Politics, Lawns and Deep Space

1 07 2017

MilkyWay_AFP_360x270

There are three things that have been swirling around the brain space today. They all seem pretty innocuous but they all keep dancing around each other as if they belong in some way – like ingredients to a stir-fry or witnesses to a crime that each saw only one part of it.

Or it could be nothing.

  1. I posted a question on Twitter and Facebook: “Just one serious questions for Trump supporters – is there anything he could say or do that would cross a line for you?”
  2. I finished a TED Radio Hour Podcast, “Peering Into Space”.
  3. I mowed my lawn while listening to Spotify.

Let’s start with answering the “why” for each of the above:

  1. I just need to know. I have a good friend (among others) who voted for the guy. I actually get it. I even can accept it though I don’t agree. I just can’t accept the behavior of this person any longer. There has to be a threshold even for supporters, no?
  2. I have been intrigued, fascinated, mesmerized and overwhelmed by space exploration since I started writing NASA letters as a kid to get cool glossy, planetary photos back.
  3. It was time and I had to cut the grass before the rain fell and music makes it go faster.

Now, the deeper insights – what did I learn?

  1. Out of over 1,000 “friends” on Facebook, not one answer relative to the question. Is this such an unsafe topic that we are now a society that can’t stand up against something without fear of compromising how we will look to others? Do we not have enough confidence to separate the man from the party and call it what it is? Are we now at a point where we can’t admit maybe we got part of it wrong without feeling like a failure? I learned that, sadly, we are.
  2. Jill Tarter, astronomer discussed our “common cosmic origins “, the bond among all living things, regardless of birth place (on this Earth or otherwise), that makes us part of a “billion year lineage of wandering stardust…an intimate connection with the cosmos”. Consider that the molecule of hemoglobin in your blood which equates to a significant amount of iron was created in nucleosynthesis inside a massive star that exploded about 8 billion years ago! As she put it, “we have the remains of a stellar explosion in our veins (and)… if we got that concept in our minds….and take a few moments in our day to take a step back…earth is one tiny planet in corner of one small galaxy in one big universe – all of us are the same.”
  3. I can’t listen or explore new playlists when distracted – by loud mower engines or even louder thoughts. This was the goal but I reverted to my own playlist instead of a new one, which I listened to after I was done so I could give it my full attention, like days gone by where people used to actually sit and listen to an entire record while reading the lyrics for the album sleeve, and nothing more.

So what? Is there a connection?

Yes. I can’t stand living in such a myopic world where taking sides is the new “can’t we all get along”? Whether you want to believe it or not, we really are all connected. If, like a good (or not so good) Will Smith movie, Earth was going to be attacked by another alien society, we would not be Democrats and Republicans, or Americans or Syrians, we would just be Earthlings. It sounds silly but it’s true. This is why banding together to protect this place from environmental damage should be a no brainer and yet we divert to what is easy, what is based in fear and what has nothing to do with the connected stardust coursing through our veins.

And we have to start somewhere. We can’t bring our own playlist with us every time there is an uncomfortable situation, discussion or person in our midst. It deserves our full attention and this takes work and time, patience and listening. That’s all this nonsense is really about – different playlists that we hold on to because we feel it defines ourselves and we have to identify with it. I don’t like some of my son’s playlists (though it has introduced me to a new vocabulary) but they are his and it doesn’t mean he doesn’t respect that I have my own. In the end, we both love music.

Can’t we be the same with our individual social, economic, cultural and personal playlists? After all, we are just one tiny planet in one small galaxy in an enormous universe. We better get on the same page soon because we have bigger things coming our way – like asteroids, comets and unruly lawns.

Until next time,

Marc





I Never Asked for the Anal Probe

2 05 2015

alien-midway

Well, if nothing else, I am guessing the title of today’s blog post will at least peak your interest.

“I never asked for the anal probe” is a line from a comedic scene from an older movie called Passion Fish. Honestly, I can’t even recall what the movie was about (though I do recall Alfre Woodard in it) but I have always remembered this scene where, if I recall correctly, there was an actress (playing an actress) who was saying that she had only one line and she kept practicing it, emphasizing a different word each time:

didn’t ask for the anal probe. (As if someone did, but it sure as hell wasn’t me.)

DIDN’T ask for the anal probe. (This one makes the most sense because well, yeah…you get it.)

I didn’t ASK for the anal probe. (I just may have insinuated it a little.)

I didn’t ask FOR the anal probe. (I asked about the anal probe – there’s a big difference dude!)

I didn’t ask for THE anal probe. (Because there isn’t just one…there’s a variety as we all know.)

I didn’t ask for the ANAL probe. (I asked for the nasal probe, for example.)

I didn’t ask for the anal PROBE. (But I did ask for the anal…well, never mind.)

So, “Marc – what the hell is the point of all of this?” you may ask. Great question.

Well…a couple of things. One – this is yet another example of my exemplary ability to retain incredibly useless facts that will, in no way every help me in a job nor in a hostage situation.

Two – words are incredibly important but how you emphasize words can mean everything. I have learned this the very, very, very hard way – being married…and by being a comic. It has been a much easier lesson the latter.

It is such an easy thing to simply say to “choose your words” wisely but it is so much more difficult to choose them and then think about how they are going to be received. Even more difficult is the fact that non-verbal communication has an even larger impact.

You may be familiar with the popular statistic that nonverbal communication accounts for 93% of all daily communication, commonly quoted in science and media outlets. Dr. Albert Mehrabian conducted several studies on nonverbal communication and found that 7% of any message is conveyed through words, 38% through certain vocal elements, and 55% through nonverbal elements (facial expressions, gestures, posture, etc).  What?!!!

This reminds me of a time a couple of years ago when a high ranking person explained that even though I appropriately did not respond during a meeting, my face gave me away and I should “work on that”. It’s my face, yo!

So, next time you’re taking the stand-up stage, giving a presentation, making your case to your significant other or faced with an alien abduction, remember – words and non-verbal cues can make all the difference between getting information or becoming part of the experience.

Until next time,

Marc








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