Thursday, August 30, 2012

Where No Kerbal Has Gone Before



My sixth rocket design has proven its ability to get my Kerbal into space.

Now if I could only get him back...

Size Does Matter

Check out this simple interactive tool. It illustrates comparative sizes of, well, everything. Everything in the known Universe from the incredibly vast Universe itself to the tiniest quantum foam and string theory particles.

Then I get to thinking of the concepts of the multiverse theory and infinite regression for the ultimate mind fuck.

This is the shit I find awesome!

I'm such a geek.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Thar She Blows!


I feel like I'm a bit out of the loop on this one since I haven't been watching TV for a few weeks now and I never read a newspaper. But looky-there! A hurricane's a-comin'!

Now don't get me wrong, I haven't been hiding under a rock somewhere. I knew of Tropical Storm Isaac's existence from the Google news feeds I get on my iGoogle homepage. But I saw that it was on a westward trajectory that seemed like it'd miss Florida altogether so I paid it no mind.

But now it's south of the Bahamas, has cleared Cuba and looks like it'll steer away from the Cuban shore out through the Florida Strait and into the Gulf on an ominous-looking path.

Oh yes, the graphic above shows it staying well to the west of Central Florida, but hurricane tracking is far from an exact science. And Isaac WILL be a hurricane as it comes closer. Over the warm waters of the Gulf, storms tend to strengthen and become well-organized.

Even if it stays on this projected path, we here in Orlando will be on the northeastern edge of the storm for much of it's passing. That's where most of the peripheral wind and rain is.

Is it too late to get my hurricane preparedness kit together?

Or will the "mah-ket" be out of bread, water and eggs?

Then I'll be SCREWED!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

I'm Waiting To Die


Cronauer: "Wilkie, something special, okay? You go into a restaurant, okay? A waitress comes up to you. You're wearing your best new suit. She comes up, she spills soup all over you, looks at you like, "Eh, I'm sorry. What are you gonna do about it, asshole?" What do you say to her? What would you say? She spilled something on your pants. What would they do... What would you do?" 

Vietnamese Student Wilkie: "I do nothing." 

Cronauer: "Come on Wilkie, It's cursing class. You're getting pissed off. What would you do?" 

Vietnamese Student Wilkie: "I just remain reticent." 

Cronauer: "Okay, she goes in the kitchen, she gets a knife, she starts stabbing you. Ste's stabbing you. She's putting forks in you. She's got spoons in your eyes, Wilk. They're starting to cut you, putting spoons in your eyes. What would you do, Wilk? What would you do?" 

Vietnamese Student Wilkie: "I'm waiting to die."

--Dialogue from the film "Good Morning, Vietnam!"

This scene scripted above is a relatively short one, and quite "throw-away" to the overall plot of the movie, but I suspect it was kept in to somewhat showcase, as I'm sure many lines of dialogue did, the improv talents of Robin Williams. Whether it was read precisely as scripted by the screenwriters or wholly made-up, or somewhere in between, it's brilliant.

It's odd what people take away from something like a movie. For me, this bit of dialogue was the most memorable.

I often contemplated the mindset of a Wilkie-like personality with utter incomprehensibility when I was younger. I mean, despite being a benign and peace-loving Buddhist, how could someone be so complacent to one's own existence to truly be honest when saying "I'm waiting to die." when describing one's thoughts in a situation that most people would feel a dire need to defend one's self?

It's kinda like the time, way back when I was about 20 years old or so, when a middle-aged woman who was a fellow student in one of my classes in community college remarked matter-of-factly that she felt close to wanting to kill herself at times.

Never when I was a young man did I ever, and I mean EVER contemplate suicide. Even now, it's a concept totally foreign to my way of thinking.

Maybe because I'm an atheist and I think there's nothing after death.

Maybe because I'm an illogical optimist and feel that it will always, given time and patience, get better.

Maybe because I'm an alcoholic and I dull my expectations out of life and just live for the next buzz.

But I'm not a young man anymore. And my thoughts are not only deeper, but sometimes darker.

And the reality of our times makes things no better...

Innocent movie-goers gunned down by a crazed man. Innocent Sikhs gunned down while in the sanctuary of their place of worship.

And just earlier today, a mother who decapitates her own baby, puts it's head in the freezer then stabs herself to death.

Why do I bother to read the news?

It makes me want to be like the Wilkie character and just lie down and...

Wait to die.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Well Look What The UPS Man Brought Me

That's right. Mildred XV is here!

I'm using her right now to type this post.

She looks and runs fine...and for just $373 with tax!

Here's her specs FYI:




  • VISION Technology by AMD
    Makes your digital photos and Web sites look amazing and gives a boost to digital music playback.
  • AMD Quad-Core A6-3420M Accelerated Processor with AMD Radeon HD 6520G discrete-class graphics
    For enhanced operation.
  • 4GB DDR3 SDRAM
    For multitasking power, expandable to 8GB.
  • Multiformat DVD±RW/CD-RW
    Burn custom CDs and watch your favorite DVDs on the go; supports DVD-RAM.
  • 17.3" LED-backlit high-definition widescreen display
    With BrightView technology and 1600 x 900 resolution showcases movies and games in stunning clarity.
  • 500GB hard drive (5400 rpm)
    Offers spacious storage and fast read/write times.
  • AMD Radeon HD 6520G discrete-class graphics
    Feature up to 2037MB total video memory for lush images. HDMI output for connection to an HDTV.
  • Built-in webcam with microphone
    Makes it easy to video chat with family and friends.
  • Multiformat media reader
    Supports Memory Stick, Memory Stick PRO, MultiMediaCard, Secure Digital and xD-Picture formats.
  • 3 high-speed USB 2.0 ports
    For fast digital video, audio and data transfer.
  • Built-in high-speed wireless LAN (802.11b/g/n)
    Connect to the Internet on the go.
  • Built-in 10/100Base-T Ethernet LAN
    With RJ-45 connector for quick and easy wired Web connection.
  • Weighs 6.1 lbs. and measures just 1.4" thin
    For portable power. Full-size keyboard allows comfortable typing and numeric keypad offers easy data entry.
  • HP Imprint finish in pewter
    Offers a stylish look.
  • Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium Edition 64-bit operating system preinstalled
    Provides a stable platform for word processing, Web navigation, gaming, media storage and more.
  • Software package included
    With Windows Media Player and more. Microsoft Office 2010 also included (product key card required for activation; sold separately).
  • ENERGY STAR qualified
    Designed to use less energy and meets strict energy efficiency guidelines set by the Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Energy.

Monday, August 13, 2012

And Now There Are None

Everyone around my apartment moved out. Yup. Now Senorita Corazon Solitario is out. I have no idea why or under what circumstances.

One night I heard her usual footsteps (and squeeks, tee hee) and the next night...nothing. Then they came to punch out her place.

Maybe her clown came back and swept her off her feet, taking her to join him in the circus?

Or maybe she just died. Coulda happened. She sure smoked alot. And she wasn't any young mammasita.

I can see it now...

She was up there with her repatriated clown man-friend dancing like they do in that SNL skit (The Manuel Ortiz Show) and then suddenly, the hyper-beat merengue comes to an abrupt halt as she drops dead weight like a sack of over-ripe plantains to the floor.

But not before Betty White joined the fray.

 

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Not Again?!

The post title refers to two very recent separate issues for which I can only exclaim in utter resignation: "Oh not again?!"

First was another bout of gout. Like the last flare up that I remember, it started in the ankle (Huh? Ya, I know, weird!) and eventually migrated to the more traditional toe area but not before it caused my knee to become compromised due to my gait being all a-whack.

This great inconvenience caused me to use 3 days (non-consecutive) of sick time PTO. Harrumph! I hate using PTO as sick time when I really am sick. Better used for "sanity days".

After the past week and a half in pain and discomfort, I'm finally getting back to normal, albeit a bit of ache remaining in the osteoarthritic right knee.

The second "not again" is the fact that less than an hour ago I went ahead and bought yet another computer! A laptop to replace this Toshiba I'm using at work right now.

Let's face it, computers are one of my more serious addictions. I need a 12-step program for computer-holics. I could see it now...I'd get up to the podium in front of the group and say "0111010111010100".

That's "Hi I'm Michael, and I'm a computer-holic." in binary.

I know. I know. I need help.

Monday, August 06, 2012

LIVE BLOG: Mars Science Laboratory EDL

Manning my personal command center, eagerly watching as the Mars Science Laboratory (Curiosity Rover) goes into Entry, Descent and Landing on Mars.



12:47 am: Viewing a 3-D computer animation on NASA's website simulating the landing live as it happens. The vehicle is currently 45 minutes from landing, 38 minutes from entry.


1:04 am: NASA TV is on the television showing the control room (the real one at JPL in Pasadena, California). The blue-shirted uber-geeks (look who's talking) are passing out the traditional handfuls of peanuts. Huh? Wha? Beats me.

1:10 am: Powering off the cruise stage hardware.

1:11 am: Oh everyone at JPL is watching their monitors very intently.

1:12 am: JPL and NASA doing a nice job for the broadcast viewers...they have a guy narrating in layman's terms what's going on...here's what it sounds like without him translating: Transition to tones now, were seeing carrier only, recieved heartbeats. Huh?

1:14 am: Cruise stage separating. The donut of the cruise stage flew back away from the vehicle on my simulation at just the same time...cool!


1:16 am: The capsule is pivoting into position.


1:17 am : The gravity of Mars is starting to speed the vehicle up; going faster now to about 5.9 km/sec.

1:18 am: We might get some pictures a few minutes after landing says one of the engineers...but it's not guaranteed.

1:19 am: The TV coverage shows all the hub bub being made...still cameras clicking and flashing, TV cameras all throughout the room...it's actually quite exciting.

1:24 am: Vehicle reports entry interface.


1:27 am: Odyssey (one of the older NASA orbiters helping relay communications for this maneuver) is picking up data...much clapping.

1:27 am: PDS warning...they seem fine with this, whatever it means.


1:28 am: Standing by for parachute deploy.

1:29 am: We have heat shield separation and parachute deployment


1:30 am: Vehicle is decelerating...much applause.


1:31 am: Sky Crane deployment.


1:32 am: We are on Mars!!!...Riotous cheers and hugs, much jubilation! YES!!

We Have Landed!!

Curiosity on Mars -- Image oriented sky upward
1:33 am: I'm actually crying with exhilaration just like the guys on TV.

1:34 am: Odyssey data is very strong, and we have live pictures! Just a B&W grainy thumbnail but what a sight!

1:36 am: Another image is recieved a 256 x 256 image showing the rover's wheel on the surface of Mars with the sun setting on the Martian horizon.


1:38 am: Yet another pic showing the other side (Martian East?) facing away from the sun, the clear shadow of the lander is seen being cast upon the Martian dirt. These pics are lower quality since the cameras are still covered by a protective dust cover until all the dust from the landing clears.

1:40 am: The JPL guys (and girls) are so amped! Good for them, they deserve full recognition for this tremendous success. Now looking forward to years of hopefully stunning data from this phenomenal and crucial mission in our efforts to understand our neighbor Mars and to one day imprint onto her red soil a human footprint!

Sunday, August 05, 2012

We Who Dare Mighty Things

"Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those timid spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat."
--Theodore Roosevelt

In less than 24 hours, our unmanned space program is finally going to prove it has balls.

Whether this bravura will result in success is another issue.

As is mentioned by the talking heads in the video below, it does indeed seem like this "seven minutes of terror", as the incredibly complex landing sequence is being dubbed, is a plan seemingly devised by Rube Goldberg.

Watch this to get an idea of what'll be going down some 50 million or so miles away about an hour and a half after midnight (eastern time).


Man, I hope we make it!

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

And Then There Was One

The way my apartment building is laid out, there are thankfully only three apartments which adjoin mine. But because the walls are rather thin and the inter-connectedness of the duct work notorious, I am very concerned about who lives next to me and how they'll impact my peace and quiet.

As of this weekend, two of the three are now vacant. Thumper is out. Probably wore his dick off. And now The Steak Mutilators are gone. They probably bought a house with, no doubt, a nice patio that can accommodate a huge BBQ grill.

That leaves just the upstairs neighbor Senorita Corazone Solitario.

I call her The Senorita. It's not her real name. It's Spanish for Miss Lonely Hearts.

Remember in "Rear Window" when Jimmy Stewart and Grace Kelly are "spying" on the neighbors, they see the sad lady who pitifully pantomimes having a suitor and then when she does go to the bar across the street she only finds more heartbreak and sorrow? That's my Senorita.

She sits on her porch, smoking her GPC cigarettes since that's all she can afford. She's on welfare of course. The kinda welfare so many in these apartments seem to have miraculously found. Some from family, some from the government. Some, perhaps, from selling certain aromatic smoking herbs?

She has a plastic rainbow-colored pinwheel decorating her porch. No doubt her apartment's interior is similarly decorated in cheap plastic and distressed pressboard. Oh, and the room must be resplendent with knick-knacks. Oh so many knick-knacks, so little room.

She had a gentleman caller about a year ago. He approached me one morning asking if I could retrieve a bottle of mosquito repellent which had fallen from her porch onto my patio.

He was a thin black man with white blotches all over his face. Some skin condition like what Michael Jackson swore he had, or maybe he was in the process of wiping off his clown make-up? Yes, I think that's it. He was a circus clown who worked as the entertainment at some after-hours rave club downtown. Probably looks all Cirque du Soleil when he's all done up. Unfortunately for The Senorita, loving a clown can only end up one way. In tragedy. We all know that.

But that does explain why she squeaks slightly when she walks. Once that red nose gets caught up there, it's a bitch to get out.