Typically, in the course of a workday, I spend 20-25% of my time outdoors. This suits me well, as I've always been the outdoorsy type. Spending so much time outside, and often working late nights, I make it a point to check out not only the weather reports, but the skywatching columns (as an aside, Joe Rao, who writes for Space.com and lectures at the Hayden Planetarium, is a local meterologist of sterling reputation). Anyway, checking out Mr Rao's column, I discovered that the Lyrid meteor shower would peak this morning, and that the prime viewing time would be after moonset, around 4AM... well within the span of my graveyard shift.
I bundled up and spent a good half-hour outside in order to see the celestial show. I managed to see two meteors (not too shabby, so close to NYC), and also spied a satellite making its way across the night sky as it hurtled around the planet. The best way to take in a meteor shower is to sit back and take in as much of the night sky as you can. Sitting outside in the dark, gazing at the vastness of the heavens, I was struck at how comforting the idea of the vastness of the universe was. Last week was an awful week, a week characterized by bloodshed and horror, but the very idea of a vast universe, a place of glorious wonders in which Earth is merely a tiny speck going through a brief nasty phase in a timeline of billions of years, was heartening to me. For a space of a half-hour I was able to envision humanity getting its shit together and giving up its petty, parochial concerns in order to pursue truth and beauty.
Of course, after my reverie, the mundane tasks of workaday life forced me back into the office. I had to write up next month's schedule for my department and send out an e-mail regarding some equipment problems. Besides, the eastern sky was slowing lightening, and the dawn birds were starting to sing...
Anyway, enough of my post stargazing navel-gazing. Another project that I undertook this weekend was mining the nostalgia of others for pure pop platinum. Last Thursday, zrm posted about the death of Scott Miller, one of his favorite musicians. I have to confess, even as a high school kid listening to college radio in the 80's, I can't recall having heard any songs by Mr Miller's band, Game Theory. Oddly enough, I'd been a fan of the guy who produced Game Theory's most hightly regarded album, and a big fan of other bands that he produced albums for, but I never got exposure to Game Theory. Following a link in zrm's post, I proceeded to download the out of print Game Theory albums, and have been giving them a listen-to. I particularly enjoyed the song Nine Lives to Rigel Five, the sort of song that a guy who would have enjoyed watching the Lyrid meteor shower would write:
It's a pity Mr Miller missed the show this year.