August 7th, 2007

NASA_bighead

Back So Soon?

Got back home at about noon, after leaving possibly the cheapest motel in Redding at 7:30 am. Gassed up in Stockton, which saved me about $3 over what half a tank would have cost in the Bay Area.

It's a long drive from Seattle, but not as long as it was when I used to come to SF for the folkdance festival every  Thanksgiving. Back then I-5 was not completed in chunks of southern Washington and random stretches in Oregon. Long story short, it took 17 hours to drive (one way)  in 1970, this trip took 14 hours each way, not counting an hour for dinner. According to my odometer, I drove 1,964 miles, but subtract 144 for in-Seattle trips and we get 1820 round trip, or about 910 each way. That's an average speed of 65 mph, which is much better than I'd expected. Maybe if I'm feeling especially A-R I'll compute mpg too. The Corolla got really good mileage, the guage didn't get below the 1/4 full mark till I'd used at least 320 gallons, in the city it's closer to 260 for that mark.

But enough numbers. The reason I went was people and things. Two out of three sisters made it, plus my one American nephew. None of the Israelis came, though we were half expecting my oldest nephew and his wife & baby. As far as friends go, it would have been a total zero except the lovely and talented mistymarshall came up for air in the middle of dissertation madness to have dinner and drinks with me up on Capitol Hill Sunday night. Between the two of us we managed to talk for 4 hours! Blame a dead cell phone battery for bridget_coila missing us, but I did get to chat with her for a mo on my cell. Didn't get an answer to my post from another Capitol Hill LJ friend, cmpriest, but she's busy cranking out novels and novellas and stories and such, so I wasn't counting on it. Misty, she's the person I suggested you hooking up with, you're neighbors, and fellow ex-Southerners.

One of the other highlights of the trip was seeing the Blue Angels up close. While susandennis was dissing them, I was oohing and aahing as they came in Sunday about 100 feet over the parents' back deck. Photos to come. While I am not a huge supporter of the military, and agree with Susan that the Navy's main excuse for having a high-priced high-risk show group is recruiting, I would bet real cash dollars that the number of kids who join the Navy because of the BAs is far far less than the number of people the group inspires to become aeronautical engineers and  commercial pilots. The BAs fly without weaponry, and few, if any, of their maneuvers are of the military attack variety. And it takes a handful of the best pilots on the planet and their support crew out of combat. If you're a Blue Angel, you aren't bombing Iraq.

Another purpose for my trip was to collect some stuff my parents will have no place for when they move. So now I have a nice collection of 78's, and a bunch of vinyl  LPs, and 8mm home movies from my childhood, which Dad had long ago edited and put on 100-foot reels. Or at least I think they are 100-foot. Also have the projector and the camera. Also in the haul is a very old portable sewing machine, which I have no use for, but maybe one of my friends does. Photos will appear sometime soon. It's a classic. I did not get to bring down the newer machine which is mounted in a lovely cherrywood cabinet, for reasons I will not go into here.

A bonus I had not counted on was Dad's collection of silver dimes from the 40's, about a thousand of them, separated into rolls and labeled by date, condition and minting location. The last time he looked up prices was 1965, I suspect they are more valuable now. Will have to check that out.

Back to work tomorrow. I can see it now:
"Where did you get so tan, Howard?"
"Seattle".
"No, really, tell the truth"
Applause

Yay Barry!

Barry Bonds broke the career HR record tonight while I had flipped channels from the game to see the ending of Tru Calling on the Sci-Fi channel. When I switched back, people were shouting, and some guy who looked like he was wearing a Washington Nationals shirt** was being escorted out by several cops. I thought the guy might have made a scene or something and was being given the bum's rush, but then I noticed he was shaking hands and high-five-ing all the way, and then the announcer broke in to say this was the fellow who had caught the ball.

So I got to see live Bond's little thank you speech, which was gracious, articulate and touching. Nice to know he had it in him. After the speech they replayed the hit several times, as well as the whole at-bat session, and I have to say this was a hit worthy of the record. I had seen him hit a double and single earlier in the game.

**Seeing the replays, the fellow who caught the ball was wearing NY Mets gear.

About steroids. IMHO, there is nothing wrong with professional athletes taking performance-enhancing drugs. We are not all created equal, regardless of what our pie-in-the-sky founding poets claimed, and I don't think there is anything wrong with a professional in any field using chemicals to help level the playing field. Banning steroids from professional athletics is as ridiculous as banning coffee from business meetings.
NASA_bighead

Blink

Just before going on vacation, I watched the Dr. Who episode Blink. Spectacular. Finally an episode which takes full advantage of the warped nature of the space-time continuum, creates sympathetic characters outside the inner TARDIS circle, and gives us the absolutely most creative application of Heisenberg/Schrödinger/observer effect ever. My only criticism is they exaggerated the blinks far more than was needed for their clever audience.