Star Hikes

For four summers, I was on Staff at Camp Napowan – a Boy Scout camp in Wild Rose, Wisconsin. An amazing place and time – with amazing young men. Many remain good friends today. For three of those summers I taught Astronomy . . . . merit badge (see 7/25/11).

I worked in the Nature Area with Bish (who was Best Man at my wedding) and Harkins. The three of us lived in a wood frame tent from the end of May ’til the end of August. And collaborated on teaching Nature merit badges. For Bird Study, I was up at 5:00 a.m. to awaken campers who put a towel on their tent (“wake me up“). I’d wander around the forest and farmland with a gaggle of Scouts – looking for birds in the gray fingers of dawn.

At night, I would lead the “Star Hikes” — a gathering of Scouts and leaders who were interested in Astronomy. There was no light pollution. So on clear nights we could see the vast fringes of the Milky Way Galaxy. And stars beyond measure. Between 5,000 and 8,000 on a clear night. And planets – Venus and occasionally Mercury at night (or morning). Jupiter. Mars. The furthest astronomical miracle seen with the naked eye – The Andromeda Nebula (Messier 31) – 750,000 light years away. The nearest – Alpha Centauri (4.4 light years). Mizar and Alcor in the Big Dipper. I explained that a line from Polaris to the ground is true north – 24 hours a day – anywhere North of the Equator. Identifying every constellation (which I can still do. . . almost).

And then I spoke of life – “out there.” There are trillions of stars. If you assume that 1% of them have planetary systems, there would be billions of planets. And 1% of those are capable of sustaining life – we’re talking still hundreds of millions of possibilities. And if 1% of those have life like ours – within a chronological spectrum of evolution like ours – we’re still talking millions. Today – planets in other solar systems are called “exoplanets.” As of June 2021, there are 4,768 confirmed exoplanets in 3,527 planetary systems, with 783 systems having more than one planet. Perhaps the newly-released UFO report (“Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon”) presents the just tip of the iceberg. Or universe. . . .

The New Testament

[A logical segue – a summer repeat from November 11, 2013]

In my post of June 11, 2012, I talked about reading the Old Testament.  I referenced some favorite verses therein (especially a quote from my father of the bride speech at Lauren’s wedding).  I just finished reading the New Testament.  Again.  Quite a trip.  The Gospels are interesting and inspiring as they have been forever.  The essence of Christianity. The Resurrection. Salvation. But there are some verses which I just had to write down.  Because sometimes one needs “special” inspiration.   

I Timothy 5:23 gives sage counsel:  “Drink no longer water but a little wine for thy stomach’s sake. . . .”    So who doesn’t feel obliged to have a nice cab now and then? 

I Timothy 4:8 admonishes that “. . . bodily training is of some value.”  So I (sigh) feel the push to go to the fitness center a few times a week.

Which leads to the whole reason for a personal trainer.  I mean it’s right there in Hebrews 12:12 “Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees. . . .” 

But seriously, there is one chapter I discovered on a gray day in 1969.  I Corinthians 3.  For me, much of Christianity seems to distill in these 23 verses.  The words are old friends.  I find peace.  Calm.  And faith.   

The Old Testament

[A summer repeat – from June 11, 2012]

I just finished reading the Old Testament (also called the Tanakh).  Took me about 15 months (between other books).  What a journey.   Powerful.  Occasionally inscrutable.  Sometime scary. But also encouraging.  I did not come upon any Old Testament comedians though the word “laugh” does appear 96 times in 93 verses. . . .

There was a lot to relish in this literary endeavor.  Here are a few favorite verses:

Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with all thy might.”   Ecclesiastes 9:10.  I keep this on a 3″ x 5″ card.

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying ‘who shall I send?  Who will go for us?’ and I said ‘here am I.  Send me.’”  Isaiah 6:8.  This one too. . . .

Isaiah 9:5 and 6 provides the refrain from Handel’s “Messiah.”   And Isaiah 40:1 and 2 gives the opening lines of Handel’s masterpiece.   

Isaiah 40:4 and 5 offer famous lines from Martin Luther King’s “I have a Dream” speech.

There is Psalm 17:8 which I quoted in my Father of the Bride speech at my daughter’s wedding:  “She will always be the apple of my eye and in the shadow of my wings.” 

And of course there’s Proverbs 17:28 — “Even a fool when he holdeth his peace is counted wise.  And he that shutteth his lips is deemed a man of understanding.”   This passage tracks my father’s not-entirely-Biblical counsel when I was young “better to keep your mouth shut and have people think you’re a fool, than to open your mouth and have them know you’re a fool.”   

My Playlist

I go to the local fitness center a few times a week. I usually do 30 to 40 minutes on a NuStep T4R Recumbent Cross Trainer or a recumbent bike. Then I do some weights, bands, stretching and my own brand of Zumba dancing (you could sell seats for this).

While doing the bike, I listen to Ted Talks; language lessons; or something educational, religious or inspirational. However it’s when I do the other stuff that my playlist changes. And I listen to music. And ramp up the . . . . pace.

Lately, my playlist consists of some stuff that I can move to. If you get my drift. Including:

“Danger Zone” by Kenny Loggins –

“Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor –

“Uptown Funk” by Bruno Mars – (see posts of July 7, 2016, and March 7, 2019)

“Hotel California” by The Eagles –

“Sultans of Swing” by Dire Straits –

“Money for Nothing” by Dire Straits –

And a little Michael Jackson certainly adds to the tempo

I listen to my music using corded earphones from my original Walkman. The earphones plug into my phone. The links above are offer some cool music videos – which you may enjoy.

A Light Show

(An interesting repeat from January 3, 2016) When we blink our eyes closed, we are usually greeted by an assortment of exploding stars, shapes and colors.  When head hits the pillow and it’s dark, there can still be a veritable light show when our eyes close.   The phrase “seeing stars” from a bump on the head or being dizzy refers to these closed eye light phenomenon.  The illuminations you see – when there is no light – are called “phosphenes.”  The term comes from the Greek “phos” (light) and “phainein” (to show). 

When people are deprived of light for long periods of time, phosphenes occur in vision as well — when eyes are open.  Thus phosphenes used to be called “the prisoner’s cinema.”  People who are blind will sometimes press or rub their eyes to stimulate phosphenes (which they can “see”).   While phosphenes have been around as long as the human condition, they were first reported in 1819 by Bohemian physiologist Johannes Purkinje.  Benjamin Franklin was reported to have used an electrical stimulation to cause a closed-eye spectral. 

Trouble sleeping?   Apart from checking out March 19, 2012, just close your eyes and watch the unfolding kaleidoscope of phosphenes.  And breathe deeply. You’ll be asleep in no time.

Honk if You Love Peace and Quiet!

[We all need a smile. Here are a few from February 7, 2016]

I can’t take credit for these examples of “lexiphilia” but I can be given credit for selecting the ones that made me laugh the hardest.

I just got lost in thought. It was unfamiliar territory.
42.7 percent of all statistics are made up on the spot.
99 percent of lawyers give the rest a bad name.
I feel like I’m diagonally parked in a parallel universe.
I wonder how much deeper the ocean would be without sponges.
Remember half the people you know are below average.
Despite the cost of living, have you noticed how popular it remains?
Atheism is a non-prophet organization.
He who laughs last thinks slowest.
The early bird may get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.
I intend to live forever – so far so good.
Borrow money from a pessimist – they don’t expect it back.
Love may be blind but marriage is a real eye-opener.
Experience is something you don’t get until just after you need it.
Success always occurs in private and failure in full view.
The colder the x-ray table the more of your body is required on it.
The hardness of butter is directly proportional to the softness of the bread.
To succeed in politics, it is often necessary to rise above your principles.
Mondays are an awful way to spend 1/7th of your life.
A clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.
Change is inevitable except from vending machines.
Plan to be spontaneous – tomorrow.
Why are there 5 syllables in the word “monosyllabic”?

I Hope. . . .

Our “Inboxes” get an abundance of jokes, videos, political tripe, inspiration and miscellany. Most that I receive, I delete. But the video below is an exception. It struck a nerve. I would like to share it with you.

Just two weeks ago (May 26th), I mentioned how in World War II – 16.1 million Americans served in the military. 408,000 were killed – to the tune of abut 1,800 young Americans killed every week for nearly four years.

As we enter the post Memorial Day weekend, I would invite you to spend 6 minutes and 50 seconds and watch this powerful narration. And conclusion. We continue to owe much to our parents and grandparents for what they went through during years of conflict. And we owe many of our friends, brothers and sisters for their service today. I hope that future generations will remember their sacrifice. And appreciate.

Renaissance Hombre

It’s ten years since I first posted on my blog – What started as a – where will this go – endeavor, is now a twice a week offering. There have been a thousand posts.  Usually 200 to 300 words.  I try to stay away from political stuff though I occasionally dip my toes (in my opinion – gently) into those frigid waters. . . . .

It has been fun. And challenging to come up with something new. When I’m lazy, I can always “repeat.” There are about a hundred subscribers. Plus others get a copy of the posting. And each day, lots of folks will log on to the site.

It was about three years ago that I decided to compile a collection of “posts.” And I did. I worked with an editor – Pat Vaccaro – who fine-tuned the manuscript and in late September 2020, Renaissance Hombre was published. There is a YouTube video promotion – The book is sold on Amazon (and other book sites) – And there is a Facebook page –

There are even bookmarks and business cards. Let me know and I’ll send some along 🙂