Sunday, July 9, 2017

Reflections upon another circumnavigation of the sun

It took a few minutes of lying there in the bed with one eye open listening to the birds cheep outside before I remembered that today was my birthday. Before that it was just another sleepy Sunday morning. The problem is, that left alone long enough, my thoughts typically turn geeky.

The first question that popped up in my brain was how far I have come in all this time; the earth rotates on its axis once every 24 hours and the circumference of the earth is roughly 24,000 miles. So a person standing on the equator is moving at 1,000 miles per hour relative to the center of the earth, roughly 867 MPH at my latitude. So in a year that would be 7,594,920 miles adding up to 546,834,240 miles travelled over my lifetime assuming I was standing still. Yikes! I’ve been around a bit!

But let’s not stop there. Let’s see: the distance between the sun and the earth is roughly 92,960,000 miles, so it travels 584,086,272 miles around the sun in a year. So I have traveled 42,054,211,584 miles in my lifetime. Forty two TRILLION miles! Now if I only had a dime for every one of those frequent flyer miles!

Dare I take this any further? Why not: the distance from the sun to the center of the Milky Way Galaxy is about 621,371,192,237,333,888 miles give or take a mile. The speed of the sun is has been calculated by someone smarter than me to be 514,495.347 miles per hour, nearly 6 miles per second. Now, I’m really flying, 0.00320% of the speed of light. Can I hear it for a red shift! Now we are really getting somewhere!!!

So much for how far I’ve come, what about my childhood dreams, how have I done? I’m glad to report that I’ve been blessed with accomplishing both of my typically diverse “fry cook or brain surgeon” dreams. I wanted to be a pilot and also to be a DJ on the radio from almost the time I can remember. The path for both of those came together when I came to the University of South Carolina as a Naval ROTC Midshipman in the fall of 1963.

As a midshipman, in 1965, during my Second Class Cruise, the Navy provided me with my first hands on experience with aircraft. First came the venerable T-34 roaring off the sizzling hot runway of Corpus Christi Naval Air station to soar amongst the cumulus clouds billowing blindingly bright in a deep blue Texas sky. I can remember that morning like it was yesterday, climbing out with the canopy slid back wide open looking down at a younger version of me riding across the causeway in his family sedan waving like crazy to get my attention. I responded with a gentle wing rock much to the amusement of my instructor pilot in the back seat.

Next I got some multi – engine time in a Grumman S-2F Tracker. But I had to share “stick time” with two other midshipmen on that flight. Finally, they walked me out to a Grumman F9F/F-9 Cougar sitting on the tarmac. Hot dog! This was what I was waiting for. My instructor pilot was crazier than I was back then and we had a ball, even flying over the Alamo inverted! That was a round trip of a little over 30 minutes so we had plenty of time to play above the clouds. After leaving the Naval Reserve, I was able to follow up on the civilian side getting my private, commercial, instrument and flight instructor licenses then teaching others to fly after work hours. Dream #1 fulfilled, check!

That same pivotal year, 1963 found me discovering, thanks to a guy who lived on the same hall in my dorm, the radio station on campus. I soon discovered that I had a knack for spinning tunes and soon enough, I was doing a regular weekly show there. It was an AM station back then at 730 on the dial. I was hooked. I would go into broadcasting. From there, for most of the next 50 plus years, I would be working on one side of the microphone or the other, even branching out into television and later into computer systems management. This day, I still do some IT consulting but have returned to the DJ role in my semi-retirement. Dream #2 fulfilled, check!

Still, despite the accomplishment of my childhood dreams, I realize that the biggest gift of my life is not fulfilling those childhood dreams. Sure those memories are a blessing now but the thing I value most being surrounded by my family and friends. As I sit here remembering I can see all those faces and smiles in the hallways of my memories! That is my joy! I am the richest guy in the world. Oh MY!

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