Ask Ceil – This Is The End

Dear Ceil,

Why is the space shuttle being retired? We’re gonna be a third-rate nation that can’t put a man into orbit!

Frustrated in Florida

Dear Frustrated,

There are two space shuttles that are currently able to launch into orbit. The space shuttle Endeavour has been flying since 1992, which makes it 19 years old. The space shuttle Atlantis had its first flight in 1985—If I was flying Delta on a 747 in business class from Pittsburgh to Philly, I’m not sure I’d be comfortable knowing my plane was 26 years old. Sure, maybe it’s safer than wrapping yourself in bubblewrap and being delivered to Fort Knox by Navy Seal Team 6 but I don’t care. Logic tells me it’s probably time to build another shuttle.

Now I talked with my favorite uncle, Uncle Sam, and his coffers are running on the lean side. He says we can’t get a new shuttle until we can hold down a job, finish school and make our own beds. Sheesh. Plus the way it’s looking I’d rather have a shuttle retire than me NOT retire; and looking at the current state of Social Security I’ll be working well past the age of being either social or secure. Besides, I hear that Virgin Galactic is going to start offering orbital spaceflights, so why the heck should it come out of my payroll taxes?

Space Shuttle Endeavour Sunrise

Cost to build a shuttle: $1.7 billion.

Cost to fly a mission: $450 million.

Cost to send Richard Branson up there on his own dime: Priceless.


Dear Ceil,

Can I avoid Saturday’s apocalypse if I fly over the international date line on Saturday morning?

Mortal in Minnesota

Dear Mortal,

First, we are not expecting an apocalypse, merely a rapture. This means that all the really nice people will get sucked into heaven, leaving the rest of us to deal with each other. Saturday night, therefore, looks to be a spectacular time for a fantastically ethics-free party. Apocalypse to follow shortly thereafter.

According to Family Radio, the Rapture is set for May 21st. They arrived at this date using a combination of historical speculation, interesting math and a complete lack of factual, philosophical or religious evidence. But hey, even a blind squirrel gets a nut once in a while so you never know. Here are some tips:

If you decide to fly over the dateline, make sure that your pilot is not one of the good guys who might get taken first. In that case, for sure you’re dead, unless the co-pilot is an orgy-loving satanist. (Here’s hoping!)

If you’re having dinner with someone you think may be taken, make sure they get the bill.

Most charities are going to be gutted, so if you need anything for free, get it on Friday.

Finally, if you think you may be a nice enough person to get taken first, make sure you draw up a will with your lawyer (don’t worry; they’ll still be here). Any of your relatives who are left are going to be dickheads, so spell everything out.

Regardless, from me to you: Have a nice trip, or have a good party! I will be planning my own rapture, but mine involves a body massage by a guy named Sven.


If you have questions for Ceil, please send them along questions@askceil.com, or you can use the Ask Ceil-o-matic form.

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6 thoughts on “Ask Ceil – This Is The End

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    1. Dearest Julie,

      I’m afraid that in your particular situation, the only solution is chocolate croissants. I’ve counseled several couples on this affliction and they find this works best.

      Sometimes, shameless promotion of the object of your affection will also stanch overwhelming feelings of longing. This will sometimes result in a wildly successful career for said witty columnist, and then you won’t be able to turn around without seeing her on one – or several – major networks.

      But really, try the croissants.

  1. I enjoyed this piece very much. You have a good way with words and a fertile mind as a launch pad for ideas. Hope for you that at midnight you and all your loved ones are still around. Here in New Zealand we all survived May 21 just fine. Haven’t noticed anyone missing yet, and we’re not ALL heathen.

    1. Thank goodness all was well in New Zealand! Either nothing notable happened here, or I don’t know any really good people. Either way, it was interesting to note that NOT ONE of my friends expected to be raptured! Either they’re not very nice people, or they have very high standards for “good”!

      Thanks for the compliments!

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