Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Trump's war on the environment ramps up

Not a good week for the environment.

The Donald surprised no one when he announced he would remove the U.S. from the Paris Agreement, in which almost every nation in the world has agreed to put policies into place that would help reduce global warming.  From the beginning, The Donald said he did not believe global warming was real, calling it a hoax created by China (which he later denied saying).  News clips showed him sitting at the conference without headphones, demonstrating he was not even interested in listening to the speakers.  Simply childish.

Last week, scientists published a report refuting Scott Pruitt's claim that warming had levelled off.  Of course, Pruitt offered no evidence corroborating his statement, but scientists have collected mountains of data proving he is wrong.  The day after Pruitt's irresponsible rambling, NASA reported a "pulse of melting ice" was so large it actually put a dent into Earth's crust. The study indicates that as the Artic continues to warm, pulses like this could occur more frequently, and earthquakes can be created by Greenland's glaciers calving.

The Pointer Sisters release "Steppin'" 1975

The third studio album from the Pointer Sisters, Steppin', was released May 1975.  The first single, How Long (Betcha Got a Chick on the Side), was their first #1 R&B hit from the album.  The second release, Going Down Slowly (my all-time favorite), made it to #16 on the R&B charts.

The album also included a tribute to Duke Ellington, I Ain't Got Nothin' but the Blues:

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Happy birthday, Alexey Leonov (first EVA)!

Alexey Arkhipovich Leonov, born May 30, 1934, became the first human to step out of a capsule and take an extra-vehicular activity (EVA), walking in space.  His historic event was scheduled to take place on Voskhod 1, but that was cancelled and rescheduled on Voskhod 2.  Everything (almost) went as planned during the Voskhod 2 mission.

Leonov stepped through the hatch and spent the next 12 minutes in space.  However, when he tried to re-enter the capsule, his spacesuit had ballooned so much from the air pressure inside, Leonov could not get through the hatchway.  He had to vent some of the pressure so his suit would fit.

He was selected to be the first Russian man to step onto the moon, but that project was scrapped along with many other programs, due to failures, design problems or budget restraints.  Leonov's second and last spaceflight was aboard Soyuz 19 as the commander of the Russian half of the historic meeting between the U.S. and Soviet Union, the 1975 Apollo-Soyuz mission.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Sally Ride, first U.S. female astronaut, born 1951

Sally Ride, born May 26, 1951, was the first American woman and first known gay astronaut in space.  Her first mission was in June 1983 on STS-7, aboard Space Shuttle Challenger, the seventh flight of NASA's space shuttle program and the second for Challenger.

She returned to space in October 1984 on Challenger again, STS-41-G, the first mission to carry two women (Kathryn Sullivan) and the first EVA for a woman (Sullivan).

Ride was scheduled to go back to space on Challenger in 1986, STS-61-M, but the Challenger disaster in January 1986 cancelled that mission among many others.  Ride was selected as part of the panel to investigate the Challenger explosion.

She passed away July 23, 2012 of pancreatic cancer, survived by her partner of 27 years, Tam O'Shaughnessy.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Happy birthday, Klaus Meine! (The Scorpions)

Klaus Meine, lead singer of The Scorpions, was born May 25, 1948 in Hannover, Germany.  In 2006, Hit Parader ranked him #22 of Top Heavy Metal Vocalists of All Time.  Despite losing his voice in 1981, he came back and continues to sing with them.

My all-time favorite Scorpions song is The Zoo!

Skylab 2 - first manned mission to Skylab launched 1973

Joseph Kerwin, Pete Conrad, Paul Weitz

May 25, 1973, Commander Charles “Pete” Conrad, Jr., Science Pilot Joseph P. Kerwin and Pilot Paul J. Weitz blasted off in Skylab 2, the first manned mission to Skylab, which had been launched 11 days prior.  The unmanned portion was damaged during its May 14 launch.  The micrometeorite shield and one of its primary solar arrays tore loose during lift-off.  The other primary solar array, which was to keep the space station cool, was jammed.

Skylab crew had to train on repairing techniques before they could enter the station. Upon reaching the station, Weitz performed an EVA to unjam the solar array while Kerwin held onto his legs.  This did not work so they tried a hard dock to Skylab, but this failed as well, since the lathes did not work.  

After a total of eight attempts, Weitz and Kerwin performed another EVA and were successful at docking by disassembling parts of the station’s mechanism.  Then they deployed a collapsible parasol through the scientific airlock as a sunshade to cool the interior to livable levels. 

For almost a month, the crew continued to make repairs to Skylab, conduct medical experiments and gather scientific data.  They performed a final EVA to fix the stuck solar panel and increasing electrical power to the station.

They spent four weeks in space and returned to Earth June 22.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Pruitt's EPA to Ohio: F**k you!

The west end of Lake Erie on the Ohio side is experiencing an algae bloom and not for the first time.  In 2014, an outbreak of blooms contaiminated the tap water in Toledo for about 400,000 people.  The algae blankets the surface of the lake with ugly shades of green, which can last most of the summer.  Algae is toxic and is a health threat to people and wildlife.

And it is recurring more often since global temperatures are on the rise.  Algae reached record levels in 2015.  Ohio and Michigan have taken steps to reduce farm fertilizer runoff and municipal sewage overflows that feed the algae, but these measures have not been successful.

Last month, several environmental groups sued the EPA to make a decision and enforce tighter regulations for polluters.  Molly Flanagan, of the Alliance for the Great Lakes said "By any measure, western Lake Erie does not meet the Clean Water Act's standards of fishable, drinkable, and swimmable for significant portions of the year."

Monday, Pruitt's EPA said it would not declare Lake Erie's wasters "impaired".

A search of the EPA's website does not show any mention of the issue, but this shocks no one who has seen the direction the EPA has taken under Pruitt's administration.  Their silence on the matter is deafening.  One cannot imagine Pruitt taking any action against polluters, but it is no stretch of the imagination to think he ignored the science and data behind the studies.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Talequah businesses not accepting gov-issued Cherokee Nation IDs

Once again, Oklahoma proves it is a breeding ground of hatred, bigotry and racism.  Businesses in Talequah, Oklahoma are posting signs in windows stating they no longer accept the Cherokee Nation's ID cards.  A sign appeared at EZ Mart, which stated "state-issued identification or driver's licenses".  According to the article on, Buffalo Wild Wings and a local bar, Ned's, are also refusing the Cherokee Nation's ID card.

Cherokee Nation ID cards have been issued since 2012 and are government-issued.  This is nothing more than racism and hatred.

Way to go, Oklahoma.  We can't even go more than a day without becoming a global embarrassment.

Last episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation "All Good Things" airs 1994

On May 23, 1994, the last episode of one of the best shows on television ever aired.  Star Trek: The Next Generation, which had been on for seven seasons ended its run with "All Good Things".  Fortunately, it was the start of the movie run for the cast, who made 4 movies together.

The final episode brought back Lt. Yar and Chief O'Brien who had left the series earlier for different reasons.

They don't make them like they used to.  All good things...

Monday, May 22, 2017

Our children are doomed...Pruitt's EPA rejects banning harmful pesticide

Researchers at Columbia University began studying the effects of pollutants on pregnant mothers in low-income neighborhoods long ago but only two years into their study, they discovered that chlorpyrifos, a insecticide used to control bugs in homes for decades, caused brain damage in baby rats.  Scientists discovered that children born with comparatively higher levels of chlorpyrifos weighted less at birth.  Between ages 2-3, they were more likely to experience persistent developmental delays, including cognitive, motor and attention problems.  By the time they reached the age of 7, they had lower IQ scores.

Although the study did not prove definitely chlorpyrifos was the exact cause, it did find that the higher a child's exposure to the chemical, the worse effects.

After the initial results proved the brain damage in baby rats, the pesticide was removed from stores and banned from home use although it is utilized widely in agriculture spraying crops.  Ten years ago, environmental groups brought a petition seeking a complete ban on chlorpyrifos.

Scott Pruitt and his EPA have denied the petition stating there "continue to be considerable areas of uncertainty".  WTF?  He said the agency will make a final determiniation on the pesticide in 2022!  He also said the EPA was "returning to sound science in decision -making - rather than predetermined results".  Trumpsters, this is on you again!

How many children have to suffer brain damage or experience developmental problems before Pruitt is ousted?  Decades of exhaustive research do NOT constitute "pre-determined results" but if Pruitt used his brain, which he has shown conclusively he does not, he would understand that.  Of course, banning the pesticide would mean that Dow Agriculture, who praises the ruling, would have less money to line Pruitt's pockets.

So who cares if our children have lower IQs.  It's what Oklahoma has been striving for!

Friday, May 19, 2017

Happy birthday, Dusty Hill!

Dusty Hill, bassist for my guys ZZ Top, celebrates a birthday today.  Born in Dallas, May 19, 1949, he grew up in  the Lakewood area but ZZ Top was formed in Houston when he and Frank Beard moved there and met Billy Gibbons.

One of the best rock groups ever!

Billy Joel releases Turnstiles 1976

Billy Joel's fourth studio album, Turnstiles, was released May 19, 1976.  For whatever reason (Youtube and Wikipedia have different stories), Billy returned to his roots with a strong New York based album, recording in NYC and basing lyrics on the Big Apple.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Apollo 10 launches 1969

Apollo 10, the fourth manned mission in the Apollo program and the second to travel to the moon (Apollo 8 was the first), launched May 18, 1969.  The mission was a "dress rehearsal" for an actual landing on the moon by Apollo 11, two months later.

On board were Commander Thomas P. Stafford (from Oklahoma!), Command Module Pilot John W. Young, and Lunar Module Pilot Eugene A. Cernan.  The Command Module was given the nickname Charlie Brown and the Lunar Module was dubbed Snoopy.

During the descent stage in the Lunar Module (Snoopy), the craft began to roll because Stafford and Cernan made duplicate commands in the computer.  Snoopy rolled over eight times before they brought it under control, just 2 seconds before crashing onto the moon's surface.

Also, the crew of Apollo 10 reported hearing strange music on the far side of the moon.  Some suggested aliens but most likely, it was interference between the lunar and command (Charlie Brown) modules.

Helen Sharman, first Briton in space 1991

Dr. Helen Sharman, a food chemist for Mars Company in England, answered a radio advertisement to be the first British astronaut, no experience required.

Who knew being an astronaut was a walk-on job?

A mere 18 months after being selected, Sharman blasted off with fellow cosmonauts Anatoly Artsebarsky and Sergei Krikalev in Soyuz TM-12 May 18, 1991.  She spent 8 days in space, conducting medical and agricultural experiments, taking pictures and talking on the radio to school children.  She returned on Soyuz TM-11 with cosmonauts Viktor Afanasyev and Musa Manarov.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

More Oklahoma schools closing, eliminating teachers, because the House cannot pass a budget

Once again, our fearless leaders in the Oklahoma House of Representatives rejects a revenue package that “would have injected $342 million into next year’s budget”.  The package would have given Oklahoma teachers a whopping $1000/year raise.  It would hardly make a difference to teachers but it is better than nothing.  However, since the package failed, teachers will get nothing.

Now, school districts across the state are forced to make more major cuts to their budgets.  Enid school board has slashed next year’s budget by $1.8M.  Tulsa plans to close three schools to cut $12M, by consolidating five schools and eliminating 37 teachers.  Woodward and Muskogee are eliminating summer school and reducing staff to save $1M.  Fort Gibson is delaying hiring due to a $400K reduction in their budget.

House Bill 2414 includes a provision for gross production tax on oil and gas wells, but it only applies to new wells and will not affect next year’s budget.  Other proposed tax hikes were on cigarettes and gasoline, putting the onus on Oklahoma citizens to fix the budget.

Nothing is changing.  Legislators are still more concerned about oil and gas, and not education and students.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Venera 5, Russian probe, lands on Venus 1969

Venera 5 entered the Venusian atmosphere May 16, 1969, just one day before its sister ship Venera 6 arrived. The Soviets had constructed Venera 5 and 6 to be more rugged, based on the data received from Venera 4.  Venera 5 was equipped with smaller parachutes although heavier than Venera 4 so it could enter the atmosphere quicker and send back more data.

Entering the dark side of the planet, Venera 5 successfully transmitted information on the Venusian atmosphere for 53 seconds before failing.

Monday, May 15, 2017

L. Frank Baum, author of "The Wizard Of Oz", born 1856

Lyman Frank Baum, born May 15, 1856, is best known by his pen name L. Frank Baum.  He is also well-known for his series of  books based on The Wizard of Oz, which included 18 novels altogether, the final three installments, The Magic of Oz (1919), Glinda of Oz (1920) and the Royal Book of Oz (1921) were published posthumously.

He passed away May 6, 1919 at age 62 after suffering a stroke and slipping into a coma the previous day.  Over a hundred years later, his legacy of The Wizard of Oz shows no sign of stopping.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Def Leppard releases "Slang" 1996

Not one of their best albums, Def Leppard released Slang May 14, 1996, but I really like the title song.  Their sixth studio album came after the band went through some hard times and it seems those troubles came through the recording.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Daphne du Maurier born 1907

Daphne du Maurier,  born May 13, 1907 in Cornwall, England, gave us some unforgettable novels of romance and suspense.  Among her best known are Rebecca and The Birds, both made into movies by Alfred Hitchcock.  Although she is reagarded as a romance novelist (which she did NOT like), her stories seldom had the "happily ever after" ending and were usually more somber.

She passed away in Cornwall her birth place, April 15, 1989.

Donna Summer releases "I Remember Yesterday" 1977

Donna Summer, disco queen diva of the universe, released her fifth studio album, I Remember Yesterday, May 13,  1977.  It opened with the title track which was an electronic mix of pop and 40's style music.  The last song was the heavy disco/dance track I Feel Love.

The album was certified Gold having sold at least 500,000 albums.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Star Trek: The Next Generation airs "The Host" 1991 - First appearance of the Trills

Star Trek: The Next Generation airedd "The Host", the 23rd episode of the 4th season, May 11, 1991.  It was the first appearance of the Trills, a race of symbiotic aliens, one of whom would become a major character in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Dax.

In TNG, Beverly Crusher is swept off her feet by Ambassador Odan (Franc Luz), who is on a diplomatic mission to settle a brewing situation between two moons of a planet.  One moon has found a way to tap into the magnetic fields of the mother planet to their immense benefit.  However, this new-found system is having a devastating effect on the second moon.  The moons are about to go to war so the home planet has brought in Ambassador Odan.

Deanna Troi senses strange things in Odan but cannot quite figure it out.  When Ambassador Odan is attacked, he is injured and the true nature of the Trill becomes apparent.  The symbiot can be saved but must be transferred to a new host immediately.  William Ryker is chosen to be the host, despite him not being a Trill.

All of  Odan's past lives are channeled into Will's memories and Odan (through Ryker) manage to resume their courtship.

The joining of Odan and Will takes its toll on Will's body but a replacement host from the Trill world arrives.  As Beverly prepares to meet the new  host, she is dissappointed to discover the new host is female.

As I mentioned before, Trills played a major part in the Deep Space Nine series with Jadzia Dax and Ezri Dax, along with appearances by many of their previous hosts.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Donna Summer releases "She Works Hard For The Money" 1983

Disco queen Donna Summer released She Works Hard for the Money, a single off of her eleventh studio album of the same name, May 10, 1983.  The album followed on June 13.  The single became her first Top 10 hit since 1979, and stayed at #1 on the R&B Charts for three weeks.  Donna was nominated for a Grammy for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.

The song He's a Rebel won her the Grammy for Best Inspiration Performance.

The video for the title song is one of my all-time favorite videos.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Happy birthday, Billy Joel!

My man the Piano Man Billy Joel celebrates a birthday today!

Happy birthday, Megumi Odaka!

Cute and adorable Megumi Odaka, born May 9, 1972 in Japan, will always be known best as Miki Saegusa, the telepath in Godzilla movies.  She became the first actor/actress to portray the same character in more than one Godzilla film and she has the most recurring role in the franchise.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Pruitt fires half the scientists on EPA's science review board

Continuing his neanderthal promises, Scott Pruitt once again has set the EPA backwards and putting our global environment in jeopardy.  Today, he informed 9 of 18 scientists who sit on EPA's science review board that their 3-year terms will not be renewed.  The email they received said something about carrying out a "competitive nomination process" to find new members, instead of re-instating incumbents.  It remains to be seen, but it is suspected that Pruitt will replace them with representatives from the energy industry.

CNN also just posted about 2 hours ago that The Donald is expected to pull the U.S. from the Paris Climate Deal this week, claiming it is unfair to the U.S.  These moves are expected to pave the way for more restrictions to be lifted from the oil and gas industry.

Happy birthday, Arrow!

Super-sexy and superbuilt Stephen Amell, born May 8, 1981, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, plays superhero the Arrow/Oliver Queen.  He's played Arrow on The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Maiden voyage of Space Shuttle Endeavour launched 1992

Endeavour crew (L-R): Mission Specialist 4, Kathryn C. Thornton, Mission Specialist 2 Bruce E. Melnick, Mission Specialist 3 Pierre J. Thuot, Commander Daniel C. Brandenstein, Pilot Kevin P Chilton, Mission Specialist 5 Thomas D. Akers, Mission Specialist 1 Richard J. Hieb

Space Shuttle Endeavour, replacing the Columbia destroyed in 1986, launched on its first voyage May 7, 1992.  It was the first mission to have 3 astronauts performing EVAs simultaneously.  It was also the first space shuttle mission to have 4 EVAs.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Michael O'Hare born 1952

Actor Michael O'Hare, born May 6, 1952, is probably best known for his role as Commander Jeffrey Sinclair on Babylon 5 with Claudia Christian, Jerry Doyle, Andrea Thompson, Bill Mumy, Richard Biggs and Mira Furlan.  He had to leave the show after the first season due to his battle with illness.  He passed away September 28, 2012 from a heart attack.

Friday, May 5, 2017

First U.S. space flight Alan Shepard 1961

Alan B. Shepard became the first American in space when he flew on Freedom 7, launched May 5, 1961.  His flight lasted about 15 minutes, reaching an altitude of 115 miles and experiencing 5 minutes of weightlessness.  His historic flight  came less than a month after Russian Yuri Gagarin became the first human in space.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

The Pointer Sisters debut album released 1973

Their debut album, self-titled the Pointer Sisters, was released May 1973.  It gave my girls hits such as Yes, We Can Can and Wang Dang Doodle.  It reached #13 on Billboard 200 was certified Gold in February 1974 by RIAA.

It is nigh impossible to stay still while listening to them rock out to Wang Dang Doodle!

Happy birthday, Randy Travis!

Country music super-star Randy Travis, born in North Carolina May 4, 1959 as Randy Bruce Traywick, was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2016.  Despite having suffered health issues in the past few years, he was able to perform "Amazing Grace" at his induction ceremony.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

My favorite movies 1980-1995

1980: The Empire Strikes Back

1980 (Runner-up): Airplane!

1981: Raiders of the Lost Ark

1982: Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn

1982 (Runner-up): E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial

1983: Return of the Jedi

1984 (Tie): Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

1984 (Tie): Amadeus

1984 (Honorable Mention): Star Trek III: The Search for Spock

1985: Real Genius

1986 (Tie): Aliens

1986 (Tie): Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home

1987: Predator

1988: Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

1988 (Guilty Pleasure): Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood

1989 (Tie): Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

1989 (Tie): Steel Magnolias

1990: Home Alone

1990 (Guilty Pleasure): Tremors

1991 (Tie): Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country

19991 (Tie):  Beauty and the Beast

1992: Aladdin

1993: Jurassic Park

1994 (Tie): Star Trek VII: Generations

1994 (Tie): Ed Wood

1995 (Tie): Toy Story

1995 (Tie): Apollo 13

1995 (Guilty Pleasure): Cutthroat Island

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Happy birthday, Hercule Poirot!

David Suchet, born May 2, 1945, is best known for his portrayal of Agatha Christie's super-sleuth Hercule Poirot.  He played the character from 1989 - 2013, making him an actor with one of the longest running characters on television.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Mercury Program Astronaut Scott Carpenter born 1925

Malcolm Scott Carpenter, born in Boulder, Colorado May 1, 1925, was one of seven original astronauts chosen for NASA's Project Mercury program in 1959.  He became the 4th American in space and the 2nd to orbit Earth, after John Glenn and the first to eat solid food in space.

This was his only flight as he received an injury from a motorcycle accident in 1963, which grounded him.  He was hospitalized in September 2013 after a stroke and passed away October 10, 2013 in Denver.