Feburary 2003

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February 22, 2003:  Well, I finally developed the film on a little disposable Kodak camera that was in my car and I found a few great pictures were on it!

Thanks to Adam "Skinny Daug" Arnold for taking this picture of me and my A4 while we went off roading in the mountain range overlooking Malibu, CA.  Here's a great shot I took of Adam at the same spot, just looking the other way :)

And by far, the coolest surprise was the one picture I took of Travis "Shoebox" Neslen when I went to visit him out in NC last year.  That night we just kicked back and enjoyed a few brews together, which is always a great way to spend a night :-)

All in all, it's been a good week. Last night my friend John and I hung out and we had a really nice night together.  It was off to San Francisco for dinner at the Schnitzel House on 9th street.  It's an authentic little German restaurant that makes some excellent food!  I had the black forest venison stew and it was awesome!  John had the same (as it's his favorite dish) and we had a couple of half liter beers to wash down the meal.  After that it down to the Castro for a little walking to burn off dinner, do a little people watching and hang out.  After that we headed back to Dublin.  It was just a really cool night :-)

This weekend the weather is beautiful! 70', sunny and blue skies :-)  

Penz

February 19, 2003:  

Well, I had an awesome weekend SCUBA diving off of the coast of CA in the Channel Islands National Park.  During my three days aboard the Dive Boat "Peace", I'd end up doing 11 dives in the Pacific, meeting some really nice people, eating some really good food, seeing a baby gray whale and get a big hello from a friendly sea lion!  Hehehe, doesn't sound like a bad way to spend a weekend, does it? 

The trip started around 1:00 PM when I arrived at Captain Aqua's SCUBA shop to pick up my air tank.  There, I met Pat, who would end up riding down to Ventura, CA with me and also would become my dive buddy for the weekend. Pat is about 50 years old and lives in my local area.  He's a really great guy and I was glad to make his acquaintance on this trip.

After packing all of our gear into my Audi, we began the 6 hour trip down to Ventura.  Time flew as Pat and I spent the time chatting it up, getting to know each other, and talk about diving.  He's been diving for many years now and has traveled around the world to dive at some of the better spots.  I was definitely impressed with some of the sites he has visited and I only hope that I get to visit half of them over the upcoming years (hehehe, one more reason to travel!). He's also an experienced shell collector and very familiar with lots of different types of aquatic life.  This would prove to be helpful as we dove together as he would point out some specimens I would have missed.  

Anyway, about 6 hours after we left, we made it down to Ventura Harbor.  We unloaded our gear, stowed it aboard the boat and went out to grab a quick bit to eat.  After that, it was back to the boat where we got aquainted with some of our fellow divers and the boat crew before heading off to bed.

The weather forcast for the weekend wasn't too great, as there was a front moving in, so we weren't sure what to expect. Well, that first morning, I woke up and didn't feel too good.  I didn't really sleep well, partly because I was excited, partly to the guy sleeping in the bunk next to me who snored as loud as me (don't worry, he'd get his the next night :-) and partly due to the 6-8 foot swells rocking the boat.  I got out of my bunk around 6:30 a.m. and headed topside in just my swim trunks.  After about 5 minutes of trying to get my sea legs, I found myself heaving up over the starboard rail!  Hehehe, ahh well, I had to admit I started to feel a lot better after that.

So, there we are, 7:00 am off the coast of Santa Rosa island near Sandy Point.  There were 32 divers on the boat, but only a handful were going to try and make the first dive.  I figured I'd give it a shot, but that was not a good idea since I really wasn't feeling well.  After squeezing into my wet suite, putting on my BC  tank (loaded with 32 extra pounds of lead of steel), and the rest of my gear, I headed overboard into the swells figuring I'd feel better once I hit the water.  Well, that didn't work.  There I was, at the surface, bobbing around in the water feeling dizzy and disorientated.  I took a minute or so

to try and get my bearings and get ready to go under, but feeling the way I did, I decided to play it safe and abort the dive.  I dragged my sorry ass back on the boat and took it easy for a bit.  That turned out to be the smart move (that and taking the seasick meds that Pat gave me) because one hour later, I felt a lot better and was ready to make my first dive.  That one went great, though it only lasted 18 minutes with a max depth of 41 feet in the 58' water, it was great! During the course of the rest of the day, I'd make 4 dives all together.  The dives all took place off of Santa Rosa Island starting from Sandy point and working our way to Bechers Bay.

The next two days would be spent diving off of Santa Cruz Island.  We'd work our way from Frazer Point back to Smugglers Cove and down to Bluebanks.  I'd do a total of 7 dives (4 on Sunday 3 on Monday) off of Santa Cruz.  Max depth on those dives was 84 feet. 

Pictured here is a Spanish Shawl.  (taken by Jeffrey Rosenfeld).  I saw a bunch of these on a couple of my dives and by far, they were most colorful nudibranchs that I saw on my dive.  The picture does not do the colors justice, but as I'm learning, colors underwater are truly living colors that can't be captured by the camera.

Ok, so that's about it for now. I'm pretty tired and am going to hit the hay.  All I can say is that I'm hooked on diving and can't wait to go again!

More updates to come.

Penz

February 12, 2003:  Tomorrow, February 13, 2003, would have been my father's 60th birthday.  It's been 2 years since he passed away and I still miss him a lot.  Though he's not here in body, his spirit still lives on strong through Tim, Gini and I, as does our love for him.

This picture of Dad and Noni (his mother) was taken in 2000 in Great Barrington, MA.
The shirt he's wearing was from my company, Quintus.

Penz

February 9, 2003: Well, since I came back from my vacation, I've been itching to go SCUBA diving again.  So, after lots of consideration, I've purchased some gear.  Hehehe, figures, that I'd have to pick a hobby that isn't cheap to get into, but oh well.  I'm looking forward to it.  So, for all of your SCUBA divers out there, here is the package:

  • BC:  Seaquest PRO QD

  • Stage 1:  Oceanic Delta 3 DX4

  • Octopus:  Oceanic Slimline (yellow)

  • Computer:  Oceanic Datamax Pro Plus 2 Air Integrated

  • Fins:  Oceanic V12 split fins

  • Mask/Snorkel:  Oceanic

  • Lights:  Princeton Tec

  • WetSuit:  Thermo Shield (7mm)

So, now that I've spent a few $$$, what am I going to do w/all of this stuff?  Well, next weekend, I'm off for a 3 day SCUBA trip down to Southern, CA to dive on the Channel Islands.  The name of the boat is Peace and you can check out www.peaceboat.com for more information.  We'll be hitting the Northern islands on this trip and I'm stoked to go!  I'll leave Friday afternoon and come back Monday night.  I'm psyched!

This weekend, I went up to Angel's Camp with my friend Rick and his son Kevin (oh yeah, Rick just happens to be my manager). We brought a new water heater up to his cabin and swapped it out with the old one.  It was an easy project an all together only took a couple of hours.  After that, we had some fun raking a huge pile of pine needles up and burning them :)  Hehehehe, made a damn hot and fun fire!  We hung out for the night, got up early this morning, had some breakfast, went out for a nice crisp walk and then headed back to Dublin.  Made for a nice weekend.  I love hanging out with Rick's kids.  They are a riot!  His son Kevin (age 9) came on this trip, and he is a riot!  We all kept each other laughing the entire time, and that helped make for a really nice time.

Tonight, I'm cooking up a pork tenderloin on the grill along with some spicy eggplant.  Mmmmm, tasty!  Ok, I'm off to have some dinner. Hope your weekend was a good one!

Penz


February 1, 2003:

In honor and memory of the crew members of STS-107 
who were lost along with the space shuttle Columbia.

"Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds - and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of - wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up the long delirious, burning blue,
I've topped the windswept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or even eagle flew -
And, while with silent lifting mind I've trod
The high unsurpassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand and touched the face of God."

("High Flight", Pilot Officer Gillespie Magee, 
No 412 squadron, RCAF - Killed 11 December 1941)

Name: David M. Brown

Position:
Mission Specialist

History:
The U.S. Navy captain makes his first flight into space. Brown, 46, an aviator and flight surgeon, is working on many experiments, including numerous biological ones.
Name: Rick D. Husband

Position: Commander

History: Husband, 45, makes his second trip into space. The U.S. Air Force colonel and mechanical engineer piloted a shuttle flight in 1999, which included the first docking with the international space station.
Name: Laurel Clark

Position: Mission Specialist

History: Clark, 41, a U.S. Navy commander and flight surgeon, is making her first flight into space. A medical school graduate of the University of Wisconsin, Madison, Clark is taking part in a variety of biological experiments.
Name: Kalpana Chawla

Position: Mission Specialist

History: Born in India in 1961, Chawla earned an aerospace engineering doctorate from the University of Colorado in Boulder. Chawla, who has logged more than 375 hours in space, was the prime robotic arm operator on a shuttle flight in 1997.
Name: Michael P. Anderson

Position: Payload Commander

History: Anderson, 42, went into orbit once before, a 1998 shuttle flight that docked with the Russian space station Mir. The U.S. Air Force lieutenant colonel and physicist is responsible for the shuttle science mission.
Name: William C. McCool

Position: Pilot

History: The 40-year-old former test pilot makes his first foray into space. The U.S. Navy commander and Naval Academy graduate is responsible for maneuvering the shuttle as part of several experiments.
Name: Ilan Ramon

Position: Payload Specialist

History: Ramon, 47, is the first Israeli astronaut. A colonel and former fighter pilot in the Israeli Air Force, he saw combat experience in the Yom Kippur War in 1973 and the Lebanon War in 1982.
   

(biographies courtesy of CNN)

  • Click here to download a detailed biography of these seven hero's, provided by NASA.
  • Click here to download the mission summary of this flight, provided by NASA.

(the following appeared on NASA's site on 2/1/03 at approximately 11:00 AM EST)



"NASA STATEMENT ON LOSS OF COMMUNICATIONS WITH COLUMBIA

A Space Shuttle contingency has been declared in Mission Control, Houston, as a result of the loss of communication with the Space Shuttle Columbia at approximately 9 a.m. EST Saturday as it descended toward a landing at the Kennedy Space Center, Fla. It was scheduled to touchdown at 9:16 a.m. EST.

Communication and tracking of the shuttle was lost at 9 a.m. EST at an altitude of about 203,000 feet in the area above north central Texas. At the time communications were lost. The shuttle was traveling approximately 12,500 miles per hour (Mach 18). No communication and tracking information were received in Mission Control after that time.

Search and rescue teams in the Dallas-Fort Worth and in portions of East Texas have been alerted. Any debris that is located in the area that may be related to the Space Shuttle contingency should be avoided and may be hazardous as a result of toxic propellants used aboard the shuttle. The location of any possible debris should immediately be reported to local authorities.

Flight controllers in Mission Control have secured all information, notes and data pertinent to today's entry and landing by Space Shuttle Columbia and continue to methodically proceed through contingency plans.

News media covering the Space Shuttle should stay tuned to NASA Television, which is broadcast on AMC-2, transponder 9C, C-Band, located at 85 degrees West longitude. The frequency is 3880.0 MHz. Polarization is vertical and audio is monaural at 6.8 MHz. Reporters can also go to any NASA center newsroom to monitor the situation.

New information, including the times and locations of press briefings, will be posted to this page."

"Background Information on the COLUMBIA Space Shuttle Mission STS-107

STS-107 Mission Summary

STS-107 Flight: January 16-February 1, 2003
Crew:

  • Commander Rick D. Husband (second flight),
  • Pilot William C. McCool (first flight),
  • Payload Specialist Michael P. Anderson (second flight),
  • Mission Specialist Kalpana Chawla (second flight),
  • Mission Specialist David M. Brown (first flight),
  • Mission Specialist Laurel B. Clark (first flight),
  • Payload Specialist Ilan Ramon, Israel (first flight)

Payload:

  • First flight of SPACEHAB Research Double Module; Fast Reaction Experiments Enabling Science, Technology, Applications and Research (FREESTAR); first Extended Duration Orbiter (EDO) mission since STS-90. This 16-day mission is dedicated to research in physical, life, and space sciences, to be conducted in approximately 80 separate experiments, comprised of hundreds of samples and test points. The seven astronauts worked 24 hours a day, in two alternating shifts. 28 flights 1981-2003.

First flight:
April 12-14, 1981 (Crew John W. Young and Robert Crippen)

Most recent flight:
STS-109, March 1-12, 2002 Hubble Space Telescope Servicing Mission

Other notable missions:
STS 1 through 5, 1981-1982 first flight of European Space Agency built Spacelab. STS-50, June 25-July 9, 1992, first extended-duration Space Shuttle mission. STS-93, July 1999 placement in orbit of Chandra X-Ray Observatory.

Past mission anomaly: STS-83, April 4-8, 1997. Mission was cut short by Shuttle managers due to a problem with fuel cell No. 2, which displayed evidence of internal voltage degradation after the launch."


    President Bush's Speech to the Nation (2/1/03)

    "My fellow Americans, this day has brought terrible news and great sadness to our country. At 9 o'clock this morning, Mission Control in Houston lost contact with our space shuttle Columbia. A short time later, debris was seen falling from the skies above Texas. 

    The Columbia's lost. There are no survivors. 

    Onboard was a crew of seven -- Colonel Rick Husband, Lieutenant Colonel Michael Anderson, Commander Laurel Clark, Captain David Brown, Commander William McCool, Dr. Kalpana Chawla, and Ilan Ramon a colonel in the Israeli air force. 

    These men and women assumed great risk in this service to all humanity. In an age when space flight has come to seem almost routine, it is easy to overlook the dangers of travel by rocket and the difficulties of navigating the fierce outer atmosphere of the earth. 

    These astronauts knew the dangers, and they faced them willingly, knowing they had a high and noble purpose in life. Because of their courage and daring and idealism, we will miss them all the more. 

    All Americans today are thinking, as well, of the families of these men and women who have been given this sudden shock and grief. You're not alone. Our entire nation grieves with you. And those you loved will always have the respect and gratitude of this country. 

    The cause in which they died will continue. Mankind is led into the darkness beyond our world by the inspiration of discovery and the longing to understand. Our journey into space will go on. 

    In the skies today, we saw destruction and tragedy. Yet farther than we can see, there is comfort and hope. 

    In the words of the prophet Isaiah, "Lift your eyes and look to the heavens. Who created all these? He who brings out the starry hosts one by one and calls them each by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing." 

    The same creator who names the stars also knows the names of the seven souls we mourn today. The crew of the shuttle Columbia did not return safely to Earth, yet we can pray that all are safely home. 

    May God bless the grieving families, and may God continue to bless America. "


It's a sad day for our nation, the nation of Israel, the families and friends of the crew members, and the teams at NASA who worked on the Columbia mission.  Though today mankind has suffered a tragic loss, we will and must continue to move forward with the exploration of space and beyond.  It is part of who we are as a species.  We are explorers.  And though we have face hardships and hurdles in our path, we will overcome them and move on. It's part of who we are, and part of the great destiny that awaits us....

Penz


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