Thursday, July 21, 2011
I wanted to be a rocket engineer when I was in school – in fact, I belonged to the American Rocket Society, but when I graduated I had a wife, no job, and a big debt. The only job I could find was working for the Navy as an electronics engineer (topic for a separate blog) so I turned into an electronics guy.
I recall Sputnik vividly, in the mid 1950’s. It was a shock to see the US civilian rocket effort eclipsed by the Russians, who just used a military booster and a second stage to put a tiny satellite in orbit – beeping away on every pass.
In 1969 the BW rented a house in Titusville, and I drove the whole family down to watch the Apollo 11 lift off. We had a good view, and I reminded the kids that this was a historic event – remember it. When I talked to our son yesterday he told me that he remembers it perfectly. Of course we visited plenty of tourist traps while we were there, but we got home in time to see Neil Armstrong step out and say “It’s light and fluffy – like powder” the “Oh – One small step for man, one giant step for mankind.” In the last 40 years I have only heard one person on radio who remembers that and contests the official words – in fact, NASA TV played that scene recently, and the first quiet words (he was probably talking to himself) were missing. Big brother at work.
Later, while we were living in an RV, we went out on the causeway and watched a shuttle liftoff a couple of times. I had a porta-pottie in the van and beer in the cooler to go with the folding chairs, so we had a good time. Unfortunately, you’re pretty far away, even with binoculars, but it was fun.
For the last Atlantis mission, the BW wanted to go over, but she found out that she should have made reservations a year ago. We finally decided to just stay home, and watch the NASA TV channel. The HD coverage on a flat screen TV puts you up close, and shows you stuff you would never see with your eyeballs on the ground. We had a great view of the liftoff, from the fuel tank camera, and from the shuttle itself. It was a good choice. I had dug up the NASA TV channel before and we watched an earlier launch on the computer, but this was a lot better – HD in the living room.
Today we got up at 4:15 (the BW) and 4:45 (me) and watched the preparations and return on TV. It was infinitely more information than we would have had if we had been there, and the BW did hear the double sonic boom as the shuttle passed by here, so she was happy. She finally lost interest and I turned the TV off at 8:00.
Sunday, July 17, 2011
Yesterday we started to watch a movie – “Disclosure” with Michael Douglas, Demi Moore, and Donald Sutherland, released in 1994. It’s about a sexual harassment suit where Demi harasses Michael. We only watched the first 45 minutes, then stopped because there was a harassment scene that was at least close to soft porn, and, in my case, the whole movie reminded me of my experiences in the working world. I guess the personalities, problems, and actions show up again and again in many organizations.
This morning I woke up at a quarter to four and couldn’t go back to sleep because I was thinking about the movie, so I got up at 4:15. The paper wasn’t here yet, so I red a book, made breakfast, and fed the dogs until about 5:30. When I looked again then, the paper was here so I worked on that for awhile and thought about the movie.
At 6:10 it was light enough and dry enough, so I went out and cut the grass. While I was doing that I thought about the movie some more, and just now (8:00 PM) I talked the BW into watching the rest of it tomorrow. It’s hard because of the events, and because sometimes people talk so fast I can’t really understand what they said. Part of getting old is that you tend to listen a little slower. I can understand the old movies and TV shows fine, but not all the new ones.
Saturday, July 16, 2011
Lately the southeast, including Florida, has had a serious drought stretching on. There is just one area in Florida, right here, that had a rogue weather pattern for a couple of weeks, and we had serious rain almost every day for a couple of weeks. There was so much rain that the official word is that the water table is up, and the drought is "over." Even the reclaimed water is no longer rationed.
The BW left an empty five gallon bucket sitting on a plastic table on the east side of the house, and then had me come and look at all the water in it. I stuck a ruler in it, and there was 10.5 inches of water accumulated over five days. There was one dry morning and I managed to cut the grass then - and it rained hard that afternoon.
Now the forecast is 50 or 60 per cent chance rain every day, but it hasn't rained for at least a week here, and the new hedge has some plants that seem to really want water today, even though the sprinklers ran this morning. I was going to water them, but it started sprinkling on me, so I passed. That was about an hour ago, and it didn't really rain. The sun is shining, and if it's try tomorrow morning I'll cut grass instead of walking the dogs. If it's soaking I'll just take the day off, unless it dries out later in the day.
It's interesting to see how double or nothing is a sucker strategy, because no matter how many times you win, if you lose once you're broke. And if you try to use that trick to win, sooner or later you will hit a losing streak that lasts longer than your money does. I got to buy a round for the house that way once, by flipping coins.
The chance of no rain for a week with 50 per cent rain predicted daily is 1 in 128 if you bet before the week starts, but I think we would have won that one.
Friday, July 15, 2011
We went down to the Pier to have lunch with Chuck and Sandy yesterday, and I had two Yuenlings and a bowl of chili. I left some of the corn chips that came with the chili. Today we took Jack and Alicia (his wife) out to lunch with us, and I could only eat half of the Mediterranean Monte Christo I had for lunch. I brought the other half home with me, and I think I will get two meals out of one restaurant serving. That's a milestone for me, because I still haven't broken the habit of eating everything that hits my plate. Being adult doesn't necessarily make you one.
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