24 December, 2009

Space Tree!

'Canned' Christmas Tree: NASA's first space station astronauts to spend Christmas in space were the crew of Skylab 4 in 1973. They used food cans to assemble the make-shift Christmas tree seen here.

The five spaceflyers onboard the International Space Station gathered around in festive Santa hats shortly after the Soyuz TMA-17 docked on Dec 22, 2009. Credit: NASA TV

23 December, 2009

Arthur C. Clarke and the new space race

Last year I read 2010 Odyssey Two by Arthur C. Clarke. If you've seen 2001 A Space Odyssey you know that these books have a vision of what the future of space exploration will be like. In 2010 the U.S. has a spaceship stuck in orbit around Jupiter with all of its crew members dead. The spaceship holds vital information that we need but we are unable to get to it right away because we are busy working with Russia to get a new spaceship built. In the mean time China has just finished a space station in Earth orbit. Everyone congratulates them but one day it unexpectedly leaves Earth orbit and heads on a course towards Jupiter. They fooled everyone into thinking it was a space station because of its shape but it was actually a spaceship built to make it to the U.S. spaceship orbiting Jupiter before the Americans and Russians could.

We are kind of in the same situation right now. We have thousands of satellites in orbit including a space station that we share with 4 main international partners, including Russia, the second biggest contributor next to the U.S. No matter what the current political situation is our space relations with Russia have always been pretty mutual. During the cold war Astronauts from both Russia and the United States linked a Soyuz and Apollo space craft together. We shared space with them on their own space station Mir.

The United States is retiring their Space Shuttle program next year without a replacement space vehicle. It will be at least 7 years before we even get a new crew vehicle into orbit. Until then we will have to buy seats on the Russian Soyuz vehicles. In the past few years China has been able to put a man into space, a man into orbit and upgrade their space ship to a crew of 3 and perform a space walk. They now have plans to build a space station and their military is creating anti satellite defense systems that will allow them to shoot down any satellite in orbit. They also have a moon program building up.

China HAS unlimited resources and they can use slave labor so things can get done very quickly. As much as we are in debt to China I don't see things getting much better in the future for us and other nations. So what do we do? Do we just let our space program fail and let China have control of space? Do we militarize space and get rid of the peaceful civilian program that has been able to keep up good relations with other countries?

I think Arthur C. Clarke was a visionary. although we are not as far as we were in the Odyssey books we are definitely headed in that direction.

17 December, 2009

Father and Son

What changes?

Jr. year here I come!

Well, I've put my sophomore status behind me and I can move on to my Jr. year of college. It actually feels like I'm working towards something. Sure I still have my math to do but I found a great place to get all of my college math done in 2 months and it is a guaranteed pass or you take the course again for free. I would say that it's worth the $1200 they ask for because I would be taking 4 semesters of math without it.

I'm spending this next semester taking 9 credits of upper division English classes and the other half of the semester I'm retaking classes that I got a C- in To raise my GPA from a 3.0 to hopefully a 3.5 by the time I'm done with school. I've been doing my best to change my learning habits. It's really paid off since I started going to school again last year.

I am excited for what the future holds and now that I'm on top of the hill I can see my degree 2 years ahead of me. Sounds cheesy but to know I'm going full force helps me see an end. It won't really be an end though. I'm going to work on my masters. I would like to move to the coast, maybe Oregon for that.

15 December, 2009

The Return of Animation!

The return of Animation is here. After years of suffering through CGI movies full of fart jokes, quick movements that cause ADHD in kids, and the worst character development I get what I've been waiting for. Two really great animated movies.

The Fantastic Mr. Fox is by far one of the funniest and creative stop motion animated movies I have ever seen. It's something I cannot wait to watch with my children. Wes Andersons color scheme is vibrant and amazing. I have always loved the style of his movies and to see it put into an animated feature brings out every detail of his creativeness. There is something about knowing the puppets and sets are real, tangible and not done in the computer that sucks me into the world that is created. I have done some crude stop motion and I understand how much patience is needed. If a puppet falls over when shooting you have to go back to square one, you can't just redo that one frame. If the lighting from the film comes back too dark, it's back to the beginning again. The saddest thing about this film is that nobody is seeing it. There were about 6 people in our whole theater. I guess vampire films like Twilight and repeat feel good sports movies like The Blind Side are more important than seeing something new and different. Three cheers for the great work on The Fantastic Mr. Fox!

Next is The Princess and the Frog. Mandi had the day off and after staying in the house all day we needed to get out. After eating at In-N-Out Burger we decided to check out show times. We thought it was going to be packed but there was hardly anyone in the theater tonight. The people who were there were super annoying. It came to the point to when the movie started I told about 3 or 4 girls in their teens to "SHUT UP!" and they did. Mandi and I are ruthless when it comes to people ruining our movies.

With that said I had a lot of fun with this movie. It is so great to see the Ink and Paint Club back at Disney. It's been a while since I've had this kind of magic when watching an animated movie in theaters. It reminded me very much of The Little Mermaid. It had that kind of feel to it. All of the characters were well developed and I even found the kid humor to be smart, not dumb. The voice talents were great. I admire John Lasseter, the man who started Pixar, for wanting to bring back hand drawn animation. I don't know if he appreciates the process more but it is ironic that he was the one to propose the idea. Another magical animated hit for Disney!

So go check out both of these films.

Back to the Blog

So I've decided to get rid of my facebook account. I realized how addictive it was when everyone I passed by in school who had their laptop open was on facebook. Then I realized how much time I would spend on it. I think it just makes people self absorbed. Myspace probably started the whole thing. Why must I post what I am doing every couple of hours? Why must I compete with everyone else for the funniest or most shocking post? What really is the point of facebook? It was great to find old friends but now that I look at all of my contacts I don't even talk to most of the people and I probably never will. Those who I want to talk to I will get their numbers and emails.

My blog just feels so much more calm. No clunky advertisements, no random applications, just a clean page that I update once every week or two. If people don't want to see my posts they wont because they don't have to come here. I just wish my friends had blog pages too so I could see what they were up to. It's nice to have family members who do. I can appreciate the blog because it usually takes some hard thinking when it come to writing something.

So long facebook. You are on your last week. I'm expecting withdrawals but in the end I will be a happy person without the drug!

02 December, 2009

Join the Killers and Project Red in Fighting AIDS in Africa

Buy "Happy Birthday Guadalupe" "Joseph Better You Than Me" "Don't Shoot Me Santa Clause" or "Great Big Sled and the proceeds go to helping project Red fight AIDS in AFRICA.