Sensuous and Godlike Trombone playing

Written by Bob McCormick on 5/14/2011 08:57:00 PM


It's definitely that time of the year: time when nearly-graduated High School seniors have or are applying for colleges and college scholarships. 

Here on the home front, one of our own is about a month away from his graduation.  He has already been accepted to the local Junior College, where he'll get his basics behind him. 

He has also applied for a few scholarships.  Of course, most scholarships require the applicants to provide an essay on why they should be awarded the scholarship.

Years ago, I came across a humorous entry, and I showed it to my son.  Fortunately, he did not take my "suggestion" seriously.

You can also find it at

Here is the excerpt...


I am a dynamic figure, often seen scaling walls and crushing ice. I have been known to remodel train stations on my lunch breaks, making them more efficient in the area of heat retention. I translate ethnic slurs for Cuban refugees, I write award-winning operas, I manage time efficiently. Occasionally, I tread water for three days in a row.
I woo women with my sensuous and godlike trombone playing, I can pilot bicycles up severe inclines with unflagging speed, and I cook Thirty-Minute Brownies in twenty minutes. I am an expert in stucco, a veteran in love, and an outlaw in Peru.
Using only a hoe and a large glass of water, I once single-handedly defended a small village in the Amazon Basin from a horde of ferocious army ants. I play bluegrass cello, I was scouted by the Mets, I am the subject of numerous documentaries. When I'm bored, I build large suspension bridges in my yard. I enjoy urban hang gliding. On Wednesdays, after school, I repair electrical appliances free of charge.
I am an abstract artist, a concrete analyst, and a ruthless bookie. Critics worldwide swoon over my original line of corduroy evening wear. I don't perspire. I am a private citizen, yet I receive fan mail. I have been caller number nine and have won the weekend passes. Last summer I toured New Jersey with a traveling centrifugal-force demonstration. I bat 400. My deft floral arrangements have earned me fame in international botany circles. Children trust me.
I can hurl tennis rackets at small moving objects with deadly accuracy. I once read Paradise Lost, Moby Dick, and David Copperfield in one day and still had time to refurbish an entire dining room that evening. I know the exact location of every food item in the supermarket. I have performed several covert operations for the CIA. I sleep once a week; when I do sleep, I sleep in a chair. While on vacation in Canada, I successfully negotiated with a group of terrorists who had seized a small bakery. The laws of physics do not apply to me.
I balance, I weave, I dodge, I frolic, and my bills are all paid. On weekends, to let off steam, I participate in full-contact origami. Years ago I discovered the meaning of life but forgot to write it down. I have made extraordinary four course meals using only a mouli and a toaster oven. I breed prizewinning clams. I have won bullfights in San Juan, cliff-diving competitions in Sri Lanka, and spelling bees at the Kremlin. I have played Hamlet, I have performed open-heart surgery, and I have spoken with Elvis.
But I have not yet gone to college.

An interesting work week ...

Written by Bob McCormick on 4/01/2011 03:53:00 PM

This week saw me on the "graveyard shift" in Mission Control.  It was an interesting week. 


The week started with the Japanese HTV2 vehicle departure.  Since I worked the early shift, I was not there to see the departure, but it went as expected.

The HTV2 Konoutori vehicle served us well.  It was attached to the ISS twice as long as we had expected, and had been relocated twice before it departed.  Estimates are that the crew packed more trash than was originally expected, which helps with onboard stowage.

But was much more touching was the origami.  Each Houston Flight Control console position had a varying number of origami birds, which were made in honor of the HTV2, our Japanese colleagues, and the Japanese people in general.

These were the origami birds we made at our console. 
Unfortunately, we did not get a chance
to make nearly as many as some of the other console positions.

Debris Avoidance Maneuver!

On Thursday, our Trajectory Operations Officer informed us that we would have a close approach with orbital debris.  This is a very serious condition which could affect the Space Station.  As a result, we had to consider reboosting the Space Station to avoid the orbital debris.

There are several problems with orbital debris manevuers.  The first is being assured that we are actually going to avoid the orbital debris with the maneuver - a problem because it is a function of the certainty (or lack of certainty) of the position of the orbital debris.  Let's face it  - orbital debris is typically not equipped with GPS receivers! 

As a result, we started to plan an orbital debris maneuver - only to cancel that plan before finalizing it.  But today, we had to plan yet another orbital debris maneuver, to maneuver around the same debris.  As of this blog entry, I am not certain whether the maneuver will be performed - but the entire series of events gave me quite a bit of work for the past two days!

Upcoming event teaser
Upcoming event "teaser" on ISS will include a famous classic rock band!  You'll know more about it in mid-month - no April Fools joke!

More NASA stuff, and assessing a potential career... as an Acronymologist?

Written by Bob McCormick on 2/24/2011 11:35:00 AM

As I type this, STS-133 is in its countdown to launch.  The Space Station crew did manage to move the HTV to the Nadir (upward-pointing) port - and actually a bit ahead of schedule, so the STS-133 team can do its job.

Earlier today, we docked the ATV-2 (launched by the European Space Agency from French Guiana) to one of the Russian docking ports, and later tonight, we will perform a reboost test with the ATV-2.  Busy days!

I've been on console on the ISS the past few days, but plan on handing over the the STS-133 team for what amounts to a half shift later today (assuming STS-133 launches).

By the way, I'd like to take this moment to dispel the rumors that ATV is actually a Star Wars Rebel X-Wing Fighter.

In other news/thoughts, I am considering a potential career as an acronymologist.  Coming up with acronyms has to be a growing career.  Let's face it, which acronym sounds cooler - ISS, NACHOS, COCHISE, or MAHEM?


Work happenings this week (somewhat HTV-related, at least)

Written by Bob McCormick on 2/12/2011 01:20:00 PM

This past week saw significant SPDM use.  SPDM (also known as Dextre) is robotic equipment that was used to relocate external equipment from the Exposed Pallet (brought up to the ISS via the HTV) to the SPDM itself (temporarily). 

This link details a lot of the operations that were performed.

Next week, the HTV will be relocated by the SSRMS, from the Nadir (lower) Node 2 port to the Zenith (upper) Node 2 port.  It's the first time an HTV has been relocated.  It's needed because the next Shuttle flight is bringing up a module in the payload bay - and having the HTV on the Nadir port would block the ability to remove that module from the payload bay.  Thus, the HTV will be relocated back to the Nadir port after the Shuttle flight.