It’s going to be a light day, since for whatever reason I couldn’t get to writing until late and nothing jumped out at me to get all good and mad about. So here are a few things, in no particular order.
First, I started working out a few months ago. Five days a week, alternating between upper body and abs / lower body, with leg work being done using an elliptical machine on high resistance. I’ve managed to tone up fairly well, but I haven’t gained or lost a pound. (I refuse to eat until I’m sick; that just misses the point.) The relative response of all of my muscle groups is roughly like this:
- Chest: “All those push ups you’re doing are great! Let’s tone up!”
- Abs: “Look! You’re on your way to a six pack! Keep up those crunches! Obliques!!”
- Arms: “You weren’t able to do one pull up, and now you can do three sets of five!”
- Legs: “Remember that hill you had trouble hiking last year? No problem now!”
- Back: “BEHOLD. I WILL CRIPPLE YOU WITH NIGHT SPASMS.”
Seriously, back. Get with the goddamned program. All you do is complain. You don’t see my biceps complaining and I didn’t even have any before I started this crap.
Topic two: I’m a fan of Triscuits. They’re crunchy, they go well with a lot of snack foods (cheese, fruit, sardines, soup, stew, etc.), and they’re not as bad for you as stuff like the Doritos and potato chips I normally used to get. Anyone who’s been to the supermarket recently must have noticed that the creative division of Nabisco has absolutely lost their minds. Take a look at this shit:
Seriously, I’m not sure what happened. One day there were Regular and Low Sodium varieties. I turn around, and I see a total of fifteen different brands, including things like sweet onion, cracked pepper, roasted tomato and basil, dill, red bean(?), garlic, and rosemary. The ones on the top are cooked with brown rice and sweet potato, in case you felt as though a flattened mesh of what is basically Shredded Wheat doesn’t give you quite the excess volume of roughage you need on a daily basis. Like an idiot, I bought some of those with the sweet onion because I just had to try them. I mean, sweet onion. Come on. Personally, I thought they were great. My colon has no comment thus far. I see this as encouraging news.
Finally, I give you the only material relevant to the theme of my blog, and that’s a Martian sunset. It doesn’t really have anything to do with atheism, since it’s obviously not a prerequisite for being in the sciences … but I tend to think about where we would be if our entire culture were satisfied with the neatly packaged answers given to us by religion, such that we never bothered to ask the tough questions about how the world works and whether we could predict its phenomena ourselves one day. It’s these questions that eventually allowed us to break the sound barrier, treat cancer, split the atom, and put us on the surface of another planet … at least by proxy.
As sunsets go, I admit it looks pretty unremarkable. The color is kind of drab, the sun is a pale whitish color, and the sky is just … grey. And then I pause for a moment to consider that this isn’t from anywhere on Earth, but from Mars … looking from a vantage point where no human has ever stood … coming to us by way of one of the machines we sent there through the combined knowledge and ingenuity of thousands of scientists and engineers spanning countless disciplines … and the picture suddenly becomes breathtaking.
I remember watching Babylon 5 a number of years ago when one of the secondary characters asked the commander of the station what the point of all of this really was. Why do any of this? Why not stay on Earth and take care of ourselves? His answer – and I’m paraphrasing – is that one of the things we have come to know with certainty is that whether it happens in one million or five billion years, our sun will eventually expend its fuel, turn into a red giant, and burn out. When it does, it won’t just take all of the inner planets; it will take the Pyramids, the Greek tragedies, Shakespeare, Hollywood, Einstein, I Love Lucy, and everything that made us who and what we are. It will all have been for nothing. The only way to survive, persevere, and to continue our existence in a way that transcends the cycle of stellar evolution is to leave the cradle and go to the stars.
I’m fairly sure that I won’t live to see us get to another star system … but I nevertheless consider myself lucky to be living in a time in human history where we’ve made the first step into our inevitable future as a spacefaring race.