Friday, September 29, 2006

An artist's concept of SPACESHIPTWO.

Yesterday, British entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson, who owns Virgin Atlantic and the recently-created Virgin Galactic, unveiled in New York City the mock-up of SpaceShipTwo (SS2)...which will be a longer version of the SpaceShipOne vehicle that flew into space in October of 2004. SS2 will ferry eight people (two pilots and six passengers) into suborbital space. Of course, unlike the $300 to $400 plane ticket that you would have to spend going to, say, the Big Apple, you would have to dish out $200,000 to reserve a seat on SS2. Now let’s see— On one hand a person could probably spend that dough on a decent-size house somewhere here in Cali (or a 2006 Ferrari F430 or an ’06 Lamborghini Gallardo), and on the other hand, he or she could join the likes of Paris Hilton and soar nearly 70 miles above Earth. Overlooking the Hilton part (Note to Paris: Don’t try being the first person to have nookie in outer space), I’d choose the latter.

NASA officials take a tour of the Operations and Checkout Building at Florida's Kennedy Space Center.  The OCB will be the facility where the ORION spacecraft is assembled and tested before flight.

On the government side of space travel, NASA officials on Tuesday re-opened the high bay on the western side of the Operations and Checkout Building (OCB) at Florida’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC). So what’s so significant about this, you ask? The high bay was the site where the Apollo spacecraft were assembled and tested in the late 1960’s/early 70’s...and it will now be the area where Lockheed Martin conducts the final assembly on the Orion spacecraft. And yesterday, the first component for the Ares I-1 flight test vehicle (the component being the aft skirt belonging to the first stage solid rocket booster), slated to launch in April of 2009, was placed in the Assembly and Refurbishment Facility at KSC (shown in the picture below). Indeed, right now is a very exciting time to be a space enthusiast...unless you’re a "cynical young adult". Bastards. By the way, did you notice that once I started talking about NASA, a bunch of technical mumbo-jumbo started cropping up in this journal entry? Nice.

The aft skirt that will be part of the first stage solid rocket booster on ARES I-1 is placed inside the Assembly and Refurbishment Facility at Kennedy Space Center.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

THE SIMPSONS GAVE CREDIT TO THE PREQUELS??? OF COURSE NOT! But today's episode where Bart and Principal Skinner engage in a peanut and shrimp-toting stick fight featured the "Duel of the Fates" music theme from Star Wars Episodes' I and III (and that brief scene of Anakin riding that speeder bike across the Tatooine desert in Episode II). The question is... Will The Simpsons ever make a reference to Revenge of the Sith? And if it does... Will it be a positive reference? Or will Lenny and Carl engage in another mock-lightsaber fight talking about how Revenge of the Sith sucked more than Attack of the Clones and The Phantom Menace (Sith ruled, FYI!)? We shall see...

The Simpsons spoofing the front cover of the Episode 1 Vanity Fair issue...which was released in February of '99.

Friday, September 22, 2006

The CIA logo.

"The work of a nation. The center...of intelligence." HAHAHA! You know, it's kinda funny how the Central Intelligence Agency is now resorting to TV ads to hire more people. That shouldn't come as a surprise, though, what with this being the post-9/11, George Dubya age and all (in case you forgot)...and the spy agency isn't exactly doing a bang-up job in regards to operating in the 'war on terrorism'. Also, that "center of intelligence" line at the end of the commercial wouldn't be as hilarious had Dustin Hoffman not make that "Central Lack of Intelligence Agency" remark in 2004's Meet The Fockers. Oh well.

A screencap from that annoying 'Cow Shake' commercial...

UPDATE: One more thing... That new Carl's Jr. milk shake commercial where it's now two guys humping those cows is even more annoying than the first "Cow Shake" ad...the one with Sean Paul's really annoying song "Get Busy". In fact, I don't know which irritates me more... "Get Busy" or that "Milkshake" song by Kelis. God, I hate commercials.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Space shuttle Atlantis lands at Kennedy Space Center in Florida...completing STS-115 on September 21, 2006.

ONE DOWN, FOURTEEN MORE TO GO... Around 3:21 AM (Pacific Daylight Time) today, space shuttle Atlantis returned safely to Earth after completing the first space station assembly flight in almost four years (the last assembly mission took place in November of 2002). There are officially fourteen more assembly flights left before all the shuttles are scheduled to be retired in 2010 (two additional missions to the space station could take place in October 2009 and July 2010...but only if needed). However, if NASA gives the go-ahead next month, astronauts will return to the Hubble Space Telescope in April of 2008 for one last servicing flight...thus bringing the number of remaining shuttle missions to fifteen. (Do you like how I state the obvious up the wazoo?) Below are before-and-after photos of the International Space Station in regards to Atlantis' just-completed flight. Hopefully, its appearance will change again in February of 2007...when another set of solar arrays will be attached to the starboard side of the orbiting outpost (starboard is to the left-hand side of the station in the second photo). The next shuttle mission will take place with Discovery this December 14...but it's bringing along a measly piece of truss segment...not the cool, giant solar arrays you see in the photos below. I'll shut up now.

Before-and-after photos of the International Space Station, in regards to the just-completed STS-115 flight.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Winamp Classic
Winamp Classic.

STUPID WINAMP... For those of you who still use this browser to listen to all the MP3s you’ve illegally downloaded from the Net or burned from CDs (just kidding), do you get that annoying problem where—even though you (presumably) chose the "Winamp Classic" option to play your songs when you were first installing this software—you still had that stupid Winamp Modern window (below) pop up...even though you chose not to use this crappy window during the installation process? I sure as hell didn’t, and it gets irritating when the next song on my playlist doesn’t start immediately because Winamp is switching from the Classic version [for which I downloaded cool skins of Japanese anime like DragonballZ (above) and Robotech; um, Star Wars images and even a Jessica Alba pic from her long-defunct show, Dark Angel] to the Modern version. To make things lamer, you have to go through the hassle of clicking on the button at the top of the Modern browser to minimize opposed to just clicking on whatever you have on the screen at the time (yes, that includes smut) to close the Classic window. Sounds like I’m being lazy, which I probably am, but you’d know what I was talking about if you were using this program.

And now I’m getting a stupid pop-up asking me to download the latest version of Winamp (Winamp 5.24). Here’s a suggestion: Why doesn’t someone create a pop-up that appears on the computer of all the folks who work at Winamp that displays a simple message: "SCREW YOU". I probably should start using Windows Media Player to play my bootleg—err, legal music downloads from now on. Stupid Winamp.

Lousy Winamp Modern
Lousy Winamp Modern.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Space shuttle Atlantis launches on mission to the International Space Station on September 9, 2006, at 8:14:55 AM (Pacific Daylight Time).

THE PENGUIN LIFTS OFF! After four delays since August 25th...when lightning struck near its launch pad two days before the original launch date on August 27, Tropical Storm Ernesto loomed the following week and the shuttle had to be rolled off its launch pad to be sent back to the protective confines of the Vehicle Assembly Building—only to be rolled back to the pad again after it was observed Ernesto wouldn’t pose a threat, a faulty fuel cell postponed launch on September 6, and a faulty fuel gauge on the orange external tank postponed launch yesterday, Atlantis finally got off the ground today at 8:15 AM, Pacific Daylight Time. Whew... About friggin’ time! I was getting tired of constantly updating the countdown at the top of this page with new launch dates! Now I can update the countdown with the day and time Atlantis will dock with the International Space Station (ISS)...which will be on Monday, September 11, around 3:46 AM (PDT). Godspeed Atlantis! Or should I say...the crew of STS-115. When Atlantis returns to Earth on September 20th, hopefully the ISS will look completely different from how it appeared since the last assembly flight, which took place with shuttle Endeavour in late 2002.

Media photographers watch as Space shuttle Atlantis launches on mission to the International Space Station on September 9, 2006, at 8:14:55 AM (Pacific Daylight Time).

Oh, and in case you’re wondering why I called Atlantis "the penguin"...that’s the nickname workers at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida gave the orbiter. It’s black and white, but never gets off the ground. Until today.

Astronaut Daniel Burbank, center, adjusts his launch and entry suit while sitting in space shuttle Atlantis at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on September 9, 2006.  Pilot Chris Ferguson, front left, Canadian astronaut Steve MacLean , left, an unidentified NASA worker, top right, and Commander Brent Jett, right , are visible on Atlantis' flightdeck.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Me posing in front of Times Square.

BACK FROM THE BIG APPLE! About three hours ago, three of my friends and I returned from a four-and-a-half day trip to the East Coast. It kicked ass! I pretty much saw everything there was to see in New York City: the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, the World Trade Center site, the U.N. Headquarters building, Central Park, Wall Street, Trump Tower, the Brooklyn Bridge and other places. NYC is truly the greatest city on Earth. I didn't see Yankee Stadium up-close or Madison Square Garden at all, but that's okay. That only gave me additional reasons to wanna travel back to the real Gotham in the future, haha.

Riding the subway in NY.

The only hiccups on the trip had to do with our cameras. The memory stick on my digicam somehow got corrupted, and I lost photos that I took at the WTC site, Brooklyn Bridge and the Trump Tower. Fortunately, I received photo copies of those places from my friends. There was another gripe I had, stemming from our first day in NY: Having only one camera used during a particular event. What's the point of all of us bringing cameras on our trip (and me spending a gripload of money on two 1-gigabyte memory cards...which my friends knew about. They were also well aware that this was my first time in NY, so it should've been expected that I would be a bit eager to snap as many photos as I could with my own camera) if only one cam will be used at a given time? Yea, that didn't work for me. Other than that, the trip was awesome! By the way, how many of you have ever been to Connecticut? That state is nothing but one big friggin' forest! Compare the tree-filled landscape of Hartford to the urban environs of Manhattan, Queens and the Bronx... Quite a contrast. We also drove through Massachusetts, but only for a few minutes because East Coast highways are screwy like that.

IMAGE 1: Me and my friends posing in front of Times Square.  IMAGE 2: Me and my friends posing in front of the Brooklyn Bridge... Lousy rain.
IMAGE 3: The Empire State Building.  IMAGE 4: Me and my friends chillin' in Central Park.

UPDATE: To view additional pics that I took in New York and Connecticut, go here.

Monday, September 04, 2006

REST IN PEACE Steve "Crocs Rule!" Irwin (1962-2006).

RIP, Crocodile Hunter's Steve Irwin.

(I'm still on the East Coast. I posted this entry while I was at my friend's house in Connecticut.)