Another adventure begins.
We have so far survived an earthquake, a couple of hurricanes, tornado warnings, and the threat of terrorist attacks. We have prepared our emergency kits, gassed up our cars, refilled our prescriptions, charged our cell phones and stockpiled our supplies. Some of us even finally bought that generator. In short, we are pretty much prepared and confident that we can face almost any thing this winter can throw at us even without the snow blower.
At least we were pretty confident until now but the latest news is that sometime between Thursday evening (September 22) and Saturday night (September 24), there’s going to be another “sky high event” and I ‘m not talking meteor shower this time. No … somewhere out there are six tons of an aging satellite that is returning to earth by freefalling. Scientists agree that most of this satellite will dissipate as it enters the earth’s atmosphere but there will be some pieces that will hit the earth somewhere between Alaska, South America, Europe and Australia. (Now that’s narrowing it down.)
As a matter of fact, they think it could land just about anywhere except in Antarctica but just where these pieces will hit and exactly when, they don’t know. (GPS does stand for global positional system doesn’t it? You’d think that if they can put something that big up there, they would at least be able to track it a little better but then this “lost in space explorer” was launched over 20 years ago. Didn’t they have the concept of “what goes up must come down” back then? That concept applies to almost everything except my weight.)
To their credit, NASA does have a link to keep the public updated on their predictions. There is even a publication you can upload called the Orbital Debris Quarterly News (ODQN) which is a “quarterly publication of the NASA Orbital Debris Program Office. The ODQN publishes some of the latest events in orbital debris research, offers orbital debris news and statistics…” according to their website.
They estimate that there will be about 26 large chunks of space junk (a “chunk of junk”) averaging about 250 pounds each that will found their way down here. They call their descent an “uncontrolled reentry” to earth. NASA feels that the odds are very slim of this junk hitting a populated area since over seventy-five per cent of the earth is covered by water but I don’t think that those cute dolphins are going to be “smiling” so much when they hear about this.
It just seems so ironic. No matter what you do or how well you take care of yourself, something’s going to get you. You do try to heed all the warnings. Buy bottled water because all those funny looking things that you looked at in biology class might be in your household water. Don’t eat sugar and fat but don’t use those sugar substitutes either because they’re bad for you too.
Chocolate is good for you one day and bad the next depending on which study you read and how overweight the participants were. Fresh fruits and vegetables are good but watch out because you can get Salmonella (or is that what the good ingredient in yogurt is called?). Listeria is the latest scare from eating cantaloupes … (Isn’t that also a street on “Desperate Housewives”? Listeria Lane? No, that’s Wisteria Lane I think.) Pink hamburger meat can give you E. coli. In fact, forget the red meat totally. Just eat chicken and fish but remember that you can also get mercury poisoning from the wrong kind of fish. (But if you eat the right kind of fish caught from the wrong location… wild grown versus farmed etc that’s bad too. I gotta ask, “Just how do you “farm” fish?
After all, fish aren’t vegetables that grow in the ground. And has anyone ever noticed that the bacteria Salmonella which can kill you has the word "salmon" in it and salmon is one of those foods that's supposed to keep you health. From all those warnings that pop out at you when your're just trying to check your email , you are informed that almost everything you do or eat will
cause cancer. Microwaving plastic and freezing plastic water bottles is also not recommended.
There are also the sanitary measures you need to take. Wash that tiny cut or that flesh eating bacteria is going to enter. You can get a staph infection from your gym’s towels and equipment. (It’s that same gym that you spend a fortune on and “sweat over” in order to stay healthy). Take the full course of antibiotics the doctor gave you but don’t overuse antibiotic cleaners and soaps because they
can do more harm than good by contributing to antibiotic resistant infections. Don’t forget household safety. In addition to getting yourself “tested” for various diseases, you need to have your house tested for carbon monoxide poisoning and radon too.
Walk for your health but don’t exercise outside when its code orange… or is it yellow? (I get the air quality colors and the homeland safety color alerts mixed up). If the air is coded purple, move far away. Buy an alarm system and get the highest safety rated car in case you get in an accident. Most importantly, DO NOT GET ANIMALS MAD. In addition to some of their bites, the diseases that they can give you could fill several years’ episodes of “When Animals Attack” (commonly referred to as, “When Good Critters Go Bad”.) There’s swine flu, bird flu, Hantavirus from mice, rabies, Lyme disease from deer ticks, and Mad cow disease. Those mosquitoes that used to just make you itch now threaten you with the West Nile virus. Bees that once stung can become “killer bees”.
The list of things to worry about is seemingly endless but something flying out of the sky and killing a person just “isn’t on my radar”. (Wish NASA had a better fix on those wayward satellites on their radar too.) The only time I’ve heard of something as bizarre as “space junk falling on my head” was when the Wicked Witch of the East (or was it West?) had a house land on her in The Wizard of Oz … that was caused by a tornado. But space junk?
The junk I ‘m most familiar with is all the junk in the house. Although not half as exciting as space junk, house junk can be just as deadly. Just ask anyone who has dared to try and open the closet doors … or kitchen drawers. Even opening the refrigerator freezer door can send a person straight to the ER for x rays.
A frozen steak may not be as exotic as a satellite piece and certainly doesn’t weigh as much but it picks up a lot of speed and force when it comes flying out of the freezer and lands with a thud on a person’s toes. (Speaking of junk, have I mentioned all the junk food in the refrigerator? Too much of that can kill you too)
No… I suppose no matter how you look at it, we’re never gonna get away from junk whether it’s in our refrigerator, an antique store, a yard sale, our mail, or a satellite in space. And danger will always surround us. At least in Maryland, we don’t have to worry about volcanoes … although there are a few items in my refrigerator that look like they may erupt soon.
Not much I can do about the space junk except buy a heavy duty motorcycle helmet. Guess I won’t look any stranger than all those people in China who walked around with masks on in the midst of the swine flu outbreak a couple of years ago. (Does renaming it H1N1 really fool anyone and make it any less scary?)
They say there’s a lot of truth to be found in fables and I believe they’re right they are right. “Chicken Little”, the sky really is falling and there’s not much we can do about it. (Wonder what the plane fare is to Antarctica. The air quality has got to be better out there … and a heck of a lot safer too.
This much I know … I don’t plan to be around when that “chunk of junk" flying through the air decides to land and goes "kerplunk”.