Saturday, August 29, 2009

Beginning of the End

Random Thoughts

Tonight Space Shuttle Discovery launched into the dark Florida sky on it's way to the International Space Station. Spectacular video, starkly lit by the light of the Solid Rocket Boosters and a big waxing Moon. Tonight's launch was the first I've seen on a High Definition! I also had NASA TV streaming on the coverage.

Monday morning, the Space Station is going to make a brightly lit pass over the ancestral digs...I'll get up early to see it transit...I haven't seen a pass since the astronauts deployed the new solar arrays...should be really something, unless the Marine Layer and it's overcast reappear.

After tonight's launch, there's only six more Shuttle Flights scheduled before the program sunsets forever. NASA's spent the last two decades messing about in Low Earth Orbit, but they're making plans to go back to the Moon, and ultimately out to Mars. I hope we make it while I'm still here to see it.

I can't wait for this week's heat wave to break up. This afternoon the upper 90's temperatures were joined by some Subtropical Moisture and clouds from ex-Tropical Storm feels like Baja, only without the smoky smells and humid evening breezes. Another six weeks or so, and we'll be out of the frying pan, so to speak. The 11 o'clock weathercast said we're cooling off big time...starting tomorrow! Hooray...if it happens.

So far, Fire Season hasn't gotten out of hand. Some of the family are in Carmel-by-the Sea for a wedding. They needed to check on a wildfire in the area before they left...all clear, for now. A couple more weeks, and the campers in the mountains will break camp and head back home, and the temperatures will cool. I hope we can dodge the big fires for the remainder of the season.

I'll be headed up the hill in a few weeks. It's time to visit the Mountain, pick up a month's worth of mail, and spend a few hours with a trout rod in my hand. I'm looking forward to a couple of days at the Reno Air Races, too. It will be nice and cool in could go either way out at Stead Field for the Races.

Over the years, I've broiled in the Sun out there, and a couple of years I've nearly frozen to death. In the early 2000's, the final Sunday of racing ran ahead of schedule. In more than 25 years of going to the Air Races, it was the only time the Unlimited Gold Race was early. It had to be done, there was a solid white snow-squall line marching towards the Stead Valley as the temperature plummeted. The Big Boys got 'er done, and all the race planes were recovered before the flurries began.

I don't have a clever quip to end on's too hot in here. I'm fully hydrated though...maybe I'm poached.

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