From The Erbo Files
Wednesday, September 26, 2012

I may never get around to doing a full report on our vacation that we took in July, but I do want to write about a few things from that trip...especially the second day, when we visited the Kansas Cosmosphere in Hutchinson, KS. And, if you're a space buff like me, you need to visit it. Let's just say it's everything I hoped it would be...and more.


When we got there, it was pretty early, so the foyer (dominated by an SR-71 Blackbird and a mock-up of the side of the Shuttle Endeavour) was pretty empty. When I paid for our "All-Day Mission Passes," they were even nice enough to scrounge up a motor scooter for Sabrina, not unlike the carts she rides through the aisles of Walmart, so she could enjoy everything, too. We took the elevator downstairs to The Hall of Space, which covers aspects of spaceflight from the German V-1 and V-2 programs up through to the present day, with examples of real hardware or very-exacting replicas all along the way...including many examples of Soviet hardware, such as an unflown backup for the original Sputnik satellite and original Vostok and Voskhod capsules. American hardware is also well-represented, with such items as Gus Grissom's Liberty Bell 7 capsule (dredged up from the ocean floor and painstakingly restored), the Gemini X capsule, an honest-to-God Titan II booster rising majestically into the Kansas sky in an outdoor display, and the Odyssey command module from Apollo 13. That area, I think, impressed me the most, and was about where I started to inwardly lose my shit; aside from looking right into Odyssey, past the control panel and seats into the lower equipment bay, I entered one of the original Apollo "white rooms," complete with the signature of longtime pad leader Gunther Wendt ("I vonder vhere Gunther Wendt?";), and sat at some of the original Mission Control consoles...It felt like I was watching The Right Stuff and Apollo 13 all over again. Unlike most of the people walking through these halls, I knew what I was looking at. It really brought home to me how much we've accomplished...and how much we've lost as short-sighted politicians continually prioritize other things ahead of the dreams of humanity.


The cheeseburgers in the Lunar Port food court were surprisingly good, at least as good as some I'd eaten in Hana on Maui. We saw the Tornado Alley IMAX movie, in a domed theater like that back at the Reuben H. Fleet Space Theatre in San Diego, and it was most impressive; Sabrina certainly liked it. (Featuring narration by Bill Paxton!) She also got a kick out of the planetarium show, demonstrating the night sky as viewed in all seasons from Hutchinson, which was narrated with plenty of good humor and leavened with some nice pop music clips, including Clint Black's rendition of Monty Python's "Galaxy Song." Then, in "Dr. Goddard's Lab," we got some impressive explanations and live demonstrations of rocket technology, delivered with all the zeal of a Mythbusters episode by a young man who clearly has a lot of knowledge of, and love for, the material. I spent entirely too much on souvenirs and gifts in the Cargo Bay gift shop, which was totally worth it, and nearly ran my iPhone's batteries dead taking about half a gigabyte worth of pictures. All mission objectives complete!


I can't even begin to describe everything there. You need to go there and see for yourself. But, until then, I've assembled an extensive album of pictures, on Facebook and annotated for your enlightenment, that you can gawk at. Thatisall.

Thursday, May 3, 2012


  • Watch as astronaut Don Pettit demonstrates some of the physics in Angry Birds Space by launching a Red Bird down through one of the modules in the ISS using a makeshift slingshot. In microgravity, the bird travels in a straight line, unlike the parabolic trajectory it would follow on Earth. (Pettit is awesome. He was up there with Cousin Kenny on station at the time of the Columbia disaster, which meant he had to fly back home in a Soyuz. Now he's back up there, with his own unique, quirky style, doing science and still alive.)

  • What the fuck, University of Florida? Seriously: what the fucking fuck? Cut the CS department, in an age where engineers and developers are more in demand than they've been in a long time? You guys need yourheads examined. (Via Karl Denninger, who is...harsher on UF.) (Update: They're not gonna do it after all. GOOD!)

  • Hey, Jeff! Think it would convince you to get on Twitter if you could do so using a straight key?  (ViaTechCrunch.)

  • The ultimate geek watch...it's also an Android 2.2 smartphone. I actually owned the "spiritual ancestor" of this watch, a Fossil Abacus WristPDA, which ran PalmOS 4.0 with 8 Mb of onboard storage (which is a decent amount, for Palm PDAs) and looked smart, as Fossil products often do. The main problem was that the battery life sucked balls; the thing had to be plugged in nightly to recharge, and needed a special USB charger with its own power plug. I would watch out for that issue if buying one of the Z1s. (Via Malcolm Uhl on Facebook.)

  • Seems those Occupy [foo] wankers aren't above seeking bailouts of their own when it suits them. Excuse me while I point and laugh.  (Via RadioMattM at the Conservative Kitchen Table.)

  • What would you say about a guy that has sent hundreds of thousands of pirated DVDs overseas over the past eight years? What if I told you that that guy was a 92-year-old WWII vet, sending those DVDs to combat troops in Iraq and Afghanistan? He took no money for them, and spent something like $30,000 of his own money to make and ship them. The MAFIAA isn't too pleased, but what are they gonna do to him without looking like complete jerks? (Not that that ever stopped them.) Meanwhile, the soldiers really appreciate what he's been doing. He's stopping now, not because of MAFIAA pressure, but because the troops are being pulled out. The man will surely go down as an unsung hero of these wars.

  • From fellow developer Nick Hill: One of the oddest ways to tell time you'll ever see.

  • Ladies, you may never have thought of carrying your iPhone in the Victoria's Secret Compartment, but, if you do, this product may be for you.

  • Speaking of carrying stuff someplace unusual, how about carrying a copy of the edited sum total of human knowledge in a keychain? That's the purpose behind the eVr1 Codex, which dumps a load of text, including all of the English Wikipedia and a huge literary canon (full list here), onto a 16 Gb MicroSD card, seals that card to withstand many hazards, and sews it into a hand-stitched leather key fob. It's mainly intended for the symbolic value, because the only way to access the information is to destroy the container (though they plan to offer an online archive of the content to buyers). It would be handy, though, if you needed to rebuild civilization from scratch, like Jeff's colonists aboard the Starship Origen did.

  • Finally! A frickin' shark with a frickin' laser beam attached to its head! Dr. Evil would be proud.

  • DJ update (from this post): $DEITY be praised, the man found a new liver. He's recovering now, amid the well wishes of his fellow Rottie denizens. This post has the update including some comments from his missus, Deneen.

 
 
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