Two Cats – One Lap
Taken just before Christmas …
Sir Edmund Hillary – in front
Pickles – in back
The SpaceX Starship is a very big deal
This is deep
Part of my series on common misconceptions in space journalism.
SpaceX has been working on some variant of the Big Falcon Rocket for almost a decade, with a publicly announced architecture for three years. The target performance figures are on the Starship website, endlessly dissected on Twitter, Reddit, and NASA spaceflight forums, and there’s even a livestream of construction.
Yet none of the oft-published mainstream articles seem to capture the magnitude of the vision that Starship embodies. Starship prompts superlatives, but by the end of this post the reader will understand not only how big Starship is, but also that it’s as small as it can possibly be.
Since Starship was first unveiled as BFR/BFS at the IAC in 2016, the rocket has undergone a number of design changes. Together with Elon’s rather cryptic statement that the hardest part of the Starship design process was…
View original post 2,363 more words
A bit of a scare
We had a bit of a scare yesterday. I was at work and a contractor was at the house cleaning our bedroom bathtub and sealing cracks in the tile and grout. The bathroom has its own door that opens into the bedroom. He was going to use high strength pool chlorine to clean the tub and tile. I had insisted that the Mrs take all precautions to safeguard Hillary and Pickles.
The contractor moved the cat bowls and water fountain (that are usually in the bathroom) into the living room while the Mrs checked to see that Hillary was in his bed in the kitchen and then rounded up Pickles from his usual place at the head of our bed on the Mrs’ side and moved him to the living room. The contractor closed the bathroom door and Pam closed the bedroom door.
When he finished he came out of the bathroom and yelled THERES A CAT IN HERE. The Mrs ran into the bedroom to find Hillary crouched near the litter box (one of our automatic LitterMaid litter boxes under a table in the bedroom) with drool streaming out of both sides of his mouth. Must have been the chlorine fumes. He apparently had run in as the Mrs was leaving with Pickles and she did not notice. She went into immediate “nurse mode” (the Mrs was an ICU nurse in a former life) called vet and was told to wash his face off with a wet cloth.
Hillary is fine. Here he is snuggling in my lap as I write this
(Hard to hold iPhone to take pix with one hand while scritching with the other)
The night before I had forwarded the Mrs a link from Weggieboy’s blog about how cats view us a their parents (https://phainopepla95.com/2019/09/25/study-cats-really-do-view-us-as-parents-pain-in-the-bud/). When I called home and the Mrs explained all of this to me she told me that Hillary was expressed all of symptoms of “Mommy it was horrible please love me and make it better”. Needless to say it was a stressful day.
Where is Pickles?
Pickles has decided to start sleeping under the covers with us again. When the Mrs went to make the bed, she offered Pickles the opportunity to leave. He declined.
“I’m safe and warm her Mommy. No one will find me.”
Can you find Pickles?
Not since Harvey …
… has the street in front of CatBeard Manor had so much water.
Granted at the height of the heaviest rain during Harvey the entire street was curb-to- curb water and moving up into my front yard. Today it is only curb-to-curb to the west of me.
When Topical Storm Imelda was coming ashore earlier this week, I thought “good we’ll finally get some rain”. I even put down fertilizer and garden lime on my yard to be watered-in by the rain. Then … nothing … light intermittent drizzle Monday and Tuesday followed by a few short showers yesterday. Be careful what you wish for.
I’m off work this week on a “staycation”. I was making a Starbucks run about 11 AM when it began. By the time I got back to my driveway the deluge had begun. Heavy downpour for over an hour before a temporary respite, and we are at the trailing edge of what is now Tropical Depression Imelda. Houston proper and points east are getting the brunt of it.
We have always been an “island in the stream” during flooding events. In the thirty years we have been here even the worst flooding events has left us high and dry.
All of the usual places that flood in Houston are flooding now. Watching LIVE YouTube coverage of Houston weather and flooding. It’s pretty bad.
I’m glad I took the week off.
Back Yard Eden
10:00 AM, 85 degF, West Houston TX
Summer is coming to an end. Slowly but surely the days of sub-100 degF and 90+ humidity are numbered. The Mrs has spent most of the summer renovating our back porch after years of hiding inside. Take a look …
I am taking this week off on a “staycation” to get some much needed work done around the house. My new job gives me 6 weeks vacation so I might as well use it.
We are sitting on the back porch having a Starbucks treat. The Mrs is crocheting while I read THE HARLAN ELLISON COLLECTION – I HAVE NO MOUTH AND I MUST SCREAM first published in 1967. SciFi guy that I am and in my teens when it first came out, I strangely never read it although I knew of it and have frequently used the phrase when dealing with the frustrations of life.
Also enjoying an unlikely breakfast of Romaine lettuce as I endeavor to loose the 30 lbs I gained after going back to work over a year ago. I tend to be a social animal and find it all too easy to go to lunch.
We are in the shade on the south side of the house with a very nice breeze that come and goes. Small scattered clouds are drifting by over head.
In the short time I have been writing this, the temperature on my Apple Watch has risen to 87 with a predicted high of 93. But for now it is very pleasant.
Wishing you all an equally peaceful day …
Today in “Cats”
Pickles (left) and Sir Edmund Hillary (right) napping on the cat “tree”.
Pickle boy | sleepy boy
Pickles loves to sleep. I am sooooo jealous.
Comfy | Sleepy | Out
Sir Edmund Hillary … out like a light
Look at me Daddy, I’m cute
So damn cute …
and seconds later as if on cue in the EXACT SAME SPOT
It’s a box, Daddy
People who have never had pets don’t understand. Pets are your children who never really grow up. They never stop loving you or needing you. They don’t move away to live their own lives. They don’t judge. You never become “lame” or old in their eyes.
Patches would wait in the window every day for me to come home. She would meet me at the door and often race me to the bedroom and jump up on the bed wanting me to toss crinkle balls to her that she would swat back to me out of mid air. I kept thinking I need take a video of her playing swat the crinkle ball, there would always be time. Our time ran out. I really wish I had made that video. Oh course she didn’t care, playing with me was all that mattered to her. She would play for just a few minutes then flop down on bed all tuckered out.
Patches lived with us for almost a decade. She had her faults, but was always very sweet and gentle. She had a good life with us and a calm painless end. Logic suggests that I should be happy that she is no longer suffering and happy for the time she was with us. And I am. Yet here I am at work sitting in front of the computer monitor with tears streaming down my face.
Maybe it’s because they are so dependent on us. We love our pets and want them to have good lives. But eventually there is nothing we can do for them except ease their suffering.
Patches is the third pet I have outlived. It doesn’t ever get easier.
The Mrs sent me this image a week ago.
Got this bed to go in the bedroom for Sir Edmund Hillary, but he never used it there. So we put it in the kitchen up against the window that gets the late afternoon sun. He eventually discovered it and claimed it as his.
He’s twitching so he must be dreaming.
I think that he and Pickles miss Patches. The Mrs says she heard one of them meowing as if calling for her.
Patches empty bed …
Patches 2004? – 2019
Patches took her last trip to the vet today. She had stopped eating or drinking for the past few days. She went to the vet Monday of this week and I thought that might be her last visit, she had lost a lot of weight over the past year and was suffering from reduced kidney function and irritable bowl syndrome. I picked up some meds for her on Wednesday, but by then she had stopped eating and drinking. She was telling me it was time to go even if I didn’t want to hear it. I will miss her.
Click link below for articles about Patches
Later that day …
Turned 65 last Sunday. Doing some research. Thought I’d share.
Sunday – Lap Day
I haven’t been posting much lately. Too much “life” going on … in a good way.
I have been working in my profession since April after a difficult two years. So, yeah things are going OK. Turned the big 65 last Sunday. The “pride” is still going strong.
Bottom left clockwise: Sir Edmund Hillary, Pickles, and the grant old lady … Patches. Not a very photogenic picture, but you get the point.
It’s box Daddy
Cleaning out, throwing out and/or shredding decades of old bills, cancelled checks, warranties and manuals for stuff I no longer own. Got to the bottom of the lower shelf of my lateral file cabinet. To Pickles it’s just another box.
UPS = Un-Professional Service
You be the judge
My wife has suffered from Multiple Sclerosis for decades. She is a shut-in with limited mobility. Her iPhone 5s began to reboot continually, and since it is her ONLY PHONE I decided to get her the latest iPhone Xs MAX. It was supposed to arrive this Friday (September 28 or later).
UPS (United Parcel Service) sent me an email notification over the weekend telling me it would arrive Monday September 25th between 3 PM and 7 PM. It needed to be signed for. HOWEVER the driver arrived a few minutes before 2 PM, knocked lightly on the door and immediately left one of those “stickies” saying they would attempt ONE more delivery on the next day.
So I called to complain. By the time I finally got through the automated phone system to a real person I was well and truly steamed. Although attempting to assure the person on the other end of the phone that I knew it wasn’t his fault, I asserted in no uncertain terms how I felt about their automated phone system and the difficulty in talking to a human being. I also explained the situation and asked when the package would actually be delivered. The advice given to me was to be ready at 1 PM.
So while I was at work, my wife dutifully began waiting by the door at 1 PM for the UPS man. At work I tracked the progress of the UPS truck on a map via the “handy” UPS tracking website. At around 3 PM his truck was on my street a few houses down and I FaceTimed my wife on her iPad (recall that her iPhone does not work) to let her know that her new phone was almost there. Then for some inexplicable reason the UPS truck left our neighborhood. I tracked it continually until 7 PM when it finally got back to our house. Throughout this time I texted and FaceTimed my wife with updates. She was ready when he came to the door.
When the UPS guy finally got to the door my wife met him and asked why he didn’t come to our house at 3 PM when he was right there. His answer … he was specifically told by his supervisor to make us the LAST delivery of the day. UPS was punishing me for complaining!
Think about that for a minute.
So I called back UPS, navigated the phone system, and got through to another human. I rehashed all of the above and asked if it was UPS corporate policy to retaliate against customers who have complaints about service quality. I was of course assured that this was not the case and that someone higher up the management ladder would get back in touch with me. That was 24 hours ago. Nothing nada zip zilch.
What would you do if you were in my position?
Oh the humanity …
Sir Edmund Hillary, or just Hillary for short, is one of my cats. He and his brother Pickles were litter mates that we rescued.
They are both long haired cats that suffer from extreme matting. Fortunately they are both tolerant and long suffering, allowing me to both trim their nails and shave their mats. I used to take them to the vet for this, but the vet wanted $300 apiece to anesthetize them and shave them. Since I have been underemployed since 2016, the task has fallen to me.
Earlier this week I couldn’t stand it any longer and decided that Hillary had to be trimmed. His mats had to be making him miserable.
Mission accomplished – I had him mostly trimmed – with the worst of the mats removed. Then yesterday I noticed it. I must have “zigged” when I should have “zagged” while trimming his neck.
I trimmed off one side of his whiskers. Oh the humanity! Or is that catity?
Hillary is VERY forgiving … and lying in my lap as I type this.
Reinventing the wheel
Hint: HHGTTG (Douglas Adams)
All good things …
In 1981 I moved to Houston from college in Golden Colorado to begin my career in the oil patch. West Houston. Katy. Not much was out here back then. Nonmacher’s Bar-B-Q was one of the few food establishments in the area at the time.
Texas BBQ. In my opinion, the best in the Katy area. If I understand correctly, Nonmacher made a name for himself selling BBQ at the Houston rodeo and other venues. John even gave me the recipe for his smoked pork loin that he sold only on Saturdays (two pork loins tied together with butchers twine, stuffed with onions and jalapeños, encrusted in lemon-pepper and smoked). I have made it several times, but it was always easier to get it from him.
But the area grew and many restaurants opened including many BBQ restaurants. Nonmacher’s was in a small strip center with only a few parking spaces. Most of his business was take away.
Nonmacher’s BBQ got some bad press in 2011 when some customers were offended by the “Let’s play cowboys and IRANIANS” poster hanging on the wall. This poster was from the Iran Hostage Crisis (1979 – 1981), a time when U.S. and Texas sentiment toward Iran was understandably negative. The people offended by it had most likely not even been born until well after the event.
John Nonmacher died of bladder cancer in 2013 and his wife Trudy continued to run Nonmacher’s BBQ after his death.
I went get some BBQ today and discovered that they had closed. As the sign says “All good things must come to an end“.
A Brief History Of Hoaxes
Targeted at the history of the Moon landing hoaxes … that is, why some people refuse to believe we landed on the moon despite overwhelming evidence that we did. This video also offers an explanation of why people believe in conspiracy theories in general.
Nuclear Propulsion in Space (1968)
Note: this video was produced before Apollo 11 landed on the moon in 1969. NASA and the (then) Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) began work on the design of nuclear propulsion systems in the mid-1950s.
Everything old is new again …
A History of Long Range Tracking Cameras
BIG Telephoto Lenses
Ever wonder how they get those amazing close-ups of the rocket launches?
This video shows you how they do it!
FH Launch in (( STEREO ))
This is really cool. It’s true – the sound is even more mind blowing than the imagery.
Listen with headphones.
But … as impressive as the sound of the video above is with headphones on … you still miss the full body sensation of your innards vibrating from the low frequency rumble. Perhaps listening with headphones AND a really powerful sub-woofer?
2017 – Every F9 Landing
A compilation of every Falcon 9 first stage landing in 2017 (18 launches / 14 landings)
Source: SpaceX / edited and compiled by Go To Space
FH Sound & Fury
A Falcon 9 is BIG
Elon Musk at LZ-1 standing next to one of the two Falcon Heavy side boosters.
Source: SpaceX via Instagram (https://t.co/UyiNd2fmi5)
Updated FH launch coverage
SpaceX has updated its launch coverage video to include onboard video of F9 both side boosters
360 Launch Video
Everyday Astronaut (Tim Dodd) has posted his 360 degree video of his experience three miles away from the Falcon Heavy launch. He is standing exactly where I was at the final Saturn V launch of Skylab. This is very nostalgic for me and I understand the emotions he must have been feeling.
You can watch it here in full 360 degrees: https://youtu.be/tBhuSTXMCaI *
Tim is doing a fantastic job covering SpaceX and spaceflight in general. His videos are simultaneously highly informative – and – entertaining! His enthusiasm is contagious.
Please check out Tim’s home page (https://everydayastronaut.com) and his YouTube channel.
You can support him via Patreon (https://www.patreon.com/EverydayAstronaut)
Also be sure to check out his online shop (https://everydayastronaut.com/shop/)
If you have not already done so, check out A Blast (off) From My Past for an accounting of my experience at the Saturn V launch, some 45 years ago.
* I tried to embed the video, but WordPress and/or iOS Safari wouldn’t support 360 in the embedded version.
Unless you have been living under a rock, you now know that yesterday SpaceX accomplished something spectacular. That being the launch and partially successful landing of the Falcon Heavy boosters and the delivery of “Starman” in Elon Musk’s vintage cherry red Tesla Roadster. Both side boosters landed successfully back at the Cape as shown below. Unfortunately the core section failed to initiate the final landing burn and crashed next to the recovery drone ship. YouTube, Reddit, and Twitter are replete with coverage and discussion.
I have selected a few choice (short) videos below for your enjoyments.
Note that even though the bottom videos from the returning side boosters shown above are supposed to be from each individual booster, someone goofed and we see the same video stream displayed on the left and right. SpaceX corrected this with a later video, but that is not currently available on YouTube.
Below is one of the better spectator videos of the landings. (There are many)
Let the New Space Race begin!
A Blast (off) From My Past
In honor of today’s Falcon Heavy Launch
Originally published https://contrafactual.com/2017/02/19/a-blast-off-from-my-past/
The image below is a screen capture from one the videos in the previous post on today’s SpaceX CRS-10 launch.
Life comes full circle. In a much earlier post I described what it was like to be standing at the water’s edge in the foreground at the last ever Saturn V launch.
- The Saturn V F1 engines were the most powerful rocket engines ever made. Each one produced over 1.5 million pounds of thrust. The five F1 engines on the Saturn V made it the most powerful launch vehicle ever at over 7.6 million pounds of thrust. Just over forty years ago on May 14, 1973 [almost 44 years as of this writing], I was lucky enough to be among the press and dignitaries sitting on the bleachers or standing in front of the turning basin at the Launch Complex 39 Press Site for the last ever Saturn V launch. I was 19 years old. My best friend’s aunt was a professional photographer. She got each of us a press pass for the launch of the Skylab space station. For a teenage space fan, who had watched every manned launch since Alan Shepard’s first suborbital Mercury launch, this was truly “dying and going to heaven”. For several days before the launch we got to go on exclusive tours of the launch site. We were able to see Walter Cronkite’s broadcast booth. NASA loaded us up with press packets and thick tomes of specifications. I can not begin to tell you how totally cool this was.
On launch day I was one of the throng of people standing to the left of the countdown clock in the picture above.
- I was just three miles away from the launch pad. When the engines fired up, the sound of the F1 engines was felt as much as heard. The low base rumbling seemed to reach directly into my chest and vibrate my heart and lungs [dare I say it was nearly orgasmic?]. As the Saturn V rose into the sky, I could smell the burned kerosene of the exhaust as I felt the waves of warm air wafting over me.
- This was truly a once in a lifetime opportunity.
The SpaceX image inspired me to search the Internet and YouTube for Skylab launch images. I scored big time. The second image is screen shot from the video below. Back in the day I had a fetish for white jeans (probably expressing my inner John Lennon). Trust me – I am in there somewhere.
Full video from 1973
The Internet is amazing. Welcome to the future.
Elon Musk – it’s going to be exciting
Reminds me of the days of the Apollo launches.
Is There Life on Mars?
Latest SpaceX Falcon Heavy Animation
A preview of today’s scheduled launch (Tuesday, Feb. 6th at 1:30 PM ET).
Watch live: http://www.spacex.com/webcast
Best of Elon Musk 2017
What will 2018 bring?
Gwynne Shotwell, President and COO of SpaceX speaking at TAMEST 2018 Annual Conference AEROSPACE on the FRONTIER OF COMMERCIAL SPACEFLIGHT.
Also note that today SpaceX successfully relaunched a previously launched F9 booster to place the GOVSAT-1 satellite into Geostationary Transfer Orbit (http://www.spacex.com/webcast) This is the second launch this year. UPDATE – first stage was not intended to land on a drone ship but survived the water landing (“This rocket was meant to test very high retrothrust landing in water so it didn’t hurt the droneship, but amazingly it has survived. We will try to tow it back to shore.” https://mobile.twitter.com/elonmusk/status/958847818583584768)
FRONTIER OF COMMERCIAL SPACEFLIGHT
Note the last video shown is appears to be the first concept 2016 “ITS” video, NOT the 2017 somewhat scaled back “BFR” video.
Falcon Heavy is scheduled to launch this upcoming Tuesday February 6.
Direct from my childhood (1967) …
Christmas in the Trenches
First there was 22,000 Days …
and now (just the music – no relation to the folks in the video)
Side bar … although I own* many versions of “Birthday” – vinyl, cassette, CD, and iTunes – I can’t play it for you due to “copyright issues”, so I am forced to find the best cover on YouTube.
Welcome to the Future.
* no longer sure I actually own them, but I sure paid for them
Ran into a guy a few weeks back wearing an Occupy Mars T-shirt and asked him if he worked for SpaceX. Turns out he was a machinist at the McGregor facility. I shook his hand and thanked him for keeping the dream alive. He protested saying he was just a machinist and I told him that every job mattered in building rockets.
I actually tried to visit the McGregor facility a few years ago on a road trip back from Denver. They had just installed the new guard shack at the entrance and they turned me away. Apparently you can schedule a tour in advance but I haven’t figured out how to do that yet. I suspect they have the occasional “open house” for the local residents of McGregor.
I have an iPhone 6s Plus. The lightning plug port had stopped charging – sort of. The plug wouldn’t stay in and I would have to carefully hold it “just so” to get it to charge. I had the same problem with my original iPhone 5s. It was the reason I upgraded to the 6s Plus.
So I called my local Batteries + Bulbs. $80 to replace the charging port. BUT the nice lady I spoke to suggested using a toothpick to clean out any lint. I used a toothpick and compressed air (computer dust spray) and cleaned out a fair amount of lint.
The charging plug snaps briskly in and charges. Son’s iPhone … same problem … same solution.
PS – I also cleaned out my old iPhone 5s … problem solved.
I first met him in 2000. He was the Oracle DBA at the company which would later be bought by the one that employed my for 15 years. He is the reason I got my Oracle DBA certification.
He has been out of work for several years now and was finally forced to sell his house. He will be moving back to Oklahoma to live with relatives. He’s my age or a little younger.
I went over to see him tonight. He is giving away his stuff as his subdivision doesn’t allow garage sales.
Lay offs, reductions in force, terminations continue unabated in the “oil patch”.
Ever since he called me over the weekend to tell me he was moving, the Garth Brooks song “Wolves” has been playing in my mind.
Oh Lord, keep me from bein’ the one the wolves pull down
January’s always bitter
But Lord, this one beats all
The wind ain’t quit for weeks now
And the drifts are ten feet tall
I been all night drivin’ heifers
Closer in to lower ground
Then I spent the mornin’ thinkin’
‘Bout the ones the wolves pulled down
Charlie Barton and his family
Stopped today to say goodbye
He said the bank was takin’ over
The last few years were just too dry
And I promised that I’d visit
When they found a place in town
Then I spent a long time thinkin’
‘Bout the ones the wolves pull down
Lord, please shine a light of hope
On those of us who fall behind
And when we stumble in the snow
Could you help us up while there’s still time
I don’t mean to be complainin’ Lord
You’ve always seen me through
And I know you got your reasons
For each and every thing you do
But tonight outside my window
There’s a lonesome, mournful sound
And I just can’t keep from thinkin’
‘Bout the ones the wolves pull down
Oh Lord, keep me from bein’
The one the wolves pull down
Songwriters: STEPHANIE DAVIS
© Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC
… and another makes 18
Another Launch / Another Landing
Yet Another BFR Analysis
This is short and well thought out. I personally think that point to point ICBT will eventually replace a large segment of air travel.