Racing a Great White Shark

The more I think about it, the more racing a Great White Shark seems like something Ryan Lochte would do than something Michael Phelps would do.

Embed from Getty Images

Featured Image Credit: “Great White Shark” by Elias Levy, via Flickr. Used under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License.

“We Can Work it Out” covered by Tom Jones

A few days ago SiriusXM launched a Beatles channel and since then it’s basically all I’ve been listening to while driving. I heard “We Can Work It Out” on there today and it reminded me that this cover by Tom Jones exists:

If you can get past the puzzle piece jumpsuit visuals and focus on Jones’s singing, it might actually be a contender as a better version than The Beatles. Hearing The Beatles’ version after hearing Jones’s version, it really does feel like the song was written for Tom Jones.


On this date 5 years ago the space shuttle Discovery first went on display at the National Air and Space Museum’s Stephen F. Udvar-Hazy Center, next to Washington Dulles International Airport, following its final spaceflight. It’s imposing to see staring back at you as you walk into the gallery. The size of the orbiter is massive, especially when you compare it to every other vehicle that has carried humans into space before or since (most of which have some display version, if not an actual vehicle, either at the Udvar-Hazy Center or at the main facility in Washington, D.C.). The Smithsonian has preserved Discovery as it was following its final mission, still with scorch marks on the outside from its final reentry. I was surprised to see that a lot of the exterior is covered in fabric; only the black part is ceramic tile. Both provided the same thermal protection performance. These pictures are from my visit this past New Year’s Eve.

For more on Discovery’s transfer to the Smithsonian I highly recommend the documentary Shuttle Discovery’s Last Mission. It still shows on TV sometimes (I saw it by chance a few weeks ago), or is available on Netflix.

seriously, the guy has a point

This was a fascinating read. I had no idea the Charging Bull statue was an uncommissioned guerrilla artwork. I always assumed an investment firm or trade group had commissioned it, but the New York Stock Exchange actually had the New York Police Department impound the statute when it first appeared outside their building. I also didn’t know the Fearless Girl statue was commissioned by an investment firm as a bit of guerrilla marketing. But I can understand why Charging Bull’s artist doesn’t like Fearless Girl: it changes his symbol of power and strength into a symbol of oppression, all to sell somebody’s stock portfolio. I also find it ironic that the company behind Fearless Girl would turn a symbol of “strength in the market” into a symbol of oppression when the product they sell their clients is strength in the market. Maybe a more apt placement would be to put the Fearless Girl next to the bull, facing in the same direction, as though she was directing the Charging Bull. That would probably square better with what State Street Global is selling, and it would return Charging Bull to a symbol of strength, not oppression.

I got metaphorically spanked a couple of days ago. Folks have been talking about the Fearless Girl statue ever since it was dropped in Manhattan’s Financial District some five weeks ago.I have occasionally added a comment or two to some of the online discussions about the statue.

Recently most of the Fearless Girldiscussions have focused on the complaints by Arturo Di Modica, the sculptor who createdCharging Bull. He wantsFearless Girl removed, and that boy is taking a metric ton of shit for saying that. Here’s what I said that got me spanked:

The guy has a point.

This happened in maybe three different discussions over the last week or so. In each case I explained briefly why I believe Di Modica has a point (and I’ll explain it again in a bit), and for the most part folks either accepted my comments or ignored them. Which…

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Cognitive Dissonance in Basketball

I’ve gotten a little annoyed by the sound of a neighbor kid dribbling and shooting a basketball for the past few hours, and I feel pretty stupid for that bugging me. Why is it stupid? Because by the time I go to bed tonight I’ll have watched something like 32 hours of college basketball over the past 4 days. The NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship is underway, and March Madness is my favorite time of the year. College basketball is my favorite sport. So why does the neighbor kid dribbling and shooting baskets for a couple hours start to get annoying? Maybe someday those hours of practice will pay off and I’ll be watching him play in the big dance!

Featured Image Credit: Untitled photo by Flickr user b3nscott. Used under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License

Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel Timelapse

In October 2016 I went with a couple friends to Chincoteague, Virginia, to watch the launch of Orbital ATK’s Antares rocket from nearby Wallops Island, sending the Cygnus module S.S. Alan G. Poindexter to the International Space Station as part of the OA-5 commercial resupply mission. I had my dashcam recording the trip (as it’s always recording) and decided to turn part of it into a timelapse. Here’s the crossing of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel northbound from mainland Virginia to the Eastern Shore:

The journey from toll plaza to toll plaza is about 20 miles and the span itself from shore to shore is 17.6 miles long. Officially renamed the Lucius J. Kellam, Jr. Bridge-Tunnel in 1987, the northbound span we drove in the video opened in 1964 as a 2-lane bridge carrying both northbound and southbound traffic. In 1999 a separate parallel span opened, becoming 2 southbound lanes. The parallel bridge span increased traffic capacity on the bridge portion and provided redundancy in the event of a problem impacting either span. A parallel tunnel is planned for the Thimble Shoal Channel (the first tunnel encountered in the video), bringing the same benefits to the tunnel portion; construction is expected to begin this fall. A similar project for the Chesapeake Channel (the second tunnel in the video) is expected, but is not currently on any long-range plans. Given that the current Parallel Thimble Shoal Tunnel Project is expected to cost more than $750 Million, it’s understandable that they’re taking it one project at a time!

The bridge toll is fairly expensive, I think $15 each way when we made the trip, but it saves a massive amount of time and driving distance. If you return within 24 hours, as we did, the return toll is only $5. It’s a pretty neat drive, though, and the Chincoteague area is lovely. I’d say it’s well worth the visit to cross the bridge and drive up the Eastern Shore to Chincoteague at least once. If you’re ever traveling up or down the east coast, and not in a hurry, it’s probably also worth traveling that way even if you’re just passing through, just to see a different part of the country than you get if you stick to I-95.

Friendship 7

Friendship 7

Friendship 7
Friendship 7, on display at the National Air & Space Museum in Washington, D.C.

On this date 55 years ago, John Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth, flying in his Mercury capsule named Friendship 7. I got to see this in person this past December at the National Air & Space Museum. I’d always read about how small they were, but you have to see it to believe it. This thing could easily fit in the back of most minivans! There was a largely unseen army of people supporting Glenn, but it still took a lot of guts to strap into this new vehicle and take it where no one had gone before.