Archive for February 2016

Episode VIII!   Leave a comment

Just when you thought it was safe to forget all about the hype that went on and on and on about Star Wars Episode VII…it’s time for Episode VIII!

Yes, it’s true. So from today on forward, one can expect regulated bombardments of propaganda until the official release date of December 15, 2017. In the general scheme of things, it’s practically overnight, considering the decade-long drought between Episode III and VII (longer if you ignore those first three and go right to Episode VI – 1983).

According to the SWVIII official press release (taken from their website):

Rey took her first steps into a larger world in Star Wars: The Force Awakens and will continue her epic journey with Finn, Poe, and Luke Skywalker in the next chapter of the continuing Star Wars saga, Star Wars: Episode VIII, which began principal photography at Pinewood Studios in London on February 15, 2016.

Star Wars: Episode VIII, which is written and directed by Rian Johnson and continues the storylines introduced in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, welcomes back cast members Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels, Gwendoline Christie, and Andy Serkis.  New cast members will include Academy Award winner Benicio Del Toro, Academy Award nominee Laura Dern, and talented newcomer Kelly Marie Tran.

Star Wars: Episode VIII is produced by Kathleen Kennedy and Ram Bergman and executive produced by J.J. Abrams, Jason McGatlin, and Tom Karnowski. Joining the production crew will be some of the industry’s top talent, including Steve Yedlin (Director of Photography), Bob Ducsay (Editor), Rick Heinrichs (Production Designer), Peter Swords King (Hair and Make-Up Designer), and Mary Vernieu (US Casting Director). They will be joining returning crew members Pippa Anderson (Co-Producer, VP Post Production), Neal Scanlan (Creature & Droid FX Creative Supervisor), Michael Kaplan (Costume Designer), Jamie Wilkinson (Prop Master), Chris Corbould (SFX Supervisor), Rob Inch (Stunt Coordinator), Ben Morris (VFX Supervisor), and Nina Gold (UK Casting Director). 

Star Wars: Episode VIII is scheduled for release December 15, 2017

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So, there you have it! The Force is in force! More updates are sure to follow…

Einstein Was Right   Leave a comment

Gravitational Waves

To watch a fascinating video from the New York Times, click

It’s all over the internet: Einstein was right – there are such things as gravitational waves.

In a seemingly impossible experiment, a group of astrophysicists announced on Thursday, February 11, 2016 that they now had aural evidence of gravitational waves. An international mega-group of 1000 scientists published a report in Physical Review Letters confirming their findings.

For those of you who might be asking, “What are gravitational waves?”, here’s a quick definition. They’re ripples in spacetime created by any particle or object with mass. Einstein predicted them in his theory of relativity in 1916.

In a classic case of “if a tree falls in the woods, does it make a sound,” two black holes collided so impossibly far away – a billion light years – and only now is the Earth receiving the noise from that cataclysmic event.

Two antennas designed for receiving any sound a gravitational wave would generate, located in Washington State and Louisiana, and part of LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory), picked up a brief chirp on September 14, 2015.

This event’s also a significant achievement for astronomy, where so much is dependent upon what can been seen. This experiment delivers another dimension from which to observe and measure the universe.

If you’d like to read more about this important confirmation of Einstein’s theory of relativity, here are a few sources:


The Final Frontier   Leave a comment

Flag Dad

They say a journey begins with a single step. How many steps, then, does a person take during a lifetime?

Many, if the journey is full and rich, and one thirsts for adventure, seeking it regardless of where it might lead.

I have the privilege to be acquainted with such a person who rarely, if ever didn’t let anything stop him, forever fulling his adventurous spirit. That person is my Dad.

My father began his journey on May 29, 1929, the middle child of eleven kids, in Harrison, South Dakota. His family consisted of a mother whose family were pioneers dating back to the early 1800s, and his father who left Holland as a boy to strike out in America, plus all those kids. They lived on a prosperous farm until the market crashed and the Dust Bowl took what was left. Instead of heading towards California, this family headed towards upstate New York. After a few fits and starts, Grandpa bought a dairy farm. My grandparents eventually sold the farm but remained in the town until their deaths. Except for two children, all others left to see what the world had in store for them.

Dad went to college during a time when not so many did but the Korean War interfered with those plans. He served as a drill sergeant and travelled all over. Not long after the war’s end, he met my mother, a musician in a popular band. Up on the stage, she sang and played drums. Dad introduced himself. Within eighteen months, they married. Over the course of seven years, three kids showed up. My aunts and uncles started families too. Seemed normal to have thirty-eight first cousins.

Never one to sit still, Dad’s entrepreneurial mind created successful businesses throughout his working years. His active mind and imagination saw opportunity in the oddest of places. Even if the odds seemed risky, Dad tried it anyway. Sure, a few ventures bombed but most paid off handsomely. That gave him the resources to travel. Curious and adventurous, he and Mom travelled the country and the world, making friends everywhere they visited.

Everything interested him, from the heavens above to here on earth, no matter where or what it was. He held public office and made friends with senators, congressmen and politicians. Loved culture and attended the opera, concerts and theatre. Dad’s garden grew amazing flowers and vegetables. His many friends kept my parents entertained throughout the year

If asked, Dad would tell you his biggest source of pride was his family. Not just us, but all of it. Not just a beloved uncle, but a member perching on a long family tree. Our family history extends to the late 1400s, and thanks to Dad, he left it to us to remember who we all are and where we came from (Germany and Holland).

Three years ago, the journey slowed down for Dad. On a winter vacation, he disappeared for seventeen hours. Couldn’t tell you where he went. Back home, he repeated himself over and over again. His gait grew unsteady and his blood sugar went through the roof. Then Mom died. Dad’s journey slowed considerably. Over this past winter, it ground to a halt. He stayed inside mostly, venturing to the doctor, the barber, an occasional meal at several local restaurants.

On January 28, a mild winter day, I took him out for a morning. Got his hair cut, ate lunch at his favorite diner. Saw a few friends and said hi. Dropped him off home. Said I love you and see you next week. Dad replied he loved me and smiled.

Fifteen hours later, he died, in the same exact spot my mother did twenty months ago. His caretaker said his eyes were fixed on a portrait of my mother as he passed over into the final frontier, the unknown that is the afterlife.

Mom loved the stars in the heavens. I’ve no doubt the two of them are holding hands up there now, twinkling their smiles back to their children, their family, their former world.

 Mom & Dad Wedding Photo

xo from your daughter, Gretchen, Mom and Dad!

Posted February 7, 2016 by seleneymoon in Personal Anecdotes, science fiction, Writing

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