Amelia continues to do daily battle with the plush shark that previously drove her to Cute Overload fame. We originally got the shark at Manila Ocean Park, and it was a great travel pillow, but a much better cat toy.
(For some reason Martha doesn’t care as much for the shark, or for any large toys, for that matter. She prefers little rattle-mice.)
Frivolous and surreal products in giant bulk containers at Costco: triumph of capitalism or indicator of materialistic empire in decline? I don’t know. I just want to eat hemp hearts with mandarin orange segments and follow it up with some probiotic and fiber gummies before driving off in a minivan with a fuzzy pink steering wheel cover, wacky foam on my neck for sun protection.
Welcome to Costco. I love you.
We close with the Make-A-Wish bear greeting shoppers.
Powered by two liquid fueled Soviet NK-33 engines refurbished by Aerojet and mounted into a Ukrainian-built first stage topped by a US ATK solid-fuel second stage booster, Antares A-ONE, the first test flight, would launch into orbit the Cygnus Mass Simulator to prove to NASA the rocket’s viability for launching payloads to the ISS.
Last week I was one of twenty-five NASASocial participants invited to come see the Antares rocket’s first launch from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility, and given the same access to prelaunch and launch events as members of the media. The trip would include tours of Wallops and the launch pad, press conferences with NASA and Orbital execs, and the launch of the rocket itself. Between events I would stay on nearby Chincoteague Island and sample some of its off-season delights.
It would be my first NASA Social event since Juno in 2011.
The day before Antares launched, I was hanging around Wallops Visitor Center waiting for news on that day’s scrub, when I noticed one of the museum staff (Susan, the Educational Resources Coordinator) wearing what appeared to be a Space Shuttle Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU, or a spacesuit to put it simply). She had put it on to surprise Matthew, a young boy who frequently came to the visitor center dressed in a shiny spacesuit costume. Now, I was in my classic Starfleet engineering uniform just for the fun of wearing one to launch, and the opportunity for a group shot was too good to pass up.
Between that and the successful launch the next day, I think we totally made that kid’s weekend.
After launch scrub I was still able to get me and my red shirt photographed with the Antares rocket from the Arbuckle Neck viewing site, later that evening.
I’ll have more to write about the Antares A-ONE NASASocial event later, but for now, here was my view of the rocket launch itself, recorded from the NASA Wallops Flight Facility press site, 2.1 miles from Pad 0A. I used my NEX3 on a tripod, zoomed out for a wide angle view, with an ECMSST1 microphone with foam cover for wind shielding. Also on Vimeo.
While the video was recording I got a few still shots with my point-and-shoot Powershot, zoomed way in:
Mostly I tried to watch the launch with my own eyes. What photos and video don’t capture is how overwhelmingly bright the flame was; even in full daylight it shone with an eye-piercing fire, mach diamonds clearly visible in the launch plume. Antares runs on LOX/RP1, which burns mostly clean and doesn’t leave much of a trail like solid rocket boosters; you can see a very faint smoke trail below the rocket being blown to the right by the wind. And since we were just two miles from the pad, the sound was a deep and powerful roar that went right to your chest as well as ears. (Sadly the rocket was too far away for first stage separation to be visible.)
More Antares launch media:
These young cherry trees near our apartment blossomed early, catching the last snow of the winter in late March:
We visited the Tidal Basin that weekend to see if the DC blossoms had started, but there were only buds.
I returned a week and a half later to find the blossoms at their peak. It was Wednesday evening at sunset.
We returned again that weekend after church to see the last of the blossoms; already many had lost their petals and green leaves were gradually replacing the pink flowers, but there were still many trees in full bloom.
Explosions at the Boston Marathon. People killed, including a child; grisly injuries among runners and spectators.
- Photos of the carnage.
- Video of the blast as seen by a runner.
- Schneier recommends responding to terrorism with indomitable calm.
- How to Help.
May all affected find aid and comfort, and the bombers be brought to justice.
I’ve recently been selected to do two science things: see a rocket launch, and get my DNA analyzed.
The Touch-Screen Generation. Young children—even toddlers—are spending more and more time with digital technology. What will it mean for their development? (The Atlantic)
In the Passover haggadah, enigmatic bunnies multiplied like rabbits (Washington Post, Menachem Wecker — a former coworker at US News)
As employers push efficiency, the daily grind wears down workers. Many businesses no longer want long-term relationships with their employees, who must now work harder without getting financial and psychological rewards that were once routine. (LA Times)
The 25 Least Visited Countries in the World (Gunnar Garfors)
Why Media Sites Should Adopt Responsive Design (PBS MediaShift Idea Lab)
The Chemistry of Kibble. The billion-dollar, cutting-edge science of convincing dogs and cats to eat what’s in front of them. (Popular Science)
The Mad Men Account (Scathing Feb 2011 review of “Mad Men” by Daniel Mendelsohn for The New York Review of Books)
Why Dictators Don’t Like Jokes. Pro-democracy activists around the world are discovering that humor is one of the most powerful weapons in the fight against authoritarianism. (Foreign Policy)
Snapshots from Hong Kong: Photo Tour of 7-Eleven (Serious Eats)
Matt Groening’s Artwork for Apple (Vintage Zen)
Timeline of 10 Famous Fonts, an infographic (The Mines Press)
So you got a Raspberry Pi: now what? (Engadget)