Space, the Final Frontier

How amazing is it that we live in a world where we landed a rover on Mars?!
On August 6, 2012 at 12:17 CST Curiosity landed in Gale Crater on Mars!
It’s the size of a car, and it has cameras, and a laser!

I stayed up late that night and watched the live stream of NASA’s flight control at JPL and held my breath with those scientists as we waited to see if she landed safely and sent back footage. I admit, there were a few tears in my eyes as I watched that room full of nerds cheering & attempting to high-five.

It’s just unreal that we can have a picture from the surface of Mars just 15 minutes after it is taken.
Here’s the first picture:

In this image from NASA TV, shot off a video screen, one of the first images from the Curiosity rover is pictured of its wheel after it successfully landed on Mars

And the pictures are getting better as Curiosity fires up all her systems.

This is another freaking planet!

While Curiosity is definitely the star of the show, another member of the team has gotten a bit of attention from the press too. This adorable guy is Bobak Ferdowsi.
Bobak is the Flight Director for the mission. While all us geeks were watching the JPL live stream and talking about it on Twitter one of the people that caught our attention was the “NASA Mohawk Guy.” Seriously. How cool is he? He’s a freaking rocket scientist, and he has a mowhawk! (and he’s pretty darn hot!)

I’ve been following the “NASA Needs More Mohawks” Tumblr because I’ve got a big ol’ geek crush on Bobak.

Bobak, who tweets as @tweetsoutloud, has become an internet meme.
There are also a ton of articles about him out there, like this one from TheSpec.com. Even President Obama thinks Bobak is pretty cool! I think he’d be an awesome guest for us to bring in to CONvergence.

Alas, not all our space news was awesome this month. Last Saturday we lost one of our national heroes. Neil Armstrong, the first person to walk on the moon, died at age 82. Mr. Armstrong was the mission commander of Apollo 11. Just as I’m amazed that we can get pictures from Mars, I’m also saddened that we have not returned to the moon since December 1972, when I was only 2 years old. Yes, man has walked on the moon in my lifetime, but barely. There are only 8 living people now who have walked on the surface of our moon.

Rest In Peace, Mr. Armstrong

This is one of the pictures Neil took while on the moon. It is of fellow astronaut Buzz Aldrin.

Check out the rest of the pictures from the Apollo 11 mission here. Do you want to take pictures like an astronaut? You just need to get a Hasselblad camera, and then read this. It’s the official NASA Astronaut’s Photography Manual from Hasselblad.

Idiots & bananas

Part of me wants to just rant to beat all hell about that fucktard in Missouri, Todd Akin. You know, the one who says that in cases of “legitimate rape” women don’t get pregnant.  As my brilliant husband said in his comments about this: “First, everyone needs to understand the difference between Legitimate and Consensual Rape — OH WAIT, ANY RAPE IS JUST RAPE, YOU IGNORANT FUCK!”
For all you male Republican idiots out there trying to legislate women’s bodies, I hope you get legitimately raped in your ass. Don’t worry, you won’t get pregnant if it’s legitimate rape, so it’s ok.

But, it was never my intention to turn this into a political blog. I’d rather be entertaining. I’m still going to rant when stuff pisses me off, but in this case there are people who can say it so much better than me. Go read this response. The link will open in a new tab so you can come back here after you read it.  An Appeal to Rep. Todd Akin. 

Ok, welcome back. That article was so much better than anything I could have written. It comes from a place of experiences I just don’t have. Therefore, I’m not going to waste any more time on here on this ass. If he continues to run & continues to say stupid shit I do, of course, retain my right to bitch about him in the future.

So, now I have to try to be entertaining.

I love bananas. They are one of my favorite fruits. There is no substitute. Seriously. Have you ever had anything with fake banana flavor? Was it ever anything more than vile? Banana flavor just can’t be faked.

Rick & I are trying to cut our spending on eating out and especially on lunches at work, so I’ve started buying food to bring in. I buy a bunch of 5 bananas on Monday. The Monday one is usually still a little too green for my taste. But by Thursday and Friday? Those bananas are perfectly ripe!

The thing that never occurred to me until I found a certain product on Amazon was that by simply eating my bananas from the peel I was denying myself the pleasure of perfectly sliced pieces of banana.

Yes, I now know that my life will not be complete until I get a Banana Slicer. The Victorio Kitchen Products 571B Banana Slicer, to be precise. This Banana Slicer cuts bananas into perfect sized slices for fruit bowls, cereal, sundaes, dehydrating and more.

Just look at those reviews! Out of 117 ratings 90 of them were FIVE STARS! Just this review alone tells you everything you need to know:

As you may or may not know, I have 27 trained monkeys I use to do my evil bidding. Well, the younger monkeys teeth have not fully developed and so slicing a banana to feed them is a necessary chore. The adult monkeys used to have to chew up bananas and feed their young but not anymore with the Victorio Kitchen Products 571B Banana Slicer. The adults are going bananas over this time saving easy product. No longer so they have to taste and chew the deliciousness banana without eating it teasing them like a teenage prom date.

Now, they can eat and enjoy while i feed the young by slicing the bananas into small pieces that’s easy for them to digest, This product is aces in my book and if you have 27 trained monkeys that will help you take over the land of OZ, i highly recommenced this product. This product is more useful than a barrel of monkeys.

So many years wasted without perfect banana slices. Never again, I say. Never again!

 AWESOME!

The cutest Browncoats on the internets!

Fans of Joss Whedon’s short-lived show Firefly are rabid. 10 years later we still adore the show and still mourn its short run of only one year. For the kids now it’s like Star Trek was when I was a kid. Only reruns, no new shows. My niece & nephew, B & M, are some of those young fans.

Now, it’s a well established fact that both my nieces and my three nephews are ALL exceptionally good looking and smart. But these two? They became the darlings of the Firefly fans on the internet this week.

Just over a year ago for CONvergence 2011 here in Minneapolis M & B told their mom they wanted to wear costumes and they requested Captain Malcolm Reynolds & Kaylwinnet Lee Frye (Mal & Kaylee) from Firefly. My sis, Sandy, made the costumes for them and they were amazing!

One of the official CVG photographers, Peter Verrant, snapped this picture of them in their costumes.
IMG_0525
 Photo is © 2011 Peter Verrant, used under a CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 license.

For some reason, a year later, this photo started making the rounds on the internet. My little darlings have been seen on Reddit, The Daily What Geek, Neatorama, and, just yesterday, Think Geek’s Facebook page.

Here are a couple more pictures of my monkeys in their costumes.

©2011 Sharon S Snyder

© 2011 Sharon S Snyder
She came up with the “Kaylee” pose herself!

© 2011 Sharon S Snyder
He wouldn’t say “I’m a big damn hero” because damn is a bad word.

I know I’m biased, but aren’t they just the cutest things ever?

Following the popularity of Peter’s picture of them I put another one out there online and tweeted it.

The Little Damn Heroes, 5 years earlier. Day2a

Two of the actors in Firefly, Sean Maher & Adam Baldwin, both Tweeted the pictures out on their Twitter accounts. To say my Flickr hits have gone up a little is a bit of an understatement.

 

Progressive sucks

This Tumblr post doesn’t surprise me at all. This poor guy’s sister was killed in a car accident and Progressive didn’t want to pay what it owed her estate.

At the trial, the guy who killed my sister was defended by Progressive’s legal team.
If you are insured by Progressive, and they owe you money, they will defend your killer in court in order to not pay you your policy.

Rick & I had Progressive for our auto insurance once upon a time. The circumstances of Rick’s accident were far less tragic than this one, but Progressive still tried to screw us.

It was a simple fender bender. Rick was heading to work in the new-to-us used pickup he’d bought less than a week earlier. Because he was still getting used to the manual transmission in it he killed it right as he was about to pull out of the parking spot on the street. The front left fender was sticking out about a foot or less into the street. The chick who hit him was speeding down our 30 MPH street and she hit the corner of the truck and scraped the hell out of her car. Besides Rick’s story of what happened there was also an independent witness who came over and said he’d seen it and gave Rick his info. The front bumper of the truck was bent out in such a way that according to the laws of physics the force to bend it came from behind and pushed it forward, you know, like as if a car had hit it and scraped along it.

Our insurance company, Progressive, said Rick was not at fault and would therefore not pay for the repairs on her car. She didn’t like this. She insisted that Rick had pulled out and rammed into her despite the impartial witness and the fact that if Rick had been the one to hit her the bumper wouldn’t be bent the way it was. Because she wasn’t going to get any money out of our insurance company this girl decided to get her justice the American way – she took Rick to small claims court.

We weren’t worried about the case. After all, the facts were on our side as was the insurance company. When we talked to Progressive about it to try to get any documentation from them that we could they assured us that not only would they provide it, but they would have a representative there in court to present Progressive’s findings in Rick’s defense. They also assured us that they would stand by their ruling of no fault and if the case did go against us they would pay, not us.

The court date was coming up when we received notification from Progressive that they had determined that we weren’t insured at the time of the accident and therefore they were under no obligation to help us out in court.

What. The. Fuck?!

First they said it was because we hadn’t called them to add the truck to our policy before Rick had the accident. We’d had the truck less than a week, had the proof of that, and here in Minnesota you have 30 days to notify your insurer when you get a new vehicle. (That may have changed, but this was over 10 years ago and that was the rule then!). Progressive said, “Yes, that’s true, but you never insured the previous car you bought & that one went past the 30 days, so we have no obligation for this one.” The previous car we “bought” we’d actually been given and it ran for less than two weeks. It wasn’t parked on a public street and it wasn’t being driven. Had we called them to insure it we would have been told that we didn’t need to.

So Rick headed off to court with no back up from Progressive. Because of that the case was essentially a “he said, she said” kind of case. The girl was moderately cute and the judge chose to believe her. We ended up with a judgement against us for a couple thousand dollars that we were on the hook for.

Luckily one of the people Rick told this story to shortly after the court date knew a little more than us and, more importantly, knew the name and phone number of the state insurance commissioner. Rick called him, gave him the story, and he pretty much immediately said Progressive was wrong. “Let me give them a call,” he said.

Less than an hour later we got a call from Progressive saying they had reviewed our case and discovered that they’d made an error and that we were insured at the time of the accident after all. No mention of the insurance commissioner, of course. I guess it was just a coincidence that they happened to review the case right after he called. We were covered and they paid the court ordered amount instead of us. We switched companies when our next renewal came up and didn’t give Progressive another thought.

Well, not until we tried to buy a house, that is. When we were running our credit for the mortgage approval we were told that we wouldn’t be able to get any kind of a loan until Rick cleared up the court judgement that was on record against him. Yup, the small claims case. When Progressive paid the girl the money she’d won in court they just issued a check right to her instead of submitting it to the court. So even though she’d been paid, it was still on record as unsettled. Luckily when I sent her the forms she needed to fill out she did it immediately so we didn’t have to spend too much time dealing with that, but if she hadn’t cooperated god only knows how much time & money we would have had to spend getting that cleared up.

Like I said, definitely not on the same tragic level as this guy’s loss of his sister, but it was enough to make me leave Progressive and never look back.

Oh, and our current insurance? State Farm. When we were in the accident in April 2011 we got the check for the totaled car within a week. We also never had to pay a single dollar for the medical expenses for it. I was seeing a chiropractor and a massage therapist for a year dealing with the pain in my shoulder from that accident and State Farm paid every cent. It was almost like it was what we had been paying them for with our insurance premiums. Pretty wild, huh? Someone should let Progressive know that’s how it works.

Weekends are too short

Well, that’s another fabulous weekend over and done. Summer is just flying away.

Back when I started this blog my first post included a picture of the Advance Readers Copy of Jenny “The Bloggess” Lawson’s book, “Let’s Pretend This Never Happened.” Jenny is sooooo funny and the book was awesome, and she kept announcing cities for her tour dates that never included Minneapolis. Until the last one. Her current book tour finally included us!!!!! Friday after work I headed on out to the Barnes & Noble by Southdale with my ARC & my hardcover of the book, my camera, and Moose. 1/2 hour before Jenny’s book reading started it was already standing room only. It was worth it! She’s just as funny and adorable in person as she is on the internets.

Here is a picture of Jenny, Moose, and Jenny’s stuffed monkey, Copernicus.
Moose & Monkey Saturday, Rick & I headed up to the wilds of Coon Rapids for our friend Mark’s birthday celebration. There was lots of good food, and good drink, and good friends. Sometimes I forget just how many wonderful people we have in our life.

We’d ridden up to the party with Romeo. Just as we were about to get on the highway after leaving Mark’s house the tire sensor on his jeep came on. He’d run over something that punctured the tire and we pulled into a parking lot and watched it go completely flat. Luckily he had me & Rick there to change the tire. :-) Rick jacked the car up & down, but I did all the tire changing work. It was kind of fun! I like knowing that if I ever had a flat when I was by myself I would know what to do.

This morning we did brunch at Pizza Lucé. The food was sooooo good! I had a breakfast pizza. I love those. They also have a Bloody Mary bar so you can mix your own. We’re definitely going to have to do brunch there again sometime.

This afternoon was the last day of the Minnesota Fringe Festival so Rick & I headed out to see the final performance of The Complete Works of William Shatner (abridged.) We knew we were going to love it because it was a comedy full of The Shat, and we not only knew the two writers, but half the cast as well. They did not disappoint. Damn, I know some funny people in theater here.

It was a terrific weekend full of lots of good friends and laughter. The best kind.

I’m a bad Geek Girl!

Wow, I kinda suck at the updating a blog thing, don’t I? Looking at the archives I totally missed the month of July. Let’s just pretend that I was hanging out with the Doctor and didn’t post during that time because we were off in the TARDIS dealing with wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey things, ok? Ok.

Now then, what’s been up with me? July 5-8 was CONvergence. We love CONvergence, and this year was pretty awesome. The last two years I’d spent a LOT of time volunteering during the con and I came to realize that I just couldn’t. I only get 5 paid days off from work a year, and I don’t get any sick time or paid for any holidays. If I kill myself by not getting to relax at something like CVG then I’m going back to work more tired than if I hadn’t taken the time off. So this year I had no obligations. I went to whatever panels struck my fancy with no worries about scheduling. Hell, I even went back up to the room one day at noon and took a nap! A nap! At CVG! It was glorious.

The rest of July was pretty mellow. We saw movies, hung out with friends, I turned 42, and life went on. Nothing exciting, but nothing tragic. I can deal with that.

Now August has rolled around. Monday saw Rick & I celebrating 18 wonderful years of marriage. We just went out to Chili’s for dinner (What can I say? I love their Chicken Crispers!) and topped off the evening so romantically you’re not going to believe it. Yes, after 18 years we’ve still got it. We went to… brace yourselves… Target! LOL. Yeah, we finished our anniversary night  by going grocery shopping. What? Even old married couples need toilet paper.

It’s had to believe it’s August already. The summer is just flying by. In less than a month I’ll be out in Las Vegas for Photoshop World!

For now though, I’m going to need to sign off. Worknight + wine = sleeeeeeepy Sharon. But I will be back. Soon. New goal: at least one blog post per week. After all, how will all of you readers survive without me? Huh? I’d hate to be responsible for the deaths of all 4 of you!