SLS ‘racing stripes’ replaced with photogrammetry targets        

Dulles, Virginia-based Orbital ATK has cast ten solid rocket booster (SRB) segments for NASA's Space Launch System (SLS). Four of those segments have been completed at the company's facilities in Promontory, Utah, and painted with photogrammetric markings. Two five-segment boosters will be used to help power the super-heavy-lift vehicle into orbit as early as 2019 – but what happened to the rocket's "racing stripes"?

The post SLS ‘racing stripes’ replaced with photogrammetry targets appeared first on SpaceFlight Insider.

          Turtle Talk #5: GAMERA–GUARDIAN OF THE UNIVERSE (1995)        



Ah, that dreadful moment when you step from a Showa kaiju series into a Heisei kaiju series and production values have gone up so substantially that you almost feel the need to drop the kaiju-reviewin’ kurve and judge these movies like you would any other. The Devil’s Envoy is back for a new generation, and he brought some of his classic foes with ‘im! Well, technically just one, but they are legion now! Allow us to explain, gentle reader… Like Godzilla’s darker, harder-edged Heisei reboot, GAMERA: GUARDIAN OF THE UNIVERSE starts with a ship in peril. A plutonium-carrying tanker crashes against an atoll. Drama abounds, as breathing one molecule of this shit is enough to cause cancer. But… nothing is spilled? A true mystery! The mystery gets even more mysterious when the atoll simply vanishes. A research team is sent to the moving rock formation as it approaches Japan, consisting of leader Naoya Kusanagi (Akira Onodera) and first mate of the ship from the opening scene Yoshinari Yonemori (Tsuyoshi Ihara). The island quickly seems to be more than meets the eye: littered with comma-shaped orichalcum amulets and strange etchings, the team comes to the conclusion that something is afoot here. Ya don’t think? While investigating a monolith engraved with Etrurian runes, something goes wrong. A quake – and the atoll takes off once more! The scientists are thrown off, but Yoshi sees a giant (not entirely un-JURASSIC PARK-like) eye… what could this be in this film called GAMERA: GUARDIAN OF THE UNIVERSE?

Meanwhile, in the other plot, ornithologist Mayumi Nagamine (Shinobu Nakayama) is summoned to a distant island where her mentor professor Hirata (nobody) seems to have vanished. The last thing he was able to say in a storm-disturbed phone call was “bird.” If you still have any doubt as to what’s happening here – ornithologist protagonist introduced, the fact that you’re watching a big monster movie, disappeared side character hinting at “bird” – the movie really makes it clear by having Mayumi find a big pile of bird shit containing professor Hirata’s glasses. What a delightfully crude and cruel way to show that we are indeed dealing with a giant, and – fairly rare for the kaiju eiga genre – man-eating bird. That’s right, Gyaos is back from the Showa era to combat our favorite jet-propelled turtle. If this makes you weary since Gyaos was one of the worst looking creatures of that time, fret not! The updated version actually kind of looks amazing, a dark copper-colored creature of malevolent instinct. Its big triangular head with the V-like plate covering its eyes now occasionally bobs up and down quickly as it chews on meat, giving the fantasy-version of a Pterosaur an almost Gremlin-like air of mischief. Heee hee hee we’re gonna eat ya and shit ya out! That’s wonderful!

That element of crude transgression no doubt came from director Shusuke Kaneko, a man Godzilla fans may already know from no doubt the best action and second best horror movie of that franchise, GODZILLA, MOTHRA, KING GHIDORAH: GIANT MONSTERS ALL-OUT ATTACK. His run of GAMERA films got him the job working on the original big G, and if this first Heisei Gamera is any indication, you can see why Toho approached him! The creatures’ physicality is at an all-time high, and the decision to make the Gyaos birds actually eat people (and, in one scene sure to distress animal lovers like myself, a poor chained-up dog) is a great one. Seeing the Gyaos chomp down on carcasses, pick off humans, shit them out (!), bleeding their own slime-like blood… well, this is an intense movie, as Kaneko is seemingly wont to make! Have you recovered yet, Travis?



I'm more than recovered, Luca. In fact, this era of Gamera re-vitalizes my kaiju-lovin' spirit! I mentioned in the beginning of this series that I was no fan of him as a child and dismissed his Showa adventures as trifle compared to my beloved Godzilla flicks. It wasn't until my teen years that I could access more Japanese monster movies beyond what I could catch on TV, and the Heisei Gamera films were quite highly regarded among fan communities. With a little hesitation, I finally rented a copy of GUARDIAN OF THE UNIVERSE and was blown away. Though the big turtle is the hero of this trilogy, Kaneko truly is the star. The kinetic energy he brings is a breath of fresh air, and it's not just the action sequences that are livened up. The human scenes where people talk on and on about the monsters' origins and how to defeat them and yada yada are peppered with pull-in close ups, Dutch angles, and even sweeping pan shots. Okay, it doesn't sound that exciting, but when your typical kaiju flicks cut from boring medium shot to boring medium shot when showing folks in lab coats and military uniforms, a little movement is appreciated! It shows that Kaneko cares about the filler stuff and wants to give it enough energetic flow as we go between the monster action.

I'm sure we'll have more to write about Kaneko in the next few reviews, but let's take a quick look at his pre-kaiju career. His indoctrination into the film industry began in the 1980s at the movie studio Nikkatsu. In particular, he found quick work as a screenwriter and assistant director for many of Nikkatsu's Roman Porno films (or “pink films”, the popular Japanese genre of theatrical erotic features). He eventually made his directorial debut with 1984's KOICHIRO UNO'S WET AND SWINGING and would win numerous awards for his pink films until Nikkatsu closed its doors in 1988. Despite this, he continued to direct feature films into the 1990s and even helmed a segment of the American horror anthology NECRONOMICON. He would eventually find his biggest financial and critical success with his Gamera trilogy, which of course lead him to take on Godzilla for 2004's GMK. Though he hasn't returned to the kaiju stuff since GMK, he's remained a busy director, most notably for his live action adaptations of the popular manga DEATH NOTE in 2006 and 2007.

I would happily welcome him back to the monster wrestling world though! One thing I love about his kaiju stuff is the sense of history he gives to the monsters. They're not simply creatures that suddenly appear and wreck shit up, but they have ties to ancient history and civilizations. Just as Godzilla and company were old Japanese spirits of the past in GMK, Gamera's Heisei backstory ties itself to the lost island of Atlantis. In this narrative, the technologically advanced Atlanteans apparently created Gyaos through genetic engineering, but their creation ultimately lead to their extinction when it became too dangerous and wiped them all out. However, in a last ditch effort to protect future civilizations from Gyaos, they also created another hybrid animal to be the guardian of the universe... Gamera! Yep, instead of having these monsters fire laser beams and blast off with rocket boosters for no reason, we're told that the kaiju in this universe are the result of scientific tampering. Which is... kind of a neat idea! I like it because it's an amalgamation of fantastic elements (Atlantis) and plausible science (genetic modification of species). I think it also works because although we've known that Gamera has existed since Atlantean times in his 1965 debut film, there hasn't been a concrete origin for him. Illustrating the minor details we were given in the first GAMERA feature is a fun way of both revamping him while keeping him tied to his Showa past. Anything else strike you in this bold Heisei direction, Luca?


So in our little talk about a new era of Gamera with a new director in which I praise the newly acquired physicality of the monsters, and the grounding of them as real creatures by focusing on all manner of bodily fluids, you inform me that the new director used to do porno? Should I even waste time coming up with a joke here? In all seriousness though, that’s kind of fantastic. In this series and the Godzilla one, I’ve often compared kaiju eiga to both wrestling and porn. The fact that some of its most celebrated entries are from the mind of a man who in fact cut his teeth working on a genre that is basically defined by bodies in motion and interacting with each other should tell you something. While Kaneko’s iconoclastic treatment of some of Toho’s monsters in GMK left me with a slightly bad taste in my mouth (despite it being an excellent kaiju action movie), his extreme reimaginings of classic Showa creatures were essentially perfect. Oh, 60s Gyaos was a big troll? Let’s make him an extreme dog-killer and human-munching troll for our hardcore 90s version. Gamera was an Atlantean monster who was also a friend to all children? Well maybe he was an Atlantean creation that can be communicated with via magical rock! And mayhaps a teenage girl will get a hold of such a rock! It almost feels like what happened in the 80s with the British Invasion of American superhero comics, and the likes of Swamp Thing and Animal Man were not just re-imagined, but actually rebuilt starting from a fresh interpretation of their original concepts.

While those particular runs of the comics are known for their dark and gritty departures from their kid-friendly roots, GUARDIAN OF THE UNIVERSE doesn’t so much bring us a “dark” version of ol’ shellhead as a “more visually realistic” one. The gore and slime and physical viscerality of the action don’t really preclude kids from watching this movie, but I would definitely recommend that maybe kids 8 and up watch it, whereas the Showas are totally 6 and up. The shift in audience kid-identification character from boy scout and toddler-age moppets in the Showa movies to this movie’s assertive teen (and monster-controller) Asagi (Ayago Fujitani – the actual daughter of Steven Seagal) certainly indicates this. It’s a bit of a shame that she’s saddled with a run-of-the-mill “why is dad never home” motivation, but it seems par for the course in this more grounded new direction. I’m sure the wackiness in the human scenes will come forth as we proceed in the Heisei era, as it did with the Godzilla movies. I’m not contradicting you in Kaneko’s attempts at bringing some verve in the necessary human scenes, Travis, it’s just that Kazunori Ito’s screenplay brings things back to basics when it comes to these characters, which does not work exceedingly well when binge-watching these movies as we have. Of course, I also acknowledge that this should not really be a concern for any screenwriter ever. Unless you’re commissioned to do a Netflix/Amazon/Hulu show, I suppose!

Any final thoughts on this slimy new porno-take on the friend of all children (but not in that way), Travis?



I think the character of Asagi epitomizes for me the strength of this movie. How long has Gamera been known as “the friend to all children”? Such a label is cute, but it has also been sort of a negative mark, indicating how blatantly kid-friendly the series is. In GUARDIAN, we never hear anyone say the famous moniker, and yet we still understand the strong connection between our monster hero and Asagi. It's this refreshment of cheesy clichés that works incredibly well for me. Of course, let's not forget that this movie's all about a big turtle fighting a big bird, but giving just a little maturation to the broad details of the Gamera series keeps the Heisei entries on a nice balance of grounded reality and kaiju whack-a-doo.

In fact, GUARDIAN won over famous critic Roger Ebert! He was never a fan of silly kaiju stuff, and a glance at his negative reviews for Godzilla movies (GOJIRA only got received one and a half stars!) showed that he had little patience for rubber creatures knocking over buildings. Yet in his printed review for GUARDIAN, he not only gave it three stars, but he also kept praising it over the Hollywood blockbuster AIR FORCE ONE (which had opened a month before GUARDIAN's limited US run in 1997). In his comparison, AIR FORCE ONE was another dour, realistic action film while GUARDIAN was just a fun, goofy time. He writes, “'Gamera' is not a good movie but it is a good moviegoing experience.” He even talks about the possibility that Gamera's rocket powers might actually be supplied by the turtle's own flatulence! Hey, sometimes it's nice to see the co-writer of BEYOND THE VALLEY OF THE DOLLS still recognize the trashy pleasures of cinema. Japanese audiences shared in that joy too, as GUARDIAN was a box office hit and signaled the triumphant return of our hero. The Gyaos might have been legion, but a threat from outer space was soon going to be more... uh, legion. And you'll see why in... well, GAMERA: ATTACK OF LEGION!

          We're back on Mars - Curiosity Touchdown Story        
Yes, we've just made it to the Mars once again, a few minutes ago Curiosity Rover safe-landed on Mars and started to send back the signals. I was just glued to my chair during the last 2 hours of flight of the Curiosity capsule, listening to various media news and NASA TV and finally as it was successful, I was sunken in a lot of feelings. What an effort made by the crew to have this sophisticated robot landed on our neighboring planet, the dedication and sacrifices they've put forward in bringing this up to a reality. So hats off to all those who are behind this great project, well done guys !!!

Plus what kind of discoveries can be made with this rover's expertise. By far Curiosity is the largest rover to have landed on Mars as we know and what we all just have to do is let the science begin, Already there are torrents of photos and data being sent to Earth and you all can see the pictures in NASA website. Quite interestingly it was seen that the NASA web-servers crashed at the high traffic naturally triggered for the Curiosity's news of safe landing. Anyway stay tuned in for NASA for latest news about the Curiosity.

Practice of the tradition of munching peanuts before the entry of the rover
Practice of the tradition of munching peanuts before the entry of the rover

Just before the first entry point, it was seen the usual tradition of munching of peanuts was practiced and now we all know that Curiosity has made it to Mars safely. The crews at JPL were exhilarating as they made the achievement when the pictures of the Martian surface appeared on the screen. It was truly a moment of joy and celebration, as their untiring efforts paid off.

JPL Crew reactions at the touchdown of Curiosity Rover
JPL Crew reactions at the touchdown of Curiosity Rover

If you have time just try to find and have a look at the animation depicting the entry and landing, the technique of parachute and rocket boosters is novel and interesting. They have built the largest ever parachute for this endeavor, I heard.  Looking forward to more updates from Curiosity !

Pictures courtesy : NASA TV

          Welcoming Back the last solid rocket booster from the shuttle programme        
          NASA’s Space Shuttle Program: 30 Years of Flight        

The post NASA’s Space Shuttle Program: 30 Years of Flight appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

          SpaceX pulls off first successful mid-ocean rocket landing        

Photo via SpaceX/Flickr

Four failed attempts and years of effort paid off Friday, as the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket booster re-entered Earth’s atmosphere and lowered itself vertically onto a floating platform in the Atlantic Ocean — the company’s first successful landing at sea.

The aerospace and space transport company landed the rocket on terra firma once before, but its size — 12 stories tall and a diameter about the length of Volkswagen Beetle —  made bringing it to a platform bobbing in the open ocean challenging.

The reusable main-stage booster from the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket makes a successful landing on a platform in the Atlantic Ocean about 185 miles (300 km) off the coast of Florida April 8, 2016.  SpaceX/Reuters

The reusable main-stage booster from the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket makes a successful landing on a platform in the Atlantic Ocean about 185 miles (300 km) off the coast of Florida April 8, 2016. SpaceX/Reuters

According to an AFP report, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said that the ability to safely land a rocket so it can be used again — as opposed to the traditional method of deploying a new rocket for each launch and allowing used rockets to crash-land in the ocean — will make it cheaper to get to space, and more Eco-friendly.

Several of the company’s earlier attempts at rocket landings ended in spectacular near-misses

Musk said it costs roughly $300,000 to fuel the rocket with combination of kerosene and liquid oxygen and $60 million to build a new one.

“If you have got a rocket that can be fully and rapidly reused, it is somewhere on the order of a 100-fold cost reduction, in marginal costs,” Musk said.

President Barack Obama was quick to congratulate SpaceX Friday after the rocket gracefully alighted on the oceanic landing platform, a drone ship that SpaceX christened “Of Course I Still Love You.”

There should be an embedded item here. Please visit the original post to view it.

Since it was founded in 2002, SpaceX, whose name is short for Space Exploration Technologies Corp., has rapidly become a major player in the American aerospace industry and an important part of NASA’s future plans.

The agency has already awarded contracts worth over $4 billion to the California-based company as part of its effort to reduce its reliance on Russian space shuttles. And before it landed Friday, the rocket launched into orbit a cargo craft laden with supplies for astronauts at the International Space Station.

Video of the successful Falcon 9 rocket landing on a drone ship.

The post SpaceX pulls off first successful mid-ocean rocket landing appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

          MRS 007 My Ruby Story Charles Max Wood        

My Ruby Story with Charles Max Wood
This week’s episode is a bit different. Charles Max Wood interviews… Charles Max Wood! Hear a bit about how Charles’ grandfather inspired him towards his career in programing, how handling technical support for Mozy somehow led him to writing Ruby code, and hear a bit about what he is working on now! Stay tuned.

How did you get into Programming?
Charles talks about remembering some of his first programming exposure as far back as second grade. He talks about programming the iconic turtle to move around on the screen and draw shapes. Later on he had more experience in a particular Math class in high school, this time Pascal, then of course the TI-85.

Inspired by his Grandfather
Charles gives a bit of a background story on his inspiration for taking electronics classes in school, his Grandfather. His Grandfather was an inventor that created various inventions, including tools used in the manufacturing of rocket boosters for the NASA Space Shuttle. Charles became very interested in electronics and took his first electronic class.

Electrical engineering in College
Charles then attended Brigam Young University majoring in Electrical Engineering, giving him even further chances to experience programming. To Charles, programming seemed fun but didn’t feel serious enough to hold weight as his career. His interest grew in computers. He eventually switches to Computer Engineering and graduates, also picking up a job in the office of information technology at BYU.

Programming gets more serious
Charles talks about how programming in college tended to lean towards games and fun projects, and it wasn’t until after college that the projects that he got involved with felt as if the work he was doing meant something. From building a system to help college students find apartments that fit their needs, to Bash scripts that made some of the IT updates at BYU faster and safer.

His first job with Ruby on Rails
Charles then lands a job with Mozy, the popular online backup service. Mozy’s systems were all running with Ruby on Rails and Charles worked as Technical Support. Mozy gets publicity in The Wall Street Journal, increasing the Technical Support workload. Charles then writes a Ruby on Rails system that created a smoother flow when cycling through emails. He soon added extra features like canned responses and a way to measure how often canned responses were sent as a way to highlight any particular issues Mozy was having.

Shifting into Podcasting
Charles talks about switching from a Management position to a developer track and working with a man name Don, who had an original iPod and listened to podcasts. Introducing him to Rails Envy, a podcast by Jason Seifer and Gregg Pollack. After emailing Gregg, to Charles’ surprise he responds and encourages him to start his own podcast. Charles talks about how he feels his main contribution to the Ruby community is his podcast. Since then he has had a chance to interview some really influential people, including David Heinemeier Hansson, the creator of Ruby on Rails. Outside of the podcast, Charles adds that he has also taken over Teach Me To Code and has contributed a few open source libraries, one connecting to project HoneyPot, as well as contributing indirectly through his other podcast work including JavaScript Jabber, and Adventures in Angular.

What are you working on now?
Charles talks about hoping to get back into writing open source code and even starting a project. Charles spends most of his time doing ‘businessy’ stuff for the podcast as well as the conferences, currently working on putting together a Ruby Dev Summit. Charles talks about a few new podcast shows he is working on, including bringing some requested content like web application security, React, and Elixir. Charles talks a bit about other things he is involved in at home and creating systems to help him manage his busy workload.

Electro-Voice RE20 Microphone
Behringer Xenyx 802
Roland EDIROL R-09
Audio Technica 2100

Charles’ Links
Charles’ Twitter’s Twitter
Charles GitHub

          Advanced NASA camera catches amazing detail in rocket test        
A revolutionary new video camera capable of catching extremely detailed footage is helping NASA learn more about its rocket booster technology. But as an engineer noted, it didn’t all go according to plan during a recent test of the prototype camera tech. Source: Advanced NASA camera catches amazing detail in rocket test
          Go Fever: short fiction by Patrick Ryan        

From Catapult

Understand, we were all feeling a little rattled. Some of us had been in charge of checking the range-safety systems on the rocket boosters. Some of us had been combing over the liquid oxygen and hydrogen lines on the external fuel tank. Some of us — guys like me — had been double- and triple-checking the 31,000 thermal-protection tiles that covered the outside of the orbiter. The people who inspected the body flaps and elevons, the people who maintained the aft control thrusters, even the people who inflated the tires and washed the cabin windows had been involved in the incident. You didn’t have to be the man who’d given the okay to launch on that cold Tuesday morning to feel responsible.

Image also via Catapult

          NASA HiDyRS-X Camera Reveals New Detail in Rocket Plumes        
If you have ever seen photos of NASA rocket boosters in flight or in testing, you know that all you really see is a bright orange flare. It’s impossible to make out much in the way…
          SpaceX Launches a Satellite With a Partly Used Rocket        
The use of a rocket booster that had flown once before may open an era of cheaper space travel, particularly for business ventures like satellite companies.
          Columbia: The Road Trip        
I was cleaning off my hard drive and I found this.  I have modified it very little.  I believe I wrote it in about 2001.

Thirty-five years ago, six of us set out from Lake Geneva, WI, in two cars.  We had told our bosses that we were taking a few days off to see Columbia’s first launch.  Lawrence, his wife Josie, and Jeff were in Lawrence & Josie’s car.  Erol, Paul, and I were in mine.

I’ll say, right from the beginning, that many of the routine details of the trip are hazy now.  I couldn't consult photos, because they're all in storage.  I don’t remember the route we drove, although I suspect that we went from Lake Geneva through Indianapolis, Louisville, Chattanooga, Atlanta, Gainesville, Orlando to somewhere near Cocoa, just inland from Cape Canaveral, following I-65 and I-75.  It’s likely that some of the sharp memories of the trip are just as hazy as well.  But everything here is as I remember it, with some support from Google.

The Plan
Columbia was scheduled to launch in the early morning of Friday, 10 April 1981 as STS-1.  With nearly 1300 miles to drive (and without Google Maps or GPS to help us) we figured on leaving Wednesday evening after work and driving straight through, arriving in Florida Thursday night.  Lawrence had contacted a D&D fan in the area of Cape Canaveral, who’d convinced his parents to let us crash at his place.  In return, we agreed to run at least one game for them fanboy and his friends while we were there.

Once the launch was over on Friday, we thought we’d visit the beach during the afternoon and run the game in the evening.  Then we’d cross Florida to visit Disney World on Saturday before starting back on Saturday night, thus missing only two days of work.

The Drive Down
Putting three 20-year-old boys into a car together for more than 20 straight hours of driving is guaranteed to generate bizarre behaviour, even if the three aren’t all avid D&D players.  We had our fair share.  Someone in the car drew up a sign for the passenger side saying “we kill XXX for fun and profit”, where XXX was the common name for a specific religious minority in the US.  I remember the sign, but not the context.  Somewhere in Florida, one of my passengers was hanging out of the right side window asking a cute girl in the next lane “are you bisexual?”.  At 75 miles per hour.  At night.  Without alcohol to blame it on.  In 1981.

We didn’t stop to sleep, just rotated drivers when necessary.  Since this was before cell phones, we had to stay right with each other and use limited signals to indicate the need for a stop.

Crashing with a fanboy
I don’t know exactly how Lawrence had made contact with our host fanboy.  It almost has to have been by fan letter.  I certainly don’t remember other details about him, like name, hometown, or pretty much anything else.  I think he was maybe fifteen.

In any case, Lawrence had this contact, and got a phone number, and arrangements were made.  We had a place to crash (six of us -- his parents were clearly very tolerant).  The “price” was very reasonable -- run a game, or maybe two.  Since that was essentially what we all did for a living, and in our free time for fun, it wouldn’t be much of a hardship.

The Scrub
Alarm clocks went off at four or five am.  After way too little sleep, we piled into a van provided by our hosts (I’m not positive about that, but I don’t think we drove our two vehicles -- it’s possible we squeezed the six of us into one car) and headed for the Cape.

Traffic was atrocious.  It seemed that they had not anticipated the interest in Columbia’s launch.  It wasn’t just bumper-to-bumper, it was (mostly) stop and (seldom) go.  We had the radio on, and as launch time approached, we were happier and happier about holds.

Eventually we parked at a viewing area.  It was plush, with vendors selling souvenirs, bleachers, trailer-offices, media, talking heads, and bunkers.  It was clearly not where we belonged.  Somehow in the mess of getting people into the Cape, we’d ended up at the VIP viewing area.

The view wasn’t great, actually.  It seemed to be all over land, with brush and low trees between us and the launch site.  But from the bleachers you could see pretty well.  And there were lots of big cameras here, both TV and film.

We made the most of our good fortune.  We ate the food, oogled the souvenirs (most of us barely made minimum wage), clambered around the bleachers, goggled at the celebrities (mostly news-type celebrities, it must be said), and generally made a nuisance of ourselves.  At least we weren’t the only ones doing it.  Or the only ones who didn’t belong there.

Friday's launch was scrubbed due to computer malfunction.  Fortunately, the APs managing traffic had learned something since the morning, and we were all off the Cape within an hour or so.

The Atlantic Ocean
Since we had the rest of the day to ourselves, we thought we’d go and show Jeff what an ocean looked like.  Even though the Great Lakes are wide enough to have no visible farther shore, they don’t look like an ocean.

The beach was covered, absolutely covered, in jellyfish.  Which were immediately dubbed “Man o’ War Jellyfish” (whether they were actually capable of stinging was never tested).  We walked along the beach covering them with sand and smashing them with large flat rocks.  One of my friends approached an attractive young lady and explained that she should not swim.  Her response was devastating in tone, if simple in words: "I know" :-)

Since we obviously couldn’t swim in Man o’ War infested ocean waters, we used our host’s pool.  There is a picture somewhere of several of us, pasty white from the Wisconsin winter, standing by the pool with our arms outstretched, our eyes closed, turning to get the most possible sunlight.

I slept through Lawrence’s game.  I don’t know about anyone else.  I vaguely recall a slice of pizza landing in a large glass of milk at dinner, though.

The Mouse 
Because NASA could not cycle Columbia in less than about 48 hours, we had to decide what to do.  We had always planned to go to Disney World on Saturday.  If we left as planned, we’d driven 1300 miles and back again for no particular reason except to visit Disney World.  If we stayed another 18 hours, we’d be driving home for 20 plus hours and going straight into work on Monday morning.

Four of us were 21 or under, so of course we decided to stay and see the launch if it happened Sunday morning!  It seemed unlikely that they’d fire us all, since we represented about 1/2 of the design group, 1/3 of the development group, and 1/4 of the artists.  And they weren’t paying us that well anyway.

Saturday morning we up and drove across Florida to Disney World.  We did all the things that you’d expect us to.  And by the end of the day, we were so exhausted that we all crashed out on the railroad that circles the park, singing Kliban.  You know, the cat guy?  We were finding out how many stylistic variations we could do of:
Love them little mousies
Mousies what I love to eat
Bite they little heads off
Nibble on they tiny feet.
I recall that we did pop and country versions, but the one I liked best was the Gregorian chant.  Surprisingly, security did not even comment, much less remove us from the park as undesirables.

The Launch
As it happened, Columbia had been re-scheduled for launch on the morning of 12 April 1981, exactly 20 years after Yuri Gagarin flew in Vostok 1.  Without having Wikipedia handy, we were of course unaware of the timing :-).

Unlike Friday morning driving to the Cape, Sunday morning went very smoothly.  As a result, we were not in the VIP area :-(.  Instead, we were on the first of a series of causeways across ponds and wetlands.  Because we had planned to take as long to get onto the Cape as it had taken Friday, we were early, and roughly in the middle of the first causeway.  Several other causeways behind us gradually filled with other visitors.  Every causeway had its own set of speakers, which resulted in a maddening echo effect being applied to every word Mission Control said.  “Holding” became “HOLDING ... Holding ... holding ... hldng” as we got the word from successive sets of speakers behind us.

Since we’d left a couple of extra hours early, we got there before dawn.  Even though we were used to Wisconsin winter weather, it was cold sitting for hours just a few inches above the water.  Sunrise was at about six.  The launch was scheduled for seven.

As it got close to seven, you could feel the tension rise.  I don’t know how many people there were, but we had hundreds of vehicles on our causeway alone (we’d brought both our cars because we were leaving immediately after the launch).  Since few if any of the vehicles were single drivers, we must have had thousands of people on the causeways.  Cameras were set up.  They ranged from high-end systems with lenses that looked feet long down to Jeff’s Instamatic.  Which he was holding up to a pair of binoculars.

The boom box we’d been using for a radio had a cassette recorder in it.  We plopped a blank tape in it and started recording as the final seconds ticked away, each number coming from the rows of speakers over and over and over again.

Crowd noise rose as the countdown dropped.  Individual words disappeared and were replaced with squeals and screams and shouts.  At ‘ignition’ there was a greater shout -- a single word cast across the water: ‘Yeah!’.  I think, in our secret hearts, we’d all been sure that this was going to be Friday all over again.  Now it was really going to happen.

Smoke spilled from the solid rocket boosters.  Shutters began snapping frantically.  The crowd noise continued to rise.  As the count hit zero and began to climb, we could see the shockwave from the shuttle engines moving across the water at us.  It was a wave front of distortion charging through the shallow water, and as it lapped at our causeway, it carried the booster noise.

Crowd noise, which had been loud enough to make me think about covering my ears, just vanished in a vast thrumming.  You could see that other people’s mouths were open, but whatever noise we were making was inconsequential when compared with the voice of Columbia.

The April 12 launch at Pad 39A of STS-1, just seconds past 7 a.m., 
carries astronauts John Young and Robert Crippen into an 
Earth orbital mission scheduled to last for 54 hours, ending with 
unpowered landing at Edwards Air Force Base in California.
Photo: NASA

And she rose.  She rose from that flat piece of lowland across the water, trailing booster smoke and riding flame.  She made, for the first time, that distinctive roll that bent toward the east, to protect us in case of disaster.  The sun caught her, and the crowd noise came back.  It was as if everybody’s favorite team has just won the Super Bowl and the World Series and the Stanley Cup, all at once, and then Peace Had Been Declared.

And she raced toward orbit.

Before I knew it, she was gone.  Her voice, which had been so commanding at launch, was replaced with hundreds of hoarse human voices, and the mechanical voice of Mission Control, reporting facts that fell upon our no-longer deaf ears again and again.

My camera was out of film.  I had no real recollection of images I’d tried to take.  Those prints and negatives are probably somewhere in storage, among the ten or twelve bankers boxes I have of family photos.

Driving Back
We left the Cape right after launch and started back to Wisconsin.  The recording went right into the car’s tape player, and we discovered the meaning of “clipping”.  We could hear people shouting and screaming until the roar of Columbia’s engines hit.  The recording became a brown noise hum.  It wasn’t even particularly loud (the recorder probably had some sort of automatic volume control, or we overloaded the dynamic range of the device).  After a while, the human voices just faded back in.

It wasn’t nearly as dramatic as the actual event had been.

When we crossed I-10 near Lake City, our car had a serious discussion: should we turn left and try to watch the landing?  We decided that it would almost certainly cost us our jobs, and we’d still have to drive back to Wisconsin to get our stuff, and we might not even make it in time, since Columbia was going to land in two days.

Unlike the trip down, where we’d almost always had one driver, one awake, and one sleeping, the trip back was almost always one driver and two sleeping.  Whenever a driver couldn’t go any further, we’d stop for food.  That seemed like it turned out to be every two or three hours, and we were punchy.  We actually got asked to leave a restaurant when Erol carefully ate his burger into the shape of a pyramid and left it on his plate.  They accidentally locked us in the airlock before letting us out.

I think we got back to Lake Geneva about 10am Monday morning, and went right to work, where we did fuck-all that day.

Twenty-one Years Later
I saw Columbia fly one other time.  She was refitted by NASA for the last time between July 1999 and March 2002.  She launched 1 March 2002 (the third anniversary of my mother’s death) as STS-109 to service the Hubble Space Telescope.  Sara and I had made a trip to Florida for other reasons and took the morning off to drive to Cocoa and watch from a parking lot.

We were a lot farther away.  I’m not even sure they allowed people onto the Cape for launches after 9/11.  We couldn’t see Columbia very well on the ground.  The crowd was a lot smaller, and there was no SRB noise.  But she jumped off the pad and made that roll to the east, and the sun caught her, and the crowd cheered her.

And she raced toward orbit.

It was her penultimate flight.

Eleven months later, Columbia broke up on re-entry of STS-107.  A piece of insulation from the main fuel tank had damaged the protective tiles on the left wing during launch.  The tiles failed catastrophically on re-entry.  All seven aboard were killed.

          Hack Train Conductor World iOS Game Cheat No Jailbreak        

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          The 83rd Thing Learned from QM-2        
They came for an awesome display of pure propulsive power. They got a lesson in the realities of spaceflight. …Followed by an awesome display of pure propulsive power. While engineers in Utah prepared for the second Qualification Motor (QM-2) test of a Space Launch System (SLS) solid rocket booster, another team of NASA engineers from Marshall Space Flight Center visited the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama to give a presentation to Space Camp trainees and museum guests explaining what would be happening during the test, how the boosters work, what the next steps are to get the boosters ready for the first launch, and how Space Launch System will play a key role in NASA’s Journey to Mars. The museum, which is home to Space Camp, is practically in the backyard of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, where SLS is managed. On the morning of the test, museum attendees and Space Camp trainees filled a theater at the museum to watch the two-minute-long firing of the 17-story solid rocket booster, the most powerful ever built for human spaceflight. The firing would provide information to answer 82 questions about how the booster performs, including how it would respond in cold-weather conditions. What they ended up seeing that day was a huge milestone for the Space Launch System and a major step toward human exploration of deep space. The motor performed as anticipated for the burn. The inside of the motor, where the propellant had been cooled to 40 degrees Fahrenheit to simulate a cold day at the launch site, reached nearly 6,000 degrees, and the flames leaving the booster melted sand into glass. The test clears the way for qualification of the solid rocket boosters as ready to fly on the first launch of SLS in 2018. In addition to the test and presentation, they also got a real-life lesson on the challenges in developing and flying space systems. As hundreds of children took their seats, the live NASA TV feed appeared on the giant theater screen, showing the booster mounted in the test stand – and the word “hold” underneath it. A technical issue had delayed the test – a problem with a sequencing computer. When one listens to the audio feed of a rocket or shuttle launch, you can hear announcements of the steps being taken as the countdown clock nears zero – “vehicle is on internal power,” “main engines start,” etc. For a rocket to launch, numerous things have to all happen properly, and all in the correct order, one event paving the way for the next. The booster test required that same sort of preparation and precision – many things had to happen properly, and in the proper order, both before and after ignition of the booster. When the computer responsible for managing that sequence failed to function correctly, the test had to be delayed. From a big picture view, the delay was relatively minor – after a discussion on how best to proceed, the software was changed out, the clock was reset, and the test took place just one hour after it was originally scheduled. During the delay, the audience heard the NASA team’s presentation and got a big-screen viewing of last year’s first qualification motor test (QM-1) test. But they also got a real-world demonstration of what they’d been learning in Space Camp – the best word you can hear in the space business is “nominal,” meaning everything is proceeding as expected, but there are sometimes you don’t hear that word. You work as hard as you can to make sure that you do, and you work as hard as you can to be prepared for when you don’t. When an “off-nominal” challenge arose, the NASA and Orbital ATK team in Utah rapidly assessed the problem, identified options for moving forward, evaluated the risks and benefits, and implemented a solution that allowed the test to proceed quickly and successfully. While some of the original attendees had to leave in favor of hands-on activities like microgravity water-tank training, when the test took place, the remaining audience counted down to the firing, and cheered when the booster ignited and extinguished, the giant screen showing the close-up shots at almost life size and the sound system doing its best to do justice to the roar of the motor as it turned desert sand into glass. There was excitement over the observation that the next time a booster like this is lit, it will be powering SLS off the launch pad for its first flight. The one QM-2 solid rocket motor, by itself, produced more thrust than it takes to lift most rockets off the ground and send them into space, and required millions of pounds of concrete in the test facility to make sure it didn’t move. Next time, there will be nothing holding it back. Next Time: All Roads Lead to Florida Join in the conversation: Visit our Facebook page to comment on the post about this blog. We’d love to hear your feedback!
          Behind the Scenes at QM-2: Getting Ready to Test the World’s Largest Solid Rocket Motor        
By Beverly Perry For two monumental minutes on June 28, the Space Launch System (SLS) solid rocket boosters — the largest ever built for flight — will fire up in an amazing display of power as engineers verify their designs in the last full-scale test before SLS’s first flight in late 2018. Each piece of hardware that’s qualified and each major test — like this one, dubbed QM-2 — puts NASA one step closer on its Journey to Mars. The smoke and fire may last only two minutes, but engineers at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama and Orbital ATK in Promontory, Utah have been preparing weeks — even months — in advance for the static test of Qualification Motor 2 (QM-2). Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at what goes into getting ready to fire up the largest and most powerful solid rocket motor ever built for flight. T (for test) minus weeks and months. In the months prior to the test, propellant-filled segments began arriving at Orbital ATK’s Test Bay T-97 after being cast in nearby facilities. Many of these segments are veterans of space shuttle flights. In fact, the various metal case segments that comprise the five-segment QM-2 motor flew on 48 shuttle flights! T minus 14 days. In the two weeks leading up to the test, Orbital ATK engineers begin dry runs that simulate the final test as closely as possible (without the smoke and fire). They put the motor and associated systems through their paces no fewer than 11 times before the big day to ensure not only that all systems are functioning as expected, but also that the test will be executed properly. “We only get one shot at firing the rocket motor,” says Dr. Janica Cheney, Orbital ATK’s director of Test Operations. “All the dry runs and other preparations that take place ahead of time are critical to ensuring we get the data we need from this test firing.” T minus 24 hours. For this final full-scale static test, engineers have 82 goals, or test objectives, they need to measure and evaluate. One day before the test, it’s crunch time; caffeine’s flowing as engineers work around the clock the day before the test to ensure all systems function properly and all necessary data can be collected. T minus 8 hours. Game day. There’s focus — and excitement. There are two more dry runs leading up to the test. Engineers, technicians and operators are “on station,” — present and accounted for at key locations such as the test bay, the instrument rooms and the control bunker. When you hear “control bunker,” think mission control — a command and control center that directs every aspect of the test, similar to what you see at mission control during a launch. Time flies during the final eight hours before the test. T minus 6 hours. At 4:05 a.m. EDT (2:05 a.m. MDT), engineers and managers at Orbital ATK and NASA will make a “go” or “no go” decision on testing that day. Assuming the test’s a go, technicians “roll back” Orbital ATK’s specially designed moveable test bay housing and begin running final checks to make sure everything is ready. “We check the status of all the data and control systems, the test bay, the motor preparation and weather conditions,” Cheney says. Weather is one variable that can halt the QM-2 test. “We make sure there’s no lightning in the area; no high winds; no storms,” explains Orbital ATK Fire Chief Blair Westergard. “We also establish fire breaks. Along with the Box Elder County Fire District, we’re prepared to extinguish any secondary wildfires too.” Engineers also make sure cameras are ready to film and all data recording systems are online and functioning properly. Orbital ATK Security ensures the area around the test is clear. T minus 3 hours. Crowds begin to gather as the public viewing area near Promontory off State Route 83 opens at 7:30 a.m. EDT (5:30 a.m. MDT). Orbital ATK Security directs traffic with the help of the Utah Highway Patrol and provides crowd control support to ensure everything remains orderly — vital when 10,000 people are in attendance. If you do not see the video above, please make sure the URL at the top of the page reads http, not https. T minus 1 hour. The formal countdown commences; the public address system broadcast begins. The crew in the test bay begins final procedures to prepare the booster for testing. T minus 9 minutes. Final system and timing checks are underway. T minus 4 minutes. A “go for test” announcement sounds from the public address system. T minus 1 minute. A siren begins; it will blare through T minus 20 seconds. T minus 45 seconds. The “Safe and Arm” system sequence begins, which arms the motor. The Safe and Arm device is remotely activated from the “safe” position into the “armed” position, allowing the motor to ignite when the “fire” command is given. T minus zero. At 10:05 a.m. EDT (8:05 MDT), two minutes of pure awesome commence as the gigantic motor burns through about five and a half tons of propellant each second during the approximately two-minute test. Inside the control bunker, there will be jubilation — and relief. “This is serious business — this is rocket science,” Cheney emphasizes. “But there’s nothing better than the smoke and fire and the data that comes with it when you’ve had a successful day. Our success is NASA’s success — we don’t do it alone.” Join in the conversation: Visit our Facebook page to comment on the post about this blog. We’d love to hear your feedback!
          Three Cool Facts About QM-2        
By Beverly Perry The countdown to the last full-scale test firing of the massive Space Launch System (SLS) solid rocket boosters has begun. Mark your calendars: June 28, 8:05 a.m. MDT. Expect two minutes of shock and awesome as the flight-like motor burns through about six tons of propellant each second during the test. With expanding gases and flames exiting the nozzle at speeds in excess of Mach 3 and temperatures reaching 3,700 degrees Fahrenheit, say goodbye to some of the sand at Orbital ATK’s test facility in the Utah desert because after the test, the sand at the aft, or rear, end of the booster motor will be glass. The 154-foot long Qualification Motor 2 (QM-2) consists of the five propellant-filled segments in the middle of the booster; the aft skirt is also part of the test, but the forward assembly (nose cap, forward skirt) won’t be. (See our Boosters 101* infographic if you need a refresher on booster parts and assemblies). The test will broadcast live on NASA TV and our Facebook page. We will also live tweet from @NASA_SLS on Twitter. For those watching at home (or work), here are three cool things that might not be so obvious on the screen, in countdown order. 3. This motor’s chill. QM-2’s been chilling — literally, down to 40 degrees — since the first week in May in Orbital ATK’s “test bay housing,” a special building on rails that moves to enclose the booster and rolls back so the motor can be test-fired. Even though SLS will launch from the normally balmy Kennedy Space Center in Florida, temperatures can vary there and engineers need to be sure the booster will perform as expected whether the propellant inside the motor is 40 degrees or 90 degrees (the temperature of the propellant during the first full-scale test, Qualification Motor 1 or QM-1). 2. This booster’s on lockdown. If you happen to be near Promontory, Utah on June 28, you can view the test for yourself in the public viewing area off State Route 83. And don’t worry, this booster’s not going anywhere — engineers have it locked down. The motor is held securely in place by Orbital ATK’s T-97 test stand. During the test, the motor will push against a forward thrust block with more than three million pounds of force. Holding down the rocket motor is more than 13 million pounds of concrete — most of which is underground. The test stand contains a system of load cells that enable engineers to measure the thrust the motor produces and verify their predictions. Putting out the fire at the end of the test is the job of the quench system, which fills the motor with carbon dioxide from both ends of the test stand. A deluge system sprays water on the motor to keep the metal case from getting too hot so the hardware can be re-used. Both the quench and deluge systems had to be upgraded to handle the heat and size of the big five-segment boosters. 1. Next time, it’s for real. These solid rocket boosters are the largest and most powerful ever built for flight. They’ve been tested and retested in both full-scale and smaller subsystem-level tests. Engineers have upgraded and revamped vital parts like the nozzle, insulation and avionics control systems. They’ve analyzed loads and thrust, run models and simulations, and are nearing the end of verifying their designs will work as expected. Most of this work was necessary because, plainly put, SLS needs bigger boosters. Bigger boosters mean bolder missions – like around the moon during the first integrated mission of SLS and Orion. So the next time we see these solid rocket motors fire, they will be propelling SLS off the launch pad at Kennedy Space Center and on its first flight with Orion. For real. Next time: Behind the Scenes at QM-2: Getting Ready to Test the World’s Largest Solid Rocket Motor. Join in the conversation: Visit our Facebook page to comment on the post about this blog. We’d love to hear your feedback!
          Next Generation Wants Its Mars Shot        
By Beverly Perry We don’t know who will take those first steps on Martian soil, ushering in the age of humans as a multi-planetary species. But we do already know a couple things about those first intrepid explorers: They’re taking steps on Earth right now; and they belong to a generation that is tech-savvy, and raised on the internet and social media. But do today’s students think about exploring beyond this world and into deep space? “Every day – we can’t get enough of that stuff!” said Ben Collins from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign on a recent windy morning that was spent launching rockets in a field north of Huntsville. Collins and his teammates were among 51 student rocketry teams that competed in various challenges and sent their amateur rockets soaring during the 16th annual Student Launch rocketry challenge April 13-16. At this year’s Student Launch, middle and high school students and university computer scientists, physicists and engineers of all stripes (aerospace and mechanical were particularly well-represented) got to tour NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, the center responsible for developing the Space Launch System (SLS), the country’s next-generation heavy-lift launch vehicle. While there, the students heard from a member of their generation actively involved in designing and engineering SLS: Marshall engineer Kathryn Crowe, who is part of a generations-spanning workforce blending fresh thinking with years of experience. (See Time Flies: Next-Generation Rocket is the Work of Generations for more about Kathryn’s work.) For some, the competition – and the visit – were a taste of things to come. “My biggest career goal is to work on the Journey to Mars – to somehow be a part of it,” said Brandon Murchinson, also of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. “I think SLS is incredible. As someone who’s always been interested in space exploration and travel, it’s why I chose this career path.” NASA’s call for new astronauts earlier this year also made an impact on the future engineers and scientists at the Student Launch. Paul Grutzmacher, a 17-year-old senior at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in Akron, Ohio, said that his career goal is to become a pilot for the Orion crew vehicle that will launch on SLS. “SLS excites me because it’s supposed to take us farther than we’ve gone before and it’s also our next heavy lifter,” he added. Grutzmacher thinks he’s got the right stuff to fly on SLS, but so does Vanderbilt University’s Rebecca Riley, a senior computer science major who plans to continue her education in particle physics. “I think we’re all pretty excited that we might be the right age to be going to Mars. I’m like, Man, that’s going to be me going to Mars!” These students recognize the value in missions that build expertise in long-duration spaceflight – and the technological spinoffs that arise from the process. To hear them tell it, long timelines just don’t scare them. Auburn University’s student rocketry team tracks progress on America’s next great rocket by following social media and events like solid rocket booster static test firings and RS-25 main engine tests. “Social media makes it a lot more tangible,” said Auburn’s Burak Adanur. “And I think it gives people something to look forward to,” he said. Vanderbilt University’s Andrew Voss has participated in the Student Launch over the past four years. “I have seen a lot of work go down,” he said. “And I like seeing the test stands because the work that goes into testing is a feat of engineering.” Check out our recent blog post on Engine 2059 for more about how an engine helped test a test stand. Tech-obsessed students have no trouble spouting off advancements that have arisen from America’s space program: cell phone cameras, scratch-resistant sunglasses, memory foam, and the list goes on. Vanderbilt’s Voss said, “That’s part of what NASA’s always done, and what could come out of SLS is not just spaceflight, but technology that drives the world forward.” “I think that’s one of the most important aspects to space exploration,” said Auburn’s Adanur. “We have to go space because it’s a mechanism – it’s a crucible – that will change us as a society and give us new technologies. I think it has more of a ripple effect than most people think.” Chris Lorenz of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign said he sees the value of NASA’s proving ground missions to build up for human Mars landings. “I’m a big fan of what NASA does in robotic exploration. It’s smart to go unmanned and build up infrastructure first before attempting manned missions,” he said. Vanderbilt’s Mitch Masia said that while proving ground missions are necessary, deep space exploration really gets people going. “The space station is awesome and a huge feat and deep space missions will get people even more excited.” Case in point: Worldwide amazement and wonder at the photos of Pluto NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft has been sending back to Earth. Participants at the Student Launch emphasized that their generation wants its chance to make history. They want their Mars shot. “I think SLS will bring our generation together,” said Michael D’Onofrio, a 17-year-old senior at Sylvania Northview High School in Sylvania, Ohio. “Something that’s greater than where we are – going beyond Earth – will bring us together.” Vanderbilt’s Riley said, “I’m excited about SLS in a very patriotic way. SLS and going to Mars is that big goal that we can all get behind and be excited about as an American people.” Join in the conversation: Visit our Facebook page to comment on the post about this blog. We’d love to hear your feedback!
          The End of an Era - A Personal Look Back at the Shuttle        

The post Amazing Video: Riding the Shuttle’s Booster appeared first on disinformation.

          The Last Rockets        

This is the first of what is sure to be a series of articles noting a series of "lasts" for the shuttle program. This one hits especially close to home for me, because the Solid Rocket Boosters were at the center of the plot of The Time It Takes to Fall (both literally and figuratively), and the journey they take by railway to get to Florida is one of those randomly beautiful facts that novelists could never make up and can only be grateful for. In Dolores's words, from the epilogue:

I still think about that O-ring. I’ve learned that it was manufactured in 1985 in Brigham City, Utah, cleaned off like a newborn, inspected and measured and inspected again before being packed and shipped to Florida. That O-ring made an American journey by railway, across deserts and mountains, across the width of the American South to arrive at the coast of central Florida on October 11, 1985, at the marshy wildlife refuge, the improbable spaceport. There it waited to be unloaded into the Vehicle Assembly Building, unpacked and reinspected and remeasured and reinspected again, by my father.

Never again will a Solid Rocket Booster make that journey. Unless, of course, the retirement of the space shuttle is extended for a few more years...
          Artz de Scrap Altered Toilet Paper Tubes into Saturn V Rocket        

My son wanted me to make a rocket ever since he became fascinated with spaceships. Last summer, he was introduced to the Saturn V Rocket, after seeing a demonstration of the 3-stage rocket booster separation in a Singaporean Aerospace Museum. Given that Artz de Scrap's Guest Designer Timi Mercado challenged us to alter toilet paper rolls, I decided to give in to Galo's whim to make a Saturn V Rocket.

I used several toilet paper rolls, some smaller in girth. I simply unrolled the cardboard, rolled it to make it tighter and taped it well. After getting the desired height and basic shape, I covered the whole rocket with several layers of strips of toilet paper and white glue, like in paper mache. To make the fins and line definitions, I used different lengths of wooden toothpicks which I glued to the side of the rocket. I then covered them with layers of toilet paper and glue as well. I also made 8 small cones, painted them in black and glued them as fuel nozzles at the bottom of the rocket. Afterwards, I painted the whole rocket with gesso white, then painted the black designs, the US flag and words "USA" all over the rocket using acrylic paint and Whispers Strokes pens. Lastly, I made white checked designs on the body of the rocket using a white textured textile glue. For displaying, since it couldn't stand very well with the black nozzles glued at the bottom, I used a metal paper stake which I inserted in between the nozzles. This, I had to put away for safety when I gave the rocket to Galo.

Except for not being not scaled to size and not very straight, it still turned out quite well. My son couldn't wait to play with it!

Materials used: toilet paper rolls; toilet paper strips; toothpicks; Delta Ceramcoat Gesso; Semco acrylic paint black; Whispers Strokes Pens; Pebeo Touch Textile white.

Techniques used: paper mache; painting; drawing; doodling with puff glue.

          ATK & NASA Unveil Ares I First Stage Five-Segment Solid Rocket Booster        
Ares I First Stage will be Tested August 25 at ATK's Facility (Promontory, Utah, July 20, 2009) -- NASA and Alliant Techsystems (NYSE: ATK) marked a major milestone on the 40th anniversary of Apollo 11 landing on the moon, signifying the next steps in space travel to the moon and beyond, as they unveiled the first completed Ares I first stage five-segment solid rocket booster. The unveiling commenced as the movable structure that houses the booster was rolled off to reveal the Ares I first...
          Landsat 8 Launches Successfully!        
The title of this post could actually be "Live video of Landsat launch blows my mind". Landsat was launched atop a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V 401 rocket with live video coverage from aboard the rocket throughout the various stages of the launch streaming to the web for anyone to watch. The best part of the coverage was the end, when a camera on the rocket booster showed the separation of Landsat 8 from the booster, with a backdrop of the rising sun above a crescent Earth. See for yourself, and just try to hold your jaw closed:

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Russia’s Security Council is reportedly considering a ban on supplying the US with powerful RD-180 rocket engines for military communications satellites as Russia focuses on building its own new space launch center, Vostochny, in the Far East.
A ban on the rockets supply to the US heavy booster, Atlas V, which delivers weighty military communications satellites and deep space exploration vehicles into orbit, could impact NASA’s space programs – not just military satellite launches.
An unnamed representative of Russia’s Federal Space Agency told the Izvestia newspaper that the Security Council is reconsidering the role of Russia’s space industry in the American space exploration program, particularly the 2012 contract to deliver the US heavy-duty RD-180 rocket engines.
Previously, Moscow has not objected to the fact that America’s Atlas V boosters, rigged with Russian rocket engines,  deliver advanced space armament systems into orbit. If a ban were to be put in place, however, engine delivery to the US would probably stop altogether, beginning in 2015.
A RD-180 rocket engine used in the first stages of American rockets Atlas-3 and Atlas-5 is displayed at the Glushko Energomash Research and Production Association, Khimki. (RIA Novosti / Sergey Pyatakov)
A RD-180 rocket engine used in the first stages of American rockets Atlas-3 and Atlas-5 is displayed at the Glushko Energomash Research and Production Association, Khimki. (RIA Novosti / Sergey Pyatakov)

Over the last decade, most of NASA’s Atlas V heavy rocket launches performed by the United Launch Alliance (a Boeing/Lockheed Martin joint venture) were carried out using Russian RD-180 dual-nozzle rocket engines, a legacy of the Soviet Buran space shuttle program and its unparalleled rocket booster Energia, which could put 100 tons worth of spacecraft or satellite payloads into orbit.

Military payloads

It is widely believed that many Atlas V launches carry a military payload. Such Lockheed Martin-designed military spacecraft include the Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) series of communications satellites launched for Air Force Space Command, the mysterious Palladium at Night communication platform designed for the US Navy’s Ultra-High Frequency (UFO) Follow-On program, and most certainly all three launches of Boeing’s X-37 unmanned demonstrator spacecraft. These are only a part of the military space missions undertaken by Atlas V rockets, boosted by RD-180 engines
A ban could also affect the US’s non-military space exploration launches, which are also highly dependant on the Atlas V rocket and RD-180 engines. The most famous and challenging among these exploration missions are NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft, now traveling to Pluto and the Kuiper Belt (launched in 2006), and the Curiosity Mars rover (launched in 2011) currently operating on the Red Planet.
A number of experts told Izvestia that termination of the rocket engine contract would not be a good idea commercially for NPO Energomash, which produces the rockets, as at the moment it exclusively makes RD-180 engines for the US space industry. The rockets typically take Energomash 16 months to produce.
If production of the RD-180 engine is halted, the enterprise would have to find other contracts to keep its production line and experienced staff busy.
“In my opinion, stopping the export of rocket engines to the US is stupid, as we would suffer financial and reputational losses,” Ivan Moiseyev, scientific head of the Space Policy Institute, told Izvestia. â€œThe US would not suffer much and would definitely continue with military space launches, while Russia would have to stop production of the RD-180, because no one else needs the RD-180 engine.”
Many space experts believe that the US would find it difficult to quickly replace the Russian-made rocket boosters.
Meanwhile, Energomash could soon find other orders elsewhere. Russia plans to start space launches from its new, multibillion-dollar Vostochny cosmodrome in the Far East in 2015. Vostochny will host a heavy rocket class launch pad, which means the producer of world’s most powerful rocket engines will be kept busy for many years to come.
The RD-180 is equivalent to half of the Soviet-era Energia booster, the most powerful liquid rocket engine ever made. With 20 million horsepower output, the Soviet-era RD-170 was about 5 percent more powerful, yet 1.5 times smaller, than American’s F-1 first stage rocket engine made for the Saturn V booster of the Apollo lunar program. 
Reportedly, when the Energia booster with the Buran space shuttle was launched in November 1988, the massive concrete bays paving the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan were flying around like dry leaves, due to the immense power coming from the four RD-170 engines, which blasted the 2,400-ton rocket booster into space. 
he Energiya space rocket system comprising a launch vehicle and the Buran reusable shuttle, 1988. (RIA Novosti / Alexander Mokletsov)
he Energiya space rocket system comprising a launch vehicle and the Buran reusable shuttle, 1988. (RIA Novosti / Alexander Mokletsov)

In the post-Soviet era, Russian-US rocket engine cooperation started back in 1996, when America’s General Dynamics Company bought exclusive rights for use of RD-180 in the US, later selling it to Lockheed Martin for its Atlas rocket program. NPO Energomash, the producer of unique engines based in Moscow’s suburb Khimki, signed a contract for production of 50 RD-180 engines and an option for the production of another 51 units.

A specially created joint venture, RD-AMROSS, between NPO Energomash and Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, has already delivered 63 engines to the US worth $11-15 million apiece, reportedly 40 of them have already been used. In December 2012, a new contract was signed to deliver another 31 engines. But this contract is now being reconsidered by Russia’s Security Council, according to Izvestia.

Rocket engines: space at stake

The RD-AMROSS joint venture has always been controversial for Russia’s military.
In 2011 Russia’s Audit Chamber announced that the RD-180 rocket engines delivered to the US according to the 1996 contract were sold for only half of their real production value. The total loss in 2008-09 reached 880 million rubles (about $30 million) or 68 percent of all financial losses of NPO Energomash at the time, the Audit Chamber said.
In an interview, the general director of RKK Energia Corporation, Vitaly Lopota, estimated that at the time of the RD-180 first launch in the late 1980s, USSR was “at least” 50 years ahead of America’s liquid fuel rocket engine technology. 
The fragmented F-1 engine components (Image courtesy Bezos Expeditions)
The fragmented F-1 engine components (Image courtesy Bezos Expeditions)

In the 1990s Russia agreed not only to sell unique engines to the US, but also provided the Americans with full documentation on the engine’s design specifications. But the US space industry opted to buy ready engines instead of trying to make them on their own, because of the technological and material engineering gap between the two countries’ space industries. And today, the situation appears to be pretty much the same.
In December 2012, the head of Roskosmos, the Russian Federal Space Agency, Vladimir Popovkin, commented to Izvestia on the engines: â€œAmericans are buying RD-180 engines and are negotiating to buy promising new RD-193 engines, because they’ve learned that we’re making a quality product, the best liquid-fueled rocket engines in the world. For them it’s easier to buy than to make up with us, [while] for us it is important to ensure the development of the NPO Energomash enterprise.”
In June 2013, the US Federal Trade Commission launched an antitrust investigation into United Launch Alliance, which was accused of “monopolizing” the rocket engine market and thus barring its direct rival, Orbital Sciences Corporation, from obtaining RD-180 engines for its Antares rocket booster to break into the lucrative market for US government rocket launches. 
Experts say that the fact that Orbital Sciences Corporation is battling for the RD-180 could only mean that the company has so far failed to acquire anything similar on either the American, or the international space industry market.
Orbital Sciences’ Antares rocket is powered by Aerojet AJ-26 engines, which are actually Soviet NK-33 engines produced for the super-heavy N-1 rocket booster of USSR lunar program. Orbital Sciences once managed to buy 43 NK-33 engines stored for decades in Russian space corporation’s depots, and then adopted them for their needs. Now Orbital Sciences would like to restart production of the NK-33, but Energomash announced that this engine is out of production for the time being. In this situation, Orbital Sciences is taking ULA to court for the right to buy Russia’s RD-180 rocket engines. 
The fragmented F-1 engine components (Image courtesy Bezos Expeditions)
The fragmented F-1 engine components (Image courtesy Bezos Expeditions)

SpaceNews reported earlier this month that NASA’s internal agency audit is warning that the Orion deep-space manned spacecraft program faces a “difficult budget environment” that ultimately could cause delays and cost increases. The Orion capsule could be launched with various rockets, including ULA’s Atlas V and Space Exploration Technologies’ Falcon 9.

In spring of this year, Amazon founder and space enthusiast Jeff Bezos, owner of the Blue Origin space exploration startup, financed a successful expedition recovering two F-1 engines for Apollo project’s Saturn V rocket from the Atlantic sea bed near Florida’s Kennedy Space Center. Bezos said that his fascination with space began back in 1969 with the Apollo program, when he saw astronaut Neil Armstrong walk on the Moon.
The rocket engines still remain property of NASA and the US government, and Bezos has promised NASA the units to place them on display at a museum in Seattle as â€œtestament to the Apollo program.” 

          Video Game Expendables: Constructing the Dream Team        

I read an article by mikeerik here on IGN recently about his choices for an Expendables-like team of video game characters which would make for an awesome movie or game. This inspired me enough to shamelessly rip it off and make my own, so below are my choices for the video game expendables and why. Enjoy!

All credit for the concept goes to mikeerik of course, his original blog can be found here:

Be warned, there are very mild spoilers for the plots of the games some of these characters are involved in.

1. Leon S. Kennedy - Resident Evil


 I don't care what they say, formal shoes are the ideal wear for zombie fighting.

I don't particularly like the Expendables movies, but I do like Resident Evil, and Leon S. Kennedy is one of the main reasons.

Perhaps the embodiment of "awesome zombie hunter ladies man", Leon is never afraid to spout inappropriate one-liners at zombies, horrific bio-organic weapons, parasitically infected eastern Europeans or Ada Wong, all whilst being the only person in the world capable of rocking the emo cut and still get the ladies. The thing that solidifies Leon as the first member of my team is not his expertise with firearms, ability to quip at zombies hours into a hellish biological apocalypse nor his inherent stylishness. It is simply that bit in Resident Evil: Damnation when he goes "Tsch... women". A line so good they named an RE6 achievement after it.


steamworkshop_webupload_previewfile_122186987_preview You touched the hair. Now die.

2. The protagonist - Persona 4

Yu While searching this picture I found pictures of cosplayers of him. Persona is forever ruined.

His official name is Yu Narukami, but any of you who have played Persona 4 or, as I have, its Vita remake Golden, will know him by whatever name you chose. Forget both of those.

His real name is Bastian Hidatchi and anyone who disputes it thus will receive an immediate slap to the face. My hand will come out of your monitor and slap you. In the face.

That aside, this guys oozes coolness. He invented it. If you look up swag in the dictionary you will find a picture of his face. He is fully capable of transferring to a remote Japanese village where no one's heard of him and go out with every girl he knows, at the same time, within the year. He will do all this while wearing a pop collar, using a hidden side of himself to fight shadow monsters inside a TV world, improving the lives of numerous people in the town, and being a 17 year old who has grey hair. Calm down.


And those piercing grey eyes.

In short, no bitchin' gaming team would be worth its salt without him, but it can be a burden as his presence makes everyone else look bad.

3. Agent Spin - Elite Beat Agents



Aaaaawww yeeeeeea.

There's very little I have to say to describe this guy that isn't immediately apparent from the picture. He wears sunglasses, upside-down over-ear headphones and a suit, and he's incredible. This is a government agent who responds to a crisis which has reached breaking point by dancing, dancing so smooth that he can motivate someone to overcome any obstacle, be it asking out a potential boyfriend whilst trying to handle some troublesome toddlers or saving a young boy from a giant fire-breathing golem in a theme park. No matter what trouble my team finds itself in in their numerous movies they can rest assured that Spin will have the perfect tune and the perfect moves to help them beat anything.

4. A Monster Hunter - Monster Hunter



Flame sword! Point invalid!

Monster Hunter is one of my favorite gaming franchises of all time, and it's certainly my most cherished. Only problem is I'm not sure which part of the series resonates with me the most. Is it dressing up a pig and hugging it until it loves you? Employing cats to cook your food for you? Having a cat with you to help you fight? Or perhaps it's the fighting giant, awesome monsters with the most totally awesome armor and weapons ever conceived in a video game? I'll never know the answer, but what I do know is a Monster Hunter is a must have on my team. By my logic, if you can fight a giant dragon dinosaur and win, you can be in the team.

TANK3_WiiU TitleSheet

Or just, you know, tame the dragon. Whatever.

5. Mikasa - the Attack on Titan fan game


I'm starting to dread looking up images of these characters. The results are mostly disturbing.

Before I start on this one I want to point out that the Attack on Titan fan game is totally awesome, totally free and you can play it here:

Anime has never been a staple of my TV diet. True, I've always liked the art style and am a big fan of Studio Ghibli's movies, but my viewing experience outside of those has previously been limited to a brief fascination with One Piece and whatever crap 4kids used to edit. Nevertheless I decided to try Attack on Titan after hearing good things about it from you guys on IGN and was immediately hooked. The main thing that does it for me is the fact that the 3D-maneuver gear used by the soldiers in the show is perhaps the most brilliant (and hilariously impractical, as you quickly find out playing the game) way of moving anywhere, ever. Couple this with the dual swords used to attack the aforementioned titans and you have the recipe for a great, super difficult and super addicting game.

As for Mikasa, she is easily my favorite character in the show (and the default character in the game) for many reasons, the main ones being:

  • Inherent awesomeness
  • Eren whines too much
  • She's not overtly sexualised a'la a lot of female characters in anime and gaming
  • The scarf

If Leon's shooting everything, Hidatchi's swagging it out with a katana, Spin's bustin' a move and the Monster Hunter is hunting Monsters, Mikasa will be shooting around everywhere at blistering speeds, calmly and coolly cutting the necks out of anything that moves and is over 6 metres tall. And has a neck. She's also the first female team member, which proves I'm not a sexist.


Just lonely.

6. Ada Wong - Resident Evil


 No, she will not marry you.

I spent a while (read: 5 seconds) trying to decide whether to pick Leon or Ada as my Resident Evil member, and ended up picking both. The fact of the matter is I feel equally awesome running at zombies and kicking them in the face as Leon as I do suavely strolling up to them and putting an arrow through their head as Ada. In Resident Evil 6 (my only experience playing as her) Ada is an enigmatic, elegant and mysterious agent who spends most of her time being condescending to the bad guy, deliberately not explaining things to people and playing hard-to-get with Leon. What's not to like?

When I play as Ada in Resident Evil 6 the character turns around and gives me disapproving looks whenever I move faster than a stroll. She is so insanely dignified and intelligent that I feel I have personally let her down when I miss a shot. Her idle animation is crossing her arms and rolling her eyes at everything. You get the point. In fact, the only time she's not being super elegant is when she's unconscious in Leon's arms, which is surprisingly touching for a game featuring a man who turns into a dinosaur.

Despite her numerous douchey traits Ada still gets a spot in the team because dammit, she's Ada Wong and despite being somewhat over-sexualised in the games it's kind of cancelled out by the fact that she's effortlessly more intelligent and cool than any other character in RE6 and, in fairness, Leon shows just as much cleavage as she does. Seriously, scroll up.


Also, she has a cube as a phone. 

7. Isaac Clarke - Dead Space




Not pictured: Plasma Cutter aimed at your crotch.

Dead Space is one of my favorite games of all time. It embodies what I love about sci-fi: the terror of the unknown, deep space exploration, the nostromo-like USG Ishimura and the ancient, horrific alien menace. It was one of the first horror experiences I ever had in my life, before I watched Alien or any of the numerous sci-fi classics which inspired it and it scared the crap out of me. It was brilliant.

Being the main protagonist of one of my favorite ever games, you can tell in how high a regard I hold Isaac Clarke. In the original Dead Space he was an everyman, a (mostly) faceless guy scared out of his mind whom the player could relate to and sympathize for as more and more things went horrifically wrong for him. In the sequels he's brought to life by the excellent voice acting and mocap of Gunner Wright. He becomes a real person who, despite now having a story, character arc and two love interests (only one of which is a apparition of his mind!) is still relatable and sympathetic.

Most importantly though, Isaac Clarke is a badass. He is an intergalactic badass. You can throw him inside the bowels of hell itself with nothing but a RIG and a torch and he'll get out of there with a fully loaded chain gun he built himself from wood and power nodes and only mild dementia to say for it. He is a survivor, and an awesome one at that.


"Three narrow eye slits are all I need to cut your arms off."

8. Siris - Infinity Blade



Padrie. Decavonse.

Very rarely does a platform have an undisputed "best" game among gaming aficionados, but somehow Infinity Blade managed to do it on IOS. I played it near-constantly. I loved the unique premise, beautifully rendered environments, atmospheric soundtrack, intuitive gameplay and awesome armor and weapons. Then Infinity Blade 2 came out and somehow managed to be better than the original in every way. I still don't know how they did it.

In the transition from the last best game on IOS to the current best game on IOS the main character of the game went from "nameless bloke what is the son of the nameless bloke who just died" to "Siris, immortal badass who also happens to be a master swordsman". He can wield pretty much any weapon and be able to smash a giant's face in with it, and still pull a cool pose immediately afterwards. Every time. Needless to say he's great, and has some pretty cheesy lines to boot.



9. Rocket Racer - Lego Racers



This guy...

Lego Racers is one of the first games I ever played, which makes Rocket Racer one of the first final bosses I ever faced in a game. To reach this guy you have to race that asshole vampire with all the bats, the douche bag alien who constantly rocket boosts and the damnable pirate who constantly shoots cannons at you. Then there's Rocket Racer.

Imagine playing a racing game where one of the ai constantly teleports in front of you, all the time. That's exactly what happens when you race him, and the feeling of "screw you" when you win is palpable. So Rocket Racer is the final member of my Video Game expendables team because he has a teleporting rocket car (which looks awesome) and he's the embodiment of a douche. Sorted.

So what do you guys think? Any characters you agree with or would change? Who would you have in your Video Game Expendables? Greatly interested to hear other people's ideas, and don't forget to check out mikeerik's team as well.

          Space Launch System Solid Rocket Boosters 'on Target' for First Flight        
Huntsville AL (SPX) Aug 09, 2017
Production of the five-segment powerhouse motors for the Space Launch System (SLS) solid rocket boosters is on target at prime contractor Orbital ATK's facilities in Utah, with 10 motor segments cast with propellant and four of those segments complete. Following propellant casting, the finished segments were evaluated using non-destructive techniques, such as x-ray, to ensure they met qual
          Lil' Red Pocket Sketchbook 2013-2014        

The front cover. This Sketchbook is 2 inches by 3 inches.

An explanation of the contents: 
This Doodle Book + Stick-Figures may include: Robots, Monsters, Beetles, Bugs, Angels, Demons, Dinosaurs, Stick-Men, Space Ships, Aliens, Octopi, Jellyfish, Fish, Ogres, Goons, Gremlins, Goblins, Squares, Circles, Cyclopes, Monkeys, Dragons, Abstract Designs, Shapes, Tanks, Planes, Cars, Creeps, Cred, Weirdos, Freaks, Bats, Cats, Dogs, Rats, Mice, Cheese, Ducks, Bees, and Ghosts...

Frogs with wings and scarab beetles.

Angel and Robot

Robot, Three Aliens, and Matt Cowley

Random Shapes, Robots and Aliens and Smiley Faces

Radial Design/Mandala

Radial Design/Mandala

Alien Designs and Robot

Electro Tessla Coils

The Chicken-Footed Tiggle-Swank of the Land of La-De-Da (Monster)

Jellyfish Monsters

Random Microbes or Crop Circles

Random Robots and/or Aliens

Ancient Mask and Random Monsters

Crying Monster and Random Monsters

Octopus Monster by Kelani Andersen

Eye Designs

My brother Tim, as a monster

Awesome One-Eyed Zig-Zag-Legged Bug Monsters!


Possibly inspired by Mega-Man.

A genie from a lamp.

My Neighbor Totoro? Or Toe-Toe-Roe?

More of SHINY-MAN 3000. Rocket Boosters and Gun-Arm.

A jellyfish alien/monster thing.

Notes from Church:

"The Savior will make up for what I can't."
"I will continue to strive, trusting in His Atonement to make up the difference."
"I will always have shortcomings in this life - that is what the Savior is for."

A Cyclops Robot with several antennas.

Left Page: A Cyclops Robot with several antennas.
Right Page: Random Shapes, Alien Dog and other random aliens.

Long-Legged Alien Stick Figure Dudes.

On this bookmark, some new words I learned: obfuscation, ostention, bivouac, petulant.
A few attempts at a poem: 
"Iron Ire"
"Riled with Iron Ire"
"A rhino, riled with iron ire, charged and stamped out a fiery pyre."

Some Poems:

"The Land of Bland is full of sand,
and you can stand where you planned
with your hands on the sand,
but you can't do a handstand,
or you'll land unplanned,
with your hands in the air,
and your head in the sand!"

"A ton of tongue twisters you can tell to your sisters."

Some other poem attempts:

"Run One Red Light"

"An appalling apparition appeared to appeal an ape for an apple which he apparently peeled."

"An appraising (surmising) young sir praised a surprising prize for a surprise party of surmizable size."

"A goat with a coat lived deep in a moat where he smote all who poked him with smoke from his throat."

Beetleships Flying and Shooting

I enjoy drawing these giant, spotted marshmallow-man-like monsters. They have a great feeling of weight to me, like an ogre or a troll, but with a softer side. smile emoticon

Note From Church:
"Other people have been on this path. I can see where they're at. I can accomplish this, too."
- John Stavast

The Mushroom Kingdom? Definitely inspired by Mario. I love the simplistic designs of the original Super Mario Bros. I believe that's what made the game so iconic. Plus, it was fun to play and had great music.

Left Page: Another drawing of "The Chicken-Footed Tiggle Swank of The Land of La-De-Da."

Right Page: Subatomic Particles or Planets? YOU be the judge.

Shiny-Man 3000 in different poses, using different types of gun-arm weapons! Reminiscent of Mega Man (1990), anyone?

More Awesome One-Eyed Zig-Zag-Legged Bug Monsters!

Random Microbes

Notes From Church (1-19-14):
"You don't have to continue in pain and guilt before you repent. Repent now, and the burden will be lifted."
"Turn to your Savior."

Addenda to my December 21 collection of "the Year's Best Movies" lists:

Also not surprisingly, you'll find some titles shared across both of those lists.

Meanwhile, Julie at Misfortune Cookie offers the Best overlooked and underappreciated performances of 2011 and Roger Ebert declares They wuz robbed.

IndieWire/Press Play: The winners of the Vertigoed contest — In response to the foofaraw (given a wobbly rocket boost by Kim Novak) over that pivotal scene in The Artist scored to a distinctive Bernard Herrmann cue from Hitchock's Vertigo, the Press Play staff launched a contest among their readers. Rule #1:

Take the same Herrmann cue -- "Scene D'Amour," used in this memorable moment from Vertigo -- and match it with a clip from any film.... Is there any clip, no matter how silly, nonsensical, goofy or foul, that the score to Vertigo can't ennoble? Let's find out!

And so they did. The results are in. Click here for the full scoop on the contest, its criteria, and the judges, followed by the Grand Prizewinner — STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN, by Jake Isgar — the four finalists, and some special awards (e.g., Citation for Homoerotic Grandeur: TOP GUN by De Maltese Valk).

My glowering assessment of that Vertigo cue in The Artist is here.

NPR: Movie Titles That Might Have Been — From Teenage Sex Comedy That Can Be Made for Under 10 Million Dollars, That Your Reader Will Love But the Executive Will Hate to (wait for it) American Pie.

How many movies will we watch over a lifetime? AD Jameson is keeping track of his own number — 1,925 so far:
That doesn’t sound like too many, not after fifteen years of avid cinephilia. But to put it in some perspective, that’s roughly 128 feature films/year, or about one every three days. ... We found last week that there have been at least 268,246 features made. (Since then, the IMDb’s count has grown to 268,601.) So I’ve seen little more than .7% of them—and remember, I think that IMDb count far too low.
Why he has given so many poor ratings to contemporary movies:
The more you watch from the present day, the more garbage you’re bound to see—but your conclusions will be your own. Conversely, the further back you go, the more you’ll be guided by the opinions of others. (If nothing else, what’s available will be largely determined by what’s remained popular.)

"What if..." Movies reimagined for another time & place — Artist Peter Stults asks "...what if movies we were all familiar with were made in a different slice of time? Who would be in it? Who would direct it?"

          Lucid Fly: Go for Launch        
The history of how and why I started FEMALE FRONT Radio has been told so many times, it has now become the stuff of legend. Except for the "stuff of legend" part. But I will re-tell it now to provide a bit of context for the band I will mention in a moment.

One day in the late 1990's, the Modern Rock/Alternative FM station of which I was a frequent listener decided to stop playing female artists. This was a station which, up to that point, had regularly played such artists as Hole, No Doubt, Elastica, Fiona Apple and many, many others. But suddenly, the women were out and rape-rock bands like Limp Bizkit were in.

Fortunately, the Limp Bizkit era didn't last long; but when the programmers came to their senses and started adding innovative artists back into the mix, they left out one very big category: Innovative female artists (actually, female artists of any kind). That was offensive enough. But what finally drove a stake into their last surviving sliver of credibility, was when one of their DJ's said that they would be happy to play female artists -- if there were any out there worth playing.

Thus, FEMALE FRONT was born, to prove the obvious: That there are so many outstanding female artists out there, one guy could hand-pick a 24-hour-long playlist of his favorites, and barely scratch the surface. The rise of internet radio, iTunes and Myspace, and the commensurate decline of commercial radio & record companies, all serve as neat little facts that support my main point -- which is that I was right, and commercial radio programmers are ignorant dickheads.

True, the FEMALE FRONT playlist includes many genres other than Modern Rock; but to be honest, I start getting antsy when I haven't added any real rockers in a while. I like to prove the point again and again that female musicians and vocalists can rock just as hard as the dudes.

Enter Lucid Fly.

Based out of Orlando, FL, this Progressive Hard-Rock quartet -- founded by guitarist Doug Mecca and virtuosa vocalist Nikki Layne -- make an impressive debut with their self-released EP, Adapting to Gravity. The production values are strong, and the project as a whole benefits from a sense that this was an intellectual venture as much as a musical one.

Layne's vocals really soar, something that perhaps is better appreciated upon repeat listenings. Overall, the seven songs on the EP are thoughtful and well-structured, and there isn't a line of rap in any of the 27:44 running time.

Being Orlandoans (Orlandoers? Orlandites?), Lucid Fly displays the obvious influence of the Space Coast all over the place: in the album title, band name (after astronaut Shannon Lucid), songwriting and even in their unique branding, which extends from the album art to the band's website. All of this is something that the geek in me finds deeply satisfying. (OK, so it's more like I'm the geek, and the rocker in me finds the music deeply satisfying; anyway, same net result.)

Adapting to Gravity doesn't necessarily break new ground in Rock; but Lucid Fly are every bit as good as their multi-platinum peers, which only goes to highlight the inherent sexism of commercial radio. But by purchasing their CD, you can help ignite the solid rocket booster that Nikki Layne and Lucid Fly will ride right through the glass ceiling.

          Apocalypse Moon        

Neal Stephenson’s new novel, Seveneves, begins: “The Moon blew up without warning and for no apparent reason.” Scientists realize humanity has roughly two years to come up with a survival strategy before millions of lunar bits start hitting the Earth and ignite the atmosphere in a biblical rain of fire. The first half of the novel concerns our frantic efforts to launch as much stuff and personnel into space as possible, turning the International Space Station into a jury-rigged ark. But it’s not all heroics: The ensuing dickering, wasted effort, and celebrity cameos make it clear that this world is more or less our own.

The harrowing story of the early years leaves us with just seven survivors to propagate the species from the relative safety of orbit: seven eves who each make major decisions about what to keep and what to tweak in the human genome. From there the novel leaps 5,000 years into the future, when humanity’s descendants are just beginning to recolonize the battered surface of Earth.

Seveneves is a sweeping future history in the Stephenson tradition, tackling the politics and practicalities of space travel, genetics, and what it means to be human through the simple expedient of detonating the moon like an orbiting cherry bomb. I spoke with him about the novel, humanity’s resilience, and more. (Slightly complicated disclosure: Neal Stephenson is the founder of Project Hieroglyph, an effort to foster technically grounded, optimistic thinking about the future. Ed Finn helps run Hieroglyph at Arizona State and is the co-editor of an anthology featuring optimistic science fiction by Stephenson and others. ASU is a partner with Slate and New America in Future Tense.)

You begin the novel by blowing up the moon. Why?

Well, there is an established subgenre of science fiction, the premise of which is that something terrible happens. The Earth is going to become uninhabitable, but conveniently the people of Earth have a warning to prepare for it, because otherwise there wouldn't be much of a story.

When you start engineering a book like that, you need a premise toward disaster that can credibly kill everything on Earth and force people to build an ark. But there can't be any loopholes, and it has to be kind of predictable enough and obvious enough that people can't deny that it's happening. A global climate change is an example of a slow, rolling disaster that people are able to argue about and find excuses not to take action about. There is a pretty stringent set of requirements to write an ark book. I had happened upon this idea a long time ago of an exponential increase in orbital debris—on a much smaller scale. It's all the old, dead satellites and rocket boosters banging into each other in orbit. That’s actually a real problem that people worry about. And so I went, OK. If I put these things together, I might have the finely calibrated global disaster that is needed in order to write a space ark book.

What have you got against the moon?

When I was working on this, I discovered “The Fucking Moon” on the Awl. It’s basically a series of articles talking about how stupid the moon is, so I need to get in touch with them.

No, the moon’s been up there for a long time. I think we're all a little tired of it, and it was time to make some changes.

How did you think through the nonmaterial resources—the psychological and genetic resources—that humanity would need to survive for millennia in space?

The thing I'm playing with here a little bit is the set of tropes that science fiction uses and has used for a long time. There's lots of big science fiction worlds—Star Trek, Star Wars, and so on—where there's a range of aliens. Some of them are really weird looking and very different from us, but a suspiciously high percentage of aliens in these universes are very humanlike.

In the case of Star Trek, they’re so humanlike that humans can have babies with Vulcans even though the Vulcans have copper-based blood and came from a different planet. But they speak English, and they’ve got a slightly different physical look, coloration, hair, facial features, whatever, and they’ve got particular behavior traits. There's back-filling that had to be supplied in order to explain why that’s possible in that universe.

What I'm doing here is basically saying, OK, if that’s the game that we're going to play, let's play that game, and let's play it by some legitimate scientific rules. If we're going to have a bunch of alien races that aren't really all that alien and that can interbreed and all speak the same language, then let's have a decent backstory that explains how that came about and why these people have these different cultural personality traits. Then once that kind of scaffolding is in place, you can start talking about how a civilization comprising of these different races would go about organizing itself and trying to solve problems.

At one point in Seveneves, the characters decide not to attempt to reconstruct “root-stock humanity,” as you phrase it, but instead proceed to reinvent the species. That seemed like a profound decision about what humanity should be, as opposed to what it is now.

Well, we see this now. For example, among deaf people there's a movement based on the idea that deaf people constitute a legitimate independent culture of their own. It might seem obvious to those of us who aren’t deaf, that we should “fix” deaf people if we can: use cochlear implants or whatever technology we can come up with in our very different mode of thinking, to “make them better.” Some intellectuals in that community are making a pretty interesting and not obvious point, which is that that amounts to devaluing and then sort of eradicating a culture as legitimate as any other.

To me it's pretty clear that this is what would happen in the scenario I've described, when the population recovered to the point where they have the leisure to imagine restoring root-stock humanity.

The human race depends on seven women, the eves, to resurrect the species. How did you think through the gender politics of this future?

I didn’t.

So how did you end up with these seven women deciding what humanity’s most valuable traits are?

It's a pretty straightforward setup. It’s just thinking through the mechanics of the genetics of it and how we all practically work, the basic idea of humanity being reduced to a very small number of people and having to restock from there was central. It's based on historical precedence. There's been at least one bottleneck in the history of the human race where the population was reduced to a few tens of thousands of humans. For storytelling purposes, it gets better if it's a lot smaller than 10,000. You then get into questions of the inbreeding problem if the population is too small.

I talked to Stewart Brand and Ryan Phelan, who have been working on de-extinction. There is a species called the black-footed ferret that was reduced to very small numbers and is being brought back, but they can't really do it without finding ways to increase heterozygosity as a new gene pool artificially. It's all there. It's basically a simple and straightforward setup to our story of the world.

You launch the narrative from a universe that’s very similar to the world we live in now. There are a number of characters in that early section who are reminiscent of some of our current nerd celebrities—people like Neil deGrasse Tyson and Elon Musk. Do you think of the novel as a commentary on the world as it is?

Well, I think one of the essential features of an ark book or a big global disaster–type story is that you, the reader, are always asking yourself, What if this really happened? What if today the moon blew up or some kind of global disaster came upon us, what would I do? What would my friends do? What would the leaders of our society do? We've got certain types of people who would be conspicuous. It would be conspicuous if they failed to show up in this book. Your eminent scientists would have something to do, the science popularizers, politicians, the military, the billionaire nerds. If you didn’t put those people in to this book and show them reacting to the situation, it would feel weirdly empty.

Seveneves has all of the above. We've got the pope. It's not that often that you just get to bring in the pope as a minor character in one scene. He's part of the fun of writing this kind of book.

Did you find yourself struggling to decide what was most important about our planet to save?

In the book, they can't send out Michelangelo’s David, but the Magna Carta can make it up. So a lot of that is just simply figuring out how much things weigh. In a way that that problem is simplified quite a bit, just by the scope of the disaster, so if they had had 10 years or 100 years to get ready, it might have been different, or if they had a super-duper new rocket or a space launch technology ready to go, and then it might have been different. But if we take the constraint that they’ve got two years and they’ve got the rockets we have today, a lot of decisions kind of get made automatically, and the focus becomes almost entirely on preserving the genome.

In contrast to an ark story written 50 years ago, we can send up nearly infinite amounts of data. The ark story when I was a kid, they probably would have been feverishly microfilming encyclopedias and phone books and stuff. Probably not phone books, but they would have had to worry about how to save the printed word, and in this case that problem just disappears.

You devote a lot of time in the novel to orbital mechanics and the logistics of space travel. Why did you settle on this particular scenario for how it might play out?

I wanted to use the kinds of launch technologies and options that really exist at this point in history, which is to say, a mix of government-built boosters and new private-industry spacecraft. I didn’t want to posit any sort of super technology that would be game-changing.

I wanted to make a lot of use of the idea of in situ resources, which is to say, asteroids, comets, material that’s already up there, which is, to me, the most exciting thing going right now in space exploration. I thought: Here's a scenario in which people would have no real alternative but to make use of those kinds of resources as aggressively as they could.

The story is a meditation on existential threats to the species. Having not so long ago founded Hieroglyph, a project dedicated to optimism, what do you think we should be most worried about and how do you see our chances?

Well, aside from the threat of a big asteroid impact, the thing that we should be worried about is climate change, which is going to happen. There’s no way to make it not happen now. I think that dwarfs everything else.

Do you see yourself as essentially an optimist in the long-range survival of the species?

Yes, I think that we've got the prerequisites that we need in the way of technical know-how and resources. There’s a lot of energy. There's a lot of stuff for us to work with. Solving problems has become a kind of routine operation, and so now it's really a matter of organizing people in some way that doesn’t have terrible side effects.

The one thing that I was hoping for and that must now be addressed in the fan fiction instead is: How you raise babies in zero or almost zero gravity?

It will be messy.

There are not Ziplocs enough in the universe.

No, you learn that gravity is your friend when you have a baby.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

This article is part of Future Tense, a collaboration among Arizona State University, New America, and Slate. Future Tense explores the ways emerging technologies affect society, policy, and culture. To read more, visit the Future Tense blog and the Future Tense home page. You can also follow us on Twitter.

          Check out the Glitch X Machine56 - 1/6th scale Bonehead: Rex 12-inch Action Figure pictures        
I first discovered Bonehead during my media coverage of the STGCC (Singapore Toy, Game & Comic Convention) 2015 - see my toy blog post HERE - and actually came away from the show with a Test Subject 56 figure. Check out the action figure review posted HERE, HERE and HERE.

Now Glitch has teamed up with Machine56, and is proud to introduce the next figure in their highly stylish "BONEHEAD" series - Rex, after the previous successful releases (Test Subject 56, Black Death). Glitch X Machine56 - Bonehead: Rex 1/6th scale Action Figure Contents will include: 1 (one) Authentic REX figure in 1/6th scale, 3 (three) pairs of interchangeable hands, 1 (one) Titan Fist, 1 (one) Rocket boost effect. Material: PVC, ABS, PUR and fabric clothing.

Scroll down to see all the pictures.
Click on them for bigger and better views.

Coming Q4 2017

Apparently, "wearable arts" is a thing now - see link HERE

          5 Foods to Give You Long-Lasting High Energy        

You need lots of energy to get through every day as a medical/healthcare professional and food can be your secret weapon. Eating the right foods in the right way can be a rocket booster for strength and stamina. Here are the five foods you need to incorporate into your diet so you can fuel your […]

The post 5 Foods to Give You Long-Lasting High Energy appeared first on BoardVitals Blog.

          Crunching the ca$h...        

I remember when I used to borrow money from my mom back-in-the-day. The amounts would vary and I'd always pay her back, usually on payday. When I'd drive over & hand her the cold hard cash, she'd respond in the same way every time. She'd say: "Ohhh, here we are, Ang... with our high finance again!" and she'd chuckle & take the money from me. I'm not quite sure what that meant but it always struck me as funny too so I'd laugh as well.

I've been thinking a lot about those days since the beginning of this new year. We had a lot of medical bills come up from Oct'09 through Oct'10, the biggest two being my abdominal surgery in Dec'09 (~$34,000) & my bat bite with subsequent rabies vaccination series ending in Oct'10 (~$8,000). Yes, we have insurance but boy, it's not nearly as good ($4,000 deductible) as it used to be & we're paying more for it now than in years gone by. The same ole story for most things we purchase, I suppose. It seems the gap in agreement between insurance companies & medical providers is getting larger & more cavernous by the year. Regardless, when the bottom line is stated it's stated & that's what you owe. Period. The nice thing is that most hospitals have a timed payment plan with no interest accrued. See, there really IS a silver lining to most clouds!

Add the medical bills to the fact that my husband didn't get a raise (no one did, at his place of employment) in 2008. His bonus (which is supposed to compensate him for the miriad of overtime he works on a weekly basis & which we use every year to play "catch up" on any medical bills or outstanding charge card balances) in 2007 was used for our oldest daughter's wedding... then there was no bonus either (in addition to no raise) in 2008... and both the 2009 & 2010 bonuses were used to pay off my mother's funeral (in 2008).

All these things added together mean only one thing: it's time to crunch the numbers & go down to "bare bones" to try & have some $$ leftover at the end of the month to begin to chip away at the outstanding bills that have accumulated. So that's been one of my main focuses, as chief cook & bottle washer & money manager around here, since we rang in the new year of 2011.

The ideas I've come up with & things I've started incorporating into our home & my routine are really nothing foreign or new to me. I had just sort-of laid some of them aside, for various asundry reasons. Luckily I didn't forget where I put them :-) so they were very easy to find once again. I'll share a few of these things with you, in case you might like to try them yourselves. WARNING: some of these things are really rather 'back to the land' - type stuff, which may appeal to you or may not. Take what you can use & let the rest blow away in the wind. Someone who lives downwind will catch what you've cast aside & use it for themselves, so don't worry.


1. I'll get the most shocking one out of the way first... I've stopped driving! *gasp* I drove one time this year & that was January 3rd. I haven't driven since. I am simply at home. Our youngest daughter went from being homeschooled to attending a church-based learning co-op (which uses A.C.E. paces for their curriculum) from Sept'10 - Dec'10. The co-op being unsatisfactory in every aspect of education, we switched her over to a parochial 'regular' school in the middle of Dec'10 & which she continues with today (& loves). But with the switch from homeschooling to out-of-the-home schooling, my hypertension (which I've had almost all of my adult life) went caflooey with my blood pressure skyrocketing & my head feeling like a solid rocket booster waiting for take-off! Too much tension, too much running, too much everything... and my body began sending out a warning that something had to give. I discussed it with my husband (who works from home - same company for 29 yrs & does same work but from home now instead of at the division building that closed back in 2008) and so now either my husband or our 23 yr old son has taken over transportion of Caboose. They also do any shopping I need done or any errands I need run. Which basically means that only the very minimum of trips are made, off the homestead here, because I don't know about your men but my men don't like going anywhere with a list in their hands. With gasoline over $3/gal now, that translates to less gas used than when I used to drive and also less $$ spent. The men get what's on the list: no more & no less. If they're sent on an errand, it's to accomplish that errand & get home. Period. Which leads to....

2. I'm back to using food & supply storage, buying staples in bulk, making the majority of our food solely from scratch, using dehydrated fruits & vegetables rather than fresh, always eating at home, etc. I was first introduced to this way of living back in the 1980s, when it was most popular for my generation. There were many magazines being published, at that time, that helped women learn to do such things as bake bread, store flour & sugar bought in #25 bags, and find beef by the quarter or half steer for the deep freezer kept in the garage. I soaked up the information like a sponge & never released it, even though I may not have always used it. I had indeed forgotten though the joys of: a.) eating good bread whose number of ingredients you can count on one hand b.) always having toilet paper in the house rather than running out after using the 4-roll pack just purchased a week ago c.) not going into a panic because we're down to the last quart of milk (in the middle of a snow storm) and just whipping up another gallon from the milk powder on the shelf d.) simply having the safe & secure feeling of knowing that my family has everything they need under our roof, to exist comfortably for quite awhile, without having to run to the grocery store first and e.) being self-sufficient in a small sense. Which leads to...

3. Since my men (I think like most) don't particularly relish being sent on errands with l-o-n-g lists in hand, I've been using quite a bit for my bulk buying. If some of you haven't tried them yet, for groceries, I sure wish you would. The bargains are tremendous (much cheaper than the grocery store, for most things I order and, if not cheaper, then exactly the same) and your groceries get delivered right to your door... for free. They have a beautiful organic section too. I still belong to a food co-op (that uses United National Foods Inc.) which I get many perishable items from like eggs, milk, cheese, yogurt, 25# bags of flour & sugar, etc. But for the other things such as dish soap, bar soap, laundry soap, toilet paper, paper towels, cereal, tea, coffee, waxed paper sandwich bags, shampoo and many other things, I use Amazon exclusively. For my dehydrated fruits, vegetables & milk powder I use Emergency Essentials. Their Provident Pantry-brand of powdered milk is the best we've ever tried! Our 23 yr old son, who is the milk expert in the household, can't tell the difference... and went out of his way to tell me so.

4. Back in the 1980s I learned how very important it is to drink fresh, clean, pure water. If our nation's water supply was polluted back then, imagine what it is now! *sigh* We have well water where we are, out in the county, that I refuse to drink out of the tap. I don't think drinking water out of the ground is good for anyone living anywhere these days. So for the last several years we've been drinking distilled water through a delivery service, which comes to the house here every 2 weeks with 5 gallon containers. It's good water & I feel good about myself & my family drinking it... but it's horribly very expensive... over $100/mo. for the water plus the rental on the dispenser. We're going to be phasing out that delivery service since we just invested in a Berkey Water Purifier, which I remember reading about in my early back-to-the-land days in the 80s. I did some research and it seems that the Berkey filters are just as good today as they were back then, if not better. Gravity drip filtration with no electricity used, which is a plus as well.

5. We're in the process of deciding what to do about these cell phones of ours. Yes, they're handy but are they necessary? Are they worth the cost? I've never seen any statistics that show how many adolescent or adult children have been saved from their kidnappers by being able to use their cell phones from their captor's car truck (which is the scenario we envision when we see our son heading out for the evening or learn of our married daughter walking out to the parking lot after working late). All I ever hear on the news is that police have tracked the cell phone "pings" to specific areas and then lost them, after the person is kidnapped, or they've found that the victim's cell phone has been turned off & therefore is no use to those searching. The only thing we use our cell phones for is to text our youngest, from us in the living room to her in her bedroom, telling her it's time to get ready for bed... or hubby to call me from the grocery store because he can't find the specific item I have on the list he's holding on to for dear life... or son to text me about a song that just played on the radio that he's sure I would absolutely love... or Facebook to update youngest daughter with the lastest news on which one of her friends updated their status last. The only time I can honestly say I was grateful to have my cell phone with me was when I spun out on the highway in Jan'09, with 4-month-old grandbaby in the car, & we were buried deep in a ditch in the median. I called my husband, barely able to talk but physically unharmed (as was grandbaby), and he in turn called the police. I suppose though, if I hadn't had my cell phone, I would have simply done what I would have done before cell phones even existed: I would have rolled down my window, waved a white napkin retrieved from the glove compartment, and waited for a trucker to call the police on his CB radio. The weather was horrible that day, with multiple spin-outs, so the chances are good that a policeman going by would have seen me before the trucker would have even had the chance to call. Our monthly cell phone bill is $145 (no internet, no apps, no games... just plain phone with unlimited texting, free incoming calls, free evenings & weekends, $10 per line after the 1st line) & it kills me every month when I pay it. Our house phone is $32/mo., including tax. Why do we need anything more than that?!

That's where we're at for the time being. We're only 3 weeks into the new year so I'm sure I'll figure out more ways to "cut the fat" around here. For now this is enough. Maybe I'll hunt up my "Tightwad Gazette" books. I know they're around here somewhere.  I love those things... and I love Amy Dacyczyn!

          Real Estate Round Up March 2016        
Do you like reading exceptional real estate content from around the web? Take a look at some of the terrific articles from multiple authors you may have missed. Each of these articles are jam packed with great advice for buyers, sellers and real estate agents alike.Why Open Houses Aren't NecessaryThere probably isn't a more polarizing topic in real estate than open houses. Ask the question of whether open houses are worthwhile and you are bound to get to very different camps. Those that say open houses are fantastic and others who say they are completely worthless. Each will be extremely passionate about their position.My question is always this one. Open houses are good for who? Are they good for real estate agents or are they good for home owners? When a sellers asks this question I am very clear in my response. There is far more benefits of an open house to a real estate agent than a seller.The reason for this is simple. Serious buyers schedule showings on homes they are interested in. The Internet proves this everyday of the week. In other words it is not necessary for a seller to have an open house.For real estate agents however, the answer can be very different. Open houses can be great places to pick up prospects for other homes or even meet a neighbor considering selling their property. They offer significant value to a real estate agent and their prospecting efforts.Many real estate agents have a hard time admitting this and they would rather just tell a seller that an open house works to sell a home. They may even go as far as to say it is a vital part of marketing. This folks is patently false and one of my biggest pet peeves. In fact many agents will fail to explain that many buyers coming through won't be qualified or could even be there for nefarious reasons like stealing.Price a home properly, market it well and you will NEVER have to do an open house. Period -  end of story.Some real estate agents however will go out of their way to say things like "my market is different than everyone else's!" Open houses work here. Again what does work mean? Does it mean that if you don't have an open house the property won't sell? Of course not!Rocket Boost Your Business With FacebookFacebook is the largest social network in the world. From a marketing perspective it is super smart for a real estate agent to have a presence there. What if I told you it was possible to get far more real estate business from Facebook than you are currently getting? One of the best ways of doing so is by targeting those in your own local market.Wouldn't it be better when you are sharing your latest blog post to the world that it reached those who are in your local area? Of course it would!In this article you are going to learn about re-targeting which will part your real estate articles in front of more people that matter!By following the instructions in the article you will stand a far better chance of someone calling you and saying "I just saw your post on Facebook. I am thinking of selling my home and would like to have you come over to take a look."Bingo this is what every real estate agent should be striving for when it comes to social media marketing. Best Spring Home Selling TipsSpring is just around the corner which means one thing. Real Estate markets around the country will be heating up big time! Some in fact already have. In many places the market is in full swing with buyers coming out of the wood work.One of the most important aspects of selling a home is your presentation. As the saying goes a few impression really matters. Luke Skar of Inlanta Mortgage has put together a compilation of great tips from top real estate agents around the country offering some of the best home sellling tips for spring.From the outside to the inside it makes sense to have your home looking it's absolute best. When you are done reading this article you will know exactly how to make your property stand out from the crowd.Pitfalls of Selling FSBOWithout a doubt selling a home as a for sale by owner is a tough proposition. There is a reason real estate agents get a healthy sum of money to move property. It is not easy. Some sellers however think it is a breeze or a real estate agent gets too much money. They will insist on trying to give it a go on their own.The national statistics say that a for sale by owner will fail over 80 percent of the time in their quest to sell without the use of a real estate agent. There must be some circumstances where a for sale by owner can increase their chances of success? In fact there is. When a real estate agent is marketing a home in the same neighborhood, their marketing efforts are bound to bring traffic by all the home. A for sale by owner can capitalize in this situation as long as they have their home priced correctly.Getting the buyer interested however is only a small part of the battle. In the article you will see all of the pitfalls of selling as a for sale by owner. As long as a FSBO knows going in what they are up against it is possible for success in some circumstances. Some for sale by owners however don't have the luxury of being is a well traveled area where an agents marketing can help them. It is these sellers who will suffer and probably not have much luck.Print Real Estate Media That WorksIf you ask most real estate agents if print media works they will look at you like you have four heads. They will proclaim the Internet is the place to be and don't bother with print. This would be a mistake to listen to.The reason why print media does not work anymore for real estate is because people don't go to the newspaper anymore to find homes. The Internet has in fact taken care of that. This doesn't mean that a newspaper cannot be an effective place for a real estate agent to brand themselves and be remembered.This is the key to making print media work for real estate. If you run the typical real estate agent ad where there are 4-6 pictures of homes for sale then yes you will fail. Nobody is going to look at that or remember who put the ad in the paper.In order for print media to be effective you must be memorable! The National Association of Realtors in fact did a story recently featuring my memorable print real estate marketing. Take a look and you will see a few example of ads I run in my local newspaper. I guarantee these will be ads you probably have not seen the likes of before. What do you think? A little better than seeing some houses for sale right?These kind of ads bring me new listings every year. I have about forty of them that I run on a rotational business. People have actually told me they look forward to the paper coming each week just to see my latest ad. So if someone tells you print is dead they're wrong!Final WordsSo there you have it - some of the best real estate articles you may have missed from around web for March. Take a look at each of the articles and if you enjoy them please consider sharing them to your social networks!Connect with me on Google+

          Remembering Challenger        
On 28 January 1986, people watched in horror as Challenger, one of America's four space shuttles, erupted into a ball of flames just over a minute after lift off, killing everyone on board. Sue MacGregor looks back on one of Nasa's darkest tragedies with Scobee Rodgers, the widow of Challenger space shuttle commander Richard "Dick" Scobee; Steve Nesbitt, Nasa chief commentator; astronaut Norman Thagard; and Allan McDonald, former Morton Thiokol director of the Space Shuttle Rocket Booster Project.
          Targit Rocket Booster        
13,90 EUR
Wurfrakete mit ungeahnten Spielmöglichkeiten  - erreicht Weiten bis zu 40m. Heult im Flug.Inhalt:Wurfrakete mit Heuldüsen2 WurfstäbeLänge:Rakete 20cmWurfstäbe 38 cmACHTUNG!Erstickungsgefahr. Nicht für Kinder unter 3 Jahren geeignet, da Kleinteile verschluckt werden können. 

We currently have at least three indications that 2016, and the years immediately following, have the potential to bring another chance for open Contact between extraterrestrials and humanity. If world governments don’t repeat the insane mistakes they made during the 1940’s and 1950’s – a big if – and we can get a grip on our rapidly declining geopolitical situation, the door may open again for humanity to meet at least some of the Visitors we know are out there.

Space Weather and ET Visitation

Recently, TOR posted links to information regarding 1991 VG, including Clifford Stone’s comments. According to Stone, the “asteroid” NASA has classified as 1991 VG behaves unlike any other known asteroid ever discovered:

“1991 VG will make its next closest approach to earth toward the end of 2016. At present there are three theories as to what 1991 VG could be:
1. A very unusual asteroid (the first of its kind to ever be observed),
2. An overlooked or forgotten rocket booster from an early space launch,
3. An extraterrestrial probe from another solar system that entered our solar system around 1947. 
The first two theories are considered very unlikely, leaving only the third theory (extraterrestrial probe) being a strong possibility.
In 2016 the scientific community will be watching closely as 1991 VG once again makes a close approach to earth for an answer as to what 1991 VG really is.”
Secondly, TOR Agents are keeping a close watch on the information coming from biotransmissions via meditation from specific channelers and their information points toward 2016 as being the year for first Open Contact.
For example, according to Tom T. Moore, author of First Contact, the process of Contact will begin in 2015 and will likely be complete in 2025. The process will be “slow and gentle” so as not to frighten Earth’s population as well as to give our governments the time they need to finally acknowledge that most governing bodies have been aware of the extraterrestrial presence on our planet for decades and have hid this knowledge from their populations.
Our third and most recent indication comes from researcher Steve Pearse who, after studying over 100 cases of Contact and UFO waves, has discovered a correlation between sunspot activity and extraterrestrial visitation. According to Pearse’s findings,
“’s the lack of sunspot activity that ultimately opens the door to extraterrestrial visitation….the results clearly proved that over 90 percent of the well known documented case histories occurred during the Solar Minimum years, and the UFO waves recorded were directly linked to this window of calmer Sunspot activity. I did a second batch of new cases to see if they would match the same results as the first test group, and they ended up having an even higher percentile correlation. This updated report [Space Weather and ET Visitation] combines them together.”
Guess what year the next Solar Minimum phase begins? According to Steve Pearse,
“The next UFO wave has left already and is scheduled to arrive in 2016-2020 as our Sunspot activity drops down to acceptable levels to permit visitation to Earth.”
We encourage you to read Space Weather and ET Visitation because it not only proves that a correlation between solar activity and ET visitation exists, but also because of the excellent Contact cases outlined in Pearse’s report about which everyone should be aware. Continue by reading Space Weather and ET Visitation to Earth.

          California-Based SpaceX To Attempt A Do-Over Of Failed Rocket Booster Landing        
The SpaceX company will take a second stab this weekend at landing a rocket booster on a platform floating off the Florida coast.
          Reviews and Ratings are Rocket Boosters for Local SEO Marketing Strategies        

As any business owner is aware, your company’s reputation is one of its most important and valuable assets. Fortunately, we live in a time when happy customers can post reviews online using platforms like Yelp, Google Maps, Facebook and various others. While there are some pitfalls when it comes to people leaving negative or unfair […]

The post Reviews and Ratings are Rocket Boosters for Local SEO Marketing Strategies appeared first on ProPRcopy.

          Alert Notice 175: Further update on ORFEUS mission AND Request to monitor Perseid meteors AND Request to monitor cataclysmic variable 2023+43 V503 Cygni AND Reminders        

25 Birch Street, Cambridge, MA 02138 USA
BITNET: aavso@cfa8 SPAN: nssdca::cfa8::aavso
Tel. 617-354-0484    FAX 617-354-0665

AAVSO ALERT NOTICE 175 (August 4,1993)


The launch of NASA's space shuttle Discovery carrying the ORFEUS mission was canceled on July 24, 19 seconds before the launch, due to "abnormal behavior by a hydraulic pump controlling thrust vectoring of the right Solid Rocket Booster." The launch date for Discovery has been moved to August 12. The decision to move the launch to August was due to the upcoming Perseid meteor shower in Earth's upper atmosphere, which is predicted to take place during the evening of August 11-12. This year is one of the rare times that the activity is expected to be extremely high as the Earth passes through the thickest part of the dust cloud of Comet Swift-Tuttle: The maximum, if there is one, is expected to last about an hour, but the uncertainty of time of arrival is about ±4 hours. At present, the best guesses are that Western Asia, Eastern Europe, and possibly the east coast of the United States will be facing the stream when it arrives. The guesses assume that the maximum will occur before the Earth passes through the plane of the comet's orbit, which will occur at Ol hour Universal Time on August 12. Since this year's Perseid activity is a unique event, it is not completely predictable. Increased chances of a spacecraft in Earth orbit being damaged by a piece of debris led the shuttle managers to decide to wait until after the Perseid meteor shower event to launch Discovery. Our assistance has been asked by NASA Astrophysics Division to monitor the Perseid meteor activity closely, starting August 9. Pleasce call in to AAVSO Headquarters, using the charge-free number 800-642-3883, if the meteor activity is very high, i.e., more than 2 Perseid meteors per minute, on the evening of August 11-12. I will be checking the AAVSO answering machine regularly that evening for your messages. (For a detailed and very informative article on the Perseids, see Sky & Telescope, August 1993, pp. 43-49).

Once Discovery is launched, the ORFEUS mission will be deployed from the shuttle and the observations of cataclysmic variables with ORFEUS will start 2 to 3 days after the launch (see AAVSO Alert Notices 173 and 174).

Please continue to monitor closely the stars that are the primary observing targets during the ORFEUS mission, i.e., 0058+40 RX And, 0409-71 VW Hyi, 0814+73 Z Cam, 0813+49 AM Her, 2138+43 SS Cyg, and 2209+12 RU Peg. Monitor them between now and the end of the 9-day mission, and call in your observations of them to AAVSO Headquarters. Please also remember to call in if any of the brighter dwarf novae go into outburst, i.e., magnitude brighter than 12.5 at outburst, as these stars may be observed during the ORFEUS mission.

Your observations of the Perseid meteor shower and also of cataclysmic variables, and your phone calls to AAVSO Headquarters of their behavior, are vital to this mission. Astronomers at NASA Astrophysics Division appreciate and extend their sincere thanks to you for your valuable astronomical contributions to this and other NASA missions.


The dwarf nova V503 Cyg, varying between photographic magnitudes 13.4 and 17.0, is a very interesting and unusual system, in which humps in the continuum are observed both at quiescence and during outbursts. While the amplitude of the humps is as much as 1 magnitude during quiescence, during outburst it decreases to 0.2 to 0.3 magnitude. Another interesting feature is that the period of the photometric humps is a few percent longer than the radial velocities of the emission lines and fluxes.

Humps seen in the optical both during quiescence and during outbursts show different behavior in the ultraviolet region. Thus, in order to investigate the hump temperature and location and the overall disk structure, astronomers at the University of Washington and NASA Goddard Space Flight Center have an observing run with the IUE satellite to observe V503 Cyg during outburst. They have asked our assistance to keep a close eye on this system and inform them when V503 Cyg goes into outburst.

Accompanying is an AAVSO preliminary chart of V503 Cyg. Please note that this chart, issued 6/89, has the position of V503 Cyg corrected (after the star was observed in outburst in August 1988 - see Letter to the Editor by J. Griese and C. Scovil, JAAVSO, Vol. 17, p. 148; 1988). Please use this chart and not the AAVSO charts issued at earlier dates. Observers with moderate- to large-aperture telescopes are requested to monitor this star closely, and phone in to AAVSO Headquarters when the star goes into outburst. The observations in the AAVSO International Database indicate that the maximum outburst brightness is between visual magnitudes 13.4 and 13.8, and at minimum the star is fainter than 16.0.


Please continue to monitor VW Hyi and SS Cyg throughout the rest of 1993 and inform us of their outbursts (see AAVSO Alert Notices 173 and 174).

Please keep us informed of the brightness and behavior of AM Her (see AAVSO Alert Notices 173 and 174).

Also, continue to monitor V348 Sgr and inform us when it becomes brighter than 13.5 (see AAVSO Alert Notices 173 and 174).

Thank you very much for your close monitoring and notification of your observations to AAVSO Headquarters, and for your valuable contributions to variable star research.

Clear skies and good observing!


files: V503 Cyg preliminary chart dated 6/89


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          I Bit the Dust on Monday, February 18, 2008        
I was near the end of a near perfect ride, when I bit the dust off Andi. Mom and I left for a trail ride this morning. Her horse had ants in his pants, so we took the wash trail which has deeper sand, hoping it would slow him down some. But the sand is not as deep in the winter because of the moisture in winter. Mom was getting pissed at her horse which was making him worse, and Andi was being his perfect Andi self, so I told mom to park her horse behind Andi. We rode like that off and on (mostly on) for 4 1/2 miles. A couple of times, Andi shook and Fireman would bump into him. Andi was OK with that. Boy, was I ever proud of Andi.

We were within a mile from home, and mom came out from behind us, and sure enough, Fireman started prancy dancy towards home, so she put him back behind Andi. I **think** Fireman pinned his ears, or lunged at Andi (don't know for sure because I was looking ahead and he had been fine). Anyway, Andi shot forward like a rocket, and when I one-reined him,I got off balance, and hit the dirt (well, sand in my case). I sat there in the sand and watched my Andi Pandi head for home as fast as his legs could carry him. Then mom got off Fireman before he decided he needed to join Andi. As soon as we rounded the corner for home, I saw a car in front of my house and people coming down the driveway. My neighbor had put Andi in my corral, then was coming to look for us. I thanked them, and I'm OK, but I have a very sore shoulder where I landed first. At least it is my left shoulder and I'm right handed. Poor Andi was scared and jumpy when I got him out of the corral, so we did some easy clicker work like getting next to the mounting block and trailer loading before I put him up. Other than the rocket boost, Andi was a very good boy and acted like the old been there, done that horse. That's why I am pretty sure Fireman did something towards Andi that last time he got behind him. He has been knownto pin his ears at Andi before. I think I just was expecting too much of my green boy, even tho he is99.9% of the time the perfect horse.

Oh, and I decided he has Tina Turner hair going down the trail!
          An Extremely Goofy Movie        
An Extremely Goofy Movie (assumed make known A Goofy Movie 2 and A Goofy Movie 2: An Extremely Goofy Movie), is a 2000 American concord gone-to-video dynamic comedy film made by Walt Disney Pictures, produced by Walt Disney Television Animation, and directed by Ian Harrowell and Douglas McCarthy. It is the film is a sequel to the 1995 film A Goofy Movie, and the featuring the reward of characters from the film adaptations, which was based a propos the live television series Goof Troop. The relation follows Max's freshman year at scholastic, which is compounded by his father's presence along with Goofy arrives at the connected scholarly to profit a degree because of his failure to hermetic conservatory. This is also serves as the television's series finale of The Disney Afternoon television series of Goof Troop.

Max Goof, now on the order of 18 years old-fashioned, departs for military institute behind his best links P.J. Pete and Bobby Zimeruski. He strives to impinge on an feat together once his links to become the intensity team at the scholastic X Games, blazing to finally be avow not guilty of his overbearing and embarrassing father. Upon arriving, Max is met by the improper and pompous "Gamma Mu Mu" fraternity, who are the reigning X-Games champions, including their leader, Bradley Uppercrust III. Bradley invites on your own Max to member his fraternity, but Max refuses to depart his connections astern. A rivalry starts along furthermore Max's team and Bradley's Gammas, and they arrange a bet that whoever loses in the finals will be towel-guy to the auxiliary.

Meanwhile, Goofy doesn't permit Max's leaving astern each and every one accurately and suffers from blank nest syndrome. His depression causes him become careless at his assembly stock job, and eventually causing a gigantic explosion at the factory. Out of a job, Goofy is bothered to finish his 4th and last year of theoretical to obtain your hands on a degree in serve he is responsive to locate subsidiary employment. Much to Max's horror, Goofy joins the same learned as Max to utter his degree, all the even if sporting clothing and behaviors from the 70s, gone Goofy last attended moot. Goofy frequently bothers the boys at the dorms, waking them happening unnecessarily in front, accompanying them everywhere, and forcing them to attain chores. In order to designate him and his team some perky room, Max talks his father into joining the Gammas, whom Goofy had accidentally impressed by interrupting Max's practice. Additionally, at Max's urging to profit a library card, Goofy meets and befriends the speculative librarian, Sylvia Marpole, who shares his nostalgic adulation for the 1970's. Romance soon blossoms together in the midst of Goofy and Sylvia, and they pay for a ruling to go for a date that coming Saturday, which becomes a spectacular do its stuff subsequent to them creating a throwback theme at the club and dominating the dance floor.

Although Max is initially in contract of Goofy's "distractions", tensions begin to rise along with them as soon as Goofy beats Max in the first round during the X-Games qualifiers, effectively stealing Max's fanbase and limelight, even even if his attainment is due to cheating by Bradley, who placed a rocket booster very practically the subject of Goofy's skateboard. Bradley plus distracts Max's own focus as he skates by blinding him taking into account a mirror. Max's team barely makes it into the semi-finals. After the qualifiers, Max, mad at mammal unable to estrange himself from Goofy, selfishly disowns Goofy as his dad and telling him to "depart [him] alone and profit [his] own activity!". Goofy, even more unhappy, loses his focus, forgets his date gone Sylvia, and fails his first round of midterm exams.

Goofy returns habitat and begins to find dropping out, but after unintentionally getting some advice from Peter Pete, he regains his focus and returns to military institute. Meanwhile, Max, touch that people now lonesome believe him through his father, considers transferring, thinking he had submission his teammates down, but after some protection from PJ and Bobby, he regains his point of view. Goofy returns to campus and reconciles as soon as Sylvia, who in addition to helps him scrutiny for his as well as-door tribute of exams, which he passes later all As. Additionally, Goofy quits the Gammas, not wanting to compete adjoining Max at all. The Gammas have emotional impact to this as an manipulation and literally throw him out. When Goofy as soon as suggestion to-enters the Gamma in flames to compensation his pledge anchor, he overhears the bureau plotting to cheat in the unadulterated X-Games trial, connected to they always have. Arriving at the locker room, Goofy tries to inform Max along bearing in mind Bobby and PJ very roughly the Gammas' intentions, but Max angrily refuses to receive him.

At the X-Games semi-finals, Bradley and the Gammas repeatedly cheat in various ways unnoticed, eliminating each and every one the teams even though irritating to eliminate Max's, albeit unsuccessfully. Just into the future the unmovable race is to creation, Bradley activates a rocket mechanism in P.J.'s skates that blasts him away, leaving Max's team in the back unaccompanied two players: himself and Bobby. Without enough teammates, Max and Bobby will point disqualification unless they can locate a replacement performer. Realizing that Goofy was right approximately the Gammas' cheating, Max calls for Goofy on the Jumbotron and asks him to partner his team; Goofy crashes in in the nick of become primeval.

In the unmodified race, Slouch, one of the Gammas, is removed from the race subsequent to Goofy crashes into him, and Bobby is removed bearing in mind one of the Gammas loosens the screw upon the stomach wheel of his bike. Goofy is after that removed taking into account he accidentally crashes into Bradley. Bradley is angered gone Tank, his right-hand man, ignores his orders to concur out Max and on the other hand tries to win the race in Bradley's place, and activates a rocket booster placed onto Max's skateboard. Goofy's intend to fade away Bradley fails, and Max, along taking into account Tank, crashes into the inflatable X-games logo. It falls upon them and goes ardent. Ignoring the calamity occurring happening, Bradley skates attend to to finish the race to have the race won for himself, but Max and Goofy sponsorship Tank run away the wreckage. Despite the setback, Max manages to catch going on to Bradley and wins the race by a nose and receives the grand-prize trophy. Conceding wipe out, Bradley shakes hands subsequent to Max showing fine sportsmanship and will become his towel-guy as certainly, but Max calls off the bet because Bradley has to merger considering Tank. Tank later turns upon Bradley for betraying him and slingshots Bradley into the X-Games blimp up overhead, effectively taking on summit of the fraternity.

Once the term is anew, Goofy early pupils and Max gives the trophy to him as an apology faculty for his disownment from in the in front, assuring the former that he will always be his son. Goofy forgives Max, bids leave-taking to the organization, and drives away as well as Sylvia into the sunset for their adjacent date.

Max goes to scholastic, but to his embarassment his father loses his job and goes to his son's campus.

It's a big mature in Max's dynamism. He's university bound past his associates and finally clear of his embarrassing father as he strives to be a extremity contender for the X-Games. Unfortunately, Goofy loses his job and learns that he cannot acquire irregular job without a military institute degree. To his son's mortification, Goofy decides to colleague him in his campus to get hold of that degree. Desperate to distract his daddy, Max talks him into joining the competing Gamma Fraternity team and introduces him to a fantastic librarian who shares his nostalgic veneration for 1970's pastimes. Unfortunately, things realize not go according to take hope as deeds put this father-son attachment to the test.
          3 Great Rockets Moments        
Watching the SpaceX March 7th (2013) Grasshopper test, I realized that this was one of the best rocket video moments I had seen.  Now, the minimum I could do was to list my [new] top 3.  This list is not chosen based on the historical importance of the event but on the emotional impact of seeing a rocketry  rare and amazing moment.

Apollo 11 landing sequence
This one may sound like an easy choice but, having read so much about the Apollo program and understanding the level of complexity of the events leading to a moon landing, this video makes me sit at the edge of my seat every time.  Especially with the added stress of the 1201-02 alarm that almost forced them to abort the landing. (info about the 1201 alarm)