Saturday, January 25, 2014

Say guys let's build a rocket and go into space!

As a kid science fiction fan I watched many a movie where some guys in a lab (and the professor's brainy and beautiful daughter) decide that they need to build a manned rocket and head to space.  I saw so many of these movies that I thought that this was how it was done and that whole NASA thing was small potatoes compared to what had to be going on out in the Mojave desert where those guys in the lab were probably just about done with their private enterprise built man into space rocket.  Sadly and alas, it didn't come to pass.  Why should private enterprise pay for it when the government was ready and willing to lavish staggering amounts of money via cost plus contracts to get men into space?
Well, I had no problem with that approach.  It worked and it was fast and done well.  
This is the kind of movie that lead me to believe that some guys with desire and ability could get into space on their own.

The cool thing now is that the era that I thought was happening in the 50s and early 60s is finally here.  This small company is indeed building a rocket (plane) into space.  It isn't exactly on a shoe string but fairly close.  Check out the way that they did their high speed taxi testing of the Dream Chaser!   I can't wait to see this work and work in a spectacular manner.  Go Dream Chaser!

Young Son, Entrepreneur

Young Son is using is considerable computer skills, his innate artistic talent, and his love for the MLP show to design, produce, and market what is known as 'fan art' posters.  It has been interesting to see him learn about production costs and profits, marketing concepts and order fulfillment.  So far he's sold two posters after a day's offering of them for sale on the internet.  He's had inquiries all the way from Spain for cryin' out loud! 

I want to give him kudos for another project he took on:   he tracked down one of the performers from MLP and asked the person to sign one of his posters so that it would be offered in a charity auction on the internet.  The performer very graciously agreed to do so and star struck Young Son spent an enjoyable 45 minutes with the performer for the signing and conversation.  Young Son gets nothing from this and isn't using any of this in his fledgling poster offering; all he gets is the knowledge that he's done something selfless for the less fortunate.  

He is indeed a great young man.

Hats On!

Apropos of nothing....I love the cheeky attitude in this movie scene from one of my all time favorite movies with two of my top ten actors!


Thursday, January 16, 2014

Remember when....

Cars and pickup trucks had bench seats in the front and high school sweethearts always had the girlfriend in the middle of the seat sitting next to the boy who was driving?  I haven't seen that for years but the other day I saw an early 70s F150 pickup with a teenage girl sitting next to the boy driving the truck.  Nostalgia jumped up and smacked me in the face as soon as I saw that. I was instantly back in high school in 1972.

The cars are a lot better these days but some things have gone the wrong way.  The fading away of the bench seat is one of them.  Now you don't know if the boy and girl in a car are friends or sweethearts. 

A First date back in the day had the girl and boy at opposite ends of the car seat.  When she sat next to you on the seat of the car when you were going out on a date you knew that you weren't just friends anymore.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Military retirement, take 2

In 1997, after 20 years of more or less service, the Army decided it had enough of me and told me it was time to go.  Since I was being honorably retired I was asked if I wanted a retirement 'parade' which is where I and others retireing get to see other soldiers who don't want to be there do a 'pass in review'.   I declined so I got my letter and my retired reserve ID card and was sent on my way.
After 9/11 I volunteered to go on active duty in any capacity in the GWOT (Global War on Terror) but the Pentagon declined my enthusiastic offer.  They did however send me a very nice certificate suitable for framing for my willingness to come back on duty.
Young Daughter and Older Son both joined the National Guard after graduating from High School and in 2003 when the Iraq war started I asked the National Guard if they needed someone to answer the phones and sweep the floor in the armory since many Guard units were headed overseas.  They may have indeed needed someone to do those jobs but it wasn't me. However the recruiter put me on to the State Military Reserve, part of the California Military department, and after some investigation I joined up. 
After 11 years of service I recently decided that I needed to reduce the level of stress in my life and notified my commander that the time had come for me to retire again.  My RA causes some fatigue and after working all week and getting only about 6 hours of sleep a night I need the weekend to rest and recuperate.  Also the 120 mile round trip to my duty station was getting to be a chore (sounds like I am getting all of my excuses in line).  I served with great people, true patriots who served without pay or compensation and donated literally weeks out of their lives every year to augment the National Guard and I was reluctant to go but the time had come.  I didn't want to be like Marvin K Mooney and have people saying "will you please go now!" to me so I thought it best to leave while still on my game.
The unit gave me a great send off for my last day.  I received an award (California Legion of Merit), a replica of the unit guideon, a great lunch, and the accolades and best wishes of the officers and soldiers of the unit.  I will miss them all and I will miss serving with the National Guard but as Doug MacArthur said "old soldiers just fade away" and it was my time to fade away.
So, this past Saturday I finally had my retirement parade. 
I'm being presented with the unit guidon - the unit insignia has been colored out to protect the innocent. That's me on the right with my award pinned to my collar.
Looking carefree as the day is almost at an end.

UFO over Grouch Estates!

The other day the Missus spied a UFO hovering over the Grouch neighborhood and rushed in to tell us to come outside and see!
Actually she told us to come see the strange cloud overhead but as we well know, UFOs hide inside cloud formations to be concealed from us Earthlings.  Good thing our protecto-caps  are always on when outside so that our brains are safe from alien scanning!
Fortunately nothing emerged from the cloud, but as we know, always be ready!
The mysterious cloud
A close-up....nothing to be seen from here
What may have been hiding inside!

Modeling the latest version of the UFO anti-brain scan protecto-cap

This is what may happen without adequate protection!

Sometimes a home owner has to take matters into his own hands when the aliens ignore the "no soliciting" sign at the property line!
Never mind, Young Son just informed me that what we saw was a fallstreak hole cloud.
Wikipedia will tell you all you need to know about them here:
Still and all, be careful when you see a cloud like never know what may be hiding in it!

An Honest Man

We can meet quality people in the strangest ways.  The other day when I was walking to work my job supplied cell phone slipped out of its belt holster and got left behind on the sidewalk as I walked on to work.  When I arrived there I realized it was missing.  After a frantic couple of minutes searching my pockets, backpack and pockets again I had to call the cell phone lady at my job and alert her that the phone was missing.  I thought it fell out on my commuter train ride to work.

As I was speaking with her on the phone my secretary came in to tell me that a man was on the phone and he had found my cell phone!  He was calling me on my own cellphone.

I jumped over to that line and the guy said he found it on the sidewalk on the route to work and he would bring it to me.  I demurred because I didn't want to put him out and told him I would come to him.  I asked how to find him and he told me that he is homeless and could be found in front of a certain gas station.   I agreed to meet him there and raced off in a car to find him.  I only had about $20 with me as a reward and I hoped that he wasn't going to hold the phone hostage for more.

I met him and three buddies in front of the gas station.  His name was Frank and although unshaven he was clean and his clothes the same.  He handed over the phone and told me it was the right thing to do and to have a nice day.  No request for money or any reward.  He was ready to walk away but I stopped him, gave him the $20 that I had and asked him if I could get him anything at the gas station.  He reluctantly agreed that some coffee for him and his mates would be nice. 

When we went in he got the coffee and then agreed to some donuts when I suggested them.  I got some cash back and gave that to him also.  He hadn't been homeless too long, maybe half a year, and was still hopeful to get back into the mainstream of society.  His friends were ecstatic to get the hot coffee.  They shook my hand and wished me the best of luck and then set off down the sidewalk with their steaming cups of coffee, off to look for some work.  The stay together in a shelter overnight, presumably for support and protection.

I was blown away by their dignity and honesty.  Never a request for a reward, nothing about their bad situation, just a desire to do the right thing and move on.

You can meet the best people in the most unexpected way.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

"Cloud Atlas" the movie

We rented "Cloud Atlas" the other night.  This movie has received a lot of bad reviews but I thought it was pretty good and worth seeing.  Be ready to invest a couple hours of your time and pay attention as it rolls along or you may get lost. 

The movie is supposed to show that actions of people through the centuries roll forward into the future to affect those yet to come; I don't know if it demonstrated that to me but I thought each separate story was interesting, especially the rebellion in the 21st century and tale of the senior citizen escaping from the old folks home.

I give it 3.9 out of 4.0
Cloud Atlas reviews

Cloud Atlas preview

Christmas 2013

Some photos of Christmas 2013 with the Grouch family.   We were happy that Older Son and his lady friend were able to visit with us, traveling from the east coast but sadly having to return home on Christmas morning.  Older Daughter and Little Ladybug were not able to join us this year but maybe next year they will be with us.

Older Son and Lady Friend with our foster granddaughter.  She did not like Older Son's beard!
Church on Christmas eve
Our traditional Christmas Eve dinner at Pizza Hut - yum!
Opening presents on Christmas morning

"Video Games"

Heard this song by Lana Del Rey for the first time yesterday.  This woman has an amazing voice.  Loved the song and maybe you will too...