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    Sunday, July 31, 2005

    Central Alberta Raceway!!!

    Stardate 4330.0

    Saturday marked the grand opening of Rimbey Alberta's Central Alberta Raceway. It is a 3/8 mile clay track and was just finished beign constructed moments before race time. It was a little slick at first, but once the sun got on the track, it began to harden up a little.

    Finishing touches on the grading.

    In the distance you can see the pit area where all of the cars are being set up. Before the races started, there was a great excitement in the air. Always seems to feel like that at events like these. They had some nice bleacher stands set up and everyone had a great view of the track. Before any of the main event was ready, they had the little mini Sprint Cars racing around on the inside of the track. They really get going, and most of the time, they are up on two wheels, whining their way around the little track.

    Classic Old Harley

    This bike was parked outside the food concession area. I don't know what year or model it is, but it was certainly worth a stop and see. Bradley seemed pretty thrilled to pose next to it anyways. Definately a classic bike, in tip top shape as well.

    The Main Event

    All of the cars racing are late-model Stock Cars, and the fastest in Alberta. On the straight-aways (not very long), they get up to 110 mph and basically slide around the corners. They began with 6 heat races to decide on position for the main event. The cars were super loud, and you could smell the burnt gas in the air. Every time they came around the corner to the straight, they would hammer the throttle and accelerate very quickly. These were pretty exciting, and had 6 cars in each. They went pretty quick, and lasted for 10 laps each heat. Once the heats were decided, they had a break while the drivers set up the cars for the arduous 25 lap Main Event, where ALL of the cars race at once.

    For fun, they raced the fastest heat car against a full blown Sprint car, and I gotta say, the Sprint kicked his butt hands down. We thought the Stock cars were fast, but the Sprint Car would take the corners faster, and pull away on the straights with ease.

    Once they were ready, all 17 Stock cars lined up and they announced the drivers and their sponsors. Then it was "Gentlemen, start your engines..."

    Getting a Tow...

    Of course an oval race on a 3/8 mile track with 17 Stock Cars will have incidents... It took 3 restarts of the race before they finally completed the first lap, as there were incidents each time. There were a few good bang ups later on as well, but this guy (getting the tow) was probably the best. He ended up half over the berm and into the wet stuff. He was done for the day for sure. The guy passing him in the picture was my favorite racer. Much more aggressive than the other drivers for sure. He started in last place in the Main Event because he blew his transmission in the first Heat race. He didn't race in the second heat but had the rear end and tranny rebuilt for the final race. There was also a girl racing a nice pink and white car who was only 16. She tried pretty hard but lost every race she was in.

    The entire evening's events cost us $10 a head to get in. I think it is excellent entertainment value, and being only a 45 minute drive away (in Rimbey Alberta), we could likely go a few more times this summer! Just watch the website for schedules!

    I have some short (about 10 to 15 second long) avi video clips of various parts of the events, and some crashes too. They have been filmed only with my digital camera so they are not the best quality but they capture some of the excitement, sounds and spills of the racing.

    Need it? Get it :)

    The 16 year-old girl started her heat in the lead, but sadly lacks the experience I think to win. She finished last in all the races, but hats off for trying! Watch out for her in the future!

    In one of the heat races, a few cars lost it on the corners. It seemed like this corner was particularly nasty, and I would say that all of the crashes and spin outs happened here.

    These were the mini Sprint cars. They sounded like lawn mowers almost when wound out, but got up to speeds nearing 60 mph. They put on a few little races and were great fun to watch. They have different sized tires because of the oval track. It allows them to turn on a dime (literally) as well.

    This was the challenge between the fastest heat Stock car and the Sprint car. The difference was amazing. They are hoping to get anywhere from a dozen to 20 of these Sprint cars racing at this track and it would be an awesome event for sure! They are damned fast!

    This is the main event. 17 Late Model Stock Cars screaming around the 3/8 mile clay track. It was loud, smelly, dusty and great fun! At first, there were a lot of incidents, and after a few laps there were maybe two or three cars out of the race.

    This was likely the biggest crash up. The one car ended up high centered on the berm, and there was general chaos for a few minutes. My favorite car had to drive the track the wrong way around until he could turn around again.

    Man did this guy really hit the tulips hard. Water sprayed everywhere and he was good and stuck. They came and towed him right off the track.

    The battle for the lead. The blue "69" car was my favorite. He was the guy who blew his tranny and had it fixed in time for the Main Event. He started last in the race and ended up finishing second place. He almost got a perfect pass on the one corner, but just didn't have the top end speed to catch the race winner. He MADE the day for sure :D

    Friday, July 29, 2005

    Happy Birthday Wil!

    Stardate 4318.5

    Today marks Wil's 33rd Birthday! Hope you have a great day!!!

    Wil at the World Poker Championships...

    For those of you who only remember him as Wesley Crusher on Star Trek, well, it's time to grow up. Wil has become a fantastic and inspiring writer, poker player and voice and stage actor. He is active politically and a great family guy. Go read his Blog. It is time well spent.

    Thanks for inspiring me to write...

    What Happens to Insulation Foam at Mach 23?

    Stardate 4318.0

    This has been an interesting on-going debate for some time. I do not profess to know the technical details about the make-up or placement of the insulating foam on the booster rockets and fuel tanks for the Shuttle. However, I do know that when they are travelling at 23 times the speed of sound, things tend to be a little shaky, and while still in the atmosphere, probably under tons of stresses that most of us simply cannot comprehend.

    That being said, the media is really playing this one out. NASA has a culture of safety first, which obviously is essential in their line of business. It is proven by the cancelled launch a few weeks ago. Now they are adamant after studying all of the footage that the foam piece that came off did NOT hit the Discovery at all. This is obviously great news, though I believe the astronauts are goign to check over the shuttle for damage. They are currently docked with the International Space Station, transferring 15 tons of supplies there.

    This is the statement from Administrator Griffin from NASA on the Foam Shedding:

    RELEASE: 05-207

    Statement on Foam Shedding From External Tank

    NASA engineers are evaluating the loss of a large piece of insulation foam from the Space Shuttle Discovery’s external fuel tank during Tuesday's launch. Based on initial assessments, the foam -- which appears to measure approximately 24 to 33 inches long, 10 to 13 inches wide and 2-1/2 to 8 inches thick -- was seen by high-resolution camera equipment added to the Shuttle system after the loss of Columbia in 2003. The accident was caused by foam from the external tank hitting the orbiter during launch.
    There was no indication the piece of foam sighted Tuesday caused any damage to Discovery. The Shuttle will undergo further inspection beginning Thursday to check for any significant damage to the orbiter.
    "As with any unexpected occurrence, we will closely and thoroughly evaluate this event and make any needed modifications to the Shuttle before we launch again," NASA Administrator Michael Griffin said. "This is a test flight. Among the things we are testing are the integrity of the foam insulation and the performance of new camera equipment installed to detect problems. The cameras worked well. The foam did not.”
    Discovery’s seven crew members are being updated with the latest ground team analysis of the foam loss and are continuing to take part in the inspection process.
    For the latest information about the STS-114 mission, visit:

    So now we can look at how the foam is applied to the tanks...

    Workers at Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans have transferred
    External Tank 120 -- the Space Shuttle External Tank slated for the launch of
    the orbiter Discovery next spring -- into the facility's vehicle assembly
    building. The tank is erected vertically so that foam insulation can be applied
    on the liquid hydrogen tank-to-intertank flange area, a tank structural
    connection point. The foam will be applied with an enhanced finishing procedure
    that requires two technicians, a new mold-injection procedure to the intertank's
    ribbing and real-time videotaped surveillance of the process. The foam was
    removed from all existing tanks when the intertank area was identified as a
    potential debris-shedding source following the loss of the Space Shuttle
    Columbia and her crew on Feb. 1, 2003.

    Interesting stuff. So they apply the foam in New Orleans and then transfer the tanks to the Kennedy Space Center. This transfer by barge takes 5 or 6 days and I suppose it is thouroughly inspected upon arrival.

    This led to design changes to eliminate most of the peeling foam and to control ice on the tank. The changes include new ways of applying the foam insulation, the addition of heaters at key points to prevent the formation of ice before launch, and adding cameras that can monitor the outside of the tank during launch.

    "We can never completely eliminate foam coming off the tank," Coleman said Tuesday. But she said tests suggest that any debris that does fly free will not cause damage like that which destroyed Columbia.

    They seem to accept that this will not be a foolproof method. Though they have made extensive alterations int he method of applying the foam and also by adding heaters to help prevent icing. The cameras are key in monitoring the entire launch and flight process, so I think given the chance, everything is cool. It could have been a freak accident. Who knows.

    18 Inning record Breaker...

    Stardate 4317.6

    Toronto - The Toronto Blue Jays beat the Angels 2 to 1 in a team record breaking 18 inning game. Orlando Hudson drove in Alex Rios with a single in the 18th inning as Toronto completed a three-game sweep of the Los Angeles Angels with a 2-1 victory Thursday in the most innings played in Jays history. "I want to go home, I want to go to sleep, I want to eat," said Toronto centre-fielder Vernon Wells. "It was fun to be a part of. Hopefully we'll never do it again." It was the longest game in the major leagues this season, eclipsing a 15-inning contest between Arizona and San Diego on April 29.

    Wow. With all the excitement of hockey coming back, I really do miss watching baseball. The good old Jays may be far from a Championship team, but they are usually exciting to watch at the very least (until they blow the lead)...

    Thursday, July 28, 2005

    Added Haloscan Trackbacks and Comments...

    Stardate 4313.7

    Sorry about losing all of the old comments, but I wanted to enable trackbacks and I figured it out using Super easy to use, and even automated for blogger sites! It's quick and free, but it WILL lose all of your old comments.

    *** Updates ***
    Now I am debating on this. Should it stay or go. I like gettin ge-mail notification of comments, but unless I pay for the Premium membership, I can't anymore... Maybe I'll just wait for a bit and see how it goes.

    Wednesday, July 27, 2005

    The New Look Zaphod's Heads...

    Stardate 4309.4

    Welcome one and welcome all. There may be a few bumps in the road along the way here, but eventually, I will have a nice juicy list of blogs, links and ALL of my previous content up and running here. Obviously, it just takes a little time so bear with me please!

    My first concern is to get up the content, so if I am getting a little slow on the links, give me a shove :D

    Afghan's - "Die America!" - Media Misleading Again...

    Stardate 4307.5

    More than 1,000 try to break down gate; 50 Taliban reported slain in battle

    BAGRAM, Afghanistan - More than 1,000 stone-throwing Afghans tried to break down an outer gate at the main U.S. base here Tuesday while demanding the release of eight detained villagers, and Afghan troops fired warning shots and used clubs to beat the mob back. U.S. troops also fired into the air.

    It was not immediately clear if there were any casualties in the melee outside the base’s main gate as protesters chanted “Die America!” Black smoke billowed from burning tires. An Associated Press reporter was hit by a stone and an AP photographer was punched by a protester.

    In southern Afghanistan, meanwhile, a provincial governor said about 50 suspected insurgents and two Afghan soldiers died during an overnight battle. It was one of the deadliest clashes in recent fighting between the government and militants heading into parliamentary elections.

    Apparently, the mob of people were chasing US vehicles that had taken Afghan citizens from their homes without calling the Afghan authorities first. Apparently, the men had equipment used in making home-made explosive devices no doubt to be used in "Insurgent" attacks.

    “We have supported the Americans for years. We should be treated with dignity,” said Shah Aghar, 35. “They are arresting our people without the permission of the government. They are breaking into our houses and offending the people. We are very angry.”

    No doubt. Of course, the US military claims to have attempted to contact the Afghan authorities... but to no avail.

    The point of this post is not to report riots in Afghanistan however. It does make a very interesting story though, and I am sure we could pick apart any number of things the US military did, or the Afghan people for that matter. However, this story ties in much more closely with the post I made a while ago about the Media.

    Look at the title under the main heading:

    "More than 1,000 try to break down gate; 50 Taliban reported slain in battle"

    Very interesting.

    The title is insinuating (I know I am not a moron because I am wearing my tin foil hat) that the Afghans that stormed the military base were Taliban. Or that the Mob was led by the Taliban. But if you actually *read* the article, you will see that the 50 Taliban soldiers slain is a TOTALLY UNRELATED INCIDENT and the paragraph mentioning it doesn't even belong in this article! Of course, much further down, is the story about the 50 Taliban and the gunfight.

    So, why is this?

    The writer may simply be trying to combine two stories together in one entry to save space? Like "News from Afghanistan Today"... the semi-colon almost seems to say that. But then, it still reads like the 50 Taliban were part of the mob.

    Maybe they were trying to draw attention away from the US raid and the mob scene at the compound by mixing in the other story, specifically, in the title? Many folks would only read the headline anyhow... "Ah Margaret. Got 50 of those Taliban bastiches..." Flips to sports right??

    Maybe it was just an oversight on the part of the editors or writers.

    No matter what though... put on *your* tin foil hat when watching the news :)

    Tuesday, July 26, 2005

    Eagles on High

    Stardate 4304.0

    NASA and the US Government were taking no chances with the launch today. They had planes ready to go in an instant in case of any trouble. You can see images here of F-15 Eagle jets on patrol in the skies over the Kennedy Space Center just after the last launch since 9-11...

    These are file photos from before as the launch pad is Pad "A" and not Pad "B", and there are other tell-tale signs. However, a memo from NASA said:
    "A flight of US Air Force F-15 Eagle Jetfighters helped to provide air cover over Kennedy Space Center and the shuttle launch pad against terrorist attacks during yesterday's launch countdown of the Space Shuttle Discovery."
    Well, that's good I suppose ;) They make very cool pics anyhow, whether the planes were in the air or not!

    "We Have Lift-off!!!"

    Stardate 4302.9

    July 26th, 2005

    So far so good! T plus 11 minutes... something like 85 miles in the air, fuel tanks all disengaged... all the boards are green!

    17,500 mph. Wow. That's like Mach 23 :P

    It has been over 2 years, and now we have folks back up in Space... a 12 day mission to take supplies to the ISS and it's two crewmembers. Congrats everyone! We can only go forward from here!


    Yeah I have to say that was freaking wicked. I have always seen it after the fact, whether a good launch or a bad. I have never watched live. What a rush. I felt like I should have been playing "Mars the Bringer of War" by Holst, just like when John Glenn was blasting off in "The Right Stuff". But then my office was full of people... :D

    Have to relax now and try to get some work done. YEAH RIGHT! Man, that is some acceleration... 3Gs when they are going up and then eventually, they will be weightless. What an experience that must be. Just the sheer amount of power being expended to push that baby up there is unbelievable...

    T minus 2 hours.....

    Stardate 4302.5

    This is about to happen!!!!

    This is what we all can hope happens at 10:39 am EST. The only thing holding it back right now is the filling of the tanks. If anything is up with that fuel sensor, this should tell the tale. And everythign seems to be going smoothly. Fueling is good, weather is great, and the Astronauts sit atop, waiting... Be sure to watch where you can...


    MSN - MSNBC Video page
    AOL - video coverage
    NASA - NASA TV (Realplayer works fine)
    An interesting note from NASA:

    The Space Shuttle goes from standing still on the launch pad to more than 17,000 miles per hour in just over eight minutes. That means the astronauts go 2,000 miles per hour faster every minute.

    Monday, July 25, 2005

    Marketing Terror

    Stardate 4298.0

    Wage War on Media not Terror

    I have been reading a lot and watching a lot of news over the last few years. It is hard not too. Of course, there ar emany different styles of news broadcasting, and many different points of view. Different media outlets have different affiliations and sponsors, so who's story is right? A while ago, I wrote a story called "Media Controlled Emotions" regarding the trends of media to "jump" on the next big thing. One so-called famous incident is quickly overshadowed by the next, bigger ratings event. Really, was Schiavo worth the attention the media gaver her? The US government? Everybody? Of course, when John Paul II died, everyone forgot about her so I guess not.

    Now the fuel for the Terror that haunts so many people in the US, Europe and other places is the media. Of course, these thigns must be reported to raise awareness. After all, if I lived in London, I would want to know that the tube is dangerous, and why their are soldiers everywhere. But, does it go too far? When *every* newspaper has "LONDON UNDER ATTACK" on the cover, and *every* on-line news page has "SUSPECTS CAUGHT IN ATTACKS" and *every television broadcast shows people running for their lives, not only does it worsen the fear in people, but it fuels the fanatical terrorists onwards! They are winning this war, and every time a picture or a story is posted, it is another victory for them. Another person stays in their house, or has their eyes glued to CNN. Every time a politician stands up and condemns the latest attacks, it is a victory for them.

    When the various agencies are hunting a serial killer, they feed wrong information to the press. Well, maybe not entirely, but to a large enough extent that they can filte rout all of the rubbish phone calls, pranks and copycats. They would have too. How many calls would they get about suspects? Gotta know the straight facts for sure. But if the press gets carried away reporting murders, what next? Your serial killer is suddenly a celebrity, getting a smuch air time as the President! You can see where this is going.

    Now I am opposed to violent demonstration and terrorism. Don't get me wrong. The recent bombings in London and Egypt are terrible, and many innocent people have lost their lives and family members because of them. Even innocent people have been killed by Police. But for every guy they "nab", or kill, another one or two will pop up. The English have dealt with bombs from the Irish for decades. You never got MSN updates about those attacks though. Now, there is an official "War on Terror" though, and as soon as a Muslim Extremist blows up a car, it is all over every media outlet imagineable.

    I say the media PROPOGATES fear and incites terrorists to new heights, and though a certain level of reporting is essential for safety, they are only making matters worse. And for what? The advertising buck? TO show what a great job the authorities are doing keeping society safe? Hogwash! The authorities can rarely do anything until AFTER something happens. Or they will lie about it. And what about the press?

    The latest numbers reported by the press are that there are 25,000 civilian casualties in Iraq since the war started, with 9,000 being from coalition forces. The group reporting this is Iraq Body Count. Months ago, I took part in an event sponsored by a group called Counting the Cost. Their numbers are much higher, to the point of being over 4 times as many civilians! That's 100,000 casualties! or 36,000 caused by coalition forces... Now you tell me which number was mashed all over the media and on every web news page? Come on, three guesses here. The media will report what it wants, and that is rarely the entire truth.

    Maybe, just maybe, if everyone in the western world stopped hearing about bombs going off, they might actually stop going off. I know it sounds naive, and probably quite insane, but maybe it's true. Most artists, actors and companies pay a LOT for advertising to get their song or product or message out. These guys are using OUR system against us...

    After all, *everyone* wants to be a rock star.

    Sensors? Tracking a Launch Captain...

    Stardate 4297.7

    CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - NASA has cleared a plan to launch the space shuttle Discovery even if a mysterious fuel-gauge glitch reappears during the countdown toward a Tuesday launch attempt, mission managers said.
    Well it has been 11 days since the last launch attempt was put on hold due to the fuel sensor problem. Now, the folks seem to think the sensor malfunctioned due to either grounding problem with the circuitry or electromagnetic interference. If the glitch appears again, under a very specific set of conditions of course, they have decided to go ahead with the launch this time. Basically, they have switched the connections between the "bad sensor" and one of the other threee "good" sensors. If one of the two goes out, there are some specific tests they can run and go ahead with the launch... if not? Well then we wait more :)

    Sunday, July 24, 2005

    Bush Picks Winners...

    Stardate 4272.5
    WASHINGTON - President Bush on Tuesday chose federal appeals court judge John G. Roberts Jr. to be the 109th justice of the U.S. Supreme Court and Bush’s first nominee for the high court. The president selected a rock-solid conservative whose nomination could trigger a tumultuous battle over the direction of the nation’s highest court.

    “One of the most consequential decisions a president makes is his appointment of a justice to the Supreme Court,” Bush said. “He's placing in human hands the power and majesty of the law.”

    Bush said the position called for “a person who will faithfully apply the Constitution.”

    Bush praised “his intellect, his sound judgment and his personal decency.”

    Wow. Coming from a guy who's own "sound judgement" in many matters is somewhat questionable... Heh. Good luck to the guy anyhow.

    I understand he is a hard line conservative fellow, so I imagine there will be quite a debate in Senate before he is confirmed. He has some, shall we say, hard stances on women''s rights to privacy and abortion, as well as environmental protection.

    I might add to this that this seems to be a great distraction from the ROVE scandal that is lighting up the news columns at present.

    Friday, July 22, 2005

    NHL is back... *yawn*

    Stardate 4284.0

    The new sleek logo represents the new sleek game...

    This is the letter sent to fans from

    July 22, 2005

    Dear Friend of Hockey,

    This is a letter I had hoped to be able to send you several months ago. I am certain it is one you had hoped to be able to read long before today, and I will never be able to express adequately my appreciation – along with that of the entire National Hockey League – for the patience you have shown through the most difficult period in our history.

    While it may be said that the greatness of hockey, and the NHL, is best measured by the character and tenaciousness of its players, I would add that the greatness of our game is also reflected by the character and tenaciousness of you, our devoted fans. I thank you all for that passionate support and I apologize to all of you, on behalf of everyone involved, for testing that support as severely as we did.

    The negotiation of a new Collective Bargaining Agreement was an extremely complex undertaking and it took a painfully long time to complete. I promise you it did not take one second longer than absolutely necessary; and while it required a lot of work and a lot of sacrifice by a lot of people – including you – the result is that a great game will be even better upon our return.

    As we move forward now in partnership with our players, we move equally, to a new era of exceptional entertainment, in partnership with you. We will come back with new rules, with a new spirit of cooperation and with a renewed sense of excitement as the best athletes in the world display their skills for the best fans in the world and strive to win the best trophy in the world, the Stanley Cup.

    Over the past year, there has been entirely too much talk about the business of hockey and entirely too little talk about the joys of hockey. At last, it’s time, once again, to have fun – the kind of fun only hockey can offer. I cannot wait to get back to the rink and I very much look forward to seeing you there.

    Let’s get ready to drop the puck!


    Gary B Bettman

    Now, I am kind of wanting to watch a bit, but then I really don't care. Damn them anyways. I think the new shootout for every game is cool though :D It will also be good to see much more balanced teams. This is somethign that didn't always matter, but mainly because owners pay some guys too much not to win, but to bring in revenue (Brett Hull where are you...)

    There are a schwack of rule alterings... including dimensions and such of different zones. Go HERE to see some details on these changes...

    Gentlemen, Start Your Engines...

    Stardate 4283.0

    Shuttle Countdown to Begin Saturday...

    CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - NASA engineers believe they have isolated the fuel gauge malfunction that scrubbed the shuttle Discovery's July 13 launch attempt, and with Tropical Storm Franklin headed north, the launch team is set to trigger the countdown Saturday for a Tuesday launch.

    Discovery's crew will return midday from a brief respite in Houston while engineers fix the electrical grounding problem they now feel was the culprit.

    The biggest concern now, is a tropical storm Franklin that has developed in the area. If it does stay off-shore, the countdown will begin as planned at noon on Saturday. The launch is scheduled for 8:39 am MST on tuesday. If the weather does go sour, NASA is sayign that they may extend the "launch window" that was set to end July 31st into August as opposed to the September time frame.

    The launch timing is mainly dependant on the orbital position of the International Space Station and lighting conditions for lift-off and ascent. I wonder about the latter... We can fly planes in the dark using satellites and other optical work-arounds so there must be another reason... Perhaps the media :P

    Simulated Seafood and Crab... With Extra Olives!!!

    Stardate 4282.5

    Don't get me wrong... I really do like the taste of Subway sandwiches. But...

    I freaking hate Subway commercials. I *love* greasy burgers, and watching those commercials pisses me off because they insinuate I am a fool for wanting a greasy burger and not one of their "fresh" subs.

    Define fresh. Do they go pick the letuce in the back garden? Nay. Slice up the olives right there? No. Maybe they slay the chicken or simulated crab (humanely of course) in the cold room out back. Nope. How do you humanely slay a simulate crab anyways?

    Humanely Slaying a Simulated Crab

    Speaking of olives... Their slogan is something like "Your way, right away" or something right? So how come every time I ask for extra friggin olives on my simulated seafood and crab preparation (fresh) sandwich, they say they cannot because it puts their inventory out of whack? I shit you not, I have had a manager tell the "sandwich expert" making my "fresh" sandwich that there should be no more than 6 olive slices on a footlong sub RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME. 6 OLIVES! WOW. Taste delight to the extreme...

    LOOK! TWO olive slices in a whole 6" sub! Whillikers!

    Too me, that is NOT "my sub my way right away"... How about you hold the jalapenos and add a couple of extra lego wheels for me? If you hold off on the tomatoes, you could toss a couple more on too! Already, we are at 6 on a 6" which equals 12 on a footlong. My mathematics is obviously superior so don't argue here. But NO. Inventory... The cost of olives has gone through the roof it seems.

    And I wonder why I love Wendy's so much... :P

    PS Image of Humane Simulated Crab Slaying Copywrited by Me :P
    PSS No Simulated Crabs were harmed in this entry.

    Wednesday, July 20, 2005

    James Doohan Boldly Goes...

    Stardate 4273.5

    Beam Me Up Scotty

    James "Scotty" Doohan passed away early this morning in Redmond, WA at the age of 85. Wende, his wife of 28 years, was at his bedside when he died of complications due to pneumonia and Alzheimer's disease.

    James Doohan (1920 - 2005)

    "Scotty, we must have more power!"

    "I'm a givin' her all she's got Cap'n. If I give her anymore she's gonna blow."

    Scotty after drinking a Kelvan under the table...
    Indeed it is a sad day for Canadians and Star Trek fans everywhere. My heart goes out to James' family and friends, and all of the millions of fans who will surely miss him.

    We have already mourned the passing of Deforest Kelly and now it is James Doohan's turn. Remember him for the marvellous character he played, that many of us grew up to love, alongside his mates. I for one will raise a glass tonight in his honor.

    In a way, it really adds some perspective to things. It is hard when all of the heroes one grew up with start leaving us, but it also makes us cherish the time we had with them. Remember, all good things must eventually end I suppose...

    *** UPDATED ***

    As some may know, James Doohan was in fact in the Canadian Army on D-Day at Juno Beach. This is an excerpt taken from Lord Kitchener's Own...

    At 19, James escaped the turmoil at home by joining the Canadian army, becoming a lieutenant in artillery. He was among the Canadian forces that landed on Juno Beach on D-Day. "The sea was rough," he recalled. "We were more afraid of drowning than the Germans."
    The Canadians crossed a minefield laid for tanks; the soldiers weren't heavy enough to detonate the bombs. At 11:30 that night,
    he was machine-gunned, taking six hits: one that took off his middle right finger (he managed to hide the missing finger on screen), four in his leg and one in the chest. The chest bullet was stopped by his silver cigarette case.

    What a great Canadian!

    *** UPDATED ***
    Just as an aside... there will be no new coverage of anything today (July 21st). I believe Jimmy deserves more than the 20 minutes MSN News gave him... Wil has a brief and heartelt post as well...

    Love Thy Neighbour, and Marry Him Too

    Stardate 4273.0

    Senate passes same-sex legislation

    Canada has become the 4th nation in the world to allow same-sex marriages. The Senate voted 47-21 in favor of Bill C-38. Only 3 Senators abstained from the vote. Courts in 7 Canadian provinces say that the traditional definition of marriage violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

    Somehow, I doubt Alberta was one of the seven. Stephen Harper, being the crazy Bush lovin nut he is, said he will bring the debate back to the burner if he is elected Prime Minister. Good luck pal. Not on my ship mister... :D

    The Bill will become law once Royal assent is given today.

    I haven't said a lot on this before. I suppose maybe it is because I don't *know* any homosexual people... At any rate, believe it or not, I have a somewhat *gasp* conservative view on this. I think my main issue is a social issue, that being the upbringing of children. Don't get me wrong, I would never ever suggest that two men, or two women could not be good parents. But the problem I see is that children have enough issues growing up at school, with friends, sex, drugs, weight... now Johnny might have to deal with the fact that his parents are both Lumberjacks :D

    Still, the thing that is GOOD about this, is that as a nation, Canada stands for true freedoms and equality. While freedom is slowly disappearing to the south of us, we can stand tall and resolute, and back up the eqaulity of ALL people, whether based on color, religion, sexual orientation or whatever.

    It makes me proud to be Canadian!


    The Royal Assent has been received! Super duper I say :D

    Tuesday, July 19, 2005

    The Tears of Africa Meet The Tears of the Rainforest

    Stardate 4268.0

    Quote from Acoustic Dad (and written by him too...)

    Sister Stang
    In February of this year (2005) an activist nun named Dorothy Stang was murdered when hitmen contracted by illegal loggers and ranchers ambushed her in the Brazilian rainforest. Though a tragic loss in itself, her murder represents only a fraction of the sorrow and death that continues to occur in that part of the world. Sister Stang devoted decades - and ultimately her life - to a cause that is often forgotten once the articles fade from the front page of the newspaper. I am therefore including the following folk-poem in the hopes of increasing awareness of her death, her work, and the continuing plight of the people and the environment she sought to protect.

    Sister Stang

    Sister Stang lived in the Amazon
    in a small Brazilian town.
    It was a pit of fear and poverty
    where corruption coats the ground.
    The loggers there are violent;
    they’d kill you where you stand.
    Land and wealth are paramount
    and wield a heavy hand.

    Long have peasants suffered there;
    long have peasants died.
    More tears than rain have fallen
    from the mourning eyes that cry.
    The people there are starving;
    she tried to bring them hope.
    Then incurred the wrath of logging men
    who brought a hangman’s rope.

    Their threats were thick and heavy
    like the dark Brazilian mud.
    They told her that the forest floor
    would soon be stained with blood.
    Then movement in the jungle
    exposed two shadows in the rain.
    Fear hovered in the evening mists
    and stained the dawn with pain.

    Six shots rang in the darkness
    of a still Brazilian night.
    A nun lay dead and silenced
    by negligence and spite.
    Her death was truly tragic;
    The aftermath was worse --
    from threats and token rhetoric
    to tears that seemed rehearsed.

    Threat logic is the king out there;
    Yet nothing has been done
    to curb the acts of violence
    burning brighter than the sun.
    A village lives in fear
    under the shadow of a gun.
    The same that silenced Sister Stang;
    the same that killed a nun.

    ©2005 Mike Bogle - All Rights Reserved

    This is a beautiful poem. After reading this, and the story of Sister Stang, it brought back some memories for me that I never witnessed, though I found reading the telling of the events to be heartwrenching indeed.

    When I was younger I lived in Africa. For four years, from the age of 12 to 16, I lived, with my family, in Mbabane, Swaziland. We were fortunate to be there with Dad working for CIDA (The Canadian International Development Agency) helping get rural water systems installed to avoid the drinking and use of contaminated water by the Swazis. All in all, it was a terrific experience, and I was lucky enough to attend Waterford Kamhlaba, a private school full of ex-pats and Swazi nobility. It was one of the rare and highly esteemed United World Colleges. I remember one of the first people I had met there was the Headmaster, a British fellow named Richard Eyeington. He and his wife worked at the school there for many years, and devoted selflessly of their lives to helping the children of Africa gain an education they would never otherwise achieve.

    It was with great sorrow, one day last year, when I was reading the Waterford website, that I had stumbled upon the news. Richard and Enid Eyeington had been shot dead in their home by unknown gunmen, while watching television, in the normally peaceful Somaliland region of Somalia.

    I was immediately touched by reading this news. I had nothing but fond memories of both of them, whether it was seeing them in the Administration building or at Assembly, or learning Geography from one of the true Masters. People like this are of the rarest breed, and to have all of their service and devotion ungratefully taken from them for reasons undoubtedly tied to greed was beyond my comprehension. My memory of first meeting them both at the school in Swaziland now is faded, and the edges curled, but the memory of their service is as stark as ever. I can only hope that the people responsible were brought to justice. Richard E. Grant, the actor, whom attended Waterford in the early 70's, has the article on his site, and really, it is worth reading.

    British teachers murdered by gunmen at Somali school

    By Declan Walsh in Nairobi.

    Two British teachers have been murdered by unidentified gunmen in Somaliland, a normally peaceful enclave of war-racked Somalia.
    Richard Eyeington, a 62-year-old headmaster, and his wife, Enid, 61, were shot dead on Monday night while watching television in their house on the grounds of a boarding school they ran at Sheikh, 50 miles east of the regional capital, Hargeisa.


    Richard really said it the best... my words are insignificant by comparison.

    "My heartfelt condolences to their children Mark and Louise and to all the students whose lives were enriched by knowing these two extraordinary, unique and inspired individuals."

    Extraordinary and Inspired individuals. I can only imagine the number of lives they touched. Just like Sister stang.

    'Til the Cows Come Home....

    Stardate 4267.5

    Okay, maybe the cows aren't happy, and they definately aren't comign home, but the Alberta Beef producers will surely be happy now that the ridiculous (politically charged) ban on Canadian Beef has been lifted.

    That is "I Love Alberta Beef" for the unedercated.

    WASHINGTON - The first new shipment of Canadian cattle rolled into the United States on Monday, four days after a federal appeals court ended a two-year-old ban originally instituted because of mad cow disease.

    Thirty-five black Angus cattle crossed the border around noon at Lewiston, N.Y., near Niagara Falls, according to the shipper, Schaus Land and Cattle Co. of Elmwood, Ontario. The animals were destined for a Pennsylvania slaughterhouse.

    “It’s been a long wait to get cattle to cross the line again,” said company owner Wally Schaus. “We went from 18 trucks to nine, and it was a struggle to keep nine trucks busy, but with the border open again, it won’t be hard to get 20 trucks going again.”

    It was last thursday when a panel of the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a Montana ruling that had kept the border closed. Canadian beef has been banned in the US since May 2003. The thing that gets me is that the ban "hurt th eUS meatpacking industry" which meant the loss of 8000 jobs... Yeah, how about Canada's cattle industry? Estimates are at a whopping $5.7 Billion. Lets ship them out!!!

    Monday, July 18, 2005

    Rove, Rove, Rove Your Bull, Gently Down Our Throats

    Stardate 4264.0

    So how long does it take for these guys to just tell it straight and do what they said, instead of changing their story and digging a deeper hole than ever?

    Bush says he will fire anyone who breaks law

    President appears to qualify standard for firing in CIA-leak case

    WASHINGTON - President Bush said Monday that if anyone on his staff committed a crime in the CIA-leak case, that person will "no longer work in my administration." His statement represented a shift from a previous comment, when he said that he would fire anyone shown to have leaked information that exposed the identity of a CIA officer.

    At the same time, Bush yet again sidestepped a question on the role of his top political adviser, Karl Rove, in the matter.

    "We have a serious ongoing investigation here and it's being played out in the press," Bush said at an East Room news conference.

    You better believe it is being played out in the press. Someone has to hold these guys accountable. This has been goign on for so long that the stories are all bound to change. Now I don't expect them to simply go Fire the guy today, but to simply dismiss it all and then lie about it is blatant.

    Bush said in June 2004 that he would fire anyone in his administration shown to have leaked information that exposed the identity of Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame. On Monday, however, he added the qualifier that it would have to be shown that a crime was committed.

    Asked at a June 10, 2004 news conference if he stood by his pledge to fire anyone found to have leaked Plame's name, Bush answered, "Yes. And that's up to the U.S. attorney to find the facts."

    So... now there are conditions to his previous statement about cannign guys. Well what I want to know is how this guy is back in the position he is in, especially AFTER George Senior FIRED him for leaking out information in his second term campaign? Now maybe I am jumping the gun here, but the guy did it before. He did it again.

    The reporter, Time magazine's Matthew Cooper, recalled the phone conversation in 2003 with Rove...

    “I’ve already said too much” after revealing that the wife of the former ambassador apparently was with the CIA.

    The White House of course, maintains that Rove had nothing to do with the leak (they obviously were all listening in on the call) and that Rove heard Valerie Plame's name first from the press. Or maybe that he didn't mention her name but Valerie Wilson? Well is IS the same person of course... so that makes no difference. In fact, it should only make things worse...

    From Newsfare:

    The difference is that, as Valerie Plame, Mrs. Wilson was affiliated with a CIA front company, Brewster Jennings & Associates, engaged in tracking and stopping the proliferation of nuclear weapons. As soon as her name was made public, the implications for U.S. national security amounted to a grave breach – far more of a crime than merely violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act, which has only had a single prosecution since its passage in 1982.

    So either way, the same person's identity was leaked, and anybody could put the two together easily enough. And what happened to the high and mighty Protection Act? Mum's the word I guess...

    “The information exonerates and vindicates, it does not implicate” Rove, Republican Party chairman Ken Mehlman said on NBC's "Meet the Press." “Folks involved in this, frankly, owe Karl Rove an apology.”

    Yeah right. What information? This whole thing stinks more and more every day. Again, these folks must think that no-one in the world can think for themselves, or see what is going on here... George the Monkey is probably quite happy that suddenly the heat is off his arse for Iraq, Terror, Oil, Education, Social Security, and oh forget it.

    Hey, whatever happened to the good old Polygraph test? Or those fancy schmansy truth drugs? Oh wait, that is akin to torture perhaps... or maybe an infringement on th eguy's HUMAN RIGHTS. Lets not start all that again though... :D

    *** UPDATE ***

    This link really says a lot on this :) Great posting! Read it. Do it. DO it.

    Priest is Coming!!!!!

    Stardate 4263.5

    Hell Bent for Leather

    Dudes... Metal Legends JUDAS PRIEST are playing in Calgary on October 21st at the Pengrowth Saddledome. There is also a show in Edmonton on the 20th, but seriously, Friday night is better... :D I have been waiting for this announcement with anticipation. I saw Priest back in 1992 on the Painkiller tour with Megadeth and Testament. It was easily the best show I have ever been to. I sat in the wrong seat for the first two bands (Mustaine blew me away as well) but when the lights went down, and "Hell Bent for Leather" started, the front of the stage opened up and Halford rode out on his Harley... Freaking wicked show.

    Judas Priest, re-united with original singer Rob Halford are back with more power than ever. Well worth a listen, or come out and see the show!

    Shuttle Delay Bigger Than Just the US

    Stardate 4262.8

    CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - The international partnership dependent on the U.S. shuttle fleet to complete the International Space Station is getting nervous as NASA pledges to take as much time as it needs to fix Discovery.

    Japan, one of 16 nations involved, has spent more than $3 billion on space station vehicles and modules including a laboratory named Kibo — Japanese for "hope."

    Kibo now sits — along with Europe's Columbus module, a connecting node, station trusses, solar arrays, and a sparkling seven-sided cupola window — in a hangar at Florida's Kennedy Space Center, not too far from where NASA is troubleshooting Discovery.

    After all of the excitement and hooplah about the launch and the ensuing cancellation, one never stops to think that perhaps the US Space Program and NASA are only part of the picture. The shuttle is really the courier or "hot shot" for getting fresh supplies, equipment and modules to the International Space Station. As we can see, there are various Labs and other modules still waiting to get up there.

    According to this article, the shuttles are to be retired and replaced by 2010. That would be an interesting idea, but what are they going to be replaced with? Is the budget there at present, with all of the country's efforts stuck on the "War on Terror" and all that? I am almsot surprised another country hasn't taken the initiative here, and created a new model to either market to the US or fly themselves... How hard can it be? We had men on the moon 35 years ago for the love of Bob...

    Friday, July 15, 2005

    Senator Clinton VS. Gamers

    Stardate 4249.5

    Wil Wheaton sums it up rather nicely:

    Dear Senator Clinton:

    I'm just a writer from California, and I hate to tell you how to do your job . . . but perhaps your time and energy would be better spent investigating Karl Rove, than Carl Johnson.

    Your transparent pandering to the morality squad is cute and all, but let's face it: you're no Bill Frist.


    Wil Wheaton

    Of course, this is in regards to Senator Hillary Clinton's sudden obsession with the game "Grand Theft Auto San Andreas" and a MOD that has become available online to allow explicit computer generated sex acts in the game at various points. She seems to be hell bent on goign after the game producers and not even the person who released the MOD.

    The game is currently rated as Mature and I do agree with her that it should probably be rated "R" as it stands alone, but this fight based on some independent hack is pointless.

    I have played this game a fair bit, and my 12 year old has played it as well. Of course, if I knew what the game was about in depth beforehand, I would likely not allow him to play. Of course, that doesn't stop him from going to a buddy's house and playing.

    The point is, the MOD is nothing. All the kids that can go and get it have a much easier chance of going online and finding *real* explicit sex material, without even trying to look for it. So what gives? Seems ridiculous to me. Rate the game "R" sure, for it's original content, but not because of the MOD. Better rate "The Sims" "R" too because you can download dirty MODS for it too.

    I think there are a lot more important things Senator Clinton could be working on in the US at present, and if we can budge our eyes away from *them*, in the WORLD as a whole!

    *** Updated ***

    Well it seems Rockstar games had the codes int he game already but had them blocked off. The MOD simply opens up the code again.

    Shuttle Delayed Further

    Stardate 4248.5

    NASA postpones shuttle launch again

    CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - The first space shuttle launch since the Columbia tragedy will have to wait at least a few days more. NASA said it was "releasing the launch team from launch status."

    "It means some people basically get the weekend off," said NASA spokesman Bruce Buckingham.

    No new date was announced, but NASA spokesman Kyle Herring said "late next week is the earliest" a launch may be tried. Details were to be announced later Friday by the mission management team.

    Seems to be quite the technical glitch they are having figuring out the fuel sensor problem. After all though, I suspect that it is far better to stray to the "safe" side of things, than try to meet press deadlines and launch.

    At the Pump

    Stardate 4248.0

    From Newsfare:

    I just filled up my tank and asked a few questions. My kids hate this. “Dad, shut up!”

    At $2.35, according to the guys at the station, regular gasoline is “the highest we’ve ever been.”

    And going up. “It usually goes up on weekends.” They get a fax or email informing them their cost has risen. After adding a profit margin, they post the new prices.

    What price would it take to make people buy less?

    Shaking their heads, they’re not sure. It’s summertime. People will go on vacation, no matter what.

    Three dollars? Five dollars?

    “Three dollars would do it. Not make ‘em stop, just slow ‘em down a little.” The station owner pauses.

    “What’s happening now, they’re all using credit cards. Two, three months, when those bills start coming in, then they’ll think about it.”

    Everybody’s using credit cards? (I had just used mine.) You mean, even people who usually use cash?”

    “Oh, yeah. Don’t forget, some of these campers, that’s a $65 fill up.”

    The other man chimes in. “And you’d be surprised how many bad cards there are out there.”

    How long has that been — I mean, the credit cards?

    Staring into the air a moment, “I’d say the last month or two.”

    The worst thing is, the prices in Canada are worse. At an average of 89.9 cents a litre (Canadian because we are simple and have to be able to multiply things by factors of ten) and roughly 3.8 liters in a US gallon, we are looking at a whopping $3.42 a gallon! In Canadian. So that would be nearly $3 US a gallon! I just realised I used "Worse" twice in the opening sentence. Well it is worse. Especially considering the BIGGEST industry in Alberta (where I live) is OIL. I am certainly glad I do NOT have a credit card, or else I would be in serious trouble. All the CCs do is allow people to live beyond their means.

    It is interesting to see what would make people stop consuming and feeding the giant Oil Company engine that is pretty much robbing us all. The same thing happened with smokes. I smoked for many years, and quite heavily too, I may add. It was bad news, and I found that I could always scrimp enough to buy more butts. If I didn't have lunch at work, that was okay as long as I had smokes (see how pathetic the addiction is?). The Canadian government, in their continuing efforts to stop people from killing themselves and burdoning our health care system (I stand behind them 110%) decided it was time to tax the hell out of smokes (while they are at it, lets legalize pot and tax it too please :P) and the price jumped to nearly $10 a pack. That night, my fiancee and myself finished her last half pack of menthol (BLECH) smokes as mine were already gone, and neither of us have touched one since. That was 3 and a half years ago. Alone, I estimate I have saved $12,800 (a pack a day say) and both of us could easily have saved nearly $20,000 together.

    Interestingly enough, we have bought a house in the meantime, and that would never have been possible if we smoked still. The gas is tough, as we need it to go to work (for the most part), but now, I rarely just "go for an evening drive".

    Dukes of Crapzard...

    Stardate 4247.7

    The original "Good Ol' Boys" and brown haired Daisy too...

    ATLANTA - A former star of the “The Dukes of Hazzard” TV show is urging fans to skip the forthcoming movie version, calling it “a sleazy insult.”

    Ben Jones, a former Georgia congressman who played the wisecracking mechanic Cooter on the popular series from 1979 to 1985, said profanity and sexual content in the film make a mockery of the family friendly show.

    “Basically, they trashed our show,” said Jones, who read a script of the Warner Bros. movie, scheduled for release next month. “It’s one thing to do whatever movie they want to do, but to take a classic family show and do that is like taking ‘I Love Lucy’ and making her a crackhead or something.”

    On Wednesday, Jones wrote an open letter to fans on his Web site, urging them to stay away from the movie, which stars Seann William Scott, Johnny Knoxville and Jessica Simpson.

    “From all I have seen and heard, the ‘Dukes’ movie is a sleazy insult to all of us who have cared about the ‘Dukes of Hazzard’ for so long,” Jones wrote. “Unless they clean it up before the August fifth release date I would strongly recommend that true blue Dukes fans hold their noses and pass this one up.”

    A spokeswoman at Warner Bros. did not return phone calls Wednesday seeking comment. “The Dukes of Hazzard” was a surprise hit for CBS, pitting “good-ol’ boys” Bo and Luke Duke and their moonshine-running Uncle Jesse against the crooked politician Boss Hogg and his bumbling henchman, Sheriff Coltrane, in fictional Hazzard County.

    Well, at least the car is still Orange and has a big 01.

    Well, I haven't seen the movie yet, but I have seen the preview. I have to agree with old Cooter 110%. They have that cross-eyed moron from "Dude Where's My Car" playing Bo Duke? What? The Duke Boys really don't *look* like the Duke Boys, and they certainly don't appear to *act* like the Duke Boys... It was never a stupid comedy show, but rather a family show with moments of comedy. And Daisy looks far too sleezy and has waaaaay too big a role by the looks. No offence to Daisy but all she did in the old series was show her million dollar legs off to distract the cops. Looks like she got real important and real blonde suddenly to sell tickets.

    I will definately skip all forms of this movie. Well, I may download it to spite them, but I'll delete it right away. Nah, why waste the bandwidth.

    Thursday, July 14, 2005

    Bush is Dishonest? Whaaaat?

    Stardate 4243.2

    "I swear by this pinky finger that Saddam is Osama's brother...or something."

    WASHINGTON - The last two weeks certainly have been eventful ones in America and across the globe: President Bush gave a prime-time speech on Iraq and attended a G-8 summit in Scotland; Sandra Day O’Connor announced her retirement from the Supreme Court (with perhaps another retirement on the way); and suicide bombers killed approximately 50 people in London. After these events, the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll finds that Bush’s overall job rating has slipped and that his rating for being “honest and straightforward” has dropped to its lowest point.

    The survey, which was conducted from July 8-11 among 1,009 adults, and which has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, finds that respondents, by a 49 percent-to-46 percent margin, disapprove of Bush’s job performance. That’s a drop from the last NBC/Journal poll in May, when 47 percent approved and 47 percent disapproved. In addition, the only time when Bush’s job rating has been worse was in June 2004, when 45 percent approved of his performance.
    Gee... do you think? I imagine now that the Rove Fiasco is in full force, his ratings will drop even more. I really, honestly, don't understand how so many people can believe the smorgasboard of crap this guy and his administration feed them every day. Cripes, I don't even understand him half the time since his grasp of the english language is akin to that of some sort of hinterland hillbilly... (no offence to hinterland hillbillies anywhere).

    Furthermore, only 41 percent give Bush good marks for being “honest and straightforward” — his lowest ranking on this question since he became president. That’s a drop of nine percentage points since January, when a majority (50 percent to 36 percent) indicated that he was honest and straightforward. This finding comes at a time when the Bush administration is battling the perception that its rhetoric doesn’t match the realities in Iraq, and also allegations that chief political adviser Karl Rove leaked sensitive information about a CIA agent to a reporter. (The survey, however, was taken just before these allegations about Rove exploded into the current controversy.)
    Why does it take an outsider (a Canadian) to see through the wall of BS this guy continuously spouts? Well maybe not anymore. For a guy who cannot string together two coherent english sentences, he sure is eloquent when it comes to covering the Administration's proverbial arses by continuously stating his link between 9-11 and Iraq. Or Iraq's WMDs. Or Rove. Or anything.

    Oh yeah, I thought it was their policy to terminate anyone leaking agent's info out. And... George W. Senior FIRED Rove when he was caught leaking information to Robert Novak way back in 1992!

    A typical family watching FOX news coverage of Bush's attempted Speeches...

    You saw it first on the X-Files (Fox Mulder meets "The Lone Gunmen" and then in a terrible movie about Aliens who are allergic to our atmosphere... Put on those tinfoil hats now. Save yourselves. Save your country!

    T-Infinity for now...

    Stardate 4242.7

    Well with the fuel sensor problems, the Shuttle launch is obviously delayed. Apparently, there will be a huge meeting todday at noon, to help decide the fate of the mission. It is possible that the launch could occur as early as Saturday, but the current "window" is only good until the end of July. If the Shuttle needs to be rolled back into the hangar for the needed repairs, it will undoubtedly be put off until September.

    Fun facts:

    The original model of the famous USS Enterprise in the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum

    The *real* Enterprise takes off from it's ride...

    The very first Shuttle was called "Enterprise" because NASA received hundreds of thousands of letters from Star Trek fans demanding it be named after the famous ship from television.

    The Original Cast of Star Trek in 1976 (Gene is in brown)

    When NASA first rolled the original Shuttle, "Enterprise" out of the hangar, it was done to the theme of Star Trek with nearly the entire cast present for the unveiling.

    Pretty cool huh?

    Wednesday, July 13, 2005

    Anticipation, Excitement, Dissapointment...

    Stardate 4239.0

    Thousands of people across our globe if not millions are waiting and watching. An event like this doesn't happen very often.

    I couldn't imagine what it would be like to be in a long line of folks, miles from the launchpad... with eyes fixed through whatever devices are available on a small, distant object, ready to smash through the atmosphere and into space. The countdown has undoubtedly been going steady, despite fears of bad weather stalling or even stopping the launch. It doesn't matter to the people watching. They will wait out any storm to see this first hand. Many are armed with lawn chairs and drinks, food and portable televisions. Many people sit at home, with the news on television, or at work, with some video feed or other, showing the same still machine, poised on a gantry like a giant phallic symbol of the Space Age pointed to the heavens...

    After days of anticipation, and small set-backs that are magically removed, the time draws near. The million eyes are fixed on every television, binocular and news site with enough excitement to fill a cyclopean colliseum. Then the news. Again, faulty equipment is the cause. Nothing they can do except cancel for today. The million eyes turn away in dissapointment. I can only assume that half are blaming NASA for the setback, and the rest simply don't know. Of course, almost all will still be waiting, watching and cheering when it finally blasts through our Ionosphere and into space.

    Now imagine being the astronaut. After spending years and half a lifetime preparing for this very day, it finally arrives! Sleep? What sleep. I wouldn't sleep the night before launch day so I don't imagine many would... The excitement would be unbearable. Treading the waters shared by the likes of John Glenn, Gordo Cooper and Neil Armstrong... WOW. It really boggles the mind and is the *stuff of dreams*. As the bus comes to pick them up, they look at each other closely. Their lives will depend on each other doing what they have trained so hard to do, and the equipment must be in tip-top shape.

    The bus takes them to the Gantry and Shuttle. Up they go, until they are sitting atop the very object that millions of eyes are fixed upon. Strapped in. Lights, toggles, check check... Really excited now, but then there are many important things that have to be done. The excitement can wait. The weather is always in the back of their minds, but to be sure, they will launch into orbit, and be the first in years to do so in a US shuttle.

    "This is ground control to Major Tom... you have a faulty sensor. We have to cancel."

    BAM. The excitement vanishes... there will be another day, and a launch. But still, the equipment has to be in tip-top shape. It isn't. How do they feel about that? Probably a minor glitch, but it is another thing to worry about. And the timing. More sleepless nights. Disappointed... sigh.

    Shuttle Launch Cancelled!

    Stardate 4238.5

    Well it isn't the weather. A faulty fuel-tank sensor has caused NASA to call off the launch. The astronauts were already strapped in, and ready to go when the faulty sensor was discovered. There are four such sensors... responsible for cutting off the engines at the precisse time during ascent. The sensor showed the tank to be low but in fact it was full.

    Waiting for news on a rescheduled launch time...

    It looks like a thursday launch may be impossible now. Could be September.... Man.

    Pensively, She Sits on the Face of the World

    Stardate 4238.0

    She sits and waits. Like so many times in the decades previous... the sleek rocket sits on the pad, waiting. This time, it's the weather. NASA is now reporting only a 40% chance of a launch today due to the weather.

    They can still launch tomorrow if it improves, but lets hope it is today!

    *** UPDATE ***

    The seven astronauts have now arrived and are boarding the Discovery. The big problem with the weather persists, and there is only a 5 minute window for launching due to the position of the Space Station that the Discovery will be re-supplying.

    I'll keep you posted.... :D

    "Let's Light This Candle"

    Stardate 4237.7

    "Let's light this candle" - The Right Stuff

    In the immortal words of the Mercury Astronauts, we all wait for the time to arrive. There has been two years since the last shuttle tragedy, and many upgrades have been made to the shuttle to help keep those brave explorers safe. This very cool page shows much of the new tech and a great general layout of all the shuttle workings.

    Another pre-launch hitch held up the fueling of the supercooled liquid hydrogen and oxygen when a heater unit for the fuel tank nitrogen line failed... A back-up was available though, and fueling carried on very quickly. There was another mishap as well, when a window cover fell off and damaged several tiles.. They were easily fixed however, and should also pose no threat to the launch. The last concern is the weather, and it is looking like a 60% chance it will be GOOD!

    The launch is set for 3:50:53 pm ET from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. We can all watch it live, starting at 12:30 om ET by going to the MSNBC Video page. In fact, that page has tons of stuff, from interviews to the schedules for Spacewalks and the whole shabang! Have fun and hope for sunny weather :D

    *** UPDATE ***

    AOL is also featuring a schwack of video coverage, including four camera views...

    Tuesday, July 12, 2005

    On the Cover of AOL...

    Stardate 4234.0

    Wow. I made the AOL Newsroom picks... not sure how but Sweet!

    It's all a fun ride from here :D

    *** UPDATE ***

    And on to day two of the coverage. Seems they moved the link to the main window now... Maybe they should check out my NEW story :D

    Speeding... When will it slow down?

    Stardate 4233.9

    Speeding. Nearly every one does it. Some do it too much IMO. A typical drive on Highway 2 near Red Deer will mean that you have to prepare for average speeds of 127 km/h lest you cause jam ups and piss off people. The posted limit is 110 km/h. If I take the secondary home, the posted limit is 80 km/h. However, the general flow of traffic is between 90 and 100 km/h. If I go 90, guys will ride my ass like a bad bicycle seat.

    I understand many people have busy days, time constraints for jobs... emergencies even. Still, why not leave earlier? Why not prepare better before you leave? I think that driving at 30 km/h or more over the posted limit should have some serious side effects on your future as a legal driver.

    Seriously. The problem with the laws is that there is simply no enforcement. Sure they have speed traps at the end of the month, when they have to get the quotas filled, but otherwise, you can go out there EVERY day and see guys passing me (I am doing 127 remember?) like I was barely moving...

    Solution? Photo Radar the shit out of everywhere. Fines like mortgages. Suspended licenses. Why not? Speed is killing people and very few care. I would be more than happy to do a steady 109 km/h on Highway 2 and I would feel a lot safer if everyone else was too... A few hefty tickets a day, and those Speed Demon oilfield guys and blonde cell-phone wielding broads would surely slow down...

    And I seriously hope someone doesn't say that speeding on the highway is not dangerous or I am over-reacting. Speed is a major factor in almost all collisions.

    Shuttle Ready to Go?

    Stardate 4232.6

    CAPE CANAVERAL - After an unusually spirited debate, some "loose ends" still need to be tied up before Discovery is cleared for liftoff, mission managers said Monday.

    The plan for Discovery's 12-day flight is being closely scrutinized because it represents NASA's first space shuttle mission since the catastrophic loss of the shuttle Columbia in February 2003. During the milestone mission, the shuttle's crew will test procedures for inspecting the shuttle for damage and fixing cracks if necessary. They will also deliver tons of supplies to the international space station and resume construction work.

    One major concern is the T-0 umbilical system that is supposed to disengage at precisely the correct time during lift-off. Hmmm. I would think they woul dhave lift-off covered by now, but then what do I know. Apparently, the risk is low enough as to no tpose a threat however.

    Other "loose ends" include:

    • A review of issues involving unusual data from the external fuel tank's low-level sensors, which engineers saw during recent tests.
    • Standards for wind speeds in the upper atmosphere, as measured by high-altitude balloons. Two balloon tests showed unacceptable wind levels, but the criteria may turn out to be too conservative, Hale said.
    • Paperwork showing that all the newly developed shuttle repair tools being sent up for testing during Discovery's mission are certified as safe to fly.

    Lets just hope this thing flies, and it is safe. Seeing the amount of money that governments pour into rubbish like wars, it is no wonder they still have issues with lift-off procedure... I say send 'em to Mars with some gear and let them fend for themselves :) Let's colonize!!!

    Earthpod I, II and IV landing on Venus... III burned up when scientists mistakingly used Imperial units instead of Metric to calculate the re-entry curves...

    *** UPDATED ***

    It would seem that all of the technical issues have passed through and now the only thing stopping the launch could be weather. Let's hope it is clear and sunny :D

    Please check my latest entries for updates on the status of the shuttle launch.

    Monday, July 11, 2005

    Musical Creation "Serenity"

    Stardate 4228.0

    This song came out rather quickly, and almost seems too long. I didn't want to cut any bars from it though, as the idea is to provide a soft backing that is basically soothing the entire way through. I think there are shades of X-Filesesque music here, but only a little.

    If you wish to listen at another time, check this link here:


    Synthesizers, Pan Flute and Bells - Zaphod

    Shuttle On Queue...

    Stardate 4227.6

    The shuttle sits poised, again. The clock is a little off, as there seems to be some scheduled pauses in the countdown. I wonder if they should be worried about them :)

    CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - The countdown is under way for the first space shuttle mission in 2 1/2 years — a mission whose main aim is to make sure the problems of the last disastrous shuttle flight can be caught and perhaps corrected.

    After fits and starts, NASA says it has changed its hardware and its "safety culture" enough to resume flights after the breakup of the shuttle Columbia on Feb. 1, 2003, which killed all seven astronauts and brought America's human spaceflight program to a halt.

    Investigators say flying foam insulation from Columbia's external fuel tank knocked out a portion of the orbiter's left wing just after launch. During re-entry, 16 days later, superheated gases entered through the hole and destroyed the shuttle from within, the investigation concluded.

    The clock being shown is superimposed over the photo and NASA tv coverage as the clock at Kennedy Space Center actually is incapable of displaying more than a 24 hour countdown. However, liftoff is scheduled for 3:51 pm on Wednesday.

    NASA assures us that their focus has shifted now from recovery and investigation to redesign, improvement and now a new mission... The big concern this time seems to be thunderstorms. If the launch is delayed, it may be as late as September before they have another window.

    Friday, July 08, 2005

    Explosive Investigation...

    Stardate 4212.6

    Seems the investigation into the terrible bombings that occured in London yesterday is in full swing. Naturally, the first thing everyone has suggested is that this "has all the trademarks of an Al Qaeda" attack... Naturally, there is no *real* proof of that yet. Don't the Irish have a history of blowing up cars and such in England? I mean, there are many other groups as well, with a vested interest in this sort of thing.

    At any rate, I do hope they find the culprits. This sort of terrorism is beyond any form of sanity, and though the reasons are up in the air, the action must go punished. Of course, invading countries is likely not the best way of doing this, though the Afghanistan conflict after 9-11 had some mixed results. I just really hate seeing Bush standing behind Tony Blair in all those pictures. Having a man I don't trust lending his support to another Super Power leader is sketchy at best.

    I also noticed they already have a nice little name for the bombings for the media, just like 9-11... Now it is the 7/7 Bombings... Remember that. 7/7. Doesn't quite have the same ring, but I guess it will still be catchy enough to sell... silly media. Actually, someone said these are something like the 115, 116, 117 and 118th bombings in London since 1970...

    Thursday, July 07, 2005

    FOX News at their finest

    Stardate 4208.7

    From Media Matters:

    Fox News' Brian Kilmeade: London terror attack near G8 summit "works to ... Western world's advantage, for people to experience something like this together"

    The following exchange between Fox News host Brian Kilmeade and Fox News business contributor and substitute host Stuart Varney occurred during breaking news coverage of the attacks on London subways and buses on the July 7 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:

    KILMEADE: And he [British Prime Minister Tony Blair] made the statement, clearly shaken, but clearly determined. This is his second address in the last hour. First to the people of London, and now at the G8 summit, where their topic Number 1 --believe it or not-- was global warming, the second was African aid. And that was the first time since 9-11 when they should know, and they do know now, that terrorism should be Number 1. But it's important for them all to be together. I think that works to our advantage, in the Western world's advantage, for people to experience something like this together, just 500 miles from where the attacks have happened.

    VARNEY: It puts the Number 1 issue right back on the front burner right at the point where all these world leaders are meeting. It takes global warming off the front burner. It takes African aid off the front burner. It sticks terrorism and the fight on the war on terror, right up front all over again.

    KILMEADE: Yeah.

    You know what? That is the biggest crock of shit I have heard in a long time. I cannot believe they would say something like this on the news. So now, this big assed crusade against invisible foes that threaten the very well-being of every western person (except Canadians and the Swiss) can take front stage to *real* WORLD issues like Global Warming and African Poverty. Lets give George the monkey more fuel to ignore the rest of the world and concentrate these talks on their own agenda.

    Can't people just feel ashamed that human beings do this to each other? Can't they feel for the people who have lost family members and friends? Why do they have to turn it into yet more political crap? I seriously hope the next bus that blows up is in the lobby of FOX news. Maybe they will be interviewing George the monkey himself when it happens?

    We can only hope.

    *** Please note.... I would never actually wish harm on anyone. Read what you will of this, but don't assume I mean ill-will towards anyone. ***

    Target... London

    Stardate 4207.7

    LONDON - At least 40 people were killed in the explosions that ripped through three London subway trains and a bus on Thursday, according to a U.S. law enforcement official who spoke on condition of anonymity because British officials have yet to make public the death toll.

    The near simultaneous explosions caused at least 300 injuries in what Prime Minister Tony Blair said was a "barbaric" terrorist attack.

    These attacks came a day after the announcement that London won the bid for the 2012 Olympics and coincide perfectly with the G8 Summit in Scotland.

    Of course now, there are likely more questions than answers, and it would seem they are saying al Qaeda has claimed responsibility, but then anyone could call and say that. I fear the reprisal as much as the attacks.

    Sad day. Sad world.

    Wednesday, July 06, 2005

    Running Low on Men...

    Stardate 4202.6

    Who's in the Army Now?

    Why they can't send more troops to Iraq...

    The US Army is 1 million men strong (of course there are women too but I am going to get that out of the way right now for ease of writing...) They currently have about 150,000 troops in Iraq. The big questions are twofold:

    • What are the other 850,000 soldiers doing?
    • Should there be a draft?

    Well, as it turns out, the military has many departments, much more than just combat troops. In fact, only about 40% of the US army (391,460) are combat soldiers. Of those, only 149,406 are ACTIVE combat soldiers. The rest are in the National Guard and reserves. Further breakdown of the remaining 850,000 shows that there are 50,252 in transportation, 37,763 in medical, 34, 270 in the training and doctrine section etc. etc...

    So the massive million man army is not really so big. Further breakdown splits this group into Brigades of 3 to 4 thousand men each. There are 37 active brigades at present. Of those, 10 are in Iraq. The rest are spread out in other places, on leave at home (work 12 months and home for 12 months) or training.

    Options include sending less trained troops into action, returning troops to duty that ar on leave or perhaps having a draft. Of course, men aren't what they were 60 years ago... or to be precise, the cause of the war isn't what it was 60 years ago. Back in World War II in Europe and Japan, men fought overseas for years straight.Naturally, there were real stakes involved in that Great War. The balanc eof the World itself almost hung by a thread, as opposed to modern wars, fabricated from fear and greed. Men don't want to bleed for a country when the Cause isn't so imperative.

    So they can't shorten the 12 month home base stints. They can't send out guys early from training. They would end up with an ill-prepared and under trained army, trying to do what a fully trained army is having difficulty doing. A draft? Give me a break. When 50% or more of your citizenry is opposed to the current Administration and their Global Endeavours, a Draft is a nail in their proverbial coffin. With recruitment numbers waning at present, that is not the logical route to take for sure!

    At present, the army is makign a small adjustment. They are shrinkign the size of each brigade, but using more actual combat troops in each.

    John Pike, director of, describes the result of the restructuring this way: "We'll be able to fight the war we're fighting, indefinitely."

    In short, it's a smart gap-filler, but little more. It won't allow George W. Bush to send more troops to Iraq or Afghanistan, much less to other countries that he might like to liberate.

    The Draft will not work because of the citizenry. The politicians don't want a draft because they would surely get ousted next election... and by keeping the army "private", they keep American Foreign Policy government only business... So with the cards on the table at present, can the US be the World's Policeman and Liberator? Do they have the resources?

    Or is it some snazzy pipe dream a monkey somewhere thought up?

    All opinions shared on this site are strictly my own. Some people may disagree and that is fine, but rude comments or overzealous debate will be curtailed. I enjoy civil discourse, and encourage independent thought. I oppose George W. Bush and his Wars based on lies.

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