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Today’s Full Moon (May 21, 2016) is the third of four full moons to occur between the March equinox and the June solstice and so it can be called a Blue Moon. To be precise, it occurs at 21:14 Universal Time, but it looked full last night and will look full to many people tomorrow night too.

No blue color to the moon, though we often see moon or night photos that have a blue cast to them because of the way cameras often interpret the color of sunlight and moonlight as respectively red/orange and blue.

Movies often use filters to change those colors. Francois Truffaut made a film I like titled Day for Night (La Nuit américaine) for the film-making process referred to in French as la nuit américaine (“American night”) of shooting outdoors in daylight with film stock balanced for tungsten (indoor) light and underexposed (or adjusted during post production) to make the final result appear as if it was filmed at night. In English the technique is called “day for night. ” As more sensitive low-light film became available and with the takeover of digital, shooting day for night is not as common. In the Truffaut film, it also implies that other things are not as they seem.

This is a Blue Full Moon by one older definition of the term as described above.A more recent definition is that a Blue Moon is a second full moon in the same month. Today’s full moon doesn’t fit that definition. That definition of the Blue Moon won’t come around until  won’t happen until January 31, 2018 and will only occur 7 or 8 times in 19 calendar years.

Look up tonight and if you see the Full Moon clearly you will also see a brilliant “star” following it. That is Mars, shining much brighter than any star. Mars will also be move on May 22 into opposition and be the brightest Mars we have seen in 10 years.

This Full Moon has many names including Hare Moon, Merry or Dyad Moon, Fright Moon, Flower Moon, Frogs Return Moon, Thrimilcmonath (Thrice-Milk Month) or Milk Moon, Sproutkale, Winnemonoth (Joy Month), Planting Moon, and Moon When the Ponies Shed.

Many cultures celebrated this month. The Greek goddess Maia, the most important of the Seven Sisters (the Pleiades) and said to be the mother of Hermes, gave the name to this month. The Romans called her Maius, goddess of Summer, and honored her during Ambarvalia, a family festival for the purification and protection of farm land. In the Celtic cultures, May was called Mai or Maj, a month of sexual freedom. Green was worn during this month to honor the Earth Mother. May 1 was the Celtic festival of Beltane, a festival celebrating fertility of all things. Cattle were driven through the Beltane bonfires for purification and fertility. In Wales, Creiddylad was a character connected with this festival and often called the May Queen. The maypole and its dance is a remnant of these old festivities.

This can be the Buddha Full Moon when it occurs near the Buddha-Wesak Festival. The date of Buddha’s birthday varies but it is said that Buddha was born, died and received enlightenment on the Full Moon in Scorpio and many followers consider this the highest spiritual day of the year.


I’m planning a road trip for next month and a vacation for June and in my notebook I found a list of travel films that I have learned lessons from watching. Queue them all up and you have a good on-the-road film festival and prep session while you look at maps and guides and make reservations.


road oz

The Wizard of Oz – Pick your travel companions with care. Don’t be concerned with food or lodgings. Do be concerned with witches and flying monkeys. No matter how good the trip, it should also be good to be back home again.


National Lampoon’s Vacation – A road trip with family, as child or parent, will present many lessons. As with life and school, you will fail at some.


Before Sunrise – You should take a serendipitous journey alone. You should meet a beautiful/handsome person along the way. If you go back there at sunset or midnight, don’t expect things to be as good as they were before.



Up – Take that trip you and your spouse have been talking about for years now before it’s too late.


Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade – Take a trip with your Dad. Or son, depending on your age and point of view. (What film could be the Mom or daughter version?)



Broken Flowers – Go on one cross-country search for old girl/boyfriends in search of answers. (Not connected to any 12-step program)



The Darjeeling Limited – Go to an exotic place filled with things that you have never seen and smells that tell you that you’re not in Kansas anymore.



Planes, Trains and Automobiles – Be nice to fellow travelers. You never know.
The Lord of the Rings – Undertake an adventure trip full of possible peril. Once. After that, there is no need for you to do it again. You have nothing to prove. Your home is quite comfortable and there are so many books unread and films unseen.



Lost In Translation – Be prepared to be a stranger in a strange land. Try to have Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson around just in case.


I’m sure you have other films to add to the festival list. How about if you make a comment and give us a film and a short reason for its inclusion.

Data has always been with us. But you certainly can find a spike in the use of the word “data” in the last 75 years to coincide with the “Information Age,” computers and the Net.

The Latin word “data” is the plural of  the rarely used”datum.” It is a bit of a word oddity as it is most commonly used in the singular, as a mass noun (like “information”, “sand” or “rain”).

We generate so much data – facts and statistics collected together for reference or analysis – that we have to come up with interesting ways to describe the amount.

Every two days the human race is now generating as much data as was generated from the dawn of humanity through 2003.

We are exposed to as much information in a day as our 15th century ancestors were exposed to in a lifetime.

In the first day of a baby’s life, the human race generates 70 times the information contained in the Library of Congress.

Those examples come from a film, “The Human Face of Big Data”  that discusses things like “Big Data,” a word that was barely used a few years ago but now works its way into our lives in obvious and unseen ways.

There is much in the film about data visualization using the streams of data that come from our phones, web activities, satellites, sensors and the GPS car units, cameras and smart phones we own.

“Datum” is Latin meaning literally “something given,’” (a form of dare “give”).  I find that origin interesting because we give so much data to others intentionally and unintentionally. Every time I post on this or any blog, on Twitter or Facebook, or sign up for an online account, I give data away. Others use that data, often to make money, sometimes to do something good.

The film calls all our connected devices a kind of “planetary nervous system.”  The possibilities for ways to help humanity with the challenges of things like pollution, hunger, and illness, but we are also in the age of Edward Snowden and the NSA and data access has a cost in privacy.

Rather than drop into the abyss of the loss of privacy, I’m more interested in what big data might do to improve our lives. But that privacy issue is tough to get past.

One part of the film looks at Deb Roy and his MIT colleagues who wanted to examine how children acquire language. Deb Roy and his wife decided to give a lot of data about their newborn son for the sake of that research. Privacy? they put cameras in the ceiling in each room of their home and recorded every moment of their lives for the next two years.

When my sons were babies, my wife and I recorded in a book all their first word attempts and actual words. We are both language teachers and it was fun and educational. But we didn’t make our data public or add it to any database. Is that safe or selfish?

The future is here. It’s October 21, 2015. It’s the day that Marty McFly travels to in Back to the Future Part II.

This year is the 30th anniversary of the original Back to the Future. Should we expect to find Marty, Doc, and Jennifer walking in our world? Well, maybe if you live in the oxymoronically-named Hill Valley, California where they lived (or live, or will live), I would take a careful look around today.

A number of media outlets have been doing stories this year around the anniversary and looking at whether or not any of the movie trilogy actually predicted accurately the future of 2015.



I’m not concerned about arriving at a future with self-tying shoes, though that hoverboard would be fun to try out. I wrote about all this in more detail back in March so that people could get ready.

Yeah, I’m having a little Back to the Future party today. When does it start? At 4:29 PM, of course.  Got the three films ready to go. It would be great if Marty or Doc dropped in and said hello.



“By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes.”  – says one of the witches in Shakespeare’s Macbeth

Ray Bradbury is known for his rather nostalgic and often small-town view of the world – and of other worlds too.  But his novel, Something Wicked This Way Comes is much darker.

If his novel Dandelion Wine (which I have written about before here) is a novel of summer, then Something Wicked This Way Comes is his novel of autumn. It is one to read on a day when you might need a sweater or blanket over your feet

In it, a carnival rolls into town sometime after midnight. It is a week before Halloween. The calliope plays a song that lures the young people of Green Town, Illinois to Cooger & Dark’s Pandemonium Shadow Show.

We follow two boys, friends who discover what can happen when wishes and dream come true but turn out to be nightmares.

The novel is a modern Gothic tale. Those young boys, James Nightshade and William Halloway, and the  dark carnival of autumn intrigued and frightened me when I first read it one October night when I was 12. Coincidence? Synchronicity?

It you wanted a Bradbury summer of reading, I would suggest your third choice be Something Wicked This Way Comes takes its title from Macbeth, and you know something wicked is certainly coming. Mr. Dark shows our dark side to us. Mr. Dark with his tattoos, one for each person he has given their secret fantasy. And each of them in return is now part of the carnival.

I recommend the book, but the film version of Something Wicked This Way Comes is also very good. I still see it listed as a children’s film sometimes (it was made by Disney) but I would pre-screen it before showing it to kids – though it might make a good, scary Halloween movie night.


Ray Bradbury Official Site

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