Friday, July 26, 2019

Music Friday: Reba McEntire Has a 'Ring on Her Finger, Time on Her Hands'

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you hit songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, country legend Reba McEntire assumes the role of a heartbroken newlywed in her 1995 hit, "Ring on Her Finger, Time on Her Hands."

Often referred to as the "Queen of Country Music," McEntire tells the story of a young woman who took her wedding vows with the intention of being faithful for life, but now finds herself thinking about other men. She tried to make the marriage work, but she feels abandoned both physically and emotionally. She yearns to escape the "three-bedroom prison" that she tried to make a home. Her gold wedding band has "turned cold."

She sings, "I had a ring on my finger and time on my hands / The woman in me needed the warmth of a man / The gold turned cold in my wedding band / It's just a ring on your finger / When there's time on your hands."

Written by Don Goodman, Pam Rose and Mary Ann Kennedy, "Ring on Her Finger, Time on Her Hands" was originally recorded by Lee Greenwood in 1982. His rendition — with the lyrics slightly changed to reflect the male perspective — peaked at #5 on the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Singles chart.

Thirteen years later, the song became the second single released from McEntire's 21st studio album, Starting Over. Her version also scored a Top 10 placement, reaching #9 on the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Singles chart. Starting Over was a huge success, hitting #1 on both the U.S. Billboard Top Country Albums chart and the Canadian Country Albums chart.

Reba Nell McEntire was born in McAlester, Okla., in 1955. Her dad and granddad were world champion steer ropers and her mom was a schoolteacher who always had dreams of becoming a country-music artist. Reba's mom, Jacqueline, was a great vocal coach, however, nurturing the talents of Reba and her siblings. Performing as the Singing McEntires, the kids showed off their talents on local radio shows and at rodeos.

While attending Southeastern Oklahoma State University, the sophomore was booked to sing the National Anthem at the National Rodeo in Oklahoma City. There, McEntire caught the eye of country artist Red Steagall, who brought her to Nashville to cut a demo record. A year later, in 1975, she signed a deal with Mercury Records.

Today, McEntire is considered one of the most successful country artists of all time, with more than 75 million records sold worldwide. She's had 42 #1 singles and 16 #1 albums. She was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2011.

In the video, below, McEntire is accompanied by a full orchestra while performing her spirited rendition of "Ring on Her Finger, Time on Her Hands." The clip is from a CBS television special titled "Reba: Celebrating 20 Years." Check out the lyrics if you'd like to sing along...

"Ring on Her Finger, Time on Her Hands"
Written by Don Goodman, Pam Rose and Mary Ann Kennedy. Performed by Reba McEntire.

I stood before God, my family and friends
And vowed that I'd never love anyone else again, only him
As pure as my gown of white I stood by his side
And promised that I'd love him until the day I died
Lord, please forgive me even though I lied
Because you're the only one who knows just how hard I tried

I had a ring on my finger and time on my hands
The woman in me needed the warmth of a man
The gold turned cold in my wedding band
It's just a ring on your finger
When there's time on your hands

When I add up all the countless nights I cried myself to sleep
And all the broken promises you somehow failed to keep
He can't blame me
He's the one who left me too many times alone
In a three bedroom prison I tried to make a home
My love slowly died but the fire inside still burned
And the arms of a stranger was the only place left to turn

I had a ring on my finger and time on my hands
The woman in me needed the warmth of a man
The gold turned cold in my wedding band
It's just a ring on your finger
When there's time on your hands

I had a ring on my finger and time on my hands
The woman in me needed the warmth of a man
The gold turned cold in my wedding band
It's just a ring on your finger
When there's time on your hands

Credit: Screen capture via

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Gold-Coated Visors Protected Apollo 11 Astronauts During First Moon Walk

Fifty years ago today, the three-man crew of Apollo 11 returned triumphantly from their historic trip to the moon, splashing down in the Pacific Ocean, 812 miles southwest of Hawaii.

For the past week, much has been written and broadcast about the first lunar landing, but what most people still don't know is how much scientists at NASA depended on gold’s amazing characteristics — reflectance, durability, conductivity and physical workability — to ensure a safe and successful mission.

When Neil Armstrong stepped onto the lunar surface and proclaimed, "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind," his eyes were protected by a visor plated with an ultra-thin layer of gold.

Both he and fellow moon walker Buzz Aldrin were outfitted with what NASA calls a Lunar Extravehicular Visor Assembly, or LEVA for short. Gold does an excellent job of reflecting infrared light while letting in visible light, so NASA scientists coated the visors with a gold layer so thin — 0.000002 inches — that astronauts could see through it.

In 2016, photographer Steve Jurvetson enjoyed a "backstage tour" of the Smithsonian restoration labs where scientists were working on a batch of Armstrong artifacts from the Apollo 11 mission. Among the items was Armstrong's helmet, which is seen in the photo, above.

Today, many satellites are wrapped in gold-coated mylar sheets to protect them from solar heat, and their micro-components are often made of gold, since the element is an excellent conductor while resisting corrosion and the buildup of static electricity.

Gold is also nature’s most malleable metal. That means that it can be pounded so thin that one ounce of gold could cover about 100 square feet of a surface. The American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) calculated that it would take 576 ounces (or just 36 pounds) of gold to completely cover a football field.

Gold leaf typically measures 0.18 microns in thickness (about 7 millionths of an inch) and, according to AMNH, a stack of 7,055 sheets would be no thicker than the width of a dime.

The element is also ductile, which means that gold can be made into the thinnest wire. The AMNH notes that one ounce of gold can be drawn into 50 miles of wire, five microns thick.

Credit: Splashdown image via NASA (Public domain). Visor image by Steve Jurvetson from Menlo Park, USA [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

Monday, July 22, 2019

'Moon Rock' Engagement Ring Comment Nearly Stings Astronaut Buzz Aldrin

With the whole world celebrating the 50th anniversary of the first lunar landing, we present an unusual story about how astronaut Buzz Aldrin almost got into trouble with the federal government for claiming that he used a moon rock for the center stone of his third wife's engagement ring.

The year was 1995 and Aldrin, who is famously the second man to walk on the moon, was at a celebrity junket at Ocho Rios in Jamaica when he told reporter Jesse Nash that he had made an engagement ring for Lois Driggs Cannon from a chip off a moon rock that he carried back to Earth on his person.

The story recounted by celebrity columnist Cindy Adams sounds innocent enough, but the hard fact is that all the moon rocks recovered by Apollo astronauts — and there are 2,200 of them weighing a total of 842 pounds — are considered National Treasures and remain the property of the United States. There are no rocks from the Apollo program in private hands.

So you can imagine NASA's distress when Aldrin, while sunning himself at the Sandals resort, disclosed to the reporter that he had secured a chip for the ring from the 47 pounds of moon rock he and Neil Armstrong collected during their Apollo 11 mission.

When People magazine published the account, Aldrin had to walk back the story, telling government officials that it was just a joke.

In his book Magnificent Desolation, Aldrin, now 89, admitted to making a “whimsical suggestion that Lois’ engagement ring included a... moon rock.”

The Apollo 11 lunar landing took place on July 24, 1969, and was viewed worldwide by more than 600 million people. It was the most-viewed television event of the 20th century.

Buzz and Lois exchanged vows in 1988, and during the 24-year marriage, Lois proudly wore a 2-carat diamond set in a diamond-studded eternity-style band.

People magazine reported: "When people [asked] about the ring, Lois Aldrin [had] a ready response: ‘I tell them the moon is really made of diamonds.’ ”

Lois and Buzz Aldrin were divorced in 2012 and Lois passed away in 2018 at the age of 88.

Over the past 50 years, NASA has lent moon rocks to universities and scientific organizations for research purposes. It's been reported, however, that NASA is unable to identify the whereabouts of at least 500 specimens — rocks that might have been lost, misfiled or stolen.

In November 2018, three small rock fragments collected by the Soviet Union during an unmanned moon mission in 1970, were sold at auction for $855,000. The three fragments from the Luna 16 mission weighed 200mg (0.0071 ounces).

Credits: Images by NASA (Public domain).