Category Archives: History

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“.

Nonmacher’s BBQ on Facebook

John Nonmacher on Facebook

John Nonmacher Obituary

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.

https://youtu.be/eDNX65d-FBY

Everything old is new again …

https://www.bwxt.com/what-we-do/nuclear-thermal-propulsion-ntp

https://www.bwxt.com/news/2017/08/02/BWXT-Awarded-188-Million-Nuclear-Thermal-Propulsion-Reactor-Design-Contract-by-NASA

FH Launch in (( STEREO ))

This is really cool. It’s true – the sound is even more mind blowing than the imagery.

Listen with headphones.

https://youtu.be/ImoQqNyRL8Y

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?

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

https://youtu.be/JzCXYd2v3xE

The Internet is amazing. Welcome to the future.



Links

https://contrafactual.com/2013/07/20/apollo-11-main-engines-found/