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Mick Scott: Orion's arms are wide enough

Mick Scott: Orion's arms are wide enough

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The Greeks looked into the sky and saw a hunter: An engraving of Orion from Johann Bayer’s Uranometria, 1603.

I found my spot.

It’s halfway down the driveway, between my house and the neighbors’. I sit there before sunrise, with the glare of streetlights almost completely blocked by fences and trees — 99% — and, from there, watch the stars pass through a wide portion of the Southern sky.

I sat there most recently on Tuesday morning, with expansive Orion center stage, bright Sirius flanking his right (my left). If I leaned back a little, I could make out the seven sisters of the Pleiades through my binoculars, shining overhead like a toss of diamonds on a bed of black velvet.

It’s not ideal. No city view is. But it’s good.

Emily Lakdawalla, a planetary geologist and senior editor of The Planetary Society, is currently studying the perihelion to aphelion distances of trans-Neptunian objects from the sun, she tweets.

Me, I just like to see the pretty lights.

The morning was quiet, except for crickets and highway traffic; not even the neighborhood cat, Grandma, came to say hey.

As I drank my coffee, a satellite slid from west to east and I wondered what the view would be like from there.

Not being Jeffrey Bezos, I’m unlikely to find out.

The morning was cool and crisp, and isn’t it nice to have these temperatures now? Isn’t it nice to leave the windows open, to let the screen door filter the cool air into the house? Sometimes in the middle of summer it feels like it’s been hot forever, like we have this one season and the others were just myths.

But time keeps on slippin’, slippin’, slippin’ …

I’m still adjusting to owning a house. It’s difficult to do everything that needs to be done.

But more often now, my house feels comfortable and secure. I like having a place for my books. I like having a kitchen table. I like having friends over. I like walking the neighborhood.

Speaking of getting things done, I just finished reading “Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals,” by Oliver Burkeman. I read it in hopes that it would teach me how to find two or three extra hours in every day.

Unfortunately, Burkeman is no magician. I don’t want to ruin the book for anyone who’s considering it, but what I got out of it was:

Give up. You’re never going to have enough time to do everything you want to do. Accept it.

It’s just as important to decide what not to do with your time as what you will do. Or, as he puts it, “Decide in advance what to fail at.” Clear the deck of distractions and concentrate on what you most want to achieve.

In that spirit, I’ve decided to forego becoming a chess grandmaster or an Olympic skateboarding champion. And I probably won’t spend a year in Antarctica, though I still hold out hope.

That leaves reading and learning about foxes.

Unfortunately, there are still too many books and not enough time for them all — which, as my friend Eddie Huffman reminds me, is better than the other way around.

But I think I’m learning better which books will not be worth my time.

They’ll all have to wait while I’m on vacation this week. I’ll be leaving shortly after you read this, my first major trip in quite a while. I’m going to …

I’ll tell you about it when I get back.

It’s the trip of a lifetime. I booked my flight in July when it looked like the virus was on the run and I’ve been anticipating it ever since.

Unfortunately, the virus surged, leading to an increased number of hospitalizations and deaths and a return to masking.

I’m not, as some have taken to saying, afraid of COVID, a word that implies the conventional view — that the virus is indeed deadly and to be avoided — to be unreasonable, even shameful. There’s nothing wrong with fearing something that could kill you, especially stupidly.

But I feel a healthy respect for the virus. Name what category you will — youngster, athlete, devout — COVID has humbled them all. I have no reason to believe I’m different.

So even fully vaccinated, I’ll be taking every reasonable precaution to remain healthy. With a recalcitrant populace making things worse, we have to work around.

I hope I won’t have to witness one of those awful scenes at the airport, though, where someone just loses his or her, um, composure and throws a fit.

But I’m expecting the best. Take care. I’ll bring you back a souvenir.


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