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Or something like that.  The interwebs.  Except instead of physical objects, it’s sights, sounds, thoughts, ideas.  You might rummage about through some miscellaneous babble and turn up something profound, something beautiful, something strange.  You never know.   Amid the vacation snaps, the videos of the baby, the kitty, the dog, and people doing stupid stuff, you could find something amazing, beautiful, moving. You just never know.  In terms of content, the internet has the same fascination as a yard sale, a flea market, the roadside stand.  You have to go look because you just never know what you might find.

The case in point du jour.  One of the feeds I follow on my feed reader along with the blogs, Tumblr blogs, cartoons, and webcomics I follow is the Astronomy Picture of the Day, a NASA website which describes itself thusly: “Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.”  Today, the Picture of the Day was this:

Image Credit & Copyright: Thomas Kast

Image Credit & Copyright: Thomas Kast

The reason for this particular picture appearing in APOD is the atmospheric phenomenon called a light pillar, an effect produced by ice crystals in the atmosphere.   What struck me about the picture actually, had nothing to do with the atmospheric effects.  The picture was taken in a town in Finland named Oulu, which has the distinction of being the fifth largest city in Finland and has an average annual temperature of 2 °C (36 °F).  What captured my attention was how disconcertingly similar these houses, which are located a stone’s throw away from the Arctic Circle, are to the houses in my hometown in Texas, which is at the same latitude as Casablanca, Morocco.  In fact, this picture (except for the birch trees) could have been taken on the street my parents live on.  The guy who took the picture had gone to the grocery store to get cat food. In -18 C/-0.4 F degree weather.  Going outside.  To the store.

Now, I’m an inveterate link follower*, so naturally I follow the link to the Wikipedia article on Oulu and learn that it hosts a number of music festivals, including an Irish Festival, and that its two major claims to fame are also (somewhat) musically related:  The Air Guitar World Championships and Mieskuoro Huutajat, which is an internationally famous shouting choir.  Of men.  Shouting.   There’s been a film made about them.  (This is the trailer for the film. Watch the whole thing. It’s only 1:38 minutes long. Mind blowing.)

The world is a strange and wondrous place.

*Not surprising, really.  When I was in elementary school, the lady who kept my brother and me after school and during the summer had just got a brand new set of World Book Encyclopedia.  They were, apart from her daughters’ schoolbooks, the only books in the house as far as I knew.  Many days, I would go and get a volume and just leaf through it, reading what caught my eye.  As the twig is bent . . .