40th Anniverary Of The Moon Landing

Monday, July 20, 2009

  • "I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth."  President John F. Kennedy 
  • "The Eagle has landed." Neil Armstrong
  • "That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind." Neil Armstrong
  • "Space, the final frontier" Star Trek
You might have heard one or more of the quotes above in connection with the moon landing of the Apollo 11.  July 20, 2009 marks the 40th anniversary of this historic event.  President Kennedy ignited a drive to put a man on the moon within the decade and the U.S. did it.  There have been some big moments few are bigger are more remembered than Neil Armstrong taking that one small step.

For as long as I can remember I've always had an interest in space and space travel.  There is something exciting about using your imagination to think about how things might and could be.  I've often thought that colonizing space would give us the chance to try different things and maybe get past some of the differences that we hold here on Earth.    How exciting it would be to be able to travel faster than the speed of light, and to make use of some of those far out science fiction inventions.  Isn't it funny how our mobile phones of today resemble the communicators of Star Trek?  You also have to ask if we're not along in our universe.

I have to wonder how many people were inspired by that moon landing to do things that they might not have thought possible before that day 40 years ago?  How many people will be inspired in the future?  The moon landing proves, if nothing else, that anything is possible when we get enough of the right people involved.  If we can get a big enough goal that inspires us we can do it, no matter how crazy it might seem.

The clip below is restored footage of Apollo 11
provided at YouTube by the Associated Press.

Some more information about Apollo 11 and the moon landing...
-NASA has restored several videos of the Apollo 11 mission that are available here and on YouTube
A chance for you to connect with this historic event and talk about your memories

It is time to celebrate this achievement and I hope that we're now inspired to take the space program to new heights and realize that we do have a future in space. I do truly hope that the moon walk was only one small step for man.

Photocredit: "July 20, 1969: One Giant Leap For Mankind" courtesy of NASA.

Good Bye to Walter Cronkite 

Walter Cronkite passed away the other day, shortly before the 40th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing.  "He had a passion for human space exploration, an enthusiasm that was contagious, and the trust of his audience. He will be missed," astronaut Neil Armstrong said.  How right Neil is. Walter Cronkite covered the moon landing and so many other historic events.

"Our job is only to hold up the mirror - to tell and show the public what has happened." Walter Cronkite

"I think it is absolutely essential in a democracy to have competition in the media, a lot of competition, and we seem to be moving away from that.Walter Cronkite

And to use that famous tagline of Walter Cronkite one more time...

And That's The Way It Is

Goodbye Michael - Time To Make A Change

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Unless you've been living under a rock or stranded on a desert island, you've probably heard that Michael Jackson recently died. I just wanted to say a few words about our loss.

I arrived home on July 7th to see my wife watching coverage of the funeral on CNN and I caught the end of the song "We Are The World" being performed. I had just arrived from work and didn't realize that the memorial was being covered at that time. It didn't take long to realize what a big event this was. People pass away all the time and while I'm saddened to see that most anyone has died, some deaths have more of an impact than others. The event reminded me of when John Lennon had died. I had just turned 14 and shortly after waking up, the first thing that I heard was my father telling me that John Lennon had been shot and killed. I wonder, after enough time has passed, how many people will be able to look back and say that they became musicians because of Michael Jackson or John Lennon or how many people will have been influenced by either death in some way.

Driving home the other day I heard that Rep. Nancy Pelosi decided to block efforts to get a resolution in congress passed that would honor Michael Jackson because of the controversy and debate that it would likely cause. I instantly realized that she was right and was saddened to think that something so harmless as a resolution recognizing Michael Jackson in congress wouldn't happen because of such likely controversy! As a society we have become so intolerant of people that are different from ourselves and we're so quick to pass judgment (regardless of if we're asked to do so or not). There are a lot of people claiming to be religious that aren't very tolerant of people different than themselves that would likely have spoke up and the action might have passed but not before a lot of intolerance showed its ugly face.

I have to admit that I've found Michael Jackson rather odd at times but it doesn't take long to realize that a lot of people have found hope in his music and he has touched a lot of lives. None of us have lived the life that he has so it is easy for us to criticize him. Beside all the music that he has made in his life, he did a lot of nice things for other people that didn't get a lot of coverage by the media. Hopefully more of those stories will surface in the coming days. I don't really know what his total involvement was in U.S.A. For Africa, which produced the song "We Are The World" and was the American musician response to Band Aide, but he did lend his image (and accompanying publicity) to the recording and later on in 1985 the world witnessed Live Aid. Band Aide, U.S.A. For Africa, and Live Aide all put a spotlight on starvation in Africa like it had never seen before and the exposure brought it to the top of the the topics in the news, even if it was only for a short while.

"Man in the Mirror" is one song from Michael Jackson that really stands out for me. It is a call for us all to take a look at our lives and make some changes.

"'I'm starting with the man in the mirror
I'm asking him to change his ways
And no message could have
Been any clearer
If you wanna make the world
A better place...
Take a look at yourself, and
Then make a change" (thanks to Lyricsfreak for the text)

I'd like to see us all see what changes we can make, how can we make the world a better place and how can our planet be better because we were here. There are so many problems in the world it is hard to figure out where you can start. People often get discouraged and think that that they're only one person what difference can they make? But one person can make a difference! Our world has had many changes over the years and things that seemed like they'd go on forever have changed or ended. If you think about it, slavery existed in America until the Civil War ended it and that was only in the 19th Century, so changes can be made.

"What can I do?" You might be asking yourself.

  • You can start be treating other the way that you'd like to be treated. If more people really did this, there'd already be some profound change
  • Before striking out at someone in actions and/words, give some thought to what your actions might do and maybe you shouldn't do it. Remember how your mom always told you not to do things in anger and to count to 10 before doing something when angry
  • Think about what you buy, do you really need what you're thinking about buying, what benefit will it really bring you and could you possibly better spend your money by buying something else or do something better with your money
  • Demand responsibility from our global corporations. There are too many companies today that don't feel any responsibility to the communities where they're located and to their employees, that are too focused on executive pay, "maximizing shareholder value", and short-term profit. How can it be allowed that CEOs can earn $42 million plus in a year that they announce that they'll cut thousands of jobs from the company's workforce (actually moving the jobs off-shore in most cases)? Become aware of companies that are doing this and let them know that you won't buy their goods or services until they become the responsible global citizens that they should be. Let them know that you'll start or become involved in boycotts
  • Let your leaders know that they shouldn't do business with irresponsible companies
  • Let your leaders know that you want them to look after the average citizen and not just those with lobby power. Unfortunately, the average taxpayer doesn't have to much lobby clout
  • Be more tolerant of others with opinions different than yours. Being judge and jury all the time takes a lot of effort and can be drain your energy
  • Look for things that you can do to help others. If you don't have money to give, you can give your time
  • Be a mentor and share your knowledge and experience
  • Smile and laugh and help someone else to smile and laugh
  • Be creative
In remembrance of Michael Jackson, I challenge you all to take a look in the mirror and see what changes you can make. There are a whole host of things that one person can do. I write about some of them from time to time at Systems Overload and in this blog why not subscribe to them both. In honor of Michael Jackson, I played several of his songs earlier this week at Blip.fm, they have a lot of music from him and a lot of other great music you can listen to (I previously wrote about Blip.fm here). Goodbye Michael, thank you for the music!

Photo Credit: Michael Jackson's Thriller album cover picture found here.

Sarah's Last Day of Kindergarten

Friday, July 10, 2009

Today is one of those days that parents are bound to remember with bittersweet memories. Today is Sarah's last day of kindergarten.

She's going to bring some treats so that she can celebrate with the other kids. Sarah could continue to go to kindergarten up until she starts first grade in August but we decided that we'd take her out since Anna was starting Summer Vacation after today as well. Some of the kids that will be going to school with her will still be going longer, but those kids' families didn't have children close enough in age to decide to pull them out at this time.

Christine and I have talked about this day a few times and while I'd always point out that it was the end of an era, she'd always say with all the activities in their daily lives that she was ready for Sarah to be in school. I'm wondering now if this will be a big tear jerking moment for her? I know that time marches on but it seems sad to think that we won't have another kid in kindergarten, that this time is coming to an end for us. With Anna, we were all excited about her going to school. I was sad to see this time come to an end for her, but I knew that Sarah was still in kindergarten and now this is coming to an end.

For Sarah, kindergarten started on a snowy day in Geinsheim, Germany shortly after she turned three. When asked about it, Sarah doesn't remember living in Geinsheim. As we moved and she started kindergarten here in January 2007, she's spent most of her kindergarten life here, so here kindergarten memories are of here.

I remember Christine telling me about how nice the kindergarten was after she'd had a chance to check it out before the girls started. I was impressed when I first saw it and thought that it must be nice to be a kid and go there.

Last Friday, all the kids that were going off to school had a sleep over at the kindergarten. There was a nice program for the parents, where we saw the results of the projects done by the kids going off to school and the kids sang a nice song about being strong and brave and "We can do it". I walked around soaking it up and thinking about all the last times.

Sarah finally found out earlier this week who her first grade teacher will be. She had met both of the teachers at her new school and now she's got the teacher that she prefered of the two. She was so excited to get the news and she could hardly wait to start.

When I have a moment or two today, I'll think about Sarah being off in Kindergarten saying good bye to the teachers there and thinking that this will be the last time she goes there as a kindergarten kid. Ok, maybe she won't think that maybe I'm just being a mushy parent. Sarah, I'm proud of you and wish you all the best in your school years.