Wednesday, August 31, 2005

NASA's Hurricanes

Last year, Hurricane Frances came through the southern Florida peninsula, damaging NASA facilities at the Cape, most notably the huge Vehicle Assembly Building. Looking at footage and pics from Discovery's Return to Flight, it looks like most of the damage hadn't been repaired yet.

More bad news though, both the Stennis Space Center, and the NASA External Tank Facility at Michoud (operated now by Lockheed Martin) were in the swath of Hurricane Katrina. The Michoud facility is about 10 miles east of downtown New Orleans. According to this article, the facility came through relatively unscathed, fortunately, and was even used as a shelter for NASA and Lockheed Martin employees. It also served as a staging area for local firefighters.

FEMA is using the Marshall Space Flight Center as a staging area now too, evidently, as the center is pretty close to the most heavily damaged areas in Alabama, but suffered no damage on their own.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Bring Your Axe

"Some houses in Chalmette have water past the second floor. The Dept. of Wildlife and Fisheries ahs approx. 60 boats ready to go out to rescue people from rooftops where necessary in St. Bernard Parish (and 200 throught SE Louisiana. Some people were reportedly trapped in attics. You'd think everyone would know by now, BRING AN AX TO THE ATTIC. I don't care if you're in Nebraska. If you go into the attic, you bring a damn ax."

Hell, I'm from Nebraska, and I'd bring a damn ax into the attic if we flooded here.

[Via Metroblogging New Orleans]

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Another named storm

The 11th, to be precise. As of the writing of this post, the National Hurricane Center was still calling Katrina a Tropical Storm. Really, I think she's already a hurricane and they just haven't updated it.

Compare this with last year, we were making a trip down to Orlando, less than 12 hours after Charley had ripped through there. That was a year and two weeks ago. This year we're headed down again this weekend, and guess what? Another storm!

11 named storms and it's still only August. We haven't even reached the peak of the season yet and were already half way through the list.

For those of you that are curious, the list of names only runs through W, (Wilma this year, yabba dabba doo!) after that we don't start on next years list, as most people think, the National Hurricane Center starts designating them by the letters of the Greek alphabet: Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, etc.

My pal JW is down in the West Palm...hope everything works out well for him, as Katrina looks like it could go in there or a bit farther south. Of course, he went through Jeanne and Frances *and* posesses the Magic Horseshoe, so, doesn't look like things will get that bad down there.

Friday, August 19, 2005

STS-121 'officially' pushed back to March '06.

This has been rumoured for about a week now, that the next shuttle launch wouldn't occur during the upcoming September and November windows. I think the most surprising news here is that NASA is mulling whether or not to fly Discovery (again) for STS-121, then fly Atlantis for STS-115. Atlantis was originally supposed to fly 121. Souces say that they are going to fly Discovery again so that Atlantis doesn't have to fly a back to back mission profile for STS-115 and STS-116, two missions which would be flown on a tight schedule because they are ISS construction missions. 115, in fact, be the first actual ISS construction mission since Endeavour flew STS-113 in November/December 2002, bringing up the P1 Truss. Atlantis would have had to fly the missions pretty much back to back because 115 and 116 are going to deliver the P3/P4 and P5 Trusses respectively, and one wouldn't want to leave the station 'lopsided' for a long period of time, in my mind.

*Edit: Acutally looks like it's shaping up to be a Discovery/Atlantis/Discovery/Atlantis rotation for the next 4 missions. Where is Endeavour in all this? It's the lightest of all the shuttles and, so you would think, would be perfect for lugging the heavy ISS hardware up there.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

R32 coming to US!!

OK so those of you who know me know that I'm kind of a kitschy car guy. I like a lot of cars that most people look at and say, why would you want something like that? Eventually I'd like to do a chopped and dropped Astro van, an old wood-side station wagon with an LT1, or a trick flat black lead sled.

Anyway, those are all future project cars. There are some I'd like to buy new.

One of the top 10 cars on my list right now is the VW R32. For those of you uneducated masses who don't know what an R32 is, or even what a GTi is, look here. The R32 is basically a GTi with an Audi-derived all wheel drive system, (VW calls theirs 4Motion, Audi's is Quattro) a sweet 3.2L VR6 engine, and other go-fast goodies. In the US only 5000 of them were made available (in stick, natch, which I can't drive,) and only in 2004. They didn't make them for 2005 and so far have no plans on making a 2006 model available. You can buy a used one, but so many of them have been thrashed by autocrossers because they were pretty much ready out of the box for that type of racing, or they were crashed or rolled by stupid teens that shouldn't have been driving a light weight, high horsepower car.

But there is good news. (Geico aside)

Because of the outrage the VW Group received when the North American R32 was discontinued, they are planning to release (well, it's been rumoured at least) the Mark V version of the sports car here again. Even better news, it could be released here as the R36: a 3.6L 300 hp version of the car, complete with an optional 4 doors and spiffy-cool DSG transmission. DSG (Direct Shift Gearbox) is basically a transmission which has the performance aspects of a stick, but functions automatically. Think Ferrari's F1-dervied clutchless paddle-shift system but without the paddle shifters.

So maybe one of these days I can get a brand spanking new VW R32/R36 (and I won't be saving money on my car insurance.)

Red Light District

Today's 2 part automotively-themed post:

1.) Raven rants about the proliferation of red-light runners.
Something Cheeky]

2.) Check out Top Gear. Yes it's acutally British, but it's far better than almost everycar show I've seen in the US.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Top 10 Music - Tagback to Raven

Raven posted on her blog the top 10 list of things she's been listening to recently. Last friday I accidentally came across a mashup site. Before this I hadn't really been interested, most of the time they were being done by some moron that wanted to combine like Christina Aguilera with the Macarena or something. Pure crap.

Anyway, ran across this site and was listening to a few of them...there are three or four that aren't bad, but the best one there was Callin' it back. It's a mashup if AC/DC's Back in Black and Lyrics Born. Now, AC/DC I'm not big of a fan of. Back in Black is one of those iconic songs that just about everyone knows. Lyrics Born I've heard before, never really got interested in....together though it's a pretty kickass song. The Lyrics Born lyrics (no pun intended) meshes really well with the guitar riffs and the beat from AC/DC. Give it a listen.

So here's my Top 10 for this week (or past few weeks):

1. Callin' it back - AC/DC vs. Lyrics Born by Bangers 'n Mash
2. Flaming June (BT vs PvD remix) - BT (from Vorsprung Dyk Technik)
3. Beautiful (Places) - Paul van Dyk (from Seven Ways)
4. Enjoy the Silence - Depeche Mode (as remixed by Sasha and Digweed) No link, sorry.
5. While the Earth Sleeps - Deep Forest w/ Peter Gabriel (Strange Days Remix)
6. Hybrid - If I Survive (from Wide Angle)
7. I'm Not Driving Anymore (Instrumental) - Rob Dougan (from Furious Angels)
8. Snake (Dave Seaman Mix) - Opal (from Global Underground) No clip, sorry.
9. Winter Love - Taucher (from Live at Webster Hall)
10. Nothing but You (Cirrus Mix) - Paul van Dyk w/ Hemstock & Jennings (from Nothing but You)

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

"From Giant Leaps to Baby Steps"

Gene Krantz wrote an interesting op-ed piece which the New York Times has up today on their web site. Among the best is this quote:

"Does the "quit now" crowd really believe that abandoning the shuttle and International Space Station is the way to keep America the pre-eminent space-faring nation?"

I totally agree with his point. How are we to explore space if we aren't willing to take a few risks. Cortez, Columbus, Magellan, et al. loaded their ships for bear to explore the world with no guarantee of ever coming back. Robert Falcon Scott explored the Antarctic not even knowing that the resources he brought with him would allow him to survive. I think that it's in mankind's inner core to explore the unknown...why aren't we trying harder now?

* Krantz is well known as the man who told his team that "Failure is not an option..." when telling his White Team to get the Apollo 13 astronauts back alive, and was a NASA Flight Director for most of Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo, plus some of the early shuttle missions.