Saturday, October 29, 2016

John Glenn returns to space 1998

Space Shuttle Discovery Crew - Back row: Mission Specialist 2 Scott E. Parazynski, Payload Specialist 1 Chiaki Mukai, Mission Specialist 1 Pedro Duque, Payload Specialist 2 John H. Glenn, Jr.
Front row: Pilot Steven W. Lindsey, Commander Curtis L. Brown, Jr.

Astronaut and senator John Glenn returned to space on board the Space Shuttle Discovery, October 29, 1998.  He became the oldest man to date to go into space.  Also aboard was Pedro Duque of Spain, the country's first astronaut.

Glenn made history as part of NASA's Mercury project to become the first American to orbit Earth. in the Friendship 7 in 1962.  His second return to space was at the age of 77 as a payload specialist.  NASA conducted experiments on Glenn while in space to give them an understanding of the effects of space on aging.

My new story "Realm of the Grizzly Bear" is here!

My new, bearotica, shape-shifter story "Realm of the Grizzly Bear" is released today from JMS Books!  And it's on sale today, so go and get it!

Jarrod has become obsessed with finding Caleb, the white-haired bear who rescued him from freezing to death in a blizzard the previous winter.  After their night of passion, Jarrod realizes his body is changing.  He is becoming larger, more muscular and hairier so he wants to find Caleb to find out what’s happening to him.

Jarrod searches the forest where he encountered Caleb but instead finds Logan, and almost loses his life.  Caleb rescues him and tells Jarrod he is becoming a bear, a real bear, to be a guardian of the forest.  But to complete the transformation, he must obtain the seed of the other bears in the forest.   Gareth, a ginger-haired man, and Tyrone, a black man, are cooperative but Logan remains hostile. 

Jarrod wants to complete the transformation so he will be with Caleb forever but Logan’s jealousy just might lead to his death.


            The white bear hadn’t changed at all since their brief meeting so many months ago.  If anything he looked larger.  His bare torso maintained its muscularity and thin covering of hair, which had turned mostly white.  The pajama bottoms he wore low on his hips seemed to be held up only by the curve of his ass and did little to cover the bulge in the front.
            “Eyes up here,” Caleb said making Jarrod realize he had been staring.  He held out his hand and Jarrod took it, rising to his feet.
            Jarrod fell into his arms, kissing and stroking his body, not wanting to ever let go.  He vowed never to fall asleep in Caleb’s presence again, lest he find himself waking from a dream and alone.
            “Why don’t you two take that indoors?”
            Jarrod gasped, spinning around.  He forgot they weren’t by themselves.  A large black man with a shaved head and full beard stood with a beefy arm draped over the shoulder of an equally muscular white man with red hair.  The black man wore only jeans.  The ginger-haired man wore a sleeveless plaid shirt, hanging open to reveal chest and abs covered in red hair. 
            “Jarrod, this is Tyrone…”
            The black man nodded without smiling.
            “…and Gareth.”
            The ginger bear inclined his head with a pleasant grin.  “Nice to meet you.”
            Jarrod suddenly felt vulnerable and embarrassed, standing naked in front of strangers.
            Of course, nothing could be worse than the compromising position in which they first saw me, he thought.  “Do you think I could have some clothes, please?”
            Gareth and Tyrone laughed while Caleb slipped off his pajama pants.  He draped the legs over Jarrod’s shoulders and tied them in a loose knot as if they were a scarf.
            “Is that better?” Caleb stood back, hands on hips in his naked glory.
            Jarrod could not help but laugh himself.
            “We’ll catch up with you later,” Tyrone said as he and Gareth turned and walked into the woods.
            Jarrod watched them disappear.  He was alone with Caleb, what he had yearned for but so much had happened in the span of an hour or so, he didn’t know what to think.  Questions raced through his mind, trying to piece everything together but nothing made sense.  Even his first meeting with Caleb wreaked of fantasy.
            “You’re awfully quiet,” Caleb said.  He hooked an arm around Jarrod’s neck and kissed him on the head.
            Jarrod mashed his face against the hairy chest.  Now all of it felt so natural to him.  Standing naked in the middle of the forest in the rain with his lover.  Nothing else seemed to matter.
            “You still have a lot of questions, don’t you?”  Caleb’s chest vibrated as he spoke and Jarrod nodded.
            “The best way to describe this is we’re the guardians of the forest,” Caleb began, leading him into the woods following a narrow trail.
            “Guardians against what?” Jarrod asked.  It sounded even more incredible and he tried to wrap his mind around the concept.
            Caleb shrugged.  “Nothing fantastical.  Just trespassers, urban encroachment, anything that can harm the forest.”
            “This is a huge forest,” Jarrod blurted out.  “Hundreds of square miles.  Maybe thousands.  And just the four of you can protect it?”
            “I know it sounds incredible but when you have the powers of a bear, it’s not such a daunting task as it would seem.”
            “Wait a minute.” Jarrod stopped in his tracks.  “The powers of a bear?”
            Caleb smiled at him.  “Does that sound so crazy?”
            “It sounds impossible!”

Friday, October 28, 2016

Oklahoma Republican escalates fear-mongering, hate and Islamaphobia

Oklahoma State Representative John Bennett sets the needle back to "Zero Days" since Oklahoma has become a national embarrassment.  This week he initiated a study titled: “Radical Islam, Shariah Law, the Muslim Brotherhood and the radicalization process.”

As the release points out, “Bennett said he’s been ridiculed for his beliefs, but he is willing to do whatever it takes to protect Oklahoma and U.S. citizens from the real and present danger of radical Islam and its subsidiary groups.”

The photo above is more frightening to me than Muslims.  I  still remember April 19, 1995 (apparently Bennett has conveniently forgotten), still considered one of the worst acts of domestic terrorism.  

Here is the response from Oklahoma chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-OK)  to the Islamophobic atmosphere at the so-called “study”:
Representative John Bennett is shamefully wasting taxpayer money to promote his own biased agenda, said CAIR-OK Executive Director Adam Soltani. This hearing was a new low for Representative Bennett, as his guests presented a biased narrative that achieves nothing more than demonizing and marginalizing the Oklahoma Muslim Community.

Britain becomes 6th country in space, 1971

Prospero was the first British satellite successfully lauched on a British  rocket October 28, 1971, joining the U.S., Soviet Union, France, China and Japan already in orbit.  Britain had previously launched a satellite, Ariel 1, in 1962 but that was on an American rocket.

Its operations ceased May 1973 when its tape recorder failed and officially deactivated in 1996 but it was still being heard reportedly in 2004.

Its orbit should decay about 2070, so mark your calendars!

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Star Trek (TOS) episode "Catspaw" airs 1967

Just in time for Halloween, CBS aired the Star Trek episode Catspaw October 27, 1967.  True to the mood of the season, this episode includes witches, a spooky castle, wizards and a gigantic black cat.

Sylvia and Korob are aliens who try to "connect" with humans via some sort of telepathy but only manage to tap into the subconscious where humans keep their superstitions and stuff of nightmares.  Thus, they think this spooky mumbo-jumbo is normal.

The worst thing about Sylvia is her appalling sense of style.  Talk about the stuff of nightmares.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Soyuz 3 launches 1968

Cosmonaut Georgy Beregovoy blasted off in Soyuz 3, October 26, 1968 to rendezvous with Soyuz 2, an unmanned craft which was launched the previous day.  Beregovoy tried to dock with Soyuz 2 twice but failed on both attempts.  He came within 660ft to his target.

The mission was considered a success though since he was able to rendezvous with another craft.  At least, that's what the Soviets said.

At the time, Beregovoy was the oldest man to go into space, at the ripe old age of 47.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Venera 10 lands on Venus, 1975

Just three days after Venera 9 touched down on the Venusian surface, Venera 10 landed October 25, 1975 at high noon.  It came to rest in the Beta Regio area about 2200km from Venera 9.  Like its sister craft, one of its lens covers failed to come off so Venera 10 could not take panoramic photos and the Soviets had to settle for only 180°.

Venera 10 operated for 65 minutes before failing.

Gemini VI is a (no) go! 1965

Crew of Gemini VI: Tom Stafford and Wally Schirra

The Gemini VI Agena Target Vehicle, launched from Cape Canaveral, October 25, 1965, was intended to be used by the Gemini VI crew, Walter Shirra and Tom Stafford.  Although the unmanned craft launched successfully, a mere 6 minutes after launch, an "anomaly occured" and telemetry and radar beacon were lost.  NASA tried to re-establish contact but were unable.  Patrick AFB radar "picked up 5 pieces" of debris where Agena was supposed to be.

Schirra and Staffrod had been waiting in Gemini VI to launch 101 minutes after Agena, but the mission was cancelled.

On December 15, 1965, the two-man crew in Gemini VI rendezvoused with Frank Borman and James Lovell in Gemini VII, a crucial success in getting to the moon.

Monday, October 24, 2016

"The Manchurian Candidate" released 1962

One of the most powerful, scariest and best movies ever, The Manchurian Candidate, was released October 24, 1962.  Angela Lansbury gives a strong performance and should have won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress, for which she was nominated.  She did win the Golden Globe for her role.  Sinatra had actually considered Lucille Ball for Lansbury's role, Mrs. Iselin, but director John Frankenheimer went with Angela instead.

I didn't understand why she didn't get top billing instead of Janet Leigh because Angela had a larger role.  But I suppose with Janet, still riding high from her performance in Psycho, could garner the top spot.

Newsweek selected the role Mrs. Iselin as one of the top 10 Villains in movie history.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Venera 9, first spacecraft to land on Venus, 1975

Image of Venusian surface taken by Venera 9

Venera 9, launched June 8, 1975, touched down on Venus and transmitted the first images ever from the surface of another planet.  The lander detached from the orbiter on October 20 and made a soft landing 2 days later near Beta Regio.  It transmitted for 53 minutes before falling silent. It detected hydrochloric acid, hydrofluoric acid, bromine and iodine.  Venera 9 measured a surface pressure 90 times that of earth and a sultry atmosphere of 485° C.

Friday, October 21, 2016

"Damnation Alley" released 1977

Roger Zelazny's classic post-apocalyptic novel Damnation Alley (published in 1969) was brought to the screen October 21, 1977.  The author hated the film version.  I enjoyed the movie but the novel was much better.  The film never explained why Albany, New York wasn't destroyed during the Soviets' nuclear attack.

Jan-Michael Vincent and George Peppard starred in the movie.

Dr. Ronald E. McNair, Challenger astronaut, born 1950

Dr. Ronald McNair, born October 21, 1950, was aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger when it exploded after launch January 28, 1986.  It was his seecond trip into space, since he had flown on the Challenger in February 1984.  He is the second African American and the first Baha'i in space.

He was also a saxophone player and was to play a solo during the Challenger mission but never got the chance.  There is a moon crater named after him and he was inducted into the South Carolina Hall of Fame.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Sounds of the Season! Pointer Sisters "Back In My Arms"

Okay, this isn't really a Halloween song or pumpkin carol, but this album came out in July 1985 and I listened to it all through that fall into the Christmas season.  So I always associate Contact with autumn.

Back in My Arms has been growing on me forever and I enjoy it more and more each year.  Ruth Pointer sings her heart and soul out and it's one of the few songs that can bring me to tears.

Love you, Ruth!!

Space shuttle Columbia (STS-73) launches 1995

Front row (L-R): Albert Sacco, Jr.; Kent V. Rominger; Michael Lopez-Alegria
Back row (L-R): Catherine G. Coleman; Commander Kenneth D. Bowersox; Fred W. Leslie, Kathryn C. Thornton

Space Shuttle Columbia (STS-73) successfully launched October 20, 1995 after six previous aborted launches.  It ties with STS-61-C for the most number of scrubs.  On Day 6 of the mission, the crew threw out the ceremonial first pitch for Game 5 of the World Series.  Mission Specialist 2 Michael Lopez-Alegria is the first Spanish-born astronaut.

Some of the crew appeared on the "Fear of Flying" episode of Home Improvement, February 3, 1996.

Oh, and UFOlogists claim Catherine Coleman reported seeing a UFO.  Another first for NASA!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

European Space Agency's Schiaparelli lands on Mars!

Earlier today, the European Space Agency received confirmation from its Mars lander Schiaparelli that it had successfully landed on the Red Planet, becoming the third Earth agency to clutter up the Martian landscape.

It landed in the Merdiani Planum, near NASA's Opportunity.  This is a multi-national cooperative project in which the ESA received support from the Russians.  NASA was helping out for a while but had to drop out because of (gasp) budget cuts.

It will be interesting to see what data we receive from Schiaparelli.  It will drill at least 2m into the Martian soil to look for signs of life, past and present.

"Meteor" released 1979

I actually enjoyed this movie, although it was panned by critics and ignored by audiences.  The Oscar-nominated movie Meteor, released October 19, 1979, features a 5-mile diameter meteor "Orpheus" heading toward Earth. The U.S. and the (then) Soviet Union have to work together, using their nuclear weapon satellites in orbit to destroy the meteor before it destroys Earth.  Prior to the meteor's arrival, 'splinters' hit first, destroying Hong Kong and New York City.

It had an all-star cast, including Sean Connery, Natalie Wood, Henry Fonda, Karl Malden and Martin Landau.

Pure 70's cheese!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Happy birthday, Sci-fi/Fantasy author Katherine Kurtz!

I read Katherine Kurtz's first Deryni trilogy in high school or college.  Thoroughly enjoyed it and have wanted to continue reading the series, but I keep putting it off.  She's up to her 5th trilogy in the Deryni novels and according to her interview (below), there is still a lot more to come.  It is a series worth continuing! Kurtz was born October 18, 1944 in Coral Gable, Florida.

She has a Bachelor's Degree in Chemistry from the University of Miami!  How come that degree hasn't worked for me?  Katherine, any advice?

The Oklahoman "endorses" Trump

Although The Oklahoman did not specifically say it endorsed Trump, the "non-endorsement" gist of the editorial makes it plain, it prefers Trump to Clinton.  The Daily Waste of Paper states that Donald Trump is the "wildest of wild cards" and a "flawed candidate".  But the editorial goes to much greater lengths to blast Clinton for her stances on policies (all without any citations, of course.  Who needs facts?).

Clinton has over eighty newspaper endorsements, including conservatives such as the Duncan Banner and the Stillwater News Press.  Trump has four, including the New York Observer (which has also endorsed Clinton) and the National Enquirer!  Nuff said.

The editorial ends with "By all means vote on Nov. 8, then pray for this country."

How did that work for the oilfields?,_2016#Hillary_Clinton

Venera 4 impacts Venus 1967

The Soviet probe Venera 4 entered the atmosphere of Venus October 18, 1967 and crashed onto the surface, but not before it sent back information, making it the first spacecraft to send back in situ data from another planet.

It provided the first chemical analysis of Venusian atmosphere, showing it was about 95% carbon dioxide, a tad nitrogen and less than 1% oxygen.  Venera 4 proved Venus was super hot and its atmosphere super-dense!

The first successful Venus lander would be Venera 7 in 1970.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Happy birthday, Dr. Mae Jemison!

Dr. Mae Carol Jemison, star of Star Trek: The Next Generation, was born October 17, 1956!  She played Lt. Palmer, a transporter technician in the episode Second Chances.

Oh, yeah, she was also the first female African-American in space, on the Space Shuttle Endeavor, September 12, 1992.  It was her only space flight since she retired from NASA in 1993.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

First Chinese Astronaut Lt. Col. Yang Liwei, 2003

China became the third nation to send a man into space on October 15, 2003.  Lieutenant Colonel Yang Liwei took off in Long March CZ-2F rocket in the Shenzhou 5 spacecraft.  Liwei completed 14 orbits in about 21 hours.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Soyuz 23 launches 1976: Murphy’s Law Confirmed!

When Commander Vyacheslav Zudov and Flight Engineer Valeri Rozhdestvensky blasted off October 14, 1976, they did not expect to be back on Earth in just two days.  The expectation was for them to link with Salyut 5 and break an in-space endurance record, which was 84 days at the time.  But from the get-go, nothing went right.

The morning of the launch, the bus carrying the astronauts to the launch pad broke down.  High-altitude winds forced the rocket off-course and the cosmonauts almost had to abort the mission then.  They managed to achieve orbit somewhat lower than planned, but finally settled in orbit 168 miles.   

They planned to dock with Salyut 5 on evening of October 15 but as the cosmonauts came within 4 miles of the station, Commander Zudov reported “strong lateral fluctuations” in the craft.  At 500m, both men realized they would not be able to dock.

Zudov wanted to make a second attempt but were told they had used too much fuel settling into a lower altitude orbit and stabilizing the craft.  They needed to reserve what fuel they had remaining for the return home.  Not what they wanted to hear.

High winds and blizzard conditions carried them about 75 miles from the scheduled landing point.  They braced themselves for a “splatdown” and were shocked when the landing terminated with a loud splash, in Lake Tengiz about 5 miles from shore.  At night.  Lake Tengiz is a large salt lake in Kazakhstan.  The capsule lay on its side, which kept them from opening the hatch.  Not that they wanted to since outside the temperature was -22° C. 

A thick fog blocked the capsule’s beacon so rescue helicopters could not locate them.  The salt water corrosion activated the explosive charges on the reserve chute, deploying it and allowing it to fill with water.

A helicopter finally spotted them but the blizzard moving in would not allow the pilot to hold a stable position.  A second attempt also failed.  Amphibious vehicles could not be used because they could not traverse the bogs and marshes.  Blocks of ice and sludge on Lake Tengiz prevented the use of life rafts.

When dawn came, a helicopter managed to tow the capsule to shore, but was nearly dragged down by the water-filled reserve chute.  It took 45 minutes to bring the cosmonauts to dry land, but they were alive!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Soyuz 8 launches 1969

Commander Vladimir Shatalov and Flight Engineer Aleksei Yeliseyev blasted off in Soyuz 8, October 13, 1969, with all intent to dock with Soyuz 7, which launched the previous day.  Soyuz 6 took off just two days before.  It was the first time seven cosmonauts were in orbit at the same time. 

The “official” plan was to dock with Soyuz 7 and transfer one cosmonaut via EVA while Soyuz 6 filmed the whole operation.  However, due to mechanical failures, the docking procedure never happened.  In all, three attempts were made but none were successful.  Therefore, the Soviets stated they never really meant to dock.

Shatalov and Yeliseyev returned to Earth on schedule October 18.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Voskhod 1 (USSR) launched 1964 - Safety, Schmafety!

Crew of Voskhod 1

October 12, 1964, the Soviets, in an all-out panic because the U.S. was about to launch their Gemini program, rushed three men into space.  Aboard the Voskhod 1 were Commander Vladimir Komarov, Engineer Konstantin Feoktistov and Medical Doctor Boris Yegorov.  It was the first space flight with more than one crewman and the first without space suits!

The trio was chosen mainly for political reasons and were given only 3 to 4 months of training.  The space capsule could hold two cosmonauts in space suits or three without.  Guess which one the Soviets opted for?  In order to stay ahead of the Americans, three cosmonauts were crammed into spacecraft sans space suits.  They also had to diet so they could all fit.

Despite the circus of getting Voskhod 1 off the launch pad, the missions was a success, lasting just over 1 day.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Apollo 7 launched 1968 - Mutiny in Space!

Apollo 7 Crew: Don F. Eisele, Walter M. Schirra, R. Walter Cunningham

Apollo 7, launched October 11, 1968, was the first manned mission of the Apollo program and the first time the U.S. sent men into space since Gemini XII in 1966.  The fire that killed Apollo 1's crew put the space program on hold for almost two years.

Shortly after launch, Commander Schirra began to experience symptoms of a cold.  In zero-gravity, it is much harder to expel mucous from the sinuses.  As with virtually everyone else, being sick puts us in a grouchy mood, and that's what happened to Schirra.  Then his foul mood brought the rest of the crew down and they started snipping at Mission Control.  Although the mission was considered a success, it has been since dubbed "mutiny in space" because of the tensions between the crew and Mission Control.

Book review - Eagle's Blood by A. J. Marcus

While attending the Denver Pride Festival earlier this summer, I came across DSP Publications’ booth.  Looking for local authors and local stories, I found A. J. Marcus and his Mountain Spirit Mysteries, based in Colorado.  His first novel in the series, Eagle’s Blood, introduces readers to Brock Summers, a Colorado Parks and Wildlife Officer and Landon Weir, a wildlife rehabilitator.

They’ve known each other for a while but when Brock is scratched by an orphaned eagle he rescued, Landon offers to dress his wounds.  It is the first time Landon sees Brock without his shirt and first time Brock feels Landon’s fingers on his bare skin.  Sparks start flying between them.

Their romance grows as Brock and his colleagues are trying to find poachers who have been killing endangered eagles and posting videos on line.  Along the way, bears and elk are also killed for bait to lure eagles to their deaths so their valuable feathers can be sold.

Eagle’s Blood reads more like a romance novel as the main story and the action/suspense as the background.  Much of the story is actually educational.  The reader learns how rehabilitators take care of wounded wildlife with plenty of details.  It gives one an appreciation for the work they and the wildlife rangers do to protect animals.

I admit I was a little disappointed in the ending since the perpetrators are never named or described, as if Marcus decided to take the easy way out.  Still, the final climax is exciting and of course, Brock and Landon decide to take their relationship to the next level and live together. 

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Mannheim Steamroller releases "Christmas Song" 2007

The last of the great Mannheim Steamroller Christmas albums, Christmas Song, was released October 9, 2007.  They released Christmasville a year later, but most songs lacked the Mannheim Steamroller sound and the album had NONE of the Mannheim Steamroller Christmas magic.

Christmas Song featured an old classic Masters In The Hall but some new tracks, Catching Snowflakes On Your Tongue and Above the Northern Lights.

Awesome performance of Masters In This Hall but the Turtle Creek Chorale still did it better.  :)

Friday, October 7, 2016

Thursday, October 6, 2016

USS Oklahoma sailor returns home 75 years after Pearl Harbor

Lewis Lowell Wagoner

Lewis Lowell Wagoner was a 20 year-old sailor serving on the USS Oklahoma when the Japanese attacked December 7, 1941.  He was last seen by a shipmate when they jumped off the capsizing ship, into flames on the surface of water from leaking fuel and oil.  It took the Navy 2 years to retrieve all the bodies from the USS Oklahoma, most of them unidentified and laid in a mass grave.

In 2015, the Pentagon's Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency started exhuming bodies from grave sites and caskets.  Wagoner was identified from DNA samples submitted by surviving family members and his remains will be shipped home to Kansas.

The agency expects to identify 80% of the Oklahoma's unknown sailors by 2020.

Book review - Beau and the Beast by Rick R. Reed

I like reading and writing gay twists on old stories such as fairy tales (no pun intended).  It gives a familiar feel to a story while indulging in a guilty pleasure.  Like eating one more chocolate chip cookies than you know you should.  The tag line for Rick R. Reed’s Beau and the Beast caught my attention, as an updated gay story and I had to read it.  As I mentioned before, the plot line is familiar but there are some nice surprises along the way.

Beau is a starving artist (literally) on the mean streets of Seattle.  When he is beaten unconscious by two hoodlums, he wakes up in a glorious mansion, being cared for by a masked man who only calls himself “Beast”.  Beast is tortured by a past which Beau is eager to learn, but the masked man keeps his distance, urging Beau to leave as soon as he has healed from his injuries.

The story takes place over a few short days but it is plenty of time for the romance to build between two wounded men. 

I really enjoyed and recommend Beau and the Beast, a short, fun read.

We are (probably) not alone! First exoplanet discovered 1995

Artist's depiction of exoplanet 51 Pegasi b

October 6, 1995, European scientists Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz announced the discovery of a planet orbiting another star.  Planet 51 Pegasi b is about half the size of Jupiter and a "year" is just four Earth days.  And it orbits its sun 51 Pegasi at a distance of 0.05 AU (astronomical units) which is about 1/6 the distance between Mercury and our sun.  That means the surface temperature is around a sultry 2-3000 Kelvin.

In the 21 years since, over 1800 exoplanets have been discovered, including (perhaps) Tatooine, Vulcan and Krypton.

How to find Star 51 Pegasi

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

So cuts in Oklahoma's education funding NOT the cause of teacher shortage?

Ben Felder, an investigative reporter for the Oklahoman, released an article yesterday lamenting the state's shortage of qualified teachers.  The Oklahoma legislature has approved 926 "emergency teacher certificates" this year.  These "emergency and alternative certified" educators might not have the proper training to handle school children.

But Felder's article leaves out one glowing fact, obvious in its absence:  The Oklahoma government has continually cut the budget for education.  This is the real reason teachers are leaving the state in droves.  Nobody can afford to live on a teacher's salary.   Sure, the cost of living is lower in Oklahoma than other states, but when you make little money, it is impossible.

Laurence Baines, associate dean for graduate studies and research at OU's college of education, relates a scary story.  He met a former used car salesman, teaching science at an Oklahoma high school, who smelled of beer.  The "teacher" only had six hours of science as part of his general ed requirements in college.

Baines also fears that emergency certified personnel might have only a 1.0 GPA, be alcoholic, or addicted to porn and still be hired to teach English.

Gee!  How ever can the state avoid such catastrophes?  I know!  Let's pray for the oilfields on October 13th!  The price of oil will go up, Oklahoma can get out of the economic cesspool it's in, and then they can give more money to education.  Maybe.

First Canadian in space, eh! 1984

Bottom (L to R) Jon A. McBride, Pilot, Sally K. Ride, Kathryn D. Sullivan and David C. Leestma, Mission Specialists. Top (L-R) Paul D. Scully-Power (Australian), Payload Specialist; Robert L. Crippen, Commander, and Marc Garneau, Canadian Payload Specialist. 

When the Space Shuttle Challenger launched on October 5, 1984, its crew contained the first Canadian astronaut, Marc Garneau.  It also contained the first Australian-born astronaut, Paul Scully-Power, who was the first bearded astronaut!  This was the first crew to include two women, and the first American woman EVA.

This was Challenger's sixth flight and the thirteenth of the Space Shuttle program.  Robert Crippen commanded the mission, which lasted a little over 8 days.  Challenger landed October 13.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Hurricane Matthew vis-a-vis International Space Station

Video of Hurricane Matt!

Day 1 of the Space Race!

With a diameter less than 2 feet, the first artificial satellite Sputnik 1 took the Soviets into space where no man had gone before.  For two years, the Soviets and Americans had been announcing they would be launching artificial satellites but the Soviets beat the Americans on October 4, 1957 when Sputnik 1 was launched from Baikonur Cosmodrome at Tyruatam in Kazakhstan.  Another milestone occured in 1961 when the Soviets put the first man, Yuri Gagarin, into space.

The leader in the space race went back and forth between the two countries until 1969 when the U.S. succeeded in putting the first man on the mooon.  The Soviets tried several times to send manned missions to the moon but failed.

The competition eased in the early 70's when plans were made for a joint American-Soviet mission, the Apollo-Soyuz mission in 1975.  The space race was officially over when the Soviet Union was dissolved in 1991.

Sputnik 1 burned up in the atmosphere in January 1958.

Russian produced video on Sputnik 1:

Monday, October 3, 2016

Happy birthday, Deadpool creator Rob Liefeld!

Rob Liefeld, born October 3, 1967, has been a comic book artist since about 19 years old, illustrating a story featuring the Black Panther, but his first published story was Hawk and Dove for DC Comics.  Later he worked for Marvel Comics, his first assignment being The Amazing Spider-Man Annual #23, and then on The New Mutants series and later he created X-Force.  The first issue sold over 4 million copies.

He is also the creator of Deadpool and made a cameo appearance in the film based on his most famous creation.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Rosetta spacecraft's mission has ended

One of the last images of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko taken by Rosetta

The European Space Agency's Rosetta spacecraft has ended its mission with an impact on the Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Rosetta was launched in 2004 and reached the comet August 2014.  Two months later, Rosetta deployed Philae, the small lander, which made an unceremonious landing on the comet.  It took the first pictures ever of the surface of a comet.

ESA decided not to continue Rosetta's mission as the comet heads out beyond the orbit of Jupiter.  For one, the sun will be in the line of sight between Earth and Rosetta, making communications with the spacecraft difficult.  Also, there would be little power to operate the spacecraft.

The mission has been considered a major success.