You are looking at posts that were written in the month of July in the year 2006.
Posted on July 25th, 2006 by George.
I’m sitting in my friend Vince’s home office, surrounded by comic books and macs, as he packs his computer bag for our trip. We leave at the break of dawn for The City of Hope. With as much time as I’ve spent in Texas, Arizona and California, it’s surprising I’ve never been to Mexico. In any case, I’m starting off right, with a friend who spent part of his childhood there and maintains close contact with his extended family.
I can’t wait to feel the pulse of 20 million people as they pound the pavement, their breaths heaving between the mountain ranges seven thousand feet above sea level. The changing global climate has shifted some interesting weather patterns into the Valley of Mexico, so la Ciudad de los Palacios has been enduring rain for several weeks now. But the clouds broke today, and the rain will have cleansed the oft-polluted air just in time for our arrival.
I look forward to the palaces, pyramids, art, architecture, music, history, food and culture of such a place. I’m excited about meeting new people, making new friends, and practicing my nonexistent Spanish. And it’s been far too long since I’ve set foot on foreign soil. There’s something cleansing about the unique perspective afforded a stranger in a strange land. Oh, and don’t forget Acapulco.
So here’s to Mexico! If you miss me while I’m gone, you can catch up on my travel companion’s art and history on his fresh new website, replete with bloggy goodness. I give you: doctor vince.
Posted on July 17th, 2006 by George.
“Welcome home, boys and girls.”
These were the words that echoed from the loudspeakers out across the Shuttle Landing Facility this morning after Discovery punched through the low gray clouds with two shattering sonic booms and flared for a picture-perfect landing at the Kennedy Space Center.
Watching the great bird roll out, dissipating her last few Joules of kinetic energy after having slowed from over twenty-five times the speed of sound, filled the gathered crowd with audible elation. This was the first Shuttle mission to conclude at KSC since Columbia. And from the once-in-a-lifetime Fourth of July launch until wheelstop, it’s being called one of the most perfect missions in history. My favorite phrase of the day? “Almost flawless.”
We are officially back on track, ladies and gentlemen. We have Returned to Flight and proven that we can do so safely. It’s time to get to work completing construction of the International Space Station. And with at least two more launches scheduled for this year and processing already underway, we are ready. Welcome back to space, America.
This is the second mission I’ve seen from start to finish, and just when I thought it couldn’t get any better than STS-114, it has. I have pictures and videos of every daylight facet of the mission: rollover from the Orbiter Processing Facility to the Vehicle Assembly Building, rollout from the VAB to the launchpad, launch, landing, and rollback from the Shuttle Landing Facility to the OPF. Unless there’s some sort of overwhelming response to bring them all together, though, I’m just posting the shots I have at hand, taken today.
We’ve come full circle; now it’s time to do it all over again. Everyone down here at KSC is proud of Discovery and her crew, and we feel privileged to be a part of her success. Now let’s get back to doing what we do best: launching spaceships.
Landing from the not-so-cheap seats (look closely for the white puff of smoke as the nosewheel gear touches down):
The official NASA video (including cockpit view):
Short vid of the rollback to the OPF:
P.S. You might want to check out this article in the Miami Herald. Among the quotes from NASA directors and other “head knockers” (as my Mom likes to say), you might find a statement from someone you recognize.
Posted on July 15th, 2006 by George.
Not that I ever did before, but I will never again underappreciate a hot water. Or any water, for that matter. Super mad big monster crazy ups to my boy Rene, who put in a solid eight hours at my house today to get my hot water heater installed. Power off, water off, no A/C, cramped up in the utility room…anyone who’d give up their entire Saturday to help a friend is a fine, upstanding gentleman in my book. And a definite contributor to the well-being of society at large.
It only took five trips to Home Depot. And one to Ace Hardware. Now, a benjamin later (and that’s after the cost of the heater and the month spent remodeling the laundry room), I no longer have to take spongebaths. Cold spongebaths.
When Zoë told me two years ago that there wasn’t anything Rene couldn’t fix, I should’ve listened. Now that I’ve seen him sweat silver solder with a torch (not to mention seen his late-model Supra engine torn down in his garage) I have to say this is not your average handyman.
Take a look at the aftermath of the fight I had with the old water heater:
And now, feast your eyes on my brand new utility room, with freshly painted walls, new trim with two coats of brilliant white and a nice bead of caulk, and an epoxy floor that Rene swears looks as good as terrazzo. Oh, and don’t forget Mr. Roboto, my new “Danger Will Robinson” look-alike hot water heater. He has a simple job, but we hope he’ll do it well for years to come.
Heck, with as much work as I’ve put into this project, I’m tempted to set up a lay-z-boy and a minifridge and camp out in my new living room. Rene even said, “You know, when most people begin renovating their house, they start with the bathroom. Or maybe the kitchen. But the laundry room?” Yessir. The laundry room. And I couldn’t be more proud.
Now this wouldn’t be a true life story if it were all sunshine and lollipops at the end. What, you were expecting a Hollywood ending? So sorry. This is going to sound contrived, but I swear this is exactly how it happened: since we had to shut off the main breaker, we released the garage door from the motor and moved it up and down manually when we came and went. Well, Rene hops in his car after a long day of work and as he drives off, I reconnect the garage door and press the button to shut it. It won’t close. I kid you not: no sooner is one problem overcome then another rears its ugly head. I walked over to the side of the garage to discover this:
Okay. No more Mr. Nice Homeowner.
Posted on July 15th, 2006 by George.
There’s something infinitely beautiful
About six AM on Saturday
The entire day pregnant
The sun’s rays careening in
At their sharpest angle
Fiery paths of green
Lit up on the lawn
Yes, I realize
My lips aflame
What a year on Mars would entail
I can hear already the echoes of Earth
Even without the lion
I can see our island
The one upon which we float listlessly
Too busy strangling each other to look up
Our little round islet
Made of blue and green
Unique in the universe
Our only haven, Our sole refuge
For hundreds of light years.
Posted on July 10th, 2006 by George.
I found about forty legitimate comments in the junk folder. I’m setting my junk comment filter back to the default value of zero to see if it starts letting real comments through again. Turns out sometime around mid-June I started getting spammed heavily, and as a result the filter didn’t let anything through. So. Most of your comments should be manually reinstated. Thanks for the feedback, y’all! And if it gives you that message again about me screening it first, let me know via email and I’ll rectify the situation. Cheers, and happy commenting!
Posted on July 10th, 2006 by George.
It has come to my attention, through the astute observation of and subsequent communique from my mother, that Brekkie is not currently accepting comments. This distresses me. I’ve been talking with Lay-c about it, but we have yet to find a solution. So any of you out there who’ve tried to leave a comment since, oh, mid-June, I’m sorry, but even though it says I’m reviewing them, I’ve never seen them. They don’t show up in Movable Type, and I checked the settings: I haven not chosen to screen comments. As far as my account shows, I should be automatically accepting all comments from the public. I apologize if that means you’ve lost a comment. In the interim, while we diagnose this problem, feel free to shoot me an email regarding any posts.
I just returned from Nashville today where I had a fabulous weekend. We celebrated my birthday and my sister Elizabeth’s passing of the medical boards Hatcher-style: with food, friends, music and dancing. I think I danced for six hours. Shout outs to everyone who broke it down old school: the Ellis family, Carrie, Jodie, Cassie, Randy, Mark, Mom, Dad, Liz, Caroline, Sarah, Kirstin, Becca, Delara, Steve, Dia, Jim (can you believe it?), Seth, and everyone else I flung sweat upon. Thanks also to Josh, Mandar, Jay, Ben, Amelia, Olivia, Blake, Jeanna, Mark, Marlys, Kent, and everyone who made the trek across country, across the state, across town or across the street to get down and party like it was 1999 with us. Y’all make a birthday great.
You gotta take the bad with the good, though, so it was only fitting that to enjoy such festivities and good company I’d have to put up with two visits to the fun-house called TSA “enhanced security,” two subsequently missed flights, three connections to Nashville (which turned a 2-hour trip into a 10-hour odyssey, flying over Nashville twice before actually landing there), several run-ins with customer service, $75 in rescheduling fees that essentially negated any savings I made by using Priceline, and a $161 speeding ticket. By the time I got to work today, half a day late, it had become comical. Sorry, Delta and Priceline, but at this point you’ve run out of chances. You’re off the list. Sometimes you really gotta wonder about the balance of life. But no worries. The bad just rolls off like water off a duck’s back.
Posted on July 4th, 2006 by George.
My mother can attest to the fact that I called her today before T-zero with the conviction that we would indeed launch. With such a perfect day, on such an auspicious date, how could providence allow history to be written any differently? You and I have witnessed an event that in all likelihood the world shall never see again: the launch of the Space Shuttle on the anniversary of the declaration of our great nation’s independence.
There never has been nor will there ever again be such a magnificent fireworks display. Even now Discovery and her crew of seven soar overhead completing their first orbit of our dear planet, all of us left below smiling with eyes full of tears at the culmination of a happening it took each of us to make manifest.
We make our way home to our families, bellies full of cornbread and beans, hearts full of joy, soaking in the light of the moment, breathing deep the air of sweet success from the endless cerulean skies overhead. A part of each of us, you and I, is hurtling around our beloved Earth at twenty-five times the speed of sound, in the perpetual freefall of the bliss of human exploration.
Tonight we dance, tonight we dine, tonight the fireworks shall pale in comparison to the rocket’s red glare. The glint in our eyes will tell the tale of a job well done, of another step taken in the progression and evolution of humankind. Tonight. Tonight! Tonight we have much to celebrate.
Posted on July 3rd, 2006 by George.
It seems one of the consequences of cutting the leaky hot water heater (isn’t that redundant? Shouldn’t we just say water heater?) away from the wall of a 25-year-old Florida house is that instead of losing hot water to the showers, you lose all water to the showers. My best guess is it has something to do with an open circuit somewhere in the plumbing.
I experienced a small victory today. After four more hours of sweat and toxic fumes, I can finally say I’m finished scraping the floor of the laundry room. It may not be perfect, but by God I’m not scraping that thing for another second. I finished the prep work for the garage epoxy coating that I plan to use, which included vacuuming up any remaining dust and debris and scrubbing the floor with a citric acid solution. I have some left over in case it’s not clean enough, but at this point, nearly three weeks after starting the project, I’m ready to mix up that resin and activator and slap it down. If it doesn’t work, fine. I’ll tile it. Better yet, I’ll pay somebody to tile it. When there’s this much work involved with a product labeled “fast and easy,” it really makes you think twice about DIY.
Even though weather kept us from launching yesterday and today, the weekend wasn’t a total wash. I spent the better part of two days at my friend Rene’s house, watching Brasil lose to France (what?!), enjoying the maestro’s grillwork, and having an all around good time. My friends Julie and Dennise (yes, two Ns) drove up from Boca Raton for the festivities, and we met up with our friend Ami for the cookout. It was a full house at Rene’s, with many members of his and his wife Judy’s friends and family. The ever mischievous and precocious Junior was there, and I had the privilege and pleasure of meeting Judy’s four friends from Ecuador.
We hit it off from the start, sharing stories of family and travel, surfing in the ocean (Rene, lucky dog that he is, lives on the beach),
eating cookies and milk, and staying up til 2am playing charades with two of Rene’s neighbor Willie’s friends. I cannot tell you how much fun we had. Thinking back on Hugo trying to guess “Austin Powers”
and coming up with “some kind of a crazy geek” still brings me to tears of laughter.
Today we went to see the sharks in the tropical aquarium at the Cocoa Beach Surf Company. A visit there isn’t complete without a stop at Starbucks, so I opted for the Hawaiian Tropic Frappucino. What’s that, you say? Well, this masterpiece of gastronomic bliss is banana and coconut syrup in the classic frap coffee base, blended smooth and topped with whipped cream and toasted coconut flakes. It tastes exactly the way the famous tanning oil smells. The association in my frontal lobe between that smell and the experience of summer is indelible. It’s always a rousing and refreshing quaff.
Before we parted ways we took a little trip to Cocoa Village, the local historic shopping district (think downtown Franklin, Tennessee) then made our way back to Rene’s for some of his to-die-for chicken and pasta. Of course, the entire weekend was an excuse to be immersed in Spanish. My friends, if you’re reading this, I hope you made it home safely to Miami, and I can’t wait for your next visit.
After all that, the spongebath seems sort of anticlimactic.