- Flint for the 4th
- Final launch of a Space Shuttle
- STS-133 Launch on the Causeway
- STS-130 Launch at Banana Creek
- STS-119 Launch at Banana Creek
- Hurricane Ike
- Stanley Cup Playoffs
- Diving in Cenotes on Riviera Maya
- PGA Championship in Tulsa at Southern Hills
- Return to Japan
- Return to Russia
- World Series Game 5
- Built Glass Brick Shower
- Key West
- Scuba Certification
What I am Drinking
Where is the ISS
21 June 11 Google doodles and the Social Media Explosion Okay - so after dad died, Twitter started to rule the roost along with Facebook updates - they were just too quick and easy (especially with a smart phone). Not to mention the introduction of my themed Blogger pages. So, not much has happened here on this page. I don't see this getting updates full time like in the past either. I simply don't travel or do as much. I am usually either at home or Flint... or at the Cape (but with the last space shuttle launch next month, I won't be going there near as much either). So, what to do? I will try and update this page to point to other posts that are significant. I will also reflect back and catch a few items you may have missed. First off - I have updated the Google Doodle database after quite some time! There is always a link below at the left - but you can click here too!
22 April 09 The Blue Marble Noticed this cool logo on a NASA website today - can not find a better image anywhere. Seems I missed a few Google logos lately... understandable. I have been having a hard time finding the joy in the many things that I "get" and appreciate lately. Silly things sometimes like Google holiday logos and uniform minutia and - just can not find myself at the Uni Watch website lately, all seems so meaningless... For Christmas I cleaned up dad's garage playroom - has all his collectibles boxed up in there and many displayed as well. For those last three months, he spent countless nights up there... sometimes just cataloging for my sake. He was going thrugh everything and writing little notes - like one program has a note saying it was his very first texas Longhorn football game. He had labeled the very chin straps Boyce talked about at the memorial service before we went to Florida with who he had acquired them from and what game. Many mornings I would be greeted with an email including a detailed excel spreadsheet, and a note like "and that was just box 17." We had been working on cataloging a lot of Southwest Conference history for my SouthwestConferenceFootball.com website. In fact, I am quite sick that all that knowledge is now gone... he knew every detail of every game. I will eventually continue on that quest - although without his wealth of knowledge. So... patience on the blog please - and I did add the recent logos to the Google spreadsheet (same link as always).
21 March 09 Twitter The thing about all other social networks is that you have to GO to numerous pages to see what is going on. As for Myspace and Facebook, you do get statuses from all your friends - but again... you get statuses from ALL your friends. And most of the time I just do not need to know that my friend is headed to the gym, political views I care not to hear, or whatever other useless piece of information they think the world MIGHT care about. Point is, I am in touch with my real friends and I know what they are up to through far more personal means. But Twitter... wow, I get just waht I want to know in one nice place. Real things like news on only the issues I care about - quick and fast and right at ya! And most often two days before the story breaks on the news - I have even seen nwspaper and internet news sorce Twitter feeds! And yes, I can still stalk a couple of celebs I am intrigued by. I found Twitter just before dad died and someone already had my internet avatar "RocketGirl", so was still trying to find a name when we went to launch. Of course, when dad died the day before the launch, I had to use something related to that particular launch. You are limited to only 15 characters and I really wanted to use Godspeed Discovery. So with the help of my aunt and cousins (after dad's memorial service), I settled on GodspeedDiscvry. You can find my Twitter feed here. It is more space oriented than anything - as my intent on Twitter was to focus on career social networking.
20 March 09 Dad's Memorial More on this later...
15 March 09 Godspeed Discovery! Dad would have wanted us to see the launch. And quite honestly - having been to the Banana Creek VIP viewing site twice already, this launch might not have been as special. It was supposed to be a night launch, which I had never seen - and with the delays it became a dusk launch. So the sunset behind us reflected off the plume in a way I had never seen - so brilliant... so burnt orange! I almost expected a longhorn shape to form - okay, I did expect it. And since it was at dusk, it basically became a nightlaunch as we were able to see the Space shuttle Main Engines continue to burn - and even had a view of the SRBs as they separated. It was a beautiful launch - amd most likely my last Space Shuttle launch since we have so few flights left now. I hate that he didn't see it, but he had a much better view... or ride, I truly feel he was that bat that didn't let go like all the others always that had spent a few days clinging to the external tank had. ;)
xx February 09 Kitchen Update Stand by....
28 January 09 Super Logos! Super Bowl logos provide a timeline of sports logo trends throughout the years. Here is a great story of some of those trends and the growth of the logo. The story illustrates several recent additions and nuances I must admit I failed to notice as of yet. It also talks about the much more obvious phases of design we have progressed through including the initial red, white and blue badges of the eighties, a mid-eighties start to a small reminder within the logo to hint as to where it was taking place. Most logo critics have severely critiqued this year's logo - but I find it refreshing. Click the image to see a running progression of all Super Bowl logos.
21 January 09 Thank you President Bush President Bush has been nothing but a gentleman, even immediately after he left his not-so-humorous roast on the inaguration stage. This is a man who has morals, is not hiding a thing, and knows he served in honor. He is a Christian (whose decisions were led by God himself), a veteran who fought for his country's freedom and I am proud I to know that after a trying morning he had a warm welcome of appreciative fans in my hometown. Wish I could have been there!
20 January 09 Obama Fever and a Day of Mourning The first time I heard the words "President Obama", it physically brought bile to my throat… so I guess I can now understand all of those "No more Bush" countdown clocks to W's last day that have offended me to no end over the last two years or so. And one of the very things I object to most... the constant victim mentality is now my very burden to face. I have to be bigger and press on with positive thinking, shake the doom and gloom, stand proud like an American Bald Eagle, like President Bush who said nice things about a man who so rudely said ugly things about our outgoing president right in front of him on such a national stage. But how? How can I not see the next four years as the hell I know it will be, the Obama fever that has clouded the judgment of 78% of Americans, the liberal left spin ALREADY graffittied all over the White House website, the media praising the first lady's style in her frumpy wide-hipped gaudy sheaths, the cries of "it sounded like God" when Obama was speaking (I KNOW who my God is), the promise of transparency (oh yea right... so where is that fucking birth certificate?), and the cheers of "now we can be united."... wait, what? You can not unite under our white president, but now all of a sudden you want to be united when you have a minority president? You mean all this time you were not fighting for what you believed in - because apparently now that it has happened, you profess your belief it never would be??? United you say... yet you booed the outgoing president when he stepped on the stage and continued into a chant of nah nah nah nah, nah nah nah nah, goodbye. THESE are your people and I am PROUD to NOT be aligned with them. Yet, if I am ugly and start my own countdown clock (for the record, 3 years and 364 days left) I will be like the very people who I mock. So this is my battle, an ironic turn of the table. How... with the man sitting right there? Bush IS more of a MAN than Obama could EVER hope to be! Disgraceful - THIS is how the mindless fall for the Kool-aid Stooooooopid... typical, did not even know it was the wrong Bush! Get Used to it!
05 Jan 09 Kitchen Renovation Full Speed Ahead Just before Christmas I settled on in with the SilGranit sink and picked it up when I was in Dallas. With Christmas done, and a week off, I have thrown myself into the kitchen renovations – which seem to be a tad more than I meant to bite off. As always, the unexpected grants you with new skills though. Having not accomplished much during that week off due to the set backs (and the last ever Cotton Bowl in its namesake stadium at Fair Park with my team proudly wearing a high ranking on their backs going into that game - ugh) the kitchen renovation just might take a lot longer than I thought…. and no kitchen sink in the interim. I will continue that story over on the scrapbook page documenting the entire renovation – with lots and lots of details! I have also started looking at appliances (fridge never quite right since Ike, dishwasher died about a month ago, and the oven has started acting weird – first hint of that was while cooking the Thanksgiving turkey). But hey, those GE applainces all lasted over 23 years - pretty impressive. Kitchen Rennovation Scrapbook Page
13 Dec 08 Rochester Minnesota and the Mayo Clinic The Mayo Clinic is a different kind of place. The whole city of Rochester is, in fact. I have never exoerienced such a can-do atmosphere in my life. Anything at all you may need - they can handle it. Anything that you may like that you don't see on the menu? It was cold as hell, but such a refreshing coolness. Amazing people with amazing beliefs do amazing things. Dad's renowned surgeon even gave us a ride to our hotel one day after she came up to check on dad on a Saturday!
11 Dec 08 Snow in Seabrook!!! On the verge of my departure to a much cooler climate with hopes of snow, a winter storm slams into Houston. With so much to do and an early flight, I debate heading in town anyway to see the snow. Hurrying around the house, I pop outside to take the trash out and what do I see to my amazement? Snow.... and a lot of it! I begin jumping around much like a twelve year old, screaming, "It's snowing, it's snowing!" to the delight of my neighbors who have already made the jubilant discovery. Saved from my dangerous drive in town, we spend the next four or so hours playing in the snow, throwing snow balls, storing away small snowmen in the freezer, and taking pictures of absolutely every thing in my yard and my neighbor's with snow on it.
Thanksgiving 08 A drubbing in more ways than one... Thanksgiving brought us some sad news that feel is only an opportunity for God's favor. With a somber effect on the holiday, I first met dad in Austin for the game - of which the Ags were sorely beat. Found this amazing sign in Austin gracing the side of a men's hair salon, named Sexy Scissors. I was so excited it was actually lit after the game for my photo op. Thanksgiving was in Seabrook this year, so we headed back and out to Galveston before everyone else got there. In the daylight, it was even more like Katrina - the damage on the north side of the island was just amazing. But we also went to the east jetty and the amount of washed up crap was humbling. And there were fishermen right alongside the debris. You are dealt a blow - whether physically, mentally, or geographically - and you just keep on living.
22 Nov 08 NASA 50th Anniversary Gala The gala had been rescheduled due to the damage Galveston received from Ike. There are still boats laying around in odd places and plenty of blue tarps here in Seabrook, but unlike I originally thought, life is for the most part normal where I live. Upon arrival in Galveston, I see a boat named Sassy on the side of 60th street - okay... that's not quite the same as a boat in a marina. But I head to my gala. The convention center is decked out and you would never know what state the island was in by what ws going on there. Probably 3000 people - hadn't expected that - beautiful views of the ocean, it was nice. The caterers were struggling at best... they could not keep food on the tables, and the drink lines were ridiculously long, I never even got a buzz going. What I realized later that there probably were no caterers left and this was several businesses trying to pull this off for the sake of the island. When I left the gala, I went for a drive and was stunned how bad the island was still. Driving around in the dark, I did not get the full effect - but I was greeted with a sign still advertising free food and water, a dark and dead downtown, piles of molding garbage, and a couple of characters loittering in the dark doorways of closed shop fronts. And Dickens on The Strand was only a couple of weeks away. I was glad to give the island some business, but very sad and in awe of its Katrina state.
xx Nov 08 Material Dilemma Moving to the wine cellar (waiting for Christmas break to do the kitchen counters), I have bought several different bead boards and a rainbow of stains. I had originally wanted to do a raw interior matching the oak barrels and wine crates but thought that might not go with the rich deco look of my living room. Not liking any of the stained bead board, I put that decision aside and was sitting in the floor debating how to do the floor. I called dad to ask his opinion about gluing directly to the cool concrete floor and he mentioned we had some old wood flooring from the Lancaster House. Interesting as that was, a light bulb went off, and I reached under the couch to retrieve some of my unused floor boards… wow, seamless – how perfect. So at least I have decided on the floor.
xx Nov 08 Home Depot Expo and a bunch of new ideas... Deciding on a sink is still ongoing – I want it shiny stainless and a drop-in – not an easy thing to find. Or I could go with a farmhouse stainless sink. A single bowl allows more clearance. I went to Dallas for the Nascar race and made a stop at Home Depot Expo since ours in Houston had closed down years ago. Saw a new sink there that I originally did not think would work with my retro white subway tile – but mom said it would be hot. It is a SilGranit sink made of 90% granite and 10% silicone – you basically can do nothing to hurt it! The best part about this one is that it was a single bowl and the drain was on the right side… leaving ample room for my pull-out trash can. So, add that to the great sink debate! I also bought my green glass tile (it was on sale) and found a slew of new ideas for custom cabinet features. I even found a glass door I think I want to use for the wine cellar doors!
Oct/Nov 08 Kitchen Updates I have started building some of the kitchen updates. Looking for storage solutions, I have realized I can do some minor mods and make the kitchen very updated without a complete remodel. It started with a pull-out trash can under the sink. I have never been happy with my unfinished window over the sink – so I build cabinets (more so shelves - I wanted the openness) on either side. I designed the shelves so that my fruit crate art would fit nicely in each shelf. I chose not to put shaker trim on the sides with poplar wood to keep it simple since there is so much already going on in the kitchen. With these shelves in place, I was able to run a twelve inch wide shelf across the top providing a lot more shelf space than the wimpy glass shelf that was there. A trim board under the shelf to give it support finishes the window completely. An addition of a wine rack under the right cabinet, along with relocating and building a custom wine glass rack that fits under the corner cabinet, and converting one small cabinet that accessed a blind corner into another wine rack gives the kitchen some serious modern updates with little effort.
xx Oct 08 An Old Toy and a new Cotton Bowl Canton was first on the to-do list. Found tons of good stuff, new ideas, and an old toy from my childhood. He wanted too much money for it, so I settled for a picture. The State Fair always brings us a new butter scuplture and the annual Red River Rivalry. But as we enter the Texas OU game, I notice things are different... drastically different - yet with homage to even recent history. The Cotton Bowl has undergone major rennovations and we actually watch the Sooners go down from seats that never existed before! It was surreal sitting in the south endzone upper deck. We made sure the parade of exiting Sooners turned out the lights!
27 September 08 Hurricane Ike xxx
Sep 08 Wine Cellar Status So… I have gutted the wine cellar and - in the process, morphed the plans. The new design renders the area directly behind the first stair unuseable. But that wasted space will make an AWESOME drawer to tuck away my shoes. That is the lone good thing with taking more time - you find more ideas. However the bathroom walls are still undone after how many years? But good news - I have decided on a texture… And my approach (mud) buys more time to settle on the paint color since the mud is a nice neutral color.
Aug/Sep 08 In the Blind... Looking for a new sink base cabinet, I found a neat blind cabinet that has two lazy susans that sits on a shelf instead of being mounted on a pole. The last susans were one of the few really well made items in the store and it inspired me. Unfortunately, I later realize my current cabinet has a cylindrical wall - so I will need to do a bit more demo/prep work than originally planned. I also had a bit of an epiphany with the green glass tile. I had wanted to integrate some kind of green glass on the backsplash to give the subway tile mom gave me a fresh and updated look. Obviously mosaics are everywhere and that is the path I was on until I went to a tile store and picked up a sample board of the glass tile. Same manufacturer as my subway tile – DalTile – and it comes in different sizes! So I am picking out the color using the medium squares when I realize there is a subway tile size! How hot will that be running a row of that along the backsplash!?! I am trying to make sure everything I do will last a while – and mosaic is seemingly already dated to me. This should make for a classic, timeless look – yet add a touch of the modern high end.
20 August 08 Bristol Broken Dreams I was unable to join my dad and our good friend Don on their monster roadtrip to Bristol Motor Speedway. Of course, I did my best to be there in spirit by compiling a long list of roadside attractions that I am so famous for pointing out from the backseat - in fact, they won't let me stop at the state lines any more to pick up propoganda. The Catsup Bottle Water Tower on the way to Indy started this whole thing (you can read about that below). I took a great bit of time compiling the list and mapping it out so that they would have the necessary tools to find each curious piece of roadside nostalgia. Clearly, one stood out above all the others - the Airplane Gas Station in Powell. And despite my efforts, I had to do some real-time navigation to get the boys there. I am at work when I receive the call... "we can't find it". Well, where are you? Now, I have a crude map and no recent photos of said gas station - so I am describing what highways I think they need to be on and crossing. It is clear they have been right past it - so I pull up Google Maps to make sure the thing is still there. Yep, there it is - and indeed it is NOT down an alternate road, it should be RIGHT THERE. How could they not notice it as they drove by??? They had turned around per my instructions and about that time you could hear it all go down in the car - they had found it! Dad was asking Don how he could of missed that - and Don was asking Dad how he could of when it was on his side of the car. I almost felt like I was there for a minute. Turns out, they were looking for something more like the painted up image on the website and the old photo I had found. They got out, took a handful of pictutres, and admired it. The old filling station was built in 1929 when gas stations were looking for outlandish ways to attract the cautious consumer in the downturned economy. Anyway, these nuggets of roadside nostalgia are a dying breed and the place has a cool history. Please send a donation to help them out - and you get a cool shirt. I hope I get to visit some day!
Aug 08 A Hole in the wall With 20+ bottles of wine on the counter and more in the pantry I was finally forced to find a storage solution. There is a great show on DIY called wasted Spaces. This cute, yet highly talented, carpenter finds wasted space in your house and puts it to amazing use. He made a desk area under someone’s stairs. Well I have a bathroom under part of my stairs but the rest of the area (off the living room) would make a fantastic wine cellar that could still accommodate 75+ bottles. I knocked my first hole in the wall to take a peek and after seeing the space would work, started cutting the hole out.
08 August 08 Olympics Opening Ceremony xxx
Jul/Aug 08 Teak Fest xxx
6 June 08 New Japanese Module In the final assembly stages of the ISS, it has amazed me how quickly we are approaching the end. What seemed like forever a while back is just around the corner - I mentioned that below. And now, a flight I have worked on for almost eight years is happening. Attached to the station is a brand new module - Kibo (the word hope in Japanese). It is the largest one so far with amazing space inside for experiments, it's own high tech airlock that can actually spit out external payloads, and its very own robotic arm. All of which have given me my several opportunities to travel to Japan. Today we removed a smaller logistics module from its temporary spot on one of the Nodes to its permanent home on the new Japanese Module. This required reinstalling controllers in the hatchway, unbolting and unlatching (my hardware), maneuvering it with the Space Station's robotic arm to the new location, and again latching and bolting down. All of this hardware that I work on that has operated phenominally throughout the assembly process - every time we attach a new module and even each time we send up one of our cargo transfer modules in the Space Shuttle. Four latches and sixteen powered bolts... There is still more cool Japanese hardware to fly... but the assembly time is wanning in the shadow of a soon to be retired space shuttle. The picture (click on it for the full size one - you should know the drill by now) shows the Space Shuttle ready to dock to ISS (always a pretty view), pulling Kibo out of the Space Shuttle, and kibo in close proximity to its docking port. The round thing in the bottom right is the Common Berthing Mechanism (CBM) which includes my hardware I was talking about.
2 June 08 What the hell is that? An amazing shot by the crew of STS-124 upon approach to the International Space Station. I was a bit surprised when I looked at the approach shots... there was this crazy looking thing where there is normally a Russian spacecraft. And then I remembered... we have entered into a new era of the ISS. Additional cargo vehicles bringing supplies to the space station. The one at the top of this photo has a unique solar array X configuration. This is the first look of the ATV (Autonomous Transfer Vehicle) from the European Space Agency docked to the station. Soon we will have the HTV (HII (that's 2 not two Is) Transfer Vehicle from the Japanese Space Agency) visiting as well. Wow, how far we have come - international (other than Russian) visiting vehicles to a spaceport! Click the photo for the full size image!
27 May 08 No Memorial Day Google Logo? I, like most of you who happened to notice, was stunned at the absence of a Memorial Day logo on Google this year. I assumed it was their continuously one-sided approach to politics that rendered some kind of a statement against the war. What I found out was that they have NEVER had a Memorial Day Google logo. In fact, last year was the first year the had a Veteran's Day logo and I can only speculate it was due to the considerable uproar regarding the lack of a Memorial Day logo last year.
Google defended their decision last year around this time to let Veterans Day and Memorial Day pass without a special logo,
saying they were trying to be respectful. "Google’s special logos tend to be lighthearted and often scientific in nature,"
spokeswoman Sunny Gettinger said in an e-mailed statement. "We do not believe we can
convey the appropriate somber tone through this medium to mark holidays like Memorial Day."
Interesting enough... scientific in nature makes sense from a techie company. Lighthearted certainly, because they always ruin EVERY space related logo with martians. But it turns out the logos are rather random in their own right. About the only ones run EVERY year are New Year's (Chinese and American), St. Patrick's Day, Earth Day, Mother's Day, Father's Day, 4th of July, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and their ridiculously non-committal Season's Greetings doodles. Even Valentine's and MLK Day is random at best... so much for my liberal leaning theory! Although, I must note that Easter has pretty much dissappeared. The rest are made of celebrations of artists, musicians, those scientific ones they so mentioned (like Venus transit or an anniversary of an invention), special events (like Olympics and Nobel Prize centennial Awards Ceremony), significant events (like anniversaries for a moon landing, 100 years of flight, or the X Prize winner), and a few random holidays for the ground hog or another nation. One exception there is the Persian New Year - not sure why that one is an every year occurrence now... There are about twenty a year on average - here is a ridiculous spreadsheet I made. I would love to know how they pick them... maybe in staff meeting depending on how good the illustration was. The logos to the left are a few of the best suggestions that were created last year in the uproar. Let's hope their lightheartedness prevents Hallowwen from turning into a Fall festival logo!
20 May 08 Too much red fabric in the rafters... After another stunning performance in Game 5 in Detroit, Marty Turco finally beat the Joe Lewis Arena voodoo and pulled one out for the Stars. They were attacking and checking and looked like they had lost the funk that was present in the first two games. The last thing any Red Wing wanted was to go back to Dallas... the punishment from our hits takes it toll later in the series and I had every expectation that I would still get to go to a playoff game this year. Should have gone last Sunday... what was I thinking? Well, that first two game funk returned for two periods last night - would have been a whole other game had we come out like we played in the third period. We came up two legs of an octopus short to advance to the Stanley Cup Finals. Too bad it takes more than eight wins to skate the Cup these days...
15 May 08 Dallas Stars deliver a punch! Coming off the amazing Stars wins over the defending Cup Champions and the industry wide favorite to win it all, I have been dissappointed in the Stars performance against the Red Wings. Especially after the investment I have made - I mean that five and half hour marathon comes with emotional ties! Well - down three to none, the Stars delivered an amazing (yet familiar) performance to pull one out in Dallas. Now we head to Detroit where the octupii will continue to hit the ice. Can they do it?
The artist is Rob Ullman and his amazing artwork can be found here!
20 Apr 08 Finally! Danica wins! Let's hope it is a more common occurrence now! I was intrigued by the fact it happened in Motegi in Japan - which had I planned it better, I could've gone to arace there on one of my trips. It was also her previous highest finish. With all the ads in various media congratulating her, I was a little pissed off that it took until May 19th (as a precurosr to Indy) to get her on the cover of SI!!! Are all Indy (IRL) trophys the size of the Borg-Warner Trophy??? Shouldn't the Indy 500 trophy be a little bigger?
18 Apr 08 Alabama Iron I have always had a fascination with train cars... mind you, not locomotives. I like the cars and have a fantasy of jumping a train one day and going down the track a bit. But my recent fascination with the little Marx tin train cars that I am putting on my birdhouses has heightened my interest. So, on my last business trip to Huntsville Alabama I hunted out their Railroad Museum. It was closed when I went, but you can walk around fairly freely (I am sure I would have been scolded had there been someone there) and check out all the cars they had acquired. It appeared that some, of the silver cars were Amtrak cars (which looked liked from the design they had been acquired from the older railroad lines). I was pleased with the state of disrepair on the cars they had acquired to restore - makes for WAY better pictures. I was also intrigued by the Do Not Hump stamped on several cars. Well, I have a friend who actually works in a train yard, so of course I got the whole story there. As I had assumed, some cars you just ram to connect - Dining cars and the likes don't like that so much because you could break everything inside by doing so. So no humping here! Whooop! As for my fantasy... my friend says she can totally hook me up on that lifelong dream. Should I take a napsack?
28 Mar 08 Spring has Sprung! Despite a few cold days finding their way back, everything is blooming again! Even the annual Pogtato vine... guess it never got cold enough to completely die off. And with the entrance of spring, has come a large number of my clammy little friends. In fact, I was sitting in the bath tub one day and looked up to see something staring out at me from between the birdhouse and shampoo bottles... a little brown frog! I rescued him, half naked I might add, and took him outside where surely he had friends and family waiting for him.
To see the Texas Passion Flower up close, click here!
25 Feb 08 Woodpeckers are nesting in my half dead tree! With a visit from a tree trimmer pending, I made a sign identifying my half dead tree in the front as a woodpecker habitat. They have been out there pecking and tossing little bits of wood out of the tree constantly to ready the nest. They like this tree, as they have nested here in the past - unfortunately, the old branch was so burrowed out it finally fell. So now they ae lower on that branch creating a new home. I talk to them, and they come out and look at me to accept my praise.
12 Apr 08 Yuri's Night Grows! An annual night out in a Clear Lake bar has turned into a full blown weekend this year since the anniversary of the first man in space falls on a Saturday. Coupled with the event, located at Space Center Houston this year, is a Motorcycle Rally and Texas Outlaw Music Festival. Let's hope this kind of celebration sticks!
1 Feb 08 Super Winners and Losers WINNER: 1972 Dolphins - They remain the only perfect team in the NFL's Super Bowl era. WINNER: Terminator The Sarah Conner Chronicles - The in-game advertisements where the terminators kicked the Fox robot's ass were awesome! The beat down came as such a surprise after watchig that guy do the same high knees and game prep all season. And of course the robot returned, indestructible like a terminator, apparently. LOSER: Belichick Fashion - What was up with the red hoodie? Where is championship gray? Interseting note: Belichick used to wear a red windbreaker when he was the Giants’ defensive coordinator (including their victories in Super Bowls XXI and XXV), to make it easier for the defensive captain to find him on the sidelines and read his signals. So the Giants are actually undefeated in the Super Bowl when Belichick wears red on the sidelines! WINNER: Wes Welker - Along with Kevin Faulk, Welker was the Patriot who showed up and delivered like it was a Super Bowl. His 11 catches for 103 yards weren't just impressive; they often were back-breaking numbers on crucial third downs. WINNER: Prison Break - Prison Break commercial was probably the all-around best, most original especially with T-bag flirting with a player’s ass! WINNER: Sobe Lizards - classic, especially the grill! Not sure what the girl had to do with anything, though... WINNER: Wanted - With that drop down on your knees and slide move, I am now a Jolie fan! LOSER: Go Daddy - while I did wait for the commercial break to end, I still got up and logged on… and then mumbled, "that sucked." WINNER: Clydesdale Rocky commercial - The only feel good commercial (other than the Declaration of Independence thing befor ethe ame. WINNER: Pepsi and JT - It was funny watching JT get racked three times - and then get whacked in the head by the HDTV someone else was sucking. WINNER: WALL-E - can't wait! LOSER: Coke Balloons - Whie it was entertaining to watch because I would love to be in the high rise when they all collided into the window, I am at a loss why Charlie Brown???
13 Dec 07 The end of professional women's sports in Houston With the recent move of the Houston Comets from Toyota center to Reliant Arena, women's professional sports is virtually dead in Houston. Since the sale of the Houston Comets, the organization has struggled and is dying a slow death. Expect that death to happen a little sooner. It has been years since I have gone to a Comet's game for the game. It is now a social event and a convention center is not the kind of venue I care to socialize in. As a season ticket holder form day one (that is 4-6 seats for the last 12 years), I may have to finally pull out. It is a sad day when paired with the immenent demise of the WPFL. Without the WPFL, there is no professional women's football. The existing leagues are, at best, just clubs. The WPFL trtied to do everything right, making sure the integrity was there - but without an NFL partnership or television, it has no chance to be what we wanted and what we played for minimal pay to build. Which brings us back to the WNBA... not sure why the game has lessened and the fans are no longer coming (even where the have winning seasons). Was it a novelty - only while fresh and new??? Is there still no place for professional women's sports?
10 Nov 07 Chac Mool and Kukulkan Cenote Diving - that is me in the middle! Prior to my first murky water dive, I had always envisioned myself cave diving. As you have read here, that first dive with no visiibilty pretty much ensured I might not ever be truly comfortable diving in general... Enter Cenotes! These amazing remnants of geological events along the Riviera Maya are sinkholes that have filled with fresh water during the ice age forming the largest interconnected cave and cavern system in the world. They are basically caves - but with windows to allow the sunlight to filter in and create stunning laser light shows. That little window of light allows the mind to know where "up" is and not get too disoriented. Of course the Cenotes are just the entrance to very serious cave diving with spooky signs that say you will die if you go past this point. But they allow a novice diver like myself to experience a bit of the extreme and provide an excellent crash course for bouyancy control! The stalagtites and stalagmites ensure that!!! In fact they were somewhat hesitant to write down that I had only had seven dives (includes five which were cert dives). I was quite nervous still and had almost decided not to go that morning. On the way down the bumpy jungle road, our guide had briefed us on our signals and how cavern diving is different w.r.t. air management -1/3 in, 1/3 out, 1/3 reserve. If you had less than 2/3 at the deciding point, you had to go back - preventing the other paid participants from making the complete loop. I had also querrierd my guide about how small of areas I would be going through. He held his hands about 20 inches apart and I just assumed he had misunderstood my question. He had not... and forced to perform, I reached a new level in my diving abilities and comfort. Although, I must say the hike to the "hole" with all the gear wore me out! Not to mention... since the caverns are so cold, we had to wear 5 mil wetsuits - which quite honestly I can not move in! The route into the caverns can be narrow climbs down slick rock too. Also saw the haloclines - this is where salt water and fresh water meet each other and turn the water fuzzy (Yucatan is basically a sponge and soaks up the salt water from the ocean). All in all, this was the most amazing dive I may ever do! Cool factor of 13 on a scale from 1 to 10!
Chac Mool Cenote Map Kukulkan Cenote Map
05 Nov 07 Are you kidding me? What a view! It almost looks sci-fi... but this shit is real people! With P6 relocated, repaired, and redoployed, we have only one more array to install. That will come on 15A late next year. Before and after that we will still be adding more international modules (much like the Italian Node 2 we installed this flight) for our partner countries to conduct experiments in. I am busy writing the procedures to install a new toilet on the US side of the space station that will allow six crew to live on the space station. It is made of the same components that the toilet on the Russian side of the space station is made of - however, we are stuffing everything inside a rack pretty much the size of a port-a-potty. Some impressive design to say the least!
15 Oct 07 May I have this dance? Absolutely wonderful video of an amazing bird. Snowball is a medium sulphur crested Eleanora cockatoo and he loves to dance and sing. He loves the Back Street Boys. No one taught Snowball to dance...he just heard this song and suddenly felt like dancing. When he's really in the mood, he dances and sings. And at the end of the performance he takes a bow or two!! One does have to ask why on earth someone was actually playing the Backstreet Boys though....
13 Aug 07 Refreshing Frequency! Seems like forever since we had shuttle flights within a couple of months of each other... nice feeling again! You can see the Spacehab module which provides additional stowage, the Shuttle arm, and the International Space Station hardware to be installed. This view really reminds that the Space shuttle is such an amazing spacecraft and will be missed dearly once retired.
Amazing NASA video of a comet's tail getting ripped off!
6 Aug 07 Break a leg Barry, really! As you inch (and I do mean innnnnch) closer to "your" record, I can only hope you actually break your leg, forbidding you to break tat hallowed record with your juiced up stats. And now there is news of your swing being assisted during the game (not practice)! Obviously, technology over the years has allowed us to perform better and faster, but I don't consider using body armor to crowd the plate reaching far more outside pitches and elbow armor that locks in place as your swing is extended creating more power technology advances. That is just plain cheating. But then, you are good at that, aren't you? Said body armour might also explain why he did not participate in the Hoe Run Derby this year... In any case, just get it over with so you can (to quote an SI writer) began your fade away. Perhaps the only consolation to you getting 756* is that you will most certainly be stripped of the title once found guilty of what we all know you did. I mean really, the stats paint a picture worth a thousand words... As a back up measure since we all know how courts can mysteriously find the guilty celeb innocent, we have A Rod to trust in. He is on a quicker pace at age 32 to break the record without the clear and the cream!
29 Jun 07 Biggio joins 3000 Hit Club! Biggio is what is NOT wrong with baseball. The guys that play hard for ONE TEAM and never quit. I watched the Astros win the other night (after his 3002nd hit was made ONLY because he ran it out and BEAT the throw. Had he not HUSTLED, we would have never had the chance for that walk-off grand slam! Even when he hits a pop-up fly and he is 99.99999999% out, he still RUNS IT OUT!
6 Jun 07 The ugliest Houston Unis Ever? While extremely dissappointed Houston made two appearances for not even the worst Houston uniforms ever, some of these pics are a riot and leave you thinking "Just what was that equipment manager thinking"? Not to mention they haver their facts wrong! At least one if not both of our Rockets’ titles were won in the old red and yellow. And while we are on the subject of the Rockets uni design changes… the new ones are far worse than any of the ones in the past. Who allows a movie set designer to design the logo for a basketball team? That stupid lopsided R rocket would never fly! Trust me… I AM a rocket scientist! And this just in... the orbit in the newest logo is actually supposed to form an H. Isn't that something... all these years as logo dependent as I am, I never noticed! Speaking of Houston Unis… this is, albeit old, a funny read theorizing the link between the unsuccessful nature of Houston sports teams in direct relation to the ugliness of their unis. Even though, as you guess, I disagree with A LOT of it! Plus, the teeth were on the rocket were a nod to the Aeros logo at the time (the one we have since gone back to after a jet (what does that have to do with Houston) and then the hideous version) and the Astros… hello…? ASTROnauts!
29 May 07 New Addition to the Sitting Garden Mom bought me this really cool, AMAZINGLY large water feature for my yard. I had to load it on the way home from Memorial Day at Flint all by myself. Shoot - no problem. I will just put the tarp down and slide it up in the truck... I had previously packed a table and chairs in my truck with just enough room for it. So, I position the pot and start sliding it upward. Wow... kind of heavy (I rolled it over to the car) and it slips. Hmmm.... let's think about this a bit more! I stand there for a while, kind of wish that Hispanic guy would walk back by and contemplate my options. After a good bit of thought and no real workable options, I just squat and lift - and it slides right in! And the basin rides shotgun all the way to Houston. Of course I must go through similar antics when I get to Houston. I did successfully get the fountain out of the car without breaking it and rolled it ever so carefully over into the grass. But unpacking my car, I broke several things... and really - how does one shear off a bolt on a metal table with a tiny socket wrench??? I was terrified to move the damn fountain! Very carefully, I managed to maneuver it through the grass, around the stepping stones, through the gate, across the mosaic strewn ground of my sitting area and finally into the basin. Crazy thing is... it sits on another clay piece in the basin and getting them lined up to be level just might take a few months!
27 May 07 LADIES and Gentlemen... ... start your engines! For the first time in storied Indinanpolis 500 history, three women will start the Indy 500. In Danica's third year, we see Sarah Fisher returning to the IRL and a new name added to the list with Milka Duno.
23 May 07 Kids Love Blowie! Some days just bring pleasant surprises. My long time infatuation with logos and uniforms (I actually remember the first time a team came out wearing lycra football pants... it was like, whoa, what is this?) is fed daily by Uniwatch where the usually unnoticed becomes obsessive fodder. Today my even longer infatutuation with mascots merges with the uni fascination. Meet the Columbia Blowfish from a summer collegiate league. Quite possibly the greatest mascot and logo of all time! And hey... Kids love Blowie! On the flipside with the worst mascots... an awesome blog. But none of those can be outdone by this guy! Here is his story.
2 May 07 Live - Love - Laugh A last minute trip to Japan at the tail end of Cherry Blossom season provided an opportunity to just relax, sit back and enjoy the surroundings. The trip butted up against the very busy Japanese Golden Week and prevented a side trip to Kyoto. The Cherry Blossoms had not yet dropped all of their blooms - as they do, the petals float beautifully through the air with a gentle breeze helping find their destination. That same gentle breeze was relaxing. Staying out in the outer lying Tsukuba City where the JAXA Space Center is, also allowed much extra, needed sleep in exchange for the daily commute from Tokyo. I had opportunity to still spend some time in Tokyo and those details can be found on the scrapbook page linked below. Scrapbook Page for April in Japan
30 March 07 The Shuttle Has Landed! A new addition to the backyard. With the ensuing retirement of the shuttle, this arrival marks the official start of the "collect things Shuttle" movement. Hopefully, I am just kidding... But it gives me great pleasure to know she will always be with me. I will have to give her a name, probably - more on that later...
27 March 07 RIP Red Tips! The last of the Red Tips adorning my house have met their demise. I had been putting it off for quite some time becasue I knew once I cut them down, I would have one big ugly wall that would need hundreds of dollars of plants to cover. My neighbor was home from Iraq and pulled some bushes out at his house. Tax return money in the bank, I got motivated. I was just going to cut them down with the chainsaw... but somehow got a little too prideful and completely pulled them out. Whew... red tips rooted for eight years are stubborn! In addition to some traditional bluebonnets I planted since the bed is full sun, I found an Aggie Maroon Bluebonnet!
24 Mar 07 Just a Little Houston Rain... A good rain in Houston tends to flood the backyard. Okay... any rain in Houston tends to flood the backyard. I even get a nice littl ecreek running out to the front from the backyard - draining it off.
13 Mar 07 Two legends hit the trail... I am not sure I will even watch the women's basketball tournament this year. Texas Tech women had a losing record under the new head coach brought in after Marsha Sharp's retirement. For the first time in the history of the women's tournament, the Texas women will be absent for the second consecutive year. And... Louisiana Tech, a long time women's basketball juggernaut (even though they are in a subpar conference) will be missing from this year's tournament. Now, Tennessee is the ONLY school that has been in all of the 26 tournaments. Of course, this just symbolizes parity and is probably really good for the sport. But if that is true, why have I become completely disinterested in the sport? I miss the days that Tennessee, Texas, La Tech, and Texas Tech ruled the roost. So it is with great sadness to see the second winningest coach in collegiate basketball (men or women) with 900 wins retire. Much like the retirement of Marsha Sharp (which I had to agree with - her effectivity was gone), and era ends. Jody Conradt put women's basketball on the map. And now today, we lose another piece of history. It is sad to see an icon that so defined the Vegas Strip for so many years go. I know, I know... I have said it before - my nostalgia is just a result of me getting older. But I was surprised to see it was Boyd himself who made the decision and is building a new mega resort in the same spot. Good news is that the sign should be restored to its original state (pointed letters from the 50s as above) and will be a part of the neon museum. Watch the videos of the implosion - it was done in true Las Vegas style. Unlike Jody's quiet exit in the second round of the conference tournament... the Stardust went out with a bang! Stardust Implosion complete with fireworks Stardust Implosion from the side
28 Feb 07 It's what's on the inside that counts! Feeling much better and no longer under the weather, I took my last day in Moscow off and ventured out to the Kremlin to see the incredible cathedrals hidden within its walls, Red Square, and St. Basil's Cathedral. As mentioned before St. Basil's was covered in fresh new paint - which to me made it completely unappealing from the outside. But inside it houses the most enchanting paint on the walls of the halls adjoining the many tiny chapels, each with an ornate iconostasis. All but the Assumption Cathedral within the Kremlin walls had a fresh coat of white paint. A little more appealing because it reflects the golden riches that Ivan the Terrible so wanted to flaunt. But there in the middle of all the whitewash sat what is probably my favorite place on this earth in the same old shell I remember it in. It is said that most churches in Russia were far less beautiful outside than on the inside to encourage entry into the churches where the true reward could be found. This concept may be foreign to you if you have never been inside a Russian Cathedral - you probably think they are quite beautiful on the outside. But they are indeed far more beautiful on the inside. Every inch of the interior of the Assumption is covered with Frescos, Icons, and an Iconostasis. I find it to be some of the most beautiful art ever created. As I entered the Assumption on that cold day, I found that complete peace that I had found so many years ago. The shear beauty will absolutely take your breath away. As for the overall experience that day - there could not have been a better way to end my trip. Even as I wandered around, I was lucky to see the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier - with their high-stepping formal march of years gone by. The Kremlin is a special place. And when all of the city around it tries to get rid of the communist past, The Kremlin holds it up in the light and cherishes the history that made them who they are. Scrapbook Album from My Return to Moscow The Kremlin site
27 Feb 07 Cotton Bowl Sells Out Sad news today from the homefront. The Cotton Bowl organizers voted to approve the move form the historic Cotton Bowl Stadium at Fair Park. And so with this vote, for me the Cotton Bowl is dead. Another tragedy of abusing the talent and passion of college sports for high profits. There can be no Cotton Bowl held in any another location... and actually, it won't really be the Cotton Bowl anyway - it will be the "Whoever the board sells out to" Bowl. This new bowl formerly known as The Cotton Bowl will just turn into another lame bowl like those in Houston and will probably be defunct a year or two. Have we not learned ANYTHING from the grand daddy of them all? I will save my money and head to the Rose Bowl where they have enough class to stand for something. Same goes for the Texas OU game if the State Fair loses that one too - I won't go, I will have to suffice on the fond memories of yesteryear. Long live the Southwest Conference!
24 Feb 07 A Russian Sun Sets As I watch from my apartment the sun set over one of the Stalin skyscrapers, I reflect on the day. A day of realizations… I thought I could come back and pick up that life where I left it off. Not that there wasn’t closure, anything unlived, or even anything to pick up… just the thought of a place and time that was so special. Like the small West Texas town I grew up in, you can go back and visit during the reunion – but you can never really go back. It is a special part, an integral part of who you have become and as much as you try to pull from those memories, you can not relive it. I have absolutely no recollection of the winter being so bitter, so miserable, so harsh – yet, that is what I was faced with today. And that cold burst of reality is what made me realize it is in the past. While it is the same place and so much is the same, it is nothing like that place I knew. The familiarities, even the ones you forget until you see or hear them again walking down the street or riding the metro, can’t hide the massive change. And it’s not just the scaffolding of improvement on every building, the new paint on the old bricks of the Kremlin and St. Basil’s (or are those new bricks?), the relocation of the mammoth and quite famous Worker and Collective Farm Girl Statue from the Exhibition Park to the top of a shopping mall, for God’s sake. Fact is, I am just as changed. I have had several coats of paint, lost things I had great pride of, and weathered the changing world… trying to stay true to my being while adapting, yet holding onto those things so dear to me. It’s the same place, but it’s also a different place. And trying to make it the same place, I realized that it was a difference place. With that sun, a piece of my life set and I was sad to see it go, realizing it could from now on only be memories. Life is for living, not reliving.
29 Jan 07 Thank you Gladys from Austin! Hilarious clip from the Ellen show - 88 year old Gladys from Austin isn't afraid to say it! click the picture of Ellen laughing to go to the video.
22 Jan 07 League-wide Jersey Templates Logo creep has hit an all-time high. You are probably completely unaware... they have snuck their way into your product buying mind over the years to the point it may seem natural to you. Well, not me! Let it be known, I will NEVER purchase another thing because I saw it in a commercial, or on a turnstile, or because every player is wearing it! HAVING YOUR LOGO FORCE-FED DOWN MY THROAT WILL NOT MAKE ME THINK OF YOU FIRST WHEN SELECTING A BRAND... I have long since been an opponent of naming stadiums and arenas... with the exception of things that make sense, like Coors Field in Denver. When the new Texas Rangers ballpark was built I gave them kudos for naming their ballpark "The Ballpark at Arlington" - very classy! But as one of the last teams to go sickingly commercial, even they finally sold out as it is now Ameriquest Field. If only the Houston Astros organization would have named their ballpark The "Ballpark at Union Station" instead of Enron Field. What the hell did Enron have to sell to me, an individual consumer, anyway?!? One big crooked tax write-off later... It all started with the bowl games (Rose Bowl excluded). The Cotton Bowl became the Mobil Cotton Bowl and The Sugar Bowl became the Nokia Sugar Bowl and other Bowls lost their fruit (or other such item that could fit in a bowl) monikers completely. I praised Chick-fil-A for maintaining the Peach on their logo... until this year. This year there was no Peach Bowl, only a Chick-fil-A Bowl. But they have no problem cashing in on the peachbowl.com moniker if you are searching on Yahoo. And if you check out the history page, about half way down they start talking about the Peach Bowl. They also fail with the identity of previous Peach Bowls by referring to the Chick-fil-A Bowl as the ninth oldest bowl game… there was no Chick-fil-A in 1968.
Nascar does this too – when the new sponsor refers to older Winston Cup Champions, they are now called Nextel Cup Champions. How has sponsorship been able to back track and place its name on events that took place before you could even buy their product??? Do you money-grubbing people really think that I am going to support your geed by removing all that is unique about sports. We name things after what they are... the Peach Bowl for example, is in Atlanta - peaches, Georgia, get it? Do you know where the American Airlines Arena is? Of course not, and it's not in Dallas... that would be the American Airlines Center! At least the local news guys don't abide by the commercialization... when the Rockets were still playing in the Compaq Center (formerly known as the Summit), they called it the laptop to debunk the renaming rights. And when Enron fell by the wayside, we got a new ballpark - Minute Maid Park and they put oranges in the home run train (remember, it is at Union station) - is there even a Minute Maid distributor in Houston - but local media and the likes all call it the Juice Box.
My dad and I used to laugh when we would find a ridiculous new place for an ad in the sports world (like the scorers table at a basketball game or on the turnstiles as you enter a game). In the last week I have become aware of another trend I had no idea about. The greatest logo creep of all... and I suppose I have my beloved NASCAR to thank for this. A few years back when Dodge returned to Cup racing, we noticed all the Dodge cars had the same number font with a unique three streaks blazing off. And then the DEI cars all had a familiar looking "E" and "3" stripes after Dale died. Actually, I can probably go back even farther for the roots of this newest logo creep… when the IRL first hit the scene, both Firestone and Goodyear made Indy tires (Goodyear no longer does, as one can assume they were getting outsold by Firestone and moved to Nascar) – and you could tell from a distance what tires the guy was one because the Firestones had white lettering and the Goodyears had yellow lettering.
So last week I was checking out Uniwatch (see below) and noticed that Adidas has a new contract with the WNBA for their jerseys. Okay, no big deal – but reading further, it states that they will be redesigning WNBA secondary team logos… what? Turns out the deal includes a league-wide template. So all jerseys will be the same design with the city name on the front for the away uniforms. This kills team individuality (especially when you redesign logos). So who cares you say… it is hardly even a sport, they need the money to survive. Well, have you noticed that really awful college football jersey with the stripe running across the back? It is out of place and often highlights that grotesque color the school has incorporated into their branding. This is Nike’s attempt to stand out in the world where each school can still choose what brand of jersey they want. I guess, the big logo up on the collar isn’t enough... (I even saw a sweater that Bob Knight had on the other day that you could not even see the Texas Tech logo for the O’Reilly logo – wait, did they rename the United Spirit Arena in Lubbock for O’Reilly Auto Parts, or is that just a sub endorsement?) That ridiculous stripe has even bled over into basketball as evidenced in the Paul Lukas article documenting his general beef with Nike. So, in a sport where they can not buy their way into a league-wide template, they try stand out the most… by whatever means, like making the ugliest, most freaked out uniforms. And we all sit around and talk about those ugly ass uniforms so-in-so had on.
[Note to Nike: I just thought it was Oregon’s doing, not some master plan… I didn’t even realize Nike made those crazy unis – so it didn’t work!] So... are thw Hawaii uniforms designed by Nike???
Back to buying your way into a league-template… so it turns out Reebok has designed completely new NHL jerseys for next year that are a slimmer fit and are uniform. They will all have the same stretch panel patterns which may preclude use of current designs. It was even rumored that the horizontal hemline striping would be gone and jerseys would be tucked in… And what about the lace-ups? Paul Lukas raised quite a stink, along with many others, regarding a graphic blueprint being imposed and I believe someone listened. Contrary to popular belief, the new team jerseys were not unveiled today. So, it remains unclear how many teams will have to change their look to make the jerseys work. However, to quote Paul Lukas, “While it remains to be seen how many teams will adhere to their classic looks, Uni Watch has confirmed that small visual signifiers are not being standardized out of existence. For example, the Blackhawks' jersey logo will still be chain-stitched, the Red Wings will still use vertically arched nameplate lettering, and the Rangers can still use a lace-up collar." However… let this be a warning of things to come.
17 Jan 07 Now That's Hot! I found some very cool photos of the Sun. So cool, in fact, that I have made a web page just to look at them. There are four images in particular taken by the SOHO Extreme ultraviolet Imaging Telescope (EIT) taken at several wavelengths, showing solar material at different temperatures. The yellow image taken at 284 Angstrom shows material at 2 million degrees Kelvin. Now, keep in mind that zero degrees Celsius (32 degrees Farenheit) is equal to 273 Kelvin! So, 2 million Kelvin is over 3-1/2 million degrees farenheit. Click here to see my web page in full motion!
8 Jan 07 A National Championship? 19:08 - I looked up to see the Ohio State band in a crossing formation on the way to a script Ohio and a quite elaborate dotting of the "i"! Wow, that was like the Aggie Band and Longhorn Band had a love child.
19:26 - Is this even a real bowl game? An added feature to the bowl season of these days is attempting to figure out what the nobodycares.com bowl used to be... tangerine, peach, sun. Remember those days? Bowls were named after things you could put in a bowl. And then someone got cute and named the Cotton Bowl, a play on words for the term used for a bloom of cotton. Even as the new age began, Tostitos Bowl still worked because they did fit in a bowl afterall. I was very pleased with Chick-Fil-A because they maintained the Peach part of their bowl... until this year. :/ So... long live The Rose Bowl "presented by Citi"!
19:30 - I think this IS the Tostitos Bowl... I hate the BCS. Why can't they just call it the Tostitos Bowl? This isn't a championship game.
19:34 - Touchdown Ohio State on the return. So much for 51 days off since Ohio State last played a footbal game!
19:42 - Touchdown Florida. I though defense wins games...
20:27 - Thank goodness Ohio scored again. I was becoming slightlymore interested in my dinner than the game... feasting on some homeade chicken soup (as the temperature drops outside), I realize that my saltine is a tad smaller than it used to be. Doing a search on Yahoo to settle my curiosity, I find a recipe for seasoned saltines. Really? What would that be any good for - the whole point of a saltine is no seasoning,just the perfect pallette (with a dab of butter) for your soup or chili. Mmmmm, chili - maybe next week.
20:41 - Still have not found the answer to my saltine question... although, I have found a new game that requires eating six saltines in 60 seconds.
20:56 - How many times are we going to see that Rock'em Sock'em commercial? We are up to at least five timesso far.
21:47 - I think Troy Smith should relinquish his #10 jersey...
21:48 - Holy crap... a Florida guy just made a tackle without a helmet!
22:11 - Late in the third quarter, first down Florida. I'm calling it! This ain't no Boise State!
5 Jan 07 A little nugget of SWC history... Turns out the Ford Mustang’s symbol came from an SMU grad who was one of the original designers (which is why it looks exactly the same as the SMU Mustang, just runnining in the other direction). I learned this from a fun website obsessed with athletics aesthetics. So... there is someone other than me that notices these little things and has opinnions about them! Upon further examination of the volume on this website, I look into who this guy is. Turns out he started writing a similar column for the Village Voice and it caught on and he now writes the column for ESPN.com. The blog supplements his column. You can find out why the Steelers, Pirates, and Penguins all wear black and gold or if there is any connection between the G logos of the Green Bay Packers, Grambling, and Georgia (and the supporting data to back it all up!).
2 Jan 07 Oh... I guess it does! What a way to start off the year in sports - especially coming off that fantastic Texas Tech comeback to win the Insight Bowl in overtime! Robert Montgomery Knight gets win 880 to become the winningest coach in NCAA basketball history. Humbled by a ceremony in which he turned every credit back onto those who helped him get there - including an inspiring and quite unexpected tribute to Dick Vitale. Moving ceremony... just flat out moving. My favorite part was his face of satisfaction when they started playing My Way. He may have made mistakes, but he did it HIS way, and the fact that people recognized that moved him. And then... the Fiesta Bowl with giant killers from a blue football field! Of course when Boise State took a shocking, early two touchdown lead, you figured Zero U would come back. But Boise State handled All Day (Adrian) Peterson and shut down the run game. Forced to pass, OU managed to finally creep back into the game. A few late mistakes and one squirrelly quarterback later, OU managed to actually tie the game. Realizing there was still a minute 26 on the clock, I was relieved. Then comes that squirrelly quarterback... and Zero U runs an interception into the endzone for a touchdown. I am now disgusted that Zero U may actually win this game and ill, on the verge of throwing up. So Zabransky comes back out and they make a noble effort to get down the field. Next thing you know, there are seconds on the clock and it is 4th & 18 from the 50. Then comes a brilliant hook and lateral for the score with seven seconds left. Extra point is good and we head to overtime - at which point AD promptly runs directly to the end zone. Again, the stomach churns. Boise State takes their shot and nickles and dimes a first down. Then comes 4th & 2 from the five yard line - Zabransky went in motion and a defensive player took the shotgun snap and threw a touchdown. Wow! Okay... they can still get to the second overtime. Instead, a gutsy attempt to win the game with a two point conversion ensued. Zero U calls timeout and discussion among the tv commentators begins whether they may change on kick it. As if Boise State has already won the game, they are convinced that they have 'THE' play and start talking about the lack of a playoff game to give Boise state a chance at the National Title. Timeout is over and back to play... one more trick play and Ian Johnson scores the game winning two point conversion on a Statue of Liberty and then promptly asks his girlfriend to marry him on national television! Statue left! The highlights you missed if you fell asleep (minus the proposal)
22 Dec 06 Departing is such sweet sorrow... It is always sad when the shuttle leaves ISS, even for the Expedition crewmember headed home after six months. But it does provide beautiful, mind blowing photos during the fly around! A great view of the Space Shuttle's OMS pods and rear stabalizer and the most current view of the assembly of the Space Station. You can see the latest solar array free to rotate and track the sun and half of the first array in its temporary position retracted.
15 Dec 06 Room with a view It surprises me that in all the visits to the International Space Station that no one ever took this shot from the shuttle. Looking out one of the aft flight deck windows of the Space Shuttle, you can see the docking system, the Spacehab module behind that (for stowage of transfer cargo), the shuttle robotic arm on the right, the inspection boom on the left, and ISS bringing up the rear. On ISS you can see a permanent solar array (P4) on the right and the temporary P6 solar array which we will retract one wing of it so that the permanent solar array may rotate and track the sun without interfering with P6. The P6 solar array will later be removed from its current position and placed outboard of the permamnent P4 array. You can also see the rail car (Mobil Transporter - MT) near the permanent P4 array with the Space Station robotic arm attached, ready and waiting. Click the picture for a humongous version to stare at in wonder! After you click the photo, hold the mouse in the lower right corner of the photo until an icon appears - then click it and your browser will display the photo at full size.
11 Dec 06 We have liftoff! First night launch in four years... Assembly of the International Space Station will continue with the 12A.1 mission. Only a small truss piece is being added but the reconfigurations associated with the element will provide the space station more power, preparing it for later additions of science modules. This photo shows a unique vantage point of a space shot and a closeup of the space shuttle during the Roll Pitch Maneuver for tile inspection. Clicking the photo will give you a humongous photo if you view full size it is amazing (there is an icon in the lower right corner of the larger photo - if you click it, you can see the full size photo in your browser).
10 Dec 06 Oh when the Saints go Marching in... I was conflicted watching the Texans/Titans game today. I wanted the Texans to win without giving the Texans management a chance to say, "See, it's okay". Well, Vince was in the house - so the outcome was inevitable (or shall I say conVINCEble). David Carr is not a leader because he lacks confidence in himself and his team. And the Saints beat Dallas at the hands of Reggie Bush... When you have an opportunity to draft one of the greatness, you just f***ing take it! It should be noted here that Vince has six wins as a rookie starter which is equal to the number of wins the Texans have had in the last two years. I did feel some comfort in watching the game winning run by Vince knowing that... at last, Texans management has felt the gut wrenching ache that the entire family of Texans fans and Houstonions felt when the Texans drafted Mario (no offense to Mario... he does have more sacks than either Vince or Reggie...)!
22 Nov 06 A new Endeavour... or three, or six I watch the construction of the first highrise on Clear Lake. And I have been watching at nearby seemingly unrelated business closures and/or chnage of ownerships. I speculate - I wonder what it will be like, that lone beaming thumb sticking out. When I drove through Miami a month or so ago, I was astonished at the number of highrises under construction - at least ten! I keep wondering as I watch more business changes along Nasa Road One. As I drive over the Kemah bridge I think it looks kind of nice over there - something new on the horizon. It is not even half the size it will be, and it is big. I was in the Galleria area last weekend and I saw a lone highrise and it looked out of place, so tall and skinny, emaciated. I believe the Endeavour will be a bit thicker, not so sickly looking. But then, I realize Endeavour will not be alone. An article published in the paper identifies at least six of these highrises - with five being directly on Clear Lake. I look at the map and compare it to my own knowledge of what I drive by every day and I realize the map is wrong. And I notice a new business gone - almost over night, I think it will be a highrise. The photoshoped version of a current photograph with the finished Enedeavour in place is astounding and very real, obviously they have built one of these before. The Map
4 Nov 06 WPFL Championship Game With the realignment of the two conferences in he WPFL, the stage was set for a Texas Showdown. Roswell Georgia (who has no team nearby) submitted the best bid, so both teams with their fans and family set off for a battle. The game was not like that of past years. With a lot more at stake, Houston Energy already having a 3-peat and the Dallas Diamonds trying to claim their own 3-peat. No chance at an undefeated 3-peat like Houston claimed back in 2002 - because Houston Energy had snapped the Dallas Diamonds win streak before they were able to tie Houston's record professional win streak. The weekend came complete with Official WPFL CHampionship Game Shuttle, freebies from various sponsors, a brand new Holiday Inn with plasma televisions in each room, plenty of memorabilia, and the first ever WPFL All Pro Game. Unfortunately, after dominating the entire first half, Houston came up short late in the fourth quarter and lost by one touchdown. Check out the links below and support the best professional women's football league! I will post an update when the film montage of amazing plays and bone crushing hits makes the television set near you. A neat video the Dallas Diamonds put together about our rivalry Houston Energy website I am webmaster for WPFL website
31 Oct 06 One spook worth all the effort! I want to share Halloween with the kids. Make it special by being "in the spirit". And parents are usually pretty pleased at my efforts too. I have a bit of a reputation on my block.. I have one of those houses that always promises to be scary. It takes a bit to set it up, and I had my yearly "do I really want to do this" moments because I was short on time. But, decided to go ahead when no other promising plans surfaced. Six bags of $1.66 potting soil, some old fence boards, a collection of tombstones I have built/made over the years, $20 worth of candy, and a new $20 bag of bones that was almost a whole human body. Using two bags of soil for each grave, I made three "freshly dug" graves, placed the tombstones, and scattered the bones all over the graveyard. So simple and so quick! A little after 8pm, having tons of candy left from what seemed like a reduced flow of trick or treaters, I was sitting outside contemplating putting every thing away and calling it a night. Some kids across the street asked if I had any candy. Upon a yes, they made they way across the street and started up the driveway. I had gone inside to grab the candy and wait for their approach and was watching them come up. Those boys, fifth graders, stopped dead in their half way up the driveway. One of them got pretty spooked about the bones. They gathered together, mustered up the courage, and started back up the driveway. Still spooked, they all stood shaking at the door (not so much scared - but a liuttle spooked because of the one kid), each sticking his bag out for candy, and culminating with the one pulling up the rear by sticking his hands out to grab some candy and pretty much turning and running, leaving a few treats in his trail. And I even had my porch light ON this year! Priceless - and what fun for them later when they talked about that one house.
27 Oct 06 Game 5 in St. Louis Game 4 was rained out - and Dad was sitting on the second row behind the Cardinals dugout. Despite a promise that the storm would move through, the game never even started. Would my dad ever get to see a World Series game? The game gets rescheduled to Friday, and with a win by the Cardinals on Thursday sets up Game 5 with the possibility of St. Louis winning the series 4-1. After an emotional series of text messages the night of the rain delay and a logistical nightmare of a Game 5 on Friday, we are going! Of course, rain was in the forecast for Thursday night and Friday night. We assumed we would end up with tickets in the third deck since our ticket benefactor would probably use them since the game would be on a Friday. When we got in town (me witrhout a suitcase that I just knew I shouldn't check but had more than four ounces of very expensive hair product in it), our ticket benefactor told dad he had got the close tickets back and just dropped them, off at our hotel across from the ballpark. Dad decided to wait and see until we had them in our hand. Well, they were row D - so we laughed, "gee, fourth row..." Since I only had the clothes on my back, and it was 40 degrees at game time, we stopped off in the store and bought an overpriced WS06 hooded sweatshirt to keep me warm. I had even packed long underware to go under my jeans... and here I am with an eight inch hole in my jeans! I also filled out a credit card app to get a free blanket for my holey knee. Imagine our surprise when we rolled up into our section and saw the Row D was the first row behind the Cardinals dugout! A few minutes later, Stan the Man rolled up in a golf cart just right out in front of us. The game was the most fun baseball game I ever attended and I kept hoping it would last longer, even in the cold. Hell, I would have been okay even if it was ten degrees! We were on tv throughout the game and I got a solo shot in the ninth when I was leaning over on the dugout watching intently. Oddly enough, when they won I saw this flash of white to my left running out from the dugout and then we were sort of removed from the celebration. At the time I thought it was somewhat anticlimactic, but later realized I was just overwhelmed again. I could not even remember if that last out was a strikeout or a field play... My Photo Album Page
10 Sep 06 I have taken more showers in the last two weeks than I had in three years! I guess I should show you how it turned out. I have also done more tile. I had just planned to only do the area in front of the shower since there is no door and it will get wet. But decided I should go ahead and do that whole section that includes the toilet too. Then it looked so good, I had to go ahead and and do some in front of the tub. (I lucked out and found another good five boxes of tile at a different Home Depot - they have to be handpicked due to quality and color and sometimes I have to wait until the store gets a new shipment). I will probably finish the rest in front of the vanity too. The closet will have to wait because there is more effort to clear it out since the closet units are bolted to he wall.
8 Sep 06 90 miles from Cuba Six toed cats, Duval Crawl, chickens running around loose, southern most this, southern most that. You guessed it - Key West, my first visit. We drove from Ft. Lauderdale - too bad no one told me about that neat little turnpike that circumvents Miami... oh well, I always wanted to see ALL 412 streets of Highway 1! I don't know, the map made it look like it was just a jaunt down 45 through Houston... So, five and half (or so) hours later we finally make it to Key West. I expected a little more of the drive - I thought Highway 1 would be more like a causeway the whole way down, instead there were times that we could not even see water (except for the moat on either side of the road). I checked out Hemingway's house, the gardens were fabulous, and played with the six-toed cats. Took a seaplane to the Dry Tortugas. Did my first real open water dives on the barrier reef five miles south of Key West. I saw sharks, moon jellyfish, a lobster, a stingray, and sea urchins, not to mention some of the best live coral in the US. Check out the photo album page!
21 Aug 06 So, I hated my shower Really, I haven't used it in three years. I like baths better. But for quite a while, I have wanted to do something with it like slating in the floor. I finally got tired of looking ta the handful of glass blocks stacked in front and decided to make it happen. Building a glass block wall up, losing the door, and tiling the plastic drip pan. Hey, I know my limitations. The shower is upstairs - to install a new wooden drip pan to set my tile on is way too risky and could cause internal structural damage to my house. So, I will simply lay tile down in the plastic drip pan and build up a wall to set the end blocks on forming the doorway. Check out the progress.
20 Aug 06 I'm so dizzy... Well, I did it! Covered in doubt from dizzy spells caused by hyperventillation on all of my previous dives, I said a prayer and just relaxed. Even on my first descent, I was still uncomfortable, but was able to slow down my breathing. In the process, I gained confidence. In a lake just as murky if not more, I ascended and descended over and over, navigated with a compass (a real need in this lake!), checked out the bottom and a sunken Airstream camper. With each dive I became more and more comfortable. And with the controlled breathing, the dizziness subsided and I was able to contiune with my cert dives. So, I now have my open water certification! And if I can dive in that low of visibility, probably about 5 feet, then I can dive anywhere! There may be some cave diving in my future after all!
14 Aug 06 The return to New Orleans One year later... a return to New Orleans for my birthday again. I would have to say upon arrival there was a distinct addition of a water smell which was quickly engulfed by the other smell of Bourbon street. The Quarter was mostly the same, with a handful of shops that did not open back up. There were crowds, but it seemed to be not as busy. at the same time, we were left with the feeling that there were a lot of people here considering. It was hot, so the bars were packed even if the street seemed a bit empty. One day we went out to Michoud in New Orleans East to see a friend. We wanted to see X's and were excitedly craning our necks looking off the freeway as we drove. Once we hit New Orleans East, we saw entire shopping centers that looked as though they had been deserted for years. Then we came up on a field where all the trees were bent over half way up. We were intrigued but it hadn't quite hit us yet. As we turned to go down the road our directions gave us, we knew this could not be the right road. So we turned around, although we secretly wanted to go down that spooky road. After confirming our directions we hooked a U-turn and went down a feeder road that was eerily flanked with trash. Not cups and paper, but busted out TVs, washer and dryers, and ice cream vending chest (with no store within miles of us). Then we saw 15 foot high piles of brush debris. As we made our way back down to that road we had abandoned, it was beginning to settle in what we were really seeing. we headed down the spooky road and immediately saw an abandoned vehicle, burned out and rusted out (like it had been there for ten years). We realized that people who lived here had to drive past this every single day and we imagined how difficult that would be. We still really had no idea... The Six Flags, with "closed for the storm" on the marquee had been taken over and was full of trailers in its parking lot. Next we saw a completely vacated apartment building, some units burned out, some with water damage, all broken and desolate with more abandoned vehicles. Out of the deserted roads of debris, our thoughts move from Bosnia to real people. Then we hit the houses... we are now surrounded by those "X"s we were so eager to see. The mood in the car falls right out the bottom. The sobering effect resulted in gasps and dumbfounded explicatives. Every house had an X. Fortunately it was not until later we deciphered the code and were unaware of which quadrant of the X represented the dead found. There were water lines. There were signs that said "the Hernandez family will not die, we will multiply", "God is Good", "2 dogs under house" only to be scratched out to identify only one dog under the house. We even saw a note spray painted on the side of a metal structure that said "2 cats fed 10-12". Practically every house had a trailer of some kind in front to live in or provide housing for other family members whose house was unlivable. A handful of the houses had actually started some repairs... yea, a year later. We saw an entire cleared lot full of white FEMA trailers (complete with armed guard). The next day we went back and there was actually a military humvee with machine gun armed militsia guarding that same road we ventured down. On the way back to The Quarter, we noticed many more piles of debris - and in fact, back near the Quarter those piles of debris were still present. You can watch it on tv all day long - but until you see it first hand, you really have no idea.
9 Aug 06 Breathing Under Water Fresh air – man, have I taken that for granted the last 40 years! I am amazed that the shear principle of breathing under water has such an effect on your mind. I mean really, I thought I might have some claustrophobic issues with the whole scuba diving thing when I actually go down to a real depth on a real dive… but I never realized how stubborn I can be when it comes to fresh air. I actually found it quite difficult to accept the fact I could breath under water, my mind didn't want to really grasp the concept. Still slightly panicked, I convinced my mind it was okay in the first pool session… so I thought. Fast forward to the first open water dive. Now, please realize that an open water dive in Houston must be performed in a lake… a murky, dirty lake. Well, the murky, dirty lake was closed the day we went. Yea - how exactly do you close a lake? So, determined as we were, we head to the less desirable lake, fittingly named Lost Lake. This is by far a less appealing lake - and quite honestly appeared to be surrounded by crack houses. So we gear up, enter the lake not so gracefully down some less than structurally sound steps and swim out to the buoy. I have built up a tad bit apprehension/test anxiety/nervousness/whatever you want to call it on the swim out to the buoy. My instructor went down for a test dive and came back up to let us know that the platform was a mere 15 or so feet down and visibility was 10 feet. We gather ourselves and head down… holy crap! Are you kidding me? I can't see a thing other than the slimy guide rope I am holding onto with a death grip.
Once I got down there on that first dive I thought I was going to fall off the platform the whole time - mind you, the platform is sitting on the floor of the lake. Such a ridiculous fear - I hardly let go of the rope the whole first dive. The funny thing is, on the second dive I realize there is a two and a half foot railing all the way around the platform. I couldn't have fallen if I tried! The lack of visibility is so disorienting… I guess cave diving might be out of the question! So, we take time the second dive to get a little more comfortable and here comes a fish. Keep in mind, I suck air in like a freak when I dive, I guess the shear thought of knowing that is really all I have makes me want to continuously suck it in to convince myself it is really there. So, I don't really need any more excitement to make me breath even faster… but the fish is cool, a blue-gilled perch just checking us out and he actually calms me down a bit because he has distracted me from the thoughts of isolation 15 feet down, and the fact that I can't just pop up for a clean breath of air like I could at the swimming pool. While we hang out down there in the depths of Lost Lake, some more fish come up to see what's up. One fish is particularly interested in my face and keeps coming closer and closer, and closer until he is 1/2 an inch from my mask - I finally had to shoo him away so I wouldn't start laughing and drown to death in 15 foot of water surrounded by crack houses. Did I lock my car?
20 Jul 06 One Giant Leap On the anniversary of the moon landing, Floyd Landis has made his own giant leap at the Tour de France. I have had a hard time getting on the Landis bandwagon. I mean, his name is Floyd, first of all... the team colors are horrific, and he quit US Postal because he didn't like the intensity of Lance's work ethic. But I am a fan now! Yesterday he cracked so badly on the toughest mountain stage of this year's tour losing over 10 minutes in the last 10km - ending the day over eight minutes behind that yellow jersey he just lost. No chance - gone, the last American hope. Yea, there was one last big mountain stage today in the Alps, but not the way he cracked... the yellow jersey had never cracked quite like that. So imagine my surprise when I wake up this morning, turn on OLN and hear that Floyd Landis is in the front. Whoa... what? He attacked early, they let him go, he kept a peleton cracking pace on all three climbs, and maintained his breakaway. At one time he caught a group and they all did double takes when they saw just WHO it was flying past them. It was legendary and even if he fails to keep that yellow jersey in the US, his efforts will go down in history. A tour struggling this year with the absence of Lance and the two favored riders, is now one of the most exciting ones ever. I am still just stunned at what I saw today. But more importantly, is Landis' attitude. He didn't crawl under a rock, run off crying, or quit. He came out and faced the media, noting that ignoring it doesn't change things... and he was smiling. He admitted he didn't think he could win the Tour anymore, but it wasn't over and he wasn't quitting. Well Floyd, at 30 seconds back heading into a time trial that you specialize in - you can still win the Tour. Allez!
16 Jul 06 Picture Perfect Landing Safe and sound back home is the second test flight. So really, they will all be test flights until the end of the program. It is true, the shuttle is still in its infancy with 115 flights per standards set for aircraft. Which makes it even more sad that it will retire still in its test phase. With the second Return to Flight safely under our belt and the ISS crew back up to three, the flight schedule ramps up to a yearly rate we have not seen in some years. It is a relief, but it also very sad - and end is near.
09 Jul 06 The Winner! The scale model of the Catsup Botle Water Tower is finally complete and headed to its proud home. Not is it just a great story telling source, but it is a true trophy! See below for the history of the bet... I did experience a few hiccups during fabrication. Hooking the two bottles together as mentioned below would never provide a smooth surface, so I sacrificed a teeny bit of accuracy and just used the sunkist bottle. Painting the label on the bottle also proved to be a bit more difficult that I had anticipated. I tried several methods and finally settled on a sharpie and a paint pen. Unfortunately with an item so small, variations even with a smooth hand are far more noticeable than a large paint job like the transom of a boat. Nonetheless, I am still pretty proud of it and it was pretty hard to let it go.
04 Jul 06 One hell of a firecracker - Happy 4th of July! I know I am in the right place when I can cry like a baby at the sight of that! Return to Flight part two - finally! And... it will bring the crew of the ISS back to its original three members. What a way to celebrate America's Independence - first shuttle laungh ever on the 4th of July!
1 July 06 Tour of Opportunity Le Monster American is gone. And now, shocking developments in the world of international cycling have left an already less popular bike race without any stars. A massive doping scandal resulted in Jan Ullrich, Ivan Basso, and Alexander Vinokourov out of the Tour de France. Guilty before proven innocent (for the record, Vinokourov was not implicated - but five of his team members were, leaving them not enough riders to complete the race) everything they have prepared for the whole year is all for nothing. I was truly looking forward to the battle between Basso and Ullrich, with a secret desire to see Vinokourov win. I kind of wanted Jan to still get beat fair and square with no Lance and publicize his lack of discipline. Lance has focus and worked harder than anyone else, year after year. What was he on? His bike... six hours a day. The testing, the science, the aerodynamics - he and Johan Bruyneel brought this technical aspect to cycling. All is not lost - it does set up Team Discovery for proving the brilliance of their coach, Johan Bruyneel. The Blue Train rolls! Go Georgie boy!
31 May 06 We have to draw the line somewhere! I understand the new fan base Danica brings to the Indy 500, and I indeed pull for her to win every time. In fact, I lost a bet after her great performance at last year's Indy 500 that she would win a race in her rookie season. Well, she didn't and I had to build a scale model of the world's largest catsup bottle (the story of searching for said landmark you can find down below). This year, I wanted to maximize my time at Flint, so ended up flying into Louisville, Kentucky on Southwest since it was closest. Dad zipped down from Indy and picked me up. Now, I never had much geography growing up, and I have never had the desire to see one of thos storied horse races - so I really had no idea that Louisville was the home of the Churchill Downs OR the Louisville Slugger. Now - after a previous year's adventures of the Great Catsup Bottle Water Tower Chase, imagine my surprise when I found out that the world's largest baseball bat was on our way out of town. We had real nice directions on the brochure and headed off somewhat disappointed that our buddy Don was not with us to share the next in a long series of World's Largest Chases. But, thought it fitting in his honor to go see it. We followed our directions which left us on a corner downtown not knowing if we should turn left or right. Looking to left, we see nothing but more downtowmn. Looking to the right, HOLY SHIT - I jumped a foot in my seat. That bat was leaning up against a building and was ever bit as big as the entire Catsup Bottle Water Tower - and scared the crap out of me when I saw it. Well, needless to say, we got Don a "scale" model of said bat for his new collection. Okay - but back to drawing the line with women in racing. It is common to get freebies at the races, geared towards the fan base. So I wasn't so disturbed by the free deodorant from Secret and lotion samples which I really needed that day. But in one of our freebie sacks was a Harlequin romance novel... I mean, really! To make matters worse, I look down on the race track and as a part of the traditional pre-race parade I see a pack of women in southern belle hooped dresses! Dresses on the race track...
12 April 06 Celebration followed by Sadness Although the 25th anniversary of the first Space Shuttle launch came and went with little fanfare, the reality of the upcoming plight of the Space Shuttle is starting to show. Already I have heard of scrapping one orbiter for parts and now the flavor of the celebration turns to how magnificent the Space Shuttle truly was... yes, was. With the recent change of tone, I have realized that I am not going to take the retirement of the Space Shuttle so well. I grew up with the Space Shuttle. Rockets and capsules just weren't really part of my life - they were part of history, even with my work on the Russian Space Program where they still use rockets and capsules doesn't give me the sense of ownership I have with the Space Shuttles. A new program with a cool ass name (Constellation), new exciting vehicles capable of a variety of things... but alas in the wake of the shuttle there will be great sadness on my part. I hope we get one to display here in Houston - maybe that will ease the pain and the bitter reality that I am still getting older. NASA's STS-1 The Boldest Test Flight
05 March 06 Perfect Liberal ending? Well, the Oscars have returned to their old selves... just about as bizarre as you can possibly imagine, culimnated by a ending twist fitting of Hollywood. Didn't care much for most of the "clips" except the gay cowboy snip-its was hilarious. And so each movie gets a token Oscar or two or three including a bizarre best song to the pimps that find life so hard (and have to change the words in order to sing it on tv - but of course get bleeped during their acceptance speech). A perfect liberal ending by spreading the wealth? Not quite! Backstage Blog by E Online is a riot as always - read it here
27 JFebruary 06 Spirit of Olympics There is a reason so many of us stop what we are doing, camp out on the Olympics channel and watch sports we would never, ever watch otherwise. It is the spirit of the Olympic Games - so many countries with different backgrounds and beliefs coming together to compete. Like the Italina the good sportmanship award is named after who gave up a bolt after his run so his competitor could make a run. Like in the Tour de France when know one attacks when a man is down. It's an honorable thing, it's something that is bigger than the sports. So in light of what the Olympics truly stand for, I have some of my own awards to hand out.
Most Grace Exhibited Award: Michelle Kwan -
A lady always knows when to leave. She didn't even take an NBC commentating job in fear of taking some of the attention away from the Olympians still competing.
Showboating to Lose Gold Award: Lindsey Jacobellis -
I know, I know, just a little too excited. But that is now your legacy, shown on NBC over and over like twenty times in a row.
Just Happy to be Here Award: Apolo Anton Ohno and Joey Cheek -
Learn from these guys. They expect nothing and win Gold!
So You Train in a Barn? Award: Bode Miller -
0 for five. Rookie mistakes missing gates, maybe if you spent more than seven minutes inspecting the course, you might know where they were. Have we learned nothing from Lance's drive? Really - if you don't care, let someone who does go in your spot.
There is No TEAM in I Award: Shawni Davis -
The biggest loser, ditching the team event and admitting he was there only for himself. I believe the quote was, "The team did not get me here. I got me here."
5 February 06 Anheiser Busch rules again! I have realized we did way too much talking and eating during the Super Bowl ads. Fortunately, iFilm has a link that you can see them all back to back with just one click. Ameriquest's don't judge too quickly has a new commercial in its series with a couple of doctors killing a fly and pronouncing it dead just as the family comes in the room. Last year's boyfriend sneaking into his girlfriend's apartment and cooking spaghetti only to end up holding a knife with a sauce covered cat as she walks in is still one of my favorites. The first Mobile ESPN commercial was well done with every possible sporting activity following the guy through the intersection and down the sidewalk. Several good phone ones - the new theft deterrent on the Sprint's version of the RAZR, and the RAZR commercial where the guy throws the newspaper back at the paper boy. Michelob Ultra scored big in the shadow of Terry Tate's office linebacker with a game of Touch football going a bit too far and then resulting in a late hit. Honda Ridgeline gets the creativity award with the sexist mudflap girl leaving her truck and joining the Yosemite Sam Back Off mudflap in a new Ridgeline. But of course, Budweiser reigns supreme. The funniest comedians very effectively keep revisiting their jokes during their set - and that is why a play on an old Superbowl ad can be so effective. Remember the old pick up football game between the horses (being watched by two cowboys while the the zebra is doing a replay review)? Well, a shaved lamb comes streaking onto the field disrupting play and flaunting its bare essentials - priceless! Two commercials had somewhat surprising endings (especially since I had seen most of them on Fridays Superbowl ad show). First the secret fridge full of Bud Light - I had seen the revolving wall, but had no idea there were guys on the other side. Clever and funny! The hands down best ad, tugging at a few heart strings (many more ads this year were supposedly aimed at the increasing number of female viewers which happen to make most of the buying decisions of the household) was the spot titled American Dream. The baby Clydesdale has aspirations of pulling the beer wagon and steps into the harness and kicks his feet. He tugs a bit and the wagon starts to move (saw that much on the preview show). But then, they pan back and two elder Clydesdales are giving the wagon a push as a proud foal emerges from the barn with the wagon in tow. The thumbs down award goes to Burger King... that stupid plastic headed king is so wrong, and now we have to stomach the Whopperettes? Give me a break! I am so glad there isn't a Burger King within ten miles of me...
28 January 06 73 Seconds Twenty years ago today, in just 73 seconds, lives were shattered as the Space Shuttle Challenger expolded in full public view of our nation's eyes. The Astronaut Memorial Foundation had a memorial service today at the wall at the Kennedy Vistor Center. I heard a story I had not heard before from key note speaker June Scobee Rodgers, the widow of 51-L Pilot Dick Scobee. About a month after the Challenger accident, June Scobee found the phone number of then Vice President George Bush had given her. She decided to take him up on the offer and returned the call. Early the next morning her son came in the room and asked if it were possible the Vice President could be calling her. When she said yes, his head hung low as he handed her the phone and walked out of the room. He had not answered the phone "Scobee Bar and Grill" that day, but he had asked "Vice President of what?". Once George Bush became President, he thought for sure he would never be promoted since he had made an idiot of himself (an Air Force Academy cadet) that day with his future Commander in Chief on the phone. Surely, he was promoted (now Col. Richard Scobee) and has had a very successful Air Force career and had a special opportunity at the 1996 Super Bowl (which by the way, was the last time the Steelers played in the Super Bowl). Ten years ago, the Super Bowl commemorated the Challenger explosion with a missing man fly by - and flying that plane that peeled off and shot straight up to the heavens was Scobee's son Richard. Someone said that day, that we may have gathered and tuned in for football, but in the silence after the Missing Man formation, we were all one. I know that feeling - at Super Bowl XXXVIII when I was part of the pre-game show tribute on the one year anniversary of Columbia there was a similar moment, a powerful moment when everyone forgot why they were really there. I remember thinking that the people watching the tv had no idea of the feeling in that building as the conclusion of the tribute had every seat in the stadium raising cards of color creating a display of pride and patriotism. Aside from that feel-good sidenote, I am pleased to see the celebration of those very lives whose own lives were shattered that morning. It was a beautiful service and I wish there was one in Houston I could have attended. Astronaut Memorial Foundation
26 January 06 One Last parting Shot I think I should trim out the bottom of the space case now. A black board around the bottom will make the case look like the rest of the furniture in the room and will conceal the wheels I have rigged up. Everything seems so open now with the wood floor - the kitties love to play on it too.
23 January 06 She's a Beauty! The linoleum was a bit of a pain. My first attempt to peel it up with a large bladed tool made me grimmace because I happened to give it a go right at the spot you come down down off the stairs. Then I tried off to the right and most of the floor came up pretty easy. That allowed me to become a little over confident. As I soon realized that I needed to also do the floor in the coat closet ... which happened to be full of crap! So, I waited until the next morning having already finished the rest of the living room. Sunday morning I get started again and quickly realize those few heavily traveled spots are going to be a bear. Scrape, scrape, scrape after ditching a secondary putty knife and sharpening the big tool I finally got it clean enough. There was dust every where. I understand how there is so much dirt in the carpet - but was really surprised there was so much dust with the linoleum removal. Since I only have the entry way left, it is small and I am now limited by board lengths - so I pretty much have to cut every other board. Not a problem - except it is pouring down rain - so, I must walk all the way thought the house, through the kitchen, out into the garage, cut the board, and all the way back. The closet was a bit of a challenge too - because I ran out of small boards. Guess I am going to have to get comfortable with that router Dad gave me if I want to use the remainder of the boards upstairs.
14 January 06 Progress Report Almost done. I still have to finish one corner of the space room, the far wall of the living room, and the entry way. The difference is amazing - and sooooo clean! I can only do small sections at a time because my knee swells up and I get stiff. So, I take a break, let that section cure, then go do another section in the other room, take another break and by then the earlier section is cured enough I can put some weight on it while laying the next block of boards. It sure will be worth all the work though. Click on the photos for larger images.
08 January 06 Going, going, gone! Greedy, money grubbing bastards... these were my thoughts entering the back gates of Astroworld Sunday. The items up for auction on the third day were memorabilia - mostly signs from rides and hanging throughout the park when it was open. Rides were sold the previous day (I hear some even only for scrap...). The auction was fun, exciting at times when bidding wars broke out. The steer ended up going for $12,500. A couple of buyers bought quite a bit of memorabilia, presumably for some restaurant. A sign from the 610 Limited railroad ended up going for $2000 after one of said buyers was going at it with one other guy who finally gave up. Most signs went $150 - $850 (more expensive items being ones with ride names on them - even if it was just a rule sign with only words and no logos). You pretty much had to commit to $175 to get anything else - coke buttons were numerous. I got one of those early on a slow bidding go about - thought that might be my only chance to grab a memento from a park I loved so much. I was able to get two more lots for reasonable prices (well, reasonable considering the circumstances). Of course, I couldn't afford a ride sign. And the funny thing is staying there all day, being a part of something big like that, it really helped me gain at least a little bit of closure. It's a part of me now. I never really liked the park after Six Flags took it over - they kept taking out the good rides and putting in new, squirelly ones. To me, that was its downfall - it was just never the same again. As I left after the all day auction, I stopped and paused at one of the rides half dismantled and said my goodbye.
05 January 06 Just have faith... I had given up... with six minutes left on the clock and longhorn carnage laying on the grass at the goal line. How deflating - again... no chance, wait, what is this, we can still win, oh not again. But the drunk Tech grad in front of me (equally dowsed in burnt orange) kept telling me to have faith. One touch down closer - Mack can't give USC the ball back - we have not stopped them in the second half. And then they kick it away. My new friend says have faith... we only need to stop them once. And then a big run, and a first down. Fretting, waiting on each play's outcome, we finally stop them (on what I might add was yet another generous spot by the officials). Of course, a few plays later the inVINCEable scores a walk in touchdown. Wow! With 19 seconds left, it looked pretty good. Then Reggie stepped up and had a good run, holy crap. But I remembered the clock - only eight seconds left. After those seconds ticked away and the horns ran onto the field in celebration, I don't remember much other than jumping up and down screaming, high fiving my new drunk friend. I don't even remember if I high-fived dad... I am sure I did - but I don't remember - sensory overload. Amazing. I watched some of it again on Friday and it was just as exciting - only in a different way because there was no emotional investment on the line - just a damn good game. WOW! The Rose Bowl itself was incredible too. It is just like the Cotton Bowl in that it is an old, heralded stadium that has received some new rennovations in the way of bathrooms and and game facilities. But its history is strongere - you don't hear anyone suggesting to tear down the Rose Bowl or moving games to some pro stadium... There was a definite Hollywood flair to the whole event though... just before the game satrted (or I guess as it goit dark) the old WWII premeire lights (about six of them) started dancing in the darkening sky. Just perfect and how appropriate!
02 January 06 What an ugly field goal... Probably just as well I chose to stay home in the interest of my health and my wood floors - because had I been there at the Cotton Bowl (from wherever my seat would have been), I surely would have thought the field goal was no good and would have been jumping up and down screaming only to come down to an ugly reality faced with having to drive back to Houston with an "L". Bama controlled the tempo of the game keeping Cody off the feild in the second half. But broken, and down, he still managed a game tieing touchdown pass in the last couple of minutes. Holy cow! So, a whirlwind Rose Bowl is next, I have an ugly cough, and the floors still aren't done.
01 January 06 Creeping along... Besides being sick, not sleeping well, the physical level of laying the floor is slowing me down. Trying to pace myself and listen to my body. It sure looks good though.
30 December 05 What a fun age! More puppies at my neighbors house. They are at that perfect playful puppy age now. How is this for an Alpo ad?
29 December 05 500 Square Foot Puzzle You ain't kidding an adventure! I might as well be climbing the Titons... this is amazingly physical work. Up and down, up and down, pull tight, hold it in place, get up and get more glue... Whew! However, the hardest part (other than taking two and a half days before I really got started - last minute details, making sure I am doing the right thing, getting the glue, finding the right trowell) is not getting the glue all over the place and stuck on you. I have taken the hardest route possible and chose not to remove furniture completely from the rooms. I am moving bit by bit, and moving it back after the 24 hour drying period. Boy it sure looks good, though.
26 December 05 Two Bowls, two states, three days...Roll who? Well, we finally have some tickets, not enough - but the price is going down fast. I drive back to Dallas January 1, presumably hung over. Early Cotton Bowl on the 2nd and drive back home that evening. Work on the 3rd for the first time in almost two weeks... hello, that will be a productive day. Fly out to Ontario??? (they say it is near Pasadena - I guess I am safe since Southwest doesn't fly to Canada) the next morning. National Championship at the Rose Bowl in the evening - hey, I get to spend the night! A leisurely trip back to Ontario via Jack Shrimp in Irvine near Newport Beach and home again - arriving sometime after midnight. I don't guess the 6th will be a very productive day either, huh?
21 December 05 Much Better! Now when you type failure in the Google search field and click the I'm Feeling Lucky button, you get MichaelMoore.com. That's more like it!
5 December 05 Every thing is coming up roses! Whew... all jinxes aside, Texas took care of business in the Big XII Championship game today here in Houston. I mean really, we already have plane tickets, have orderd Rose Bowl tickets, neither dad nor myself were at the game today (lucky charms - although I have just about been convinced that nothing I do or wear really affects those guys on the field), and during the game I go out to get the mail and I find a Sports Illustrated with Vince on the cover with the headline "Texas Two Step - 1. Beat Colorado, 2. Win the Rose Bowl". Holy crap! Luckily Vince has already broken the SI Cover jinx earlier this year - but I am still not happy about the premarture cover. However, it is always a relief for the SI cover to be something OTHER than NFL... I really toyed with going - to see Texas play in person five times this year. Guess I will have to settle for four - tickets were too pricey for that ridiculous game today. It is only one more way to make money off these kids. So, it will be the Cotton Bowl on the second, drive back home that day, work the next, and then off to Pasadena. Roses are red, the Pacific is blue, Longhorns are headed to Pasadena, watch out for #2!
30 November 05 Google Sucks What a bunch of liberal hacks! If you type in "failure" in the google search field, and click the "I'm feeling lucky" button instead of the standard search button, you get whitehouse.gov. Even if you disagree passionately with the politics, you do not disgrace the office of the presidency. Just as well, I always have preferred Yahoo! over Google!
25 November 05 Gig'Em Aggies What a game! I never expected that. I totally got up at 5am and drove to College Station expecting a second brutal beating by the horns. The flea flicker for a touchdown even made up for the fact we missed the march in of the Aggie Band. Yea, even leaving at 5am, we only got there an hour before game time damn tv! Again, I really enjoyed the entire game and secretly am somewhat glad we didn't much up their undefeated regular season!
4 November 05 Work In Progress So, I lost a bet. When Danica had such a good showing at the Indy 500 leading the race at the end, I made a bet with a dear family friend that she would win a race this year as a rookie. I would win the bulldog hood ornament from a Mac truck and Don would win a scale model of the World's Largest Ketchup Bottle. Long story, but you would think a water tower shaped like a ketchup bottle in a small town on the way back from Indy wouldn't be so hard to find. Well, she never came close to winning the rest of the season. Here is the beginning of what promises to be a fine replica of said water tower. Got smart on the iron work and ordered a model used by train enthusiasts - that is my base. The ketchup bottle is of course in the shape of the old fashioned style. Careful searching down each aisle of the grocery store led me to a small bottle of Golden's spicy mustard for the curved base and a Sunkist soda pop bottle for the tapered top. Not sure how I am going to hook those two together yet... Here's the World's Largest Ketchup Bottle Water Tower Website
27 October 05 Unused Tickets Well, that sucked... You know I din't ask for the Astros to win the World Series game. I only asked for a game 5 so I could go to my first World Series. Lucky enough to get in on someone's second chance lottery, to no avail. It's tough to be an Astros fan. It would be one thing if we just got our arses kicked. But the Astros have these unbelievable, don't die moments of greatness. You rebound, pick yourself up and get your hopes up... only to have your heart ripped out a few innings later. Don't get me wrong - I am so proud of our boys getting this far. And kudos to a magnificant season. It's one I won't soon forget! Thank you Houston Astros - thanks for the rocket ride! Oh, and I am still not wearing socks!
25 October 05 MLB Rants Bud Selig sucks! Who does he think he is to dictate (or shall I say eliminate) our home field advantage? Wasn't that the whole point of the "This one counts" ad campaign for the All-Star game this year?!? We have played all of our post season games with the roof closed - in fact, we win more games with the roof closed. And to top it off, they wait until three hours before game time to make the announcemnet - so, all the news media has the Astros talking about the roof instead of focusing on the game. Unbelievable! Who is Bud friends with that pulled that card? I haven't seen a overhead shot yet - but if I do, I am emailing that sponsor too! Oh great, get this... Fox missed the Nolan Ryan ceremonial first pitch af ANY Texas World Series - give me a break! At least the Fox announcers agree we should be able to have the roof closed... Call Bud and let him know he can't come down here and tell Texans what to do! Sign the Remove Bud Selig as Commissioner Petition Sign the Fire Bud Selig Petition
19 October 05 Houston, we have a World Series! The countdown has finally reached zero and the World Series is coming to Houston. The Killer Bs came out swinging and Oswalt took care of business, launching the Astros into the pennant win. Game 5 was a tough loss - one strike away. But that is vintage Astros... fighting with your heart, winning by your teeth, complete with memorable plays never to be forgotten. We may be a wildcard, but we have the best record since May (right after the Chronicle covered the Astros with dirt and a tombstone). Check out Everett tagging Molina
16 October 05 WOW - what a game! I need CPR, please... Up by one with the tie run on third. Out at home plate, whew - now I can breath. Oh wait, what is Walker doing at third base. Holy crap - and still only one out. A Cardinal hit and I knew they were going to score - double play never even entered into my mind. And then there it was - an incredible, unbelievable, game saving double play. WOW... WOW... WOW... Astros are up 3 games to 1 with another game at home. Lidge just doesn't go out there and pitch a perfect inning - he has to let guys walk, get on base, or score - building up the drama before he turns the lights out. Drama queen...
12 October 05 Let's Go Astros! I love Ozzie and the redbirds - but... What a game on Sunday! It started before I left Dallas after the Texas OU game. I listened all the way home (except for a brief period when we were down five to nothing due to radio coverage). Shortly after I joined again, we hit a grand slam. I have to say I could not tell the static from the crowd noise - just this continuous, loud, ambient sound accompanying the announcers. Of course, I arrived at my house well before the game ended and watched on the edge of my seat. With each single pitch, I awaited the finish. No one left on the bench, Roger relieving, and the only other possible option if his arm went out (which I am not sure his adrenalin would have allowed), was to send Roger to the outfield and put in a couple of guys who may have pitched at some time in high school or college. Wow!
8 October 05 Reality Check for OU! Going into the 100th meeting between Texas and OU, the average score was 16-16 (padded a bit by OU over the last couple of years). A great rivalry that is really more than two schools - but two states. However - in the 100 games, OU has won only 39 of those! With all the talk of moving this annual shhotout for the golden hat to a home and home series, it saddens me to think of Texas OU without the great State Fair of Texas. They go hand in hand for me. This year was particularly fun! Maybe because I missed the last two or three due to travel - or maybe because Texas won this year... Either way, I hope the tradition is preserved forever. Check out my new SWC Football site!
27 September 05 Safe and Sound! 28 hours to McKinney and I never even got on one of those major northbound freeways! With 146 rendered a parking lot, I abandoned and started heading east on side roads - only to find that about that time Beaumont had also called for a mandantory evacuation. Once in Beaumont, 69 was at a dead still, so I crawled up 96 just long enough to turn east again. Made most of my northbound trek on 87 and took a cutoff road west to 96 near Hemphill. I was lucky enough to find gas when I needed it (except on the way home Tuesday - I had to fill my tank with reserve cans in my trailer). The house made it through fine, thanks to the northerly turn Rita made. I have to admit it was the most horriffic thing to walk out of your house with the heirlooms left behind glancing back and knowing it may be the last time you see any of it. I am blessed that that emotional experieince, the two nights of missed sleep, and the 28 hour drive with no A/C is all I have to tell! See my route!
18 September 05 I don't necessarily like change... Sitting here watching the Emmys and its many tributes I realize that while as much as I will always be a kid at heart, I am really growing older. My childhood was Sonny & Cher, Johnny Carson, Dan Rather, Tom Brokaw, and Peter Jennings. These fixtures are gone from my daily routine. As long as a few of these nostalgic icons were still a part of my daily routine, I did not have to quite notice that things were really changing. Those little changes have finally added up and I am forced to notice the truth of it all. Hmmmmph!
13 September 05 A Sad Day Astroworld is closing. Since before I was born this storied park provided summer jobs for countless teenagers and a sense of the kid trapped in all of us. TRhere was only one Astroworld. Unfortunately, the park owners (now Six Flags) want the money the ugly real estate development will bring instead of caring about Houston. The Astrodome was once dubbed the seventh greatest wonder of the world. Now it is a run down, no purpose (other than housing Katrina evacuees) mammoth in a parking lot. Astroarena is now called Reliant Arena, and now Astroworld will be gone too. I always would enjoy driving down 610 between the two of them - would even go out of my way sometimes to do so. Is this all we have become? Big money buys out the little guy, and then dumps him. An awesdome tribute to Astroworld - check out the Historical Photo Section
27 August 05 Ballunar Liftoff This year I flew solo with the absence of my balloon pilot friends. This allowed to me to enjoy the festival in quite a different way. Since I wasn't crewing and chasing a balloon, I was able to stand next to the cold air shuttle and watch all the balloons ascend. What a relaxing, refreshing angle! Had a lock on crewing for the big cow balloon Airabella Sunday morning but Katrina's storm winds grounded the whole show that day. On another note - still reeling from missing the OCC Shuttle Tribute Bike reveal earlier this week, I stumbled across it in a booth with one of my old bosses walking out of the festival. Paul Jr. did an awesome job on the bike - lots of nice details! Turns out the focus of the bike changed mid way because one of the STS-107 famalies did not care to be associated with Orange County Choppers - plus, they are pretty "tributed" out! So, the theme transcended into a celebration of the workers who get the shuttle in the air and Return-to-Flight, hence the Discovery name. Click here for photos of the Ballunar Liftoff. Click here for my page on the Shuttle Tribute Bike. If you are into choppers, take a look back here.
14 August 05 40th Birthday in New Orleans Spent most of my time on Bourbon Street unfortunately - but got to see some of the sites. The architecture was wonderful and the dilapidated state appropriate. The hotel was fabulous with a lush courtyard that my almost private room opened up onto. Check out the photos.
1 August 05 Here's looking at you Discovery! If you are looking for a silver lining to the whole Columbia tragedy, here is one. What an awesome, never seen before view. If you click, you can even see the gap filler hanging out under the nose.
26 July 05 We Have Liftoff! What a great day to be in space! Finally, after two and a half long, very long years we return to flight. Yes, we still had crews in space, doing science and maintaining the International SPace Station. But something was missing. More importantly we triumph over our adversity. Unlike our beloved bald eagle that travels above the storm, we weathered the storm inside and have perserveered because it is waht we do as humans and Americans. Go for launch was inspiring as the launch director went around the room... we are go, flight. Then the closure of the visors, the water rushing into the pit and on the main engines, then the engines fire, and after the shuttle returns back to verticle it lifts gracefully into the sky on top of raw power. And there she is... soaring upward on top of a plume, much like a bride's train. What a beautiful site and what a tribute to those seven souls lost February 1, 2003 on Columbia. Look below left to see where the shuttle and ISS are. We will never forget!
24 July 05 From Tour De Lance to Vive Le Tour! I have really come to love the color yellow. Such a bittersweet victory - so happy to see him win an unprecedented seventh consecutive Tour, yet so sad to know it is the last time to watch him dance on the pedals up a mountain with such ease. Or stare in awe at his gracefulness on the bike at the end of a time trial despite the pumping pistons powering the bike. And so the Lance Era ends - tears of joy mixed with tears of sadness. And now what happens to the Tour? It is an amazing feat of athletic supremacy. They all said the US wouldn't care after LeMond too... No, there will never be another Lance... but there will be Team Discovery and there will be other teams. Not to mention, I think we have become fans of admiration for quite a few other riders in last seven years of watching the greatest race. To quote Lance, Vive Le Tour, forever! My modest tribute to Lance
12 July 05 The Blue Train Rolls Despite a new sponsor, the blue train lives on! First, an emotional blow to his rivals on the first stage's individual time trial with Lance putting minutes between him and his rivals - including actually catching and PASSING Ulrich. Then the team time trial comes along and the blue train rolls - they just don't often make mistakes like the other teams do. For crying out loud - how does T Mobile let Ulrich run into the back of the car smashing the window completely in on the day before the start of the race? (On a later stage they left him off the back of the peleton, probably for a nature break, and a big gust wind came along and he flipped three times cracking his helmet). With the team trial win, Lance donned yellow inching towards second place in all time yellow jerseys. He later gave it back, allowing him to strategize for the Alps. Two days of grueling climbs - why wait until day 2 - Lance dictated a punishing pace dropping ALL of his contenders in the process on the first Alps stage. Vive Le Lance! Le Monster American! Live Stage Newsflashes Live Audio from Eurosport
24 June 05 Seven would be Heaven! Eight days and counting until the Tour de France begins. Lance seems to be in great shape despite the slow start. Besides, wouldn't want to peak too early. I am really not sure if he CAN be beat... Competition looks good and Ulrich actually looks lean this year. But the science, Lance's unbelievable drive, and the impressive 1-2-3 finish on the last stage of the Dauphine still makes the statement for The Blue team - "This is still our Race to Lose".
25 May 05 The Greatest Spectacle in Racing The Greatest Spectacle in Racing truly is living up to its name this year. First, Buddy Rice replaced Kenny Brack after his horiffic crash at TMS a couple of years ago. And now with Buddy not cleared by the doctors to race, Kenny Brack comes back, steps into the car and runs the fastest lap! Speaking of fast laps... Danica! Boy, that girl can fly. She is only the fourth female to even run the race - and totally the first to actually contend for the checkered flag. She could have had the pole if the car hadn't been slipping - Rahal made the right decision and decided to not risk the car. Not bad to "settle" for the second row and the 4th starting position! Letterman is excited - I am excited. May Danica kiss the bricks and score a milk mustache! Check out Danica's Site
16 May 05 OCC at MCC Orange County Choppers was at JSC last week to get inspiration for the Shuttle Tribute bike. Rumor is it will incorporate a piece of Columbia. OCC Shuttle Tribute Bike Site Here
13 May 05 Rocket City After sixteen years in the space business, I finally got my first business trip to Huntsville, Alabama. They still call the NASA site Redstone Arsenal (except don't try to find a shirt with that on it anywhere) after the old Rocket Boys days of Werner von Braun. As I drove in from the airport, I was greeted with this most amazing site. Wow - what can I say about a vertical Saturn V?! They are usually horizontal unstacked on the ground. Well, they have a real horizontal one too - not in quite as bad shape as the one in Houston they have started to restore (which, by the way, is the only one of the Saturn Vs that is made completely of flyabble hardware that was intended to go to the moon - the only surviving true moon rocket). They light that sucker up at night too - what a view from my hotel room! I spent five hours in the space museum piddling around and humored by the haphazard display of touchable flown hardware in the midst of trainers and test articles. I was able to throw switches on the actual launch control panel that launched our first satellite Explorer into space, play with Bruce McCandless's MMU that he flew around in space on, and sit in an Apollo trainer - again, more switch throwing. I also finally ran across one of those one-arched McDonald's signs from days gone by. Donate to restore the JSC Saturn V Click here for good articles on the progress of the restoration. Donate to restore the MSFC Saturn V
JSC Saturn V Made up of first stage of SA-514, the second stage from SA-515 and the third stage from SA-513 (need to verify SA-513 - SA-514 and SA-515 were intended for Apollo 18 and 19). MSFC Saturn V Made up of S-IC-T (test stage) and the second and third stages from SA-514. KSC Saturn V Made up of S-IC-D, S-II-F/D and S-IVB-D (all test stages not meant for actual flight).
25 April 05 Yet another red tip has met its demise... With the cherry blossoms blooming in Japan, I find it fitting to unveil my new Japanese garden. Basic elements are in place, drainage for when it rains is resolved and water plants have settled in. Still need to find 10 foot long, smaller diameter bamboo poles to complete the decorative fence (Yotsumi-gaki) and need to wait on nature to help the plants fill out. I know there is typically only one lantern in a garden of this size - but I took a liking to all three of these... besides, I have never been much for simplicity.
12 April 05 The Outpost has survived the scare of the fire back in January that was caused by the famous neon sign outside. Fortunately, the Friends of the Outpost organization continues to help the Ouptost survive. One note of interest - they do not own the building (they lease) and therefore can not buy insurance. I think it is tied up in someone's estate. In any case, The Outpost Tavern will be the site of Yuri's Night Houston. Official Yuri's Night World Space PartyHelp the Outpost
4 April 05 Spring Fever The beautiful weather combined with a few cool days to keep it frisky, has initiated the annual improvements to my backyard oasis. I replaced the old deck because it had become a bit dangerous and slick with the hot tub traffic. Wow - demo day is nothing like what I see on all of those home makeover shows I watch... more like demo weeks. I can not imagine how rotted wood can be so secure! And heavy! I finally paid the yard guys to lug the old boards to the front for trask pick up.
29 March 05 A Fresh, New Start Check out the cute puppies from my neighbor's chocolate and black labs. They were born three weeks ago and are already so big - they drink a lot of milk! There are nine now (one runt didn't make it) - two black, two white, and the rest chocolate. You can see by the website, a couple were working pretty hard at being movie stars. Cardboard Box
27 February 05 I love Oscar night - and sometimes hate Oscar night, but not this night! I saw all the films (except Neverland...I will rent it later) and I was pleased that everyone got a little piece of the Oscar pie. For the first time in a long time it seems all awards were on target from a critic's satndpoint (I got a little nervous there for a bit when Aviator was picking up loose change awards). And while screenplays might be a slight nod, Sideways did deserve some kind of recognition - a wonderful, although frustrating film. I enjoyed Aviator - but it wasn't in the same class as Million Dollar Baby. Do you suppose they really made Million Dollar Baby in 37 days??? Kudos to Blanchett and her performance. I read one article in Entertainment Weekly where an actor actually said that Howard Hughes was not an interesting person... Can you imagine? A man so disturbed and burdened by his severe ailments still able to push any envelope he approached with visionary genius and accomplish what he did. Obviously the actor no idea about aviation and engineering. Morgan Freeman long overdue, outsatnding performance time after time and Jaime Foxx the next Denzel (or should I say Sidney?). One major gripe - how Passion of the Christ can not win for cinematography is beyond me! And let's talk about Chris Rock... bring Letterman back! I think Billy Crystal did a hell of a lot of acting when he would host! In the opening monologue he made a great joke about Michael Moore and said he would not slam Bush. Then he proceeded to trash Bush and accuse him of fighting a war that shouldn't be fought... only to end his opening set with a shout out to those "fighting for our freedom". Hmmmmmmmm...
13 February 05 Ski Japan! Well, the air was cold, the knee was solid (except maybe for Air SNF), and while the powder was certainly no Champagne Powder(TM) - there was a lot of it! A last minute trip to Japan with friends afforded me my first opportunity to hit the slopes in Japan. We ventured up north to Lake Tazawa near an old Samurai village where it continuously snowed. I was not completely prepared for the cold in Tokyo either - never had been cold the many times I visited in the past - not even in October. Also finally made it to Nikko. Check out the scrapbook page here.
25 January 05 Passion of the Christ 3 - Farenheit 9/11 0 The nominees have been announced. Only 33 days until the Academy Awards. Lots of movie watching to do and I still have not seen Hollywood's version of Friday Night Lights... Pleasing to see that the Academy did not give Farenheit 9/11 even the slightest nod. Counting the People's Choice Awards as a draw, Micheal Moore - if you are scoring at home: that is three to NOTHING! Movie Poster Best Picture Winners
24 January 05 God has called Johhny Carson over to the couch. I am greatly saddened by the loss of Johnny Carson this last weekend. I was sad when he retired nearly 13 years ago... masters like him and Carol Burnett will never be matched. I find myslef fortunate I was able to enjoy their humor growing up. Johnny was timeless too - watching the clips from the many tributes to his life has me bellowing in laughter. Pull out an old classic SNL skit - although the early years were classics, the coneheads just aren't funny anymore. Good night and sleep well, Johnny.
28 October 04 Two typhoons and my cold pretty much wrecked my Japan trip. Not much time for anything but work. I did however, finally make it to the southern most Izu Island (Hachijo Jima) for a day. A volcanic island chain south of Tokyo is a hot attraction for vacationing Japanese. The 40 square mile island is 290km south of Tokyo and is shaped like the figure eight - the north end is a volcano (grass grown inside now) and the south end is a mountain with lots of waterfalls where the bulk of the onsens were. It was once an exile for prisoners. Known mostly for its diving and fishing, the resorts were rather empty. My resort, actually had nothing around it and turned out to not even be on the bus route. Plan B... what is plan B? I used up all my plan Bs just getting here. After inquiring the cost of a taxi to go climb the volcano, it was obvious a guide (with her own car) was much more cost effective. Meet Chieko. She escorted me around the island most of Saturday and Sunday morning before I caught my plane back to the mainland - we had a fun time together. Climbed the volcano - which was quite a climb because some idiot put steps all the way up! And of course, upon reaching the crater rim the clouds had not cleared as I had hoped. I know we walked down into the main crater and peered over into the secondary crater - but never really saw much of anything other than wind and rain and clouds. We joined some island natives for tea in an original Edo style house and an 89 year old man demonstarted the fabulous drum customs they have there. The island is also known for its numerous natural hot springs (onsens). I had the fortune to actually go to one that the outdoor bath itself overlooked the Pacific Ocean. On the flight back, I acquired a window seat and was able to see my evacuated island Miyake Jima releasesing a puff of smoke. Much to my surprise, I also had a most incredible view of Fuji above the clouds. The highlights of this Japan trip are certainly numbered, however, I was able to locate and purchase an original Hiroshige woodblock (including Mt. Fuji). So - still quite a good trip, even sick.
01 October 04 So it turns out this mild, yet active volcano I climbed in June has been erupting pretty steadily since September 1st. The first eruption in 21 years blew rock and ash. Several of the eruptions have thrown ash good distances - including one day in Tokyo. I don't suppose I will be climbing this one on my next trip. Instead I shall seek out a new place in the Izu Islands. All seven islands are volcanoes - one of which has been evacuated for years it is so unstable. As much as my curiosity is peaked, I will adventure to Hachijo Jima instead. It is an overnight boat ride to get there. A lot of volcanoes are erupting right now - Etna, St. Helens finally smoked some today. I wonder what is the most volcanoes erupting at one time in history... Here are two picture of Asama erupting in mid September - one from a satellite.
13 August 04 Following the Tour de France is tough work, especially without a car. But I made it back safe, despite hitchhiking. What a trip! Alpe d'Huez really is a party on the side of the mountain like they say - whether you want one or not! The Germans make sure of that. I watched turn 3, over the three days I camped there, morph from quiet campsite in the Alps to a crowded party zone. And the race... oh goodness. Lance is no doubt a Lone Star from Texas. Camping amidst the French Alps was a delight, the hike up the road 2km for food, water, and a shower was not. I saw two mountain stages before I took a break, visiting a hotel or two and headed down south to Provence. Arles, a little town known for its rich history played host to Van Gogh back in 1888. I stood in the very same spots he stood to paint some of his masterpieces. It was quite inspiring as I took pen to paper experiencing some of his same emotions resulting in a night full of dreams from days long gone. I spent less than 24 hours in this town and it was probably the most fun I have ever had. Would go back in an instant! Quite the opposite can be said about Paris... I had no desire to ever go there - but a chance to see Lance cross the finish line for his record breaking not only sixth victory, but sixth consecutive victory was too tempting. For twelve hours I stood out ther on the Champs Elyesse with not a privy to be had. Now I ask you, how do you manage to get privies up on turn three of an Alp climb and not on main street in Paris. The Eiffel Tower is the only saving grace Paris has - what a beautiful sight. Sorry, Tokyo! Click the pictures for bigger versions. Scrapbook link to Italy, Tour de France, Arles, and Paris - Finally here!
13 June 04 Just got back from Japan. Mt. Fuji is bigger than it looks. I guess it is mostly due to the fact you can not climb straight up. I got much further up an active volcano the weekend before in far less time - but, I was going straight up the scree covered side. At Fuji you must follow the trail, in fact there is a sign that says "don't climb straight". I also tried a really interesting looking new sushi - ark shell (some special red clam). It was quite tasty and fortunately had a few pieces before I got one of those with all the curly things. Check out the new scrapbook page from my last Japan trip!
09 Apr 04 HAPPY EASTER! I hope you truly have a blessed Easter - I will be attending Easter Sunday service at Minute Maid Park. Yes, that's a ballpark - where the Astros play. Seems the old Compaq Center, aka The Laptop, (previously known as the Summit) isn't quite ready for its Lakewood debut. So, what a perfect place to have Easter Sunday Service when you are expecting quite large crowds - hope the roof is open. Kind of funny actually - Lakewood never made a big deal of Easter before. I suppose we can thank Mel Gibson for this one.
Now I must say, I have never been a big fan of those Box Office Gross lists. Because really - take the dollars grossed, divide by the average ticket price of that year and then let’s see how well the film did. I mean, there is a huge difference between $3 tickets and $8 tickets…however, I am excited about this!
Passion of the Christ has just become one of the Top 10 grossing films of all time. With Easter coming up, it ought to knock off Finding Nemo and the second Lord of the Rings. Mel Gibson just wanted to make a film about something he felt passionate about ... see what He can do if you just do what is right in your heart!
1 Titanic (1997) $600,743,440 2 Star Wars (1977) $460,935,655 3 E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982) $434,949,459 4 Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999) $431,065,444 5 Spider-Man (2002) $403,706,375 6 The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) $371,147,794 7 Jurassic Park (1993) $356,763,175 8 The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002) $340,478,898 9 Finding Nemo (2003) $339,714,367 10 Passion of the Christ (2004) $330.892 million Check this website for a complete list of the Top 100 grossing films of all time.
22 Mar 04 There is a new patch out for the Expedition 9 crew. STS-114 also updated theirs - I was actually hoping for a complete redesign myself... But nonetheless, the Expedition 9 patch is chock full of tributes to fallen crews. Of course the Soyuz and the X make the roman numeral nine - hadn't seen that since Apollo. Moon and Mars are there for good measure. No one quite knows why the shuttle is there since the crew will arrive and return from ISS in Soyuz spacecraft. The ninth expedition is also highlighted by the rocket trail which wraps itself around the astronaut symbol. As for the eagle and its stars - bottom seven would be Challenger, top seven (including Star of David) is Columbia, and the five red ones, quite appropriately, represent fallen Cosmonauts. The eagle itself represents the spirit of human spaceflight. No word on the green orange, and white feathers on the eagle's left wing - rest assured if I see Mike before he launches, I will ask him! Great chatter on CollectSpace.com when this patch was released - see it here.
21 Mar 04 I got tired of looking at those ugly bushes on the sides of my house. So, I have been replacing them with more natural plantings. The first set I pulled out cleared a window and let so much more light in the room. But the second set left a big white, gaping wall. So, I decided to paint an old soda advertisement on said wall. I just finished it and all the kids in the neighborhood have given their full approval! My neighbor welded me a great firewood holder to hold all the tree limbs we have cut down for use in the fire pit. No, I didn't cut them down for the firepit - they needed to be trimmed. What a great neighbor! More on my house - updated web page here.
8 Mar 04 Welcome to my blog - a great new way for you to keep up with what I am up to and for me to share some of my musings. I will also include links to updates to my web space so you don't miss anything.
1 Feb 04 After 30 years since Super Bowl VIII was here at Rice Stadium, the Super Bowl finally returned to Houston this year. 10,000 volunteer opportunities - we never even filled all the spots - however, I hear we did better than most cities. I hesitated to sign up because I wanted to go to the game - it is on "my list". But once I saw the $500 tickets selling for no less than $1800 (only dropped $100 once Carolina made it), I decided to volunteer. I signed up late in the game, was sure all the good spots were taken. I selected pregame and post game stage crews and the interactive games, avoiding the "pick up from the airport" and "hotel greeters" categories. I added a note that I had helped the Texans do interactive games before and that I was big and strong and not afraid of heavy stage work. The latter was a bit of a stretch - but by game day I would be eight weeks out of surgery and cleared to run. Imagine my surprise when I received an email stating I was on the pregame Show Stage Crew. In the following days, I remembered some of the press releases regarding the pregame show and was excited about the tribute to Columbia. The game would be played on the one year anniversary of the Columbia tragedy. When I arrived at orientation I was given a lead spot on the country stage - but later gave that spot up to be on the moon stage. Had I stayed with the country stage, I would have missed the entire tribute. My duties varied from practice to practice including at one point being hidden under the stage (only redeaming value wa sthat you would be on the 50 yard line DURING the tribute and not have to run off to the sideline). What I ended up doing, along with setting the stage, was removing the NASA banner revealing the moon. You can totally see me on the CBS footage. Due to an all day dress rehersal, I missed the Columbia memorials down at NASA. But, what DID I do to memorialize the Columbia crew? I helped give 70,000 people a tribute they will never forget. The CBS footage didn't do it justice - you just had to be there! For the rest of the story check my Pregame Show Scrapbook Page
18 Jan 04 I recently saw a video a friend's mom brought over of this wonderful woman that had a message. She goes around speaking at women's conferences spreading her wisdom by performing in a one-woman show. It is much like the stand-up comedy we would bring to Texas Tech. She used props, but only just enough to involve you into her performance. She will take you from laughter to tear inducing seriousness in the blink of an eye. She talks about how she used to think knots were just a nuisance - until she went sailing. She realized knots were a very important necessity, but more importantly what you tie your knots to. Not another person, false obligations, or fear - but to God because hHe is secure. Check out her website, but her recorded material is much more powerful. Nicole Johnson