WEEK 19 2010
Mon- Tue- Wed-
Picture of the Week
17 March 2002
Ago, This Week, 2002
Ago, This Week, 2003
Years Ago, this week, 2005
Ago, This Week, 2006
Ago, This Week, 2007
Ago, This Week, 2008
This Week, 2009
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
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
The American Victory, Tampa, Fl.
- we watched the launch from the Titusville Space
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
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 launch, Atlantis, 14 May 2010, from Titusville Space Park.
Thursday 13 May
- 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
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
- 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
- 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
- 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
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
He who strikes first has a huge advantage, particularly with nuclear
weapons - but Israel didn't strkie first, back in 1973:
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
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."
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
- 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
also mowing the front with a normal mower, then edging, then weed
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
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.