Back on May 25, 1961, then President John Kennedy announced to a joint session of Congress that it was his intention to do everything necessary to put an American on the moon by the end of the decade, a promise that was fulfilled on July 20, 1969, a mere eight years and change later, when Astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed the lunar module Eagle on the moon’s surface. The flurry of NASA activity during those years was in direct response to the various Russian successes in space exploration in the late ‘50s, notably the launch and successful orbiting of the satellite Sputnik, the first manned sub-orbital flight of Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin and the insertion into earth orbit and subsequent return via rocket/capsule of Dogmonaut Laika.

It is always been a source of no small amazement to me what this country can accomplish when given a “goose” with a large enough cattle prod.

I was almost finished with fourth grade at Our Lady of Perpetual Motion grade school when President Kennedy made his historic commitment that May, and I have been fascinated by space/space exploration ever since. The original Mercury guys, the ones novelist Tom Wolfe said possessed the “right stuff”, the later astronauts like White, Lovell, Chaffee and Haise, heroes all, the awe-inspiring launches of the massive rockets from Cape Canaveral, the name later changed to Cape Kennedy to honor the man who seriously got the ball rolling, the Voyager missions in the ‘70s, the Mars rovers Opportunity and later Curiosity, the International Space Station, even all the great science fiction of Heinlein, Bradbury, Asimov, Burroughs and Michener (I have read many of  Mr. Michener’s works, and for my money, Space was one of his finest novels), all of these things and many more have contributed to my ongoing love of everything “out there”. Throw in all the great movies/TV shows like Star Trek, Contact, Star Wars, The Right Stuff, the Alien series, even spoofs like Mel Brooks’ Spaceballs and the spot-on hilarious Galaxy Quest and you get an idea of my fascination with the concept that homo sapiens will someday go off-planet, “to boldly go where no one has gone before”. (I briefly toyed with the idea of moving to Mars recently, but sadly, in response to the immigration crisis facing this country, I’m told that President Donald “Tweety Bird” Trump intends to close the border between here and there, making the move impossible.)

I read with great enthusiasm all the articles I come across involving “space”, including the one I read just this morning (see link below), in which researchers at the National Science Foundation announced that back in May of 2017, per CNN, they were able, using a “global network of telescopes to see and capture the first-ever picture of a black hole”. Until recently, it was not generally known that black holes are in fact extremely camera shy.

I suspect the reason we haven’t previously been able to obtain visual images of these amazing phenomena is simply the incredible distances involved; the said “supermassive” black hole is located near the center of the Messier 87 galaxy, or M87, which is roughly 55 million light years from Earth. (You will recall from my post of 3/14/19 ENGLISH AS A SECOND LANGUAGE_PART TWO that a light year is 1.9 TRILLION miles…I tried to multiply 1.9 trillion by 55 million using the calculator on my desktop computer and it laughed at me.) In addition to being one helluva long way off, the black hole is incomprehensively large, having a mass 6.5 BILLION times that of our Sun, or about the weight/mass of our current President.

Space…the final frontier.

Speaking of space(y), hardly a day goes by that I don’t receive a letter, an email, a text, a telegram, a CandyGram (remember that great scene in Blazing Saddles where Cleavon Little, dressed as an old-time telegram delivery guy, marches into the saloon with a box of chocolates in his hand, calling out “CandyGram for Mongo, CandyGram for Mongo”), a smoke signal or a secret decoder-ring message, seeking my help and/or advice on someone’s love life, or lack thereof.

Yeah, right…asking me for help with your love life is like asking a kindergartener for tips on the stock market.

But people do write me, and occasionally I like to share some of the more pathetic, er, excuse me, the more heart-rending stories that I hear about love unrequited, or non-negotiable at least, with you, my loyal readers.

By your leave…

“Dear Cap’n John:

                I’m a single female in my late 20s, a classic case of “never a bride, always a turret lathe operator”; I’m a school teacher by profession, providing pre-schoolers with instruction on the stock market and investments. My luck with men is catastrophic…if my love life was a financial matter, I would be the ’08 recession. I live in a rural area, and I recently met a guy at a cud-chewing contest who I really have a case of serious hormonal attraction for; he was there with his pet Guernsey Hermione, and he seemed quite attached to the beast. Cap’n John, what can I do to take his mind off the milker and get his attention refocused on someone with a much smaller set of mammary glands?

                                Tired Of Being A Milk “Maid” in Mooville”

Dear “Maid”:

                Think you’ve got it rough, how would you like to be the guy who administers enemas to constipated bovines? Eeeeeyeewww. (FYI, they’re not taken orally.)

“Dear CJK:

                I sure hope you can help me, Cap’n…I’m at my wit’s end. I’ve been dating a guy who is a NASA scientist for over five years now (I’ll call him Bob, although his name is actually Robert) and despite the fact that my biological clock is starting to sound like a Canaveral countdown, Ol’ Bob still hasn’t popped the question. He’s a great guy, good-looking and very smart but preoccupied with things like propulsion, rato jets, Moon rocks and the theory of reliability, or some such silly thing. Any suggestions on how I can get Rocket Man off the launch pad and into my heavenly body?

                                Mary from Mission Control”

Dear Mary:

                I’d look Slide Rule Bob in the eye and ask him if he’s ever had an Atlas rocket enema and then offer to provide one for him if he doesn’t start thinking more about a trip to the altar than the manned mission to Mars.

“Dear Cap’n:

                Where can a mid-30s single hetero male find an attractive, intelligent woman with all her own teeth that wants to pursue a serious relationship? Yeah, I know, it’s a rhetorical question, but boy, I sure wish I had an answer for it. I’ve tried online dating services, singles bars, cud-chewing contests, tribal gatherings and church socials (I’m a lay deacon at Our Lady of the Blessed Fundament church) with absolutely no luck at all. I’ve gotten so desperate that now I’m writing to a guy who, sorry, no offense, hasn’t had a steady girlfriend in this century, asking for dating advice. Please help me, Obi-Wan, you’re my last hope.

                                A “Lay” Deacon In Name Only”

Dear Lay:

                “…hasn’t had a girlfriend in this century.” Hey, Church Boy, you ever had an Atlas rocket enema?

“Dear Kris Johnsongs Cap’n:

                You have ignored our repeated attempts to collect this debt, making it necessary…”

Never mind that one.

“Dear Cap’n John:

                I read your WATRUK blog every week, which might explain why women think I’m mentally challenged. When I’m not raising gerbils for fun and profit as a hobby, I date with some regularity, if you want to call once a millennia regular. I’m a dressing room attendant at Thongs R’ Us, so I get to meet many attractive, single women, but meeting them is one thing, getting them to go out with me another. I’m not ugly or socially awkward (well, not much anyway), but I just can’t seem to click with that “special girl”. Any ideas on what I can do to kick-start my love life, oh Dating Guru?

                                Reese N. Thong”

Dear Reese:

                Remember when thongs were something you wore on your feet and “flip-flop” meant you reversed your course 180 degrees? Ah, the good old days, when men were hairy-chested, women double-breasted and being a Republican wasn’t a social stigma, remember them? Yeah, me neither.

Well, according to the “word count” thingie at the bottom of my screen, I’m now 1.9 trillion miles into this post, so I’m pretty sure it’s time to quit. I sincerely hope the above has helped any of you having problems with the opposite sex, although I’m pretty sure it didn’t. (I’m told by experts at NASA that ”opposite sex” requires a trombone, a 15-amp fuse, a Chia Pet and a 55-gallon drum of CoolWhip.)

Space, in between my ears.

Love and galaxies,

Cap’n John