Monday, August 21, 2017

Marie Blake, actress, born 1895

Marie Blake, born August 21, 1895, in Philadelphia, is probably best known for her role as Grandmama in the Addams Family.  She appeared in bit parts on television from her beginning in 1935 until her retirement in 1966.

She passed away January 14, 1978 in Los Angeles.

It wasn't easy finding clips with Ms. Blake (credited as Blossom Rock on the Addams Family) but I found one that includes the classic Don Rickles.

Gemini V launched 1965

(L-R): Pete Conrad, Gordon Cooper

Gemini V, the third Gemini flight, the 11th manned American flight and the 19th spaceflight of all time, launched August 21, 1965 from Cape Kennedy in Florida.  On board were the Command Pilot L. Gordon Cooper, Jr. and Pilot Charles "Pete" Conrad, Jr.  They spent 7 days, 22 hours and 55 minutes in space, breaking the existing record for duration set by Vostok 5 in 1963.

Conrad and Cooper conducted medical experiments during the mission, but they did not have much of appetites.  They averaged about 1000 cal/day although the intended daily intake was 2700cal.  They also experienced dandruff as a significant problem, which was believed to be the results of very low ambient humidity in the cabin, causing their skin to become dry and flaky.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Book review - Legacy of Hereot, Beowulf's Children by Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle & Steve Barnes

I read Legacy of Hereot years ago when it was given to me as a present.  Even though I read science fiction, this book wasn’t even on my radar, so it was a surprise to receive it as a gift.  However, I read it and was wonderfully surprised.  I picked it up again so I could refresh myself before I read its sequel Beowulf’s Children, which I’ve had in my bookcase for years.

I loved reading Legacy of Hereot again, but I should have skipped Beowulf’s Children. Oh, well.  It seemed like a good idea at the time.  Legacy of Hereot was all about establishing a new colony on a distant planet, fighting unknown terrors and coming together as a community to defeat the common enemy.

Beowulf’s Children was all about teen angst and sex. 

Legacy of Hereot opens with about 200 settlers coming out of a 100-year sleep after a journey to a new planet, 10 light-years from Earth.  The novel doesn’t delve much into the problems on Earth that determined the necessity of colonizing a new planet, but it wasn’t much of a drawback.  Cadmann Weyland is the colonel of the new group on Tau Cetin and soon realizes there is an indigenous threat to the settlers, but no one believes him.

At first.

Then an attack on the compound shocks everyone into action and they rally around the Colonel.  Much of the book centers on the settlers and their plans to repel a huge attack, once it is discovered that they have upset the ecological balance on the planet and soon they will be up to their armpits in grendels (thus, the connection to Hereot), the name they’ve given the monsters.

Legacy of Hereot is an exciting, sci-fi adventure about interstellar space travel and survival.

Beowulf’s Children is not.

The sequel is set 19 years after the events in Hereot.  The children born shortly after the Grendel attack do not have any recollection of the horrific incident which took the lives of many of the colony’s men.  As far as they are concerned, the Firsts or Earth Born (the colonists who came on the space ship Geographic) are all crazy from Hibernation Instability (HI).  Apparently, people, frozen for 100 years for a trip across the galaxy, have a tendency to lose a bit of intelligence, the result of ice crystals forming in the brain. 

Or as the Seconds (Star Born) refer to it, ice on the mind.

For this reason, the generation born on the new planet have established themselves a colony, Surf’s Up, a distance from the original settlement.  There they can do whatever they want, sleep with whomever they want, without the supervision of the adults.  And they remind the Earth Born constantly about their autonomy.  The leader of this group is Aaron, an Adonis-like 19 year-old Bottle Baby.  Bottle Babies were embryos frozen to be thawed out if female colonists turned out to be sterile after their 100-year journey.

Aaron has seduced the Star Born (all teen-agers) that they need to settle the continent and convinces them to lie, betray and steal from the Earth Born to cross the ocean and establish a permanent outpost. 

Although there are more dangers other than the grendels to face, the novel seems to focus more on who is sleeping with who (with no consequences) and the rebellion against the first generation. 
The ending of Legacy of Hereot ends with the final battle with the grendels.  It does leave the door open for a sequel, but Beowulf’s Children seems as if it was forced.  As if the publishers mandated a sequel without a clear path forward.  There is a third book in the series, but I’m not inclined to read it after Beowulf’s Children.

Legacy of Hereot is an exciting must-read.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Happy birthday, astronaut Story Musgrave!

Story Musgrave, born August 19, 1935, is a space shuttle astronaut and is the second person to make 6 trips into space!  He is the only person to have flown on all 5 shuttles.  Musgrave and his fellow astronauts on STS-61 mission (Endeavour) appeared on an episode of Home Improvement.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Happy birthday, Umberto Guidoni, first European aboard the ISS!

Umberto Guidoni, born August 18, 1954 in Rome, Italy, is the veteran of two space shuttle flights and has the distinction as being the first European aboard the International Space Station.  Dr. Guidoni worked for the Italian Space Agency and the European  Space Agency.  His first mission into space was aboard Columbia (STS-75) in early 1996.

He flew on Endeavour in 2001 (STS-100) with a Canadian, a Russian and four Americans to the International Space Station.  Its primary objective was the installation of the Canadarm2 robotic arm onto the ISS.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

The Pointer Sisters release "Special Things" 1980

The Pointer Sisters released their 7th studio album, Special Things August 1980.  It was their 4th collaboration with producer Richard Perry.  Their biggest hit from the album He's So Shy helped elevate Special Things to gold status.

Save This Night for Love is my favorite from this album.

Is it me...or is The Oklahoman suddenly silent on Trump?

In the days leading up to the presidential election in November, The Oklahoman squandered no opportunity to bash Hillary Clinton, and exalting The Donald.  After Mrs. Clinton had been exonerated by the FBI for her use of emails and the Benghazi scandal, The Oklahoman repeatedly used those cases against her, not emphasizing the facts, nor stating them (I'm sure) so voters in Oklahoma would continue to feel horrified and disgusted at the thought of putting Hillary in the White House.

Prior to the election, many of the nation's biggest and prestigious newspapers endorsed Hillary for President. Even those publications that are typically apolitical or conservative threw in their hats for her.  Newspapers from smaller but major cities in Oklahoma who endorsed Mrs. Clinton include Enid, Muskogee, McAlester, Woodward, Norman, Ada, Talequah, Stillwater, Duncan  and Chickasha.  The Oklahoman and the Tulsa World did not endorse either candidate (1).  But shortly before the election, the Oklahoman basically said, "we're not telling you to vote for Trump, but DON'T vote for Hillary." You can read their holier-than-thou rant at the link below (2,3).

But in recent events where The Donald has shown his true colors, pasty white with a yellow streak down his back, the Oklahoma Editorial Board has gone silent.  Even a search of the top stories on The Oklahoman's website and discovers little of the tragic events in Charlottesville and The Donald's meltdown at his press conference.  The only editorials come from columnists from other papers around the country.

Not even a bit on the deadly landslide in Sierra Leone.

What is the top story in Oklahoma?  A 12 year-old ventriloquist is a semi-finalist on "America's Got Talent".