Finally, after using every trick I know, I got “Larry” Michelle’s MacBook to connect to Starbucks WiFi. I swear if I was 7 years old this would be much simpler!
OK, on to the post. I am here today blogging away, while Michelle is out walk/running 8 miles to get ready for the Seattle Halfmarathon coming up Sunday after Thanksgiving. I hang here at the end, tracking her progress and ready for rapid response, or with an Ice Tea at the end. It’s a hard job!
While coming back from dropping her off, I was listening to NPR. YES there was political news (NO FAIR I ALREADY VOTED) but being NPR it also had real news! Today was a story that reminded me of my, hands down, favorite book ever…
The story I heard was about a Near Earth Object. Essentially an asteroid, comet or meteor that will pass entirely too close to us. Now remember, in space terms, close is hundreds of thousands of miles away. But in astronomical terms this distance is like feeling a car brush WAY to close to you while riding on a bike. (Or that creepy smelly dude at work inching a step too close to you in the elevator.)
Here’s a link to the story talking about an object spotted last week. An observatory spouts it, and reports it. SCOUT then computes its trajectory to determine if it is TOO close. This one was, so NASA and JPL asked other observatories to check it out. This hunk of rock is, at most, 25 meters across, and will miss us by 300,000 miles. (Sounds like a lot, but it is totally creepy dude close!
So, why is all this important, and what does it have to do with a book? Well Long before Bruce Willis saved the World in Armageddon, there was a book written by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, called Lucifer’s Hammer.
In the book, Millionaire Science Geek and amateur astronomer Tim Hamner discovers a new comet. It is not a spoiler to tell you it comes so close it smacks right into us. (Even closer than Creepy Dude Close!)
From there, you just have to read it. It is, hands down the best disaster book ever written. Floods, earthquakes, volcanoes, and tsunamis are just a small part post impact story! It is not an exaggeration at all to say I have read and reread this book 20 times. The first time was back in the 70s when it was first written. The last, was last year.
Yep parts are dated. In the book the Shuttle has yeah to reach space, there are no cellphones, no internet, no Starbucks, MacBooks or Bloggers, and they refer to the show “Lets make a Deal” (wait, I think they remade that!) But after the world ‘ends’ none of that matters any more and it is just plain fun.
Ok, sooooo, Tony, where are you going with this?
Well, it is this. When my dad gave me that book he had no idea the effect it would have. Jr High Tony, already a science nerd, became even more so! Since the first time I read it, any time I hear about a comet or asteroid, I pay close attention. No not tinfoil hat “THE SKY IS FALLING!” attention; but “OH COOL!! I want to know more attention!” I am guessing that correlation makes sense to you.
But there are so many more things. That was my first introduction to how hard it would be to evacuate a big city. So, no matter what, I try to come up with different plans to do just that no matter where I am, even if it is just heading for high ground near the ocean. I am convinced that the bike is the best bet from our house, the freeways are screwed on a normal day, let alone if a comet hits!
Any time I see railroad tracks paralleling a road I look for an easy access point. Just in case I ever have to replicate Tim and Eileen’s method of avoiding the flood waters and the people who would steal their SUV. (HELL they didn’t even call them SUVs back when the book was written.)
If I see a mail carrier out in the pouring rain, snow or wind, walking the route to each house I think of Larry who, even after the world ended, made sure to deliver his last run of mail, “Why? Because I am a Mailman dammit!” He also developed ‘trash day’ where all junk mail was held for a week and delivered at once, so people could toss it all at once! Love this idea!
True story, we used to have a carrier that would stop her truck, walk up to a mailbox, get back in, start the truck, drive to the next one, and so on, and so on, all the while talking on her cell phone. Every time I saw her, I would think, “You are no Larry!”
Plus memorable lines like “Give my children the lightning!” ‘Task force Randall!” and “You have to eat the healthy ones, the ones that run away the fastest and fight the hardest.”
Shoot, there is even a song about a bird pooping on your head and I think about it every time I see a bird, well, poop!
As I am writing this, I am thinking about so many different scenes and sub plots in the book, it is 650 pages long, so there is plenty of room for all the stories.
The moral of my ramblings? Read and read a lot. My go to is science fiction, But any genre, any book could be that one that stays with you forever. This one will never go down as one of the classics. It’s not Fahrenheit 451, 1984, or 20000 Leagues Under the Sea, all of which I have read once. However, for me, this is my classic!
So, what books are your Lucifer’s Hammer? The books you read time and time again? The books, that time and time again, just pop into your head? And how many times have you read them?
Thanks for letting me ramble folks! Oh and keep an eye on the sky!