Twice is a Blue Moon

There will be a full moon tonight, Aug. 31. What makes this moon more special than all the other full moons is that it is referred to as a “Blue Moon.”

The last full moon…taken in Marion, Iowa. The “blue moon” occurring tonight will be the last one until 2015. (Photo by Cynthia Petersen)

The term has long been used to describe rare or absurd happenings, as in “once in a blue moon.”

According to, farmers  once used it to describe the third full moon in a season (spring, summer,  autumn or winter) that has four full moons, instead of the usual three. But most people know it as a second full moon in one month.

The next blue moon won’t occur until 2015.

Upon digging deeper, I found out that the earliest recorded English usage of the term “blue moon” (according to Wikipedia) was in a 1524 pamphlet violently attacking the English clergy,entitled “Rede Me and Be Not Wrothe” (“Read me and be not angry”; or possibly “Counsel Me and Be Not Angry”): “If they say the moon is belewe / We must believe that it is true” [If they say the moon is blue, we must believe that it is true].

So, no, most moons are not blue, but can take on a bluish tint, according to some experts, mostly from dust and smoke.

With the recent passing of astronaut Neil Armstrong, it seems only fitting that we take a moment to think about what it must have felt like to be the first human being to step foot on such a massive rock.

Not only did Armstrong’s “giant leap for mankind” open the doors for even more space exploration, but he changed the very way we think. No more did the idea of flying to the moon seem outrageous; they did it.

And now we can sit back and watch (on our high-definition, 3-D televisions sets, and our smartphones and computers) video and photos from Mars that are made possible by a landrover that traveled millions of miles.

Wow. Do you think it’s possible that the small step one man took was enough to open the minds of so many?

You bet it did. And it will continue to do so, as long as we keep looking toward the moon and the stars, and remember where it all started.

Global warming isn’t a myth

I wrote an editorial a few weeks ago about how global warming is real but there are still so many people who don’t believe it or simply don’t care.

Carbons and other gases that we are emitting into our atmosphere through factories and vehicles are suffocating our environment. Our ice caps and glaciers are melting at an accelerated rate (especially in the last decade) and if we don’t figure out a way to slow it down, the rising water could affect parts of New Orleans and Miami.

I’m not perfect; I drive a car, I don’t always recycle, and I’m not always environmentally conscious. But I do believe that if more people understood that what we do today will affect our children and grandchildren’s future, they would take it more seriously.

Unfortunately, it seems as though the majority of the world would rather ignore it than deal with it. Many people believe that China’s sudden industrial revolution is the cause of the increase in greenhouse gases, and they may add to it, but they are not the cause.

According to National Geographic, the U.S. has been emitting these gases for a longer period, making us the leader in gas emissions.

But at a time when we should be finding more cleaner ways to produce energy, we are still polluting the atmosphere, making it tougher to fight the effects of greenhouse gases and global warming.

What is our part is all this?

No one expects us to drop what we’re doing and go back to the caveman days. But we do need to be more conscious about how our actions affect the planet. We can recycle, ride a bike or bus to work (or car-pool), buy items that are more environmentally friendly, or buy reusable containers for water and drinks, reducing the need for plastic bottles.

We can also support programs that introduce cleaner energy, including wind, solar, and water power. Many people are concerned about using nuclear power, but if we could figure out a way to dispose of the waste, it could possible be the best kind of clean energy we have.

Global warming is real. It isn’t just an excuse used to scare people into taking care of the environment. If we don’t take care of the Earth now, we may not have to deal with the consequences, but our future generations will.

And if we don’t care, what is that teaching our children?

Summer nights in Iowa

As I was sitting on the back steps last night listening to the cicadas and enjoying a moment of peace, I was reminded of the summer nights I spent as a kid, running wild and playing with my friends.

Summers in Iowa were a lot like this year, stifling heat, but much more humid.

We didn’t have the air conditioning to cool us off, so we did our best to catch a breeze when we could, or spent the day at the cement wading pool at Bever Park. If I was really lucky, my mom would give me a dime to buy a popsicle from the concession stand, and I would try to eat it fast, before the juice ran down my arm.

Nights were spent playing hide-and-seek, ghost graveyard, or seven steps around the house. There was no reason to be in the hot house; we only had four channels on our TV and no computers or video games. We stayed outside until the very last moment when we had to come in. We would reluctantly trudge into the house, take a cool bath, and lie on our beds, suffering in the heat.

All the windows in the house would be open and I’d fall asleep to the orchestra of the animals at Bever Park; the soft roar of the lion and the call of the peacocks, coming together in a chorus.

It’s been a long time since I’ve played ghost graveyard, but every once in a while, when the cicadas play just the right song, when dusk is just beginning to glow with a soft purplish light, and the heat of the day begins to wane just a bit, I remember when all I had to worry about was being a kid.

And I miss it, just a little bit.