Present future

An electronic version of the book we did for Richard’s birthday is now available for purchase through Amazon. Getting this thing edited and formatted and printed and published has been quite the learning experience for me – ISBN numbers, and what should or shouldn’t be on a title page, and the limited number of contributors one is allowed to have on any given publishing software / site, and how no matter how many times I check and double-check, and triple-check the text and the images, I will ALWAYS miss something and have to go through the whole process at least one or two times more, and on and on. But I at least managed to get the eBook version up and available, and I’ll fight more with how to get the print version available later this month. And even though the process has sometimes been extremely frustrating, it still really strikes me, how absolutely amazing it is that a bunch of people can write a book and stick it out on the interwebs for everyone else to read and other people can download it instantly and never in a million years would I have thought, lo those many years ago when I was a painfully awkward kid in junior high school, always scribbling stories in notebooks, that this sort of technology would exist.

There are so very many things in our lives that are evidence of how we live in the future – computers so tiny they can live in our pocket, yet so powerful we have a world’s worth of information always at our fingertips, for example. One of those ‘future’ things I admit I usually don’t give much thought is the International Space Station, which has been floating around up there above our planet, with continuous human occupation, for more than 12 years. It’s kind of amazing, if you think about it, which I suspect most of you don’t, because hey, like that amazing device you have in your pocket, it’s just….there. It was mind-blowing when it first went up, and if you think hard about it, it is still a little bit mind-blowing that it’s still up there and that people are living on it, year round, but most of the time it’s just not something that most of us dwell on at all anymore.

But there’s this one astronaut – Commander Chris Hadfield – who has been tweeting the most amazing pictures, from the ISS, of that funny little blue marble on which we all live (if you are on twitter you really ought to be following him – his handle is @Cmdr_Hadfield). He has a wonderful sense of humor (as evidenced by this series of tweets shared with actors from Star Trek), and as it turns out, is quite musically talented too. He and Ed Robertson (from the Barenaked Ladies, who happen to be one our favorite musical groups) collaborated on a song and then the two of them, plus a local college choir and the rest of the Barenaked Ladies, all sang it together – Commander Hadfield from space, and the rest of them from, well, not space. You can see / hear it here.

And over the past few months, looking at the pictures Commander Hadfield has been posting, and then this morning, watching that video, it just struck me, how amazing it is to live in the future. Maybe by the time my niece and nephews are my age, this sort of thing will all be old hat and people will be zipping up to the moon for quick jaunts and the idea of a musical collaboration between earth and space will be nothing more unusual than a bunch of friends getting together to write a book for someone they know, but right now, this moment, the future we are living in is pretty damn awesome.

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