Sunday, December 31, 2006

Last Post of 2006

First off, thank you to everyone who posted or emailed me to express your support after the accident I was in last week. I still have the bruises, some soreness and a persistent ringing in my ears. However, I am getting better.

I'm heading out to enjoy the New Year with some friends soon. However, I would be remiss if I didn't take a moment to wish everyone a Happy New Year!

Here's to hoping that 2007 brings the world peace, love, prosperity and laughter!

Monday, December 25, 2006

A Tale of Two Parties

I was at the Old Shillelagh in downtown Detroit recently for a friend's birthday party. I don't actually remember a whole lot about the party except that there were a lot of people there and some great Irish music. I don't even remember leaving the party.

The next thing that I do remember is feeling very sore as a man in surgical scrubs told me that I had been in an automobile accident and that I was at Oakwood Hospital.

I later learned from my brothers that on my way home from that party, my car was rear-ended by a drunk driver. According to the police accident report, this woman was traveling at a speed in excess of 100 miles per hour when she collided into me.

The aftermath of this is:
  • My car is totaled, which leaves me without transportation for the time being;
  • I have a lot of muscle soreness in my neck and shoulders, which the doctors tell me will clear up in a couple of days;
  • I have a persistent ringing in my right ear, which should also clear up on on its own eventually;
  • I also have several bruises on my torso that, strangely enough, match up perfectly with the size, shape and location of the seat belt I was wearing; and
  • I have at least some short-term memory loss.
I also got to experience the unique joy of spending all of Christmas Eve and most of Christmas Day in a hospital. (For those who have never experienced it - trust me - it's not fun.)

It's both sad and ironic that I would always make such a practice of knowing my own limit when it came to drinking, and allowing my body time to detoxify before getting behind the wheel, only to get rear-ended by someone who obviously didn't care. (The hospital, as it turns out, performs a series of blood tests on all motor vehicle accident victims. My blood work confirmed that I had no alcohol or drugs in my system at the time of the accident.)

It's frustrating as all hell to have this happen to me.

Oh, well! The aftermath of this is something for me to work out with my doctors. (And a lawyer or two, perhaps.)

Anyway, being laid up for that long gave me a chance to think about a lot of things. I thought I'd share them with everyone, in no particular order.

I learned that I.V. needels are strategically placed to make sleeping in any position but on your back unbearable. I'm not sure whether this is deliberately planned or not. But I do know that it's true.

Clement Clarke Moore got the description of Santa Claus totally wrong in his famous poem. St. Nick, I've come to learn, looks more like a nurse - one who helped me score some really good cheese cake from the cafeteria on Christmas Eve.

Also, the interior of an M.R.I. machine is a lot more cramped than what one might see on House - or at least the ones at Oakwood are that way. The M.R.I. technician, by the way, is convinced that they use M.R.I.s way too often on that show - sometimes pretending that they reveal things in patients that the machine can't really detect.

One of the things that they did get right about M.R.I.s on House, however, came from the show's second season. L.L. Cool J's character had to undergo a M.R.I. that was extremely painful because he had prison tatoos that were done with a metal based ink. The powerful magnet in the M.R.I. really will try to pull the metal in that tatoo ink right out of a person's skin.

Reportedly, this is also a problem with elderly folks who got tatoos back in the WWII era. Tatoos back then also used a metalic ink.

It's also very weird how memories are a part of who we are as human beings.

I saw this print on the hallway wall as I was waiting for one of the dozen or so medical tests that they subjected me to. I didn't need my memory to know that I liked the painting, that was purely a matter of instinct.

There was enough of my memory intact to know that it was a rather famous painting; I might have eventually recalled that it one of Claude Monet's works, but I have to confess that I saw his signature.

In spite of everything that I could remember about this painting, I sat there in the hallway feeling frustrated that I couldn't remember of this painting. I was positive that I knew it a few days earlier and was quite perturbed that this fact had changed.

By the way, the painting is entitled Wild Poppies.

I wasn't able to remember that fact on my own. I had to look it up when I got home, simply because I was wondering about the name of it over and over in my head for ever since I saw that print in the hallway.

I also got to see several movies while I was confined to a hospital bed. I've come to the conclusion that colorized version of Miracle on 34th Street is little more than graffiti on a masterpiece.

Love Actually
is a really wonderful film that never got as many awards or nominations as it deserved. (It was adored in Europe, but basically ignored in the U.S.)

A Perfect Day, starring Rob Lowe on TNT, was suprisingly good. I was expecting something amazingly melodramatic, but it was actually a sweet, powerful drama.

Anyway, it's getting late. I should end this entry.

Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Tara Conner to Keep Her Crown

I'm glad that Tara Conner won't lose her title as Miss USA because of her drunken antics in New York last December.

It's not that I'm a huge Tara Conner fan or even a fan of the Miss USA pagent in general. I just think that if women were ever penalized for dancing on a table while drunk or kissing another woman, well - my life would get very boring, very quickly.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Technology Is So Cool Sometimes

One of the great things about living in the 21st Century is the simple fact that cool things keep happening that one would never have expected 20 years ago. Sometimes those are very big things (like the International Space Station) and other times it's very simple things just blow me away, like an on-line music video that is customized according to your location as well as your local time and weather conditions.

The Unseen Video is a music video for You Make Me Feel by Mike Milosh that does just that. The web site automatically determines where you are visiting from, retreives current time and weather information about your hometown from the internet and then adjusts the music video from there.

Welcome to the 21st Century!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

RIP - Peter Boyle

Peter Boyle, the grouchy father on Everybody Loves Raymound and the tap-dancing monster in Young Frankenstein, has passed away after a battle with multiple myeloma and heart disease. He was 71 years old.

I loved his character on Everybody Loves Raymound. I don't think there's another actor who could have played it better and very few could have even matched his performance.

I was also impressed by the pure depth of his experience as an actor. His filmography on IMDb.com lists 93 different roles that he had played over the course of his career.

In fact, even at age 71, he was still working on different projects. At the time of his death, he was in pre-production for a romantic comedy called Chatham and in post-production for drama called Shadows of Atticus.

It is truly impressive how he always kept going.

Peter Boyle will be deeply missed.

Cereal Bowl Light

The folks at Wanderlust Designs came up with a really interesting idea: a Cereal Bowl Light.

Touch the spoon and your bowl of Fruit Loops lights up like what you see at the left.

It seemed really odd at first, but the more I think about it - the more I want one.

Oh, and those are real Fruit Loops in that cereal bowl. The whole thing is just kind of cool.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Brilliant!

Merriam-Webster selected "truthiness" as the Word of the Year for 2006, having beat out other entries such as:
  • google (as a verb; not as a company);
  • decider;
  • war;
  • insurgent;
  • terrorism;
  • vendetta;
  • sectarian;
  • quagmire; and
  • corruption.
I can't help but feel that the selection of nominees for Word of the Year underlies a certain amount of cynicism within this country. The most positive selection on that list is "google" and that's simply because its connotation is a neutral one.

It's kind of scary when you think about it.

Anyway, kudos go out to Stephen Colbert for the way that he promoted "truthiness" as the way he used its selection in his show. (Check out the clip on Comedy Central's Mother Load.)

Monday, December 11, 2006

Space Shuttle To-Do List

I was surfing on-line and found NASA's press kit for the current space shuttle mission (officially known as STS-116, which is the 117th mission for the space shuttle program). Included in this 135 page press kit is the to-do list (or as they prefer to call it "mission priorities") for the current flight.

I have my own to-do list for the day (pay a few bills, a half dozen or so phone calls to make). Their mission priorities, however, kick butt.

It's interesting that I have three college level physics courses under my belt as well as a semester of Air Force ROTC behind me
and I only understand about half of what they are doing on this twelve day mission.

For the curious amoung us, here is their list. It consists almost entirely of things that are happening on-board the International Space Station.
  1. Perform inspection of space shuttle heat shields and downlink sensor data for evaluation on the ground;
  2. Document space shuttle tile during rendezvous with station using imagery resources on the International Space Station (ISS) during the rendezvous pitch maneuver, followed by docking with ISS;
  3. Complete ISS crew member swap (Expedition 14 Flight Engineer Suni Williams for Expedition 13 Flight Engineer Thomas Reiter);
  4. Install the Soyuz seat liner, known as the Individual Equipment Liner Kit;
  5. Check out the Russian launch/entry suit, known as the Sokol suit;
  6. ISS safety briefing;
  7. Transfer mandatory crew rotation items: oxygen (~100 pounds) and water.
  8. Transfer and return Elektron;
  9. Install the P5 truss segment onto P4 using the shuttle and station robotic arms;
  10. Remove P5 inboard launch locks (required for mating with P4);
  11. Install four truss attachment bolts to structurally mate P5 to P4;
  12. Remove P5 grapple fixture and relocate to P5 keel (will allow P4 beta gimbal assembly to rotate);
  13. Deactivate P6 2B loads and reconfigure U.S. segment loads to receive power distribution from P4 2A and P6 EB via main bus switching units 2 and 3. This includes establishment of active cooling for channel 2/3 MBSUs and DC‐to‐DC converter units via external active thermal control system loop B;
  14. Retract P6 4B solar array wing to one bay and initiate P3/P4 solar alpha rotary joint tracking;
  15. Remove P1‐3A DC‐to‐DC converter unit‐E thermal covers;
  16. Deactivate P6 4B loads and reconfigure U.S. segment loads to receive power distribution from P4 4A main buss switching unit 1 and 4. This includes establishment of active cooling for channel ¼ MBSUs/DDCUs via external active thermal control system loop A. (P6 4B channel configured to dormant/parachute mode;
  17. Remove S1‐4B and S0‐4B DC‐to‐DC converter unit‐E thermal covers;
  18. Uplink the D1 patch to portable computer system R9;
  19. Transfer critical cargo items per transfer priority list;
  20. Transfer Zvezda Service Module debris panels and adapter to pressurized mating adapter‐3 aft grapple fixture;
  21. Relocate both Crew and Equipment Translation Aid carts from the starboard side to the port side. (a) Perform contingency spacewalk to complete primary mission objectives. (b) Perform late inspection of Discovery’s wing leading edge and nosecap;
  22. Perform minimum crew handover (12 hours) for rotating crew members;
  23. Perform the Oxygen Recharge Compressor Assembly and Carbon Dioxide Removal Assembly removal and replacement and return removed hardware via shuttle;
  24. Perform utilization activities to support experiments, including midodrine, ALTEA, Latent Virus, Sleep Short, and PMDIS;
  25. Perform daily ISS payload status checks as required;
  26. Transfer remaining cargo items per mission rules;
  27. Perform external wireless instrumentation system power connections between P5 and P4.
  28. Remove and replace External Television Camera Group Camera Port 3, Starboard 1 Outboard Lower;
  29. Transfer the adjustable grapple bar from inside the station to the flex hose rotary coupler on external stowage platform;
  30. Perform P6 4B final retraction and latching of the solar array blanket box;
  31. Install power cables for S0 channels 1/4 2/3;
  32. Perform payload operations to support STP‐H2 (ANDE, MEPSI, RAFT). 21. Perform the following to allow return of on‐orbit hardware: a) Treadmill gyro removal and replacement and b) Charcoal bed assembly;
  33. Respiratory support pack checkout
  34. Transfer nitrogen from the shuttle to the ISS Quest Airlock high pressure tanks.
  35. Perform U.S. and Russian payload research operation tasks.
  36. Perform an additional four hours of ISS crew handover (16 hours total).
  37. Perform imagery survey of the ISS exterior from shuttle after undocking.
  38. Perform payload operations to support Maui Analysis of Upper Atmospheric Injections and Ram Burn Observations;
  39. Reboost ISS (altitude TBD based on available shuttle propellant);
  40. The following tasks fit within the existing spacewalk timelines; however, they may be deferred if the spacewalk is behind schedule. The EVA will not be extended to complete these tasks;
  41. Install station robot arm force moment sensor insulation;
  42. Install the starboard and port fluid quick disconnect bags on the Quest Airlock;
Oh, and one other thing for their to-do list: retun home safely.

Of course, I think one of the most intersting things about this shuttle mission is something that no one else has touched on. The shuttle crew consists of two women, two Blacks and one Latina and this fact isn't considered to be "newsworthy".

We have finally reached the point where those individuals are just astronauts and they are making news because of their ethnic background or gender.

And that is just plain cool.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Lift-off of the Space Shuttle Discovery

NASA lauched the Shuttle Discovery into space tonight at 8:47 p.m. from the Kennedy Space Center.

The whole launch just looked so darn cool!

It was America's first nighttime launch in four years; the lastest step in NASA's rather ambitious schedule to finish the International Space Station.

Best of luck, guys!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Go west, young gal (Metro Times Detroit)

Go west, young gal (Metro Times Detroit)

Sarah Klein, the venerable culture editor of the Metro Times, announced in her column yesterday that she is leaving Detroit for the sunny climate of California - joining the ever increasing tide of Detroit expats. I dealt with Sarah a couple of times on a professional basis, most recently when I was promoting my documentary on the Book-Cadillac Hotel. I have always been impressed by the quality of her work.

If you asked me three or four years ago, I wouldn't have even hesitated in joining the mass exodus of young folks out of Michigan. After all of the folks that I've met through the FoBC and Detroit Synergy, however, I would be hard presed to do the same thing today. There's just too much cool stuff going on.

Regardless, I wish her the best of everything in the Golden State.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Goofs for Star Wars (1977)

Goofs for Star Wars (1977)

I was surfing the web today and came across a list of goofs for Star Wars. I couldn't help but wonder just how many times someone had to watch that movie in order to notice all of those errors.