Archive | November, 2015

Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin makes history

25 Nov

Yesterday, November 23, Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin did sometime that no other privately held space company has been able to accomplish. They were able to bring their New Shepard rocket back to Earth after traveling into outer space. This means that now they will be able to re-use the New Shepard rocket to reduce the cost of future flights.

Now safely tucked away at our launch site in West Texas is the rarest of beasts — a used rocket,” Bezos said in a statement. “Full reuse is a game changer, and we can’t wait to fuel up and fly again.”

This is not the first time that Blue Origin attempted to bring their rocket back to Earth. The first time was in April of this year when they launched their New Shepard craft into space. After that flight they were able to bring the capsule back safely but where unable to bring the rocket down due to a hydraulic problems. After the failure the engineer re-designed the hydraulic system.

Jeff Bezos’ dream for Blue Origin is for the company to eventually carry tourist in orbit of the Earth. With the success of this test the company is one step closer to accomplishing that goal. There will probably be more test flights to come before the company is finally ready for those tourist flights.

It is, however, important to clear up the difference between “space” and “orbit”, as described well by https://what-if.xkcd.com/58/ ,” SpaceX CEO Elon Musk wrote in a tweet. In an earlier tweet Mr. Musk did also congratulate Mr. Bezos on his accomplishment, “Congrats to Jeff Bezos and the BO team for achieving VTOL on their booster”.

Eventually, the New Shepard spacecraft will be able to carry six tourist into a sub-orbit around the Earth. With this goal in mind the New Shepard capsule is made with extra large windows that are equipped with multiple layers of a fracture-tough transparent material that will allow 92% of the visible light shine through.

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Celtic Woman’s 10 best songs

24 Nov

In 2004 Sharon Browne, owner of one or Ireland’s largest music labels, and David Downe, creator of Riverdance, co-created an Irish super-group called Celtic Woman. The faces of the group have changed several times over the years. Even with all the change they have maintained the sound that ha made the Celtic Woman a worldwide favorite.

With 16 albums to their credit it makes picking a few of their best a difficult chore. Here is a list of 10 that of some of their best:

  • Scarborough Fair: The shortened version of the Simon & Garfunkel classic never sounded better. The Celtic Woman’s Lisa Lambe adds her angelic voice backed up by some haunting pipe flute play to make this one of the most romantic recording of the ballad.
  • Bridge over troubled water: A stir version of another Simon & Garfunkel classic. A stirring version as the women of The Celtic Woman sing with a youth choir and are backed up by chorus of stringed instruments brings out the message of support & love in the song.
  • Fields of Gold: The Celtic Woman’s Lisa Kelly one of the most emotional versions of this song about a fleeting love. It is hard to top the original by Sting but this version comes close.
  • Amazing Grace: Possibly one of the best versions of the spiritual classic. This version starts out with some of the finest bagpipe play you will hear. Then, the women start singing as their voice blend to make for a moving rendition.
  • Danny Boy: The ladies’ voices and violin blend together in wonderful harmony to make a very touching version of this 100-year-old Irish classic.
  • Caledonia: A beautiful rendition of this 1970’s folk song about a native of Scotland that longs to return home.
  • Beyond the Sea: The Celtic Woman does a great job with the 1950’s standard. When you listen to them sing you can get the sense of waiting on the shore for a loved one to return from a long voyage.
  • Little Drummer Boy: The Celtic Woman do wonders with these Christmas carol a boy that attends the Nativity and finds that the greatest gifts come from the heart.
  • Dulaman: A wonderful song about seaweed and the men that use to collect it from the cliff around Ireland.
  • Brahms Lullaby: The Celtic Woman’s Chloe Agnew does one of the most heartfelt renditions of Brahms Lullaby.

5 things you didn’t know about Carlos Mencia

18 Nov

In 1990, Carlos Mencia started out his career when he entered an amateur open mike night at the Laugh Factory. He did well enough that he soon became a headliner at comedy clubs throughout Los Angeles. From there he has become an award winning comic that has been on such iconic shows as “In Living Color”, “The Bernie Mac Show”, and “Night at the Improv”. His career expanded to include sold out show across the nation, a show of his own, acting on both television and in movies, and a writer. In his 25 year career he has worked along side some of today’s biggest stars like Jim Carey, Samuel L. Jackson, Forest Whitaker, and America Ferrera.

He has been accused of plagiarism

Over last decade Carlos Mencia has been accused of plagiarism by a few a comedians. Among those accusers the most determined has been Joe Rogan who has often used his podcast to talk about Mr. Mencia and others that he also considered plagiarist. The most famous of the times Mr. Rogan accused Mr. Mencia was a chance encounter when Mr. Rogan was introducing the next act at The Comedy Club. Mr. Mencia burst out on stage and a verbal confrontation ensued between the two of them.

His remark after Hurricane Katrina got him in trouble

In 2009, Carlos Mencia was scheduled to appear among a group of celebrities at Mardi Gras. Before the parade it came to light that Mr. Mencia had made some derogatory remarks about Hurricane Katrina that had recently devastated New Orleans. Because of those remarks Mr. Mencia was taken off the list to appear in the parade.

Orpheus Captain Sonny Borey said in a statement Thursday that the club became aware of “certain remarks Mr. Carlos Mencia has made in regards to New Orleans and Hurricane Katrina.”

He Co-owns a restaurant chain

In 2010, Carlos Mencia became a co-owner of Maggie Rita’s Tex-Mex Grill & Bar. The chain had already open a few restaurants in New Orleans but when they wanted to expand into Texas they turn to Mr. Mencia for funding. Sadly, the ones that Mr. Mencia co-owned closed their doors in 2013.

He has been married for more than a decade

In 2003 Carlos Mencia married Amy Mencia (could not find her maiden name). Mr. Mencia frequently has his wife Amy do cameos in his show “Mind of Mencia”. Mrs. Mencia is also the host for her husband’s show and the wardrobe coordinator. In 2007, the couple had their first, and so far only, child.

He was on “Celebrity ghost story”

Carlos Mencia was on an episode of the show “Celebrity ghost story” that aired back in December of 2012.

Happy 46th anniversary Apollo 12

16 Nov

It was 46 years ago today, November 14, that NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) launched, Apollo 12, their second manned moon mission. It was an overcast day full of rain and wind when the three astronauts; Richard F. Gordon Jr., Charles “Pete” Conrad, and Alan L. Bean; climbed aboard the Apollo capsule. Everything went fine with the preflight check as the count-down commenced. At 8:22 am PST (16:22 UTC) the Saturn V rocket blasted off from the launchpad into the sky over Cape Canaveral, Florida. Just seconds after the rocket cleared the tower something unexpected happened.

What the hell was that?” asked Gordon. Twenty seconds of confusion ensued, and then another disturbance occurred.

The answer to Mr. Gordon’s question was lightning struck the Apollo 12 command module. The massive discharge caused the fuel cells to detect an overload and they went off-line. With the fuel cells off-line the command module had to rely on batteries. That meant that they now were trying to power a 75 ampere load on 28 amps provided by the batteries. This was causing several malfunctions and all the warning lights where flashing. That was not the worst though.

About 30 seconds after the first strike they suffered another lightning bolt. This one the “8-ball” altitude indicator. The astronauts and mission control were thinking they would have to abort the mission less a minute into the flight. Just then John Aaron; electrical, environmental, and consumable engineer; remembered his training on how to handle the situation. He relied the solution to the crew of Apollo 12 that plug in the proper sequence to get everything back on track to continue the mission to the moon.

Charles “Pete” Conrad Jr. had a rough road to travel on his way to NASA. As a youth he struggled in school with a dyslexia problem. He was expelled after failing his junior year of high-school. His mother was able to get him into a new school that helped him work around his dyslexia. After that he excelled in his academic studies enough that he was accepted to Princeton University with an ROTC Navy scholarship. He went on to become a Navy aviator, flight instructor, test pilot, and one of the “Mercury Seven” astronauts.

5 things we love about Albert Brooks

11 Nov

Having parents that are both in the entertainment business it was only natural that Albert Brooks, birth name Albet Einstein, would grow up with the show business bug. It wasn’t before Albert showed sings of catching that bug. In his late teens he began a 4 and a half decade career as a comedian, writer, voice-overr artist, and director. In that career he has been on just about every talk & variety show, and has over 35 acting credit. The movie he is probably most remembered for is 1991’s “Defending your Life” that he also wrote and direct.

Mr. Brooks has had some hits & misses in his career but has always kept us laughing. The following are five things that make Mr. Brooks one of our favorite comic personalities:

He is one of the best at his craft

As fans of Mr. Brooks we knew how good he is on screen. Then in 1987 Hollywood recognized what we all knew when he was nominated for an Academy Award for his supporting role in “Broadcast News. In the movie Mr. Brooks played writer/reporter Aaron Altman who was involved in a love triangle with his two co-workers at a news station.

He is carismatic

This side of him really showed through in the relationship between Mr. Brooks and Merle Streep in the movie “Defending your life”. Then his carismatic showed in real life when in 1997 Mr. Brooks married Kimberly Shlain, a website designer. A year after they were married they had their first child, a son, Jacob. A few years later the couple had their second child, a daughter, Claire.

He tells Vanity Fair magazine, “I think we give each other a huge amount of freedom to be who we are. There’s so much trust that nobody thinks twice about it. And if I need to be in my cave, and I’m trying to write something, it’s understood. There’s no clock punching… I was very fortunate when I met Kimberly – things gelled.”

He looks at subjects from different angles

One example of this is his book “2030: The real story of what happens to America”. In the year 2030 people are living longer because cancer has been eradicated. As the saying goes “beware of what you wish for because it might come true”. .

He is bring attention to brain injury in the NFL

Mr. Brooks has joined forces with Will Smith, Ridley Scott, and several other Hollywood heavyweights to make a flim to bring attention to concusion and the aftermath. The movie is to be a dramatization of the real story of the doctor that discovered a corrolation between concussions and CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy). CTE is a brain diorder that has been found in several retired NFL players that suffered multiple concussions during their career.

He was in the Disniy movie “Finding Nemo”

In the both the 2003 movie “Finding Nemo” and its upcoming sequal “Finding Dory” he has been the voice of Marlin, Nemo’s father. Even though the character was a fish he portrayed the caring father figure that endears him to adults and children.

At 15 the international space station get a makeover

3 Nov

It was 15 years ago today, November 2, that NASA astronaut Bill Shepherd and Russian cosmonauts Sergei Krikalev and Yuri Gidzenko step foot on the ISS (International Space Station). Not long after those three took up residence as they began expansions of the ISS. Over the next decade plus there have been several more expansions cared out by dozens of crew members that have spent time on the ISS. Now, the ISS is roughly the size of a football field when its solar arrays are extended and has living space for 6 crew members at a time.

“When I first saw the station I thought, ‘Oh my word, it’s huge.’ It looked so majestic,” astronaut Doug Wheelock, who has visited the station twice and has spent months living there, told ABC News. “The outside is kind of a stark metallic. It’s like a castle in the sky.”

Back when when those men first occupied the ISS the NASA astronauts where being transported in the Space Shuttle. In 2011 the last of the Space Shuttles was retired and since then our astronauts have ridden on the Russian Soyuz capsule. In the next two years that is going to change when both Boeing and SpaceX will making the first test flights of their Space Taxis that will end the United States dependency on the Soyuz capsule. In preparation for the first flight of those taxis the crew on the ISS will need to remodel the docking stations on the ISS.

The remodeling project was set to start earlier this year when one of the adapters for the docking station was made part of a SpaceX supply mission in June. Sadly, the mission that adapter was on ended in tragedy when the unmanned SpaceX Falcon 9 exploded not long after it was launched. The loss of the adapter was a setback to NASA but they are still optimistic the remodeling will be done on time.