Monday, August 25, 2003

"Let me see what spring is like on Jupiter or..."

As most of you know, the planet Mars is as close as it has ever been to Earth, during the latter part of August, then at any time in the last ten thousand years. And we won't get another chance like this for at least two thousand years. I didn't feel like waiting that long.

I almost went to see it Saturday night, but I got a better offer. I went dancing at Boordy Vineyards to one of my favorite Baltimore bands. We spent Sunday down at the Inner Harbor, for a ride on a taxi around the various parts of the harbor.

That night, I called up my friend and said, hey, I'm not finished yet. You wanna go see Mars out in the country? We headed west out Interstate 66 toward the Blue Ridge, then toward Sky Meadows State Park. Seeing that it was closed, we decided to look up from where we were. The sky was quite beautiful, to be sure. As we looked for a good spot, we came across two amateur astronomers with a four-and-a-half-inch telescope, equipped with some digital alignment device. We introduced ourselves (keep in mind it's dark and on a country road in the middle of nowhere, okay?), and they were all too happy to let us take a peak. I managed to see, for a few seconds, a small off-white disk slowly moving toward eight-o'clock in the viewscreen. They recommend at least a five-inch job for seeing the orange cast and the polar icecaps. But hey, it was Mars, and BY GOLLY I SAW IT FOR MY DAMN SELF!!!

We left shortly thereafter. Going off-road into a field, we lay on a blanket out on the grass, and spent about an hour staring up at the night sky. With or without "the red planet," the universe is awesome, if you just stare at it long enough.

This week will be spent going through closets and getting bags together for thrift stores, a task that is long overdue. My lease is being renewed, and with my son Paul entering his last year of high school, I have to start thinking about plans of my own for a new place in the next year or two -- something bigger than a studio apartment, at least two bedrooms, preferably up Baltimore way.

I also have to pack for the Ninigret Rhythm and Roots Festival in Rhode Island. At this point, I don't know if Paul will be joining me or not. I told him we'd be taking the kayak, maybe hit the beach early on Sunday morning. Then it's on to Connecticut, to "connect" (get it? connect? Connecticut? Uh, never mind...) with a cousing living with his family in Fairfield.

Oh, and it's nearing the end of the Government's fiscal year. Everybody's discovered they need to publish something before the boom is lowered on the budget.

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