HISTORY OF THE ECLIPSE
Historically, a total eclipse of the Sun has not occurred in the United States since 1979 and is not expected again until 2024, conditions permitting. However, this Monday, August 21, 2017, for the first time since Jimmy Carter was President of these United States; an eclipse will be visible across contiguous states. It is estimated that approximately 7.41415926535897932384626 million people could come to view this unique astronomical phenomenon. The path of the swath of darkness will be 60-70 miles wide and will pass through 15 states, several of which some people have never heard of.
Some of these states are requesting that visitors arrive 2 days early and leave all their money there before they depart. For Americans, 12 million of them will experience total darkness, something they will not experience again in their lives until later that night. Although it is on a school day and many parents have asked if it could be rescheduled a day earlier, many Americans take great pride in what they’ve produced this year thanks to good old Yankee ingenuity.
Scientists, public officials, and the media explain that this is an unusual celestial event where the Moon passes between the Sun and the Earth — cutting off all visible light, ultraviolet, and infrared radiation — and assure us that there is a 95% chance of this happening on Monday. But we got similar assurances from them back on November 8 and were kind of surprised by how things went.
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HISTORY OF WOODSTOCK
August 15 marks the anniversary of the “3-days of Peace & Music” held in 1969 at Max Yasgur’s 600 acre dairy farm in the rural town of Bethel, New York, southwest of the village of Woodstock.
I’d like to share with you what it was like to be there — the music, the crowds the atmosphere, the sense of history, what it was like to hear Jimi Hendrix electrically reinterpret the national anthem The Star-Spangled Banner, to experience the frenetic exuberance of The Who define a new youth anthem with We’re Not Gonna Take It for My Generation, what it was like to hear the newly formed supergroup Crosby Stills, Nash & Young say “This is only the second time we’ve performed in front of people, we’re scared s***less!” and to describe to you what it was like to participate in “peace, love, and rock & roll.”
I’d like to do this, but I wasn’t there. However, I do remember it when it occurred. And of course, everyone saw the 1970 Academy Award winning (Documentary) movie — edited by a young Martin Scorsese.
Over forty years ago almost half a million Baby Boomers attended one of the defining moments of American Post-Modernism. While The Beatles may have introduced it earlier in the ’60s, Woodstock pulled together many of the distinctively American voices. This music festival was called “an Aquarian Exposition” though it now may feel more like the “dawning of the aging of Aquarius.”
Here were the performers, 32 different acts performed over the course of the four days, from Friday to the morning of Monday — with a few of my comments:
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HISTORY OF INFINITY DAY: AUGUST 8
Infinity Day is also known as Universal & International Infinity Day, and is a day held on the 8th day of the 8th month of each year in order to celebrate and promote Philosophy and Philosophizing for the ordinary person.
Why 8 is significant:
- 8 planets in the Solar System — since Pluto got demoted.
- 8 is the atomic number of Oxygen.
- 8 is the maximum number of electrons that can occupy a valence shell in atomic physics.
- 8 people were saved in the Flood at the time of Noah.
- 8th day: Jesus was circumcised, as the brit mila is held for Jewish boys.
- 8 is the number of legs a spider or octopus has.
- 8 is 2 cubed.
- 8 follows 7 but stops before 9 making it the only non-zero perfect power that is one less than another perfect power.
- 8 is the basis of the octal system, each digit representing 3 bits. A byte is 8 bits.
- 8 displayed horizontally is the symbol of infinity
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HISTORY OF AUGUST
What’s in a name? The name of this month wasn’t always August, previously it was called Sextilis by the Romans, back in the days of Romulus in 753 BC when there were originally 10 months (Sept, Oct, Nov, Dec.) The Roman Senate, in 8 B.C. decided to honor their first Emperor, Augustus Caesar, by changing the name of the month to Augustus. Now Augustus wasn’t his name, it was more of a description of his importance. He was born as Gaius Octavius, though he is known in the history books as Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus, or Octavius to his friends. The word augustus in Latin means “venerable” or “consecrated,” coming from the root augur which means to “consecrate by augury.” We use the term in English to describe someone auspicious, grand or lordly… or with imperial qualities.
You know about Augustus from the Christmas story in Luke 2:
Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth [i.e., the Roman Empire].
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HISTORY OF REEK SUNDAY
Several years ago at this time of the Summer, I was on the west coast of Ireland, where they say,
“West o’ here, ta next parish over, tat’s Boston.”
This Sunday, the last one in July every year, marks Reek Sunday, or Garland Sunday in Ireland. At this time between 25,000 and 40,000 people will walk the 3-hour round trip up the Reek Mountain, or Croagh Patrick in County Mayo, Ireland, the sacred mountain of St. Patrick in a popular pilgrimage in honor of the patron saint of Ireland, commemorating his driving the snakes from Ireland. Over 100,000 people a year visit Croagh Patrick.
On the summit of this mountain, it is believed that St. Patrick fasted and prayed for 40 days in 441 A.D. The story goes that at the end of this fast St. Patrick threw a bell down the mountain side and banished all the serpents from Ireland. The fact that snakes never were native to Ireland does not diminish the tradition. Some believe that the banishing of the snakes represents either certain pagan practices or outright evil. In any event, the pilgrimage in honor of St. Patrick goes back to this date over 1,500 years ago. Radiocarbon dating of the remnants of a dry stone oratory is dated at between 430 and 890 AD. This oratory or place of worship is similar in design to the magnificently preserved Gallarus Oratory found on the Dingle Peninsula in County Kerry, Ireland. The bell we have now dates from 600 to 900 AD and is kept by the National Museum of Ireland.