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  • Writer's pictureJack McDevitt

Blog #54

The world is overwhelmed by the Coronavirus to a degree that no other topic is significant. I’m currently reading The Sun Also Rises and Lisa Randall’s Knocking On Heaven’s Door, a description of where science is headed that is actually not only an easy read but absorbing. But I realize no one’s likely to care about that during this difficult era. If anyone had asked me this past Christmas about the scariest time in my life, I’d have started talking about the nuclear showdown with the USSR in 1962 over the Cuban missiles. We were lucky to have had Jack Kennedy in the White House. An overactive president could easily have gotten us all killed.

Yesterday, April 14, was my birthday. Ordinarily birthdays are no big deal. Except of course the original one. But something happened yesterday that I hadn’t seen before. My Facebook page picked up greetings from hundreds of well-wishers. There’s never been anything remotely like that in past years, and I can’t account for it. But it actually became a distraction from all the events taking place outside the house, people wearing masks, employees in supermarkets being put at risk, first responders and medical people struggling against an epidemic. I’d like to take advantage of this moment to say thanks to everyone. It reminded me of why we matter so much to each other. I’ve said it before, but never seen it hit home with such force, the secret to a happy life is lunch with friends.

Years ago, my father pointed out to me that April 14 had historically been a day of disaster. In 1906 on that date, Mt. Vesuvius exploded. During other years Abe Lincoln was assassinated and the Titanic went down.

Paraphrasing Neil deGrasse Tyson’s remark, sometimes the universe plays games with us. That’s what yesterday felt like.

Closing comment: Please, everybody, stay safe. Take no chances. Let’s all make sure we come out the other side.

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