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”

To the Moon and Back: A Personal Retrospective

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To boldly go…
The Quest…
Man’s calling…
To boldly go…

As simple as opening the door to a strange room.

As complicated as unlocking the key to a new science.

The urge impels us all to take that first step into unchartered terrain.

Some would rather give others the initial chance.

But there comes a point when human nature drives us to follow those pioneers into a new land of innovation and invention.

That’s when we undertake The Quest.

The Quest.
To discover the undiscovered.
To explore the unexplored.
To know the unknown.

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I wanted to write something special, something personal, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of mankind’s greatest voyage of exploration since Columbus… so far. It didn’t take me long to realize I had already written it and it had already appeared in The Sentinel. This Commentary originally appeared as “The Thrill of Beyond” in the July 20, 1989 issue of The Mendon-Honeoye Falls-Lima Sentinel to mark the 20th anniversary of America’s lunar landing. Here it is in its entirety. (Click the link in the title to see the original in text form.)

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Twenty years after the publication of this piece, the United Nations declared 2009 as “The International Year of Astronomy.” It was the 400th anniversary of the Galileo telescope. The UN invited the world to submit outreach projects to promote astronomy. They accepted my proposal: AstronomyTop100.com – the 100 greatest images and imaginations in astronomy and space exploration. Thousands of professional and amateur astronomers from all over the world (at least six out of the seven continents as well as Oceania) voted to determine the “top ten.”

In December of 2009, I hosted a live internet broadcast from the Strasenburgh Planetarium in conjunction with RIT and Yale University. I revealed to the world for the first time the top ten countdown. Apollo 11’s “Man on the Moon” was ranked mankind’s greatest achievement in astronomy and space exploration.

To cap off the broadcast and announce the world’s top pick, I read what I had written and published in The Sentinel in 1989.

Are You an Instigator, a Skeptic, or Merely Somebody Else’s Tool?

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They say the world is made up of two types of people. They’re wrong. The world consists of three types of people, but two of those types get all the press.

Journalists like to frame issues in a binary fashion – one side against another. That’s simple. It’s black and white. It’s A versus B. Reporters don’t do this because they can’t handle the complexity of multiple opposing points of view. They structure their stories as a duel between competing interests because readers find those stories easiest to digest. The audience finds such pairings quite familiar. Literature is replete with examples: Ahab vs. Moby Dick, Sherlock Holmes vs. Professor Moriarty, and Bambi vs. Godzilla, to name a few.

It’s not just drama. Philosophy often has an attraction to complimentary combinations. We see this most markedly in the Taoist notion of “dualistic-monism” as expressed in the Continue Reading “Are You an Instigator, a Skeptic, or Merely Somebody Else’s Tool?”

Deeds, Not Words

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIf you think that title might sound heretical coming from a wordsmith, just wait ‘til you read the rest of this column.

Say what you will about former Buffalo Bills coach Doug Marrone (I never thought he was cut out for the job), but he did leave one indelible mark in my brain: “Don’t confuse effort with results.” This was one of the bromides that he posted on the walls of the Ralph Wilson Fieldhouse for all his players (and Bills fans) to stare at. In a nutshell, it’s what Yoda told Luke Skywalker in The Empire Strikes Back: “Do or do not, there is no try.”

We’re all told to try our best. That’s fine. But we need to accept that it’s not good enough. When you try something, the result is you either succeed or fail. That’s all there is to it. There is Continue Reading “Deeds, Not Words”

The Speed of Light

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[This Commentary originally appeared in the October 11, 1990 issue of The Mendon-Honeoye Falls-Lima Sentinel.]

CarosaCommentaryNewLogo_259One hundred and eighty six thousand miles per second. It takes light about one and one-third seconds to go from the Earth to the Moon. We know this because scientists have shot lasers at the reflectors the Apollo astronauts left on the lunar surface. The Moon orbits at a distance of 240,000 miles from the Earth.

One hundred and eighty six thousand miles per second. The light emitted from our Sun has aged a little over eight minutes by the time it hits the Earth. The Earth circles the Sun from a span of 93 million miles away.

One hundred and eighty six thousand miles per second. That’s equal to nearly six trillion miles in one year. We refer to this distance as one light-year. The nearest star (Proxima Centauri) looms a mere 4.3 light-years from our Solar System. That translates to just Continue Reading “The Speed of Light”

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”