Thursday, December 29, 2016

Star Trek episode "Trouble with Tribbles" airs 1967

One of the Top Ten and most iconic episodes of Star Trek, the original series, Trouble with Tribbles, first aired December 29, 1967.  The tribbles made additional appearances in the animated series, More Tribbles, More Troubles and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Trials and Tribbile-ations.

According to, tribbles had cameos in Star Trek III: Search for Spock, Star Trek: Into the Darkness and Star Trek: Enterprise.

Busy little things!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Our environment is doomed, because the GOP lied. Here's the proof:

Trump and Trumpsters have an unhealthy, inexplicable love affair with the coal industry and the GOP sees itself as its savior.  During his campaign, Trump maligned President Obama, Hillary Clinton and the EPA by stating they had declared war on the coal industry.  Trump promised to repeal “all the job-destroying Obama executive actions”.  In his America First Energy Plan he actually said the difference is between wealth and poverty. 

What does Trump know about poverty?

It’s obvious he and his cabinet know nothing about science, either.  Or reading.

At the Republican National Convention, the GOP listed coal’s wonderful quality and vowed to dismantle Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which limits emissions from coal-fired power plants.  GOP Activist David Barton, who has absolutely no background in science, convinced delegates, who approved unanimously to add the adjective ‘clean’ to the platform’s statement:

“The Democratic Party does not understand that coal is an abundant, clean, affordable, reliable domestic energy resource.”

What the Republican Party does not understand is that Democrats are not as stupid as the GOP is.  Democrats base their energy platform on facts, not personal beliefs.  Coal can be made less harmful but it cannot be made clean. 

Barton’s wording comes from the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE).  In a July 11, 2016 posting, the ACCCE set about to debunk ‘myths’ about coal fired power plants.  Addressing the ‘myth’ that coal-fired plants are dirty, the site references an EPA article from 2016. 

This is where the GOP and the ACCCE lied to mislead the public.  The first citation claims the EPA states the total tonnage of three major pollutants (SO2, NOx and PM) has been reduced by 83% since 1970. 

The article, National Air Pollutant Emission Trends, 1900-1998 does NOT say that.  Yes, some air pollutant levels have declined but due to the EPA’s Clean Air Act, which the GOP promises to eliminate!  And the reductions are nowhere near what ACCCE claims the EPA said.

Sec. 3.4.1, page 54 states:
“As a result of the EPA’s regulations SO2 and PM10 emissions from coal-fired electric power facilities fell by 8 and 85 percent, respectively.”  Note the ACCCE quote does not differentiate between PM10 (particulate matter less than 10 microns in diameter) and PM2.5 (particulate matter less than 2.5 microns in diameter).

The numerous data tables also show the coal-fired industry is not as rosy as the GOP would have you think.  The ACCCE ignored coal’s contribution to carbon monoxide which has soared since 1970 (Table 3-1).  Coal emitted NO2, which ACCCE said had been reduced, has also increased since 1970 (Table 3-2).

I could continue but I'll let you read the reports for yourself.  Links are below.

The GOP has been outspoken in criticizing NOAA and NASA, accusing them of falsifying data.  But they have no data of their own to support their claims.  They lied and they knew it and they don’t care.  

Just as long as you voted for them.  

Happy birthday, Lt. Uhura!

Nichelle Nichols, born December 28, 1932, is beloved by billions as Lt. Nyota Uhura from Star Trek.  Her role was one of the first, if not THE first, non-stereotypical role for an African-American.   She and William Shatner shared the first inter-racial kiss on television, which drew overwhelming positive reaction although a friend of mine told me his father almost made him stop watching Star Trek because of it.

While at NASA, she recruited astronauts Guion Bluford (first African-American astronaut) and Ronald McNair (another African-American astronaut lost in the Challenger explosion).  She was the inspiration for Mae C. Jemison to become the first African-American female astronaut.

Nichelle even has an asteroid named in her honor:  68410 Nichols discovered August 16, 2001.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Remembering Carrie Fisher (1956-2016)

Beautiful Carrie Fisher, who, as Princess Leia, stole the plans to the Death Star and our hearts, has passed away.  She has been one of my favorite actresses since Star Wars: A New Hope, even when she played a bitchy sister-in-law in Sibling Rivalry.  It was so good to see her in the latest film, Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

She will always be remembered as the beautiful, feisty Leia.

Twilight Zone episode "Ring-A-Ding Girl" airs 1963

One of my favorite Twilight Zone episodes, The Ring-a-Ding Girl aired December 27, 1963.  Celebrity Bunny Blake (played by Maggie McNamara), known as the Ring-a-Ding Girl, receives an anonymous gift, a ring.  It begins issuing strange warnings to her as she flies across country, passing directly over her hometown Howardville, during the flight.

She appears unannounced in Howardville the day of the Annual Founders' Day Picnic.  After more warnings, she decides to perform her one-woman show across town at the same time as the picnic.  It causes arguments between her and her sister Hildy.

Here is the opening scene. No spoilers though.  :)

Monday, December 26, 2016

"Rodan" released 1956

Following its success with Godzilla, Toho went with using prehistoric monsters as a winning formula and released Rodan in Japan, December 26, 1956.  The original name of the monster was Radon, an abbreviated word from 'pteranodon' but was changed to Rodan for American audiences.

He was meant to be a stand-alone monster with his own franchise but was incorporated in the Godzilla franchise.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Luna 13 lands on the Moon, 1966

The third successful landing of a probe on the Moon was the Soviets' Luna 13, which touched down December 24, 1966.  It followed Luna 9 and the US's Surveyor 1.  It landed in the Ocean of Storms and transmitted successfully for four days until its batteries ran out of power.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Our environment is doomed. Here's why...

Pruitt has raised millions from the oil and energy sectors, organizations opposing EPA regulations. 

The outgoing administrator of the EPA Gina McCarthy had more experience in environmental science and issues prior to her appointment by President Barack Obama.  Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, nominated by Trump to head the EPA, has no environmental background other than suing the EPA.

McCarthy said in an interview with the Independent:  "Science is everything. Almost every action we take is bounded by what the science tells us. It’s based on a factual record of where the world is today and what is our obligation under our mission. Science needs to be protected. Any effort to undermine that science in a way that would give undue influence to folks that aren’t scientists is a really big problem."

Yet Pruitt still denies climate change is real, despite the overwhelming evidence that our planet is warming up.  

If you need any convincing, just go to the NASA website:

I mean, it's not like they have rocket scientists there.

Trump has been quoted: “For too long, the Environmental Protection Agency has spent taxpayer dollars on an out-of-control anti-energy agenda that has destroyed millions of jobs, while also undermining our incredible farmers and many other businesses and industries at every turn.”

Understood, but what has made it out of control?  Is it anti-energy or is it anti-big business?  Give us specifics, Pruitt.  Talking in generalities suggests you have no idea what you are talking about.


Gina McCarthy:
Bachelor degree Social Anthropology - Umass (1976)
MS Environmental Health Engineering and Planning and Policy - Tufts University (1981)

Scott Pruitt
Political Science/Communications - Georgetown College, KY (1990)
Juris Doctor - University of Tulsa (1993)

Pruitt does not have the necessary education needed to understand environmental science, required to head an agency whose policies are based on ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE!

Environmental Experience:

Gina McCarthy:
1. Administrator of EPA 2013-present
2. Assistant Administrator of EPA 2009-2013
3. Commissioner of the Connecticut Dept. of Environmental Protection 2004-2009
4. Undersecretary for policy for Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs 1999-2003

Scott Pruitt:

I suppose since Trump has had no experience in public office, he feels no one else needs experience either.

Environmental accomplishments:

Gina McCarthy:
1. Finalized rule under Clean Water Act
2. Finalized Clean Power Plan under the Clean Air Act seeking to reduce coal use
3. Developed environmental issues at state and local levels developing policies on economic growth, energy and the environment.

Scott Pruitt:

One of the questions that is always asked of me in a job interview is: "What can you do for our organization?"
Again, this does not apply in a Trump regime.

Anti-environmental activities:

Gina McCarthy:

Scott Pruitt:
1. Sued EPA to block its Clean Power Plan and Waters of the United States rule – Failed
2. Sued EPA on behalf of Oklahoma utilities unwilling to take burdens for their own coal-fired plants – Failed
3. Wrote in National Review “global warming has inspired one of the major policy debates of our time. That debate is far from settled. Scientists continue to disagree about the degree and extent of global warming and its connection to the actions of mankind.” No proof or citations provided.
4. Disbanded Oklahoma’s environmental protection unit charged with probing illegal pollution cases.

Now we're seeing some activity and it's not good.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Apollo 8 launched 1968

Earthrise, Christmas Eve 1968

Apollo 8, launched December 21, 1968 with Commander Frank F. Borman II, Command Module Pilot James A. Lovell, Jr. and Lunar Module Pilot William A. Anders, marked the first time man Earth's gravity and orbit the Moon.  They were the first people to see the whole Earth, the far side of the Moon and Earth rise.

It took the crew three days to reach the moon.  They orbited the Moon ten times in the next twenty hours and made a Christmas Eve broadcast, reading from the Book of Genesis, Chapter 1, verses 1-10.

L-R: James Lovell, William Anders, Frank Borman

They returned to Earth December 27 and were named Time magazine's "Men of the Year" for 1968.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

"I'm a Republican, but I also realize...the sea level is rising" - Mayor, Tybee Island, Georgia

So much is put into that one statement. Mayor Jason Buelterman of Tybee Island, Georgia admits that Republicans are sticking their heads into the ground when it comes to global warming.  Still seen as a hoax, fellow Republicans such as Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt are suing the Environmental Protection Agency over their clean air plans.

Since when do we need to be saved from clean air?

Tybee Island is suffering the effects of rising sea levels caused by rising temperatures across the globe, to the point their city council voted unanimously in April to accept a plan that addresses the risks from rising seas over the next 50 years.  Buelterman may find himself excommunicated from the Republican party.

According to NOAA, Tybee Island has experience a sea-level rise of 10 inches.  And the community is a low-lying barrier island (which means it protects Savannah from hurricanes) and is especially vulnerable to flooding.

Congress has turned a deaf ear to communities asking for help in guidance and funds to pay for pumps and road improvements to buy some time.  In a New York Times post in September, reporter Stephen Morton said that Congress has even tried to block military plans to combat the problem at numerous bases, naval bases most importantly.

With the new Republican regime about to sit upon the throne, it doesn't seem likely that anything in Washington will change.  At least not until the Chesapeake Bay is lapping at the door.

"Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster" released 1964

Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster was released in Japan December 20, 1964, coming off the success of King Kong vs Godzilla.  It's the first movie to feature King Ghidorah, the first where Godzilla isn't destroyed or defeated and the first to portray Godzilla as a 'hero.'

It is the last movie to feature the Ito Sisters as the Cosmos and the final appearance of Takashi Shimura in a Godzilla film.

Monday, December 19, 2016

"Invasion of Astro-Monster" released 1965

Invasion of Astro-Monster (Godzilla vs Monster Zero, Invasion of Planet X or The Great Monster War, among many others) was released December 19, 1965 in Japan.  U.S. audiences had to wait another 5 years before they could see it in American theatres.

Aliens from Planet X, from the dark side of Jupiter, come to Earth to ask if they can borrow Godzilla and Rodan to rid their planet of the hideous Monster Zero (Astro-Monster, etc.)  Of course, the humans, being glad to get rid of the G-Man and Rodan, agree.  Then they find out the aliens have an ulterior motive.  Chaos ensues.

We've seen this before but the one that sets this movie above the others is the Godzilla Dance!!

Here's the trailer:

Friday, December 16, 2016

"Godzilla vs Megaguirus" released 2000

Godzilla vs Megaguirus, released December 16, 2000, is one of my favorites.  New big monster, strong female lead, Godzilla kicking butt!

Also, they will never learn!  You can't keep Godzilla down!  Not even with black holes!

Thursday, December 15, 2016

"Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack" released 2001

I don't know why I post the anniversary of this movie's release every year.  Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack, released December 15, 2001, is the first film to feature King Ghidorah in a "hero" role and I just can't have him being the "good guy" and Godzilla being the "bad guy".

Anyway, the movie has some great battle scenes.  I've only managed to sit through this one twice.

Gemini 6A launched (finally) 1965

Gemini VI-A crew: Pilot Thomas P. Stafford, Command Pilot Walter M. Schirra, Jr.

Gemini VI-A launched December 15, 1965, just eleven days after Gemini 7 lifted off December 4.  The original launch for Gemini VI-A had been scheduled for October 25.  The mission was to rendezvous and dock with the Agena Target Vehicle.  But shortly after the unmanned Agena was launched, a catastrophic failure occured and it exploded over the Atlantic Ocean.  Walter M. Schirra, Jr and Thomas P. Stafford were already in Gemini VI-A when the mission was scrubbed.

After looking at the situation, NASA decided to alter the mission, and have Gemini VI-A rendezvous with Gemini 7.  The spacecraft would not actually dock, since they were not designed for such a maneuver but would 'rendezvous' which meant they would come close to each other.

The vehicles came within one foot of each other while talking over the radio.

Before returning to Earth, Schirra noticed a UFO moving south in a polar orbit:

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

"Godzilla vs King Ghidorah" released 1991

Time travelers from the 23rd century appear in Japan and promise to rid the country of Godzilla forever. (It isn't as though the Japanese have heard this line before.)  With the help of three people, the Futurians travel back even further to 1944 to remove a dinosaur from Lagos Island which became Godzilla after exposed to radioactivity.

From the "why didn't we see this coming?" department, the time travelers release King Ghidorah to destroy Japan so they can rebuild it in their own image.

Robert Scott Field gives an Oscar-worthy performance in his role as Android M-11.  Here is a scene from the movie where Field is at the top of his game!

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Happy birthday, Randy Owen!

Randy Owen, lead singer for Alabama and silver fox, was born near Fort Payne, Alabama December 13, 1949.  He and his cousins Teddy Gentry and Jeff Cook formed Alabama back in the late 60's but reached stardom and immortality in the 1980's and are still rockin' the country music scene!

I found a live performance of Christmas in Dixie.  He was much younger then but he has aged very well!  :)

"Godzilla: Tokyo SOS" released 2003

In 2002, Toho released Godzilla against Mechagodzilla in which the mechanical Godzilla was fashioned from the bones of the monster that attacked in 1954.  What could go wrong?  Unfortunately, that version went beserk and wasted Tokyo worse that the G-Man ever did.

December 13, 2003, Toho released Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S, in which the Japanese government has "repaired" Mechagodzilla.  The Cosmos warn the people they must return the bones to the sea or face a terrible wrath.

Silly humans.  They never learn.

Godzilla returns and Mothra and Mechagodzilla must combine forces to defeat him before he destroys Tokyo (again).

Monday, December 12, 2016

First species made extinct from global warming

Scientists in Australia reported back in June 2016 that the Bramble Cay melomys, a rodent found only on Bramble Cay, a tiny atoll in the northeast Torres Strait, between the Cape York Peninsula in the Australian state of Queensland and the southern shores of Papua New Guinea is now extinct, thanks to human-made global warming.

Rising waters and changing weather patterns have killed off their food source, plants which rely on fresh water.  The melomys have been starved or or drowned by rising sea levels and extreme weather events.  The tiny creature was already on the endangered list.  In 2014, scientists set traps and cameras to find evidence the rodent was still there, but nothing has been seen.

"Godzilla and Mothra: The Battle for Earth" released 1992

One of my favorites, Godzilla and Mothra: The Battle for Earth, was released December 12, 1992 in Japan.  American audiences would have to wait until 1998 to catch it on video.

A meteor carrying the monster Battra hits in the Pacific Ocean.  Archaeologists on Infant Island learn from the Cosmos that Battra is there to act out revenge on humans for destroying the Earth's environment.  So it gets confusing when the Cosmos say that Battra was to stop another meteor from destroying the planet.  Is Battra a good guy or bad guy?

Godzilla gets into the mix and finally Mothra joins the fray to bring some sense to the madness.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

"Godzilla vs SpaceGodzilla" released 1994

When Mothra went into space to stop a meteor from destroying Earth, she accidentally took cells from Godzilla with her and they were scattered throughout the universe. Some of those cells were sucked into a black hole and created a new monster, SpaceGodzilla!

Godzilla vs SpaceGodzilla was rushed into production and released December 10, 1994 in anticipation of the American version of Godzilla, which was to be released in 1994, but production delays pushed its release back to 1998.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Happy birthday, Lt. Worf!

Handsome Michael Dorn, who played Lt., I mean Worf on Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space 9, was born December 9, 1952 in Luling, TX.

He is an  avid pilot and owns several aircraft.  He has flown with the Thunderbirds and the Blu Angels, and is a member of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Remembering John Glenn, astronaut, 1921-2016

John Glenn, the first American to orbit the Earth, has passed away.  He flew on the Friendship 7 in February 1962 making three orbits of Earth in  just under 5 hours.  President John F. Kennedy presented him with the NASA Distinguished Service Medal.

At 77, he flew  on the Space Shuttle Discovery in 1998 as a Payload Specialist, making him the oldest man to go into space.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Oklahoma AG Pruitt to head the EPA - WTF?

Reuters is reporting that Trump is going to appoint Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to head the Environmental Protection Agency.  WTF?  He is an opponent of President Obama's push to curb global warming, i.e. Pruitt believes it is a hoax.  That means the EPA is going to be stripped and gutted like a catfish.  Oil and gas companies will be able to drill with impunity, regardless of the cost to the environment or the public.

Corporate greed.  Pollution.  Fracking. Thanks for making America 'great' again, Trump.

Apollo 17, last trip to the Moon, launched 1972

Apollo 17 crew (L-R): Lunar Module Pilot Harrison H. Schmitt; Commander Eugene A. Cernan (seated); Command Module Pilot Ronald E. Evans

December 7, 1972, Apollo 17 began its trip to the Moon, the last manned mission of the Apollo program.  Eugene Cernan became the last man to walk on the lunar surface, just three years after Neil Armstrong became the first man on the moon.

Cernan and Schmitt spent about 3 days on the Moon, longer than any previous crew, and logged over 22 miles on the Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV), traveling almost 5 miles from the lunar lander.

They splashed down in the south Pacific Ocean, December 19.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Book review - Teddy Bears by Brandon Witt

Teddy Bears is an appropriate title to Brandon Witt’s new Christmas story, although Beauty and the Nerd would have worked as well.  The tale opens with loner and full-time geek Brian working at a popular bathhouse in Denver and just existing.  During his off-hours, he is either gaming or recreating Buffy the Vampire Slayer scenes with his hamsters to post on Youtube.

A few weeks before Christmas, a big, muscle bear comes into the bathhouse.  Brian can hardly breathe, much less complete the checking-in transaction because he is so taken with the huge daddy James.  Brian is even more surprised when James asks him out on a date. 

Although Brian is ecstatic, his own insecurities begin to gnaw at him.  Where James is masculine, attractive and sexy to everyone, Brian is not.

I typically avoid reading stories like this since I can totally relate to Brian but, in actuality, nerds don’t ever get the good-looking bears, especially the muscular ones.  However, I still enjoyed reading how the geek gets the hunk.  The story remains light-hearted, doesn’t take itself too seriously and is a satisfying romance.

Agnes Moorehead born 1900

One of the most talented actresses ever, Agnes Moorehead, born December 6, 1900, was nominated for four Oscars, all for Best Supporting Actress but never took home the statue.  Their loss because she was fantastic.  She died of uterine cancer, a consequence of filming The Conqueror in Nevada in 1954 close to where the US Government was conducting nuclear tests.  The radiation fallout also resulted in the deaths of John Wayne, Susan Hayward and Dick Powell.

She did win two Golden Globes, one for her role in Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte! for which she SHOULD have won the Oscar.

Another of my favorite performances, besides Endora on Bewitched, was her Twilight Zone episode, The Invaders.  In this performance, she does not utter a single word throughout the entire episode.  Now that's awesome acting!

Be warned:  This clip contains spoilers!

Monday, December 5, 2016

Final Episode of "Monty Python's Flying Circus" airs 1974

The end of an era:  The last episode of Monty Python's Flying Circus aired December 5, 1974.  John Cleese had left the show before the fourth (and last) season, saying the show had become repititious and had run out of ideas.  He did collaborate with the other members and even appeared in one episode in the last season.

TV Guide has ranked it the 5th in the Top 25 Cult Shows Ever! and has it ranked as #35 of the Top 250 TV shows.

Graham Chapman passed away in 1989, but the rest are still alive and kicking!

Sunday, December 4, 2016

"Godzilla: Final Wars" released 2004

December 4, 2004, Godzilla: Final Wars was released in Japan.  Due to the poor performances of the previous three movies, Toho announced this would be the last Godzilla movie for at least ten years.  The American version Godzilla was released in 2014.

This film brought back past enemies of the G-man, such as Gigan, Anguirus and Hedorah.  Mothra appears as an ally of Godzilla, the first time since Destroy All Monsters!.

Friday, December 2, 2016

China's Chang'e-3 Lunar Probe launched 2013

China launched their lunar lander/rover Chang'e 3, December 2 (local time), 2013 and it became the first soft landing on the moon since the Soviet Union's Lunar 24 in 1976.  Chang'e is the Chinese goddess of the moon and the rover is named Yutu, which is Chang'e's pet rabbit.

Yutu stopped sending signals in March 2015, but as of that time, the Chinese stated that the lander still had working instruments.

Remembering Fawlty Tower's waiter Manuel, Andrew Sachs

Andrew Sachs, best known for his portrayal of Manuel, the bumbling waiter on "Fawlty Towers" with John Cleese, has passed away at 86 from vascular dementia.  He made us laugh and we will always be grateful.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Zond 2, mysterious Soviet probe to Mars, launched 1964

Zond 2, the Soviets’ second spacecraft to Mars, was launched November 30, 1964 just two days after Mariner 4 blasted off from Cape Canaveral.  The next day, December 1, communications with Zond indicated that a serious problem had occurred.  Only half of the expected level of power was available on the spacecraft, due to one of two solar panels that did not deploy properly because of a broken tug cord.  Controllers freed the second panel by firing plasma engines to shake it loose but it was too late for a necessary mid-course maneuver to fine-tune its approach to Mars. 

On or about February 17, 1965, the controllers made a mid-course correction, but in April the communications with Zond 2 began having more problems.  On May 5, controllers were unable to raise Zond. 

It is believed Zond 2 flew by Mars on August 6, 1965 and headed into interplanetary space.

In an April 1991 article in the Electronic Journal of the Astronomical Society of the Atlantic, Andrew J. LePage speculates on the true mission of Zond 2, which he describes as “probably the most mysterious of any planetary mission…by Soviet authorities.”

In the article, he cites Zond 2’s slower trajectory to Mars, arriving several weeks after Mariner 4, despite being launched only two days after the US spacecraft.  Its trajectory also indicates that the probe would minimize speed once it approached Mars.

Two books from Russia, one a biography of the Soviets’ chief spacecraft designer Sergei Korolov and the other a story about an early Soviet Mars mission, strongly suggest Zond 2 could have been carrying a lander to touchdown on the Martian surface to test for signs of life.

However, the truth might never been known since Zond 2 hasn’t been heard from in almost fifty-two years.

June Pointer born 1953

Goddess of music and Muse June Pointer was born November 30, 1953 in Oakland, California.  She founded the super-group the Pointer Sisters with sister Bonnie in 1969 and they eventually grew into a trio to a quartet and then back to a trio, where they enjoyed their biggest successes.

She managed to have a solo career while performing with her sisters Anita and Ruth.

She left us April 11, 2006 from several forms of cancer.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Enos the Chimp launched in Mercury-Atlas 5, 1961

Although the Soviets had already put two cosmonauts (Yuri Gagarin being the first) into orbit by November 1961, NASA was still debating putting a man into orbit.  On November 29, 1961, Enos, a chimpanzee, was launched in the Mercury-Atlas 5 from Cape Canaveral.  He made two orbits of Earth and splashed down off the coast of Puerto Rico a little over three hours from lift-off.  Enos carried out a series of tests and came through unharmed.

The Mercury spacecraft was deemed ready for human occupants.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Space Shuttle Columbia's 6th mission, launched 1983

L-R: Mission Specialist 1 Owen K. Garriott, Payload Specialist II Byron Lichtenberg, Pilot Brewster H. Shaw, Commander John W. Young, Payload Specialist 1 Ulf Merbold, Mission Specialist 2 Robert A. Parker.

Space Shuttle Columbia blasted off November 28, 1983 on her sixth mission.  Her commander was John Young, his sixth mission as well.  It was the largest crew to date, six!!  She carried the first Spacelab moduleand the first European Space Agency representative (West German Ulf Merbold).

John Young is the 9th person to walk on the moon and the first person to make 6 space flights.  Owen Garriott, who hails from Enid, Oklahoma, spent 56 days aboard Skylab 3 in 1973.

They landed safely December 8, 1983 at Edwards.

Mariner 4, first spacecraft to fly past Mars, launched 1965

Mariner 4, launched November 28, 1965, was the first spacecraft to perform a flyby past Mars, answering the burning questions about life on the Red Planet.

It was the first spacecraft to navigate using the stars, like mariners did in old times.  Mariner 4 sent back data at a staggering, blistering speed of 8 1/2 bytes/minute!  While they waited, scientists used pastel set to color paint-by-number style the first images from Mars.  Its signals helped scientists determine the Red Planet had a thin atmosphere.

The wait was worth it as Mariner 4 took the first photos of the surface of Mars on July 14-15, 1965, passing within 9,846 km from the surface of Mars.  Communications were terminated with the spacecraft on December 21, 1967.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Soyuz 11 Cosmonaut Vladislav Nikolayevich Volkov born 1935

Cosmonaut Vladislav Nikolayevich Volkov, born November 23, 1935, blasted off June 6, 1971 on Soyuz 11, his second spaceflight.  Unfortunately, tragedy struck when he, Georgy Dobrovolsky, and Viktor Patsayev died upon re-entry June 30 when their space capsule depressurized.   At the time, cosmonauts did not wear space suits, but afterwards, the Soviets redesigned the capsules so only two cosmonauts would ride but in space suits.

The spacecraft operated correctly, the retrorockets fired and the parachutes deployed as scheduled.  When ground crews reached the capsule, they didn't see any outer damage, but when they opened the hatch, they found all three cosmonauts dead.

The Soyuz 11 cosmonauts are the only men to die in space.

What will humble abodes look like on Mars?

It probably goes without saying that the first homes on Mars will be built for substance rather than style, so what will these humble abodes look like?

Since the first settlers on the Red Planet will not be able to rely on Earth for resources, houses must be self-sustaining, providing oxygen, water and food. 

In other words, ugly.  Imagine an igloo made from red brick.  But that doesn’t mean they have to be uncomfortable.  Maybe some nice window treatments, an accent rug, throw pillows here and there…The possibilities are endless!

I realize that at first we won’t have to worry about next door neighbors or friends just dropping by but SERIOUSLY, people!  How about some PRIVACY?

The settlers will have to take equipment with them, dehumidifiers to pull water from the air, oxygen generators and 3-D printers.  Stephen Petranek, author of How We’ll Live on Mars says that 3-D printers will be absolutely necessary for Martians.  National Geographic erected a home based on Petranek’s ideas as research for a new miniseries about the Red Planet.

The first homes will be built from a cement mixture using the Martian soil, combined with recycled spacecraft parts.  Features include a double air-locked entrance, a small cooking area and a bed.

Cozy.  Let’s hope the beds are big enough for our Significant Others, tricks du jour, one-night stands...but I digress.

The entrance is necessary to protect Martians from the poisonous atmosphere, freezing temperatures and from having red dirt everywhere.  The downstairs “basement” will house the heaters, oxygen generators and dehumidifiers.

NASA plans to send people to the Red Planet in the 2030’s, but they and Petranek aren’t the only ones striving to go to our nearest neighbor.  Elon Musk has also entered the race to Mars.  His Space X company plans to put people on Mars as early as 2025.  Earlier this month, Space X resumed stage testing of a Falcon 9 rocket, which failed during a September 1 test.  Musk claims Space X claims they will be able to travel from Earth to Mars in only 80 days.

It will be a great day to see people walk on Mars, even if it isn’t me.  I removed the Red Planet and the moon from my bucket list a long time ago.  Perhaps it won’t be too far in the future, we LGBT folks turn the Red Planet into the Pink Planet.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

"Religious" Oklahomans select a president who isn't

Rev. Dr. Robin Meyers, senior minister of Mayflower Congregational UCC Church and professor of social justice in the Philosophy Department at Oklahoma City University, posted this commentary in the OK Gazette.  And he doesn't pull any punches.  

He is apalled that Oklahomans who reviled Bill Clinton and his infidelities have flocked to the banner of Trump, a man who has openly cheated on his wives and mocks the sacrament of communion.  This is just the beginning, folks.  

Read on:

Happy birthday, Guion Bluford, first African-American in space!

Dr. Guion Bluford, Jr., first African-American in space, was born November 23, 1942 in Philadelphia, PA.  He entered the NASA program as an astronaut in 1979 and blasted off August 30, 1983 on his first mission in the Space Shuttle Challenger.  Dr. Bluford made a total of four shuttle missions on the Challenger and the Discovery.

He retired from the Air Force in 1993.


Monday, November 21, 2016

Oklahoma governor loses grip on reality

In an unexpected but hardly surprising announcement, Oklahoma Governor Scary Failing tells the education system, schools and teachers to step up!  Clearly, she blames the educational system, devastated in the past few years by her and the Republican-controlled government by their ruinous policies, for their own demise.

Funding for education has been cut so much that schools are going to four-day weeks, valuable after-school programs are being cancelled, and teachers are fleeing the state so fast they leave skidmarks in school parking lots.

However, not all of the blame can be laid upon the legislators.  Earlier this month, Oklahoma voters defeated State Question 779 59% to 40% which would have raised sales tax by one cent, to give teachers a $5000 raise and increase education's coffers.  Apparently, Okies want the legislators to come up with a solution other than raising taxes.  Fair enough, but what do you plan to do in the meantime while the Republicans consult with lawmakers with educational backgrounds "just as they have always been."  Maybe they were consulted but certainly not heeded.

For now, Okies will watch teachers disappear over the horizon to greener pastures, see their children's education suffer and pad the pockets of Oklahoma's legislators.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Alan B. Shepard, first American in space, born 1923

Alan Bartlett Shepard, born November 18, 1923, was the first American in space, and the fifth and oldest person to walk on the Moon!  He also hit two golf balls on the lunar surface during the Apollo 14 mission.  In 1961, he achieved sub-orbit in Freedom 7 becoming the first American in space, just weeks after Yuri Gagarin became the first person in space.

He passed away in 1998 at the age of 74.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

The Alan Parsons Project releases "Stereotomy" 1985

The Alan Parsons Project released their ninth studio album Stereotomy November 1985.  It contains some of the longest songs the group has recorded:  Light of the World over 6 minutes; Stereotomy (the single) over 7 minutes and (my favorite) Where's the Walrus? over 7 1/2 minutes.  All songs were written by Alan Parsons and Eric Woolfson.

Where's the Walrus? earned APP a Grammy nomination for Best Rock Instrumental Performance - Orchestra, Group or Soloist in 1987.  That award went to the "Top Gun Theme".  The album made it to #43 on the Billboard 200 and #32 in Canada.

I had never seen the video for Stereotomy until today.  Totally random and freaky!  I love it!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Skylab 4 launched 1973

Carr, Gibson and Pogue

The third manned Skylab mission, the third and final crew to the first space station, lifted off November 16, 1973.  The crew, Commander Gerald P. Carr, Science Pilot Edward G. Gibson and Pilot William R. Pogue, spent 84 days in space, the longest period at that time.

During the mission, the crew complained they were being pushed too hard, being made to work long hours without sufficient rest.  NASA thought they weren't working hard enough or efficient enough.  On New Year's Day 1974, the crew, fed up with their work schedule, turned off their communications and enjoyed the view of Earth for a day.  NASA did not find that even remotely funny,  but their work schedule was modified and the crew completed more work than scheduled.

Part of their mission was to make observations of Comet Kohoutek.