December 17 - UFO Project Canceled

Posted on December 17, 2017

Ball lightning
There are loads of things to see in the sky. The moon and sun, airplanes and helicopters, birds and insects, stars and planets, clouds and lightning are all pretty normal...But there are many more unusual things, at times, such as meteorites or "falling stars", weather balloons and drones, noctilucent and mammatus clouds, St. Elmo's Fire and ball lightning, green flash and sun dogs, mirages and other optical illusions.

Noctilucent clouds
Mammatus clouds

St. Elmos' Fire

Green flash

Both normal sky stuff and unusual phenomena can be confusing to viewers. We can become confused with how far away something really is, and therefore how big it is. We can misunderstand lights jiggling from moving air currents, thinking that they are actually lights on moving vehicles. We can mistake a swarm of creatures for a single large object, and we can assume that a bunch of water droplets or reflecting and refracting lights are actually solid objects.

So - the upshot of all this confusion is, some people are sure - maybe even definitely-for-sure - that they've seen a flying saucer, or a UFO (unidentified flying object), or whatever you want to call a spaceship from another planet...when they've really seen something else altogether.

UFO folks ask, what else could these things possibly be?





Check out the answers below.

Starting in the 1940s, people began to report flying saucers. And in 1952, the United States military took notice and opened a study called Project Blue Book to figure out if the UFOs were a threat, and to analyze the data about UFOs in a scientific way. The Air Force was in charge of the project, and they studied thousands of reports.

By this date in 1969, the Air Force declared the project closed, with the final report saying that:

* No UFO has ever been reported that indicates a threat to national security.

* No UFO has ever been reported that represents some sort of technology more advanced than our own.

* No UFO has ever been reported that could be categorized as an extraterrestrial vehicle. 

Answers to "What else could these things possibly be?"

1. a lenticular cloud
2. a helium-filled inflatable purchased from eBay
3. an enormous flock of birds
4. a moon of Saturn

December 16 – Day of Reconciliation in South Africa

Posted on December 16, 2017

This public holiday was created in 1994 in an effort to start a healing process. You see, the nation had just (finally!) ended apartheid, which was a system of segregation and discrimination that had been used in South Africa to keep black people (and other people of color) separate from white people and in an inferior position as far as power and money were concerned. Apartheid had been the rule of the land for about half a century, and the wounds were going to be hard to heal...

...The South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission, working with President Nelson Mandela, carefully chose a date that was already meaningful to (white) Afrikaners and to (black) Africans.

The idea was to create more unity.

The idea of forgiveness of the past is a nice one...
But healing old wounds isn't just simple.
And forgiving is not the same as forgetting.
And facing the truth is not the same as offering
a way to make up for the past.

Some of the festivities include parades and ceremonies. In the past, a statue of Mandela was unveiled, inscriptions of war heroes' names were honored, and a victim of ethnic strife was honored with a tombstone.

Children are the hope for the future.
Can we raise kids to love more than fear and hate?
Can we give them equal access and equal opportunity?

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December 15 – Wear Your Pearls Day

Posted on December 15, 2017

Do you know what an oyster does when an irritating bit of dirt or sand, or even a parasite, gets into its shell?

The oyster blocks the dirt / sand / parasite from the rest of its body, enclosing it in a special sac, and it begins to encase the pesky pest with a layer of calcium carbonate. 

And another layer. And another.

And soon, the oyster has created a strong, hard case around the irritant. Not only is the case strong, it's beautiful and lustrous - it's a pearl!

Motivational speaker DeAnna Bookert encourages us to recognize that the dirt thrown onto us by life - the attacks on us from others or from events - can help us to become stronger and even more beautiful. 

She encourages us to wear our pearls every year on December 15 to remind us of the good aspect of bad events.

Here are some photos of the various different types of pearls. They are here to remind you that, when we take our pain and use it to motivate us to make art, or to fight for ourselves and others, or to show our developing strength in another way, we end up with very different looking lives, very different expressions of strength and resiliency.

And all of that diversity is wonderful.