Go ahead and take your best shot

SHE SAID: It’s just a vaccination. A little old shot.

HE SAID: That’s what THEY say, but it’s really two. And who knows how many after that. Five? Six? No, it’s too soon. Way too soon.

SHE SAID: They’re smarter now. They know all about that DNA stuff. And it’s been the right amount of time.

HE SAID: Too soon. Way too soon. Do you know how long it took us to invent a vaccine for smallpox? Well, I’ll tell ya. Counting from the day the Universe popped into being until the day they invented the smallpox vaccine, that would be about 14 billion years. And you’re going to tell me that a 12-month-old vaccine is safe? Would you put a 12-month-old baby behind the wheel of a car? No, I didn’t think so.

SHE SAID: You’re not still afraid of needles, are you?

HE SAID: Of course not! By the way, did you notice that this virus all started when the government announced that it’s been investigating UFOs? One day the Pentagon is releasing video footage of “Unidentified Aerial Phenomena,” and the next day we all have the COVID. They say there’s a connection.

SHE SAID: Who is “they”?

HE SAID: People. Smart people. Really smart people. Smarter than you, me, and good old Aunt Edna in El Paso. They say the UFOs probably brought this virus from another galaxy, and that’s one of the reasons why our scientists can’t make up their minds if the virus started at a meat market or in a lab. They say it more than likely started in an alien lab. And this vaccine is some kind of alien concoction meant to sterilize the whole human race so the aliens can have an easy time colonizing our planet since theirs is going to be wiped out by a rogue Black Hole. I can forward you the link to the article where I read it, if you want me to. 

SHE SAID: You read this on Twitter?

HE SAID: Of course not! I’m not that dumb. I followed a link FROM Twitter. It was a very scientific blog. Everybody’s reading it.

SHE SAID: Who is “everybody”?

HE SAID: People who think for themselves. Who aren’t sheep. Who have common sense. Who can add one and two together and get seven different reasons for why we shouldn’t get the shot.

SHE SAID: Yep, you’re still afraid of needles.

HE SAID: Hey, they sting. Besides that, give me one good reason why I should let some kid with a sharp object, who looks like he’s just graduated from junior high, who’s looking at me like I remind him of the teacher that always sent him to the principal’s office – why should I give someone like that the pleasure of inflicting his adolescent revenge on my innocent body?

SHE SAID. It’s just a vaccination. A little old shot. And it’ll do a lot of good for stopping the spread of the virus in our area.

HE SAID: Have you heard about the side effects? I’ll be the one whose arm will probably fall off – pop right out of its socket and right onto the floor. And they’ll throw it in a bucket of cold milk, hoping to save it so it can be reattached. And when the doctor tries to knit it back on, using the reverse stocking stitch because he’s trying to look fancy, he’ll knit instead of purl, dropping the stitch as well as my arm, again, and I’ll be just out of luck. Too bad, so sad.

SHE SAID: Now you’re just being silly. How ‘bout I go with you tomorrow to get one?

HE SAID: You promise not to laugh if I pass out?

SHE SAID: I promise. 

Come on in, the water's fine

 I haven’t made up my mind whether to be excited about Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson heading up to the very edges of space in their homebuilt rocket machines, or to ridicule the whole endeavor as an expensive precursor to the opening of a new roller coaster ride that you and I will never be able to afford.

Sign At Park Entrance: “Welcome to Virgin New Origin, the Gateway to the Stars – You must be THIS tall to ride, over 18 years of age and in good health (not recommended for those with heart problems), and have proof that you could purchase Greenland if you had the inkling.”

On the one hand, it might be cool to be able to brag that you went to outer space on your summer vacation: “Yep, we floated around in Zero-G for a couple of minutes, and I have the selfies to prove it.”  But on the other hand, does anybody really like being a tourist?

I hate being a tourist – walking around trying to figure out the best way to get from Point A to Point G, trying not to look like your average lost out-of-towner. My wife and I went to Chicago once. I wanted to eat at an authentic Chicago hot dog joint that I swore to her was only an easy one-mile walk away. Turned out to be five. That place is closed now. My wife no longer trusts my map-reading skills.

And that’s all Branson and Bezos were – space sightseers. They flew up to the very boundary of space, dipped their toes into the water to see how it felt, then fell back home with lofty revelations such as: “When you look at the planet, there are no borders,” Bezos said. “It’s one planet, and we share it and it’s fragile.”

Shoot. I’ve been to Four Corners and paid some money to put my right foot in Utah, but that doesn’t mean I’ve really been to Utah. And I can just imagine the astronauts on the International Space Station looking down at the whole show, rolling their eyes and mumbling, “Just what we need. More darn tourists.”

If I were rich enough to be able to afford to hitch a ride into space, I’d much rather book a hammock on the Space Station, spend some time up there, get to know the place, see the sun rise every 90 minutes, find out what it feels like to poop while floating upside down. 

But on the other hand, Wilbur and Orville Wright’s first flight on their homebuilt flying machine lasted only 12 seconds, and look where we are today. I can just imagine what their parents thought when they heard the news:

“Susan, I swear those two boys are crazy.”

“Now, Milton. No need to go naysaying them for what they’ve done. Twelve seconds is a long time, I’m guessing.”

“But where will it lead? And how far can you get in only 12 seconds? You can’t even circle the block and pick up some tomatoes at the market in 12 seconds. Besides that, it’s much quicker and safer to walk.”

That was back in 1903. The brothers sold their first plane to the United States War Department in 1909. Between 1910 and 1916, the Wright Brothers Flying School trained 115 pilots, one being Henry “Hap” Arnold. Arnold, later to be known as the architect of US airpower, was eventually appointed the first (and so far, only) five-star General of the Air Force. 

And in 2021, after 118 years of powered flight, two billionaires and their friends tiptoed just beyond the surly bonds of Earth, and didn’t barf up their breakfast. At least I can give them credit for that.