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NASA Meets The Big Apple – Space Shuttles – Facts, Falsehoods & Trivia

28 Apr

FACT: The Space Shuttle Enterprise is now in NYC.

She flew along The North River (aka The Hudson River) yesterday morning, which I witnessed with my very own eyes.

FACT: Pier 84 was crowded with excited spectators.

FACT: We eagerly stared down river, watching for first sight.

FALSEHOOD: Someone yelled “You’re all looking the wrong way!” and everyone turned and gazed to the North.

FACT: We had Twitter. We knew Enterprise was coming from the South, from the Statue of Liberty.

FACT: We were right! Here’s my first sighting! What did those birds think?

TRIVIA: One of my favorite books as a itty bitty girl was “Are You My Mother?” – where a baby bird thought all things were its mother.

FALSEHOOD: Maybe those birds thought Enterprise was their mother – nah!

FACT: Somehow mounted onto a giant 747 jumbo jet, the Enterprise got closer and closer – flying low and slow.

Overhead the two crafts were a truly awesome sight.

FACT: the amazing duo headed North

towards the George Washington Bridge, then finally out of sight.

FACT: Until they flew back south past us again, then on their way to JFK Airport.

“Welcome to New York, and thanks for the show.”

TRIVIA: Completed in 1976, Enterprise was designed as a prototype test vehicle. Test pilots demonstrated that it could fly and land in the atmosphere like airplanes, but the Enterprise never flew in space.

TRIVIA: The shuttle was originally to be named the Constitution, but a write-in campaign by fans of the television series “Star Trek” persuaded officials to rename it in honor of the show’s main starship.

TRIVIA: There have been 6 Shuttles:

1976 – Enterprise – now to be displayed in NYC at the Intrepid Museum.

1981 – Columbia – disintegrated during re-entry 2003; all 7 crew members died.

1983 – Challenger – disintegrated 73 seconds after launch 1986; all 7 crew members died.

1984 – Discovery – now to be displayed at the The Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center (the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum (NASM)’s annex at Washington Dulles International Airport).

1985 – Atlantis – now to be displayed at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex near Cape Canaveral, Florida.

1992 – Endeavour – now to be displayed at the California Science Center in Los Angeles, California.

TRIVIA: NASA announced it would transfer space-worthy orbiters to education institutions or museums at the conclusion of the Space Shuttle program. Each museum or institution is responsible for covering theUS$28.8 million cost of preparing and transporting each vehicle for display. Twenty museums from across the country submitted proposals for receiving one of the retired orbiters.

TRIVIA: NASA retired the Space Shuttle in 2011, after 30 years of service.

What a thrill it’s been. I can’t wait until The Enterprise is floated by barge on the Hudson River and lifted by cranes onto the Intrepid.

From the Intrepid website:

In June, Enterprise will then be craned onto the flight deck and our new Space Shuttle Pavilion will be built around her, with an expected public opening in mid July.”

Welcome to New York, and thanks for the show!!




Sweet And Low

5 Feb

Yesterday Hubby and I went on a tour of the Brooklyn Navy Yard, which is another post for another day.

Our tour guide was David from Urban Oyster, and he really knows his stuff! We learned many interesting things, but here’s one story that really stayed with me.

It’s all about Sweet’n Low.

There was this fellow, named Benjamin Eisenstadt. (You can read his obituary from the April 10, 1966 New York Times here.) And our tour guide David told us Ben’s story, as such:

Ben owned a cafeteria that was located across the street from the Brooklyn Navy Yard. The cafeteria did quite well until the Yard slowed production after World War II ended.

Always thinking, Ben began to puzzle over his messy sugar bowls. “Why” he thought, “doesn’t someone invent individual sugar packets?” So, he proceeded to do just that. He used tea bag filling machinery and converted it to sugar packet filling machinery.

Very pleased with his results, he went to the Bigwigs at Domino Sugar, and presented his idea. They told him they needed a couple of weeks to think it over, before buying into his idea.

When Ben met with them a couple of weeks later, the Bigwigs at Domino Sugar told him they did not need to buy his invention, because they had just produced their own sugar packing machine.

Ben hadn’t patented his idea, so Domino stole his idea and ran with it.

Ben was pissed! So, to retaliate against Domino, he invented the powdered saccharin sweetener which he named Sweet’n Low, named after a popular song. (That’s why there are musical references on the packaging.)

The New York Times doesn’t mention the rivalry between Benjamin Eisenstadt and Domino Sugar; neither does the Wikipedia entry.

So, maybe I’m telling you an Urban Legend.

But I don’t think so.

Ben’s distribution company, Cumberland Packing Corporation, is still located across the street from the Brooklyn Navy Yard, in the same building that used to be the cafeteria. I took this picture of the building’s sign.

The New York Times obituary says “With sales of about $100 million a year, the company, which employs 400 people, turns out 50 million Sweet ‘N Low packets a day in what used to be a cafeteria.”


The moral of this story?

Well, you decide.



A Photographer’s Rights

29 Jan

Here’s a sign that I really HATE to see:

“No Smoking.”

I get that.

Cancer, second-hand smoke, etc. Okay – I get that.

“No Photography.”

Not so much…

“No Flash During Performance” – yes, I get that. “No Disruptions During Performance” – check.

But, this sign makes it look that that’s a “Bad Camera“. Sigh.

Here’s another sign that I despise:

“No Photos Of Photos.”

What the heck?!

Post this sign – and then you just try to stop me!

I’ll take the photo – if you ask me I’ll answer:

“I’m taking a picture of your stupid sign – not your precious photos.”

Oh, I’m on a roll.

The other day I was walking past a fabric store, and I had to stop and gaze admiringly at this bolt of fabric which was in the window:

I mean, it’s so GREAT on so many levels!

It’s dangerously cheesy.

How would you utilize this fabric? Would you make curtains? Sheets? A table cloth? A shirt?

I HAD to take a photo of this great fabric!

I pulled out my trusty camera and snapped a quick shot. Then, through the window I saw the shop owner coming towards me through the door.

As he opened the door and came towards me telling me “No Photos!” I turned my back and kept on walking.

One day I’ll get into an altercation, if I don’t watch myself.

I used to be sweet.

Not so much, anymore.

Here’s an interesting, informative article about Photographers’ Rights. From USA Today, in part it reads:

Last week I received a note from a reader:

“Today I was stopped by a security guard with the North County Transit District in Solana Beach, California, and prevented from taking photos of a great new train station they have,” he wrote. “The guard said they don’t allow it since 9/11.”

Note to security guard: Just because you or your boss “don’t allow” something doesn’t mean it’s not legal. I can post a sign on my lawn, “Hopping on one foot in front of this house is prohibited,” but I’ll have a tough time enforcing it.

The law in the United States of America is pretty simple. You are allowed to photograph anything with the following exceptions:

• Certain military installations or operations.

• People who have a reasonable expectation of privacy. That is, people who are some place that’s not easily visible to the general public, e.g., if you shoot through someone’s window with a telephoto lens.

That’s it.

There are a few more restrictions on publishing photos or video, though.

You can’t show private facts — things a reasonable person wouldn’t want made public — unless those facts were revealed publicly. So no long-lens shots of your neighbors’ odd habits.

You also can’t show someone in a negative false light by, for example, using Photoshop tricks or a nasty, untrue caption.

And you can’t put someone else’s likeness to commercial use without their permission. This is usually mentioned in terms of celebrities, but it applies to making money from anyone’s likeness.”


What is in your window is apt to be photographed when an admiring photographer is outside on the sidewalk.

And that’s legal.

If you don’t want your fabulous fabric to be photographed, then don’t display it in your window.

Photographers – go to this site and read about your rights here in the United States. The author suggests that you download the PDF – print it out and keep it with you. The author is an attorney; here is the “about him” from his site:

Bert Krages is an attorney who concentrates on intellectual property and environmental law. He is recognized nationally as an advocate of the right to take photographs in public places, having appeared in media such as National Public Radio’s Morning Edition, Popular Photography, Shutterbug, and Wired.”

The beginning of the article says: “The general rule in the United States is that anyone may take photographs of whatever they want when they are in a public place… Examples of places that are traditionally considered public are streets, sidewalks, and public parks.”

Okay. I feel better now.

: )



Spare Change?

14 Jan

I posted not too long ago about my spare change.

The value of a penny.

Well, according to this news article, travelers passing through United States airports have A LOT of spare change.

It’s reported that in 2011, $409,085.56 was collected by the TSA – money that travelers drop into the bins at airport security, and then dash to their planes without recollecting their money.

Here are the amounts that were collected at the nation’s “top spots”:

New York’s JFK Airport: $46,918.06

Los Angeles International Airport: $19,110.83

Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport: $16,523.83

San Francisco International Airport: $15,908.02

Miami International Airport: $15,844.83

Washington’s Dulles International Airport: $13,945.18


I stop for a penny!

I’d be curious to know how much is left behind by International travelers who just don’t want to bother exchanging currency.

Currently, the TSA (Transportation Security Administration) pockets the money that is left behind at the security checkpoints.

I’ll bet that’s about to CHANGE!




Will You Lytro In The Near Future?

3 Jan

Have you heard of THE new camera – the Lytro?

I had read about it a few months ago. And at Thanksgiving my nephew Pat told me about it.

I heard today that they’re taking pre-orders and the cameras will be shipping out to consumers very soon.

They look like little plastic toys, don’t they?

This one is called “Red Hot”.

It might look like a little toy, but in my mind this camera (and its technology) will change photography with the similar impact that digital had on film.

It’s a game changer!

It’s called a Light-field camera. I’ll take the description from Lytro’s website:

Lytro lets you take pictures like never before. Unlike a conventional camera that captures a single plane of light, the Lytro camera captures the entire light field, which is all the light traveling in every direction in every point in space. 

Since you’ll capture the color, intensity, and direction of all the light, you can experience the first major light field capability – focusing after the fact. Focus and re-focus, anywhere in the picture. You can refocus your pictures at anytime, after the fact.” 

Here are a couple examples, also from Lytro’s website.

Photographer Eric Cheng took a picture of his Corgi.

But, while looking at the picture on your screen, you can touch any place on the image to refocus wherever you want.

Head over to Lytro’s Picture Gallery to check it out.

Or, check out this video review (sorry – there’s a 15 second advertisement in the beginning…)

As intrigued as I am, I won’t be ordering a Lytro camera just yet.

Like anything, the technology will improve and the prices will come down.

I am interested to watch the growth of this new technology. Wikipedia suggests that “a recording from a security camera based upon this technology could be used to produce an accurate 3D model of a suspect.”

Speaking of a suspect – if I had used this camera when I was in Washington DC – I wouldn’t have had to chose between Froggy and The Washington Monument.



Who Ya Gonna Call? GumBusters!

30 Dec

The sunlight lit up the sidewalk. The sidewalk simply sparkled in the light.

Except for those dark splotches.

What ARE those dark splotches??

Get ready for this, people. Those dark splotches all over the sidewalks are…


Yes – gross, spit-out ABC gum.

Already Been Chewed gum.

It apparently is not a new problem. Here is a reprint of an article that ran in The New York Times on April 17, 1921:


A Prophecy as to the Ultimate Fate of New Yorkers.

   Chewing gum appears to have a very firmly established place with Americans, but now it has its objectionable features, just like all fads, according to Mrs. M. L. Heath, manager of the Travel Information Bureau of the Boomer Hotels. Mrs. Heath says that unless the vogue of gum-chewing passes or unless city, State and national laws are passed and funds appropriated for a special sidewalk cleaning department, with chemical outfits and scrapers, the City of New York may become totally enveloped in refuse chewing gum in the course of time.

   “Few people realize what it means to have this refuse chewing gum lying about on the sidewalks and pavements,” said Mrs. Heath. “It is deposited in enormous quantities and at first it is extremely unpleasant to walk over, although this is lessened by the absorption of dust and it gradually works into the pavement. But, of course, what is bad for some is good for others and it applied to this case the other day when a young Latin-American couple returned to the McAlpin Hotel after a sightseeing trip about the city.

   “They came in to tell me how much they had enjoyed the trip, and remarked that they had never seen such delightful walks as were found here in spots. ‘Soft to the touch, yet very firm,’ they said, ‘much of the paving seemed to be of a spotted material and in other places is a solid brown or black. We walked for miles and never tired, and neither of us are good walkers.’ I explained to them it was chewing gum, and that we thought it was something of a menace – that business houses and tenants fight against it with scrapers and gasoline, but it keeps ahead of them – but the South Americans could not get my point of view.”

Fast-forward to the here and now.

There is a company called GumBusters.

Some details from their website:

The GumBusters system is 100 percent effective in removing all shapes and sizes of gum with a simple method. The gum is heated with 300-degree dry steam which is then mixed with a cleaning agent. With a little pressure, a small brush at the end of the cleaning hose will remove the stain. The best part is that the process can be done without closing off streets or disrupting daily activity.

Bubblegum, sugarless, spearmint – to GumBusters they all wind up the same, as sticky blackened spots on the landscape. The only difference is that sometimes when the heat hits the gum, “the smell wafts up, and you can tell if it’s cinnamon, grape or strawberry.”

And, do you know the history of chewing gum?

From Wikipedia:

Modern chewing gum was first developed in the 1860s when chicle was exported from Mexico for use as a rubber substitute. Chicle did not succeed as a replacement for rubber, but as a gum it was soon adopted and due to newly established companies such as Adams New York Chewing Gum (1871), Black Jack (1884) and “Chiclets” (1899), it soon dominated the market.”

And, Just where did Thomas Adams invent his modern-day chewing gum?

In New York City, of course!

Should we thank him or curse him?

Well, at least we have the services of GumBusters!



George Clooney – Dog Whisperer!

17 Dec

I couldn’t resist this – for all you George Clooney admirers out there…

…and for my dog-loving friends…

This trick will work every time!

Photograph and Clooney interview excerpt from Esquire Magazine:

“Hey, this is Einstein. I guess he’s part cocker spaniel or something. I got him out of a shelter about a year and a half ago. I was looking for a dog because I hadn’t had one for a while — and I wanted one that was house-trained. I’m just terrible at house-training dogs.

So I go online and see Einstein. They had a whole film about him. It was actually really sweet. You see him all beat up and shit in the shelter, and they show how they cleaned him up. God, I love this dog. So I called and said, “I like Einstein!”

The woman goes, “Well, we don’t know if Einstein will like you.”

“Well, can I meet with Einstein?”

“Yes, we’ll bring him to your house, but if he doesn’t like you, he can’t stay. We have to have good homes for these dogs.” She sounded very serious.

Okay. I have this really long driveway, and I open the gate for them, and I start to panic that Einstein is not going to like me. So I run into the kitchen, where I have these turkey meatballs, and I rub them all over my shoes.

This woman opens the door, and who knew Einstein was such a food whore on top of everything? He throws himself at my feet.

She says, “I’ve never seen him react like that, ever!” And she left him with me on the spot. And forever, now, he just thinks of me as the guy with meatball feet. He loves me. I can do no wrong. He follows me everywhere.”

Published in the January 2012 Meaning of Life issue of Esquire Magazine. To read the entire interview, go here.

Interviewed by Cal Fussman, September 30, 2011

Photograph by the wonderful Nigel Parry



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