audio only Cosmos
Tuesday, February 9 2010
A few days ago a record-breaking snowstorm had dropped two and a half feet of snow on the Middle Atlantic region. Gretchen's parents somehow had been able to fly home to Washington from whatever they'd been doing in Ethiopia and, on the cab ride home, were astounded to see that only one lane was open in either direction on the Capital Beltway. Their cab had only been able to get them about five blocks from their house, as only the major streets had been plowed.
None of that snow (not a single flake) had reached us here in Hurley, though another big storm was on the way and, as always in such situations, it seemed prudent to scavenge some more wood from the nearby forest. Having fixed the little problems with my chainsaw, I cut up some nice dry pieces of downed trees I'd cut in the past as well as some downed new trees on the slope above the Stick Trail near the house. As I worked, I listened to the audio portion of Carl Sagan's Cosmos, the epic thirteen-part series that had been broadcast on public television in 1980 (during a period when my family didn't own a television). In the version I'd downloaded using Bittorrent, there were also updates to these broadcasts dating to at least as late as 1994 (in one scene showcasing the emergent "worldwide brain" there's even an image of an early Netscape web browser). The series featured a lot of stock imagery and shots of Sagan walking slowly and talking, so it works well as an audio-only experience. While the music can be a little cheesy (1980s synthesizer music has always sounded dreadful to me), the ideas are compelling and have aged well. Sagan knew a great deal from a vast swath of science, and he was good at digesting it and presenting it to intelligent people who might lack the prerequisites to understand scientifically complicated subjects. (Gretchen tells me she had fond memories of the original television broadcast, though she can't remember anything from it.)
After only about an hour of work, I was able to bring home nearly two carts of wood to restock the somewhat depleted firewood reserves in the woodshed.
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