “Buzz” and some said “Woody.” I said “Nope” to each guess. Then I looked up to the parents in Pack 105 and said – in a distinct John Wayne kind of voice – “Well, pilgrim, some people call me a ‘The Space Cowboy.’”

And so it has been in my life. Teetering on the precipice of “born too early” while simultaneously straddling the ledge of “born too late.” Some might view this as a Continue Reading “Was This Written 50 Years Too Early or 50 Years Too Late?”

Solar Eclipse, 1970 – A True Story

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Saturday, March 7, 1970 – Leisure Lanes, Camp Road, Hamburg, New York. I’ll never forget that day. It was the first time I remember having to make a very difficult choice. It was a wrenching choice. It was an agonizing choice. It was the kind of choice no one ever expects a nine-year old boy to have to face.

Yet I did. And I can blame no one for it except for myself, the expectations I had placed on myself, and the subsequent expectations I had encouraged others to, well, expect of me. Nonetheless, the way I approached the decision appears, in retrospect, to have become the template I have since used for all such future conundrums.

By that point in the latter half of fourth grade, I had become the de facto astronomer of the class. Yes, there was actually a competition of this exalted position, and I was determined Continue Reading “Solar Eclipse, 1970 – A True Story”

Summertime Stargazing

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[This Commentary originally appeared in the July 5, 1990 issue of The Mendon-Honeoye Falls-Lima Sentinel.]

 

CarosaCommentaryNewLogo_259I love the summer. Longer daylight hours means we can do a lot more. It also means, after a good day’s work, we can still spend some relaxing time with our family and neighbors.

Sitting on the porch gently taking in the sights and sounds of nature and our community, we savor the twilight of the day. The last lick of sunlight long since set, we slowly mellow with the sky. Our light conversation goes as smoothly as the transition from dusk to dark.

It is this time of day I enjoy the best. Surrounded by close comrades and all the chores done, I can now look heavenward. For some reason, I still get a kick out of finding the Continue Reading “Summertime Stargazing”

A Wrangler’s Story

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[This Commentary originally appeared in the October 19, 1989 issue of The Mendon-Honeoye Falls-Lima Sentinel.]

CarosaCommentaryNewLogo_259Born on February 15th in what was then a small seaport, his father belonged to a noble, but impoverished, family. Dad dabbled in the clothing business, but had an aptitude for mathematics and music. He also had common sense, for he realized that, in those days, none but the chosen few could afford a living in the mathematics or music industry.

The father sent the son to study medicine – always a fine and rewarding industry – at the local University. The proud parent knew the temptation music and mathematics might have on the boy, so he purposely dissuaded him from those fields. The young man, however, already possessed a proficiency in music.

At the University, he incurred the wrath of his professors. He simply refused to accept Continue Reading “A Wrangler’s Story”

Why I Got Religion – A Book Review of Philip Plait’s Death from the Skies!

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Death_from_the_Skies_300I’m normally an optimistic person. I regularly practice a “can-do” philosophy. It’s fun. It’s generated its share of success. It’s something I demand from everyone working with me. I can’t stand the lamentable “first you are born, then you die” way of life found too often among naysayers, doomsdayers and, in general, soothsayers of gloom. “There’s always hope!” I’ll shout from the highest mountain. Give me a “no-win” scenario and I’ll find the loop hole. It’s just the way I am. Deal with it.

So, when I say, “Philip Plait’s Death from the Skies bluntly stripped all hope from me,” you’ll know just how significant a statement that represents. As I turned each page, I could feel the Continue Reading “Why I Got Religion – A Book Review of Philip Plait’s Death from the Skies!

Hooray for the Perseids!

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[This Commentary originally appear in the August 10, 1989 issue of The Mendon-Honeoye Falls-Lima Sentinel.]

CarosaCommentaryNewLogo_259It’s not been a very good summer for stargazing – at least on Monday nights. The hazy skies tend to catch too much light. Remember, the full moon we had a few weeks back. It lit up the entire atmosphere.

Of course, the omnipresent haze does lend itself to some interesting night-time sights. For instance, did you ever watch a descending jet? When the plane puts its landing lights on, an arrow of humid sky blazes into illumination. It sort of looks like the craft is shooting weak phasers.

The haze isn’t the only problem that could hurt stargazing. Fortunately, we don’t live Continue Reading “Hooray for the Perseids!”

The Thrill and Beyond

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[This Commentary originally appeared in the July 20, 1989 issue of The Mendon-Honeoye Falls-Lima Sentinel.]

CarosaCommentaryNewLogo_259From a camera perched atop a tall skinny structure of skeletal steel, you look down upon the narrow tubular body of mostly white with hints of black. The “steam” of super cooled liquid oxygen gushes from various vents along the surface of the slender cylinder. You view the not-so-crisp TV picture in your living room, anxiously awaiting the final moment.

T-minus 20 seconds and counting…,” says a tin can voice over a PA system not much Continue Reading “The Thrill and Beyond”

Final Tally – Midnight, December 13, 2009 – Did It Really Work?

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Start of Day Twitter Stats: Follow: 172 Followers: 194 Listed: 9

Missed yesterday? Go here to read what happened on Day 30 – December 13, 2009 (Sun): Have Fun!

twitter_power_joel_comm_150Above you see the final tally as of Midnight, Day 30. In fairness, if I used the same criteria as in all other previous days, the number would have been reported as of the following morning: 202 followers. Who estimated the closest? @mikegastin, who guessed 207. If you’re interest Mike, I hit 207 late on the 31st day. Now, before anyone says anything, Mike was also the first person to guess – on Day 13 – so he really did do the best job.

@mikegastin wants a free trip to Aruba as a result of his grand prognostication. Unfortunately, I didn’t have anything the budget for prizes, so the notoriety of the mention represents all I have to offer. Hopefully, it’s good enough. On the other hand, Mike might be pleased to know Continue Reading “Final Tally – Midnight, December 13, 2009 – Did It Really Work?”