July 22, 2019

First Flight

Christopher C Kraft, the man who "invented" both the concept of Mission Control and the position of Flight Director as NASA began their missions into space, passed away today at the age of 95.

Kraft served as the first (and only) Flight Director for all but the final Mercury mission, thus defining the job as the head of the engineers on the ground.  After "executive meddling" during John Glenn's orbital flight, he demanded and got the autonomy the role required.  From then on, the Flight Director's word became law during a mission, unable to be overruled by those outside of Mission Control.

He then became The Boss, selecting the men who would share the role with him into Gemini and beyond.  He invariably was in the command seat when the very difficult or never-before-performed things happened, such as the first US space walk. Prior to Gemini 8, he pulled himself off the rotation to prepare for the Apollo missions.

He was in mission control when the Apollo 1 fire during testing occurred... which also turned out to be the last time he was to be a Flight Director for NASA.  Instead, he became management as the Director of Flight Control and would have an integral role in the planning of Apollo missions.  He was called in by Flight Director Gene Kranz during the Apollo 13 incident, and headed the group that decided how to bring the crippled spacecraft and crew back to Earth.

Kraft became director of NASA's Manned Space Center in 1972, a role he held until he retired in 1982, shortly after the second flight of the Space Shuttle (STS-2).  In 2011, NASA named the Mission Control Center in his honor, and in 2016 he was inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame.

"He installed a sense of what was right, what was wrong, what you had to do, how good you had to be, and those standards that he kind of inbred into everybody, by his own example, and by what he did with us, continue today.  The Control Center today is a reflection of Chris Kraft."
-Glynn Lunney, one of the original Flight Directors selected by Kraft, 1998.

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July 20, 2019

50 Years Since The Moon Landing

In 1964 Alvin Dark, the manager of the San Francisco Giants, and Harry Jupiter, sportswriter for the San Francisco Examiner, were watching batting practice as ace pitcher Gaylord Perry smacked home run after home run.  Jupiter casually mentioned that Perry looked pretty good at the plate, like he had some decent power.  

Dark knew better: Perry was an awful hitter, and this was back in the day before the DH was instituted.  In a 22 year Hall of Fame career that saw him win over 300 games, his batting average was .131 in 1220 at-bats.  Dark turned to Jupiter and proclaimed "A man will walk on the moon before Gaylord Perry hits a home run."

Five years later, Apollo 11 touched down on the Lunar surface, the first time mankind had journeyed to another body in the solar system.  Neil and Buzz left their lunar lander and went for a walk on the Moon.  About a half hour after this, Gaylord Perry came to bat in the third inning of the Giants game against the Los Angeles Dodgers, when Claude Osteen grooved a fast ball dead over the center of the plate.

Alvin Dark was right... barely.

Would that we still could...

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July 15, 2019

Grr Argh Pfft (updated)

I had a job interview today.  It was for a job very similar to the one I had before, claims processing.  Not exactly the same, but close enough that I feel I'd be good at it, quickly.  Despite it being 90 degrees out in the world, I wore a nice shirt and tie... really dressed to the fours (note: it's impossible for me to dress to the nines.  There's not a tailor in the world that could make clothes that look that good on me), y'know?


Went in feeling confident, knowing that I had this one.  I was perfect for the job.

45 minutes later, I went back out to the Duckmobile, wondering just exactly how I had managed to completely pee that one down the leg of my proverbial firesuit so badly.  It's not even like I had a bad interview.  I answered all questions well, was engaging, asked a couple of intelligent questions of my own... and left feeling like I had been slapped in the face with a long-dead mackerel. 

I am no stranger to failure, as anybody who has read The Pond for more than a few days will be aware.  But this feeling... this is new and exciting, in a completely terrifying sort of way.  I'm already sure that I'm not getting this job.  Either I was getting some vibe from the interviewers or I'm just down on myself, I dunno.  Hope I'm wrong.

I'm going to drink some ice cold gatorade, chug a tylenol or two, and go lie down for a couple of decades.  Maybe when I wake up, I'll feel better about the situation.

Update: It's now the next day, and I received an e-mail from the company saying in effect "Nope, it wasn't just you... we really didn't like you.  Get lost."  Less than 24 hours from the interview to rejection... that's the fastest turnaround I've ever had at least.

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July 03, 2019

That Pitcher Is Getting Shelled!

The Google Doodle for today is a rather fun little baseball game!


Your job is to hit the ball.  The only way to make a strike is to swing and miss, three strikes and the game is over.  To make it easier the pitcher, who I'll name "Yu Darvish", tips his pitches... watch the color of his cap, and woe betide you when it turns red.  I've scored 57 runs and hit a homer over 1700 feet. (edit: 2002 feet off a redcap.  I'm so proud.)

Lemonade is a great left-handed power source, btw.

edit: this seems appropriate, considering the holiday tomorrow.

No, I won't condemn anyone for putting ketchup on a hot dog. This is the land of the free. And if someone wants to put ketchup on a hot dog and actually eat the awful thing, that is their right. It is also their right to put mayo or chocolate syrup or toenail clippings or cat hair on a hot dog. Sure, it would be disgusting and perverted, and they would be shaming themselves and their loved ones. But under our system of government, it is their right to be barbarians.
-Mike Royko, Chicago legend.

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