Archive | January, 2016

Remembering the Apollo 1 tragedy

29 Jan

On Jan 27, 1967 a Saturn I-B rocket with the Apollo I command module was wheeled on to launch compound 34 at Cape Canaveral, Florida. Once the rocket was in place the three astronauts United States Air Force Lieutenant Colonels Virgil Grissom & Edward White along with United States Navy Lieutenant Commander Roger Chafee rode the lift up to the command capsule to do a pre-flight check before their mission the following month. It was 6:30 pm EST that the go ahead was given to start the pre-flight check and then tragedy struck.

One of the astronauts, it is not clear which one, reported a fire. After the shouts of fire there were sounds of movement coming over the astronauts’ microphones. It was evident the astronauts were trying to get out of the capsule to escape the fire. After hearing the sounds the people in command center went to try to rescue the three astronauts. Unfortunately, neither the astronauts or the would be rescuers were able to get the hatch open. The three astronauts ended up dying in that fire. That day NASA and the world lost three heroic men.

Virgil “Gus” Grissom enlisted in the United States Army Air Corp in 1943. It was not until after he graduated from High School the following year that he was finally inducted into the Army. At the end of WWII he was awarded an honorable discharge and went back to civilian life. He then went to Purdue University where he graduated with a mechanical engineering degree. After graduation he re-enlisted in the United States Air Force where he became a pilot during the Korean War. After his outstanding service during the war he was stationed at Bryan AFB in Texas where he became a flight instructor and test pilot. A few years later he received an invitation from NASA where he became one of the “Mercury Seven”. At NASA he went on to be the only astronaut to fly missions in the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo programs.

Edward “Ed” Higgins White graduated from West Point with a bachelor of science degree in 1952. He then went on to flight school where he was awarded the ran of second Lieutenant before being deployed to West Germany. Once he returned to the States, Mr. White attended the University of Michigan where he earned his masters of science in aeronautical engineering in 1959. Mr. White went on to become a test pilot where he put in over 3,000 hours. After being a test pilot he was part of the second group of astronauts at NASA. He flew Gemini 4 and was backup on Gemini 7.

Roger Bruce Chaffee started out his career going through the ROTC route where in 1953 he enrolled in the Illinois Institute of Technology. He transferred from there to Purdue where he earned a bachelor of science degree in aeronautical engineering in 1957. That same year Mr. Chaffee was commissioned as an ensign in the United States Navy. In 1959 Mr. Chaffee earned his Naval pilot’s wings and was assigned to photo reconnaissance squadrons as a Lieutenant Commander. During his time in photo reconnaissance it was rumored that Mr. Chaffee was one of the pilots that flew the secretive U2 spy plane. In January of 1963 Mr. Chaffee became one of the 3rd group of astronauts and Apollo 1 would have been his first trip into space.


Opportunity Rover turns 12

26 Jan

It was 12 years ago yesterday, Jan 24, that NASA’s MER-B (Mars Explorer Rover B) aka Opportunity descended into Eagle crater on Mars. Minutes after the landing the Rover began its climb out of the crater to start its mission to analyze rocks and soil for past water activity. That mission was suppose to last a mere 90 days but has exceeded all expectations by 11 years and 9 months so far.

Twelve years is a very long time to have this sort of a continuous presence,” said Matt Golombek, Mars rovers project scientist. “For a science team to be this involved, on a daily basis, for this long on Mars, is pretty much unprecedented.”

In the 12 years the Rover has been roam the Red Planet we have come to know Mars is much different than the barren planet we always thought it was. Opportunity and the Spirit Rover, that proceeded it by 3 weeks, have shown us signs that Mars once had an atmosphere, unusual rock formations, and much more than NASA ever expected to find on our nearest planetary neighbor.

Opportunity’s journey was scheduled to start on June 28. 2003 but was delayed because of bad weather. It was then reschedule and started on the early hours of July 7, 2003 when a Delta II rocket was wheeled out to launch center 17b at Cape Canaveral. At 3:18 UTC (July 6, 2003 10:18 pm EST) the engines on the rocket ignited as the rocket lifted off the platform. The rocket with the Boeing-built Rover soon cleared the tower on a 6 month journey to Mars.

After its long journey the Rover went into orbit of Mars on Jan 23, 2004. Once in the pre-programmed area the Rover started on its descent to the planets surface. As it near the protective airbag deployed as the rate of descent slowed. At 5:05 UTC the Rover safely touched down inside Eagle crater when it immediately started taking and sending pictures back to Earth.

5 things you didn’t know about Jack Carter

23 Jan

For over seventy years Jack Carter enjoyed a highly successful career as a comedian, actor, director, and television host. He was one of the pioneers of network television hosting a variety show in the late 1940’s. Over the next seven decades he was a frequent guest on talk & variety shows, appeared in numerous television series, was in over dozens movies, and starred on Broadway. In those years Mr. Carter has also appeared alongside several of the biggest names, such as, Elvis Presley, Chuck Norris, Barbra Eden, and Zooey Deschanel among others.

He died of respiratory failure

Jack Carter died on June 28, 2015 at his home in Beverly Hills, California. He remain highly active in career right up until his final days. One of his final television appearances will in the series “Shameless” in 2014.

He was married three times

Early in his television career Mr. Carter married Joan Mann in 1949. That marriage lasted for 10 years until they divorced in 1958. A couple of years after his divorce Mr. Carter decided to try marriage again and in 1961 he wed Paula Stewart. His second marriage lasted 9 years until the couple divorced in 1970. He married his third wife two separate times 1971-1977 and 1992-2015.

He was drafted during WWII

After being drafted into the United States Army Mr. Carter spent much of his time touring with the cast of Irving Berlin’s “This is the Army”. He also toured with other entertainment groups to keeping the morale of the troops up during WWII.

He won on the Major Bowes’ Amateur Hour

As a teenager Jack Carter appeared on Major Bowes’ Amateur Hour were he won the competition for three weeks in a row. After winning he was part of a tour group with other winners of the Major Bowes show. Among those he toured with was a young singer name Frank Sinatra.

Was in the pilot of “King of Queens”

In the pilot for the series “King of Queens” Mr. Carter was cast as Author Spooner, the father of Carrie played by Leah Remini. Once the pilot was turned into a series they replaced Mr. Carter with Jerry Stiller.

Eugene Ely was a Naval aviator pioneer

20 Jan

It was 105 years ago yesterday, Jan 18, that Eugene Burton Ely and Hugh Robinson made Naval Aviation history. The names might not be that well know but it was their individual accomplishments paved the way for the modern aircraft carrier. What did these two men do? One was the first to land on a ship and the other created the tail-hook system.

It was 11:00 am (PST) that Mr. Ely took off from Tanforan Racetrack in San Bruno, California. Once airborne Mr. Ely fly over San Francisco Bay where the USS Pennsylvania was anchored. As he came closer to the ship Mr. Ely started his landing sequence. He came in for his finally approach and touched down on a 120 foot by 30 foot platform that had been affixed to the ship. Once on the platform the plane was slowed by the tail-hook, invented by Mr. Robison, as it the weighted ropes placed across the platform.

Just two months before his historic landing, Mr. Ely also accomplished another first in Naval Aviation. It was on Nov 14, 1910 that he was aboard the USS Birmingham that had been affixed with an 88 foot long platform. Once the ship was out to sea Mr. Ely climbed into his Curtis Pusher plane. The plane roared to life and Mr. Ely rumbled down the platform. When his plane went off the end of the platform it took a dive before coming back up to soar into the air.

Much the same as many early aviators Eugene Burton Ely never took flying lessons. Mr. Ely was racing and selling cars when in 1910 his employer bought a Curtis biplane. Neither Mr. Ely or his employer, E. Henry Wemme, could fly the plane. That was when Mr. Ely decided that it would not be too much of a step from racing cars to flying. So he told his employer that he would fly the plane and went about teaching himself how to fly. Later that year he went into flying in exhibitions. Sadly, in late 1911 Mr. Ely died in a plane crash at one of those exhibitions.

Today aircraft carriers are the main force in the United States Navy. The type of planes that fly on those aircraft carriers have changed but the tail-hook that Hugh Robinson invented is still pretty much the same as the ones used on those modern planes.

Amazon to offer a temporary price cut on Prime membership

15 Jan

Seattle-based Amazon is celebrating this weekend after their original series “Mozart in the Jungle” won both best television show (comedy or drama) and best actor at the Golden Globe Awards. They are inviting the public to join in on that celebration by temporally cutting the price of their Prime Network from the usually $99/year to $73/year. The reason for making the price $73 is to honor the 73th Golden Globe Award ceremony. The temporary price will go into effect on Friday, Jan 15, at 9:00 pm (PT) and last until Sunday, Jan 17, at 12:59 pm (PT).

“What an incredible honor to be recognized by the Hollywood Foreign Press two years in a row,” said vice president of Amazon Studios Roy Price in a statement. “It’s gratifying and exciting to see the success of [Mozart in the Jungle].”

In addition to the temporary price cut Amazon is also inviting the public to see both seasons of the award winning show by making it free for non-Prime subscribers. Amazon is hoping that by giving the public the chance to see “Mozart in the Jungle” they will want to scribe to Prime. The free streaming of “Mozart in the Jungle” will be offered for the same time period as the price cut.

The Seattle-based e-commerce and media company made the same two offers last year when their show “Transparent” won same two awards at the Golden Globe ceremony last year. Since at that time it was the 72nd Golden Globe ceremony the price was cut to $72/year. The company repeated the offers later in the year when “Transperant” went on to duplicate the wins at the Emmy award ceremony that fall.

Amazon has been streaming media for years but it was not until the Fall of 2013 that they delved into original shows. Ever since the first of those shows, “Alpha House” debuted Amazon has playing catch-up with Netflix. With their four Golden Globes and a pair of Emmy Awards, Amazon is showing progress as a serious contender.

Microsoft ends support for Windows 8

13 Jan

Today, Redmond-based Microsoft announced that they would no-longer send out security updates for their Windows 8 operating system and several version of their Internet Explorer (IE) browser. This means that if you still use Windows Vista or Windows 7 you will be fine since they are still being supported. If you are in the minority that use Windows 8 you will need to go to the Windows store and get either the free Windows 8.1 or the free Windows 10 updates. As for the IE browser you will need to upgrade to either IE 11 or the Edge browser that comes with Windows 10.

It sounds straightforward enough but it get slightly complex if you are running either Windows Vista or Windows Server 2012. Since Windows Vista can not run any version of IE above 9 you will still be able to get updates for IE 9 until Windows Vista is set to be retired sometime next year. If you run Windows Server 2012 you will still be able to get updates for IE 10 since it is the highest compatible version for the operating system.

Back on Oct 25, 2012 Redmond-based Microsoft released Windows 8. The new operating system radically changed the look and feel of previous versions of Windows. Gone from this new system were many of the features that people have become use to seeing when they would power up their desktop or laptop. Since it looked and felt so much different this meant that to update to Windows 8 was going to required plenty of retraining that they just did not want to do. For this reason many opted to stay with either Windows Vista or Windows 7.

In Oct 2013 Microsoft released Windows 8.1 update or as it now being called service pack 1. Windows 8.1 brought back some of the features that were left out of Windows 8. Windows 8.1 did get more people to upgrade from the previous versions of Windows but there were still plenty of holdouts that opted to stay with both Windows Vista and Windows 7.

5 things you didn’t know about Charlie Rich

10 Jan

In 1958 Charlie Rich joined Sun Records as a studio musician to begin what would be a 37 year career as a singer/songwriter. His career would have many highs and lows as Mr. Rich changed his music styles and record labels over the years. With each of these changes he saw some success but nothing like the success he had in the early 1970’s. It was in that decade that he recorded the two songs, “The most beautiful girl” and “Behind closed doors”, that would became the biggest hits of his career. After the mid 1970’s he still had some minor success in writing movie themes, the occasional hit, and a couple of cameos in movies. Throughout all of these ups and downs of his career he remained popular with his fans.

Beyond all the great music that Mr. Rich produced in his career there were many events that shaped the lie and death of the man that would become known as the “Silver Fox”. The following are just five of those events:

He grew up on a cotton farm

Charlie Rich grew up in the 1930’s on his parents cotton farm in rural Arkansas. It was during his youth that he had many of his musical influences. The first of these influences was his mother who played piano and his father who sang in the local baptist church. He was also influenced by one of the sharecroppers on their farm that taught how to play Blues on the piano.

He hone his craft while in the United States Air Force

Charlie Rich dropped out of college in 1953 to enlist in the United States Air Force. It was during his three years of serving that he formed the Jazz/Blues band the Velvetones.

He set fire to an award letter at the CMA

In 1975 the Academy of Country Music had chosen Mr. Rich to present the award for entertainer of the year. When Mr. Rich came up to the stage to make his presentation it was quite apparent that he was drunk. Despite his condition everything seemed to be going fine when he announced the nominees. It was when he asked for the envelop with the winners’ name that Mr. Rich did something that shocked everyone. He opened up the envelop, took out the slip with the winning name, and lit it on fire.

He went into a semi-retirement

In the late 1970’s and early 1980’s Mr. Rich saw a big drop off in his career. Then, in 1981 he decided to just walk away. His semi-retirement lasted until 1992 when Mr. Rich came back to the recording studio to make “Pictures and Paintings”.

He died in the Summer of 1995

In the Summer of 1995 Mr. Rich and hi wife had traveled to Mississippi to watch one of their son preform. On their way back to Florida the couple stopped at a hotel in Hammond, Louisiana. On the night of July 25, 1995 Mr. Rich passed away in his sleep.

Phillip Phillips’ 10 best songs

7 Jan

In 2009, at the age of 19, Phillip Phillips started his first band aptly called the Phillip Phillips band. The band have some local success playing various venues around Georgia. It wasn’t until a couple of years later when he won a golden ticket to American Idol’s 11th season, in lat 2011, that has first hit the national spotlight. He managed to make it through each round of the competition. In May 2012, at the age of 22, he won American Idol. Since winning he has gone on to play at various sporting events and benefits on his way to putting together an incredible career as a singer/songwriter.

He only has two albums so far in his career but they are full of some great music. The following are just ten of the best of those albums:

  1. Home: This was Mr. Phillips coronation song when he won “American Idol” and has gone on to become the best selling song, at 5 million copies, of any Idol alum. This folk rock song has an has an uplifting and positive message that will take hold of your emotions.
  2. Gone, Gone, Gone: This is a beautiful love song about telling the most important person in your life just how much they mean to you. The producers of “American Idol” thought so much of the song they used it as a sendoff for contestants when they would be eliminated.
  3. Raging Fire: This pop rock song has a powerful message of how love can touch your soul and fills you with happiness and joy. A song of inspiration to listen to when you think love has gone out of your life that will inspire you.
  4. Wicked Game: Phillip Phillips does a wonderful rendition of this 1989 power ballad first record by Chris Isaak. Listening to this song you can hear the emotion and longing for an unrequited love.
  5. Drive Me: The song has a classic rock sound that you makes it a must have for not only Phillip Phillips fans but those of groups, such as, BTO and other 1970’s rock bands. This song about the way love can moe a person appears on Mr. Phillips debut album.
  6. Fool for you: A beautiful song about falling for someone you know you shouldn’t but can’t help but feel the way you do. The song will be one that every fan of Phillip Phillips should have on their MP3 player.
  7. Unpack your Heart: A sweet song about loving one another during good times and bad times. A great song to have for the times your staying in with your loved one to let them know how much you care.
  8. Tell me a story: Phillip Phillips is at his best with this pop rock song about living the life we are given. A good song to have when you or someone close to you is feeling that their life isn’t going the way they want.
  9. Alive again: An uplift song about rediscovering the light in you. This song will certainly be one of your favorites once you listen to it.
  10. So easy: A catchy tune about finding faith to believe in things you never though you could attain. A good song to listen to in those times we all think love will never come around again in our lives.