Look upward and share the wonders I’ve seen.

andromeda-galaxy

I can’t stop looking at this image of the Andromeda Galaxy compiled together by the Hubble Space Telescope.  I hold my breath, and my eyes glaze at the wonder of it, the magnitude of what I’m looking at.  Star after star, millions of them, each surrounded by countless planets and planetoids … and they all have their stories, their histories, their inhabitants.  My imagination swims in this picture’s warm waters, and I know that there is a reason to all this, a purpose to the universe we live in.  That purpose is for us to understand it, to explore it, to incorporate it into our existence in anyway we see fit.  Some of us will explore it through a telescope.  The more fortunate ones will explore the universe using satellites and probes and infrared waves.  The most fortunate ones will walk amongst those stars.  Most science fiction writers and fans are consigned to explore the universe through this picture and the stories it conjures.  As for me, I will let my dream-self explore this picture, this galaxy, this canvas of potential and see what dreams may come.  I am reminded once more that the universe, complete with all its suffering, challenge and strife, is BEAUTIFUL.

calvin-stargazing

Christmas Songs I Can’t Stop Listening To – 2014

I am a huge fan of Christmas music.  I’ve always listened to music from Thanksgiving through Christmas night to get into the spirit of the season, to remind myself of all the good things about the holidays, to feel the Christmas Spirit flow through me.  I’ve got a long list of Greatest Hits that I listen to each year, but every year I try to find a new album, new songs, new ways to experience the spirit.  So, I’m going to try giving you a list each year of the songs I’ve found and/or just can’t stop listening to.  You’ll see the list is pretty eclectic and isn’t made up of songs that were just released in the last year.  Each Christmas is different, so each year my list is bound to be different.  I hope you enjoy listening to each song and feel the Christmas Spirit flow through you.

“Cold December Night” – Michael Buble – Such a great, happy song about falling in love at Christmas time.  Makes me think of Mindi and watching this Christmas special together.

“Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” – Katherine McPhee – Such a great, sultry version of this song.  It makes me think of a smokey speakeasy in the early 20th century on a quiet, starry night with a slow jazz band and a great female singer to set the mood.  Good stuff.

“Let It Snow” – Captain Picard – The heroes of my youth, mashed up into a hilarious version of the song.  Another great example of the best stuff that can come out of YouTube.

“Text Me Merry Christmas” – Straight No Chaser with Kristen Bell – I’m a big fan of Straight No Chaser, their beautiful harmonies and their great takes on Christmas songs.  But this little gem, with the help of Kristen Bell (whose voice is really growing on me), is one of the best, new/modern Christmas songs (i.e. something written after the 1950’s) that I’ve heard in a long time.  I would think anyone, especially younger fans of this blog, who grew up with texting/Facebook/Twitter/etc. will appreciate this even more than I do. By far one of my favorite modern Christmas songs now.

“Silent Night” – Kelly Clarkson, Trisha Yearwood, Reba McEntire – Chills, joys and tears.  This is what Christmas music is all about.

“Bring a Torch, Jeanette, Isabella” – Mannheim Steamroller – I grew up on Mannheim Steamroller, and their albums are a staple in my annual Christmas music feast.  Each year there’s a song or two that just stick with me and have a whole new impact on me.  This song makes my heart warm, makes me think of Christmases past, happy times with my grandparents who are no longer with us.  Good, happy memories with each hearing.

“Still, Still, Still” – The Piano Guys – My favorite Christmas song, played by one of my newest favorite bands whose mixture of piano, cello and Lord knows what other instruments always make for brilliant music.  They set the tone just right with their version and put their own little tweaks into it to make it there own.  Another great recording of this song.

“Mele Kalikimaka” – Bing Crosby – 2014 is the first year I’ve been introducing my 2-year old son Alex to Christmas music.  I thought this song would be a sure thing with its funny words and catchy little tune.  He smiled, but that was about all I got.  When his classmates at day care did it in their pageant, the song took hold in me.  I just want to dance to it whenever it comes on, and I will keep playing it for Alex until I can get a smile.  Also, I’m really missing palm trees this year.  Good thing there is one in our nativity set.

This Steampunk Iron Man is Cool.

steampunk-ironmanI am a HUGE Iron Man fan. Have been since I was a kid. It probably has everything to do with the technology involved, the varieties of armor and the abilities that they give Tony Stark.  Check out this article posted on io9.com that talks about a Steampunk version of Iron Man.  I thought it was a great take on the character, combining the character of Jarvis along with the history/lore of Iron Man together into the world of Steampunk.  The result is a cool story and awesome suit of Iron Man armor.  If you’re a fan of Iron Man and/or Steampunk, take a look.

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