Monday, November 28, 2022

IS40:8 (part 6) - Hanukkah and The Solomon's Prayer


This December many will celebrate Hanukah as well as Christmas.

Hanukkah means "rededication"

This holiday recalls the Jewish victory over the Greeks more than 2,000 years ago, as summed up in the history video below.


A miracle happened during the rededication of the temple, where just a day's supply of oil allowed the menorah to remain lit for eight days. Hence, the 8 days and candles.

More information: What Is Hanukkah? – A Season of Miracles and Light

Hanukkah, though, originated between the writings of the Old and New Testament. Its rededication happened after the first temple was destroyed in the exile, rebuilt post-exile, then defiled and restored.

But before this rededication of the second temple, there was the dedication of the first temple built in Jerusalem.  

King Solomon offered prayer at this dedication, known as The Solomon's Prayer.

And a portion of this prayer is presented in song below.


Prayer reference: I Kings 8:56-60

Though there is no mention of Hanukkah in the Old Testament, it's mentioned in the New Testament, specifically the Gospel of John.

And Jesus celebrated Hannukah known as the Festival of Dedication in the winter.

Then came the Festival of Dedication at Jerusalem. 

It was winter, 

and Jesus was in the temple courts 

walking in Solomon’s Colonnade. 

The Jews who were there gathered around him, saying, 

“How long will you keep us in suspense? 

If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.”

John 10:22-23 (NIV)

And Jesus had given the people an answer during those spiritually dark days, such as the story of Hanukkah celebrates where light triumphed over darkness.

“I am the light of the world. 

Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness, 

but will have the light of life.”

John 8:12 (NIV)

As we enter the winter of long nights, holidays such as Hanukkah and Christmas anticipate the coming of the Light--spiritual as well as physical.

Blessings and peace this December
and into the New Year
as the days grow longer.


Isaiah 40:8

The grass withereth,
the flower fadeth:
but the word of our God
shall stand for ever.


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Tuesday, October 25, 2022

ELM (part 7): 2 Boleyn Sisters - 2 Queen Elizabeths


The Boleyns

Thomas Boleyn (1477-1539), 1st Earl of Wiltshire, was an English diplomat and politician. 

Thomas was ambitious and worked his way into Henry VIII's inner circle, as well as did his surviving children George, Mary, and especially...

Anne Boleyn

Much has been written about Henry VIII's second wife, Anne Boleyn (1501-1536). The King's desire for a son changed history. His first wife could not deliver a boy who survived infancy, so he looked for another woman to give him a legitimate son and heir to the throne. And Anne put herself out there as the one.

Since the Pope would not grant a divorce, Henry maneuvered to break away from the Catholic Church and become the head of the Church of England. And as head, Henry got his divorce and married the ambitious Anne. 

But it did not end well. Anne only produced a daughter, lost the King's love and interest, and lost her head. The following years were full of drama. In the end, Anne's daughter would become....

Queen Elizabeth I

Elizabeth I (1533-1603) would be known as the Virgin Queen who brought England into her Golden Age. She was one of the longest reigning monarchs and considered one the greatest. 

Yet the line from Anne Boleyn died when Elizabeth I died as Anne had no other surviving children and Elizabeth never married. 

But there was Anne's older sister, the other Boleyn girl...

Mary Boleyn

Mary (1499-1543) was Henry XIII's mistress for a short time. She was soon cast aside and out of the limelight, truly the underdog. She had experienced heartache, was widowed, was impoverished for a time. 

But Ann and George had been executed in 1536. And after her parents passed away, Mary inherited the estate. Mary, the underdog, survived.

Mary Boleyn was not a mother to a ruling queen like sister Anne's Elizabeth I. But she was the great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandmother of....

Queen Elizabeth II

Elizabeth II (1926-2022) was the last head of state of any country to serve in uniform during World War II as well as the longest reigning English monarch--70 years.

2 Boleyn Sisters ... 2 Queen Elizabeths

Ann Boleyn --- 
mother of 
Queen Elizabeth I

Mary Boleyn --- 
great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandmother of 
Queen Elizabeth II

And Mary Boleyn's line lives on in Charles III

Long live the king!


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Elizabeth II: 

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

STC (part 4) - Mikhail Gorbachev


Mikhail Gorbachev, the eighth and last leader of the Soviet Union, aka USSR, passed away on August 30, 2022. 

Gorbachev's tenure spanned the end of the Cold War and the tear down of the Berlin Wall as well as the breakup of the Soviet Union.

A tribute to him is shown below:

( reference:   )

The historical fiction S*T*C covers 1984-1986, the final years of the Cold War and the last three leaders of the Soviet Union. 

In 1984, Samantha Clark was one of the women who had breached the male-dominated mission control teams inside the S*T*C--the Satellite Tracking Station--as the Reagan Administration took on the "Evil Empire" of the Soviet Union.


In 1982, Yuri Andropov had followed Leonid Brezhnev, but Andropov passed away February 9, 1984. 

This news broke at the end of the first day Sam had worked the S*T*C:

Sam turned on the radio for news about the Winter Olympics. Instead, a funeral dirge was broadcast. Then the lead story: Soviet leader, Yuri Andropov, had died. He had only served a little more than a year after succeeding Leonid Brezhnev. 

There goes another one of the old guard from “The Evil Empire.” Sam’s thoughts wandered to President Ronald Reagan as she turned off the freeway onto one of the roads into Santa Vittoria. 

When Reagan had used the term, Evil Empire, in a speech a couple years ago, he had gotten much flak from the press. But Reagan’s defense buildup to defeat communism was one of the reasons Sam had secured a job at the S*T*C.

Smith, S K. S*T*C (p. 44). Kindle Edition. 


After Yuri Andropov had passed, Konstantin Chernenko followed as the new leader, which the crew inside the S*T*C soon learned.

Later that morning, Lester Wong picked up the newspaper. “Konstantin Chernenko? Sounds like an Asian pin ball machine.” 

“Pachinko?” Tan asked. 

“Sounds like it.” Lester explained to those who did not have their newspaper privileges, “It says he’s now the chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet…fancy title for the USSR’s latest Fearless Leader.” 

PC said in his southern drawl, “And the reason we all have jobs.”

Smith, S K. S*T*C (p. 104). Kindle Edition. 


Then a year later, Konstantin Chernenko passed away, March 10, 1985. He was followed by the Soviet Union's final leader, Mikhail Gorbachev:

As Sam was driving up Mt. Nauseous, she heard another funeral dirge on the radio. Then the news: Soviet leader, Konstantin Chernenko, has died at age of 73. 

In a few short years, the Soviet Union went from Leonid Bresnev to Yuri Adropov to Konstantin Chernenko. Now the big question: Who would be the next supreme commander of this communist superpower? 

The following day, everyone knew. Mikhail Gorbachev. And Gorbachev would usher in a new age of Perestroika (Russian for restructuring, to kickstart the Soviet economy) and Glasnost (Russian for openness, his policy of a more open government and culture). 

With Gorbachev, the US and the USSR began arms control talks in Geneva, Switzerland. This meeting was something the press had been carping about ever since Reagan took office in 1981.

Smith, S K. S*T*C (p. 247). Kindle Edition. 


So came the turning point in the Cold War and the breakup of the Soviet Union.


In 1987, President Ronald Reagan issued this challenge to Mr. Gorbachev at Brandenburg Gate in West Germany:

( reference:    ) 

And November 9, 1989, the wall came down: Fall of Berlin Wall: How 1989 reshaped the modern world


For a feel of the times, 1984-1986, especially for women breaking into space programs, please feel free to check out:

S*T*C by S. K. Smith @

Your readership is appreciated.


For more in this series, search blog:

STC - for S*T*C
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Sunday, August 28, 2022

Pray4America (part 19) - II Chronicles 7:14


Ten years ago, movements from the left and the right, such as the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street , emerged from discontent of the power of the few over the values of the many.

The song below, I am America, reflect some the zeitgeist of the times as well as today:

( reference: )

As our problems seem overwhelming, the song lyrics suggest the one hope to heal our land:

II Chronicles 7:14

If My people, 

who are called by My Name, 

will humble themselves 

and pray and seek My face 

and turn from their wicked ways, 

then I will hear from heaven, 

and I will forgive their sin 

and will heal their land.


Give thanks to the Lord,
for He is good;
His love endures forever.
Psalm 118:1 (NIV)

Keep praying for America



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Photo: Tea Party/wikipedia

Friday, July 29, 2022

IS40:8 (part5) - JWST--Good Heavens!



The James Web Space Telescope. 

It was named after James E. Webb, NASA administrator from 1961 to1968 during the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo programs.

The telescope was a long time in the making, first planned in 1996 and projected for launch in 2007. But cost overruns and delays and a major redesign in 2005 had pushed the completion date to 2016.

 And it was actually launched on Christmas of 2021. 

The JWST, a large infrared telescope, is being used to study the history of our Universe, such as: 

* the first luminous glows after the Big Bang

* the first galaxies formed in the early universe

* the stars forming planetary systems through dusty clouds

* the formation of solar systems capable of supporting life on planets like Earth

* the data to support theories of the evolution of our own Solar System.

As the largest optical telescope in space, its greatly improved infrared resolution and sensitivity allow it to view objects too early, distant, or faint for the Hubble Space Telescope. 

More information: James Webb Space Telescope (NASA)

Below is live stream of continually updated images:

( Reference: )

Before telescopes, none-the-less space telescopes, people have gazed at the night sky with the naked eye and were awestruck.

Here are portions of two Psalms that express this:

Lord, our Lord,
    how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory
    in the heavens.

2 Through the praise of children and infants
    you have established a stronghold against your enemies,
    to silence the foe and the avenger.

3 When I consider your heavens,
    the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
    which you have set in place,

4 what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
    human beings that you care for them?

Psalm 8 (NIV)


The heavens declare the glory of God;
    the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

2 Day after day they pour forth speech;
    night after night they reveal knowledge.

3 They have no speech, they use no words;
    no sound is heard from them.

4  Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
    their words to the ends of the world.
In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun.

5     It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber,
    like a champion rejoicing to run his course.

6   It rises at one end of the heavens
    and makes its circuit to the other;
    nothing is deprived of its warmth.

Psalm 19 (NIV)

Astronomer, scientist, nature lover, gazers of the night sky....

As the astronomer, late Jack Horkheimer , would say, signing off each episode of Star Gazer---

Keep Looking Up!


Isaiah 40:8

The grass withereth,
the flower fadeth:
but the word of our God
shall stand for ever.


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Photo: jwst/nasa

Sunday, June 26, 2022

STC (part 3) - 86,400



That's how many seconds are in a day.

Here's the math: 60 seconds/minute X 60 minutes/hour X 24 hours per day.

That piece of trivia can be a tech-y or a science-y thing.

And some wax philosophical about it--as that is the time allotted for any of us per day.

(Reference: )

But the timestamp from 0 to 86,399 seconds is critical for many technical operations. Such is the case for operations on a Mission Control Team that tracks satellites.

In S*T*C, one of main characters, Sam Clark, with her co-workers John McHenry, Tan Ho, and Enrique Rodriguez, get a tour of the Mission Control Complex on their first day on the job. 

Their lead Paul Coleman, also known as PC, introduced to them to the timestamp:

Sam pointed to the large red neon display reading 1984.040:76879 with the lowest digits incrementing.

“And what do those numbers mean?” 

“It’s a fancy clock.” PC explained, “Nineteen eighty-four, the year. Forty, the Julian day. That’s February ninth, since it’s been forty days since the New Year. After the colon there, 76891 is the time in seconds.” 

PC looked at his watch. “Which is…approximately 2122 in military time. For us civilians that’s 9:22 at night.” 

Sam looked puzzled. “But it’s going on 1:30 in the afternoon.” 

“Ah!” Paul raised a finger. “But it’s almost 9:30 p.m. in England. And all our times are recorded in Zulu time.” 

“Zulu?” Enrique piped up. “Man. I loved that movie. A classic with Michael Caine—” 

PC grinned. “Zulu is the phonetic alphabet term for the Zth time zone. It’s the same as Greenwich Mean Time. GMT. Or Universal Time. UT. All the scientists as well as the military use it. Close to shift change…that’s four o’clock in the afternoon here…Pacific Standard Time…the clocks all roll over to quad zero. Or 0000z.” 

PC pointed to the red clock. “And that clock will roll over from 040:86399 to 041:00000. A new day.”

 “Why 86—” Tan had forgotten the rest of the digits in the five-digit number. 

John chimed in, “Because there are 86,400 seconds in a day.”

“But, ah! Except when we have to adjust for the leap second.”

Then PC looked to the senior PA ensconced at an F2 console. “Ned?” he asked. “Will you explain what y’all are doing here?” 

“Good question, PC. What am I doing here?” 

Then Ned Gaubert gave a quiet sigh and turned around with his mouth askew. “This is called a pass. And it’s not what we make at girls.”

 “Good thing.” Sam returned a sidelong smile. “I’m married.”

Smith, S K. S*T*C (pp. 35-36). Kindle Edition. 

For a feel of the times, 1984-1986, especially for women breaking into space programs, please feel free to check out:

S*T*C by S. K. Smith @

Your readership is appreciated.


For more in this series, search blog:

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Sunday, May 29, 2022

STC (part 2) - 1984



Interesting year.

* Ronald Reagan was running for re-election
* Democrat Presidential Candidate Walter Mondale picked Geraldine Ferraro as his running mate, first woman vice president  nominated on a main party ticket
* Winter Olympics were held in Yugoslavia (which no longer exists)
* Summer Olympics were held in Los Angelos and up the West Coast and Russia boycotts them
* The major leaders of the Evil Empire, the USSR, (which no longer exists) were dying off
* The Space Shuttle Challenger was flying
* It was the year of George Orwell's--Nineteen Eight-Four

* This Superbowl ad aired--once:

And that ad is referenced in the except below:

Mike Bonacelli, a regular on swings, came into work before shift change. Then he handed in his resignation.

“Why, Mike?” Dan looked up from his desk. He suppressed a smirk, not that disappointed.

Mike’s dark eyes flashed. “I don’t care to get trapped in the golden handcuffs.”

“Where’re you headed?” Rich looked up from his desk.

Mike puffed up his chest. “I got an offer from Apple. Working on Macintoshes—personal computers. It’s the future, where the big money is.”

“Hey, I saw that awesome Apple ad during last year’s Super Bowl,” Rich said. “It only aired once though.”

“Yep,” said Mike. “MacIntosh. The most awaited event of 1984, taking a page from Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. The girl destroys Big Brother conformity to bring on a future full of new possibilities.”

“So, you’re leaving this job, defending your country, for private industry?” Dan grew a grin as fake as the sincerity in his voice. “All in hopes to be a millionaire?”

“Which is something you lust after, right, Danny boy?”

“Mike, Mike, Mike.” Dan asked with the taint of sarcasm in his voice, “Why would you think such a thing?”

Mike lifted his dark eyebrows. “You talk about it all the time. It’s no secret you just don’t want to be well off. You want to be rich.”

 “You want to be like me, Dan?” Rich twitched his dark mustache as Dan shook his head. 

Smith, S K. S*T*C (pp. 258-259). Kindle Edition. 

For a feel of the times, 1984-1986, especially for women breaking into space programs, please feel free to check out:

S*T*C by S. K. Smith @

Your readership is appreciated.


For more in this series, search blog:

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