I became insane with long intervals of horrible sanity.
Edgar Allen Poe

The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.
- H. L. Mencken

Many people would sooner die than think; In fact, they do so
-Bertrand Russell

What I have been telling you, from alpha to omega, what is the one great thing the sigil taught me — that everything in life is miraculous. For the sigil taught me that it rests within the power of each of us to awaken at will from a dragging nightmare of life made up of unimportant tasks and tedious useless little habits, to see life as it really is, and to rejoice in its exquisite wonderfulness. If the sigil were proved to be the top of a tomato-can, it would not alter that big fact, nor my fixed faith. No Harrowby, the common names we call things by do not matter — except to show how very dull we are ...
-James Branch Cabell

August 27, 2012 - 7:14 p.m.

Man in the Moon

Another wasted day; why did I wait so long to write? I actually know this time. I got tired when I got home from therapy and crashed. I should have made more coffee or taken a real nap. Instead I fell asleep at the computer and watching TV. After I wrote that I fell asleep again. I'm making coffee. I'll drink it as I write.

Yesterday I went to the Met game with Alan, that's not news. What's news is that we were joined by Aubrey and his three sons (Cue My Three Sons theme song). Season ticket holders like Alan were given vouchers for extra ticket to some games. This was one of them. That meant our seats were not all together but the stadium is not very full so you can pretty much sit where you want on the upper deck. The only hitch was that Aubrey is having some health issues that make walking difficult especially upstairs so I suggested we try and sit in a disabled seating section. They gladly accommodated us but then Alan and I had to move because the people who actually bought those seats showed up after the fourth inning. We moved a short distance away.

It was nice to see Aubrey again. I've been having my anxiety issues again and have not been able to call him. It's so hard to explain that. I talked to my therapist about it today. We actually talk about it most sessions. It isn't a choice I have. The only choice is trying to fight the inhibition. I do fight but I lose. It's is very much like having a bad leg and trying to climb stairs. Sometimes you can work through the pain and do it. Sometimes you can't. I haven't been able to.

As for the game. The Mets were playing the dreadful Houston Astros. The Mets took an early 1-0 lead on a very long Ike Davis home run. Then they gave up a run in the ninth inning. They won it in the bottom of the ninth on another Ike Davis homerun. In the last nine games the Mets have scored more than two runs just once. They scored three in that one. The Mets just need seven position players and maybe six pitchers. Actually they could probably get by with one starter and two really good relievers. Too bad their only prospects are pitchers.

After the game I actually remember to stop at the supermarket for a few things. I never remember to do that. I didn't remember to bring my canvas bags with me. As I was buying a big thing of paper towels I could have used them.

Today after therapy I went to the Strand and bought some books. I got Daphne Du Maurier's Rebecca and the Complete tales of Hans Christian Anderson. I've been singing this all day.

I haven't talked about food yet. Mmmm, nothing really exciting to say about food. I made a burger last night and forgot to put it on garlic cheese bread. Does that interest anybody but me?

I'll go to my planned theme, Neil Armstrong. Unless you've been living in a cave you know that he died on Saturday. Most of the time when celebrities die I don't particularly care. I didn't know them personally. I'm not happy that they died but people die every day, I'm not in mourning every day. It takes someone special for me to take notice. Neil Armstrong was special. He was the perfect choice to be the first man to walk on the moon. He will forever be the first human to set foot on another world, a record that can never be broken. What do I love about him? That he didn't spend the rest of his life living off of his fame. He went back to being an engineer. I love his self description,

"I am, and will ever be, a white-socks, pocket protector, nerdy engineer, born under the second law of thermodynamics, steeped in steam tables, in love with free-body diagrams, transformed by Laplace and propelled by compressible flow,"

I actually teared up reading that just now. He was one of my people.

I am a child of the Space Age. Sputnik was launched two and half months after I was born. To me space launches were part of life, one of the best parts of life. The greatest thing that has happened in my lifetime was that moon landing. I remember before then. I remember Alan Shepard's suborbital flight when I was a few months short of four years old. I remember John Glenn. I remember the Gemini missions. I remember Grissom, White, and Chaffey dying in Apollo 1. And I remember that one small step for man.

I was disappointed when we cut back on the planned Apollo missions. I never thought we'd go forty years and not return to the moon. It leaves a whole in my soul. I want a space program that goes to the moon and to Mars with every bone in my body. I want to explore strange new worlds, seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before. I'm not going to get it, at least not in the near future.

So you'd think I'd be furious with Obama and every other president for that matter for not pursuing it. I'm not. I know that I think that space exploration is of great inherent value. But I know that I just think it, and feel it. I can't demonstrate it. I am so emotionally invested in it that I know I can't be totally rational about. To think I could be is irrational. So I don't get up on my soap box and protest. I'll sign petitions I might even write letters, but I won't get angry if I don't get my way. The government is not supposed to spend its money based on what will make me personally happy. If the rest of the people don't see the value and it can't be proven to have value, then I won't rant. I'll just lament.

The manned program has always been of questionable scientific value. We've learned far more from the unmanned missions to the planets and the Hubble Space Telescope. But that doesn't mean it didn't do good. I've been thinking about this all my life but with Armstrong's death something came to me. What Space Program did was show what people can do when united behind a common purpose. We could do what was always the symbol of the impossible. We could go to the moon. Yes for many it was done simply to beat the Russians but that wasn't what motivated the people behind it. It wasn't why hundreds of millions of people from all around the world watched it. It was because we knew that it wasn't just Neil Armstrong up there, it was all of us. It was a giant leap for mankind. Armstrong got it right.

When we face a challenge we can now say "If we can land a man on the moon ... " People still need to learn that lesson. There are those that think we can't meet technical challenges. They think people are incapable of making cleaner energy. They insist that America is not capable of competing to make more efficient cars. But that's wrong. What's required is the will, the unity of purpose. We have the clever people. Everything isn't possible but it never pays to bet against cleverness. Problems dealing with people can prove intractable. Problems with dealing with nature usually aren't.

I'll leave the final words to JFK. He wrote Armstrong's eulogy 50 years ago.

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Horvendile August 27, 2012
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