Sunday, June 17, 2012

Invasion: Alaska. I read the book!

I just finished reading "Invasion: Alaska" by Vaughn Heppner.  It's a great book set in the year 2032.

I really liked Heppner's ideas about future weaponry. I was impressed with the detail. This is of special interest to me since I coach Future Problem Solvers. The book would make a great case study for the students. I appreciate Heppner's efforts to keep the book "clean." I contacted him via email to see if there was a possibility of obtaining an edited or editable version of the book to make it "safe" for junior high students. To my surprise. Heppner replied quickly. He said he was not aware of a way to do that, but he thought it was a great idea. Additionally, he said he tries to keep his books "clean" since he found out that his nephews are reading his books.

Several years ago, I contacted the publishers of Michael Crichton's "Prey" with the same type of inquiry, but never received a reply. "Prey" would make a great futuristic case study for students, but there is just a bit too much inappropriateness in the book for my taste.

I think it's interesting that I just stumbled upon Heppner's books. I think one of my next reads will be his new book, "Accelerated."  Before I read this, however, I'm going to read Neil de Grasse Tyson's "Space Chronicles: Facing the Ultimate Frontier."  I received this as a gift from my son for Father's Day.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Welcome to Houston, Space Shuttle Replica

While I was out running errands today, I decided to drive by NASA JSC and Space Center Houston to see if I could catch a glimpse of Space Shuttle replica that Houston received over the weekend.

I saw the tail of the shuttle from NASA Parkway, so I u-turned and went north on Saturn Lane. There poking out through a grove of trees was the space shuttle, right across the street from the Saturn V and Mercury rockets. Two other space aficionados had pulled off the road to take some pictures, so I joined them. Our view was from the rear and partly blocked by the trees, even when standing on my truck. Here's my pic from that vantage point:

Houston, we have a space shuttle! on Twitpic

Then, I headed over to Space Center Houston to see if they would let me go into their parking lot to take some close-up pictures. I ended up having to pay the $6 parking fee, but I think it was worth it. Here are two more pics from the parking lot:

Houston, we have a space shuttle, 2 on Twitpic
Houston, we have a space shuttle, 3 on Twitpic

I also snapped this picture of one of the Orion Space Capsules just sitting in the parking lot:

Orion space capsule at Space Center Houston on Twitpic

I'm happy that NASA JSC in Houston ended up with a space shuttle memory, but it still grates on my nerves that the "real" shuttles went elsewhere. I found it ironic that Space Shuttle Enterprise was damaged today on its way to NYC.