Summer Head Cold, Thinking About Missed Shuttle Launches

Y’s head cold, which she is still suffering from, has dispatched a rearguard to attack my ill-equipped bodily defenses. Thus, I now have a cold, too.

There isn’t much to do for a cold other than keeping one’s self comfortable and well fed with chicken soup. However, I do particularly enjoy reading uplifting things I am ill, because there is unequivocally something good about enriching the soul when the body is weak and perhaps through a sleight of hand the soul can trick the body into wellness again.

Something that I read today that I think you should read, too, is this short reflection on BoingBoing by Sawyer Rosenstein about his life and his recent visit to see the Space Shuttle Atlantis embark on its final flight into outer space.

I never made a point to see a space shuttle launch, and I suppose I never will have the chance to do so now since the whole program has been mothballed. I have taught my students about space travel, and I a voracious follower of updates to NASA’s websites. Yet, I didn’t make the time to hop into a car and trek down to Cape Canaveral for a launch. So it goes.

I am afraid that missing a shuttle launch will be a lingering regret of mine, but reading about others’ experiences and living vicariously through them is a rewarding endeavor, especially when you’re sick.

Space Shuttle Endeavour Launches on Last Mission

About three hours ago, Space Shuttle Endeavour launched for its last mission in space and to the International Space Station. The NASA press release describes the liftoff:

“Space shuttle Endeavour is officially on its way to the International Space Station on its STS-134 mission and final flight. Endeavour lifted off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on time at 8:56 a.m. EDT, soaring through a few clouds, after a relatively smooth countdown.”

Read more here:

Godspeed, Endeavour! I wish that I could have been there to see you and your crew off.

Thoughts on Prince William’s and Kate Middleton’s Wedding

BBC America’s HD coverage of today’s wedding between Prince William and Kate Middleton is impressive. The detail is amazing and the cinematography is very smart. In part, the terrific shots are made possible by an insane number of HD cameras on remote gimbals. What make and model cameras did they use?

Say what you will about royalty, but this is a very nice wedding. However, I prefer the homespun flavor of Y’s and my wedding presided by the Rev. Seth Johnson. I don’t know how Y and I would have handled thousands of adoring subjects cheering us on!

Also, which major event today has more total support staff: the Royal Wedding or the Space Shuttle Endeavour launch?

Miles O’Brien is Video/Live Blogging the Space Shuttle Endeavour STS-134 launch on BoingBoing

Today is a good day. William and Kate got hitched earlier this morning, and later this afternoon at 3:47pm, Space Shuttle Endeavour is scheduled to lift off on its final mission into low Earth orbit. A bunch of Twitter followers of NASA have front row seats, and President Obama and First Lady Michelle will be there, too.

Science and technology reporter Miles O’Brien is live blogging the launch on BoingBoing here: Space Shuttle Endeavour STS-134 launch: BB liveblog on-site, SpaceFlightNow webcast with Miles OBrien – Boing Boing. I hope that the launch will be successful today, but there are some concerns about the wind. According to O’Brien: “The weather is the story out here today, and specifically: they’ll be watching the wind. Gusts are so forceful out here that my Mac Air just blew right off the table and hit the ground when I stepped away for a moment.” I suppose it’s good on occasion to have a computer with heft!

Y and I are watching a replay of the royal wedding while NASA prepares the shuttle and crew for launch.

Lego Launch Command Sets For Sale

I have decided to sell some of my Lego collection sets including these two from the Launch Command series. They are awesome builds, and I hope that I can find a good home for them. Links to my ebay Buy It Now or Best Offer listings are below each photo.

Lego System 6339 Shuttle Launch Pad. This is the largest of the early Lego Space Shuttle sets. It comes with four minifigures, the Space Shuttle complete with external fuel tank and solid rocket boosters, and an assembly tower with winch. The original box and instructions are also included.

Lego System 6544 Shuttle Transcom 2. The Transcom 2 transport jet is a fun build, because you get to assemble a large jet and the Space Shuttle orbiter. It includes three minifigures, jet, shuttle, and tow vehicle. The original boxes and instructions are also included.

The Beginnings of a Major Lego Project


For the past couple of weeks, I have considered playing with Legos bricks again. I had a lot of fun assembling the Midi-scale Millennium Falcon, because during that build, I returned to a kind of concentration and elevation from worry that I hadn’t felt in a very long time. It is the same kind of joy that I felt when I was much younger and I would assemble my own space themed creations with the numerous sets that I had accumulated as a child.

In the past, I particularly enjoyed building and combining my Castle/Forestmen sets with Classic Space sets. The Forestmen hideouts were fantastic bases for my spacefaring heroes.

I don’t have those old sets any more–thrown away long ago when I was desperately trying to out grow myself. So, how do you figure out where to get back into the game, so to speak, without breaking the bank?

I decided that I should focus my Lego building to something that interests me now, but that I could rely on some Lego-made sets to supplement what I would like to build. After racking my brain for a week, I decided to build a much-scaled-down model of the operations side of Kennedy Space Center. The main objectives are to have the main launch pads, the vehicle assembly building, launch control, and an airstrip.

My project is beginning to come together. I got 6396 International Jetport and 1682 Space Shuttle Set for a very good price on, an auction/seller site exclusively for Lego products. This gives me one of my Space Shuttle orbiters and the airstrip with some ground crew and a control tower. I also won an auction for 6458 Satellite with Astronaut on ebay.

Today, I substantially added to my brick collection in preparation of constructing the vehicle assembly building. I answered a craigslist ad for a person selling Lego bricks by the pound for a very affordable $5/pound (much cheaper than ebay, and without the shipping). Granted, this friendly, retired autoworker lives an hour away from Kent, but I can confidently tell you that the trip was worth the time and fuel. My visit to his house was like going to a Lego museum. He must have had nearly every set from the 1990s including a number of very early sets still in the boxes, unopened. And spare bricks–whoa. I bought 13 pounds of white bricks, and 5 pounds of black, red, and blue bricks, too (see picture above). Also, I picked up 10 extra minifigs from the various space and system lines. He offered me very fair deals on two more Space Shuttles, but I told him that I will have to come back another time to get those. Next time, I will have to ask him if I can photograph his collection, at least in part.

Now the fun begins with building. I will take some time each day to de-stress with my Lego project. It is my hope that I can drag out the project for awhile and get a maximum amount of relaxation from building something tangible with my hands. I would do some work work, but I can’t think of anything that Yufang and I really need built at this time. However, I would jump at the chance to build a hefty set of bookcases for a friend if they supplied the materials!

Apollo 11 Anniversary

This year is the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission “to land a man on the moon and return him safely to the Earth.”  There is a cool new site that is recreating the launch experience in real time at

In more recent space news, I was hoping that the Space Shuttle Endeavour was going to launch last night on my 32nd birthday.  Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t up to snuff, so the launch will hopefully take place later this evening at 6:51pm.  More info on NASA’s Space Shuttle website here.

I hope to travel to the Cape for a launch before the Shuttle fleet is retired.  Keep your fingers crossed that I can make that happen.