The Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago is looking for a tenant for a month. And paying $10k plus tech gadgets for your time.

I am amused. I've actually spent a night over once in college and it was a pretty cool experience. A month would probably be enough time for me to actually see all the exhibits there. And at night... play with the electric train .

An interesting article here about the parameters of a manned space mission to the outer part of the solar system. The authors do a good job of deriving their requirements from answering questions like 'How much space do we need for Astronauts inside the space ship, what kind of propulsion do we need to get astronauts there and back before we run into issues of supplies or radiation, what kind of shielding do we need to protect them from cosmic rays and what does that mean for the weight of our spacecraft.

From the requirements they derive a mission cost: 10% of the worlds current GDP for a 5 year mission. And like all estimates involving space its probably on the low side....
No, no I'm not crazy enough to drive outside with 8+ inches of snow on the ground unless I'm in one of these.

[ profile] tirani and I are being snowed in at my apartment and we just got back from taking a little walk to gaze at the snow and the trees (and to put on ice a bit of cabin fever). While we were out we ran across a couple trying to move their daughter's Toyota Corolla out of the middle of the road going about the complex parking lot. Apparently she was a nurse and was made to stay late at the hospital. How she got home I'm still not sure.

Anyhow we helped them muscle the car alongside the curb since there was no way the Corolla was going to make it very far in the snow covered parking lot to the nearest open spot (about 500 yards and 3 turns away). That probably took a good half hour during which [ profile] tirani noted they really had no clue about how to maneuver said car snow.

We finished up our walk and as we were heading back to the warm and dry of my apartment we ran across the couple now trying to get their pickup truck unstuck from the middle of another part
of the complex parking lot. Apparently they wanted to drive back out to the main road and to their place about 5 minutes away.

I'm curious to see if their truck is still going to be stuck in the parking lot somewhere tomorrow. I hope that's the case because I can't imagine the main road is in much better shape and I can see them getting stuck or worse.
This article was brought to my attention today:

Court upholds ban on playing D&D in prison

Taking a poke at their logic - if they are afraid that D&D fosters "hostility, violence and escape behavior" then shouldn't they also be banning most television and books and all sources of news?


Jan. 11th, 2010 08:42 am
In memory of family and friends who have lost the battle with cancer; and in support of the ones who continue to conquer it! Post this on your LJ if you know someone who has or had cancer. 93% won't copy and paste this. Will you?
My father made up a similar dish to this while I was visiting and I modified the recipe a bit and served it to [ profile] tirani. She deemed it tasty and suggested I post and share so….

Pasta Recipe behind the cut )
I found out today going into Patients First to follow up on my ick (which turned out to be Pneumonia but its all cleared up and gone now) that they are now willing to give swine flu shots out to anyone who asks so long as they have supply. They weren't really advertising this but were quite willing to do so when I inquired.

Just a note for those of you who might have been waiting to get one.
After 2.5 days of making-like-a-bump on the futon I'm feeling better but I still have a crazy spikey fever (going between normal and 100ish). Went in to the Patients First today and they ran some tests and did a chest X-ray.

And found what looks like a touch of pneumonia in my lower left lung. Antibiotics have been issued, orders for rest given, and they'll see me again Wednesday to follow up. I'm going to be a good patient (but [Bad username or site: @] and I are going out for lunch first since I crave spicy asian and am suffering cabin fever).
The Review of Human Space Flight Plans (aka. the Augustine Report) was released today. A summary of their findings after a read of the executive summary and conclusions:

-The current shuttle manifest seems to require flights until 2nd quarter of 2011 and NASA should budget accordingly.
-US Support and Funding for the International Space Station (ISS) currently only goes through 2015. The committee found there to be significant value in extending this until at least 2020
-Beyond 2011 the committee notes that there are alternatives to servicing the ISS in place (which is, minus a servicing mission or so, what the shuttle is primarily used for). They suggested the shuttle could be flown beyond 2011 at a minimal safe-flight rate if a through safety/reliability review and recertificattion was done was done.
-The Constellation class manned space vehicle (Aries I/Orion) will not be ready until at least 2015 according to the current schedule and the committee believes after an independent assessment of this schedule there will be a delay of at least 2 years. This will leave a gap of 7 years in US ability to send men into space without extending the shuttle life or utilizing foreign vehicles.
-The committee believes the current Constellation designs will accomplish the variety of manned missions NASA has been called on to do but is very concerned with the reoccurring costs for each launch of the vehicles.
-This requires a bit of reading between the lines - it appears the committee is not beholden or taken with the Constellation designs and approach. They put out the idea that the private/commercial sector could provide vehicles capable of providing manned space flight and that ultimately this may be a cheaper and better route. They do not say that the private/commercial route is the way to go - just that it is a possible avenue to choose in developing new manned vehicles.
-The committee endorses a path of manned exploration staring with a return to the moon or to near earth objects (Flexible Path) before any attempt to explore Mars.
-Human exploration beyond low earth orbit is not viable with the FY2010 funding envelope. To do meaningful exploration in a reasonable time frame you must increase the envelope by 3 billion dollars by 2014 and then grow it at inflation (2.4%) beyond that point.

I suppose at this point I should throw a disclaimer -- Ob-Disclaimer: I am a contractor scientist who works for NASA but I have almost nothing to do with the manned side of things. I deal with unmanned scientific instruments. I also don't shape or have any more say in NASA than anyone reading this.

The committee was given a fairly difficult task to not say 'this is the best course for manned space exploration' but rather to assess the state of our current program and lay out options for viable future paths. What they've basically said is unless you pour in billions more into manned space your not going to get a viable exploration program.

We're at one of those interesting moments where decisions need to be made and courses plotted. I'm interested in what others think of this - in particular I'm interested in what do you the taxpayer who funds NASA think the agency should do and focus on. Is manned space worth the cost? Should we scuttle the government manned space program now and focus on unmanned exploration and study? What should the goals of NASA be?
Fairly recently the Dutch Country Farmers Market moved from Burtonsville to open just up the road from me in Laurel.[Bad username or site: @] and I visited there Friday. From the traffic jamming the parking lot it was clear we stumbled onto something.

Oh did we stumble onto something.

Meats, Fruits, Snacks, Vegetables, Breads, Cakes, Cheese, Dairy....lots of variety. Most of it fresh and handmade too. We got a gingerbread cake (ok we each got a few other things for the week too) for desert Friday to go with figs and honey and.... it was rich and moist and dense and tasty and the perfect substrate for the figs and honey.

Highly recommended - worth an excursion over or a detour if your in the area. If you go in the evenings its likely to be pretty busy but you can park in the Home Depot parking lot next door and walk over. Note they only are opening Thur/Fri/Sat.
This week we started the migration from the old building that houses our office and labs to the shiny new one that still isn't quite done (there still aren't doorknobs on most offices and labs yet).

One of the nice features of the new building is the chemical handling area at the end of the hall by the labs. They're nicely equipped with an eyewash station and a chemical safety shower. However they did not install a drain for the safety shower.

Note that's not a they forgot - they consciously didn't install one. Apparently 'The Powers That Are' made a cost benefit analysis that the issues raised with having possibly hazardous chemicals washed down a drain in an emergency were less than the issues with having the water pool on the floor, possibly get into labs and having to be cleaned up later. (Not to mention the issue if one of these showers springs a leak.....)


Fortunately none of the labs I work in is all that close to the chemical handling area.
Here's a rather useful article on the mathematics of a zombie infestation .

This is tirani's fault <grin> She suggested (as only a female can to a male)  I set up a live journal account and so I have.  Hi all.  I'm the new guy Tirani has captured (her Dreamer).  Don't mind the dust, be careful of the explosives and watch out for the sharp pointies.  I have to figure out exactly what I'm going to do here but for the moment it seems appropriate to introduce and say hi.

For the record at the moment I'm in Lodz Poland at a conference for work.  Nice city, friendly people, not so good for being a tourist but for a conference setting its nice.  And the food is good too (though vegetarians probably would not be happy).  Tomorrow I get to go to Krakow for a few days of vacation.

Anyhow, greetings to all ... those I know and don't know. 
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