Thursday, May 29, 2008

New Brazil Tribe

Scientists have found an uncontacted tribe in Brazil. And to prove it they flew over the tribe's village to take pictures, probably creating a new flying machine deity for said tribe. Doesn't flying over them in a plane/helicopter count in some way as contacting the tribe? Oh, and the picture makes it look like tribe members are umpalupas about to shoot arrows at the new flying machine deity. Story at yahoo.


Dunkin Donuts

If it is learned that muslim extremists eat donuts, does that mean that Dunkin Donuts will voluntarily go out of business?

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Real Estate Crazyness

A brief comment on the state of real estate prices in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles. NUTS! CRAZY! Almost no one is pricing their house to sell. Banks own a bunch of properties so they are a big part of the problem. If a house has been on the market for 9 months and hasn't sold (and there are 5 other houses in the same neighborhood for the same price) LOWER THE PRICE! Find where the market is. Banks need to start getting aggressive by lowering prices every month or the housing market is going to be stagnant for a very long time. It is going to be a lot of pain for homeowners, but it is reality. As soon as that reality is faced then some flow can return to the market. Until then it is stinksville. One example of the crazy lack-of-reality pricing is $800,000 for a nice house on a 7000 sqf lot in a neighborhood with many houses for sale at $500,000 (and they have been sitting for 9 months) while 5 miles away a house for $699,000 on a 17,000 sqf lot in a nice neighborhood is also for sale. Price to sell people. The dreaming is over.

Sunday, May 25, 2008


The first pictures are available online. Yup, that's Mars alright.


The Science Channel show (done by Canadians, probably because they care about Science!) is done. One of the last comments was that it is really cold at JPL in Pasadena. Be better prepared next time guys with a final line. That's it for now. Look for the first picture from Phoenix online in less than an hour. Go Phoenix!


The worst model of a space ship ever! is being used on set to describe things. It looks like a stainless steel toaster oven (without the door) turned on it's side. At least we know none of the mission budget was used on that thing.


Mars Phoenix is on Twitter (It is written in the first person though. "In 90 days, when I freeze, that will be the end of the mission.") Spooky Weird!! I wish I had known this hours ago. Thanks to Andy Ihnatko for pointing it out. I should have known he would be blogging about this. He is an uber science geek.

The show is talking about the weather team (the Canadians) and the research they did to plan for the cold of the Mars polar region.


Steve Squyres is a guest on set in Pasadena. He is the head of the Spirit and Opportunity landers. An excellent person to interview. Finally. Any science show with Squyres a part of it is a good show. And he just told me something I didn't know. Phoenix isn't a rover, just a lander. Drilling into the ice is it's only purpose and the ice better be under it or the data wanted from the mission won't be there.


A package on the Phoenix lander on-board instruments. The best ever apparently.


Talking about the science to be had up in the polar region of Mars where Phoenix has just landed. And now another package. This time focusing on attempting to find signs of life on Mars, specifically digging into ice that Phoenix hopes to find near the landing sight.


A little bit of a member of the Canadian science team, someone who passed away from cancer during the preparation of the mission, is on Phoenix. The first person to reach Mars!


A package on what happens now, focusing on getting the solar panels opened and functioning. The mission is over if the solar panels don't open correctly and work. Next are the deployments of cameras to see where exactly they are. This mission isn't expected to last more than 90 days. Spirit and Opportunity are still going because they are closer to the equator and with a lot of good luck and excellent engineering. Phoenix is so far north on Mars that it is expected to be frozen in 90 days.


Hour number 2, what do we talk about now? Lots of replays of a bunch of guys in blue clapping at JPL.


The first picture from Mars isn't going to happen for another 90 minutes. The show on the Science Channel continues for another hour, but they will be done before the first picture. If they had planned this better the show would take a break for an hour, come back at 6PM for another hour so they can get the first pictures from Phoenix, and then for playback they can edit the 2 hours together, instead of mostly repetitive talk for the next hour.


A very happy room of engineers. A lot of attempted high fives. Well done. Good signal from Phoenix on Mars continues.


Altitude is detected. Less than 2000 meters. Parachute is no longer attached, which is a good thing. Touchdown!!


A lot of applause at the JPL mission control. Good data coming in from the Phoenix Lander.


Listening in to JPL now. Parachute is deployed.


SHUT UP AREADY! I bet some producer is in the hosts ears telling them to keep talking and obviously the producers don't know their audience. We want to hear JPL mission control. The hosts think the parachute isn't deployed yet. That time is soon though.


Dr. James Garvin is talking with shots of the JPL control room. At some point they need to just listen in. Finally, just letting the JPL person talk. The hosts feel the need to talk and break in. Everyone watching right now is a science geek. We just want to listen to JPL right now.


This is also live on Discovery Channel Canada. That explains the fact that I have never seen these hosts before, and they tend to say things like a Canadian.

Close to finding out if the lander made it or not.


Intro to the 7 minutes of terror package. "EDL" is the term and is what everyone worries about. Will Phoenix land correctly.


Live shot of the JPL control room. Apparently everyone there called each other and said, "Hey, let's wear blue today.".... I wish there was more from the actual control room. The Nova documentaries on the Spirit and Opportunity landers had a lot in the actual science control room and it was very compelling. This show needs more from the actual scientists who are probably freaking out right now knowing that all of their hard work is either going to pay off or is a failure.


The Tucson, Arizona remote is way out of sync. They came out of break with the reporter in Tucson talking and his lips were moving before I his voice kicked in. Some good information about the lander. Good information from Arizona so far, but bad audio sync.

The host is now talking about the soft landing that Phoenix will be attempting and that it hasn't been done since the 70's. He segued that into a package on the "Mars curse". Meaning more than half of the probes to Mars have failed, with Russia having the most failures.


Commercial break. 20 minutes until something happens. Something happens at 4:37PM. I'm not sure if it is when the lander is suppose to have touchdown on Mars or if that is when the landing starts with touchdown 7 minutes later.


Better information now. Some info on the cameras and equipment on board Phoenix and then "what is Phoenix doing right now before it enters the martian atmosphere?"


So far a bunch of filler questions, information that can be easily found on wikipedia. Everyone on camera sounds like they are in the cone of silence from the old Get Smart show. Not good audio. If they are doing weak questions now, what are they going to do after 5PM?


It takes 15 minutes from a signal from the Phoenix lander on Mars to reach JPL on Earth.


Back from commercial. No science related ads. No one selling telescopes and other science goodies.


Talking with James Garvin (head of the project) about course corrections.


A nice start to the show. Check-ins with each remote to say hi and give each on air person a chance to speak. Also the question was asked "Why is this so important?" Good to get that information right up front. Now a package on how the Phoenix mission got to this point.

The audio might be more than just a problem with the host mic. Some of the remotes seemed out of sync.


Showtime on the Science Channel. Audio sounds bad on the host's mic. It sounds out of phase. Live shot from the JPL control room.

3PM ....90 minutes to the landing

The show on the Science channel hasn't started yet. I haven't looked to see if anyone on site is doing a blog. I'll just follow along 'oldschool', by watching TV.

Phoenix Lander less than 3 hours away

The Mars Phoenix lander is less than 3 hours from attempting a landing in the polar regions of Mars. Check it out live on the Science Channel starting at 4pm Pacific Time.