About Me

Pearl City, HI, United States

Thursday, May 30, 2019

A Hopeful Future in Space

Copyright © 2019
by Ralph F. Couey

One of my first reliable memories is sitting near my mother on a beautiful day in May while we both listened to the reporting of Alan Shepard's suborbital flight.  Yes, on the radio.  I think it was pretty much that moment when the endless unknowns and adventures of space travel.  

From then until the last Apollo mission to the moon, I remained riveted.  Even after our manned missions outside of earth orbit ended, there were other missions to follow and marvel at.  Most vividly, the missions of the Voyager spacecraft as they swept through the solar system returning amazing heart-stopping images of distant planets and moons.  Both probes are beyond the immediate boundaries of the solar system, but still have to navigate the Kuiper Belt and the Oort Cloud before actually leaving their home star for good.

Exploration continues, albeit with robotic probes and not with humans.  We now know what Pluto looks like. We have close-up images of two Kuiper Belt objects, one of which I still think should have been entitled "BB-8."  Three dune buggies have been crawling along the surface of Mars, two of which have long outlasted their expected lives.  While these missions have been informative, even scintillating they will never fully replace the human explorer.

So, what lies next?  NASA is committed to establishing a permanent habitat on the moon, and is taking the long view towards eventually putting human boot prints on Mars.  But there could be other things to do as well.  

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Sixty-Four: A Birthday Perspective

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Copyright © 2019
by Ralph F. Couey

I turned 64 today, and while time makes such events inevitable, I still felt a mild degree of surprise.  It hasn't been that long ago that I considered people of that age impossibly ancient.  I never thought about what it would be like for me to reach this point.  In fact, less than 15 years ago, I truly thought I'd be gone by now.  For me now to admit, accept, and acknowledge that I am that old is a bit of a tough pill to swallow.  And I already swallow too many.

Physically, I doing better than I thought possible.  After eight years of dieting sandwiched between two surgeries, I am about 235 pounds lighter than I was back then.  Even with five stents in my heart, my cardiologist says my heart  is amazingly strong.  All those elements involved in blood tests are under control and within norms.  I still walk, now building my distance back to my pre-surgery daily regimen of six miles.  Arthritis hasn't manifested itself yet, and my hearing and sight are about normal for someone of my...ahem...age.  I worry about my memory and what I can do to retain the capability I have left.  Our marriage is strong, and we've been blessed with great kids and beautiful grandkids. My biggest problem right now is a closet full of pants that won't stay up anymore.

So, I have really very little to complain about.  But I carry a kind of sadness within, the source of which is a bit of a mystery.  I know I've been incredibly fortunate, and I need to be more grateful.

Last week, I began to get the inevitable inquiries concerning what I wanted for my birthday.  What should have  been an easy answer has led to some introspection.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Love and Mother's Day

Copyright © 2019
by Ralph F. Couey

Strength and dignity are her clothing,
and she laughs at the time to come.
She opens her mouth with wisdom,
and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
She looks well to the ways of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children rise up and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
"Many women have done excellently,
but you surpass them all."
--Proverbs 31:25-29

Have we ever wondered a mother's silent cries?
Her struggles, her fears, her worries?
Have we ever thought of the sacrifices
she has done to make our lives happier,
and her dreams cut short
to make our dreams come true?
--Ama H. Vanniarachchy

As Mother's Day was approaching, I had time to speak with the moms that came through my check lane at Target.  I was amazed to hear of the number of them who had given birth either on Mother's Day or a few days either side.  I counted 26 of them over the three days prior to the holiday.  As we talked, they told me how special that day had been, the ultimate Mom's Day present.  But they also talked about how those birthdays began to overwhelm the holiday, and I could sense that they felt a little left out.  But they were all quick to add "But, that's okay.  It's a treat to see my kid having fun."

The life of a mother is one of endless sacrifice.  It is a tribute to their selfless natures, but also a reminder to the rest of us to look...really look at what they do day in and day out.  A mother's love is one of those rare and beautiful things that will always be there as sure as the sun shines in the morning and the stars glow at night.

It starts at the very beginning.  Most women will tell you that pregnancies do terrible things to their body.  Some will suffer ailments related to various vitamin and mineral deficiencies because their body's resources are being diverted to the tiny life they carry within.  Bones are rearranged, skin stretches, and they are remade.  Once the baby is born, the real sprint begins.  Most of the rest of us expect moms to be up and around after a few days and back to taking care of the rest of us.  I suspect there is a kind of guilt in the mom herself, knowing that even as she recovers, the house still needs to be cleaned, dinners still need to be made, other kids (and husbands) to care for, and then there's are the other jobs -- the paying ones.