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Archive for the ‘science’ Category

On July 20, 1969, this four-year-old kid from small-town Iowa knew something was up when his Dad came home from work early one morning to watch television.  In fact, with a quick glance down the neighborhood street, I would have noticed lots of cars parked in the driveway – with everyone inside staring at their black and whites.

“Because of what you have done, the Heavens have become a part of man.”

The flight of Apollo 11 served as a rebirth in the United States in many ways. And my four-year-old eyes watched not really knowing what I was seeing, but impressed that my Dad – who ran his own business and worked long arduous hours to keep it going – took time from his morning to watch TV. And we continued to watch for the next three days – whenever the networks fed us NASA’s grainy footage of the astronauts doing their business out in space. The first-ever landing on the Moon. Listening as Neil Armstrong voiced to the world his impressions as he stepped of the lunar module ladder onto the Moon’s surface. The Moon walks. The lift-off from the Moon and the splash landing.

It’s all very surreal, but there are images in my memory banks from 40 years ago and it’s something my kids read about without consideration to the sheer magnitude of what was happening. Six hundred million people on earth watched and read about those three days in the summer of ’69 and we’re still talking about it four decades later.

Without question, it was something else.

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This from the creative writers at The Rake and the daily “Secrets of the Day…”

MarsCon Invades the Holiday Inn

Bust out that Storm Trooper costume that you’ve been saving for a rainy day and head down to the Holiday Inn Select in Bloomington for the nerdiest experience of your life. March 6, 7 and 8, geeks of all castes, affiliations and creeds will congregate for 72 hours of no-holds-barred antics and snort laughing at this annual Science Fiction convention. During the day, official activities such as panel discussions, vendor displays, lectures, autograph signings, performances, film screenings and much more abound.

After hours, however, two floors of the hotel will boast open party rooms with varying themes — most of them featuring plenty of alcohol and sassy, costumed nerds who will stop at nothing to get you to join their celebrations. In other words? Totally awesome! And luckily, what happens at a Sci-Fi Convention, stays at a Sci-Fi Convention…unless, of course, you write an article about one for Secrets of the City.

Friday 7 p.m. through Sunday 9 p.m., Holiday Inn Select, 3 Apple Tree Square, Bloomington, $25 one day, $55 for weekend.

Hilarity is certain to ensue. I may camp out in the parking lot and take photos. Photos to use as blackmail at a future date.

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I sweat. There. I admit it.

I’m not a heavy sweater (thank God). A little anti-perspirant/deoderant every morning under the arms and I smell like a tulip all day. Not so for lots of folks.  Take Kevin James for example (co-Kevin Jamesstar of the recently released movie, “I Now Prounounce You Chuck and Larry.” That man is a heavy sweater. OK, he’s also obese, and fat people tend to push out the perspiration in mass quantities.  More mass, more water to expel.

I do like to work up a good sweat when I bike, run or do some other form of physical activity. It’s a measure of my ability to exert myself. But when I dress for work or a date or any other casual event, I’m blessed with sweat glands that don’t make me kin with the likes of Kevin James, Rodney Dangerfield or any number of political wannabes who can’t manage to keep their core temperature under control in public.

It’s rare to see a woman who persistently sweats. Females don’t seem to be capable of sitting in an air-conditioned room and perspire profusely – unless they’re running on a treadmill at the gym. I’ve known a few who can work up a nice glowing sweat given the right circumstances. It’s not the dripping kind of perspiration, rather just the surface layer that is almost sensual in nature.

These observations base themselves on an opinion piece published in the New York Times recently.  Here in Minnesota, it’s unusual to see people who just live in a quagmire of flop sweat year round.  As opposed to say, Atlanta, where the population spends nine months of the year surviving in temperatures above 80 degrees.  Atlantans, though, have perfected the art of looking cool. They’ve adjusted to their climate. Still, the rare street crossing at high noon can produce a lot of water in their city streets.

In Minnesota though, where temps only surpass 90 degrees twice a year (usually when I’ve reserved a spot to go camping) the more hearty of us tend to bask in the rare heat that visits the state.  It’s so infrequent that working outside becomes its very own mini slice of heaven on earth.

Sweating has its bodily purpose and I’m thankful our systems know when it’s time to ooze some water. But please, pay close attention to those stains forming under your arm pits and follow proper hygiene. Once done with your sweat session, don’t sit next to me before you’ve had a cool shower.

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The new head of the science division at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration is an old friend of mine. We went to high school together. He and another guy egged me and a friend of mine after school one Autumn afternoon. Splat, egg whites and yolks ran down our backs and these two buffoons stood there laughing. I suppose we deserved it. We were less geeky than they were. This happened in junior high. We maintained our friendship for the ensuing five-plus years.

Kent G. Bress and I not only became friends in junior high, but we also remained close throughout high school and then found ourselves as college roommates for a year (1983 – ’84) at the University of Iowa. As a roommate, I saw Kent in some very, very interesting states of inebriation. I won’t go into details here because I prefer not to have a federally funded institution investigate me at this point in my life. I will say that Kent was the consummate student, wickedly intelligent – although there was a slight shortfall when it came to common sense (thus the egging).

The Bress family I knew back in my hometown was quite typical. Kent’s Dad owned a butcher shop where we spent many a Friday and Saturday night kicked back drinking Old English 800 malt liquor in the back room. Kent’s Mom, Evelyn, was a German instructor at the high school. Her class was a riot and while I sucked at speaking German, I learned a lot about people and relationships in Frau Bress’s classroom. Kent’s older brother lived a block north of my childhood home, on the corner of West Third Street and Fourth Avenue West. I think we drank beer there once or twice, too.

When I got an e-mail from our former high school band director (Kent played a mean French Horn as well and was a two or three-time All State Band member), I wasn’t shocked to discover Kent had been promoted within NASA to head up one of its Science divisions. I’m sure he’s surrounded by a group of super-intelligent people from all walks of life and they all go home each night wondering how Kent trumps them all in the knowledge department.

However, I can proudly say that he’s still a bigger geek than me.

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