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:: Saturday, March 08, 2003 ::

Free Blog
If you got anything to say, say it here.
:: David 9:53 AM [+] ::
Things That Tick Me Off
On Tuesday, I wrote in here about getting to see astronaut Franklin Chang-Diaz. It was just pure luck that I got to--NASA's most-flown astronaut (with seven spaceflights) was going to be in Huntsville, and there was no public or Marshall announcement of it, I just happened to work with a guy that was in the group he was going to be speaking to. OK, fine.

Except, then, it turns out the next day there was another unannounced astronaut visit in Huntsville, and I didn't find out about this one until Nicole told me she saw it in the paper the day after that. As it happens, the kids at Space Camp got a surprise visit from Buzz Aldrin. Buzz frickin Aldrin was in Huntsville on Wednesday, and I didn't get to go see him 'cause I didn't know about it. Now, that's annoying.
:: David 9:51 AM [+] ::

The Daily Hatbag
Since Jesse wrote this one for a convention, and I'm at a convention, it just seemed appropriate. Well, as appropriate as anything, I suppose.
:: David 9:47 AM [+] ::
San Francisco--Day Three
Having planted the Spanish flag at this previously unsettled bay, we mark the nothernmost expansion of the Spanish empire. Why we keep out journals in English is quite beyond me. I mean, Sacre Bleu!

OK, actually this is just the day three log of my time in San Francisco. My dream of going and looking for the nuclear wessels... nuclear wessels... in Alameda... is dashed by the fact that the convention starts today, meaning it's time for us to switch out of tourist mode (mostly) and into NASA mode. JoCasta is doing her presentation today. Originally, there was supposed by a high-ranking team from HQ here to make a presentation about the Educator Astronaut program, but Feb. 1 scuttled a lot of schedules, so it turns out that basically WE are the EA presence at this convention. JoCasta had to add some extra slides to her presentation to talk about the program.

Not much happened since I wrote last night. We ate supper... it's interesting how many of our meals are things like the Southern fried chicken salad, or the New England clam chowder, or the Bavarian ham sandwich. I think I've only eaten one meal since I've been here that was a "California" something. Ironically, the New England clam chowder was recommended to JoCasta as a real San Francisco specialty.

I tried to sleep... but it was amazingly loud outside... Lain, it made Vieux Carre look downright quite. Another reason I'll be glad to be home.
:: David 9:43 AM [+] ::

:: Friday, March 07, 2003 ::
Notes from S.F.
Our story so far: We got up this morning, and had to change hotels. The new hotel is around the block from the old one, so JoCasta and I had to take our luggage and carry it from the old hotel to the new one, thus fulfilling another long-standing Star Trek IV fantasy--looking like an idiot on the streets of San Francisco. We looked like some sort of cadet review--with luggage! We went then to the convention center and got our booth set up for tomorrow. Apple has a huge booth, but they were still in the process of setting up as we were leaving... I'm hoping to get some good Apple swag from them tomorrow. Being able to get free Apple swag while giving away free NASA swag would pretty much fulfill my life.

After leaving there, we went to Fisherman's Wharf, where we took a bay cruise, which went under the Golden Gate Bridge and around Alcatraz, taking care of several of our touristy needs all at once. You could even look when we went under the bridge and see the Pacific Ocean, which I've never seen before. It didn't look any bigger than the Atlantic. We ate at Pier 39 at Fisherman's Wharf, and then cable-carred back in towards downtown. We got off and walked back through Chinatown (it was interesting to me the number of Asian people in Chinatown. I'd already been wondering how many of the people we were seeing in downtown San Francisco were actually locals, and how many were tourists... which is to say, to what extent the local people actually used the areas we were in. That question was really driven home as I was walking through Chinatown... I mean, how often do the Chinese people living there just decide, Man, I really need some jade doo-dads, and other quasi-Chinese looking stuff? Possibly my name written in both Chinese and English, in case I forget?)

We did a little shopping, including going to a closing FAO Schwartz, which was pretty sad (like an FAO Schwartz estate sale... they were even selling the computer software they used there), and a CompUSA that had like three seperate Apple sections (two of them were just computers).

So now we're at the new hotel for a while before dinner. No T1 line here, and fewer amenities in general, but still, not bad at all. And, hey, NASA's paying for it, so I can't complain. You know, I loved NASA while I was growing up, but now that NASA is doing things like paying for nice hotel rooms and buying me wonderful desserts, so much the better. So, that's the day so far. More to come...
:: David 8:21 PM [+] ::

Daily Hatbag
Sorry, of course I couldn't leave you without your daily Hatbag.
This one's dedicated to the Windows laptop we're using on this trip, which actually is very nice, as Windows laptops go. Don't suppose we could get a Mac next time, Alan? ODIN got any G4 Powerbooks?
:: David 9:40 AM [+] ::
Day Two in San Francisco
The convention actually starts tomorrow, so today is set-up day for groups with booths. After we get set up, we're exploring the city, so probably not a lot of bloggin' today. Have a good day!
:: David 9:35 AM [+] ::
Space Quarter
Thanks to all the loyal readers of this blog, Florida has decided to choose the Gateway to Discovery design for its state quarter. Also, Lain and I were able to drive the price on the Soviet satellite that was up for auction all the way up to $31,000, but that's as high as it went. Now don't you feel bad?
:: David 9:34 AM [+] ::
:: Thursday, March 06, 2003 ::
Very nice
The room I'm in tonight has a free T1 connection. Cool, huh?
:: David 6:15 PM [+] ::
I'm Here
Well, I made it to San Francisco. Just flew in (boy, are my arms tired), and checked into the hotel, so have not really seen anything yet. Based on the pollution content in the atmospher, I'd say I've arrived in the late 20th century. Frankly, it's a wonder these people ever made it out of the 20th century (little Star Trek humor there... either you get it or you don't. Sorry).
The flight from Dallas to San Francisco was amazing, since it was my first time doing anything like that, but as I try to write about it, I realize that all my insights would either come across as extremely inane in print, or would not be something I would be able to translate into words, or, in most cases, both. Suffice it to say it was cool flying over landscapes that were completely unlike anything I had ever seen before. It's amazing, also, the places people live. Kind of depressing, though, being up high enough for the first time to be able to look straight up and see the sky get darker above you as the atmosphere thins... depressing to know that that's as close as I'm going to get... 10 percent there, and no further... oh well.
:: David 6:12 PM [+] ::
in dallas
:: David 10:55 AM [+] ::
The Color Of Money...
...will change by the end of the month, on $20 bills at least, when the treasury dept. releases new bills on March 27 that will be of a new, currently undisclosed color, per CNN.com.
The old money will be green with envy, I'm sure.
:: David 5:30 AM [+] ::
Daily Hatbag
Lain crafted this joke by Han... solo.
:: David 5:28 AM [+] ::
I'm off! As if you didn't already know that!
By the time you read this, I'll be on my way to San Francisco.
:: David 5:26 AM [+] ::
:: Wednesday, March 05, 2003 ::
Life Will Find A Way
ISS Science Officer Don Pettit has posted two new entries in his Space Chronicles series.
Here's Pettit on growing plants in space:
"To construct my planter, a spherical core is needed. An old pair of underwear worked well. We have supplies on station sufficient to change our underwear perhaps once every three to four days so I figured there might be a few nutrients in there as well. An old pair of underwear was folded into a sphere and held in place with a few well-placed stitches using needle and thread from our sewing kit. The toilet paper was sewn to the outer surface. A drinking straw was sewn so that its opening was in contact with the fabric and could thus be connected to a drink bag to provide a continuous water drip via capillary action. Seeds were planted with a pair of tweezers by carefully working each seed between the weft of the gauze. The sphere was initially watered and then attached to the water bag by a long thin plastic tube, which also functioned as a string and hung by a light in the node. It bobbed around in the air currents.
I became concerned, when after a few days, no sign of sprouting had occurred."
:: David 1:17 PM [+] ::
Daily Hatbag
If the woman in the post below is looking for a date, may I suggest the slightly-more-logical Hippie?
:: David 9:02 AM [+] ::
Um... okay... sure...
OK, this has got to be about the stupidest thing I've seen today.
:: David 8:55 AM [+] ::
A New Day Has Come
I had the honor and privelage today to be Sonic's first-ever breakfast customer in Huntsville (well, at least at the one I went to). Since leaving Mississippi nigh seven months ago, I have eagerly awaited the day that Sonic breakfast would come here, and today, it has. Sonic has one of my favorite fast-food breakfast menus, with the other being the one Subway I've seen that actually serves breakfast.
:: David 8:16 AM [+] ::
You Must Fight The Bear! In San Francisco! With NASA!
Expect a decrease in Dave-bloggin' for about the next week, as I'll be travelling to the American Society of Curriculum Directors convention in San Francisco, where I'll be manning a booth for NASAexplores (in fact, it appears that we will be the only agency presence there, meaning that we'll essentially be representing all of NASA). I've not flown on a commercial jet in probably about a quarter-century, and have never been further west than Louisiana, so this will be quite the adventure. Not sure how much time we'll have for doing San Francisco stuff, but hope to have a good time.
:: David 8:14 AM [+] ::
:: Tuesday, March 04, 2003 ::
Small Personal Note
I try to keep the boring Dave-life stuff out of here, but just had to mention that right now, for the first time since May 2002, Nicole is at work. She started her new job today doing outpatient addiction-recovery counseling for adolescents with Bradford hospital's office here in Huntsville.
:: David 12:16 PM [+] ::
Don't Steal Music
An article in the LA Times reports that several music-industry executives have voiced support for Apple's planned music-downloading service (sort of a legal Napster), which is in development now. To be fair, though, I'm sure there will be a decent similar service for PCs eventually, and it might even be not too much worse than Apple's version, if things like Apple's free iPhoto, iDVD, iTunes, iMovie, Mail, etc. applications are any indication.
:: David 11:36 AM [+] ::
Hey Mister!
Wanna buy a satellite?
:: David 11:27 AM [+] ::
As Only NASA Can...
For those I've not told, my group is taking on responsibility for two of NASA's leading youth-focuses Web sites, NASA Kids and Liftoff. At the moment, I'm essentially the sole operator for both sites, which means I'm kind of personally managing two of NASA's most high-traffic Web sites. I'm not doing a whole lot with them, but still, it's kind of cool while it lasts.
That said, I actually managed to break NASA Kids yesterday, when I unintentionally disabled its ability to tell whether a viewer had Flash, essentially completely turning off all of the Flash features on the site. Here's Dave's free advice on Web authoring: Don't modify things you don't understand on sites you don't personally own without making a backup. Now you know. And knowing is half the battle.
:: David 9:41 AM [+] ::
Astronaut Alert
I get to see an astronaut today! Franklin Chang-Diaz will be speaking at UAH today. Cooly enough, he'll be talking about the VASIMR plasma-based propulsion system, which he's a lead researcher for, and which is what my next article was already scheduled to be about. Convenient, huh?
(Sorry, I still find astronauts to be extremely cool, and getting to see them when they visit is one of my favorite perks of this job).
:: David 9:36 AM [+] ::
Daily Hatbag
Ever have one of those days?
:: David 9:34 AM [+] ::
Free Blog
Alright, new feature I was going to try. Rather than me directing all the topics, if there's something you want to put up for discussion, do so here.
:: David 9:33 AM [+] ::
Thank You, DeeDee
OK, as you've noticed, the Idle Ramblings is working now, thanks, as always, to DeeDee, the best tech support department on Earth!
:: David 9:19 AM [+] ::
Love Tutor
Lain brought this to my attention. Which raises the question for those of you out there from the DM days, if we had had this job back in the Golden Age DM, who would have done it?
:: David 8:59 AM [+] ::
DVD Alert
Released today on DVD are the aforementioned "Star Trek IV" (which I plan to quote from liberally the later part of this week), the very funny "The Ref," and the VeggieTales movie, "Jonah." Collect them all.
:: David 8:53 AM [+] ::
Just A Tribute...
I've changed the name of the "Shout Out" section once again, since "My 2-Cent" wasn't really working with the system's strict rules of pluralization. The new title is an homage to my friend and mentor Joe Gurner, who wrote an "Idle Ramblings" column at The Daily Mississippian. Since I've stolen so many things from Joe over the year, such as the multiple defeats for DM editorship, to being editor of the DM's Preview section, to prized heirlooms, I thought it only appropriate that I rip him off one more time. Plus, now Joe has the opportunity to write Idle Ramblings for us all to read again.

And if you've not yet experienced the joy of the feedback section, do so now. If it has a number by it, that means other people have already written comments, which are usually far more entertaining than anything I write in the main blog section. If you're only reading my stuff, you're missing out on the best part. Whether or not anybody has already commented, clicking on the "Idle Rambling" link will also allow you to post your feedback.

NOTE: Alright, I've found myself utterly incapable of making this work on my own, so if you're still seeing "2-Cent," it's my fault. I'm working on it.
:: David 7:07 AM [+] ::

:: Monday, March 03, 2003 ::
Hatbag International
For the month of February, visitors from Singapore made up 7 percent of the traffic on the hatbag.net site (including this blog). Could Singapore be the Canada for the 21st Century?
:: David 4:55 PM [+] ::
This above all else...
Baseball player David Wells has said that some of the things said about him in his new biography are just not true. Sadly, it's his autobiography.
:: David 8:47 AM [+] ::
One of these days
On this date 34 years ago, Apollo 9 launched with a LEM for the first time. The flight feature a test run of the Command Module-Lunar Excursion Module docking that made the lunar landing later that year possible.
:: David 8:38 AM [+] ::
Daily Hatbag
The first season of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is available now on DVD in a store near you. Well, possibly not Joe.
:: David 8:34 AM [+] ::
A lotta threes
Later today, it will be 3:03, 03/03/03. That's a lot of threes for one day. This blog entry brought to you by the number 3.
:: David 8:29 AM [+] ::
China, all the way to eastern Africa
The Washington Post has an interesting editorial about the importance of exploration.
:: David 8:27 AM [+] ::
China, all the way to Luna
A Chinese space program official has said this agency has developed a plan to begin sending unmanned probes, including an eventual sample return vehicle, to the moon within the next two and a half year. While the plan has yet to receive formal government approval, lunar exploration has been announced as an eventual goal of the Chinese space program. China will become only the third nation to develop manned spaceflight capability with an orbital launch later this year (likely October, possibly November).

News of the Chinese space program is an interesting mix of information and disinformation, with this report sayting that China could have the technology to send an unmanned craft to the Moon within a year, while a report within the past few weeks said that China had the technology to send a man to the Moon now.
:: David 8:10 AM [+] ::

:: Sunday, March 02, 2003 ::
Alabama History Trivia
Guntersville Lake, not too terribly far from Huntsville, was the site at which a new world water speed record (285.21 miles per hour) was set in June 1967. That record stood for 11 years, until a new record (317.6 mph) was set, which still stands today.
:: David 9:55 PM [+] ::
Life imitates art imitates life
Sometimes, art says what blog cannot.
:: David 2:20 PM [+] ::
"I'll gladly pay you Tuesday..."
Oh, sweet gracious. This shall be a day long remembered. I saw the biggest cheeseburger I have ever seen today. We went to lunch at Cheeburger, Cheeburger today, and one of my brothers (whom I won't name, since my mom reads this), ordered "The Pounder." You know how at McDonald's the Quarter Pounder (or "Royale With Cheese," in France) actually refers to the pre-cooked weight, meaning that what you get is actually less than a quarter pound? Well, this place proudly proclaims on the menu that the Pounder actually has a pre-cook weight of 20 ounces of beef. It makes the bun it comes in look ridiculous, with a full cheeseburger's worth of meat hanging out the sides. If you finish eating the thing, they take a picture of you and hang it up on the wall, so my unnamed brother's picture now adorns there establishment. Ah, to be young again...
(P.S. You get five bonus blogpoints if you can identify the quote used as the title for this section.)
:: David 2:15 PM [+] ::

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