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Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas Shopping. Space and Science News. A Extraordinary Holiday Imaginarium

Merry Christmas Troops,

     I set Christmas Eve aside as my holiday shopping day. It ended with my refusal to play that retailing game and my total surrender to the beauty and majesty of gift cards.  Our first stop was the bank.  I'm glad the teller was the only other person in the lobby to witness my wailing and grief as I signed the form to withdraw good American cash from my account.  It's a good thing Christmas only comes once a year, else we'd all be half starved beggars, wandering the streets signing carols in exchange for a bit of boiled beef or an underdone potato. 
     "Merry Christmas," the teller said as we concluded our business.
     "Humbug," I replied.  "Its just a fine excuse to pick a man's pocket every 25th day of December."
     Our next stop was Kneaders Bakery.  My sister Lisa sent $50 to be used on goodies for the family's Christmas Eve party.  The line of cars at the drive thru and people in the shop was epic.   Jilane gave up and returned to the car empty handed.  We sped out of the parking lot listening to her vent about the store's poor management and how she would reorganize the staff to ensure that customers like her were served as soon as they crossed the store's threshold.  "I had $50 to spend in there.  Ha, it's there loss. We'll just go to WalMart instead!" She gloated.   
     "Let's see, Kneaders Bakery vs. WalMart..... ummmmm I think we are the losers not Kneaders," I explained. 
     "Humbug," I thought I heard her mumble as we darted in and out of local traffic. 
     I needed to purchase a gift for my Mother and Aunt Linda (yes, you capitalize Mother in my family or the will be minus one inheritor).  Jilane suggested Bella's in American Fork, a store which specializes in clothes for very curvy and fluffy older women.  She parked street side while I ran in to make a quick gift card purchase.  There was nothing quick about it. The store was dark, as in no lights were on.  It had that 1900's old wood and plaster smell and a short line of people were waiting at the register.  I took my place at the back of the line wondering why their lights were off.  "This place can't even afford to keep their lights on," I thought.  That thought began to eat away at me.  "What if I buy a couple of gift certificates and then this place goes out of business before they're used? I'd be out the money; MY money - earned dollar by dollar in front of a 6th grade classroom.  Ten minutes or so later I reached the front of the line. "I'd like to purchase a couple of gift certificates," I said nervously to the young 20 something behind the desk.  
     "I'm so sorry, but the powers out and I can't sell gift certificates without the cash register."  She looked and sounded apologetic, as if that had the power to restore the 10 minutes of my life spent standing in a useless line.  "They say the power will come back on at 1:00 P.M." She smiled bravely as she explained my unfortunate circumstances.  I wasn't happy.  I stood in that line waiting and wondering why the lights were out and why she was writing sales receipts on an ancient yellowing sales book last used when her great grandmother purchase a corset back in 1911! 
     "Humbug," I cursed as I walked out of the shop.  My shopping day was definitely heading south and getting worse with every stop. 
      I got in the car and mistakenly explained the situation to Jilane.  My story gave her another 20 minutes of material to spit flames over as she did a fast and furious drive to the Highland / Lehi Kneaders and Smiths.  My seatbelt held me down and somewhat secure, but there was no safety device to protect our ears from the venomous curses she hurled at any driver who didn't meet her standards of speed and urgency.
     Our next stop was the Highland Harts gas station.  I needed to buy my brother in law a sheet of 32 ounce soda coupons.  He drinks fountain Diet Coke by the gallons.  It would be the perfect gift for the procrastinating yet thoughtful shopper. 
     "I'm sorry sir, but we don't carry the coupons," the girl at the register replied.  "How about a Conoco gift card."
     "Will it work at the Pleasant Grove Harts?" I asked.  She looked confused.  I walked away.  Jilane treated us all to Big Chills before continuing our shopping quest.  There's something to be said about a nice tall refreshing soda to calm a Christmas shopper's shattered nerves.      The parking lot of the Lehi Kneaders Bakery was 3/4th full.  That was a good sign; our vigor and determination was restored.  We entered the store with Lisa's $50, ready to buy. The store's shelves were heavily picked over. The vultures had already been leaving nothing but bone and sinew for the rest of us last minute shoppers. We found a few overpriced French puffs and pastries along with an assortment of sourdough breads and the like, but the delicacies we wanted were long gone. "Do you have any pumpkin bread with chocolate chips?" I asked a middle aged woman in black with the flour dusted apron and Kneader's name tag. 
     "Dear, we sold out at 7:30 this morning. You've left it a bit too late," she answered as she pulled the sign off the shelf.  I could tell I wasn't the first to ask her that by the tone of her voice and the extra force she used to take down a simple velcro sign advertising one of their signature products (a product they should never sell out of). 
     Jilane gave me the look.  "We're going to Smiths."
     "Its a mad house there," the man next to us in line.  
     "Another contribution to our festive mood," I replied.  
     "Let's go."  Jilane was out the door as she spoke. 
     I started to say "BahHumbug," but stopped. I remembered that Kneader's keeps bread samples at the cash register. "I'll teach them to be sold out of pumpkin bread with chocolate chips," I thought as I bypassed everyone else in line to get to the register.  I reached around a customer waiting for her credit card to be returned and took a couple slices of sourdough bread.  "Humbug," was my verbal tip for their unremarkable service.
     Smith's Food and Drug was the next stop on our Holiday Quest.  Happily we found the goodies we needed for the family party.  I wandered the store while Jilane did some of her other last minute shopping.  I must have been a pathetic sight - you know, the guy who puts his shopping off until the last minute.  Several clerks stopped what they were doing and asked if they could help me find something.  "How about an end to Christmas?" I replied. They thought I was cute.  Cute wasn't the look or feel I was trying to give off. 
     Our last stop was the Pleasant Grove Harts.  They didn't have the drink coupons either. I purchased a gift card and called it quits.  We were done for the day.  I got home, turned on the computer and printed a series of gift cards for everyone.  Why hadn't I thought of that earlier?  It was quick and painless.   I've made a new holiday partner - Amazon and Victor Williamson - friends for life.

Space and Science News

If people on a planet 65 million light years away looked at Earth, they will see the Dinosaurs.

So, what if they decided to travel to Earth? – With the right speed such as the speed of light, they will fast forward history. As they get closer to Earth, everything stars to change. Suppose they have a super powerful camera with great magnification and high resolution imaging, by pointing it out to the Earth while traveling to us, they could record a time lapse of the entire history on our planet. From the extinction of Dinosaurs and the evolution of new species, to the plate tectonic changes and the formation of new continents to the wars that consumed our planet.

The reason behind this is that light records history. The light emitted from Earth 65 million years ago while Dinosaurs were still in existence would have finally reached that alien planet as it continues to travel with an approximate speed of 299,792,458 m/s. In other words, if they want to see today’s events on Earth which we are experiencing right at the moment, they will have to wait 65 million years from now.

Same goes to us here on Earth. When you look at the night sky and you see bright stars, some of these stars you see actually do not exist. The light emitted from them after they exploded millions of years ago still travels to us and that’s what we see, history.

Technologically speaking, they will have to be super intelligent to invent that kind of powerful telescope that can clearly see beyond the boundaries of their cosmic vantage point. Not to mention the importance of faster than light travel, which changes everything…  
Hashem AL-ghaili

Do Scientists Fear the Paranormal?

From Quarks to Quasars
Anecdotal evidence throughout most of human history has “proven” the existence of the paranormal and supernatural. From eyewitness testimony ofthe power of psychics, to stupefying magicians, to bigfoot/the Loch Ness monster/aliens/ghosts: human history is ripe with fantastic stories of the “unexplainable”. Why hasn’t science proven the existence of these phenomena? Are scientists blinded by their antiquated scientific theories, refusing to accept the supernaturally rife reality we live in?

One of the primary arguments against any new idea that is opposed by the scientific community at large is simply “accepting this new idea would change/challenge/disrupt the worldview held by the scientists in question”. Is there any truth to that type of statement? We are all human after all (at least, as far as I know), scientists can devote large portions of their lives to the pursuit of a particular idea or theory. In addition, this opens up two other points beyond the paranormal – the acceptance of alternate theories (say, Modified Newtonian Dynamics over dark matter) and the funding of scientific research (should we continue to research alternative medicines that haven’t been shown to work in ‘traditional’ settings).  Read More

The Surface of the Sun as You've Never Seen It

The Imaginarium
Making the Holiday Extraordinary

So that's what you can do with an old iPod Shuffle

Teachers sometimes run out of things to say to a student.

Christmas In Australia 

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