Blog Archives

To infinity and beyond

unmanned scientific probes Voyager

Voyager (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

35 years later, Voyager 1 is heading for the stars – Yahoo! News.

I am a sucker for a good science fiction story. And when it’s science fact, I get even more tickled.

After spending 35 years in our solar system, the Voyager 1 spacecraft will make human history by becoming the first man-made creation to venture beyond it.

That’s right, folks. Voyager 1 is going interstellar. And soon, we may have data from deep space to go with all the information the Mars rover Curiosity is gathering on the Red Planet.

This is a momentous time for NASA and America‘s space program. Is it as momentous as landing on the moon? Only time will tell.

All I know is we’re one step closer to me finally acquiring the Millennium Falcon! Star Wars, here I come!

My inner nerd awakes…

Flying with crying babies just got easier

Reddit User Gigantomachy

Polite Parents Warn Fellow Passengers About Their Newborns with Candy Gift Bag | Trending Now – Yahoo! News.

A young couple about to take their first flight with twin newborns decided to be proactive and considerate of their fellow passengers. Before the flight, they distributed goody bags to everyone on the plane that contained some candy, an offer for free earplugs (in case the children cried) and the following note:

Hello! We’re twin baby boys on our first flight and we’re only 14 weeks old! We’ll try to be on our best behavior, but we’d like to apologize in advance just in case we lose our cool, get scared or our ears hurt. Our mom and dad (AKA our portable milk machine and our diaper changer) have ear plugs available if you need them. We are all sitting in 20E and 20F if you want to come by to get a pair. We hope you have a great flight!”

Of course, one passenger couldn’t simply smile and say “thank you.” Instead, they said, “This is considerate, but aren’t we all adults who can understand that babies are prone to bouts of crying?”

Yes, many of us are adults, but it’s always nice when someone goes out of their way for their fellow man. And personally, I thought this was a very nice and refreshing gesture. Therefore, I will end with what could be my catch phrase of 2012:

Be good to each other.

Fondled at 15,000 feet

airplane

Photo credit: shyb

New Jersey man charged with sexually abusing sleeping woman on plane – CNN.com.

The “friendly skies” aren’t all that friendly anymore.

After enduring baggage check fees and humiliating airport security, a woman traveling from Phoenix to Newark boarded her flight and nodded off.

When she awoke suddenly, she found a strange man seated beside her. He was asking her to kiss him, and his hands were in her shirt and shorts.

The New Jersey man, Bawer Aksal, was detained and arrested for sexual abuse. He is currently being held on $100k bond.

I am amazed by this guy’s Devil-may-care approach to meeting women. Did he really think this would work? Obviously.

In his mind, I guess he hoped she would be so turned on that she would ignore the fact she was being violated. And I’m sure there are a percentage of women who would react in this way. It would be rare, so Aksal would have to travel a lot and get busted a lot.

He’s probably just another pervert trying to get his rocks off and desperate to involve some unsuspecting female. Similar to the guys who film themselves masturbating in public and spraying women without their knowledge, on subways and such.

These strange folk are out there and if you’re not careful, they just might get to you…

Bittersweet 16

English: Photoed by LG4761

Double-decker bus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Teen Killed After Poking Head Out of Bus | NBC 10 Philadelphia.

Last night, 16-year-old Daniel Fernandez and 64 teens were headed to a sweet 16 party on a double-decker bus. Despite warnings from a security guard to leave the emergency hatch alone, Daniel opened it and stuck his head out.

At that moment, the bus passed under an overpass and Daniel was killed instantly.

It’s a tragedy that seems to play out in any number of different ways. Someone young and careless ignores the rules of safety and ends up dead.

We all know that young people feel invincible and rarely consider the consequences of their actions until it is too late. There is no thought to the future or the so-called “worst case scenario,” at least not until something terrible like this happens.

It’s a shame we have to get older to realize how important some foresight can be. And I truly feel sorry for Daniel’s family and friends.

Schwarzenegger buys diesel-powered penis

Courtesy of Motoramic

Arnold Schwarzenegger gets the keys to a $250,000 Mercedes Unimog | Motoramic – Yahoo! Autos.

Some people say that men who purchase large, extravagant vehicles are compensating for deficiencies in their penile regions.

Enter former bodybuilder and governor of California, not to mention actor, Arnold Schwarzenegger. He just bought a customized, $250K Mercedes Unimog, a military-style truck that is quite a monstrosity.

Sure, I might do the same thing if I had Arnold’s bank account, but this is a bit different. As governor, Arnold fought to protect the environment and heavily promoted the federal government’s goal of producing more fuel-efficient vehicles by 2025.

I assure you this Unimog thing is a gas guzzler. How could it not be?

Despite the mileage and obvious machismo of this impressive machine, the question remains: Is Arnold compensating for a small or steadily shrinking member?

I’m not sure. But I do know this: there were rumors of Arnold doing steroids years ago, and they tend to cause shrinkage in the nether regions. So you be the judge…

Watch what you wear in the air

Cleavage

Cleavage (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Airlines can say: You cant wear that – Yahoo! News.

Although it’s well within their rights as private companies, more and more airlines seem to be reacting to the attire of their passengers. And people are being refused service as a result.

In one case, a traveler with a four-letter expletive on her t-shirt was asked to keep it covered with a shawl for the duration of the flight. Another passenger was sporting a satirical shirt that read “Terrists gonna kill us all” and was barred from a flight in Buffalo, NY.

Okay. I can understand why that second person was denied.

What surprises me is that earlier this spring, a woman was confronted by an airline employee because she was showing too much cleavage!

And because of this, I am outraged! If cleavage isn’t safe, then what is?

California woman thinks “smart” parking meters are making her sick

Property of ABC News

Denise Barton of California Files $1.7 Billion Claim Alleging Smart Meters Making Her Sick | ABC News Blogs – Yahoo!.

Denise Barton of California has sued the city of Santa Monica for $1.7 billion because she thinks “smart” parking meters are making her sick. She claims that the radiation from the meters has caused ear infections and tightness in her neck.

Is this the most ridiculous claim you’ve ever heard or what?

The “smart” meters actually use a weak Wi-Fi signal to communicate with a sensor in the parking spot once it becomes available. The signal is no stronger than a basic cell phone or Wi-Fi signal would be under normal circumstances.

Even if Barton has a case, I find it hard to believe that ear infections and a tight neck would justify an almost $2 billion pay day.

Personally, I don’t mind people being litigious when there is good reason for it. But this is about the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard of.

And I would recommend Barton start using public transportation, but accidentally inhaling exhaust fumes, or even the body odor of another passenger, just opens the door for another ridiculous lawsuit.

What is this world coming to?

Will Curiosity kill the economy?

Late this past Sunday, the Mars Rover Curiosity touched down on the surface of the Red Planet without a hitch. This one-ton, rolling laboratory represents NASA’s first astrobiology mission since the Viking probes of the 1970s and was more than eight years in the making. It now rests on the Martian surface and has already started to beam back interesting and exciting images like this one:

I admit that my feelings about the rover and its mission are rather mixed.

On the one hand, this is an amazing human achievement that resulted from great ideas, hard work, spot-on science and almost unimaginable technology. The 352 million mile trip to Mars took eight months and landing on the planet’s surface involved a complex series of steps to ensure it made it in one piece, which it did. For the next few years—and maybe as long as a decade if its plutonium power source holds up—Curiosity will explore the Martian landscape and beam any discoveries it makes back to Earth. The data we receive should be helpful in developing and implementing a manned mission to Mars sometime in the foreseeable future.

I’m not going to lie. The science fiction buff inside me was thrilled by this news. Aside from believing that “Total Recall” might actually come true—and I of course mean the original, Schwarzenegger vehicle, not the new Colin Farrell remake—it’s pretty cool to think that something humans created is now cruising around a different planet. And every picture Curiosity sends back is more spectacular than the last. I even find myself scouring the photos to see if I can find evidence of some nosy Martian spying on our roving creation. Nothing yet, but I’m still optimistic.

Of course, the flip side of the story—and what bothers me about the whole mission—is that the rover and everything required to get it to Mars cost roughly $2.5 billion dollars, and additional costs could be required later. Although I support NASA and the Space Program, it’s hard to justify spending so much when our current unemployment rate is more than 8% and so many millions of people are out of work. Yes, it’s nice that we have the technology to explore other planets, but what about the planet where we currently reside? I’m certain that $2.5 billion or more could be used to help families survive during these tough economic times. And while thousands of jobs may have been created during the development of Curiosity, I’ve heard that maintaining and monitoring the rover will involve fewer than 800 employees from this point forward. Is it all that important that one of our machines tools around a dusty, uninhabitable planet like Mars while some Americans are starving to death or drowning in debt?

So I’m torn. I love the fact we’re exploring Mars with some success, but struggle with the idea that it’s costing so much at such a bad time for our country. My hope is that someday, we find a way to better manage our finances while also budgeting for things like space exploration. Honestly, though, I can’t see how we can afford to do both, at least until our economy improves.

Tennessee man charged $85,000 for a tank of gas | The Sideshow – Yahoo! News

Gas Pump

Gas Pump (Photo credit: Brian Mitchell)

Tennessee man charged $85,000 for a tank of gas | The Sideshow – Yahoo! News.

Think the price of gas is too high? Imagine how this poor guy must have felt. After pumping around $30 of gas, he went to lunch and had his credit card declined. Upon investigation, he discovered the gas station had charged him over $84,000!

This is the equivalent of 27,712 gallons. If you consider that the average gas mileage for a normal car is around 23 miles per gallon, then he would have purchased enough to travel from Earth to the moon and back… and he would still have plenty of gas left over!

So the next time you find yourself complaining about gas prices, think about how much worse it really could be.

Happy motoring!

Remembering The Wall, Part Three

The Autobahn to Berlin.

The day before the concert I discovered something pretty exciting. We not only had a ride to Berlin—along the famed Autobahn no less—but also a place to stay overnight. Not only that, but the flat where we would be crashing was in East Berlin. That’s right. The same bombed-out part of the city still occupied by Russian troops.

Imke’s friend Hans showed up in the late morning hours, car gassed up and ready to go. While we packed our things and tried to determine an acceptable seating order—I’m pretty tall, yet sometimes still have to convince people that I need more leg room—Imke’s mother prepared all kinds of sandwiches and snacks for our trip.

She handed me a separate lunch sack just before we left. “I made you a few special ones with your favorite sausage,” she told me. I thanked her, but wondered what she meant. Yes, I had taken a liking to a particular sausage that no one else seemed to eat, but I had never really thought about why. I asked Imke about it a few minutes down the road.

“It’s blood sausage.” I could tell from her expression that this wasn’t a good thing. “Do you know how it’s made?” she asked.

Blood sausage

I could only imagine, so I didn’t respond or press the issue. And yes, I did eat the sandwiches. As long as I already like something, it doesn’t matter if I learn later that it includes something gross. Flip this around and I probably wouldn’t have tried it in the first place.

The Autobahn was nothing like I imagined. In America, my friends always described high-performance automobiles—like Ferraris, Porsches and Lamborghinis—burning down a winding road with no speed limit and no rules.

Not even close.

The section of the Autobahn we used was nothing more than a wide, crowded highway. And there were speed limits in some more-populated areas. The cars were typical and I saw only a few high-performance vehicles, most of which were traveling at normal speeds. However, something kind of cool did happen.

At one point, we got stuck in traffic and were going nowhere. Rather than sitting in the car bitching about it—as I was apt to do under less-congested circumstances in The States—Hans simply shut off the engine, popped the car in neutral and got out to wait. Imke followed suit.

Alex and I were a little confused until we noticed something else: everyone was getting out of their cars. We immediately jumped out to see what was happening.

People were getting together all over the highway to chat, drink beer (only the passengers, as far as I know), eat and basically hang out until things got moving again. When they did, Hans simply motioned for us to help and we pushed the car forward about ten feet, where the traffic jam resumed. This happened several times before the jam fell and we could again embark upon our journey.

A few hours later, we drove into Berlin, a completely indescribable place of great glory and history. It felt strange to be a small-town guy in such an amazing city, but I was ready for some adventure and perhaps even some sightseeing. Hans obliged and took us through Checkpoint Charlie—now vacant—and past bustling street cafes and restaurants.

Soon we noticed that some of the glamour was fading. The buildings started to lose their color and large gaps appeared between businesses, all of which were much less crowded than before.

We were heading forEast Berlin now. And moments later, I saw my first Russian tank.

Hans pulled over and parked along a dingy street, some its buildings still showing the destruction of World War II. Less than thirty yards away was the tank, as well as several Russian soldiers holding AK-47s. Alex and I could not resist.

We approached the soldiers slowly and in the spirit of freedom, the Berlin Wall having just come down. Call us naive, but we truly expected these guys to welcome us as brothers.

And that’s exactly what they did.

As it turned out, these soldiers had been in Berlin for years, separated from their homeland and their families. They were ecstatic about finally being able to return home, and they thanked us (as Americans) for making this possible. We were even allowed to both hold their guns and climb into their tank for a closer look. I’ve never felt as much American pride as I did during this brief exchange. And I certainly hope everything worked out for these friendly Russian fellows.

After bidding farewell to our new Soviet friends, Hans and Imke led us to the building we would call home for the night. To be honest, it looked like a complete tenement and had some old war wounds of its own to offer. We shuffled up the dusty stairs, past empty burned-out units and a few stray animals, and finally came to a door with no visible numbering or labeling on it.

Hans banged three times and seconds later we could hear someone struggling to open the door from the inside.

Suddenly, it flew open and a wave of The Doors’ “Break on Through” hit us squarely in the face. Standing there with a thick brown beard, even thicker glasses and a Cheshire Cat of a smile on his face was our host, a man Alex and I would later refer to only as Jerry.

East Berlin circa 1990

“Welcome to East Berlin,” he said in his best, German-tinged English accent. “The party is about to begin.”

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