Saturday, August 9, 2008

3 days and counting.

[Photo is called "Raining Perseids" and it was taken by a man named Fred Bruenjes. Unfortunately, I can't tell you more because the website where I found it is all in Chinese.]


Every August, just when many people go vacationing in the country where skies are dark, the best-known meteor shower makes its appearance.

It is also the month of "The Tears of St. Lawrence," more commonly known as the Perseid Meteor Shower.

Laurentius, a Christian deacon, is said to have been martyred by the Romans in 258 AD on an iron outdoor stove. It was in the midst of this torture that Laurentius cried out:

"I am already roasted on one side and, if thou wouldst have me well cooked, it is time to turn me on the other."

The saint's death was commemorated on his feast day, Aug. 10. King Phillip II of Spain built his monastery place, the "Escorial," on the plan of the holy gridiron. And the abundance of shooting stars seen annually between approximately Aug. 8 and 14 have come to be known as St. Lawrence's "fiery tears."


Friday, August 8, 2008

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Which explains why Saturn has such a high-pitched, squeaky "voice."

Saturn, Jupiter Full of Liquid Metal Helium

Ohhhh, perchlorates.

For a minute there I thought, "Wow - there really IS an advanced life form on Mars!"

Happy birthday Jose Moreno Hernandez!

A very happy birthday to a true inspiration for anyone who feels as though the odds against them are insurmountable.
I don't care where you're from. I don't care how poor you are. I don't care what language you speak. I don't care how many people you shared a room with as a child.
Whining won't help. Bemoaning your lot in life won't help. Studying hard and working hard and believing in yourself - that will help.

Jose M. Hernandez was born August 7, 1962 in French Camp, California. He was one of four children born to migrant workers on what he calls the "California circuit", traveling from Mexico to Southern California each March, then working northward towards Stockton by November, picking strawberries and cucumbers. The Hernandez family would return to Mexico for Christmas and then start the cycle all over again.

"Some kids think it might be fun to travel like that," Hernandez laughs, "but we had to work. It wasn't a vacation."

One day, Jose was hoeing a row of beets, listening to his transistor radio. Over the radio came the news that Franklin Chang-Diaz had been selected as America's first Hispanic astronaut.
"I was already interested in science and engineering," Hernandez remembers, "but that was the moment I said 'I want to fly into space.' And that's something I've been striving for every day since then."

Jose learned to speak English at age 12, graduated Stockton High School at age 18, and enrolled in the University of the Pacific in Stockton, where he earned an electrical engineering degree.
He was then awarded a full scholarship to UC Santa Barbara for their graduate program. After this, he worked at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, where he eventually co-developed the first full-field digital mammography imaging system, which has proven useful in detecting breast cancer much earlier than traditional mammography.

During the astronaut application process, Jose walked into the oral board to find none other than Franklin Chang-Diaz on the panel. On May 6, 2004, Jose Hernandez was selected to Astronaut Group 19. It looks as though Hernandez will be one of the fortunate few from Group 19 to actually fly on the Shuttle. (The retirement of the shuttle will likely prevent most of this group from actually flying.)

He has been assigned as a Mission Specialist to STS-128, scheduled to fly no earlier than July 2009 or April 2009, depending on who you ask.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Garrett's replacement's birthday.

Happy 46th birthday, Greg Chamitoff!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Happy birthday, Neil Armstrong!

A very happy 78th birthday to Neil Armstrong, a very contemplative man who eschews the limelight, leading some to believe he is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.
In fact, he's just extremely private, and if you ask me, the world could use a few more celebrities who embrace this quality.

Monday, August 4, 2008

A hilarious short: "Water on Mars."

You don't look a day over 200, baby.

[Above photo of USCGC Pt. Barnes and STS-41 liftoff. I found this photo online. The caption states it was taken by BMC Charles Kinnear. I fondly remember Chuck from the Pt. Barnes (which was out of Ft. Pierce, where I was stationed), and I hope he won't mind my stealing his picture.]

Happy 218th birthday to the United States Coast Guard, the military branch in which I served four years and from which my older sister retired as Commanding Officer of Station Port Canaveral.

In honor of the day, I would just like to mention the first member of the United States Coast Guard to go into space, Bruce Melnick.
I was stationed in Fort Pierce (just a bit south of Cape Canaveral) in October of 1990, and when we found out that one of us was going to be on STS-41, my roommate and I immediately made plans to be there.
We drove up early that morning and met up with Mr. K., the then-Commanding Officer of the Coast Guard station (Don't ask me why he wasn't at the station working. I don't make the rules. He was obviously very good at delegating.) on the Causeway.
It was the break of dawn, and everyone was happy and excited and Mr. K.'s wife had brought doughnuts and thermoses of coffee and beer (wouldn't be a Coastie gathering without it) and we laughed and listened to music and danced and waited.
We cheered as Discovery lifted off into the Florida sky, and more than one of us was so proud we were weeping.
Later, Mr. K. went down to the station and my roommate and I went to KSC. We were delighted at all the Coast Guard t-shirts we were seeing on other visitors. I distinctly remember being too warm in my Coast Guard sweatshirt. (I also distinctly remember getting a terrible stomachache after eating a freeze-dried ice cream sandwich on a dare, but that's a story for another time.)