Pointlessness and all his friends

Planet Earth is the only one we know of that can support life. We know that it has been around for approximately 4.5 billion years. And we know that it will continue to exist (if we don’t cause irreparable damage to it by our actions, a possibility that is becoming more and more real everyday) for another 5 billion years until the sun swells into a red giant star. Of course these possibilities are very much in the future, we don’t know if we will exist at that time (or we may have evolved into some form of less savoury organism, much like the super slugs portrayed in Star trek : Voyager).

I was re watching ‘The Hitchhiker’s guide to the Galaxy’ for the umpteenth time the other day. Which led me to wonder, again, for the umpteenth time, if there is something, anything at all, that we can do if we are actually faced with possibility of the demolition of our planet. The answer, of course, is nothing. We are not sufficiently technologically advanced to have seen the demolition plans which have been posted in Alpha Centauri for 50 years and  there is no way in hell we can relocate almost 7 billion people to another planet outside our solar system (we don’t even know our own system that well, but as far as we know nothing in here can support life as of yet). So in the face of overwhelming odds, I’m forced to say,’we’re screwed’ if that happens.

 

P.S : Also, there’s absolutely no point to this post, I’m just bored !

An Astronaut’s guide to life on earth – a very short review

I just finished reading ‘An Astronaut’s guide to life on earth’ by Chris Hadfield. Col. Hadfield is a Canadian Astronaut who served as the Commander of the International Space Station for expedition 34/35. I quite enjoyed his descriptions about preparing for missions (he had also served in two shuttle missions before), the day to day activities and responsibilities undertaken while he was in Mission Control, and of course the wondrous, Miraculous, most amazing adventure ever, actually being in space.

The book is full of little anecdotes that keep you entertained and also teaches you a little something. For example, during the shuttle mission, STS-100, Hadfield was involved in installing Canadarm-2, a robotic arm designed to move parts of the station and catch unmanned supply ships among other things. Because he hadn’t completely wiped off the anti-fog solution (basically detergent) from his visor when he cleaned it the night before, he was temporarily blinded when his water supply leaked into the helmet. So if you’re ever in space, wipe off the anti-fog solution thoroughly before EVAs 😉

All in all the book is very well written, well-worth a read and provides a detailed and highly interesting insight into the efforts that go into the making of an astronaut. As someone who grew up dreaming about the stars myself, I found it especially delightful.

Home

Something woke her. It was the middle of the night. She didn’t want sleep to desert her completely, so she stubbornly kept her eyes closed. She tried to keep her breathing long and deep, willing herself to go back to sleep. She must’ve fidgeted, for she felt his arms tighten around her. He was holding her like he often did as they slept, one hand on the back of her head, the other on the small of her back, folding her into his body like they were puzzle pieces. He was pleasantly warm. She gently tilted her head to one side to look up at him. His skin seemed to have attained a silvery Patina from the wintry moonlight filtering through the thin drapes. He looked peaceful and content. She laid her head back on his chest and breathed him in. He smelled like home.

On suspense endings

I was never any good at stories with suspense twists and turns and endings. You know the type, narrative jumping to and fro, keeping you on Tenterhooks, of that ilk. I always had to know how things ended. That was  (and still is) the only way I could keep on reading a book peacefully. Even if I somehow I persuade myself to start reading a book whose ending I don’t know outright (read haven’t read on Wikipedia), somewhere in between the suspense gets so bad, my stomach starts to hurt (faux emotions manifesting in physical reactions, there’s a clinical study somewhere there) and I absolutely have to go to the end of the book to see what happens.

This weirdness has branched out into some other questionable behaviours over the years. The same intolerance to suspense also applies to movies and TV series. No matter how ardently I had been looking forward to watching a certain episode of a certain series (prime example being your favourite and mine, Game of Thrones. Although the last episode of season 7 has left me slightly disgusted with the show runners. Nope, not the incest, after 7 seasons I’m pretty much immune to that, it’s the whole Rhaegar-Lyanna secret wedding and Aegon-Aegon confusion that has me riled), I always read the recap online before actually watching the episode. And of course, this means that I inadvertently spill the beans on the epic happenings in the series/episode to other people who were waiting to watch the episode and who actually care very much about the suspense factor.

Another quirk with endings that I have is that I don’t like stories or novels in which they leave you hanging.  Like Gone with the Wind. I couldn’t rest until I found the sequel contracted by Margaret Mitchell’s estate (Scarlett by Alexandra Ripley), written by another author in a completely different setting which changed the baseline of all the main characters and read it to see that everything is all right in the end. Rhett does come back to Scarlett and they have another child and they live happily ever after.  I think I read both books about four years apart, this was before Amazon I think, or at least before it became the phenomenon it is now. I searched far and wide, in book stores in four different cities until I finally found it in the one around the corner from my University. What can I say, I like the endings of books tied up neatly in a bow so I don’t have to wonder.

Contemplating mortality

I was always the youngest in every class I attended, a consequence of being enrolled early. By the time I graduated with a Master’s degree at 21, everyone around me were in their mid to late-twenties, starting to think about settling down, buying houses, getting married. But not me, I mean, who wants to be tied down at 21, right? So I travelled, I did jobs I wasn’t really interested in, I lived in the moment. Scrolling down a few years down the lane, somehow, I am still frozen in that glass box.

People say Age is just a number. As years advance we go from being excited about our birthdays to being intimidated at the prospect of another birthday. Because every birthday reminds you of all the things you could have done, all the things that, in retrospect, you think you should have done, whether it is about your career or personal life or hobbies. More often than not, it is these regrets that you remember most clearly when you think of what your life was like.

With another birthday fast approaching, I’m a little daunted myself. Every year that passes, I begin to contemplate mortality more keenly. Every year, every day, every minute for that matter, I get a little closer to, well, the close. It is as if I can literally see life ebb out of me, not as a whole, but in bits and pieces. And that prospect terrifies me. Death comes for everyone, I know this. I’ve had my share of lost loved ones. But pondering upon my own imminent demise holds a kind of unnerving fascination that I can neither come to terms with, nor put out of my mind.