‘Bionic Eye Restores Vision for Blind Man After 40 Years’ I read it on @theneeds #learn:

This is incredible and wonderful news for those with macular degeneration.

A Texas man born with perfect eyesight, only to have his retina damaged by infection and then his vision further reduced by botched laser…

Source: ‘Bionic Eye Restores Vision for Blind Man After 40 Years’ I read it on @theneeds #learn:

Top 4 questions about tornadoes | EarthSky.org

It’s that time of year again.

May is the peak month for twisters here in the U.S.

Source: Top 4 questions about tornadoes | EarthSky.org

Just 40 light-years away, 3 potentially habitable planets | EarthSky.org

I don’t know about you, but I’m loving all the exoplanets!

Earth-like planets aren’t exclusively orbiting sunlike stars. Ultracool dwarf star TRAPPIST-1 hosts 3 potentially habitable planets.

Source: Just 40 light-years away, 3 potentially habitable planets | EarthSky.org

NASA’s Kepler Mission Announces Largest Collection of Planets Ever Discovered

It’s incredible how many exoplanets they’re finding. Of course the real question is whether any of them are inhabited?

NASA’s Kepler mission has verified 1,284 new planets — the single largest finding of planets to date.

Source: NASA’s Kepler Mission Announces Largest Collection of Planets Ever Discovered

Mothers’ Day Blues

henparty2004

This picture of me, my daughters, and daughter-in-law was taken at a “Hen Party” I hosted over a decade ago. In fact, I referred to our jaunts as “Foxes in the Hen House.”  Its premise was a break for me and “the girls” with no kids, no men. We’d spend a lazy weekend in a beach house working on our tan while subsisting on chili con queso, brownies and beer. My intent was to promote family bonding and build fond memories.

We all love this picture because we all look happy, almost as if we like each other.  It captures an ideal that we somehow never reached, other than for a few photo ops. It’s a good thing our hen parties were confined to a weekend because by the time we went home we were usually not nearly that cheerful. All my kids are very different, except for having strong personalities. Of course I have no idea where that came from.

Mothers Day 2008-2

Relationships are complicated, especially in families. You can’t choose your family (at least not in this life) so you’re stuck with what you’ve got. Which means you need to work with it the best you can.  As an only child raised with TV shows like “The Brady Bunch” I always wanted a big family, thinking they’d always have each other and thus never feel as alone as I had. That isn’t exactly how it turned out. Some don’t like each other, some don’t even like me.

This picture from 2008 was the last time all my kids were together. It was Mothers’ Day, probably the best one ever, when all of us were together. It hasn’t happened since for numerous reasons, some geographic others not.

Hen Party memories bring a wash of nostalgia for other reasons as well.  That beach house was in Galveston, Texas and destroyed by Hurricane Ike in 2008. We could never go back there for old times sake, even if we wanted to. But the memories live on. Sometimes that’s all you have.

beachhouse

When storms strike relationships they, too, can be destroyed. But that doesn’t mean they can’t be rebuilt. The trick is to base them on something more substantial than sand. Like love, compassion and understanding.

I never got along with my mother and now that she’s gone I finally understand her. Hopefully someday it will be the same for my kids.

Transit of Mercury on May 9, 2016 | EarthSky.org

Here  is some specific information about the Mercury transit to the Sun on Monday, May 9. It includes times as well as the path across the Sun. It will appear as a tiny dot so it helps to know where to look!

Our solar system’s innermost planet, Mercury passes directly in front of the sun on May 9, 2016. Who will see it, how to watch, equipment needed, transit times.

Source: Transit of Mercury on May 9, 2016 | EarthSky.org

Earthquake swarms at Mount St. Helens | EarthSky.org

All sorts of scary stuff going on these days.

Earthquake rates have been steadily increasing since March at the Pacific Northwest volcano Mount St. Helens. The cause is probably new magma, rising upward.

Source: Earthquake swarms at Mount St. Helens | EarthSky.org

Review of “Alien Affairs” by Scott Skipper

alienaffairscover

This fast-moving tale was one of the most entertaining stories I’ve read in a long time. Not only did I find numerous scenes laugh-out-loud hilarious, but it had enough suspense for me to stay up into the wee hours of the night to see how it ended.

Ironically, one of the reasons I bought this book was because one of its reviewers gave it a poor rating simply because it was politically incorrect.  And they were right, it certainly is.  And therein was where I found most of the humor. The snarky, cynical comments were such an accurate reflection of the state of the world today that you either laugh or cry.  I, for one, prefer to laugh.

The story begins with the Roswell incident back in 1947, with which any UFO nut like myself is duly familiar. The author did an excellent job of recounting the incident and blending those individuals mentioned in the historical record with fictitious characters.  In fact, it’s difficult to tell where the truth (which is undoubtedly out there) ends and speculation begins, placing this story within that popular sci-fi subgenre where fact mingles comfortably with supposition.

This version of the incident begins when a counter-intelligence officer recovers an e-reader the surviving alien was trying to destroy. They discover that it activates when picked up and displays alien writing on its screen, but shuts down a few moments later, leaving the person slightly light-headed. The device eventually winds up in the hands of the CIA where Miles Ashly, a linguist, and Lambert Gray, a cryptographer, are tasked with the translation and soon discover that as they begin to recognize certain words that the device “speaks” the word telepathically, providing the pronunciation, then eventually starts teaching Ashly the language.  When they uncover the aliens’ “Mission Plan” they are horrified to discover that their intent was to exterminate the human race. Once the failure is apparent to those back on Tau Ceti, a new attempt will be made which they expect will occur around 2016.

The author marches through time, taking us to the present while tying in various historical events, such as the race to the Moon as well as other presidential administrations.  Eventually Ashly retires and decides to teach the alien language to his grand-niece, Carrie Player, telling her it’s the language of the Dogon people. Years later, when he’s on his death bed and Carrie is an adult, he tells her the truth and advises her to write the CIA a letter about her special skills when she graduates from college. She does and, as expected, they hire her.  It takes a couple decades but eventually the dreaded day arrives when three UFOs are discovered on a course toward Earth.  Their plan is not to kill everyone overtly, but rather render everyone sterile, so they would die off over time. The reason for this action is because Earthlings are a potentially harmful, belligerent race that poses a potential danger to other civilizations in interstellar space.

Eventually contact is made with the incoming craft and Carrie converses on her cell phone with their leader, a grey, almond-eyed alien named Deshler, and the real fun begins, starting with her assigning the theme from The Twilight Zone as his ring tone.  Her goal, as expected, is to talk him and his crew out of completing their mission to exterminate the human race.  Various remarks about how our government operates as well as conducts international relations definitely were politically incorrect.  For example, Carrie’s question during one conversation where she asked, “We have many parasites who live off the work of others. Could you use your sterilization stuff selectively? There are plenty of people I would like to stop from reproducing.”

The POTUS is not shown in a positive light, either, which would undoubtedly be offensive to some if you projected his identity to an actual person. Frankly, depending on your political persuasion, he could be from either major party, both of which are laughable these days, if you maintain your objectivity and sense of humor. Thus, those of you who can see our current state of affairs for the FUBAR it is will appreciate the satire and what is a rather convincing tale with enough credibility to make you wonder, as good fiction should.

The dialog is convincing but includes quite a few f-bombs, so those who prefer less graphic language may want to look elsewhere. If you’re a UFO fan you’ll recognize numerous familiar stories and names which provide authenticity and credibility as they interact with Skipper’s characters.  Depictions of how the various government agencies would react to the situation’s developments are believable, the characters diverse and engaging, the technology described sufficient to satisfy hard sci-fi fans.  The story would make an excellent mini-series with its outstanding balance of humor, suspense, and UFO lore, somewhat like a cross between The X-Files and Men in Black. I found it sci-fi at its best with any political incorrectness contributing to its authenticity.  I’m actually glad that it’s the first book in a series and look forward to reading the sequels.

You can pick up a copy at Amazon here.  (Affiliate link)