sailing the NorSea


WEEK 19 2010

Last Week- Sun- Mon- Tue- Wed- Thur- Fri- Sat- Next Week

Picture of the Week


Oxnard  Weather Underground
Click for Oxnard, California Forecast
Lancaster WeatherUnderground
Click for Lancaster, California Forecast
Martinez WeatherUnderground
Click for Buchanan, California Forecast

First Post, 17 March 2002
Eight Years Ago, This Week, 2002 Seven Years Ago, This Week, 2003 Six Years Ago, this week, 2004 Five Years Ago, this week, 2005 Four Years Ago, This Week, 2006
Three Years Ago, This Week, 2007
Two Years Ago, This Week, 2008
One Year Ago, This Week, 2009

Saturday 15 May 2010
Saturday - Visitor Center tickets at KSC are good for two days, but we felt that the crowd would be tremendous the day after launch, so we headed over to the west coast of Florida, Tampa. There we visited a Victory Ship, the American Victory. We had to search for her - Floridians have no idea of how to put up signs and directions - but we did find her, tucked away behind the Aquarium, and had a great visit.

She was, alas, only getting a few visitors, so we had her almost to ourselves.

American Victory
The American Victory, Tampa, Fl.

Friday 14 May 2010
Friday - we watched the launch from the Titusville Space Park. This is an open space on the river, directly to the east of pad 39-A, and we had a pretty good view. We were under some trees, which was nice during the long wait - we arrived at 9:00am and there was already a crowd - launch was at 2:20pm. The crowd was well behaved and friendly, except for a few late arriver's who tried to push their way to the front.

The police presence was minimal, a couple of passes of two man SWAT teams armed with automatic weapons (MP-5's),then finally a semi-permanent presence of one beat cop who kept the emergency path clear. I'm not a big fan of that SWAT sort of thing, I might write Titusville a letter, complimenting them on their nice park, but mention that this isn't (yet) a third world banana republic.

The launch was spectacular - the noise was audible, and the flames from the solid rockets nearly blinding. I hadn't expected them to be so bright and dramatic. It was very exciting, and made the long flight back east worth it. The crowd counted down, and was delighted with the spectacle. Very nice.

STS-132 Atlantis Take Off
STS-132 launch, Atlantis, 14 May 2010, from Titusville Space Park.

Thursday 13 May 2010

Thursday - went to the visitor's center at KSC. Saw an alligator - our first - in a ditch while driving out there.

There was a bit of an unpleasant shock - while our tickets for the causeway viewing were good, they refused to give us a placard to get onto the base to utilize those tickets. They didn't give a good reason, but of course, once the tickets have been bought, any extra expense (people trying to use those tickets) is just something to be avoided. I asked for a supervisor, did my best Dale Carnegie, then even tried calling the local congresswomans office, for the Space Coast that's Suzanne Kosmas, no joy.  The congresswoman's office said refusal to provide a placard was for "security reasons".

I'm not sure how a cardboard placard obtained onsite would make my rental car less secure than one obtained over the internet - particularly since the very same parking lot is open every other day and on launch day you are bused to the causeway from there. It's just a vested private contractor covering it's butt and trying to do as little as possible. Maybe I'll write some letters and see if I can stir up some official interest in these abuses before the next launch.

I asked several random but friendly looking people for rides onto the base, but all claimed not to have room in their vehicle (probably not true, but for perfect strangers understandable, I guess).

Rumor has it that for the next launch they're already making thousands and thousand of tickets are as "pre-reserved" for VIPS and such. Jerks. As I see it this country has no VIP's, just citizens. The KSC internet reservation system is completely useless already - I met many, many people who couldn't get through in the few hours of availability, why they don't go to a sign up and lottery I don't know. I suspect crookedness, but stupidity is probably the safe bet. On the other hand, crookery in keeping people out probably indicates chance of crookery in letting people in, eh?

So, late that afternoon, we checked out Cocoa Beach, and nearby. It's a pretty beach, due south of the launch site by about 10-12 miles. But you can't see the pad from there - you'd miss the very beginning of the launch. There is even a little park - Jetty Park - at the extreme northern of the beach, if you want a few more amenities. Titusville has some viewing areas, directly to the east of KSC, that's probably a better bet.

Personally I'd have loved to hang out on the beach the rest of the day, but Bob was suffering from a pretty bad sunburn already, so we headed back to Orlando. No local hotel had rooms available.

Florida roads are good, by the way, but their signage and numbering are terrible. Even the GPS got confused and sent us in circles a few times.

Wednesday 12 May 2010

Wednesday - out to Florida. We were delayed an hour or so in Oakland, but they kept the plane waiting for us in Austin and we transferred OK and made it to Orlando without any big delays. The longest wait in line was at the Thrifty car rental place - more than half an hour. What's with that?

Tuesday 11 May 2010

Tuesday - well, up in Martinez. Nice weather - cold, down to 33F over the Tehachapi's, then some light rain and wind on the drive up. This did good for the front yard there - looks like no-one has stopped by since I was there last.

The flight out is early tomorrow. Talked to Bob, and he'll drive to Oakland.

Monday 10 May 2010

Monday - hobbling about. Feeling a bit better, up to driving north tomorrow, hopefully. I can walk unaided, and went out and put gas in the Explorer. So, that's a plus.

The client didn't seem too upset, by the way. I politely pointed out that I was trying to get out in the field last week, and their guy couldn't do it.

I think that I mentioned that my sister invited me to Facebook, and midway through the login process I stopped: they just wanted too much information. It was creepy (says a long time blogger). Turns out my instincts were correct. There are lot's of worrying privacy questions about FB. A tech writer, Robert B. Thompson, had much the same experience recently. Except that he actually signed up, and is sorry he did.

The first link is a visual depiction of the (d)evolution of Facebook privacy, since inception. It's clear that it's deliberate and designed to profit FB, not "help" the users.

You know, I was thinking yesterday about a recent comment I saw somewhere: "If something can't go on, it won't." This was in relation to the out-of-control government spending, both in Greece and California. Default is obviously coming, there isn't any other solution since the politicians won't stop spending other people's money. And I got to thinking about what else is going to happen that we all know is going to happen, but are blithely ignoring, whistling as we pass the graveyard.

And the big one is war - nuclear war probably - between Israel and Iran & the various "Palestinian" groups.

So, I was kind of saddened when I ran across a post by Donald Sensing about a big buildup in Israel, going on now. "The coming war is on everyone's mind." I am reminded of England in the mid-to-late 1930's, before Poland, when observers knew what was coming, despite the blatherings of intellectuals and the maneuvering of politicians and diplomats. Hitler meant what he said, so does Ahmadinejad - power and glory and world leadership await him and his country if he succeeds.

And like England, Israel can only back up so far, with survival at stake.

He who strikes first has a huge advantage, particularly with nuclear weapons - but Israel didn't strkie first, back in 1973:

Yom Kippur War

In the days leading up to the Yom Kippur War, Israeli intelligence was not able to determine conclusively that an attack was imminent. However, on 5 October 1973, Meir received official news that Syrian forces were massing on the Golan Heights. The prime minister was alarmed by the reports, and felt that the situation reminded her of what happened before the Six Day War. Her advisers, however, assured her not to worry, saying that they would have adequate notice before a war broke out. This made sense at the time, since after the Six Day War, most Israelis felt it unlikely that Arabs would attack again.

Consequently, although a resolution was passed granting her power to demand a full-scale call-up of the military (instead of the typical cabinet decision), Meir did not mobilize Israel's forces early. Soon, though, war became very clear. Six hours before the outbreak of hostilities, Meir met with Minister of Defense Moshe Dayan and general David Elazar. While Dayan continued to argue that war was unlikely and thus was in favor of calling up the air force and only two divisions, Elazar advocated launching a full-scale pre-emptive strike on Syrian forces.[27]

Meir sided with Dayan, citing Israel's need for foreign aid. She believed that Israel could not depend on European countries to supply Israel with military equipment, and the only country that might come to Israel's assistance was the United States. Fearing that the U.S. would be wary of intervening if Israel were perceived as initiating the hostilities, Meir decided against a pre-emptive strike. She made it a priority to inform Washington of her decision. Then-U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger later confirmed Meir's assessment by stating that if Israel had launched a pre-emptive strike, Israel would not have received "so much as a nail."[28]


The reasons given for Israel not to strike first pretty much still hold: they need America, and American politicans wouldn't like it.

I always wanted to see Israel and Jerusalem - so much history - maybe it's too late.

Book #30 is a twofer: Empire Star & The Ballad of Beta-2, by Samuel R. Delaney. Again, old style SF, from the 1960's. Interesting stuff. Amazon doesn't seem to list the particular two-novelette volume that I have so there are two links.

Sunday 9 May_2010

Sunday - I spent most of the morning working on the tractor. The new belt needed installing, then the mower deck needed some fairly large adjustment - last time the lawn ended up with a very uneven haircut. I put a new air filter on it, and a new spark plug, and some carb cleaner. I bought some oil (30wt detergent) but the help showed up. The boy came by and got to ride and drive - he was pretty jazzed about that. Of course also mowing the front with a normal mower, then edging, then weed whacking left him pretty beat. I gave him a tip and told him that it wasn't usually such a grind. I didn't mention that next time I might not be there to help...

The mower deck raise/lower linkage was broken on the left side. As I said before: at some point some rider hit some object hard. It had been partially repaired, so that the deck didn't actually fall off on that side, but wouldn't align properly. I has some bar stock, so with MAPP gas and a bit of drilling and filing made a replacement. It'll hold for now, but I need make one with a bigger piece of stock, this was 1/4" diameter and it should be, probably, about 3/8".

The yard looks pretty good (well, at least compared to what it looked like a little while ago).

The downside is that I tweaked my back. By late afternoon I couldn't stand up straight or walk without holding onto something. I was expected to be working in the field Monday and had to call the client and let them know I wouldn't be in. Not good.

Picture of the Week

Buzzard soaring over Martinez

Photo Notes: Buzzard slope soaring, Martinez.

Last Week- Sun- Mon- Tue- Wed- Thur- Fri- Sat- Next Week