Andromeda

Adam Evans, CC BY 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

I’ve talked about the Andromeda Galaxy recently, but I will do so again with no apologies because I’m on a kick.

A fact I didn’t know until this year is that, apart from the Milky Way, there are 7 other galaxies visible to the naked eye in our night sky in the right conditions.

Here’s what the Andromeda Galaxy might look like with the naked eye in a very dark place.

ESO/B. Tafreshi, CC BY 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

My eyes have seen many things. A man urinating on the sidewalk in Chicago; a burnt piece of toast; a toenail under a church pew. I feel I’ve been robbed to not know until just now that I could use those same eyes to see a galaxy of a trillion stars hovering in the midnight like an accidental paint smear.

Check out this image the Hubble telescope captured.

This image, captured with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, is the largest and sharpest image ever taken of the Andromeda galaxy — otherwise known as M31. This is a cropped version of the full image and has 1.5 billion pixels. You would need more than 600 HD television screens to display the whole image. It is the biggest Hubble image ever released and shows over 100 million stars and thousands of star clusters embedded in a section of the galaxy’s pancake-shaped disc stretching across over 40 000 light-years. This image is too large to be easily displayed at full resolution and is best appreciated using the zoom tool.

Zoom around on the full resolution here (better on a computer).

Someone made a video on YouTube panning around the image, and watching it will threaten to crush your soul.

Comments under the video I appreciate:

Imagine someone in Andromeda is watching “Gigapixels of Milkyway [4K]”

Then I remind myself that the distance between any 2 of those points of lights needs to be measured in LIGHT YEARS!

I don’t know which is more terrifying to grasp: (1) the number of stars or (2) the volume empty space surrounding them.

There’s probably some huge galactic war we have no clue about

In 2021, NASA will be launching Hubble telescope’s big brother, James Webb Space Telescope. What will it reveal?

*

What does this mean for us? Why does it make my soul tremble with awe? Some see the image and wonder how people could ever doubt God’s existence. Others look and wonder why God would make so much just to impress a tiny species on a nearly invisible speck of dust called earth and then remain hidden (or allow that impression) when they suffer.

Whatever the truth is, it’s absolutely spellbinding.

Over It and Still Creating

I sometimes wonder what great creators later thought about their works.

Once I had a dream where I met John Steinbeck in an American diner in the 50s. When I looked around the room I almost missed him because he was waiting tables. Starstruck, I approached him and told him how much his work meant to me, how much I admired it, and how great it was in general. He looked past me and shrugged, then someone from the kitchen called his name and he put out his cigarette and went to get the tray.

Larry McMurtry, author of 45+ novels, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning Lonesome Dove, said the following about the book later:

I haven’t held Lonesome Dove in my hands or read it in years. I just don’t think much about my books, particularly not ones that go back 25 years.

(Source)

In another interview with NPR, he said the following:

If you don’t want to be realistic about your work, fine. If you think that such and such a book is the War & Peace of our time, fine and dandy. Nobody’s going to stop you from thinking that. I don’t happen to think that way. I think I’ve written some pretty good books. But I don’t think I’ve written a great book.

(Bold mine.)

It would be altogether unsurprising to me to learn that most of the art that has moved us the most came to mean almost nothing to those who made it in the end. For one thing, self doubt is too pervasive for it to not be a factor for some. For another, if what the creator makes is good enough, it will require every fiber of their energy and persistence to see it through to the end, and by the time they’re done with it they may wish they’d never even conceived of it. Lonesome Dove is 365,000+ words long.

While I wouldn’t dare compare myself to the two authors mentioned above, as a video creator for over 12 years now, I know keenly the feeling of always being compelled to create and always looking back on what I’ve made with indifference. It’s strange.

3 of My Favorite Workouts

Disclaimer: Exercise at your own risk. Listen to your body. I am not responsible for you hurting yourself doing one of these workouts.

Workout 1 – 300 Air Squats

This workout comes from my very favorite fitness account online, @DadWOD on Instagram.

Workout:

300 Air Squats for time

Every 30 squats, pause and do:

-15 Hand-Release Pushups

-15 Sit Ups

Put another way, set a timer and do 10 rounds of:

-30 Squats

-15 Hand-Release Pushups

-15 Sit Ups

See the demonstration here.

What I love about it.

  1. You need no equipment at all, only your body.
  2. There’s nowhere to hide on the pushups since you’re releasing your hands off the ground every time you go down. None of that half-way junk.
  3. It’s full-body and the 300 squats target your biggest muscle groups.

CAUTION: I am personally not a fan of sit ups. This workout rubbed the skin on my lower back raw. My new substitute for sit ups is a 4-count flutter kick (demo here).

Workout 2 – Kettlebell Khaos

This is my favorite kettlebell workout. When I first started doing it, I couldn’t get through the first round (there are 3). I’ll never forget the feeling when I finished the whole thing for the first time. It was blissful in one way and grueling in another.

Here’s the video that explains the workout:

And here’s the whole thing in text:

Round 1 – 10 mins

This round is an AMRAP (As Many Reps/Rounds as Possible), and you alternate the sides you work. Work through all 6 on the left side, then all 6 on the right, and repeat continuously for 10 minutes.

5 Kettlebell Pushup
5 Row
5 Deadlift
5 Cleans
5 Racked Squat
5 Shoulder Press

Round 2 – 40s work/20s rest
Snatch
Goblet Squat & Reverse Lunge
Alternating Single-Arm Swing
Cross-Body Clean
Swing to Squat

Repeat for other side of body.

Round 3
Kettlebell Swing/Burpee
1 swing/7 burpees
2/6
3/5
4/4
5/3
6/2
7/1

I started this workout with a 35 lb. kettlebell and couldn’t finish. Unless you’re in great shape, I would recommend starting lighter.

What I love about it.

  1. It’s very difficult.
  2. It’s full-body like few workouts are. I’m not sure if anything isn’t worked out here.
  3. I just feels so good to complete it.

CAUTION: Before you jump in to a kettlebell workout, please make sure you understand how to execute the movements.

Workout 3 – The Pfeil Pfurnace

If you really want to feel an insane burn in your whole body with a focus on your legs, here’s your plan.

For Time
-80 kettlebell goblet thrusters (demo)
-80 kettlebell swings (demo)
-80 kettlebell goblet reverse lunges (demo, but don’t do just one leg)
-40 burpees (demo)

This usually takes me about 18:00 minutes, and every minute is awful. It always gives me butterflies before I start; I always want to quit before the end.

I’ve worked through this sequentially, doing only thrusters until I’ve done 80, then moving on to swings, etc. You can also break it up into 4 rounds of 20 of each exercise. It’s impossible to make it easy, and that’s the point.

(My friends came up with this name after I put them through this workout one morning, and I changed the spelling for branding purposes.)

What I love about it.

  1. It’s very intense. You can feel the burn all day.
  2. It’s named after me.
  3. It focuses on the major muscles of your body, as good workouts should.

CAUTION: This workout could make you extremely sore. The first time I did it with a 35 lb. kettlebell, I was miserably sore for 5+ days.

The Old Wall Stud

At a shoot this week I recorded someone sawing through an old stud in a house built probably more than 50 years ago. The wood was brittle and grey with age. When it fell to the ground I walked over to it as a joke and picked it up. “Thank you, dear stud,” I said as a joke, “you have served us well.”

Then I couldn’t help but wonder how long it had been there in that house, quietly doing its part to hold it together. When you stop to consider what is the nature of even the simplest things, it’s often more than your mind is ready for. I wondered out loud, “When was the seed planted for this wood?” The girl who sawed through it paused with a far off look in her eyes and simply said, “Wow.”

The truth is, I interacted with that wood during one phase of its journey, and there’s no way of knowing how close to the end of it we are. I’ll never touch that piece of wood again. And what will happen to it? Maybe it will be collected and repurposed into a side table and sold on Etsy. Maybe it will be burned in a campfire in a few years while a child roasts a s’more on its flame. Maybe it will be buried and rot into the earth. The possible outcomes are infinite. What is certain is that it will change.

Everything is in transition, is on a journey. Not everything that seems like the end really is.

The Final 10%

I’ll never forget spring break of my senior year of high school. A few friends and I convinced our parents to let us drive from the panhandle of Texas to LA for spring break. Our plan was to find a spot on the beach and rough it for 2 nights.

I had never driven to California. We drove through the night, and when we crossed the border at dawn I thought we were minutes away from the beach. Over every hill I expected to see sand, and for mile after mile I sat on the edge of my seat waiting. We would overtake a hill and see nothing but more hills in the distance. It was like climbing that first ascent on a roller coaster only to find an endless succession of more climbs at the top.

It was a full 4.5 hours before we saw the Pacific.

The last part of any journey is usually what feels the longest. Most of your energy is required for the final 10%.