Adrift and Floating

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I learned about something new today through Groupon. I get Groupon’s promotional messages automatically delivered to my inbox, though we seldom actually purchase any. Today, one of their specials was for something called “Floating Isolation Tank Sessions.” Apparently, this place called Infinity Floating, has “pods” that are filled with body-temperature water and 900 pounds of “pharmaceutical grade” Epson salts. The idea is to created something similar to the Dead Sea which has so much salinity in it that it takes absolutely no effort at all to float in the water. The same is true of Infinity Floating. They claim it simulates zero gravity and offers no distractions. It actually sounds pretty doggone attractive to me, and very relaxing, too!

So, I was already in a “floating” state of mind when it came time to prepare my photo post for today. I had no idea what to post, but when I looked I came across this photo of a patch of flowers I shot in May. There was a gentle breeze blowing and the patch of ground was covered with lots of pretty flowers. Since I was in a floating mindset already, I pictured what it would be like to be adrift, and floating, in a field of flowers – no energy required on my part, just relaxing. You know what?  That sounds pretty good to me, too!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1963, two months after signing an agreement to establish a 24-hour-a-day “hot line” between Moscow and Washington, the system went into effect. The hot line was supposed to help speed communication between the governments of the United States and the Soviet Union and help prevent the possibility of an accidental war.

In June 1963, American and Russian representatives agreed to establish a so-called “hot line” between Moscow and Washington. The agreement came just months after the October 1962 Cuban missile crisis, in which the United States and Soviet Union came to the brink of nuclear conflict. It was hoped that speedier and more secure communications between the two nuclear superpowers would forestall such crises in the future. In August 1963, the system was ready to be tested. American teletype machines had been installed in the Kremlin to receive messages from Washington; Soviet teletypes were installed in the Pentagon. (Contrary to popular belief, the hot line in the United States is in the Pentagon, not the White House.) Both nations also exchanged encoding devices in order to decipher the messages. Messages from one nation to another would take just a matter of minutes, although the messages would then have to be translated. The messages would be carried by a 10,000-mile long cable connection, with “scramblers” along the way to insure that the messages could not be intercepted and read by unauthorized personnel. On August 30, the United States sent its first message to the Soviet Union over the hot line: “The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog’s back 1234567890.” The message used every letter and number key on the teletype machine in order to see that each was in working order. The return message from Moscow was in Russian, but it indicated that all of the keys on the Soviet teletype were also functioning.

The hot line was never really necessary to prevent war between the Soviet Union and the United States, but it did provide a useful prop for movies about nuclear disaster, such as Fail Safe and Dr. Strangelove. Its significance at the time was largely symbolic. The two superpowers, who had been so close to mutual nuclear destruction in October 1962, clearly recognized the dangers of miscommunication or no communication in the modern world.

Though the Cold War is over, the hot line continues in operation between the United States and Russia. It was supplemented in 1999 by a direct secure telephone connection between the two governments.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: Gold is edible. Some Asian countries put gold in fruit, jelly snacks, coffee, and tea. Since at least the 1500s, Europeans have been putting gold leaf in bottles of liquor, such as Danziger Goldwasser and Goldschlager. Some Native American tribes believed consuming gold could allow humans to levitate.

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