Friday, July 22, 2011

These Are the Voyages...

Ok, y'all know that if I could live at the Kennedy Space Center I would, so guess where I was on Thursday? As mentioned previously I missed the launch of Atlantis, so Unkk graciously invited me over to view the landing. Since Atlantis was coming home in the wee small hours of Thursday morning I drove over Wednesday night. Unkkhouse is one of the most welcoming places in the known universe, and I had a great time with Unkkwife, Unkkchild, and the man himself. Something I don't know if I've mentioned about Daniel previously, but he, and his family, are the most generous and giving people you will ever meet. I hadn't been there an hour before he was bestowing upon me NASA tee shirts for every member of my family, and something incredible. Every shuttle has a flag designed for it...well, every shuttle except one. The Enterprise never got a flag since she never went into space. Never, that is, until now. Only 420 of them were made, and Unkk gave me one!

I was, to say the least, floored. The flag now hangs on the wall to my left:

I will treasure this flag always.

Shortly thereafter Unkkwife 'threw together' a delicious dinner, and great nomming was had. Finally around 1:40am she mentioned that we might want to get some sleep as we had to be up in a few hours. She is wise, and we retired. At 4:15 I was awakened and we watched the deorbit burn on the NASA Internet feed, then came to the realization that there was no point in going over to the space center as Atlantis would be touching down just after 5am, and sunrise wouldn't be for another hour, and unlike in movies spaceships don't light themselves. So we watched the landing on TV, and heard the twin sonic booms as they shook the house (which was freaking AWESOME!). We pondered going to breakfast until the Visitor Center opened, but decided that, being the old men we are, more sleep would not be unwelcome, so we went back to bed.

Around 10ish we sallied forth, hit up the BK lounge for some grub, and went to the Kennedy Space Center. It wasn't too crowded, since it was a Thursday morning, and we bee-lined it straight for Star Trek: The Exhibition. This is a touring museum of Star Trek props, costumes, and a full size mock up of the original Enterprise bridge. In between the exhibit and the entrance, however, is a motion-simulator ride where you are on a Starfleet shuttlecraft and have to fight the Borg. Of course we had to go on.

Sadly it was pretty weak sauce, with lame graphics, and no air conditioning to speak of, but it was free so we didn't complain too much. Thence we made our way to the TOS(The Original Series) display. The first thing you see when you enter is a full scale reproduction of the Guardian of Forever, from the episode City on the Edge of Forever. The best thing about this exhibit is that much of it is hands-on, so of course, we had to play:

I had to get just one more 'action' shot:

And as I did that, a gentleman just a tad older than me laughed and said, "Now there's a man who knows his Sci-Fi." We shared a chuckle at that.

Next were displays of props, costumes, and a beautiful model of the original Enterprise.

All of this was groovy, but the real thing I was there to see lay just ahead...the bloody A, B, C, orrrr D...bridge. It is very hard to describe my emotions as I set foot into what was very obviously a museum reproduction, yet felt as familiar as my bedroom back in my parent's house. None of the buttons or switches worked, but that didn't matter. I was on the Enterprise! It may seem silly to you, but Star Trek has been an integral part of my life for as long as I can remember, and standing on this set, this construct of plywood and plastic, felt so right to me, so at home, so good. It was something I've been waiting my whole life for, yet never expected to be able to do. Here are the pics.

Then, finally, the moment I had dreamed of my whole life. I got to sit in the captain's chair.

The only way this could have been better was if I was in a Starfleet uniform, but being at one of my favorite places on Earth, sitting in the captain's chair of the original USS Enterprise, in the company of one of the grooviest humans on this planet was about as good as it gets for a geek like me.

We lingered about a bit more, then wandered across the way to the Next Generation display.

The last things in the display were some captain's chairs from Enterprise D, B, and a Klingon Bird of Prey. You could sit in the Klingon chair:

After that we went on the Shuttle Launch simulator, a ride I never tire of, then called it a day. Unkk and I recorded a podcast, and then I had to take my leave and return home. I cannot properly express my gratitude at the hospitality, generosity, and just-plain niceness of Daniel and his family. He has allowed me to see, experience, and have so many things that I never dreamed would be possible, and I thank him, Marina, and the Unkkchild for their unparallelled wonderfullness. And, dear readers, I thank you for sticking around. If you want to see more pics from my trip they are on my Facebook page: So I'm going to end this novel now. We are still unpacking, but at least the cats seem to have mostly forgiven us for moving, and life is settling down into a semblance of normalcy. We are almost ready for baby Sharon to arrive, and Mrs. Marius is very ready to no longer be pregnant. One more month. :-) So that's all for now, dear friends. See you again real soon.

Live long, and prosper.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Unfoldment of Events

Greetings, you gorgeous hunks of readers, you. And you too, Doug. It has certainly been an eventful time since last we met, and I apologize for my long absence from these hallowed halls of blogdom. But it's Sunday morning, it's still cool, and I have coffee, so lets share some syllables, shall we?

The biggest news is that we've moved. As you may recall, Mrs. Marius has come down with a case of persistent pregnancy, and though we tried to stay in our former digs, it became all-too clear that 2 bedrooms for four human beings was just not going to cut it. In my 47 years I've experienced most milestones of life, but this baby thing is virgin territory (hee hee) and I had no idea how much stuff babies need. You'd think that, being such small,squirmy things, they wouldn't need much room. HA! So we made the decision to seek a 3 bedroom place. Thus the anguish of finding out that the maximum we could afford, rent-wise, is considered low here in the the Tampa Bay area. We found a couple of hovels, and one seemed tolerable, but then the landlord, after trying to rush us into moving two weeks sooner than we were ready, ignored our application for 10 days! Keep in mind that we were living in a friend's town house, and were not just going to run out on her without a reasonable amount of notice. Two days after we had decided that the other landlord must have rented to someone else and just not bothered to tell us, we get a call asking if we still wanted the place, and if so we needed to move the next week. We politely told him to piss off. We were on the verge of abandoning the search, as the cut-off point for Mrs. Marius's ability to assist was fast approaching, when I put out a lament on Facebook asking if anyone knew of a suitable rental in a less than war torn area. Miraculously within minutes I heard from a colleague here in Saint Petersburg who was moving to a new house, and needed renters for his old place. So to cut a long story short, we are here now. It's a very nice little 3/2 with a great yard, quiet neighborhood, and it's only 10 minutes from where I work! The move was relatively smooth, and we had many wonderful people show up to help, and the cats have almost forgiven us. The only fly in the ointment is that this place doesn't have central air, and we are still experimenting with fans and the wall units to keep things comfortable without spending as much on electricity as we do on rent.

In other news, Friday was the final launch of the US space shuttle program. I was supposed to go over to Cape Canaveral to watch the launch with my friend Unkk, who works at NASA, but the weather was predicting a 70% chance that the launch would be scrubbed. Given the amount of work to be done here, and my wife's continued insistence on being pregnant, I decided that I'd wait for the inevitable scrub, and then go over for the next launch window. Usually, at this time of year, it's a no-brainer to count on afternoon thunderstorms down here, but not this time. Friday morning Atlantis leaped off the pad in a flawless launch, with me 200 miles away watching it on TV. And it was raining like hell here, so I couldn't even see her as a tiny, bright light in the sky. But I'll most likely be going over there for Atlantis' landing, which is something I've never done, so that will be cool.

And finally, thanks to a random encounter with my coworker J, I've landed a lighting design gig. She's doing the costumes for a show at a local theatre here in St. Pete, and we both just happened to stop by the school the other day and got to talking about it, and she mentioned that they needed an LD. I said I'd be willing, and they called. It's very short notice, as the show opens Thursday, so I'll be working my ass off this week, but it will finally get my work seen outside of the collegiate circles, and may lead to more freelance work in the future. Woot!

So those are the highlights of the past few weeks, my dear readers. Hopefully as the boxes slowly disappear, and normalcy regains a foothold...although in all honesty there will be a baby here very soon, so I suppose that's a vain thought...I'll blog more. And, speaking of the baby, little Sharon Elizabeth is doing very well, as is her mommy, and once she is with us on the outside I'm sure I'll have many a tale of adorableness, frustration, and foul excretions to share. So you have that to look forward to. :-)

Next week is our 9th anniversary, and we'll be going to see both the new Harry Potter movie (yay) and Transformers 3 (um...) so expect some movie reviewage as well.

OK, I need more coffee. Love and hugs to you all...yes, even you, Doug. ;-)


Oh, one last thing. Netflix now has every Star Trek show except DS9 on it's streaming video. SWEET!!!