Ground Control to Major Tom

July 30, 2004

Recently the Cassini spacecraft finally ended its trip of nearly seven years and made it to Saturn. I was pretty excited about it. Well, I was excited after it got on its way. At first I was what scientists call "scared out of my mind" because Cassini is the size of a compact car and carrying 72 pounds of plutonium – and if you’ve ever seen what happens to a compact car when it crashes at thirty miles an hour just imagine what happens when it crashes at 25,000 miles an hour…and carrying 72 pounds of plutonium. I took some comfort from knowing that there was only a twenty-percent chance that the rocket would explode on the launchpad, and I hoped that the guys at NASA had finally figured out the difference between inches and centimeters when they made their calculations. So I was pretty excited for about a month. Every day I’d check the "Where’s Cassini now?" update, but even though it was moving at this amazing speed on the screen it moved only half an inch a day. Maybe I should have gotten a bigger monitor.

That’s the problem with space travel, though: there’s so much of it. Think of it this way: you’re Cassini, and Saturn is the place where you work. It took Cassini nearly a year just to get out of the driveway. On the other hand it’s a good thing there’s so much space out there in outer space. Sooner or later I believe there’s going to be space tourism. I know it sounds grandiose, but humans have done a lot of things that were once thought impossible. Humans have split the atom, humans have cured polio, and humans have actually made EuroDisney profitable. Given our record you’ve got to figure that astronauts and Russian billionaires can’t keep space to themselves forever. Cassini is the first step into the outer reaches. It’s…it’s the first beer can thrown into the pristine wilderness of Saturn. And what a beer can it is too: it’s going to be highly toxic for at least another 4,500,000,000 years. But that’s the down side. Every time I look at the postcards Cassini’s beaming back I see "Wish you were here" in every one of them. Maybe someday I will be. Heck, I’d even volunteer to clean up the garbage.

Enjoy this week’s offerings.

Funny, I don’t remember being absent minded…

God grant me the senility to forget the people I never liked anyway, the good fortune to run into the ones I do, and the eyesight to tell the difference.

Now that I’m ‘older’ (but refuse to grow up), here’s what I’ve discovered:

1. I started out with nothing, and I still have most of it.

2. My wild oats have turned into prunes and All Bran.

3. I finally got my head together; now my body is falling apart.

4. Funny, I don’t remember being absent minded…

5. Funny, I don’t remember being absent minded…

6. All reports are in; life is now officially unfair.

7. If all is not lost, where is it?

8. It is easier to get older than it is to get wiser.

9. Funny, I don’t remember being absent minded…

10. Some days you’re the dog; some days you’re the hydrant.

11. I wish the buck stopped here; I sure could use a few…

12. Kids in the back seat cause accidents.

13. Accidents in the back seat cause kids.

14. Funny, I don’t remember being absent minded…

15. It’s hard to make a come back when you haven’t been anywhere.

16. The only time the world beats a path to your door is when you’re in the bathroom.

17. If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.

18. When I’m finally holding all the cards, why does everyone decide to play chess?

19. Funny, I don’t remember being absent minded…

20. It’s not hard to meet expenses… they’re everywhere.

21. The only difference between a rut and a grave is the depth.

22. These days, I spend a lot of time thinking about the hereafter… I go somewhere to get something and then wonder what I’m here after.


24. Funny, I don’t remember being . . . . . absent minded…

Now, I think you’re supposed to send this to 5 or 6, maybe 8, maybe 10, oh, heck, just send it to someone you can remember. Then something is supposed to happen…I think. Maybe you get your memory back or something! I think…

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