Thursday, October 30, 2014

"NASA Rocket Explodes!" ...Wrong

     Oh, a rocket did explode yesterday; it launched from a NASA facility, it was even carrying a NASA payload and what's more, NASA wrote the check to pay for the flight.  Why, idiots at news services keep writing "NASA Rocket!" in headlines--

     But it wasn't a "NASA rocket."  The days of NASA acting as its own general contractor, doing much of the initial design, parceling out various parts of a project among interested bidders, overseeing testing, having endless meetings, having to answer to Congressional desires that all the important districts get a share of the work--  Those days are gone, at least when it comes to hauling groceries to ISS and taking out the trash.  This was as much a "NASA rocket" as a UPS truck leaving an warehouse stuffed to the gills with smiling boxes is an "Amazon Truck."  The rocket was built by Orbital Sciences, Avis to SpaceX's Hertz and a part of the very same Commercial Orbital Transport Service/Commercial Resupply Service programs, under which NASA hires companies to deliver cargo much as you or I would hire furniture-moving companies: it's their own business to keep their truck running.

     Orbital Science's truck crashed and burned.  It happens.  SpaceX blew up a few early on, too. I believe Mr. Musk's firm has a lot more flight time on their design and with rockets, actual time under actual flight conditions are still necessary to success.  Even then, it's not a sure thing; the Russians have been launching Proton boosters since 1965 and have had a few fairly spectacular losses. Their R-7 Semyorka/Soyuz boosters go back to 1961, with hugely more launches than any other booster, and they fail, too. Recent failures have been less dramatic but back in 2002, a first-stage failure worse than yesterday's Antares wreck at Wallops Island killed one observer, ruined the payload and damaged the launch pad.   Rockets fail.

     The interesting part to me is the price of this failure.  NASA's Orion program has a $12 billion price tag; the entire COTS program, SpaceX and Orbital Sciences combined, cost $800 million.  And COTS has put the hardware to work, while Orion remains mires in politics and the old-school, bureaucracy-heavy NASA culture, geared more towards pleasing Presidents and Congresses than putting materials and people into space.  And perhaps they have to be -- which is all the more reason to let NASA deal with the politics and put the nuts and bolts side up for bids.  Will there be failures?  Count on it.  There have been failures, deadly failures, under NASA, too.  Space travel isn't safe. --Neither was air travel, early on.  It's an engineering problem and a practical experience problem and the more time is spent at it, the more solutions will be found.

     "NASA Rocket Explodes," harrumpf.  Orbital Sciences lost a payload and messed up a launch pad.  They'll learn from it and try again.
CNN at least edited their headline.  CNBC, not so much.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Butthurt Nation

     I recently posted a rant on the Book Of Face* over an instance of butthurtedness I found particularly egregious.  It happened to be a modified video test signal that included a little moving figure with an arm raised that is called -- and vaguely resembles -- a "wizard."  One of the commenters took it as "promotion of witchcraft" in a very much see-what-They-are-up-to-now way  (As far as I know, it's not -- you need moving object with some pointiness to reveal some kinds of flaws in high-definition video and most of the options carry unfortunate connotations.)

     In and of itself, it was Just Another Day On The Intertubes, but it points to a growing culture of childishly-self-aggrandizing paranoia: whatever you (or, worse yet, "They," which would be any large endeavor of any sort) say or do, no matter how innocent, someone, somewhere, is going to take it as an attack on something they hold dear and believe to be under threat.  It is a mindset in which anything, from choice of liquid refreshment to use of electronic test signals, is recast as move in an ongoing ideological struggle.

     At one time, we knew a cigar is sometimes -- most times -- just a cigar.  We used to have more common sense -- or, if you're paranoid enough, we used to be blinkered dupes. We used to understand that most entities aren't waging semi-covert war but merely trying to promote some product or service, however irksome or unnecessary it might be. (Do my teeth really need to reflect UV light? Isn't it enough that they are clean and healthy?)  We used to understand that if someone or some group was out to gore our ox, they'd generally make that well known, rather than resorting to covert stabs in the back. (Or if they were working in secret, they strove to keep it secret rather than proffering barely-hooded jibes and dogwhistles.)

     We used to suffer way less butthurt -- and we knew that most of it was self-inflicted.

     All good things must come to an end, I suppose.  Heck, isn't that just the way They planned it all along?
* If the newer, faster, hipper social media are the Death Of Blogging as is so often reported, it's the Death Of A Thousand Idiots: not just quicker, shorter and hipper, but dumber, too.  It's Internet For The Barely Literate and I guess we shouldn't be surprised.  Hello, Mr. Gresham -- how's the old law practice these days? It's not just the money, isn't it?


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Yellow Sky At Evening...

     ...Sailor dunno what to do?  I didn't, either, so I took a photo instead.
        Hey!  You can see the brushstrokes!

Monday, October 27, 2014

A Box Full Of Worlds

     I still feel pretty crummy -- severe headache, mostly -- but I'm going in anyway.  Sharing is good, right?

     But the real reason for this morning's posting is something I bought at the grocery last week: it looks like they're selling worlds!
     Small worlds, to be sure.  But still.

     (Actually, fancy chocolates and quite tasty. The outer coating is a kind of color-code for the various fillings.)

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Dammit, I'm Still Not Well

     Middlin'-serious pain (i.e., ibuprofen isn't cutting it), etc. etc. and only one more day of Z-pack.  The exigencies of life being what they are, I will be at work tomorrow, but if I'm not feeling a lot better, afters will include a return to the 24-hour walk-in doctor.

I Aten't Ded

     Though there was a stretch yesterday afternoon when I was wondering -- dizziness and intractable ear pain had returned.  Yes, it was another day largely spent horizontal.

     I feel better this morning, aside from the fact that I was only briefly awake to feed the cats at 0600 and once they had eaten, I fell effortlessly asleep until 0930.  I've had inner-ear infections before but this one is a real doozy.

     And the yard is full of fallen leaves.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Still Getting Better

     Still dizzy sometimes, too.  And I have been sleeping a lot.

     But I'm on the mend, not talking nonsense (seriously, that was unnerving.  It just snuck up and I was having to concentrate to keep from tripping over my tongue in a discussion filled with acronyms), and I was, for a wonder, hungry.

     Here's a tip: you can make fairly crummy corned beef hash palatable if you fry it up with with a half-pound of hot Italian sausage and half of a red onion, diced.  Yeah, not bad; but I would have probably been better off leaving out the hash and frying the sausage some with diced potato.  Ah, well, live and learn.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Sleeping It Off

     I'm still dizzy but the initial Z-pack dose and a bit over -- h'mm, carry the two, divide by three, aha -- fourteen hours in bed, most of them asleep, has made a big improvement.  I think I might be able to see normal health from here.

     Nevertheless, I have fed the cats, emptied, reloaded and started the dishwasher and made and eaten A Hearty Breakfast,* and now I've got just about enough energy left to be going back to bed.
* A couple slices of bacon and a stack of four (4) pieces of fancy French Toast with butter and coarse sugar, cranberry juice before and coffee during.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

A Day Losted

     I have been to the floor (gently), thence totteringly to the doctor, the drugstore, the grocer's, the kitchen (reheated gumbo with a little of this and that, cooking as if I was cooking at sea) and I am gonna climb back under the robots as soon as I have dined--

     What?  A question?  The robots?

     I, for one, find our new automaton overlords warm and comfy!

     The downside is, I have an inner-ear and sinus infection raging.  I was clumsy the last couple of days and yesterday, found myself variously dizzy and, on occasion, making far less sense than usual.  (And isn't that nice, frantically trying to replay your last few words while thinking, "I just said what?")  This morning, I stood up to head for the shower and found myself heading for my knees instead.  I figured if I wasn't doing any better by the time I was clean, I'd be headed to doc-innna-box.  The trip was locked in when I soaped up my hair with my eyes shut and found myself bouncing off the walls -- luckily not the fourth one, what with it being a curtain and all.

     Uncle Doc, he shook the old feathered rattle and plied the old otoscope and opined what he was seeing in my sinister ear was was more cloudy than should ever be seen, and I should hie forthwith in search of the fabled and mystical Z-Pack, to which end he granted me a Sigil under the name of the Great Rx.  Such a similarity to my own monicker could only be a Sign and thus with both Sign and Sigil I applied for and was -- eventually, hot damn they were slow at The Floorblues or whatever that sink of iniquity is called -- granted one such Pack, of which I have partook and shall continue to partake of for lo, the next four days.

     And now, gumbo warming me, I'm for under the quilt.  Tomorrow will, I hope, be better.

Now You Wait Just One Ding-Danged Minute...

     Sam Clemens and  those fellows were what?

     (From the Wikipedia article on Samuel Langhorne Clemens, an original work by "Will Murray (Willscrlt)"  This version is, of course, a work of satire, not to be confused with Murray's original.)

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Uh-Oh: H. L. Mencken is dead, Samuel Clemens Is Dead, Tam Is Sick And Me, I Ain't Exactly 100% Either

     I don't know what she's got but it arrived after days of a dry cough and had turned into a nastily-sore throat by last night.  Trying to play nursemaid this morning, I offered oatmeal ("Um, no.") and the bacon and runny-yolked eggs I made instead, having mistaken a lack of interest in breakfast at all for a lack of interest in cooked rolled oats, was greeted with a skeptical eye.  (In a spirit of helpfulness, I voluntarily reduced the amount of bacon she would have to eat -- I'm a public benefactrix, I am.)

     She's back on the living-room couch, suffering quietly, and I'll be needing to empty the dishwasher before I hit the shower, and thus, my friends, thus I must depart post-hastily. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Breakfast: The Full Bobbi

          What with starting the week on a couple of early-morning shifts and very little sleep, I decided to reward myself this morning: A half-thickness filet mignon, a fried egg, fried potatoes, fresh tomato and a little bit of bacon.  Yum!

     Tam appears to be enjoying hers, if the sounds coming from that side of the room are any indication.

     No time for a photo, but you should be able to imagine it.  Tomorrow morning, breakfast will probably be penitential oatmeal. That's fine, I like oatmeal, too.