Monday, May 30, 2005

First Glimpse of Space Camp

Connor and I would have to say that Space Camp has been one of the best experiences of our lives!

We travelled on Thursday, attended Space Camp 1/2 day Friday, full day Saturday, 1/2 day Sunday, and then travelled back on Monday. They had us going from about 7am to 10pm, so it felt like a longer camp. We got to ride 6 different training simulators, performed 2 full shuttle missions aboard a life-size replica, built and launched rockets, watched 2 IMAX movies, took several museum tours and attended several history and information briefings.

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Tuesday, May 24, 2005

First Flight

Connor took one step closer to being an astronaut this weekend. He flew a Cessna 172N during his introductory flight!

Connor's introductory flight

Erie was having an Air Fair at Tri-County Airport and promised "free introductory" flights. Unfortunately, when we went in the morning, the line was terribly long so they said "come back in the afternoon". When we came back at 3pm, they said "oh, we stopped the free flights at 2:00". Connor was so looking forward to it, that he was near tears. Of course, they were more than happy to take us up for $50! ;-)

I am very proud of him. He did such a good job, and the instructor said he had just the right touch on the controls. He did need some booster cushions to see over the instrument panel, though!

We flew over our house, and Mom waved to us from the patio. I took my camcorder and captured the flight for posterity.

He's got a half hour in his log book, and is on his way to get his pilot license. Actually, I think we have the same hours now in our log books, so I'll have to try to keep up with him! I've taken ground school, so I've pointed him to my books so he can start studying too.

First Flight Certificate

Only 2 more days to Space Camp! This was a good prep for Space Camp, too. We are both really excited to go!

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Friday, May 20, 2005

Review of the Sith

The circle is now complete. I saw Episode III last night with my best friends, Cam and Don, my lovely bride at THE place to see Star Wars in Colorado: The Continental Theater.

We got there at about 3pm, and were 40th or so in line (by 6pm, the line for our 7pm show stretched from the front door all the way to the end of the parking lot!). I brought my laptop, with the latest IMPS: Relentless chapter and a podcast from Cam brought Star Wars: Trivial Pursuit, with companion DVDs. Thankfully, since my laptop has a DVD drive, we were able to play the full version while waiting in line! It was very fun, with Cam playing Obi-Wan, Don playing Yoda, and myself as Vader. In the end, Yoda triumphed.

Waiting for Episode III

I was disappointed to not see very many people dressed in costume, but I chickened out of wearing a Vader costume, myself... Actually, my friends and I went to Star Trek V in costume as Klingons back in high school, and it was a painful experience (more from itchy makeup than anything), and hard to enjoy the movie. OK, Star Trek V in itself is a painful experience to watch itself, so you can imagine our pain...

So, what did I think of Episode III? Perhaps it's best to give you my preference list:

  1. Episode IV: A New Hope
  2. Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
  3. Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
  4. Episode VI: Return of the Jedi
  5. Episode II: Attack of the Clones
  6. Episode I: The Phantom Menace

My biggest disappointment: I can't take my boys, who also love Star Wars. The majority of the film, though dark, I think they could handle. There are two scenes, however, that are extended far longer than a simple "cover your eyes" can handle. These scenes include the Windu vs. Palpatine battle, and the immolation (burning)of Vader, which are both 5 to 10 minute scenes.

The opening sequence, and actually the whole first half of the film is in a word: AWESOME!

I don't want to give away too many spoilers, but my favorite characters are the clone pilots, the Kashykk troopers, and Commander Cody. I was so glad to see Temuera Morrison get so much screen time!

The Star Destroyers are incredible, too. The opening sequence is by far my favorite part of the movie.

So what do we have to look forward to, now that Star Wars is complete? We had prepped by watching Episodes I and II last week, and now I plan to watch Episodes IV-VI!

I am also looking forward to the new Star Wars: Battlefront II game coming out this fall, which will feature many Episode III locations as well as X-wing vs. Tie Fighters!

There is also rumor of a TV show that will be going into production soon, though I think it will be computer animated, not live action. Perhaps it will be a mix, but we will see...

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Thursday, May 19, 2005

A Day Long Remembered...

Today is the day. The official opening day of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.

My best friend Jason got to see it last night in Arizona, but I haven't heard his review yet. From everything else I've read, it will be awesome. And I'm seeing it today!

I do NOT encourage Wookie Hooky (or space opera-related sick day). Instead, do what I did: work extra hours during the week, and make arrangements with your manager!

This has been a big month of closure for Sci-Fi fans: the last of the Star Wars movies, and the last episode of Star Trek:Enterprise

I love them both, so I find these articles very interesting:

Live long and prosper, and may the force be with you!

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How Lightsabers Work (theoretically)

I passed the How Lightsabers Work link around to some friends of mine, and a lively discussion ensued.

For your entertainment and/or edification, here is the discussion...

[G] That's always puzzled me. If the energy shaft were round, it would have to vaporize a one or two-centimeter swath through anything it cuts, resulting it potentially violent explosions as so much solid matter is converted directly to superheated gas.

[P] True, I suppose.

[G] Which leads to the obvious next question, how does the blade orient itself to the cut? I.e. how do you keep from spanking the target with the flat part of the blade? Is this part of the "gyroscopic" action mentioned in the article? Is the wielder not free to swing willy-nilly in an omnidirectional manner? Or is the perceived width of the blade merely the result of a glowing energy field around what is really a molecule-thin cutting beam? So many questions...

[P] Ummm... I'm guessing you've never used a sword. Or, more particularly, a saber. I don't know how to explain it other than to say that it's easy to tell by feel if the hilt is right-way-up in your hand, and the rest is all in your wrist action. The blade feels like an extension of your arm, and the blade is on the same plane as the back of your hand - the motions are instinctive, whether you're chopping, blocking with the flat of the blade, or stabbing.

[G] But the lightsaber *hilt* is round, with radial symmetry if you ignore the occasional knob or odd protruberance. The thing doesn't even have a contoured handgrip! In any case you're comparing ancient Earth battle gear to highly-advanced technological weaponry from (let's face it) an alien civilization. It's apples and oranges. Furthermore, it's apparant from the movies' historical documents that there's no planar orientation required for a lightsaber swing. It's just willy-nilly wherever.

[P] I don't know what that 'gyroscopic' stuff is supposed to be about, unless it means that the thing resists twisting (rotation about the long axis of the blade). That feature would help you make nice straight cuts, but I'd hate to have to fight the 'gyroscope' to twist the blade every time I reached the end of an arc and had to turn the edge back on target. Metal sabers have their own quirks, though - at the end of a stroke, you "fly" the blade around in a tight turn like an airplane wing before swinging hard back the way you came.

[P] As to why the lightsaber blade looks like a round column from any viewing angle, my guess is that the blade is unraveling the air molecules next to its surface and making them glow. Across the width of the blade, there are a lot of particles-formerly-known-as-air doing their best to radiate heat and get the hell away from the blade, so you'd expect a bulge of high-energy glowing crap to be at its thickest against the center of the blade. Off the 'edges', though, the superheated plasma has more room to escape and dissipate into the surrounding medium.

[P] Apart from being able to deliver obscene amounts of energy on target, though, lightsabers are 'teh ghey.' They make noise, and they light up the whole d@#n area. The beauty of a real cavalry saber is that you can pop out from behind a tree and take someone's arm off - QUIETLY.

As for me, "ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid"!

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Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Weather on Bloglines

I immediately subscribed to Mike Nelson's weather blog from when he started it earlier this month for cool and interesting weather facts.

Today, Bloglines has made available a feed to get your local forecast, with preferences for US or Metric!

I also use the WeatherFox, er sorry, ForecastFox extension in the Firefox browser, as well as the Desktop Weather application. You can never get too much weather information! :-)

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Monday, May 16, 2005

T-Minus 3 days...

A countdown of another kind today. Three days until Episode III!

I got tickets online over a month ago, and I'm going to see it with my lovely bride, and my two best friends that I've known and played Star Wars with since Third Grade!

We didn't see the original Star Wars together, but have seen quite a few of the others, and traded Topps movie cards in school, collected and played with the ships and figures, later played Star Wars roleplaying, and then the Star Wars CCG (Collectible Card Game).

We also went to all of the Special Edition re-releases of the films at the old Cinema 70 in the Springs.

I relish those childhood days, and am proud to call them my closest friends.

They were even quoted in the Gazette Telegraph:

Don Morgan’s parents recorded “Star Wars” on their VCR the first time it aired on television. Morgan and his brother watched the tape so often, they wore it out.

“Not only did we have the movie memorized, we knew all the funny commercials in between,” he says.

Cameron Crawford went to kindergarten with Morgan in Colorado Springs. They’re still friends and they still love to talk “Star Wars.”

“It’s happy season for us right now,” Crawford says.

As he grew up, Crawford says, “Star Wars” grew up with him.

“By the time I reached my teenage years, there was the romantic element to it,” he says. “There’s a little bit to it that appeals from the darker side, the blacker side of it.”

Now that he’s all grown up, “Star Wars” is still there for him. His latest toys are tabletop statues that are almost artistic.

“It’s something you can put on a nice table and not feel so geeky,” Crawford says.

Don has always been a huge fan of the Jedi and rebel forces, and more recently, the clone troopers.

Cam has always been closest to Han, Chewie and Lando.

Myself? I'm shamelessly a fan of Jango Fett, Boba Fett, Clone Troopers and Storm Troopers. The Imperial theme gives me chills. I know, there's one in every crowd...

My wife? She likes Leia, and is amazingly understanding of my sci-fi sickness. :-)

My earliest memory of Star Wars, though, was of Luke and Leia swinging across the Death Star. I was five years old.

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Saturday, May 07, 2005

T-Minus 19 days...

Happy 7th Birthday, Connor!

This means that Connor is old enough now for his birthday present.

Connor and I are going to Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama! This has been a long-time dream for both of us.

We had a space-themed party with about 20 friends, complete with alka-seltzer rocket launches, and balloon-ar transfers, music from The Right Stuff, 2001, and more...

Watch this space for more of our experiences preparing for and attending Space Camp!

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Thursday, May 05, 2005

Happy 05-05-05!

Feliz Cinco de Mayo! Today is significant in many ways. And, you won't get to see 05-05-05 very often!

Here are a few other significant events on May 5 in history:

  • 1494 - Christopher Columbus sighted Jamaica on his second trip to the Western Hemisphere. He named the island Santa Gloria.
  • 1862 - The Battle of Puebla took place. It is celebrated as Cinco de Mayo Day.
  • 1865 - The Thirteenth Amendment was ratified, abolishing slavery in the U.S.
  • 1904 - The third perfect game of the major leagues was thrown by Cy Young (Boston Red Sox) against the Philadelphia Athletics. It was the first perfect game under modern rules.
  • 1917 - Eugene Jacques Bullard becomes the first African-American aviator when he earned his flying certificate with the French Air Service.
  • 1961 - Alan Shepard became the first American in space when he made a 15 minute suborbital flight.
  • 1966 - Willie Mays broke the National League record for home runs when he hit his 512th.

Today is also the National Day of Prayer.

From the Presidential Proclamation:

The Congress by Public Law 100-307, as amended, has called on our citizens to reaffirm the role of prayer in our society and to honor the freedom of religion by recognizing annually a "National Day of Prayer."

NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim May 5, 2005, as a National Day of Prayer. I ask the citizens of our Nation to give thanks, each according to his or her own faith, for the liberty and blessings we have received and for God's continued guidance and protection. I also urge all Americans to join in observing this day with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities.


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