Hawking

Hawking

The world lost one of its most brilliant minds with the passing of physicist Stephen Hawking.

One of the things he warned us about in his waning time on Earth was his fear that the planet was heading for changes that would end humanity’s time on it within the next 200 years. If so, that’ll happen long after my trip into existence comes to an end – unless they find a way to extend everyone’s lives significantly by the time I check out.

Is there such a thing as global warming, or is it some sort of scam? I’ve always been of the belief that in life when there are two outcomes that aren’t conclusively true – the answer is somewhere in the middle. How much or how little the answer is in that “middle” is open to interpretation. I guess I’m saying global warming may exist but could be exaggerated for political purposes.

My introduction to Hawking came probably the same way many of you were introduced to him: watching him play a holographic image of himself in a Star Trek: The Next Generation episode. He was one of those people who refused to let his physical limitations be the limit of what he can do, and that’s something I think we can all learn from as we face the obstacles of our lives.

Advertisements

Last Christmas

georgemichael

As I type this, there are slightly less than six days left in the year of 2016. Obituary wise, it has claimed another notable victim: George Michael, pop singer, lead singer of the 1980’s group Wham!

I was almost 14 in 1985 when I went to my local K-Mart in Largo (which is now the site of a Walmart Supercenter) and bought the 45 of “Everything She Wants” in their record department, which was another in a string of big hits for the group. Vinyl records…remember those?

George now joins a small group of those who’ve commercially sung a Christmas song to have perished on Christmas. Dean Martin, James Brown, Eartha Kitt, and probably a few others out there that I’m forgetting.

Can we just end the year now and start 2017 early?

Friendship 7

johnglenn
John Glenn, 1921-2016

The date was February 20, 1962.

It was less than a year since President John F. Kennedy committed the country with a goal that an American should set foot on the moon by 1970. Despite Alan Shepard’s suborbital flight on Freedom 7 a short twenty days prior to JFK’s statement, Americans landing on the moon in such a short time then seemed like a lofty goal. Then again, the Soviet Union might beat the Americans there, though the President didn’t specify we should be first.

The Russians kept getting to the milestones before the USA could. After the maiden manned space flight of Yuri Gargarin’s that beat our effort by 23 days, they sent another cosmonaut named Gherman Titov on a flight that went over a full day on August 6th. That took place a couple of weeks after Liberty Bell 7 nearly ended disastrously for Gus Grissom, as he was rescued after his capsule sunk into the Atlantic Ocean.

To catch up to the efforts of the Soviet Union, NASA took a gamble on placing a Mercury capsule on an Atlas booster, a rocket notorious more for its failures than its successes with a highlight reel of untimely explosions and bloopers. It perpetuated the myth that anything the Russians could do, the Americans couldn’t. That mystique all came to an end on that February morning and afternoon with Glenn’s three orbits of the Earth. Suddenly, the space race battle between the USA and the USSR had truly been joined. It would end with an American victory as Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon on board Apollo 11’s lunar module in 1969.

Glenn returned to orbit in the fall of 1998 at age 77 on board the space shuttle Columbia, becoming only the third standing member of government to ride into space, and breaking the record for the oldest astronaut ever to make orbit. He served Ohio as its senator for several terms, and served our country in World War II and as a test pilot before his space career began.

He passed away today at age 95, and the year of 2016 that has claimed so many household names claims at least one more.

The Day Fidel Died

fidelcastro

Usually, the first thing I do when I wake up is check my IPhone, which is usually either by my side or charging on my TV stand, depending on how much juice I have in the battery.

I saw red icons on the front page of the IPhone as I scrolled down Saturday morning, usually a sign there was breaking news while I slept. Then I read it. Fidel Castro, the long time leader of Cuba, had died at the age of 90.

Fox News Channel ran the video of people celebrating in the streets on a rainy overnight in Miami, almost as if God was crying tears of joy. While I found the celebrations a bit ghoulish, it should be pointed out Castro was one of the worst dictators of the last century, an eyesore among the world leaders of his time.

Cuba had already begun to change in the years leading up to his death, and as power was passed to his brother, Raul Castro, no spring chicken himself at the age of 85. I’m sure more changes and opportunities are in store for the island nation in the months ahead.

As for Fidel, all he will be remembered for was the pain and suffering he caused his people. Those same people of Cuba are now a step closer to the restoration of what they once were.

Jose And Arnie

josefernandez
Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez, who passed away on Sunday morning in a boating accident.

Even in the “toy department of life” (as Howard Cosell put it in one of his books), there are days of sadness.

I was living in Charlotte on January 12, 2000 when Bobby Phills of the Hornets died in a car accident, and saw first hand how that incident gripped the sports community there.

The tragic passing of Jose Fernandez down in Miami has added a new dimension of sorrow for me, as I saw him pitch in what has now become his last appearance at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg.

My condolences go out to the Miami Marlins, his teammates, and his family. Leaving the world at the age of 24 is way too young. I’m not the most religious person in the world, but the one thing I’m sure of is that God had plans for this young man.

arniepalmerjpg.jpg

Then just past 8:30 Eastern time last night, word broke that Arnold Palmer passed away at the age of 87.

It is safe to say that golf, and all the money in it these days, probably wouldn’t be there if not for this man. For that matter, I don’t think as there would be as much golf on TV if not for Mr. Palmer. He set the gold standard every major player that followed in the TV era.

Next time I go to Walmart, I’m going to get his iced tea and lemonade mixed drink in his honor.

Two men in the sports world passing away on the same exact day. It’s just the way it happens in our world sometimes.

Thoughts At The Midnight Hour

It is one of those nights for me. I’m trying to tell my body to sleep, but my body is rebelling these thoughts.

So, I write.

I hope I don’t overdo it on these blog entries I do noting the passing of a sports figure here or a celebrity there.

Oddly enough, these occasions are like banana peels for my mind. A marker of sorts. It’s how I tend to remember things.

Is that too weird?

It all began like this the day Elvis Presley died. I was a few weeks shy of six. It was the first moment in my life where I remember where I was when news broke.

I remember Elvis’s passing in 1977 better than I remember Michael Jackson’s passing in 2009.

Remembering things in your life based upon the deaths of people I’ve never met.

Never thought about this until now. How morbid.