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I was in a restaurant the other day
when some Christmas music started to play.
It was Bing Crosby singing,
"I'll be home for Christmas."
I had a flash back to my years before
when I was alone on Christmas, first time.
I had just turned twenty in
San Diego, a U.S. Navy, enlisted man.
I had gone to dinner, alone
and did find a phone to call
my parents and wish them a Merry Christmas.
We celebrated the event of Christmas Eve
and would open presents, then off to
church for a Midnight Service.
I was alone, lonely and missing my family.
Not old enough, by law, to have
a drink. There was a feeling that
I still recall, when Bing Crosby started
to croon, "I'll be home for Christmas."
When ever I hear that song it takes
me back to that lonely time
in San Diego.

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Mammatus Clouds over Nebraska

Posted by Specola • Posted on 12/15/2019 at 12:16PM Photography See more by Specola

NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day:

When do cloud bottoms appear like bubbles? Normally, cloud bottoms are flat. This is because moist warm air that rises and cools will condense into water droplets at a specific temperature, which usually corresponds to a very specific height. As water droplets grow, an opaque cloud forms. Under some conditions, however, cloud pockets can develop that contain large droplets of water or ice that fall into clear air as they evaporate. Such pockets may occur in turbulent air near a thunderstorm. Resulting mammatus clouds can appear especially dramatic if sunlit from the side. The mammatus clouds pictured here were photographed over Hastings, Nebraska during 2004 June.

Photo by Jorn Olsen Photography

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Interstellar Comet 2I/Borisov

Posted by Specola • Posted on 12/14/2019 at 12:16PM Photography See more by Specola

NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day:

From somewhere else in the Milky Way galaxy, Comet 2I/Borisov is just visiting the Solar System. Discovered by Crimean amateur astronomer Gennady Borisov on August 30, 2019, the first known interstellar comet is captured in these two recent Hubble Space Telescope images. On the left, a distant background galaxy near the line-of-sight to Borisov is blurred as Hubble tracked the speeding comet and dust tail about 327 million kilometers from Earth. At right, 2I/Borisov appears shortly after perihelion, its closest approach to Sun. Borisov's closest approach to our fair planet, a distance of about 290 million kilometers, will come on December 28. Even though Hubble's sharp images don't resolve the comet's nucleus, they do lead to estimates of less than 1 kilometer for its diameter.

The time draws close these days I'm alive
for in a few days I will be eighty-five.
An age I never thought I would see
with my youthful display of debauchery.
Chasing women, drinking wine in cars,
spending many hours, drinking in bars.
But in my defense, I started to run
and realized, in running, I was still having fun.
More fun than anything, that I did before,
except playing soccer when a header I did score.

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Loy • 12/15/2019 at 10:23AM • Like 1

Happy 85th! That running paid off!

The scurrying of paws
across the floor,
meant that I wasn't alone,
not anymore.
Creatures with claws, gathered
to leap,
so I rose unsteadily
to my aged, old feet.
Turning around, I had a glance
seeing my two grand dogs
starting to prance.
Glad to see me, at least on that day
and they came up to me
as if to say, " we miss you grandpa"
please throw the ball today.

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Full Moon Geminids

Posted by Specola • Posted on 12/13/2019 at 12:16PM Photography See more by Specola

NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day:

The dependable annual Geminid meteor shower will be near its peak tonight (December 13/14) and before tomorrow's dawn. As Earth crosses through the dusty trail of active asteroid 3200 Phaethon the meteors will flash through the sky from the shower's radiant in Gemini. Gemini will be pretty easy for skygazers to find too as it won't be far from a nearly full waning gibbous Moon. You don't have look at the shower's radiant to see meteors though. The almost full moonlight won't hide the brightest of the Geminids from view either, but it will substantially reduce the rate of visible meteors for those who are counting. In fact, the 2019 Geminids should look a lot like the 2016 meteor shower This composite image from the 2016 Geminids aligns individual short exposures to capture many of the brighter Geminid meteors, inspite of a Full Moon shining near the constellation of the Twins. Along the horizon are the Teide Observatory's Solar Laboratory (right) and the Teide volcano on the Canary Island of Tenerife.

Photo by Juan Carlos Casado

Going down a trail,
when I was young.
A trial of mud slick
ruts, on which to run
astride a Honda Trail 55.
No helmet required
for the ride. Wet clay
and mud on that day,
a good thing to stay away.
When tires are narrow
they'll slip and slide
which provides a
sloppy, scary ride.
Down the hill, did I go,
slipping and sliding,
oh what a show.
Safe at last at the
muddy bottom
on this fine day
one early Idaho Autumn.

I'm thinking back to my
Navy days.
The memories are to still
there to amaze.
I was the Mail P.O. on
this small ship.
A Postal Clerk who
distributed the mail,
from my small pantry
sized jail.
I would sell money orders
on Pay Days, to those
who wanted to save.
When in Port, my duty
was to go to the FPO
or Fleet Post Office
to deliver/pick up
the US Mail.
When we were at sea,
there wasn't any activity.
On occasion, my Superior,
an Ensign, as I recall,
would tell me we were
going to make a Guard
Mail Run. Guard Mail
consisted of Confidential
or Secret information,
that was used for
upcoming fleet operations,
or our ship movement.
When this occurred, I would
strap on my Colt, Model 1911,
45 caliber, automatic and
follow 5 paces behind the Ensign.
I was there for protections. Problem
was there was not any ammo in my clip.
If something was to happen, I suppose
I would throw my gun at the attacker.
No such event occurred, but those
were very different times.

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Decorating the Sky

Posted by Specola • Posted on 12/12/2019 at 12:16PM Photography See more by Specola

NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day:

Bright stars, clouds of dust and glowing nebulae decorate this cosmic scene, a skyscape just north of Orion's belt. Close to the plane of our Milky Way galaxy, the wide field view spans about 5.5 degrees. Striking bluish M78, a reflection nebula, is on the right. M78's tint is due to dust preferentially reflecting the blue light of hot, young stars. In colorful contrast, the red sash of glowing hydrogen gas sweeping through the center is part of the region's faint but extensive emission nebula known as Barnard's Loop. At lower left, a dark dust cloud forms a prominent silhouette cataloged as LDN 1622. While M78 and the complex Barnard's Loop are some 1,500 light-years away, LDN 1622 is likely to be much closer, only about 500 light-years distant from our fair planet Earth.

Photo by Leonardo Julio

Away all boats, that was the call.
Away all boats to the far Atoll.
This wasn't a war but that command,
was in my mind when approaching glistening sand.
Our ship was anchored in a Tropical Lagoon
and Liberty Call would be announced soon.
Liberty for us, on this Tropical Isle,
would be to walk about, for a long while;
to observe and to help where we could
and to make sure that we understood,
that those we met were simple but good.
A brief glimpse, from my aged mind,
of an adventure, that will often remind
the differences, we can now see,
between the Races, more different than we.

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