Care for a Geminid?

Well, one of my favorite meteorologists, News 2′s Justin Bruce, just beat me to the punch on this, but here ya go anyway. If you’re not doing anything between about 10:00pm and midnight this evening, you should consider finding a nice, dark spot to set up camp for a while and gaze into the night sky. That’s right, tonight is the peak of arguably the best meteor shower of the year, the Geminids. Oh and just so you know, the forecast is perfect for optimal viewing–not a cloud in the sky.Space.com writes,

“The Geminid event is known for producing one or two meteors every minute during the peak for viewers with dark skies willing to brave chilly nights…The Geminids are a very fine winter shower, and usually the most satisfying of all the annual showers, even surpassing the Perseids. Studies of past displays show that this shower has a reputation for being rich both in slow, bright, graceful meteors and fireballs as well as faint meteors, with relatively fewer objects of medium brightness. Many appear yellowish in hue. Some even appear to form jagged or divided paths.”

SkyTonight.com writes,

“The Geminid meteor shower, possibly the year’s best, should peak late tonight in the moonless dark sky. The best time should be from about 10 p.m. until moonrise before dawn.”

Finally, the American Meteor Society (AMS) writes,

“The Geminid shower is the favorite of most experienced observers. While most showers wax and wane throughout the years, the Geminids almost always provide an impressive display of celestial fireworks…Near maximum activity this shower can produce over 100 shower members per hour as seen from rural locations…”

There ya have it, grab some blankets and coffee, brave the chill, and wonder at the beauty of the evening.

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Does Marriage Require a Wedding?

My wife and I have a great friend, Brittany, who is getting married this coming May. She and her fiance will also soon be finishing up school at my wife’s alma matter. Anyway, their soon-to-be legal union has had me thinking for the past month or so. The question at hand is, “At what point does marriage actually occur?”Traditionally, the institution of the church has forbidden sex before marriage. What has struck me as odd this last month is that it then goes on to define marriage with the intangible notion of the “two becoming one”. Such a notion is typically derived from portions of the Bible found in the book of Genesis and in the letter to the Ephesians, among other places.

That said, I do believe this notion is true and real. However, as I previously noted, such a definition is quite abstract. At what point do the two become one? Can you even select a definitive moment in time in which such an event occurs, or is it more of an ongoing process? [Let me take a minute to mention that if you define the two becoming one simply by the physical, meaning sex, then I believe you may have a grossly over-simplified perspective regarding the beauty of a marriage commitment.]

By now, you definitely see where I’m going. The institution of the church deems that “sex before marriage is a sin.” However, by its own romantic notion of marriage (and I would say this is the same notion shared by the general populous), wouldn’t it be impossible to say, as the result of an event (the wedding), that now you are married, ten seconds ago you were not? Does that really fit into the greater intimacy and truth of what a marriage is?

It seems to me, uncomfortable as it is to admit (because of my traditional upbringing), that the commitment of marriage and the wedding itself may actually have little to do with each other. Yeah, the “wedding” is the celebration of the commitment, but it’s truly more for legalities than it is reality.

Then again, I could be totally wrong, as I have been many times before. At any rate, what do you think?

[An Afterthought: I want to make sure that no one hears me saying that we should treat sex frivolously. I believe that sex is a great physical picture of the multi-faceted union occurring between two people who Love each other and have committed to that love for the rest of their lives...among other things ;-) . What I merely mean to ask in this post is how would a person/people/the church/etc determine when "marriage" has occurred, when the very notion by which we define it is, again, of an abstract understanding.]

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Do These Pics Make Up for My Absenteeism?

Once again I was unable to make it to a Nashville blogger meet up. I was really hoping to make this Christmas one today, but couldn’t do it. I swear I’m gonna make it to one some day. Anyway, I hope these pics keep me in good standing with my Nashville blog buds ;-) . I snapped them this morning at J. Percy Priest Dam while Rick and I were trying to catch the Mars, Jupiter, & Mercury grouping this morning. (We were unsuccessful in viewing the planets, but will try again tomorrow morning.)

By the way, the official weather news said it was seventeen degrees this morning at Nashville’s airport. With the wind and cooler temps coming off the water, we speculate that we stood outside for over an hour in single digits. I have never been that cold in my life!! My lips actually went so numb that I was unable to speak.



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Make Starbucks Play Fair

This morning I found in my inbox the following email from my friend Lacey:

Each year, coffee companies make billions of dollars. Starbucks alone earned almost $5.8 billion in net revenues during the first three quarters of 2006.

Yet, for every cup of coffee Starbucks sells, poor farmers in coffee-growing countries like Ethiopia earn only about $.03.

Even worse, while Ethiopian farmers grow some of the finest name-brand coffees in the world – think Harar, Yirgacheffe, and Sidamo – they don’t see the premium profits those names command among consumers.

Oxfam and a coalition of allies are asking Starbucks to sign this agreement. According to one coalition member, control of the name brands could increase Ethiopia’s coffee export income by more than 25 percent – or $88 million annually. This money could go a long way to help lift millions of Ethiopians out of poverty.

So please, help us convince Starbucks to sign this agreement with Ethiopia. Poor farmers deserve a fair share of the profits.

This email came because Lace had it sent to me via MakeTradeFair.com, a site devoted to bringing about fair trade for medicines, impoverished coffee growers, and more. So if you’re a big coffee drinker, like myself, go on over and sign the petition. Also check out the Fair Trade Federation to learn how screwed the growers of our beloved coffee actually get.

And just for the record if there were at least a half way decent non-franchise (or at least a local franchise) within five miles of my house, I’d abandon Starbucks altogether. However, this is currently not the case…well, actually there is one in Mt. Juliet, but it closes at 5:00 pm. :-/

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