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ARCHIVES: August 24-31, 2004



August 31, 2004 - Tuesday

Hurricane Charley's Damage

Friends have been asking me about the damage from Hurricane Charley. We saw firsthand some of the destruction. Orlando is a mess even though they've cleaned up much of it, we were told. Just going from the Orlando airport to the hotel, we saw entire neighborhoods with tarps over their roofs, backyard fences caved in, large highway signs completely uprooted - cement base and all, and many, many trees down. It was obvious that this area was hit hard.


At first, I felt guilty for vacationing among the destruction until I realized that Florida depends on vacationers for much of its income. We enjoyed talking to people there. Our bus driver told us of his experience running down to the store while the eye was passing over. It scared his wife but he made it back okay. He said that they got real tired of eating canned food, though -- and having to watch out for displaced alligators.



August 30, 2004 - Monday

Back to Work

Florida was great, but in few short weeks, there's a big wedding coming up - my daughter's! Its been an exciting and wonderful time preparing for this. We approve of everything and think her fiancé, Jonathan, is wonderful. The little church she is using is beautiful. Its amazing how much work goes into a wedding but they are doing a great job and things seem to be coming together well.


My own wedding was extremely simple. My daughter claims that her wedding is simple, too. I have to chuckle over that because it seems very complex to me -- still wonderful, though. I look forward to it. I look forward to when it is all over, too. Whew!



August 29, 2004 - Sunday

Summer is Too Hot in Florida

While we loved Florida, we decided that Disney World is best done in any season but summer. The heat zapped our energy. It was relentlessly hot and did not rain much. (Although we have decent tans now.)


Of course, Orlando was having a blazing thunderstorm as our plane arrived. The pilot told us that we might have to land in Tampa, but instead he circled the Orlando airport for half an hour. Ironically, we were going to be arriving 15 minutes ahead of schedule, but came in 15 minutes late, instead.


What everyone says about Florida is true. It generally rains every afternoon but the heat quickly climbs back up. We kept our hotel room as cold as it would go the entire time we were there. When we got home, we found ourselves turning the house thermostat cooler. I don't think we've completely recovered from the heat, yet, since we are still keeping it cooler than we used to.


At least we were adjusted to the humidity. Visitors from California and other western states thought they were dying.


One tour guide told us that the recent weather brought out the alligators. It was true. They were all over the Kennedy Space Center. We saw them sitting in ponds from our bus. They could be useful here, too. I could get one and tell my neighbor, "Ha! You only have bull mastiffs for watchdogs. I have something even better - a gator!"



August 28, 2004 - Saturday

Astronaut Pam Melroy

We just got back last night -- after 6 days in Orlando, Florida, where my husband was presented a Space Flight Honoree award. Much happened to us there and I am still editing the kazillion photos I took, but there's a photo collection up (Slide Show which is still to be edited in the next few days so its a little rough right now). We stayed at a Disney Hotel and attended several convention activities. Disney can sure put on a good convention with entertainment, indoor fireworks and more. It was incredible.


The highlight of our stay occurred at the last luncheon. We entered the banquet room. There were no reserved tables surprisingly, so guests could sit with anyone. Richard took a table in the back corner since everyone else had filled up the other 6 tables. I felt a little awkward being off by ourselves at first, but eventually a couple of other people came to our table.


In fact, our main guest, Astronaut Pam Melroy, came in and sat by me! I was so thrilled that I almost cried. But I got ahold of myself and held intelligent conversation with her. She was nice, intelligent and energetic. We had a favorite author in common, Anne McCaffrey. She knew her personally! I practically had Pam all to myself at the luncheon and we enjoyed great conversation. She has flown shuttle missions and will be the commander on her next mission.


Later, Mike Kahn came and sat on Pam's other side. He is the head of RSRM. I was sitting by the two main attendees in the room! Richard was on the other side of me, talking to the folks who sat by him and the chairs going around the other side were empty. I kept thinking to myself, "Don't make a fool of yourself. Don't look nervous. Be at ease. Make intelligent conversation but mostly listen." I repeated this mantra and it worked. I think I did fine and I truly had fun. Whew!


I have a favorite astronaut, now. I may not have become an astronaut like I wanted to do in 5th grade, but I feel like I was experiencing the next best thing -- associating with Pam, an astronaut herself, and married to a shuttle rocket scientist. Life is amazing.



August 27, 2004 - Friday

Flying is Just Not the Same Anymore

I like to fly when I can sit by the window and watch the scenery. Fortunately, my husband likes to sit on the aisle side. I wish folks could come up to the gates and watch the plane unload. Its nice to be greeted by a friendly face just as you step off the plane and its fun for children to watch the planes come in, not to mention that airports are like malls -- with shops and restaurants. I like wandering through the Atlanta airport and once arranged a 3-hour layover so I could visit all the shops and restaurants I wanted (as well as getting some good exercise in, too).


I know the world is not the same and things have to be done for our own good, but I miss the "good ole days" in this regard.



August 26, 2004 - Thursday

Space Flight Awareness Honoree

I am proud to announce that my husband has received this award. He works for Thiokol (for NASA in support of the Space Shuttle) and has put in much time and going the extra mile to get things done. He is smart, kind, good with people, my hero and best friend. I am honored to be by his side.


If you have been watching my photo blog, you will have seen pictures of Pam Melroy (an astronaut) and the dinner, socials and tours we've been given. We were privileged to the tour the Kennedy Space Flight Center last Tuesday. We are heading home now. It's been a thrilling time. I could stay out here even longer. In fact, I would not mind living here for a few years (if I could come back home to Huntsville, eventually). I'd like a chance to get my fill of Disney World, too. I love Florida.


As a 5th-grader, I wanted to be an astronaut when I grew up, but I met an "almost-astronaut." He was rejected in the highly competitive field due to having less than perfect vision and I had been wearing glasses for near-sightedness since second grade so I contented myself with reading science fiction. Both of my parents and my husband are science fact and fiction fans. It's always been in the family.


I will post some better-quality photos in the next couple of days after I get unpacked, the clothes washed and forgiven by our cats for being gone so long (at least our daughter was here to keep them company).



August 25, 2004 - Wednesday

Birds Sighted Around Aldridge Creek Lately

We've seen some interesting birds around here recently. A brilliant small indigo bunting has been seen in the mornings. He's tiny, but so bright that it kinds of amazes us to see him. I think he is the most beautiful bird out there.


Woodpeckers are easy to discover with their loud pecking, but they are shy. I go over to take a good look and the darn bird sidles around to the other side of the tree.


We have a large red-tailed hawk. I love it when he culls the pigeon and squirrel population down. We have some very large blackbirds. It always surprises me at how large they can get. When I was a kid, we had a neighborhood blackbird. Mom would shut all of us kids up in the house, then go stand outside with Rice Krispies in her hand. We stay by the large window, being very quiet and watched as the bird landed on Mom's hand. I thought that was great. Mom said several neighbors would feed him the same way.


A sparrow hawk was sighted near the parking lot to the park. I hope he has lots of success. He can come to my yard and get all the sparrows he wants. We used to put up a finch sack feeder. It took the finches 6 weeks to find us, but we eventually attracted lovely goldfinches. Shortly after that, the sparrows found it. They chased away the finches and ate up the seed so quickly that we quit. The poor goldfinches weren't able to get a bite in edgewise anyway.


Several great blue herons are in the creek. Those birds are all wing. One flew in front of me and I was shocked at the wingspan -- must have been 6 feet easily.


I saw an interesting medium-sized bird. He was a nice shade of brown with squiggly marks on his chest. I tried to find out what kind of bird he could be by typing into Google, "brown bird with squiggly marks on chest in Alabama." No luck, but I did find this site for birdwatchers in our area --> Birds in North Alabama and I found a bird with very similar marks on its chest, but it was too small to be the bird I saw--> purple finch (scroll down the page). The bird was not a flicker but it might be a large thrush.



August 24, 2004 - Tuesday

BlogTrac-Blogging on Blogs

I like BlogTrac. They have news, information about blog hoaxes, rumors, etc. Here's an excerpt from their blog -- very interesting what the Olympic athletes can and can't do.


A Sign of How Screwy Media Control Is

Athletes at the Olympics aren’t being allowed to blog:

Athletes may be the center of attention at the Olympic Games, but don’t expect to hear directly from them online – or see snapshots or video they’ve taken.

The International Olympic Committee is barring competitors, as well as coaches, support personnel and other officials, from writing firsthand accounts for news and other websites.

Apparently they can blog if they have a non-Olympic related blog, but that’s about it.


I wonder if they have much time to blog anyway, but its a shame they can't even share their personal experiences with us.


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