THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 163

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 163

…No strangers to astronomy, like any astronauts worthy of his or her spacesuit, the combined knowledge of the McKinneys serves them well …

The Great Orion Nebula was captured with a Canon T1i using a Celestron CGEM-800 telescope by Philip A. Cruden

Image result for speeding away gifCeleste gradually recovers from time distorting space speed and the resulting blackout, examining Sammy for signs of physical harm. It seems that the 1st baby in space has slept through the 100-to-300,000 mph acceleration. She is very much like any other child when come to riding in the family car; after a couple boring minutes they are fast asleep, usually for the duration.

For the duration of their trip away from their solar system home-space is:

  1. up for grabs
  2. one guess is as good as the next
  3. let the meter run
  4. the GPS is on the fritz

Unlike distances between planets in the same sun-system, intergalactic space travel entails the equivalent time light needs to travel from point A to point B, and where the only significant “landmark” celestial bodies are an occasional asteroid, meteors of erratic size, and the granddaddy of them all, the wandering comet.

No strangers to astronomy, like any astronauts worthy of his or her spacesuit, the combined knowledge of the McKinneys serves them well. They are charting their progress through this new astronomical perspective with the aid of galactic star charts salvaged from the dear departed Tycho plus old fashioned reconnoitering.

orion“Do you remember the history syllabuses that taught us about Alpha Centauri correctly being the closest star to our star and all the speculation about where other forms of life may come from,” asks Sampson about the horse ‘n buggy days of dim understanding.

“Yes I do. They were a light-year short in calculating the distance and didn’t even know that it was part of a three star system.”

They harken back to when the Hubble Telescope altered cosmic perspectives from seeing uncountable #’s of stars to reveal a jaw-dropping millions of galaxies.

Then to have had the brief privilege of working with Space Colony’s 20” mirror, you could say that the Universe is getting smaller and bigger at the same time. “But we are not traveling on a course that remotely resembles a path to Centauri. I think we are going to dissect the Orion Constellation, right about at “The Hunter’s” navel.”


Lego Hubble Telescope

Episode 163

page 154

PhotoShop or Not?

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10 Pictures That Look Like Someone Got Photoshop Happy

In the modern age, we live in a society of great industrialization and conformity.  No longer is the randomness of nature a regular part of our lives.  Instead of a haphazard and chaotic natural world, it looks like someone went crazy with the Photoshop Clone Tool.

10. Cookie Cutter Houses


Source – Google Map LocationKacper Kowalski

The third world is striving for the American dream and one of the components of this dream is a house in the burbs.  In true capitalist form developers across the third world cut costs by creating whole housing suburbs with the exact same buildings, covering hundreds of acres.  This cuts down on the cost of building the houses but makes every single one look exactly the same. What a nightmare every time you were stumbling home after a night out on the town.

9. Endless Libraries


Source: Photographer Andreas Levers

Centers of learning in places such as China and Germany have taken areas of mass studies to new heights!  Behold the open pit mines of knowledge!  Designed to be open and free some libraries end up looking like some sort of dystopian future right out of 1984.

8. American industrial might



Late in the game America finally entered WWII.  Once committed it began to fully utilize its incredible industrial might. Assembly lines in factories throughout America churned out hundreds of planes, all to rain death down upon the Axis.  These planes could be pumped out at all hours of the day and night.  Look at that last image; it was taken in October 1942 at the B-25 bomber assembly hall in Kansas City. It isn’t a colorization but an actual color picture taken in 1942 using color film. What we sometimes forget is that the WWII was in color, vivid Technicolor.

7. Lego Warehouse in heaven


Founded in 1932 by Ole Kirk Kristiansen, LEGO is one of the most successful toy companies in the world.  Since its birth almost 400 million pieces of lego have been created. The company has four giant storage rooms like the one shown in this Tom Nagy picture.  The Lego pieces are stacked in bins 23m high.  In these bins and boxes there are over a billion Lego pieces.  Robots trawl the aisles getting various parts to complete an order.

6. Where Birds go to die


In Washington D.C. lies the National Museum of Natural History.  One of its departments is the Division of Birds House.  Inside its walls, with over 625,000 specimens, is the third largest collection of birds in the world.  Most of the specimens are preserved skins for research but there are also skeletons, eggs and whole bodies are preserved in bottles of alcohol.  Some birds are even flash frozen in liquid nitrogen.  The bird skins are kept in wooden drawers, as shown by this photo taken by Chip Clark.

5. Amazon Fulfillment Centers



Amazon has revolutionized the way we shop and buy things off the Internet.  Yet all that stuff doesn’t magically appear.  No, Amazon has huge warehouses scattered throughout the world where they store inventory until it is ready to be shipped to your door.  Often a target of employee complaints the warehouses are huge and require great endurance from their workers as they run from one end of the warehouse to the other.

4. Tires


What to do with used tires has always been a huge problem throughout the world.  They are difficult to recycle, are breeding grounds for mosquitoes and disease as well as an incredibly dangerous fire hazard.  When tires fires break out they release huge amounts of toxic smoke and can take years to put out.  One fire in Socorro New Mexico has been burning for over 11 years.  This picture of a huge non burning tire pile was taken by Klaus Leidorf.

3. Endless Shipping Docks


The world shipping industry depends on the sturdy Intermodal containers.  They are built of sturdy metal and standardized in size. Ships, trains and trucks carry them, and the cargo inside, to every corner of the globe.  At the world’s busiest ports these crates sit in huge numbers waiting to be picked up for the next leg of their journey.

2. Crazy Urban Jungles


Bangkok Balconies by Larterman

In a rush to house the masses and with little space to build, skyscrapers rapidly soar into the sky.  Often little thought is put into aesthetics and more effort is put into pushing the boundaries of efficiency and standardization.

1. Endless Monks


The ceremony of Makha Bucha, or Full Moon of Tabottwal, is a religious meeting where thousands of Buddhist monks come together at the Wat Phra Dhammakaya Buddhist temple in Thailand.  A national holiday in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand, Makha Bucha is a religious celebration centered on purification and doing no wrong.  Luke Duggleby was able to capture this picture pf praying monks for the February 2011 issue of National Geographic.

PhotoShop or Not?


George Foreman, Zippo, Tonka and Fenders – Built to Last

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10 Household Products That are Almost Indestructible

10. Lego Bricks


Judging by how many people seem to complain about stepping on them, Lego bricks are more common in American homes than spiders and are probably accidentally swallowed just as often. The thing that sets Lego apart from other toys is that they will pretty much last forever, in part because each individual brick is capable of withstanding 900 pounds of pressure. You could stamp on a brick as hard as you could and you’ll only damage your foot.

According to the Lego Group, high standards enforced during the manufacturing process result in less than 18 bricks out of every million molded end up being thrown away. Also, because both the manufacturing process and the material used have changed so little since Lego’s introduction, a Lego brick from 30 years ago would still fit with one molded this morning. In other words, Lego bricks are so well made that if you threw a bunch on your floor and then demolished your house, they’d still be there in the rubble 40 years later, ready to be stuck to some modern bricks.

9. Tonka Trucks


If you don’t think you have a Tonka Truck in your home, go check the building foundation. We can guarantee that about half the people reading this will have one holding up a wall or something. Tonka’s so cock-sure of how utterly unbreakable their products are that they’re guaranteed for the life of the original owner. There are rumors that only a handful of people have ever managed to successfully claim they broke a Tonka toy by playing with it.

There are stories across the web of people throwing these things down flights of stairs, leaving them outside for months and burying them in sand and mud with little to no apparent effect, and Hasbro themselves once had an elephant step on one just to see what would happen. The answer is not much. Tonka toys are so insanely difficult to damage that it’s not unheard of for these things to be handed down across generations like freaking family heirlooms.

8. George Foreman Grills


As smarter people than us have pointed out, the George Foreman Grill is a marketing anomaly — it’s a non-athletic product sponsored by a professional athlete that doesn’t suck. Think about it. Can you name another product out there with a famous person’s name on it that works as well as the George Foreman Grill? Unless you own a Jack LaLanne Juice Tiger, the only blender so metal it injured people, the answer is almost certainly hell no. Products sponsored by celebrities are invariably God-awful, because most of the money is put into acquiring the celebrity likeness instead of making a good product.

The George Foreman Grill, on the other hand, doesn’t have that problem because the guy who invented it spent years perfecting the design before pitching it to Mr. Foreman. According to those same super-smart business analysts we mentioned earlier, sales of the grills have been slipping because there’s literally no reason for customers to buy a new one. They’re so well made that grills sold 10 years ago are affecting the bottom line of the company that made them today, because they won’t break or stop making awesome burgers. We guess it makes sense that Foreman would only endorse something that can take a beating.

7. Nokia 3210/3310


Thanks to the internet, the durability of the humble Nokia 3210 (and its more popular brother, the Nokia 3310) is legendary. The 3310 sold in excess of 130 million units, and when you factor in the rest of the sales from the 3000 series it’s pretty much guaranteed that a lot of people reading this either owned one at some point or still have one tucked away in a drawer somewhere.

If you go and dig up that old Nokia, you can be pretty sure that it’s still going to work. Here’s a video of one being dropped three stories without breaking. Not good enough? Here’s a 3210 being hit by a sledgehammer. And here’s someone strapping explosives to a 3310, which goes about as well as you’d expect.

Nokia phones are so difficult to destroy thanks to the huge number of stress tests Nokia puts them through before releasing them to the public. These include, but aren’t limited to, dropping them onto concrete and having them manhandled by a giant robot hand. You know, real world scenarios.

6. Cassette Tapes


Cassette tapes look so flimsy that you assume they could be crushed with your hands, but they’re surprisingly robust. They continue to sell even to this day thanks to a combination of their cheapness and durability, the latter of which trumps even that of CDs. While CDs are notoriously easy to scratch if not properly looked after, tapes can be safely dropped and abused to your heart’s content and they’ll still continue to work in almost any condition. Though the quality of the material stored on them does degrade after time, this hasn’t stopped The Library of Congress’ National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped from using them for decades in lieu of CDs, which blind people apparently find harder to use.

Of course, like anything, the tapes will eventually wear out, but it’s impressive that you can still listen to music on a format people said was dead 20 years ago.

5. CRT TVs


The ubiquity of slim LCD and plasma TVs has pretty much killed the CRT market — the idea of someone having one in their home is quaint. However, CRTs are still top dog when it comes to a number of categories. While modern TVs may use less power and have a clearer resolution, CRTs have virtually no input lag, which makes them ideal for gaming.

CRTs are also notably more durable than other kinds of TVs — they’re able to survive being dropped, kicked and left on for extended periods of time. Here’s a video of someone throwing bricks at a CRT screen to see how many it takes to break it. The answer is five — would any TV on the market today take more than one? We’re going to guess that all those videos of people smashing their TV screens with Wii controllers wouldn’t have existed if people stopped using CRTs.

4. Zippo Lighters


Even if you don’t smoke you’re probably aware of what a Zippo lighter is because of how often they’re portrayed in the media, by which we mean that scene in Deep Blue Sea where LL Cool J uses one to blow up a super-smart shark.

But apparently after doing that Mr. J should have been able to walk over to the smouldering shark corpse and pick up his lighter for future use, because those things are nigh-impossible to break. If one is damaged, Zippo will repair it regardless of how old it is. Every single one has a lifetime guarantee.

What’s most impressive is that if they’re looked after properly, a Zippo’s wick (the part that actually sets on fire) can outlive its owner. Zippo lighters will also consistently work in rain, sleet and hail. In other words, if you bought a Zippo lighter today your grandkids could probably use it to light the fireworks at your rad space-funeral.

3. Fender Guitars


When it comes to guitars, few if any are as recognizable as the Fender Stratocaster. While they’re costly, they’re well-regarded as some of the finest instruments money can buy. They’ve also sold a crazy number of them, so it’s a safe bet that they’ve somehow found their way into a good number of homes across the globe.

Legend has it that to showcase their durability, salesmen would place one between two chairs and then jump up and down on it before picking it up and showing that it was still in tune. Other stories talk of people throwing these things off of roofs just to see if they’d still work when they hit the ground, which they did.

If properly cared for, Stratocasters will remain in working condition for decades. Not bad considering Leo Fender, the original designer, never actually knew how to play the guitar.

2. Flash Memory


We’re guessing that pretty much everyone reading this owns some kind of flash memory device. Maybe it’s an old memory stick you store college essays on, or maybe it’s the memory card in your phone. Either way, you’ve probably never worried about it breaking.

This isn’t just because most people worry about losing them first — it’s because actually destroying a flash memory device, or at least the information stored on it, is really hard. You can smash one with a hammer and throw it in a river and some nerd would still be able tofind your selfies. The durability of the format is mostly thanks to the fact that flash memory devices contain no moving parts, which means there’s very little to break. So our memory sticks with our college work on it is going to remain useable far longer than the degree we earned with it.

1. Cast Iron Pans


If you’re at all serious about cooking, buy a cast iron pan. If you hate cooking and never want to worry about buying stuff for your kitchen ever again, buy a cast iron pan anyway because you will never need to replace it.

We don’t mean it will last 20 years. We mean if you have one, you can safely assume that you or a member of your family will be able to cook bacon with it for another two centuries. Because of their durability, it’s not unheard of for people to hand these things down across generations. There are even stories about people having ones from the 1850s in their kitchen that still works as well as the day it was made. Suck on that, Teflon!

 George Foreman, Zippo, Tonka & Fenders

– WIF Built to Last