The space shuttle Discovery did its much-publicized grand fly around the D.C. area yesterday, and I got it on camera. Sort of. Video here. The problem was that the video lens on my iPhone isn't optimized for telephoto... and Windows Live Movie Maker doesn't have a zoom feature.
I think NASA should have flown a streamer from the rear end of the shuttle: "Restore our space exploration budget, please, Congress." A co-worker of mine told me that this flight cost eleven million dollars in logistics, flying the shuttle atop a adapted 747 from Florida to Dulles airport. Let us hope not. Even by the standards of Federal government waste, fraud and abuse - Colombian prostitutes for the Secret Service, lavish parties in Las Vegas and giveaway iPods for the GSA - that's a lot of money.
The space shuttle! Was it really so long ago that the first one lifted off? 1981; I was in college at the time. Now we have to rely upon Russia - the former Soviet Union! - to get our astronauts into space. This is as bad as having to rely upon Mexico for Coca-Cola made with sugar. Sad days for the Republic, indeed. I don't take surveys, but if one came along and asked what I thought of the direction our country is taking, my answer would be "Dire on all accounts."
I watched a highly-regarded psychological thriller/neo-noir from Great Britain last night, Seance on a Wet Afternoon (1964), about a psychic and her weak-willed husband planning a kidnapping for the sake of publicity. (A daft premise for a film... it doesn't occur to them that a successful psychic locating a kidnapped child would make her become Suspect Number One?) I can't figure out why this film is so highly rated. Normally I appreciate understated drama, but this one is so slow moving and subtle that there's no real payoff. The acting by Kim Stanley and Richard Attenborough that is supposed to be so fabulous is merely adequate. In fact, there are a few drawn out talky bits in this where I fell asleep! I want that one hour and 55 minutes of my life back!
(There's an interesting bit of dialogue in the 1981 neo-noir, Body Heat, given by way of advice by a criminal to a lawyer planning a murder: "I got a serious question for you - What the %$! are you doing? This is not %#$%! for you to be messin' with. Are you ready to hear something? I want you to see if this sounds familiar: any time you try a decent crime, you got fifty ways you're gonna %#^! up. If you think of twenty-five of them, then you're a genius... and you ain't no genius. You remember who told me that?" It's a pity screenwriters don't apply that same introspection and self-examination to their scripts - I'm convinced the result would be movies with far more sensible plots.)
I had to do some more work in the garage today. The problem was the cabinet on the other side of the wall. Once I got the new ones up, it became painfully obvious that the other was not hung on the same level. So I raised it by three inches - all by myself. I developed a way whereby I could stand on a ladder and hold the cabinet in place with my upper legs while I screwed it into the wall studs. Tricky and resourceful. Next I plan to play a drum via a mechanism connected to my elbows, a harmonica with my mouth, cymbals with my knees and go a-busking, like Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins.
We ran the Webelos scouts around last night for our den meeting. There are some ten year-old boys who have so little body fat that they can do sit ups all day, so we altered the rule a bit to make it max number of sit-ups in two minutes. One kid last year hit 200 rather easily. He'd do a stretch of about fifty, ask the kid holding him down how many he did, look around innocently and ask if he should do more, and do another group of fifty. This seemed to go on for an inordinately long time. I can't ever remember having that kind of strength to flexibility ratio.
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