You Must Look for the Good News

It’s the holiday season in the U.S. and many other nations (though different holidays and traditions, see my December Celebrations posts). If you are on Facebook or Twitter, you cannot help but feel overpowered with the negatives—racism, gender discrimination, hate crimes, and on and on. And all the while there are beautiful, creative, and giving people all around the world making a difference with their big hearts and ideas. But to find it, you must look for the good news.

Look for the good news--service members and residents picking up bags of trash on beach of Diego Garcia.
Service members and residents of Diego Garcia, British Indian Ocean Territory, clean up trash at Barton Point Sept. 14. More than 130 personnel attended the beach cleanup, assisting in the collection of 4,100 lbs. of trash. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Eric A. Pastor).

I am not saying we should ignore the problems in the world, nor am I saying we should only read the good news. Making either exclusive would be to our detriment. But the good news gets little notice. And that hurts us, too. It’s especially disturbing during the holidays.

It takes a little work to find the good news, because it lacks the sensationalism that gets clicks or sells papers. But it is well worth the time. 

Documenting History

These indigenous women are documenting and disseminating an endangered language, culture, and oral history. And they’re doing so in an environmentally friendly way. Read this article on Atlas Obscura

Homes for Homeless Veterans

Image of a row of tiny homes flying American flags.
Tiny Home community in Kansas City. Image courtesy of Fox4Kc.com

The Right Step

You’re in the bottom of your league and win a game against one of the other teams in the bottom. A moment of victory, a cause for celebration, right? Well, these Israeli women on the Lacrosse Team decided there was an inequity they needed to right. A step they needed to take.

A Tradition Grew

And this woman turned a Thanksgiving tradition into a warm and wonderful way to reach out to U.S. military members far from home during the holidays: handwritten holiday cards.

Look for the Good News

In the U.S. December is when many news sources report a little of the good news. They do this to be in the “spirit of the season.” No matter what season it is where you are, if you look for the good news, you’ll find it all year long.  Two sources of “good news” I’ve found include the Good News Network and a print magazine called For. Do you have sources for good news? Won’t you share them here?

Your Out-of-This-World Vacation

It’s possible that in 2025 there will be a hotel orbiting the Earth. You can plan your out-of-this-world vacation today, but would you? Would you be willing to be one of the first to stay in the orbiting hotel?

Image of the hatch of the International Space station hovering over the blue and white Earth. Would you plan your out-of-this-world vacation for views like that?

Who Will Build it?

In 2018 National Geographic published an article about, Orion Span, a Houston-based space tech startup. Orion announced plans to launch the first-ever luxury space hotel into Earth’s orbit.

The Gateway Foundation, a private company is developing plans for the orbiting Von Braun Rotating Space Station.

Axiom Space is another company planning a space hotel. Their plan includes building their first module or two attached to the International Space Station. When ISS retires in 2025, the Axiom modules will separate from ISS to become independent orbiting objects. 

Who Will Stay There?

The Von Braun station will accommodate both scientific research and visiting tourists. Designed to be the largest human-made structure in space, it will house up to 450 people.

Orion says intend to offer short- and long-term leases to governments, to lease for government and private manufacturing and research, and up to four space tourists can visit for twelve days.

Axiom offers trips to space tourists who want to take part in experiments on ISS. They will help you decide on an experiment.

Special Training

According to Orion’s website, they’ve streamlined the pre-launch training down to a three-month period. The final training would occur in orbit. 

Axiom’s website says to expect several weeks of training “just like the astronauts” do for NASA.

When Can You Go?

The Gateway Foundation intends for the main structures and basic functions to be operational in 2025. They will complete it in 2027. 

Orion expects to host their first guest on the Aurora Station in 2022.

Axiom aims to launch their first two modules to ISS in 2022. 

What Will the Station Look Like? 

See the video projection of what the Aurora will look like on CNN.

Gateway’s Von Braun Station will look like this:

Axiom’s vision looks like this:

The Risk of Going to Space

The first and most obvious one is a catastrophic failure during launch, during your stay, or during your trip back to Earth. 

In space there’s radiation, confined spaces, isolation.

The distance to the Earth is also a hazard. First aid is available and so are more advanced medical treatments but a serious illness or injury may pose extra hazards.  

Health Risks

“Without gravity working on your body, your bones lose minerals, with density dropping at over 1% per month. By comparison, the rate of bone loss for elderly men and women on Earth is from 1% to 1.5% per year.” Even after returning to Earth, you could be at greater risk of osteoporosis-related fractures later in life. 

The fluids in your body will shift upwards to your head. This will give you a “moon face” and nasal congestion. But it can also put pressure on your eyes causing vision problems. They have developed compression cuffs for your thighs to help keep body fluids in your lower extremities.

Some people experience balance disorders, nausea, and  sleep disturbances.

Microbes can change characteristics in space, and microorganisms that naturally live on your body transfer more easily from person to person in closed habitats like a space station. Being in space elevates your stress hormone levels and alters your immune system. That could lead to increased susceptibility to allergies or other illnesses, and disease.

There are many areas of change that seem to affect each individual differently. Taste is one of those changes. Some people think food tastes bland in space. Strong tastes aren’t as enjoyable as on Earth to others. And some aren’t bothered at all.

For a discussion of how long-term space travel affects the human body, see NASA’s Human Body in Space article.

Or read about former astronaut, Scott Kelly, who spent a year in space and is dealing with the changes his body endured.

Space tourists should know the changes and how to counteract them. But each individual will have to decide what level of risk they will tolerate. 

Would You Plan Your Out-of-this-world Vacation?

When I first wrote The Repairmen, I did not include hotels in orbit. I will be rewriting that story in the near future. The rewrite will include space stations and hotels and who knows what else. Unfortunately, that will be as close as I get to taking an out-of-this-world vacation. Would I plan one if I met the criteria? You betcha!

Assuming you had the spare cash and fit the health profile, would you plan your out-of-this-world vacation? Can you imagine what it would be like to play zero-g basketball or ping pong? Is there any more exotic location for a first or second honeymoon? So tell me readers, would you go?

The Most Special Month

Welcome to December, the last month of the calendar year. As I thought about the posts for this month, my thoughts turned to December as the end of the year. But it’s not just an end. According to some, this is the most special month of the year.

The Most Special Month of Holidays

Image of a hand holding a Christmas tree of silver snowflakes and stars celebrating the Most Special Month

It’s a month of many holidays. See my posts from last year that gave you a little information about each holiday. 

I’ve established that Christmas is my favorite holiday in these posts. 

The Most Special Month of Birthdays

Image with pinned cards for each letter of the phrase Happy Birthday

December is THE birthday month. Why? 

For Christians (those who keep the spirit of Christianity), it’s the month we celebrate Christ’s birthday. That makes it an important birthday. 

The second reason it’s THE birthday month? It’s my son’s birthday. His birth was the very best give I ever got.

December also includes one of my best friends’ birthday. And it includes a beloved aunt’s birthday (though she passed away many years ago) . Plus, many of my internet friends have birthdays in December.

Finally, December is my birthday month. Yay!

The great thing about getting older is that you don’t lose all the other ages you’ve been. Madeleine L’Engle

It’s the End of the Year

Christmas is a season not only of rejoicing but of reflection.

Winston Churchill

It’s a time of year when we look back to see what we’ve accomplished and celebrated and lost. There are always some losses during a year. It’s the nature of things. 

There are always deaths and medical or emotional challenges during the year. These losses can cut to the quick.

There are always losses in things we didn’t do or accomplish or finish. Do you take those losses as signs of failures? I used to. But what if they aren’t failures? 

What if they were changes or new information? They may have been paths you tried and discovered didn’t work for you. Or they were an overly ambitious goal under the circumstances. Or they were something you thought you wanted and learned you really didn’t. Those aren’t failures. Those are steps on the path of life, on the path of learning.

Year’s end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us. Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right.

Oprah Winfrey

This year, try to see the losses as part of the balance of things, the circle of life (if you’ll excuse my use of that phrase). 

A Note for those who Find December Depressing

Don’t take this post as an admonishment if you suffer from depression. Depression is real. It can be more than “mental,” it can be a physical ailment. People who live with depression battle some of the most difficult demons in life and are some of the strongest people I know. 

I hope reading my post, Alone for the Holidays, will help. If depression is making your daily activities difficult, reach out for help. Visit the national mental health help site. If you don’t have a therapist or counselor, call SAMHSA Treatment Referral Helpline, 1-877-726-4727. Or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1-800-273-8255 or Live Online Chat.

The Most Special Month

Make your December the most special month. Celebrate your learning, your growth, your achievements, your “losses,” and YOUR favorite holiday. Won’t you help me celebrate by sharing your end of year or holiday reflections?