Friday, 16 November 2012

Age 30 manifesto

I turned 30 last week.

Here is what I have learned in that cosmic instant of time.  Entering my fourth decade I see this as a condensed version of my worldview.  When I enter my fifth decade, I hope I will see this assessment of life as grossly incomplete and unevolved.  But here be the state of the union at this point in my existence.

Life is beautiful.  It is balance and equilibrium.  It is a lesson waiting to be learned.  At our peaks we flourish, and in our valleys we reflect.  We bask in our glories and weather our storms.

For some people, glory is achieving a long term goal or living a moment where life's potential as we know it is maximized.  For others, it's getting wasted on Saturday night after yet another unbearable week of choosing to do something they insist they don't want to be doing.  The mere act of simply existing healthily is sufficient for many.  Or anything in between.  The full spectrum is at our fingertips.  Our storms, if utilized correctly, are where we reassess our place in the grand scheme of things and recharge our batteries.  The more storms we experience, the more efficient our storm-weathering skills become.

This world is a place of endless complexity and possibilities.  Every possible degree from one extreme to another exists in virtually every thought, concept, practice and experience.  This scares some people.  It inspires others.

In this world there is no shortage of willful ignorance, selfishness, greed, corruption and hardship.  But there is also a plethora of inspiration from people with no shortage of great ideas that make a profound difference in the world every day at every moment.  An endless stream of possibility.  And when we think everything has been discovered, that the end of art has arrived, that growth has been rendered somehow impossible - something new blows our minds.

The most basic and beautiful thing in our existence, love, has been packaged by corporations and sold back to us.  Its meaning has been obfuscated by marketing and has evolved in ways it shouldn't have.  But plenty of people see through the smoke.  To those who do not subscribe to binary thinking, there is no shortage of alternatives to conventional thought.  In fact, the very term "conventional" is losing its meaning when ideas at opposite ends of the world are now instantly connected by hand-held devices that are more powerful than the technology that sent man to the moon.

We have sent a robot to Mars and created music that lasts for centuries, yet we watch Jersey Shore and shoot an Afghan girl in the face because she wants to go to school.  We chop down rainforests, and we track a penguin who traveled too far north.  These activities are all indeed engaged in by the same species.

There is so much to be optimistic about.  There is an infinite amount of possibility of knowledge, experience and progress to be made.  One could argue on technicality that it is finite, but the fact that there are more possibilities than time to bring them all to fruition thus makes it infinite with respect to our individual lives.  It is therefore mathematically impossible to be bored in this world.  In fact, I advocate that the words "I'm bored" be banned.

Peace, love and prosperity.


Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Solar eclipse

A total solar eclipse was visible today in much of the southern hemisphere.

People turned up in Australia in large numbers.  Some Queensland hotels had been booked more than three years in advance, and 50,000 people came to the region to see it.  For those of us not in the sweet spot of viewability, technology came to the rescue.

There were two live streams at provided by a single crew.  The stations were 70 km apart, just in case the weather didn't fully cooperate.  Foresight is king.  The primary angles were wrought with cloud throughout, but one of the alternates was completely unobstructed.  Only one of the two streams had audio, so you could alt-tab between the two with no need to mute anything.

And the best part is - all of the technology was solar powered.  Is there even a need to elaborate on the pure awesomeness of that statement?

The broadcast was a resounding success.  Not a single glitch, audio nor video - and this is while I had about 30 other tabs open.  To declare that spending 90 minutes of my life experiencing this powerful phenomenon from such a distance was a worthwhile investment of time would be an understatement.  This kind of technological achievement did not even hit the radar of our wildest dreams a decade ago.

I took screenshots from the different angles at various intervals.  The first image was taken seconds after the moon began to cover the sun, which they referred to as "first contact."

And finally, totality - which lasted about a minute and a half.  During totality, animals armed with their sixth sense (read: virtually anything but humans) immediately tap into this new and foreign environment.  They behave differently and make unusual sounds.  Temperatures have been known to drop 20 degrees Fahrenheit lower than mere minutes earlier.

The sun is 390 times further from Earth and 390 times larger than the moon, which is why they appear to be the same size when they are lined up exactly.  Neat how the universe has worked these delightful little things out.

Incredible shots from the first alternate angle:

A third angle:

And finally, a shot taken by the fine folks at NASA:

By sheer coincidence, my newest bucket list addition:

Experience a solar eclipse for real.