Archive for June, 2010

Going Away Party

Posted by Arlo on Jun 4, 2010 under Life of Arlo, Postcard Valet

I had no idea it was called a 'Cornucopia!'

Boy oh boy.  You’d think now that I’m officially unemployed, I’d have all the free time in the world.  Not true!  I have a million and one things to do, starting with packing up one life and preparing to embark on another.

One thing I really need to get going on will be accomplished by this blog post.  It’s time to plan our going away party!  It’s going to be EPIC and if you’d like to see us off, you’re totally invited.

Here’s the low-down:

  • It’s going to be all day on Saturday, June 19th (starting at noon, dinner at 6pm)
  • It’ll be at the Schiable House, on Back Loop Road (next to the Mendenhall River Bridge)
  • Anyone that knows us is welcome to show (and bring a guest if you like!) but you’ll need to RSVP
  • This will double as Oksana’s 30th birthday party (more on that later)
  • It’ll be a potluck (ohGodnotanotherpotluck!  Yes, but hold on:  There’s a theme!)
  • The theme will be: A Second Thanksgiving (I don’t have a parenthetical for this, but I was on a roll)

“A Second Thanksgiving” theme is something I’ve wanted to set up with my friends for a long time now.  I mean, seriously, why shouldn’t we have more than one Thanksgiving?  Besides the sentiment of, you know, giving thanks for the things in our lives, shouldn’t we be able to enjoy all that wonderful food more often than once a year?  Turkey, stuffing, casseroles, cranberries, rolls, pumpkin pie… I’m making a declaration right now: It’s time to break out your favorite family recipes!

And this is why you need to RSVP: We can’t have everyone bringing cranberries.  I’ll start us off: I’m bringing the turducken.  What’s that?  OH YEAH THAT’S RIGHT I SAID TURDUCKEN!! Also, put me down for stuffing.

We can coordinate RSVPs and potluck dishes here in the comments, I guess.  Oksana and I hope we’ll have a lot of people show up, so I’m throwing out a request for at least one other “big dish” item.  Anyone willing to tackle another turkey?  Of course, we’ll need plenty of side dishes.  I suspect we’ll need at least two of everything.  Maybe even more.  (By the way, the Schiable House has a kitchen, so we can at least do some of the cooking there.)

As I mentioned above, we will also be celebrating Oksana’s 30th birthday party!  Now, let it be said that the best gift you can give her is your presence at our going away party (well, maybe the best gift would be sticking around to help clean up…), but if you feel like you must buy her a gift, then you’re going to have to get creative.  Chances are, if your present has any sort of physical properties at all, it’ll probably just sit in storage for the next 12 months.  No puppies, okay?

Finally, if I can get my act together, I may pull together some video/computer equipment for the party, too.  I would love to have something set up in the corner where guests could put pins on a map, give suggestions on where in the world we should travel, or just get some help (if needed) subscribing to our podcast.  But really, that’s all secondary because…

We’re going to be gone for an entire year.  All we want to do is make time to see our friends one last time before we go.

So, get those RSVPs in, okay? (Recipes! s’il vous plaît) And we’ll see you in a couple weeks!

Zero Days to Launch

Posted by Arlo on Jun 4, 2010 under Photography, Postcard Valet, Travel

Zero Days to Launch, with the NASA VAB behind

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The Kennedy Space Center is a sprawling complex located on Merrit Island in Florida.  While much of it, like the Visitor’s Complex, is open to the public, there are checkpoints barring access along most roads in.  Security is tight near launch dates and while you may be able to book a bus tour to certain destinations inside, you can’t just drive onto NASA territory without a badge.

I flashed my Tweetup badge, the security guard said, “Thanks, boss!” and I drove right through.  Felt like a VIP.

On the morning of the 13th, I was cruising along in my rental car, heading for the press site.  Just after the Vehicle Assembly Building came into view, I passed a sign with the Space Shuttle on it proclaiming “1 Days to Launch!”

In fact, I passed a couple such signs, and they got me thinking about what an undertaking a Shuttle launch must be.  That close to launch there must be hundreds, if not thousands, of NASA employees and contractors working very hard to insure that everything goes off without a hitch.  I didn’t see them along the roadway, of course; they were all tucked away in the administrative buildings, the labs, at the launch pad, in mission control.

I loved the idea of those signs along the road, someone dutifully changing their little numbers every evening.  It spoke of morale.  Of teamwork on an epic scale.  I resolved to get a photo before I left.

That evening, after a day full of events and tours, I found myself driving back along the same route.  Traffic was light, and it was easy to spot the sign on the other side of the road.  As if it was meant to be, a gravel strip across the median appeared right beside it.  I pulled a U-turn, parked the rental on the grass and grabbed my camera.

Surprisingly, someone had already switched the “1” to a “0.”  Another reminder that, in just 20 hours, Atlantis would be leaving the Earth.  I took a few pictures, trying to find the best framing with the VAB behind, but I was in a hurry.  Badge or no badge, I felt self-conscious taking pictures of a government installation from the side of the road.

Two minutes later, I was back on the road to Orlando.  Tomorrow was Launch Day.

Canon EOS 5D Mark II
Date: 7:08pm, 13 May 2010
Focal Length: 200mm
Shutter: 1/400 sec
Aperture: F/4.5
ISO: 100
Photoshop: Auto Color