Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Just started a "Get Rid Of" box. Already in it: unwaxed dental floss and a little notepad. More to come.

In the trash: A Subway game ticket for an expired game, a bald cypress nut, and an expired tablet of Zyrtec (I think).

In the recycling: the scraps from the coupon sections of Sunday's paper.

I've been motivated/inspired by a couple of blog posts I found yesterday, about getting rid of one thing a day.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Kennedy Space Center

While I was visiting my sister in Gainesville last month, I convinced her to drive to Titusville and visit Kennedy Space Center. She thought it was a 2 hour drive, but then realized it was 3 hours, and almost backed out. We got a late start, and didn't get to Kennedy until noon, and of course it's wicked hot.

Welcome to Titusville. After Titusville, you drive across the Causeway to Cape Canaveral, home of Kennedy Space Center as well as a big wildlife preserve.

First look at KSC from the Causeway.

KSC Entrance. Behold my Holy Grail. We took the free bus tour first (next time, I'm planning to pay extra for at least one of the bonus tours. I want to get as close as I can to 39A and B.) There were three possible stops along the way - the observation tower for Launch Pads 39A and 39B, the Saturn/Gemini complex, and the International Space Station complex. I decided to skip the ISS section, figuring it'll be there for a while and we were short on time, and there are tentative plans to go back for one of the last shuttle launches this fall.

The Vehicle Assembly Building.

First stop was the observation gantry for Launch Pads 39A and 39B. View of Launch Pad 39 (A or B) from the observation tower's 4th floor. There was a good breeze on the catwalk, too. The road is the path that the crawler takes when it hauls the Shuttle to the launch pad.

Resident tortoise seen on the bus tour.

Next stop is the Apollo/Saturn V Center. First there's a stage presentation, then you get to see the control room and some exhibits. Out in the main room there's an actual Saturn rocket hanging from the ceiling. It's massive! This is the stage backdrop for one of the presentations. They lower a replica of the lunar lander down from the ceiling, and it looks pretty cool.

I touched a moon rock!! It's in a little block, you can stick your hand in to touch it, but there's not enough space to steal it or anything.

Astronaut Snoopy. One of the Apollo capsules was named Snoopy.

Control room from the Apollo missions.

After the bus tour, we went back to the main complex. We'd just missed the Hubble IMAX movie (Hubble images in IMAX and 3D! My brain would have melted. I've got plans for a mega-sized wall mural of a Hubble image someday. I drool over the Carina Nebula mural. Color would be awe-inspiring, but black & white would be pretty striking too.) So, we did some shopping and then went to the other IMAX movie, called Magnificent Desolation, narrated by Tom Hanks.

Last, we went outside to the Rocket Garden and the outdoor exhibits.

My sister's Vanna White impression.

Rocket Garden. Sister thinks "artistic" pictures are just ones you take at an angle.

The gantry the astronauts walked up to the capsules in.

The last thing I did before we left was visit the Astronaut Memorial. This is a lousy picture (blame the heat, I was tuckered out and the sun was bright at this spot). It's a big black wall with a mirror finish on it that reflects the sky, and it looks like the names are floating in the clouds. The three names in the lower center block are Gus Grissom, Roger Chaffee, and Ed White. The other squares have names of other astronauts who've died over the years.

Souvenir pennies. I love the squash-a-penny souvenirs. Fairly cheap, don't take a lot of space. No practical use, but hey. The prices on these varied. I went with the 50cent models, but there was a nice one - Shuttle, I think - that I was going to get until I noticed that it was a $1 machine.

Leaving on the Causeway. We'd been there six solid hours, and were tired and hungry for some real food. Six hours on my feet is why I wore my New Balance shoes, no matter how unstylish my sister thought they were. Six hours of walking in a pair of her sandals that were too big for me would have ruined my day. No thanks.

Grissom Avenue in Titusville. (Proof my sister wasn't paying attention - she thought I was a CSI fan when I took the pic)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

My trip to Florida

I took a weekend trip to Florida in June, to see my sister graduate (1). It was my first airplane flight alone, and I haven't flown that much anyway, so there was some stress. I woke up at 4 a.m. to catch the local shuttle for a 3 hour trip to the airport. Made it through security and got my carry-on into the overhead compartment. It was a small plane, with small compartments, so it took a shove or two to get it in. But I saved $30 on Delta's rotten checked-bag fee, so it was good.

I switched planes in Atlanta, where I found that the concourse shuttles aren't kidding when they say "hold on" during acceleration. Not a bad airport. I grabbed some lunch and found a postcard for El Burrito, but couldn't find a mailbox to stick it in. Finally landed in Gainesville, 15 minutes early and 11 hours after I woke up. Gainesville has a very small airport - 3 gates, in one room, and you can walk around the whole airport in ten minutes. No joke. Postcards were wicked expensive at $1 plus tax, and the stamp machine was similarly overpriced - 2 44-cent stamps for $1.50.

I was picked up at the airport by my favorite sister, driving the reason El Burrito has 10 toy Mini Coopers:

The next day, I helped out with her graduation errands and we did some grocery shopping. Florida is miserably hot and humid in June, let me tell you. And the houses down there aren't built to hold the AC in. I was sleeping upstairs, and even with the AC and a ceiling fan, it never got cool enough to really sleep. Blah.

Graduation was Saturday. It's a small school and a very small class. My pictures outside were horribly overexposed:

We partied after graduation, although the graduates were mostly not in a party mood, and there was some drama. I also discovered that I don't like mai tais, mojitos, or cosmopolitans. No surprise there, by Sister can't seem to keep from trying to change people.

On Sunday, we drove over to Titusville and Kennedy Space Center, which was one of my Holy Grails. More on that later, because I took pictures of everything.

Monday, it was back to the airport and home. On the way through town, we saw these markers - one of the local schools has a scale model of the solar system.

These three are Venus, Earth, and Mars. We were driving too fast to see their interpretation of Pluto's demotion.

(1) My sister got a graduate degree in Traditional Chinese Medicine and acupuncture. I'm skeptical about the whole thing, but if that's what she wants to do, and she thinks she can make a living at it, I'm fine with that.

Garden pictures

Bizarre June-blooming Christmas cactus. So much for the "requirement" of cool temps and a minimum amount of darkness for mine to bloom. Both the white and pink/fuchsia ones bloomed this summer. I think they're a bit confused.

Dwarf pumpkin seedlings, sometime in June.

Daylily season. I love Hemerocallis, and plan to have a ton of them when we get a house. They're my kind of plant - easy to grow, almost impossible to kill. These pics are all of "feral" lilies along the road. The middle pic is of a large patch of lilies along a local interstate. The lilies cover at least 50 yards, probably more, in the median of a 4-lane interstate. Anything that can live in spite of the snowplows, winter chemicals and salt, and the run-off rubber/oil/water mix the rest of the year should grow well in my yard.

Monday, July 19, 2010


The July report.

The actual "garden" plants (dwarf bell peppers, dwarf pumpkins, and sunflowers) aren't doing well. Not enough sunlight, probably not enough dirt. The perils of container gardening in a covered porch. LOL I moved everything out to the back deck, where there's a bit more sun (not much, thanks to Bud the lovely pin oak). Nothing's eaten them yet, but they're still not growing a lot.

As far as the houseplants and flowers, things are slightly better. The oxalis are doing well, and one of the pots of purple oxalis that I'd given up on has started showing some life again. The Christmas cacti bloomed (crazy little buggers) in June. The Mother's Day impatiens basket is still alive and blooming, and so are most of the bedding/container plants I got for Mother's Day.

HyVee has their garden center on clearance. I went with Mom to find her some petunias, and we left with petunias (99c a quart) plus about 30 daylilies, mostly for $1 each. I got a gallon iris (3.33), 2 gallon daylilies ($3.33), and 4 small daylilies ($1 each). Then, of course, there was a trip to Westlake's for a big flowerpot and some dirt. And after potting everything on Sunday morning, I had room for another gallon plant. It was that or buy another bag of potting soil. So on our weekend HyVee run, I ended up with another gallon daylily and two quart ones. Hopefully they'll all survive until next spring or we find a house, whichever comes first.

Also, we stopped in at the Hemerocallis Society's daylily show at the library last weekend, and they were giving away bare-root plants from some of the members' yards. We came home with a small canteloupe-colored plant, which is now living in the big pot with the clearance lily from HyVee's sale last year. (It actually bloomed this year. I left it on the porch until it started to freeze, then put it indoors, in the coolest corner I could find, and hoped all winter that it wouldn't get confused. I should keep it away from those confused Christmas cacti, they'd be a bad influence.)