Tuesday, June 15, 2021

On This Day in 2001: The Lakers Win a Baq-2-Baq NBA Championship...

The Los Angeles Lakers pose for a group photo after defeating the Philadelphia 76ers, 108-96, in Game 5 of the NBA Finals...winning their second straight championship on June 15, 2001.

20 years ago today, Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant won their second straight championship after the Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Philadelphia 76ers, 108-96, in Game 5 of the 2001 NBA Finals. Shaq earned his second consecutive trophy as the Finals' Most Valuable Player, while the Lakers made history by completing the NBA postseason with a best-ever 15-1 record (that one loss being to the Sixers in Game 1 of the Finals)...which remains unbeaten today.

We'll see what the Lakers do during their off-season to regain championship form before the 2021-'22 NBA season starts this October. LeBron James changing his jersey number back to '6' (which is the number he wore during the Olympics and when he played for the Miami Heat) is a good start... Maybe. Happy Tuesday!

LeBron James' Lakers jersey will read No. 6 when the 2021-'22 NBA season kicks off this October.

Sunday, June 13, 2021

On This Day in 1996: Cool Things Happened in High School...

A photo that I took of the new Performing Arts Center currently under construction at Bishop Amat Memorial High School...on June 9, 2021.

Just thought I'd point out that today marks 25 years since I had my final exam that concluded 10th grade at my alma mater, Bishop Amat Memorial High School! The test that I took on June 13, 1996 was for my English II class...which I had for 7th period. So why was this date memorable, you ask? Because of a girl I had a crush on, of course! I won't divulge her (full) name here, but she was the prettiest Filipina in my class—and probably in all of Amat, truthfully—and I was fortunate enough to have managed to be on speaking terms with her for much of sophomore year. We hugged after the English II exam ended (she was also in my homeroom and 3rd period World History class, respectively), and that was the last time I saw her for almost the next two years. (She ended up transferring to another high school for 11th and 12th grade, but showed up at a birthday party of one Amat classmate in February of '98, and the graduation party of another classmate four months later.) This hug was so big that my brother's friends (they all graduated from Amat two weeks before) found out about it afterwards...and expressed awe at my lucky moment. That's how significant it was that I was on good terms with Des during the 1995-'96 school year! ***

Another photo that I took of the new Performing Arts Center currently under construction at Bishop Amat Memorial High School...on June 9, 2021.

On another topic, here are photos that I recently took of the new Performing Arts Center (PAC) that's currently under construction at Amat! I'm both excited and sad about this... The PAC replaces the Faculty House (which had the publication office where I served on the school's Yearbook staff in 11th and 12th grade) that was demolished a few years before. Oh well. It's always after we graduate that our alma mater builds something cool on campus! I hope all of you are having a nice weekend.

Another photo that I took of the new Performing Arts Center currently under construction at Bishop Amat Memorial High School...on June 9, 2021.

Another photo that I took of the new Performing Arts Center currently under construction at Bishop Amat Memorial High School...on June 9, 2021.

***-Though I found out through Facebook last week that Des isn't into Star Wars (which doesn't really come as a surprise). My Star Wars obsession was huge in sophomore year—and it was me writing Star Wars fan fics during the weekend (and ahem, during some of my classes) that allowed me to not dwell on thoughts of Des and cause me to say or do anything lame or crappy around her throughout 10th grade! It's okay... This can't be a deal-breaker when she's now married with three children.

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Photo of the Day: Rehearsing VIPER's Departure from the Griffin Lander Onto the Lunar Surface...

A test unit of the VIPER lunar rover rolls down the ramp of a full-scale replica of Astrobotic's Griffin Moon lander...at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.
NASA / Johnson Space Center / James Blair

Off-Ramps to the Moon (News Release - June 9)

When NASA’s water-hunting robot – the Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover, or VIPER – arrives on the lunar surface, it will use two folding ramps to drive off the lander in style and begin exploring the Moon. To make sure its big moment goes off without a hitch, the VIPER team recently tested those ramps at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.

Using a full-scale model of the Griffin lander that will deliver VIPER to the Moon, the team evaluated how well a rover test unit was able to move on the ramps. The results showed ways NASA’s partner, Astrobotic of Pittsburgh, can modify the ramp designs. This will ensure the rover can maneuver on them – keeping its wheels within the guardrails, for example – and make a flawless exit onto the Moon.

Different materials were also tested on the surface of the ramps. These tests will help inform the designers about what qualities help the rover’s wheels move smoothly and securely. VIPER successfully descended the ramps on a textured aluminum surface, high-friction sandpaper, and a high-friction elastomer – a polymer with elastic properties.

Launching in 2023, VIPER will explore the Moon’s South Pole and map its surface for water and other resources. Astrobotic will provide the Griffin lander and VIPER’s delivery to the lunar surface through the Commercial Lunar Payload Services initiative.

Source: NASA.Gov

Wednesday, June 09, 2021

Juno Update: Check Out the First New Close-up Photos of Our Solar System's Largest Moon in 21 Years...

A black & white image of Jupiter's moon Ganymede that NASA's Juno spacecraft took with its JunoCam imager...on June 7, 2021.
NASA / JPL - Caltech / SwRI / MSSS

See the First Images NASA’s Juno Took As It Sailed by Ganymede (News Release - June 8)

The spacecraft flew closer to Jupiter’s largest moon than any other in more than two decades, offering dramatic glimpses of the icy orb.

The first two images from NASA Juno’s June 7, 2021, flyby of Jupiter’s giant moon Ganymede have been received on Earth. The photos – one from the Jupiter orbiter’s JunoCam imager and the other from its Stellar Reference Unit star camera – show the surface in remarkable detail, including craters, clearly distinct dark and bright terrain, and long structural features possibly linked to tectonic faults.

“This is the closest any spacecraft has come to this mammoth moon in a generation,” said Juno Principal Investigator Scott Bolton of the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. “We are going to take our time before we draw any scientific conclusions, but until then we can simply marvel at this celestial wonder.”

Using its green filter, the spacecraft’s JunoCam visible-light imager captured almost an entire side of the water-ice-encrusted moon. Later, when versions of the same image come down incorporating the camera’s red and blue filters, imaging experts will be able to provide a color portrait of Ganymede. Image resolution is about 0.6 miles (1 kilometer) per pixel.

In addition, Juno’s Stellar Reference Unit, a navigation camera that keeps the spacecraft on course, provided a black-and-white picture of Ganymede’s dark side (the side opposite the Sun) bathed in dim light scattered off Jupiter. Image resolution is between 0.37 to 0.56 miles (600 to 900 meters) per pixel.

“The conditions in which we collected the dark side image of Ganymede were ideal for a low-light camera like our Stellar Reference Unit,” said Heidi Becker, Juno’s radiation monitoring lead at JPL. “So this is a different part of the surface than seen by JunoCam in direct sunlight. It will be fun to see what the two teams can piece together.”

The spacecraft will send more images from its Ganymede flyby in the coming days, with JunoCam’s raw images being made available here.

The solar-powered spacecraft’s encounter with the Jovian moon is expected to yield insights into its composition, ionosphere, magnetosphere, and ice shell while also providing measurements of the radiation environment that will benefit future missions to the Jovian system.

Source: Jet Propulsion Laboratory


A black & white image of Ganymede that was taken with a navigation camera aboard the Juno spacecraft...on June 7, 2021.
NASA / JPL - Caltech / SwRI

A 1996 image of Ganymede that was taken by NASA's Galileo spacecraft...which made one last flyby of the Jovian moon in early 2000 before its mission ended three years later.

Tuesday, June 08, 2021

On This Day in 2001: Game 2 of the NBA Finals Gets a Very Memorable Highlight...

The Los Angeles Lakers' Derek Fisher dunks on the Philadelphia 76ers' Allen Iverson in Game 2 of the 2001 NBA Finals...as seen on a poster featured in SLAM magazine.
NBA Entertainment

20 years ago today, the Los Angeles Lakers emerged victorious against the Philadelphia 76ers in Game 2 of the 2001 NBA Finals, 98-89, and tied the series at 1-1. One highlight from that night's contest, which turned the momentum in the Lakers' favor after their surprising Game 1 loss against Philly two days before, was the authoritative dunk that Derek Fisher made against the Sixers' Allen Iverson. Fisher rarely dunked in NBA games during his 18-year career...and the fact that he did so against a future Hall of Famer showed that he was totally serious about conveying a message that this championship was for the Lakers to take. After being injured for much of the 2000-'01 regular season, Fisher became the team's X-factor upon returning to the court in the few weeks leading up to the NBA playoffs. And this dunk was his way of letting Lakers fans know that a back-to-back title was within the City of Angels' reach.

The fact that Fisher's return to Los Angeles several years later (after playing for other teams like the Utah Jazz) lead to him winning two more NBA championships—this time with Pau Gasol as his and Kobe's teammate—solidifies Fish's standing as one of the most endearing players the Lakers franchise has ever known.

Sunday, June 06, 2021

Photo of the Day: Visiting the Curiosity Mars Rover at NASA JPL 10 Years Ago...

Posing with the Curiosity Mars rover and its descent stage behind me inside the Spacecraft Assembly Facility at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory...on June 6, 2011.

It was on this day in 2011 that I attended a social media event (called the JPL Tweetup) at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory near Pasadena, California...during which I got to see the Curiosity Mars rover undergo final testing inside the Spacecraft Assembly Facility (SAF). By the end of that June, the 6-wheeled, nuclear-powered robot was transported to NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida to be prepared for launch—which took place aboard an Atlas V rocket from nearby Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on November 26, 2011. This was such a cool moment, and I was glad that I was also able to see Curiosity's successor, Perseverance, built inside the SAF several years later.

For more images that I took at the JPL Tweetup, click here.

Thursday, June 03, 2021

First TRIDENT and Now This... The Losses Just Keep Mountin' Up for 2021!

The Los Angeles Lakers will have to wait till the 2021-'22 NBA season to put up another championship banner at STAPLES Center.

So a day after NASA rejected the exciting Trident flyby mission to Neptune's moon Triton for two spacecraft that will explore Venus—a planet that has no future in human space exploration (Venus floating colonies? Oh please... This ain't Cloud City from The Empire Strikes Back)—the Los Angeles Lakers got eliminated by the Phoenix Suns (113-100) in Game 6 of their first-round series at STAPLES Center tonight. Unlike in 2020, when the Lakers won their 17th NBA championship, the L.A. Dodgers earned a World Series title for the first time since 1988, and Joe Biden ousted the Orange Treasonous Buffoon in last November's presidential election, the losses just keep pilin' up for this year...

Personally-speaking, 2021 is a complete and utter failure. That is all.

I will NEVER get over the fact that NASA denied the Trident spacecraft the opportunity to fly to Neptune's moon Triton and beyond.
L.M. Prockter et al. LPI / JPL / SwRI

Wednesday, June 02, 2021

First NEW HORIZONS and Now This... Flyby Missions Through the Outer Solar System (and Beyond) Continue to Elude Me...

The ice giant Neptune and its ocean moon Triton will have to wait a bit longer for the next human-made robotic explorer to visit them.

Click on this Blog entry from September 2005 to know what I'm talking about in regards to New Horizons. With the Venus community finally placated by two new Discovery-class missions (Discovery 15 and 16... I refuse to type their names here) that were selected by NASA earlier today, what are the chances the Ice Giant community will be thrown a bone with New Frontiers 5 as well as the Discovery 17 and 18 competitions later this decade?

Later this decade. As opposed to today...when Trident could've officially began its march to a launch that would've taken place as early as October of 2025. But no— The spacecraft shown below will most likely never become a reality. And with that, I say that the astronomers who announced the phosphine discovery about Venus last year can now go royally SCREW THEMSELVES. I waited 15+ years for this opportunity, and these bastards took it from me.

Schematics for the Trident spacecraft...if it was built.

Tuesday, June 01, 2021

I Got A New Phone! But I'm STILL Pissed At Crypto.com For Making Me Buy It When I Didn't Need To...

Moments before I removed my new Google Pixel 4a smartphone from its box...on June 1, 2021.

A few hours ago, the delivery person from Best Buy showed up at my house to drop off the new smartphone that I ordered online yesterday. I now have a Google Pixel 4a...which allows me to once again access the Crypto.com app and see what's the current status of my 40 million Shiba Inu coins (they're still worth less than $400). I paid $385 for the Pixel 4a, while my Crypto.com balance was around $325 when I lost access to it last week. Thanks for making me spend an extra $60 when I didn't need to, Crypto.

At least I can connect the Pixel 4a via Bluetooth to my Honda Civic now! The connection between my old phone (an LGE K20 V) and my car stopped working around three years ago for some odd reason. Probably because that particular Android is a piece of crap. It had issues ever since I bought it in August of 2018...but I'm still annoyed at Crypto.com for making me replace it at the time that I did. Happy 1st Day of June!

Displaying my new Google Pixel 4a smartphone...on June 1, 2021.

Sunday, May 30, 2021

You Friggin' SUCK, Crypto.com App...

Crypto.com basically stole my money when it updated its app (without warning users) and made it incompatible with my smartphone...thus preventing me from gaining access to my investment.

Three days ago, I found out that the mobile app I was using to buy cryptocurrency, Crypto.com, updated its program without letting users know in advance...causing me to lose around $325 (the amount that I had last time I checked my balance on Thursday, May 27) in investment. So how did I lose that $325, you ask? Well, the app is no longer compatible with my smartphone (and Crypto.com doesn't provide the ability to buy and sell coins on a PC instead), which means that I would need to buy a whole new device—even though my current Android is working fine—to regain access to my crypto. And the thought of having to spend a few hundred dollars (or over a thousand dollars if I were to finally purchase an iPhone) on a new device just to keep track of a financial investment that is currently worth less than the phone I'm viewing it on annoys the hell out of me.

So what's the cryptocurrency that I invested in, you're wondering? You guessed it— The Shiba Inu coin! I originally owned Dogecoins, but I sold all of them since 1.) I wanted to focus on buying more SHIB instead (I'm currently at 36 million coins), and 2.) the time to buy DOGE was last year. For the amount of money that you need to spend in order to acquire enough Dogecoins to make a significant profit (which would be over a thousand dollars), you can buy a hundred million to a billion Shiba coins for that same amount and patiently wait for them to go up in value over the coming years. Dogecoin, after all, took 8 years since its 2013 inception to reach where it is today...and it's not even at a dollar per coin yet.

So going back to the original point of this Blog entry, Crypto.com sucks. While my Android has been up for a replacement since last year, as mentioned in the first paragraph above it's still working well...and I find it infuriating that one app is forcing me to change my phone to regain access to my commodity. Would it be overdoing it if I said that the folks behind Crypto.com are crooks? They basically stole my money—and based on what its customer service told me through Twitter (shown below)—the only way to get it back is to unnecessarily spend cash on an unneeded device.

Combined this with the fact that the Los Angeles Lakers should've won Game 4 against the Phoenix Suns (even without Anthony Davis on the court) today, and you can see that this Sunday is garbage. For me, at least. If I do get a new phone, I'm still gonna talk trash about Crypto.com...even if I end up selling all Shiba coins and withdrawing my money from Crypto's wallet. We'll see.

The pathetic answer that Crypto.com's customer service provided through Twitter on how to regain access to its app without unnecessarily spending money to do so.

Invest in the Shiba Inu coin! But try NOT to do it on Crypto.com...