Category Archives: current event

Space Shuttle in DC

Space Shuttle Discovery riding piggy-back over the Potomac River in Alexandria, VA

Today NASA’s OV-103, aka Space Shuttle Discovery was on it’s last flight mission. She was riding piggy-back on a Boeing 747 jet on her way to her retirement at the Smithsonian’s Udvar-Hazy Center in Northern Virginia (Chantilly, VA). The flight path took it from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, did a flyover at Dulles Airport, did 5 laps around downtown DC, then back to it’s landing at Dulles.

Luckily I was off today so I decided to head down to Old Town Alexandria on the Potomac River. Unfortunately I didn’t have the best information on it’s flight plans so she came in earlier than I expected. So on my way to Old Town, I made it as far as the intersection of Duke and Callahan at the George Washington Masonic National Memorial. While sitting at that light, I saw her flying so nice and low, escorted by a fighter jet. I only had time for the one photo sticking my camera out the window.

If I had realized there would be 4 more laps I would have set up at the Memorial. Instead I turned around and headed back home to watch the rest of her flight on TV.

Living in Orlando for so many years, we got to not just see Discovery, but several others blast into space. It was always spectacular. We went out for a night launch in 1999 or 2000 as well as an afternoon launch in 2009. In the middle of those viewings, we saw it from our house many times. We even climbed up on the roof to watch it once! It was never less than spectacular. Oh, and the double sonic booms on her return would literally shake our house.

Space Shuttle Endeavor launching in 2009
Space Shuttle Endeavor

All of this reminds me of a video that has been making the rounds. It’s full of quotes from Neil deGrasse Tyson speaking about NASA…including this mind-blowing quote:

Do you realize that the $850 billion bank bailout — that sum of money — is greater than the entire 50-year running budget of NASA?

We’ve been fortunate to be a part of NASA’s Space Shuttle program for a decade living in Florida and now we got to witness with our own eyes the ending of NASA’s workhorse Space Shuttle Discovery here in DC.

UPDATE: Great video of the Shuttle flying over the Mall in DC made by Smithsonian Videos:

Central Florida is shrinking

When we were getting estimates from movers to take us out of the Central Florida area, one made the comment that for the first time in a very long time they consider Florida an “outbound” state. In other words, more people are leaving than moving in.

And the moving industry is very slow even though there are a lot of people moving out. I suspect it’s because a large portion of the people leaving have foreclosed or short-sold their homes and can’t afford movers.

Anyway, today my friend Jennifer pointed me to these numbers from the Orlando Sentinel:

Central Florida lost 9,700 residents in the past year, reversing a decades-long trend of population growth for the Orlando area, according to estimates released Wednesday.

“This is a 180-degree turn for the Orlando area,” said William Frey, a demographer with the Brookings Institution in Washington. “It’s jaw-dropping, in a way.”

The region’s population drop accounted for about 17 percent of the state’s total loss of 58,294 between April 1, 2008, and April 1, 2009, according to the estimates by the University of Florida’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research. It’s largely the result of people leaving the area in search of jobs. Orlando ranks near the top of the state in unemployment and was listed as one of the worst cities in the country to be looking for work by, a site that aggregates job listings on the Internet.

Speaking of job listings, cities, and, did you know that Washington, DC is supposedly the best place to be?
june 2009 unemployment by city

re: Michael Jackson


The death of Michael Jackson is moving. I’ve loved his music for as long as I can remember knowing about him. Like most, that attention span happened during Thriller. But going back to Off The Wall and the stuff the Jackson 5 put out – it’s rare I find something I don’t like (except the song Bad). He was the best musical entertainer in his prime. I still listen to his music all the time and love the mashups that DJs make of MJ music.

But there was a deeper side to MJ. I used to joke “His music is awesome, but he’s a freak”. I take that back. He wasn’t a freak. I feel more sympathy for him now…especially as I was reminded of his life in these great posts below.

The Daily Dish – Thinking about Michael

Crocker Chronicle – Michael Jackson Dead at 50

Now I realize just how much of a performer he really was.

Bank of America Sports Marketing Is Okay

When the recession hit full-on last fall, one of the things I found interesting is in the area of sports marketing. Questions like, “Will golf tournaments close because of the lack of corporate sponsorship?” and “Should a bank that is in trouble pay for naming rights of a stadium?”

It’s hard to swallow the idea that the money I’ve “contributed” to these mega-corps is being spent on what many would say is unnecessary. “They should use that money to get back on their feet, not sponsor golf!” we say.

To be perfectly honest with you, that’s a very judgemental thing for us to say (I said it too). We don’t know the full story. I realized this yesterday when I heard Bank of America CEO Kenneth Lewis comment on sports marketing:

Chief Executive Kenneth Lewis, speaking to the Chief Executive Officers Club of Boston, said the multimillion-dollar sports marketing deals at Bank of America are worth the investment because they generate sales and profits.

“I was never inclined to pump big sums of money into sports marketing until I saw the facts and the numbers,” he said. “In general terms, for every dollar we spend on sports marketing, we get $10 in revenue and $3 in earnings. This is not wasted money.”

And isn’t that what we’ve asked them to do? To take the money and make it back as fast as possible to get back on their feet? And they found a way to get $10 on the dollar?

Okay, I don’t mind so much now.

Sigh. Tour bus for foreclosures.

via Scenes from the recession – The Big Picture –

A RE/MAX Central bus advertises tours of foreclosed homes March 7, 2009 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The real estate group began giving tours for prospective buyers three times a week in February 2008, in an effort to clear inventory of foreclosed properties. They have seen a steady decrease in foreclosure listings since the summer of 2008 in the Las Vegas area. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Visualizing a Trillion – Whoa!

via Visualizing a Trillion: Just How Big That Number Is?

if you start spending a million dollars every single day since Jesus was born, you still wouldn’t have spent a trillion dollars. 

A bundle of $100 notes is equivalent to $10,000 and that can easily fit in your pocket. 1 million dollars will probably fit inside a standard shopping bag while a billion dollars would occupy a small room of your house.

With this background in mind, 1 trillion (1,000,000,000,000) is 1000 times bigger than 1 billion and would therefore take up an entire football field – the man is still standing in the bottom-left corner.