Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Year of Feathers and Anvils

Well, this time last year I was wallowing in sorrow and self-pity. This year has been better, but it has been a very strange December. Part of it was the absence of my mother, which in itself is still a bit of a raw nerve, but I just couldn't get into the Christmas spirit this year. Part of it was me being bummed that I wasn't going to get to go down to South Florida this year due to child care issues, but at the last minute my In-Laws ex machina flew the COA to them in Mississippi, so I was able to go. Then, just before Christmas the radiator in my wife's car cracked, and we had to replace it. "Shall I cancel my trip?" quoth I. "NO!" my wife emphatically replied. I guess I was getting a bit edgy. So Sunday I drove the 200+ miles and expected a fun time. But when I woke up Monday morning I felt crappy. The cold that had been deviling my wife and the COA for weeks chose to wait til I was far away to sink its virusey claws into me. So rather than do my usual running all over trying to see everyone I could, I took it easy. The plan was to stay through the New Year, then maybe drive up the West Coast and visit friends on the way home. Yesterday I felt great, it seemed I was victorious, and celebrated with some wine and a late evening of poker. But this morning I awoke feeling like a steam roller had run me over. I had enough, and decided to come home, as the only thing I really wanted was my own bed. So now I'm home, and feeling slightly better, but still weak and shaky. I saw some of my dearest friends, but missed others, and for that I'm sorry. The COA comes home tomorrow, and then reality begins anew on Monday.

As I ponder this year, I cannot help but think it was an ok one. I thank all that is good in the world for my family, and for my friends both 'real' and 'imaginary'. And I must rejoice in the new-found friendship of my shipmates, Karen and Kennedy, and their amazing work on the Starbase this year.

I am looking forward to 2010. We'll be moving in the summer, and I'm going to try my best to stop being so stressed about everything. I hope to be a better husband, father, podcaster, and blogger. I hope to get back into my armor, and onto the lyst field, and by virtue of that back into some smaller jeans.

And so I wish you all a very happy 2010. Let's make it the best one ever! ;-)

Live long, and party on.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Santa Paws Update

Wow! I got a box from Ohio yesterday that had me puzzled. But once I opened it and saw this:

I was blown away. The kitty paw quilt is gorgeous, and the homemade yummies are...well, yummy! I have deduced that my Secret Santapaws lives at When Life Gives You Scraps-Make a Quilt, and I send my most heartfelt thanks! I'm still working on mine, trying to make a tasty treat that is distinctly Southern, yet mailable. I'm closing in on it after some dismal failures yesterday. This is so much fun! :-)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

More Two Lumps

I swear the people that make this strip know Starbuck.

Two Lumps

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Friday, December 11, 2009

Set Dreidels to Stun

This almost makes me wish I was Jewish.*

*This isn't a slight against Jews. I'm just not that keen on any religion.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

War on Christmas?

I have a friend on Facebook with whom I went to high school. She and I are very different politically, and today she sent me a virtual button that read 'You can say Merry Christmas to me.' I will admit I'm a bit testy this season, due to it being the first year since my mom passed away and all, but it did touch a nerve that has been getting increasingly more raw with every holiday season. I have nothing against Christmas. It gets me lots of time off, new toys, an excuse to visit family and friends, and I kinda like Christmas music. But what has been getting me more and more steamed is the conceit that some Christians have that they own December, and anyone saying 'Happy Holidays' is essentially saying 'fuck Christmas'. Well, a quick internet search shows that December is filled with non-Christmas holidays. Here are a few of them:
AIDS Awareness Day
Rosa Parks Day
International Day of Disabled Persons
Volunteer Day
St. Nicholas Day
Civil Aviation Day
Human Rights Day
Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe
Ice Cream and Violins Day
St. Lucy Day
Bill of Rights Day
Forefathers' Day
Maritime Day
Christmas Eve
Christmas Day
Boxing Day
New Year's Eve

And that's not including the dozens, probably hundreds of state, county, and city level observances. So I ask you, Right Wing, which of these holidays threatens Christmas so? And before you tell me that the US was founded by Christians, which is a fact I do not dispute, these Christians were also slave owners and genocides, so does that mean we bring back the block and smallpox blankets? As I said, I have no problem with Christmas, and I have yet to either be upset by, or see anyone else get upset by the phrase 'Merry Christmas'. What I have seen people object to is the use of public funds for Christmas decorations but not for Hannuka or Kwanzaa, or any other holiday trappings and I can't say that I can find fault in that. Some Christians need to learn that you aren't the only people in this country, and 'Happy Holidays' is an expression of tolerance and inclusion. And while we're on the subject, December 25th was co-opted by the early church as Christmas because many of the earlier religions celebrated the solstice in late December, so they wisely adopted the holly, and evergreen tree, and yule log of those pagan rites into Christmas. Most historians believe, based on the Biblical texts, that Christ was born sometime around June, July, or August. So wish me a Merry Christmas if you wish, and I will smile and return the greeting. But if someone wishes you Happy Holidays, how's about you emulate your Lord and Saviour, and accept it as the heartfelt expression of inclusion and fellowship that it is. And trust me, Hannity, Limbaugh, Olberman and their ilk count on you to get all fired up by their rhetoric for no other reason than to boost ratings. There is no war on Christmas. There is only a war on common sense and freedom of religion.

Monday, November 30, 2009

You Must Be This Tall to Ride the Emotional Rollercoaster

To paraphrase Shakespeare my mother lost her mother, and that mother lost a mother. So why am I acting like the only person to ever lose a parent. Shit, I've had more than half my life to get used to it, but be that as it may Thanksgiving was the one year anniversary of the last time I saw my mother conscious. It wasn't a fun day, but it wasn't that bad either. Then tonight I had put on my Celtic folk channel on and then, just as I had finished eating, The Irish Rovers' song The Unicorn came on. My mom used to sing that song to us as kids. God dammit, I'm sick of fucking crying! I don't like it. I don't need it. And it leaves me feeling like shit.

And I just bought Lady Gaga's Bad Romance from

I'm going to bed early tonight and hopefully wake up as me tomorrow.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Lady Gaga? Seriously?

I've been known to indulge in the occasional musical guilty pleasure from time to time. The Go Go's, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Meco, but my latest musical infatuation has me, and everyone else I've mentioned her to, baffled. I'm really digging Lady Gaga. I love her mix of theatricality and honesty, sort of a cross between Kiss and Cher. I just saw an interview with her from the Ellen show, and she seems like the kind of person I would have fun being around. Plus she's attractive, sexy, and has a set of pipes on her that are quite amazing. I can't say I've listened to much of her music, but if Poker Face is indicative of her style and songs I might just have to indulge in some more. And I have yet to see her groinal area on a supermarket tabloid cover. Sure, she's outrageous, but in a fun and interesting, not depraved and disgusting way. Here's the interview I was talking about, and after that her performance of Poker Face.

To paraphrase Liet-Kynes of Arrakis, against my better judgment I like this performer.

I now have to go apologize to my Black Sabbath CDs.


Sage Wisdom

Thanks to Kennedy for pointing this out:(click on the picture to embiggen, then click on it again to embiggen it morely)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Happy Birthday, Madame Stinkypaw

May this day be the best birthday ever, dear blend. And many, many, many more!! :-)

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Muse is Upon Me

Hi, oh long suffering and patient denizens of the blog-o-sphere, and welcome, I'm not really sure what's going to happen here, so let's just leave it at welcome, m'kay? Events have been truly strange of late here at Castle Marius. The COA is doing her best to drain our bank account, and our sanity, one broken retainer at a time, but she is away at her father's for Thanksgiving, so yes, Mr. Poe, there is respite, respite, and even a bit of nepenthe hereabouts this week. We'll also be having house guests today as my In-Laws (should that be capitalized?) are coming in for turkey day. My wife's work schedule has recently changed, putting her on a different shift, and thus moving her to the bottom of the 'can I have any freaking holidays off' list, so since we can't go to them, her folks are coming to us. This may be a difficult holiday season this year, as last Thanksgiving was the last time I saw my mother conscious. I fear I'm not really looking forward to the next several weeks.

On to happier things. This podcasting thing seems to not be going away. We just recorded our 40th show last night, and we are just having more and more fun with it. We even started having some pretty high profile guests, and hope to have more in the future. I won't flog it too much here as those of you who would enjoy the show already listen, and those of you that wouldn't, dont. :-) It is interesting, though, that I have always searched for that 'one thing' I was really good at, with little success. Yes, I love my job, and I'm not bad at it, but it is work. I had always heard of artists or scientists who would get so into their work that they'd forget to eat, or lose track of time, etc. and I'd never felt that sort of all-consuming inspiration...until now. I love podcasting, and judging by the feedback we've gotten, I'm good at it. I even got a brief email from our most recent guest, a woman who has been involved in the entertainment and literary business for many years, complimenting me on my editing of the show she was on. And even cooler is the fact that Herb Solow, the man who was even more responsible for Star Trek ever getting off of a piece of Gene Roddenberry's stationary and onto a sound stage, is interested in doing a project with us in the not-too distant future. I can't go into the details yet, mainly because there aren't any, but I can ask y'all if you could ask any questions about the creation/production of the original Star Trek please let me know what they are. If Herb can't answer them, they can't be answered.

I'm sure you are all much like the above kitteh, so I'll bore you no longer. Be groovy, y'all, and have a happy Thanksgiving.


Saturday, November 07, 2009

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Mindy Made Me Do It

Do you ever miss being in first grade?
A better question would be 'do I remember being in first grade?'

What is one country you want to visit someday?

When you're at the movies, do you get popcorn and a drink?
Nachos, baby! And the more fake, horrid, delicious polyester cheese the better.

Would you ever want to be changed into a vampire?
Can I change my name to Lestat?

Does the thought of living forever scare you in any way?
Quite the opposite, actually.

How many annoying people do you shun off daily?
I'm surrounded by them.

Have you ever done something too embarrassing to mention?
Not that leaps to mind.

Has anyone ever told you that you had months to live?
I certainly hope I have months to live.

How many times a day do you usually eat a full meal?
Um, can you clarify 'full', please?

How many times daily do you talk to your significant other/crush?
We live together, so lots.

As a teenager, were you trusted to be alone with your significant other?
She had her own place, so it wasn't really an issue.

Do both your parents have jobs?
Not as such, no.

Do you live anywhere nearby a "hicktown"?

At family gatherings, are you more likely to hang out with the younger or older relatives?
I'm kinda running out of older relatives.

Have you ever had the power go out while you were in the bathroom at nighttime?
Yeah, it sucks.

What TV commercial are you sick of seeing?
All of them.

When was the last time someone complimented your hair?
Hmm, probably at least 10 years ago.

What makes your favorite television show unique?
Jon Stewart.

Do laugh tracks on TV shows annoy you?
Only if they are really obvious.

Do you think dreadlocks are awesome or gross?
It depends. Some people look awesome in dreads, others just look gross.

Have you ever been to
Never heard of it.

Do you know anyone named Jesus?

What color was the last piece of gum you ate?
I don't eat gum. I chew it then spit it out.

Where do you get blisters the most?
My right hand between my thumb and forefinger. Comes from screwguns.

Do you always use conditioner when you wash your hair?
Turtle Wax.

Have you ever been to a high school football game? If so, was it in warm or cold weather?
I've never attended a high school football game.


xx.Are you a health nut?
Not even slightly.

xx.What is your favorite food?

xx.Have you ever tried poutine?
I've never had the opportunity, but since all the pictures of it I've seen look like a moose yakked onto a plate it's just as well.

xx.How many times a day do you eat?
Two to three.

xx.Do you snack during the day a lot?
During the day, no.

xx.Would you rather carrots and dip or chips and dip?
Mmmm, Ruffles potato chips and onion dip.

xx.Do you like meat?
Bring me a live cow. I'm gonna carve off what I want, and ride the rest home!!!!!

xx.What's your favorite kind?

xx.What is your favorite fruit?
Ian McKellen(that joke never gets old).

xx.Do you eat fast food?
Only if Subway counts.

xx.So...what do you think of Big Macs?
C'mere, I wanna kick you someplace delicate.

xx.Could you live without a salad?
Most days I accomplish this feat.

xx.Do you drink water?

xx.Fan of soda?
Diet Coke, please.

xx.Have you ever tried beer? What do you think of it?
Oooo, someday I hope to try beer. I hear it's quite a naughty beverage.

xx.Are you a fan of the oldies?
Oldies is a genre that is constantly in flux. What the twelve-year-old who wrote this would call Oldies I'd probably call new.

xx.Finish this line...Hey Mrs Robinson____
Heaven holds a place for those who pray, hey, hey, hey.

xx.Does Justin Timberlake make you gag?
He drives me to new heights of apathy.

xx.Do you own an iPod or still listen to CDs?
I don't own an iPod, but I do have an mpd3 player, and I still use CDs when it's convenient.

xx.Do you prefer listening to your music out loud or in headphones?
Out loud.

xx.What do you think about rap?
I don't.

xx.Ever heard of young dro?

xx.What do you feel like doing when you hear music you hate?
Putting a bullet through the speaker.

xx.Do you like cats?
I love cats.

What do you believe happened to the dinosaurs?
They devolved into politicians.

xx.Would you ever want a pet dinosaur?
I don't like politicians.

xx.Ever have a pet nano?

xx.What kind was it?
Well, I know what it is, but I don't know where it is.
Well, I know where it is but I don't know what it looks like.
Well, I know what it looks like but I don't know where she comes from.
Well, I know where she comes from but I don't know what's her name.

xx.What do you think about animal cruelty?
I think it's highly overrated.

xx.Do you have a pet fish?

xx.What do you usually wear on an average day?
Jeans and a polo shirt.

xx.Would you be caught in a mini skirt?
I'm told I have the legs for it.

xx.What brand of clothes do you wear?
Is black a brand?

xx.Do you care about designer clothes or clothes from Abercrombie or do you just think "who cares it's just a shirt"?
I have no idea what this question is asking.

xx.Would you rather a one piece or bikini bathing suit?
Trust me, you don't want to see me in a bikini.

xx.Do you wear matching socks?
All my socks are the same color.

xx. Ever stay in your Pj's all day?
I don't have pjs.

xx.Have you ever been in love?

xx.Does it piss you off when everyone around you is in it and your not?
Other people's relationships have no bearing on my life.

xx.Do you ever feel like telling those people to shut up when they constantly brag about their boyfriend/girlfriend?
Nope, don't care.

xx.What do you think about love at first sight?
It happened to me's a tip: just because it's love, that doesn't mean it will work. Destiny is one fickle bitch.

xx.Do you curse alot?
Fuck no!(gimme a break, it had to be said)

xx.What is your favorite curse word?

xx.Do you wear glasses?
Only to read or see things up close...and this pisses me off every time I put them on.

xx.Finish this line. If I had a pet pony I would ______
Be fucked since the yard is not fenced in.

xx.What do you think hotdogs are made out of?
The stuff of Richard Simmons's nightmares.

xx.Do you have a curfew?
Yeah, my mom says I have to be home whenever the fuck I want!!!

xx.How many hours a day do you spend on the computer?
This is a figure who's magnitude would no doubt cause great consternation, so I don't know.

xx.Would you say you are an addict?
Yeah, I'm hooked on food, oxygen, and Mythbusters.

xx.If someone took your computer for a day what would you do?
Hurt them a lot.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Monster in the Manger

I was thinking about holiday traditions tonight, and we don't really have any yet, but one thing I am going to miss is the tradition of sneaking a wind-up monster into my mom's nativity scene. Many, many years ago, the then Princess Bad Kitty and I returned home from an evening's debauchery to find that my mom had put out the Christmas decorations...including the nativity. It was your standard stylized wooden barn with plastic depictions of your favorite nativity celebs: Mary, Joe, the Sonagod(tm), a collection of sheep, a donkey, a cow, a camel, the Wisemens, and obligatory angel. That thing's been set up in our house every Christmas since before I can remember, but this night we were just messed up enough that I got the idea to put this silly, green plastic wind-up monster that shot sparks out of its open mouth right behind Mary and Joseph. The site of this thing in there made us laugh so hard that we thought we were going to pee ourselves, and then next morning I was soundly chastised for waking the house up at 1am. The best part was it took her several days to find the beast. It then became a tradition every year for me to sneak that critter into the nativity and see how long it would take her to find it. The best year was the one where I had forgotten I put it there, and came home to find it hanged by its non-existent neck on my curtain rod in my bedroom.

Ah well, I don't imagine the decorations will find their way out of their boxes this year. Just as well, I suppose. I have no idea if I even still have that little monster.



Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Songs for Jenny

Tony Pucci is one of the Starbase's biggest fans, as well as a musician. He lost his sister, Jenny, to ALS(Lou Gehrig's Disease)not too long ago, and he has just released a CD called Songs for Jenny. He wrote the music, and then got numerous musicians from all over the world to record the songs. All the proceeds from this CD will go to ALS research. Please, if you can help, do so here.

Feeling Better

A Real Horror Story

Something terrible happened to me last night. I haven't been getting much sleep lately, so I turned in early. I took an Ambien and lay down with a guided relaxation mp3 playing in my ears. I have never been able to meditate, my mind's just too chaotic, but guided relaxation recordings do help. So I'm laying in bed, and the soothing female voice is telling me to focus on my breathing. This is nothing new, and I've gone to sleep many times to that particular track so I didn't expect anything unusual. As she used the term 'the breath of life' I was suddenly, horribly back in the hospital room waiting for my mother to die. Her labored breathing, like a fish carelessly thrown on the pier gasping to survive, echoing in my mind. And nothing I could do would make it go away. I had to face that horrible afternoon again. I had to face my abhorrent, yet natural desire for it to end quickly. My selfish desire to get the fuck out of there. And then that terrible silence.

I did notice something odd, though. My mind was beginning to cover over what she really looked like that day with a nicer image of her sleeping. No missing hair, no slack features. I can't let that happen. I can't let false images of a beatific scene of peaceful passing superimpose itself over the terrible reality of that day. I won't.

I can't.

I feel so alone right now, even though I'm surrounded by friends and family. It seems sometimes that the only emotion that I truly feel anymore is rage, and all others are just learned responses, a mime's performance. It doesn't seem fair that when we get a physical wound we can easily avoid activities that will aggravate the injury, but mental damage hides in the shadows and waits for the oddest things to tear at the stitches. It is a selfish grief, and selfishly I pour it out here in the hope of some sort of catharsis, and perhaps it will make me feel better, but when that mental scab tore away I felt like I'd be punched in the stomach. How can you hide from your own thoughts?

I really hope that this makes sense, because I can't bear to reread it for spelling and grammar. And I also hope, dear friends, that you didn't get this far. Sorry to be a downer, but I needed to get these things out into the light.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Silver Lining

Well, at least someone in the house is glad that the young'n blew up my amplifier/receiver.

Place Holder

Ok, I've had some serious hardware issues this week, so my Blogtober experiment is an epic fail, but I'm still going to do my best to post more often. And as a token of my good faith here's a great cartoon that Kennedy posted on Facebook. I think it encapsulates much.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

I don't think I can do that, Dave.

So I may be mixing my cinematic metaphors, but the bottom line is I didn't post yesterday because my computer has had some sort of brain hemorrhage and wouldn't function for me. I have sent a plea to the mighty and powerful Unkk, but I fear that I may have to do a complete Windows re-install...not something I want to do. But I can still post from work and on the other machine, so this is inconvenient, but not crippling. I hope.

Let you know soon.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Tuesday, October 06, 2009


Almost missed today. Not much going on, really. Well, not that you'd want to read about. Although I did read a very interesting story this morning about a suicide bomber who tried to kill a minor functionary in the Saudi government today. Apparently it's a tradition in Saudi Arabia to accept supposedly penetant people with trust and forgiveness on certain holidays. Well, this former Al-Quaida operative vowed his reform, and met with Prince Mohammed bin Nayef. Unbeknownst to the Prince the man has inserted an improvised explosive up his ass, and when he met with bin Nayef, detonated the device. The only problem was that a bomb small enough to fit where the sun don't shine, or at least this particular firecracker, was only strong enough to kill the bomber, and make a big mess. I realize this is a tragic tale of hatred and attempted murder, but I can't help but laugh. I would imagine that the bomber's family will be the butt of many jokes for years to come.

Ok, I'm going to bed now. You can read the hole story here.

Sleep tight.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Teacher Gets Schooled

Today I got showed up...shown one of my students. I needed to instruct the person who will be running the sound on the next show how to edit audio. I decided to go ahead and show the whole class. Granted this is something that is normally taught in my Sound and Lighting Design course, but I thought it would be fun for my Stagecraft class too. So I hooked the laptop to a projector and proceeded to let them bask in the fount of Audacity knowledge that I garnered from nearly a year of podcasting. To quote Merlin from Excalibur, "There's always something cleverer than yerself!" One of my more energetic students is a freshman who is very, very enthusiastic, and apparently knows a lot about Audacity(that's the audio editing software I use, BTW). He sat right up front and kept contradicting me. At first it was annoying, but after the third time he was proven right I swallowed my pride and let him teach me a thing or two. It ended up being a good class, and some of the things he showed us will greatly streamline my podcast editing.

Other than that today has gone out of its way to live up to the old Garfield saw, "I hate Mondays."

See y'all tomorrow.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Advice to New Podcasters

Yeah, yeah, there are probably dozens of blogs that say 'this is how to do a podcast'. Well, if there are, I've not been able to find them, and I know a lot of folks who are trying to make a go of it right now, and several of them have asked me for advice. So, to avoid repeating myself ad nauseum I give you:

Now one thing I'm not going to get into is technical details on how to use the various editing programs available. I use Audacity because it's free, and has a relatively short learning curve. If anyone has specific questions about that program I'll try to help, but otherwise what I'm about to say is pretty general.

1. Microphone. Folks, I cannot stress how important it is that you get a decent mic. I know that you may not have the funds to drop on a $200 Sennheiser, but the $5 stick mic that came with your computer won't cut it. You can get a perfectly adequate microphone for podcasting for less than $20. It wants to be directional, preferably cardioid, so that it only picks up what you want it to, and spend the extra fiver to get a pop guard. Just remember that what you are presenting to your audience, regardless of how wonderful the content, must be pleasing to the ear or they won't stick around.

2. Mixer. A mixer is not a necessity, but it makes the life of the podcaster much easier. If all you are doing is plugging your mic into your computer you're stuck with the sound. If you can pick up a small mixing board, and they are out there for around $100 or so, you can tweak all kinds of things to help improve your sound quality. It will also open up the world of call-in shows to you, because you'll need to be able to feed the sound from your speakers into your output, otherwise the audience won't hear your callers.

3. Speaking Techniques. There's a delicate balance between being too close to the mic, and too far away. Experiment with your set-up and settings to find what works best for you. Be careful when speaking to not fire your 'plosives' such as P, B, and T right into the mic. I find that if I turn my head just slightly off the direct axis of the mic, and be mindful of not hitting those consonants too hard, it greatly helps mitigate the unpleasant pop you'll get. Of course, you can always remove them later when you edit, but it's much easier to not have to do that in the first place. It's the same with S and Z. They can create a very unpleasant hiss when said loudly and directly into the mic. Another problem with being too close to the mic is breath. Breathing into the mic is very, very annoying and is usually something that is difficult, if not impossible to edit out later.

4. Awareness. While many podcasts sound like a bunch of friends just sitting around talking about something you'll notice that that best ones never let go of the awareness that they are performing for an audience. When recording you must always keep in mind that while you may be alone in a room with a microphone, your voice will be going out to, hopefully, hundreds of people. Most of these people will not share your background, geographical location, or knowledge of the minutia that make up your life. So when you are talking about things, try to constantly ask yourself 'would I need this explained to me if I had no idea what it's about?' Now, admittedly, it is fine to assume a certain level of knowledge on the part of your audience, for example with my show I am reasonably safe in the assumption that most of my audience has a working knowledge of Star Trek and most high profile Science Fiction projects, but when I start to go on about some bit of off-screen trivia, or some obscure TV show from the 70s I almost always make sure to give it a bit of explanation and maybe even a way for folks to find out more about that topic. And it is best, especially if you are doing a show with close friends, to avoid in jokes and colloquialisms that most of your audience won't understand...unless you then let them in on it.

5. Tangents. Most shows have a general theme, and then specific topics for each episode. Of course, since we are human beings, we often go off on tangents that don't really pertain to the topic du jour. The crew at have refined the tangent to an art form, but that doesn't mean that tangents are always a good thing. Some of our earliest criticisms for Starbase 66 involved us straying too far from the topic. You can stray, and I encourage it in the raw recording because lots of good stuff can be found in a tangential conversation, but I usually end up cutting most, if not all of it out. Audiences are fickle, and usually they don't tolerate too much deviation from the established course. Of course, you need to find on your own just how much leeway your audience will give you, but for the most part the more on course you stay, the happier your audience will be.

6. EDITING! It is with great dismay that I have found that some folks want to podcast, but don't want to be bothered with editing. I'm afraid that's like wanting to be a Baseball player, but not wanting to be bothered learning how to catch a ball. YOU MUST EDIT YOUR PODCAST! There will always be something said that doesn't work, or some outside noise that gets in the way, or thousands of other things that your audience won't want to hear. It's all about the audience, folks. If the product you put out is not something they find compelling, and enjoyable, they won't come back for more. Eventually you will develop a feel for your show and its natural rhythms, but don't be discouraged if the first few aren't great. On average your first three attempts will not be usable, and even the old pros have to toss a show here and there because it just didn't work. In my opinion it is better to not put out a show then to put out something that is not worthy of your audience.

7. Recording. This final point is for folks who are not able to record with everyone in the same room. There are many ways to do this, we use the Skype voice over internet software, but they all have one thing in common...lag. No matter how far away you are from your cohosts or guests, there is going to be some sort of time differential between you. Sometimes you can get away with just recording the show as it happens, but most of the time one or more of you will be distorted, or drop out, or have other problems that will eventually bother the listener. The unpleasant, and time consuming truth is that it is best for all parties to record their own track, and then have your editor synch them up. I won't lie, this is the worst part of podcasting. It takes many hours to put together a one hour show, but as I said above the result is something that your audience will want to come back for, and that's the goal. You can have the best podcast in the world, but if the sound quality is crap, no one will listen. As you get better at editing you will also get quicker, but there really are no shortcuts to a quality show.

And that's all I'll get into today. I hope someone found this information helpful, and for those of you dear readers who don't care about podcasts:

See you tomorrow,

Saturday, October 03, 2009

S-A-T-U-R-DAY, Hey!

Yippee! Yahoo! It's Saturday!!! Not that I have anything other than much sloth and podcast editing on the agenda, but at least I don't have to drive anywhere. Starbuck, reigning felitard and lummox, has neglected his alarm clock duties all week, allowing me to sleep 'in' until 5:30 every morning. So, of course, today he remembered that I'm not allowed to sleep that long and woke me at both 4:30 and 5:00! If he was any more of a pain in the ass I'd have to smear hemorrhoid cream on him.

Sorry about the meerkat pic cop-out yesterday. It was an overall shitty day, with some financial crises mixed in with a higher than usual child aggro level, so I was not really in a good frame of mind. But today is better.

If I might talk about the podcast for just a bit. Starbase 66 has been far more successful then I could ever have wished, but we want more! We are averaging between 1200-1600 downloads per show, which is good, but not great, so I was wondering if you lovely folks would do me a favor. If you have a blog, or some other way to distribute visual media, would you please post this picture somewhere that folks can see it?

Now let me say that if you do not wish to do this there will be absolutely no hard feelings, and I won't ask anything like this again, and I'll still be your friend, etc. etc. But if you can/do help me out I will be forever grateful. :-) And if there is any way I can return the favor, you have but to ask.

In other news I had a couple of biopsies taken from my pasty hide a couple of weeks ago(why is it that doctors always reach for the melon-baller when they see me coming?)and the tests came back benign. I'd say hooray, and indeed I am relieved since I have already had a couple of cancerous bits carved out of me in the past, but a benign biopsy takes just as many stitches as a malignant one. Ah well, the stitches came out on Thursday and all is well. Aren't you glad you know that now?

And that's all I've got right now, gentle readers. If anything interesting arises you'll be the first to know. :-)


Friday, October 02, 2009


I'm in the midst of a really crappy morning, but I shan't neglect y'all. Enjoy this picture.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

And Thus It Begins

Rabbit, rabbit, rabbit folks, and welcome to BLOGTOBER!!!!(you have to read that like it's a cheesy radio promo: deep voice, lots of reverb, and exaggerated syllables) I intend to give you wonderful readers a post a day for the next month. Hopefully that will restart my blogging engine and keep me posting more frequently. Unless, of course, the screams of 'dear God, nooooo!'become too loud.

Anyway, have a great October 1st. See you tomorrow.


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Word Soup

I don't quite know what this post will be about, other than it will certainly contain consonants, vowels, and maybe even a preposition or two. I may go crazy and insert a parenthetical phrase(just because I can), and if I get to feeling really froggy I may just dangle a participle at you.

But enough with vocabutacular vacuity, on with the show. I'm trying to think of a witty observation, or perhaps a shocking anecdote, or hell even a half-way decent fart joke, but alas my mental Old Mother Hubbard has forgotten to go to Wal-Mart again, and thus...unclothed synaptic cabinetry. Did I tell you all that I dreampt that I was to play Tony Stark in the next Iron Man movie? No? Good, don't want to frighten the faint of heart. Fortunately, on this planet anyway, there is a very low, but granted higher than zero, chance that I will ever be confused with Robert Downey, Jr. Morton Downey, maybe.(and if you remember him, we're having tapioca after Bingo tonight) But it was cool to fly around my dreamscape in the Iron Man suit.


So I have yet to hear from anyone who has ever seen a wild squirrel take a crap, therefore using the Creationist Method I must deduce that squirrels simply eat, and eat, and eat, and then eventually explode.

Are you still there? For the pete of sake, why?! Well, actually I am kinda grateful that you guys keep coming back. No, strike that, I'm extremely grateful that y'all keep coming back. I'm still planning to post daily in Blogtober, although if this is any foreshadowing of things to come, you may just want to set up a tent in flurrious's neck of the woods.

Have I mentioned how wonderful Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog is? Did you know they won an Emmy? Well it is, and they did. Nyah!

I'm really hoping that this new Zombieland movie will suck so badly that the zombie thing finally dies down a little. It used to be you could have civil conversations about Romero's movies, and the pretenders that followed, but now you say 'zombie' and people go nuts!Everyone has a plan for the Zombie Apocalypse(tm), their favorite weapons picked out, vehicles and stores scouted. And, of course, the eternally boring debate between fast/smart zombies and slow/stupid zombies. That conversation always makes me yearn for the Star Trek vs. Star Wars civility and mutual respect.(engage the sarcasmotron)

So as I await the Ambien I took to shut my brain down one deck at a time until I start singing Bicycle Built for Two ever more slowly, I'm going to wrap this up now. If you are still here you are indeed an intrepid, brave, or just foolishy stubborn soul, and so I will steal an idea from flurrious.(she's too far away to hit me...I think) For getting this far you deserve an award. I'll admit my shop-fu is weak, but I'll come up with something. So tell me an award you think you deserve, and I'll make it so.

And so, for now, and later, and maybe even last week, ta-ta.


Sunday, September 20, 2009

Yay, Awards!

The most wonderful and clever flurrious, being as I intimated a few syllables ago wonderful and clever, has given out awards to those who frequent her little bit of the intertubez. The trick was that we were supposed to ask for an award. I did not, so therefore I got one, and it is totally surreal and awesome. Behold:

In her own words: "The next award is just plain odd. It’s for Marius, and … I just don’t know. I don’t understand, yet I am consumed with envy. He’s certainly deserving; I’m just concerned about the hairball situation."

It's nice to be an enigma, although the award itself reveals a level of understanding that belies the enigmatic nature of me, so I'll just smile quietly and accept this award in the spirit of humility and weirdness in which it was bestowed.


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Suzie Plakson Interview

The interview with Suzie Plakson is now online here. You can also find out more about Suzie here.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Cute, but Weird

It's been a while since I've done a CbW segment, but over the last few days Starbuck, our resident felitard, has been in rare form. Here are a couple of shots of the sleeping doofus.

Lately he has decided that my mixer is the comfiest place to sleep, so I had to fashion a cover(the orange plastic thing)for it. Starbuck seemed insulted at first, but learned to adapt thus:

And last night, after the interview, as I went to shut down the house for slumber, I beheld this sight on the couch:

I have to wonder if the ancient Egyptians would have had a hard time worshiping this one. ;-)


Celebrity Coolness

In my life I've met many celebrities. Because of where I've worked most of them were on the tail end of their careers, but there were still varying degrees of coolness and uncoolness. One of the first was Burt Reynolds, and while I know a couple of you out there had different experiences with the man, he always struck me as a total prick. But Robert Goulet was the picture of detached professionalism. Charles Nelson Reilly was very nice, as was William Christopher, and Joyce DeWitt was a complete sweetheart. And I hope to have half as much energy when I reach 60 as Tito Puente and Joel Gray did and do in their 80s. But in my travels it's always been the 'second string' celebs that impressed me the most. Those people whom you may know when you hear their names, but then when shown a picture you go, "Oh, them!" Kathy Griffin was very funny, if a bit scary up close(too much makeup) The Reduced Shakespeare Company were some of the coolest, funniest guys around, and Paul Zaloom, whom you may know as Beakman from the children's science show Beakman's World, was just a fun guy to spend a day with. But last night I had my coolest celebrity encounter yet.

A couple of weeks ago I got a bee in my bonnet to ask Felicia Day, star of both Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog and The Guild if she would appear on Starbase 66. I was politely told 'no thanks'. For some reason it was like finally getting up the courage to ask the hot girl at the end of the bar to dance and having her laughingly say no, and for most of the next day I moped. Finally the moping went from self-pity to angry. What the hell was my problem?! So in a flurry of 'getting back on the horse' I started scouring the internet for the agent's of the stars. First I found Gates McFadden's agent and fired off an email, which has yet to garner any response. Then I Googled Suzie Plakson, who played K'Ehleyr on Star Trek:The Next Generation. If you know Trek, but don't recognize the name, she was Worf's girlfriend, and the mother of his son, but was killed after only 2 episodes. She later appeared on both Voyager and Enterprise, as well as several sit-coms, movies, and TV shows. I have always admired her work, and she was one of the first stars I thought of when we started the Starbase and began to contemplate interviewing Science Fiction stars. So I found her website here and used the contact form to ask if she'd like to join us on the show. The next day I got a response from 'her people'...well, a dude named James...and he said that she thought it sounded like fun and asked for more details. Emails flew back and forth across the country, and ultimately a date and time was decided. Finally Suzie herself emailed me and we set the parameters of the inteview. She sent a bunch of questions that she gets all the time, most of which I would never have asked(I already know how tall she is, and how long getting into Klingon makeup takes) but it did help set the course of the interview. We corresponded several more times, and she just seemed to get cooler and cooler. My co-hosts were just as excited, and as the hour approached I grew more and more nervous. Then, early last night, she scared the pee out of me. She asked what station we were on, and should she have folks tune in at the time the interview was to start. "Shit!" I thought. She thinks this is a radio show. So I emailed back and explained what a podcast was, and apologized for assuming she already knew. I was terrified that once she realized what the show was, she'd say 'Oh, hell no.' But she didn't, and last night just before 9pm she called in and for nearly ninety minutes we basked in the incredible energy, humor, grace, and all-around grooviness that is Suzie. She was such a joy to talk with, and her enthusiasm for life is infectious. Even Kennedy, the hardened journalist, was giddy afterward. It was one of the most amazing, funny, and joyful conversations I've ever had the privilege to be a part of. And the best part is that you all will be able to hear it soon. I just need to do a bit of editing and it'll be available for download before the end of the week.

See y'all later.

Monday, September 07, 2009


First of all my congratulations and thanks to Duke. I don't know if he did this intentionally, but he ensured that my neuroses would not prevent the tale I am about to recall to you. Back in June, as I related here Patrick Schrantz, aka Lord Parlan left this world. This weekend past, at an SCA event primarily held to crown the new king and queen, a memorial was planned for Parlan. Just over a week ago Duke contacted me and gave me the task of taking the audio from two of Pat's favorite old cassettes and making them into a CD to play at the memorial. This I did gladly, if with no small degree of sadness. The files were very rough, and it took enough time to clean them up that it was too late for me to back out and email them when my inner demons started trying to convince me not to make the trip. They always do this. I start thinking about all the people I won't know, or the gas and/or wear and tear the car will incur, or even what the restroom facilities will be like. Anything to talk myself out of leaving the house and interacting with 'real' people. But, since the only way to get the music there was to deliver it personally I was cornered. And I'm glad I was.

The event was two hours away, and the drive was uneventful. I went alone as my wife is trying to get time off for the end of the month for the 30th anniversary of our home SCA group. I brought our small tent, and just after setting it up under a tree out of the way I was found by my brother Rurik who insisted I camp with his household. An offer I gladly took. The rest of the afternoon was spent in pleasant conversation with friends old and new, and then finally finding Duke. One of the ways to spot older SCA folks is that if they have nothing to do in court(when the king and queen hear the populace, give out awards, etc.) they don't go. And this was no exception. Duke gathered his friend Kurn, his daughter, and me and we went to a nice little sports bar and grill for dinner, conversation, and to watch the Gators steamroll over some other team who's name is irrelevant. After dinner, and many Dr. Horrible songs, we returned to the campground to prepare for the memorial. Duke had set up a pavilion with a very nice display of pictures and artifacts from Pat's life, and there was a book to sign for his wife. I must say that Seannach, his wife, was the picture of poise that night...a night that had to be hardest on her. And while she did let the tears flow a few times, for the most part she wore a brave smile.

Duke had brought a keg of Newcastle Brown Ale, and insisted that no one could go home til it floated.(or, at one point in the evening, that it couldn't float until he went to bed, but I don't think the keg was listening) So being nothing if not obedient we all made many trips to the tap. Eventually Seannach requested that we all gather around the fire pit. It was a large circle of at least twenty people, but as folks kept coming and going the numbers are a bit vague. Seannach stood and held up a bottle of Glen Fiddich with about three fingers left in it. This was Pat's favorite tipple, and we were to take the bottle, tell a tale, toast our fallen friend, and pass it along til it was empty. This we did. Many people did. We all spoke of our friend, our companion, our helper. Everyone talked of his omnipresent smile, and his unmatched gentleness and chivalry. There were songs, and laughter, and many tears. That bottle lasted at least two hours, with people who had met him only once every bit as moved as those of us that had known him for most of our lives. A lot of drinking happened that night, but despite so many people being so drunk, it never got out of hand. The level of respect for Pat was such that even those that were stumbling drunk stayed civil and quiet. As I said to Duke at one point, it was a great party, it's just too bad the guest of honor couldn't be there. Eventually the keg obliged us by floating, and following a final round of hugs and tears we staggered to our beds.

A couple of hours later the sun rose, as did I, and I quietly snuck out of the cabin Duke had graciously allowed me to share, packed up my stuff, and headed home as the child was unattended and I hoped to get back before she woke. As I drove, quaffing gas station coffee and eating pre-packaged pastries, I realized that as much as I dreaded going to this event, I am so glad that I did. If there is, indeed, something beyond the veil, and we are privy to the actions of those we leave behind, then Pat must surely have been basking in the warmth of the love and joy he fostered, and the togetherness that those who loved him felt in the memory of that love. Surely there can be no finer legacy for any man than that.

Fare thee well, my friend. May we meet again and share the tales of our travels.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Guild

Not too long ago I told you about Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog. Well the leading lady from that film, Felicia Day, has a wonderful web based show called The Guild. There are two seasons available on line so far, with a third on the way. Each season consists of twelve three to five minute long episodes, and it's brilliant. If you have ever played video games, especially online games, or know anyone who is obsessed with gaming you'll enjoy this show. Plus Felicia Day has moved to the top of my Celebrity Crush list. :-) And just to give you a taste of this fun show, here is a music video they just released. Enjoy.


You Say It's Your Birthday

Happy Birthday, Monkey!!!

Friday, August 28, 2009

And finally:

Jewelry Design - Jewelers no longer have to worry about inhaling dangerous asbestos fibers from the blocks they use as soldering bases. space shuttle heat shield tiles offer jewelers a safer soldering base with temperature resistance far beyond the 1,400 degrees Fahrenheit generated by the jeweler's torch.

Land Mine Removal Device - The same rocket fuel that helps launch the space shuttle is now being used to save lives— by destroying land mines. A flare device, using leftover fuel donated by NASA, is placed next to the uncovered land mine and is ignited from a safe distance using a battery-triggered electric match. The explosive burns away, disabling the mine and rendering it harmless.

Lifesaving Light - Special lighting technology developed for plant growth experiments on space shuttle missions is being studied to treat brain tumors in children. Doctors at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee are working with light emitting diodes in a treatment called photodynamic therapy, a form of chemotherapy, to kill cancerous tumors.

Prosthesis Material - Responding to a request from the orthopedic appliance industry, NASA recommended that the foam insulation used to protect the shuttle's external tank replace the heavy, fragile plaster used to produce master molds for prosthetics. The new material is light, virtually indestructible and easy to ship and store.

Rescue Tool - Rescue squads have a new extrication tool to help remove accident victims from wrecked vehicles. The hand-held device requires no auxiliary power systems or cumbersome hoses and is 70 percent cheaper than previous rescue equipment. The cutter uses a miniature version of the explosive charges that separate devices on the shuttle.

Vehicle Tracking System - Tracking information originally used onboard Space Shuttle missions now helps track vehicles on Earth. This commercial spinoff allows vehicles to transmit a signal back to a home base. Municipalities today use the software to track and reassign emergency and public works vehicles. It also is used by vehicle fleet operations, such as taxis, armored cars and vehicles carrying hazardous cargo.

Video Stabilization Software - Image-processing technology used to analyze Space Shuttle launch video and to study meteorological images also helps law enforcement agencies improve crime-solving video. The technology removes defects due to image jitter, image rotation and image zoom in video sequences. The technology also may be useful for medical imaging, scientific applications and home video.

And these are just some of the 'spin-offs' that came from the space program. I am not saying that these advancements would never have happened were it not for NASA, but the fact is that the space program eats a very minor portion of the national budget, yet returns far more than just pretty pictures from space. Can anyone say that about the wars in Iraq and Iran?

Thanks for tuning in.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

What Has NASA Done For You, Part 3

And the list just keeps going.

Automotive Insulation- Materials from the space shuttle thermal protection system are used on NASCAR racing cars to protect drivers from the extreme heat generated by the engines.

Balance Evaluation Systems - Devices built to measure the equilibrium of space shuttle astronauts when they return from space are widely used by major medical centers to diagnose and treat patients suffering head injury, stroke, chronic dizziness and central nervous system disorders.

Bioreactor - Developed for space shuttle medical research, this rotating cell culture apparatus simulates some aspects of the space environment, or microgravity, on the ground. Tissue samples grown in the bioreactor are being used to design therapeutic drugs and antibodies. Some scientists believe the bioreactor will routinely produce human tissue for research and transplantation.

Diagnostic Instrument - NASA technology was used to create a compact laboratory instrument for hospitals and doctor offices that more quickly analyzes blood, accomplishing in 30 seconds what once took 20 minutes.

Gas Detector - A gas leak detection system, originally developed to monitor the shuttle's hydrogen propulsion system, is being used by the Ford Motor Company in the production of a natural gas-powered car.

Infrared Camera - A sensitive infrared hand-held camera that observes the blazing plumes from the Shuttle also is capable of scanning for fires. During the brush fires that ravaged Malibu, CA in 1996, the camera was used to point out hot spots for firefighters.

Infrared Thermometer - Infrared sensors developed to remotely measure the temperature of distant stars and planets, led to the development of the hand-held optical sensor thermometer. Placed inside the ear canal, the thermometer provides an accurate reading in two seconds or less.

Tomorrow, the exciting conclusion. :-)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

What Has NASA Done For You, Part 2

Here are some more of life's improvements that came from the space program.

Apollo-era Circuitry Preserves Freshness for Large-Scale Service

A hospital food service system employs a NASA cook/chill concept for serving food. The system allows staff to prepare food well in advance, maintain heat, visual appeal, and nutritional value while reducing operating costs.

Measurement Techniques Safely Monitor Hazardous Gasses

A hollow retroreflector, a mirror-like instrument that reflects light and other radiation back to the source, is used as a sensor to detect the presence of hazardous gases in oil fields, refineries, offshore platforms, chemical plants, waste storage sites, and other locations where gases could be released into the environment.

Lubricant Process Finds Myriad Applications

A process for bonding dry lubricant to space metals led to the development of surface enhancement, or synergistic, coatings, which are used in applications from pizza making to laser manufacturing. Each coating is designed to protect a specific metal group or group of metals to solve problems encountered under operating conditions, such as resistance to corrosion and wear.

Green Buildings Employ Space Suit Textiles

The same fabric used in Apollo-era space suits has been spun off into a cost-effective, environmentally-friendly building material. Used on structures around the world, the Teflon-coated fiberglass strands create a permanent, tent-like roof. Less expensive than conventional roofing materials, the durable white fabric allows natural light to shine through, saving a significant amount of energy.

Insulation Protects Alaskan Pipeline

Metal-bonded polyurethane foam insulation developed for protecting Apollo-era spacecraft was also applied to the Alaskan pipeline, where its temperature controlling properties were in high demand. In order to maintain its fluidity, the oil needs to be kept at relatively high temperatures (180 °F), a tall order in the Arctic. The NASA-derived insulation solved this problem.

Flame-Resistant Textiles Safeguard Firefighters, Soldiers

After a fire on the Apollo launch pad which resulted in the death of three astronauts, NASA worked with private industry to develop a line of fire-resistant textiles for use in space suits and vehicles. These materials are now used in numerous firefighting, military, motor sports, and other applications.

Artificial Heart - The technology used in space shuttle fuel pumps led to the development of a miniaturized ventricular assist pump by NASA and renowned heart surgeon Dr. Michael DeBakey. The tiny pump -- 2-inches long, 1-inch in diameter and weighing less than four ounces -- is currently undergoing European clinical trials where it has been successfully implanted into more than 20 people.

More tomorrow. :-)

Monday, August 24, 2009

What Has NASA Done For You, Part 1

It seems that most conversations about the manned space program these days eventually come around to the cost. Even though the budget for NASA is approximately one half of one percent of the national budget, people tend to think that all NASA does is waste money launching scientists into space. Fortunately for you, my wonderful readers, we have an Unkk on our side. He sent me a lengthy list of things that affect our daily lives that are a direct result of the manned space program. There are a lot of them, so I'll break this up over several posts, but the next time some yob mouths off about how the money could be better spent building a sport stadium, or other such nonsense, here is some ammo to use.

Cooling Suits Provide Comfort

Cool suits, which kept Apollo astronauts comfortable during moon walks, are today worn by race car drivers, nuclear reactor technicians, shipyard workers, people with multiple sclerosis and children with a congenital disorder known as hypohidrotic ectodermal dysplasia, which restricts the body’s ability to cool itself.

Recycling Fluids for Space Missions Simplifies Kidney Dialysis

Special kidney dialysis machines were created as a result of a NASA-developed chemical process that removes toxic waste from used dialysis fluid. The process saves electricity and eliminates the need for a continuous water supply, granting the patient greater freedom.

Astronaut Conditioning Equipment Keeps People Fit

A cardiovascular conditioner developed for astronauts in space led to the invention of a physical therapy and athletic development machine used by football teams, sports clinics, and medical rehabilitation centers.

Space Suit Technology Modernizes Athletic Shoes

Athletic shoe design and manufacturing also benefited from Apollo. Space suit technology is incorporated into a shoe's external shell, and a stress-free "blow molding" process adapted from NASA space suit design is used in the shoe's fabrication.

Reflective Materials Insulate Homes

Insulating barriers made of metalized foil laid over a core of propylene or mylar, which protected astronauts and their spacecraft's delicate instruments from radiation and heat, are now found in common home insulation. Vacuum metalizing techniques also led to an extensive line of commercial products, from insulated outer garments to packaging for foods, from wall coverings to window shades, from life rafts to candy wrappings, and from reflective safety blankets to photographic reflectors.

Apollo Life Support Systems Filter Water

Water purification technology used on the Apollo spacecraft is now employed in several spinoff applications to kill bacteria, viruses and algae in community water supply systems and cooling towers. Filters mounted on faucets reduce lead in water supplies.

Freeze-Dried Foods Preserve Nutrients, Increase Shelf Life

Freeze-dried food solved the problem of what to feed an astronaut on the long-duration Apollo missions. Freeze drying foods preserves nutritional value and taste, while also reducing weight and increasing shelf life.

So there's your first batch. Tune in tomorrow for more of What has NASA done for you?


Saturday, August 22, 2009


Catchy title, eh? Sure beats all that annoying Rocktober bullshit we'll soon be expected to chuckle at whenever the lame-ass morning DJ's spew it forth. Man, I hate morning radio!

Wait, sorry, this was supposed to be a happy occasion. Let's not bicker and argue about 'who killed who'. Let's start over.

Ok, Marius, just wtf are you getting at with this stupid title? Well, Rick, I'm glad you asked. I've been an unbelievable slacker with this here little corner of the intertubez since I started pod-casting, and I intend to make it up to you. You precious few that have stuck around during the dry spells and still find the time in your busy lives to waste some of the finite seconds of a rapidly diminishing existence in coming here. Therefore, and without further circumlocutions(or whatever the written equivalent might be, circumscribtions, maybe?) I pledge that I will post daily in October. September is just too busy to make that promise, and you deserve better than that Namblapomojo crap in November. So I declare that this year October is Blogtober here at the corner. So let it be let it be done!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Who'd have thUNKK?

So let me tell you about yesterday. Well, actually we have to go back a little over a year to when I was privileged to go to the Kennedy Space Center to watch a shuttle launch from 4 miles away due to the generosity of Unkk, internet and SCA friend and all around groovy dude. Well Unkk kinda dropped off of the internet radar for a while, but a few weeks ago he resurfaced to tell us of a new massively multiplayer online role playing game(MMORPG) called Champions. Like City of Heroes it is a superhero game, but much more customizable. Unfortunately the system requirements blow my ancient devices out of the water so I had to politely decline the invite to join him in the fight against crime. I was, however, thrilled to 'see' him again since, as he is a NASA employee, I have been dying to interview him for Starbase 66. I asked, and he quickly agreed. Then I got the thought that it would be even cooler to interview him at work, and again he agreed. So yesterday I drove across the state and met Unkk for a totally nerdgasmic day.

Our first stop in the park was lunch and we chatted and caught up a bit, then we went to the Rocket Garden. Unkk is a veritable font of information about the space program and its history. Even though I pride myself on my knowledge of such things, he taught me more in twenty minutes about the development of manned rocketry than I learned in twenty years.(and yes, that's me on the actual Apollo gantry)

We wandered the center some more and Unkk regaled me with tales of astronauts, and computers, and the wonders that the space program has brought to the world. Every now and then we'd stop and I'd record some audio for the podcast, and then we'd move on. We tried to watch an IMAX film, but the 3D part was broken, so we decided to skip it and get on the bus. As we rode about Unkk was telling me more about stuff than the drivers were with their memorized routines, for example I knew that the VAB(vehicle assembly building) is 500+ feet tall, but the pilings for it extend 400+ feet down into the ground!

This is the Pegasus, the barge that is used to transport the enormous external fuel tanks for the shuttle.

Our next stop was the area closest to the shuttle launch pads. Here you can see pad A being refurbished for the upcoming Ares program:

And here on pad B is the Discovery awaiting it's August 24th launch date.

Also on display at the launch pad viewing gantry is an actual shuttle main engine.

We then moved on to the main attraction...the mighty Saturn V. The most amazing, and complicated machine ever built by the hand of man. And this rocket is no mock-up. Unkk informed me that this was ready to either be Apollo 21, or a rescue rocket should one of the earlier missions go bad. It sat outside for years before a private company took over the Visitor Center and refurbished it, which included putting this monster in a beautiful, air-conditioned building. The only drawback is that it is impossible to get a good picture of the whole rocket, but it's still impressive as hell.

There is also an actual Lunar Module there:

And the actual Apollo 14 capsule(with a special guest star)

Unfortunately it wasn't all happy times and physics talk. There is an unpleasant, yet beautiful part of the center where the US astronauts that have given their lives in the line of duty are memorialized. Apollo 1:

Challenger and Columbia:

And for all:

Then we went back to the Unkk house where Unkkwife and the two Unkklings graciously treated me to an amazing dinner, and then Unkk bestowed upon me a totally incredible computer that he had been tinkering with so that I might join him in the new game. We finished up the interview, and then I drove home. It was an amazing day, spent with one of the hoopiest froods ever to walk the planet. The interviews will be compiled into a podcast that will go out in a couple of weeks, but I just want to thank Daniel(Unkk's real name) and his family for their incredibly warm hospitality and friendship, not to mention the deliciousness that is Irish Lasagna. This was a day that will definitely go on the highlight reel of my life.

Unkk rocks! :-)