Monday, February 28, 2011

Il Gatto Nero

Thumbs up or down?

If Emperor Nero develops his polydactyly into opposable thumbs, we're all in trouble.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

STS-133 Discovery's Final Voyage

On February 24, 2011 the space shuttle Discovery launched into space for the last time. Over its lifespan, Discovery has accumulated the most frequent space flyer miles of any spacecraft in human history and will be retired upon its return.

In a too infrequent celebration of one of humanity's greatest achievements and displays of cooperation toward a mutual goal, STS-133 (Space Transportation System), 133rd space shuttle flight, successfully launched six crew members and payload into space.

The six NASA astronauts are Steve Lindsey, Eric Boe, Alvin Drew, Steve Bowen, Michael Barratt and Nicole Stott.

Discovery's final mission is to carry six crew members and deliver its payload to and from the ISS (International Space Station).

Along with its precious human cargo, Discovery's payload also includes the first dexterous humanoid robot in space, Robonaut 2, aka R2.

R2 is still a prototype, which will remain on the ISS to be tested and upgraded.  The goal is that it will assist with simple repetitive tasks and eventually perform tasks that are too difficult or dangerous for humans.

R2 preparing for its first space mission
R2's "head" contains 5 cameras and its torso houses its "brain".  A backpack is used as the robot's power conversion system that allows it to plug into an energy source or carry batteries.

In the future, the plan is that R2 will have greater dexterity at manipulating EVA tools than a suited astronaut and that it will be used to aid its human colleagues during spacewalks.

For a good overview of Discovery's past and present missions:

For more information on NASA's 2011 launch schedule link here.

Welcome back to space, Discovery. Have a successful mission and a safe flight home.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

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Friday, February 18, 2011

Ambushed by Vinny C of "As Vinny C's It"

I was minding my own business, contemplating the number 42 and the perception of time as a completely self-limiting construct of the human mind, when I noticed a mysterious message from Vinny C:

"Hmmm...I seem to have something of yours."

What did I leave behind? Keys? Wallet? SPELLING ERRORS??!!?? Did he take something? 
If you must know, As Vinny C's It:

He prematurely graciously gave me this:

Since the Count triggers a conditioned response of obsessive counting and list making, as well as the urge to count my thoughts:

1. Too soon! I thought I had more time. I DON'T WANT TO DIE YOUNG!
2. Display spontaneity by accidentally closing window.
3. Go back. Scope out the situation. Do some recon.
4. Ok. He said some really nice things...
5. No strings attached. This is not one of those "send immediately to 100 bloggers", or else nothing will happen, cause who is counting?!
6. He said some really nice things...
7. Just thank him. You can do this.
8. Answer a simple question.
9. "Do your witty (questionable) answers pop instantly into your head when you read the post with an immediate urge to hit the comment button or do you have to sit and ponder?"
10. Spontaneous.
10.1 What? Not enough? Fiiiiiine: The allegedly witty comments that I leave behind, are usually my first spontaneous reaction to a post.  At times I sound like I am pre-teen (Good Times!) and hit submit before I get the chance to change my mind, because I need to click on things. 
11. Did the Count ever count past 10?
12. Where was I?
13. He said some really nice things...
14. Thank you, Vinny C! YOU SUCK TOO!


Sunday, February 13, 2011

One Down, 364 Days To Go

Once again, I have been noticing heart shaped candies in communal spaces, which look and probably taste like last year's.

Valentine's Day is a strange celebratory event.  The concept of "I love you" (once a year, here's a card, confectionery, flowers or a tie, now leave me alone), is foreign to me.  To limit our appreciation and affection for those we care about to one day of the year, while showering them with thoughtless junk, seems counterintuitive.

We scramble to show love and affection by purchasing unimaginative mass-produced cards and gifts in an effort to meet yet another marketing campaign for happiness through the consumption of strategic merchandise.  Before Christmas decorations have a chance to be put out of their misery by being marked down to more than 50% off, the pink and red invasion is already placed on shelves.

With military precision, mostly pink stuffed animals holding ubiquitous heart-shaped pillows parade on store shelves, ready to declare war peace on a household or loved one.  While conservation and recycling is in all of our collective consciousness of late, this does not prevent manufacturers from producing synthetic emotions in the form of plush toys that will eventually end up on a landfill.

With annual amusement, I know that by late February 14th, hormonal teenagers will line up outside variety stores and sweat in card stores in a frantic search for amorosity.  Inevitably, they will leave with funeral flowers and cliched cards, hoping that they might achieve a declaration of their undying love.

Victorians are somewhat responsible for the kitschy images of cherubic children with wings that would not allow a small chicken to become airborne. When did handmade go out of style?  Among friends and family, I am the frequent, willing and grateful recipient of new hobbies and interests.  Someone made it, baked it, constructed it, built it, wrote it, thought of it.  Even though I am not always certain of what "it" is that I have just been gifted (or where to put it), I like "it" anyway.

Just as I was bemoaning the lack of creativity of contemporary cards and gifts, a friend sent me this:
Created by Stephanie Burrows and available here.

I "heart" science.

I "heart" my family and friends.

I "heart" my fellow bloggers, readers, followers and commenters.

Commercial symbolism is contagious.

Have a healthy heart day.

Monday, February 7, 2011

There's something about Alan

Just in case your "social" network has not exposed you to the BBC's viral anthropomorphism of our fellow co-inhabitants:

Need more? Yes. It's Myaaawnday after all:

Ever since I have watched these I have had a really hard time keeping a straight face around anyone named "Alan".

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Gaia's Revenge?

The media calls it the worst storm of the "Century".
Which makes me wonder: How would they know?

As the world is being pounded by our atmosphere's greatest hits, (coming soon to a geographic location near you), one is reassured by the confidence of our meteorologists' predictions.

Taking all variables into consideration, weather psychics forecasters have recently announced that the climate over the next 89 years will be better than "worst".

Now. If only those pesky butterflies could stop flapping their wings.