Monday, June 29, 2009

FINDING SPACE (not elbow room)

Well, it's finally happened. A snap I took whose location is a total mystery to me. This image is typical of what's become my front yard in the morning, behind some Target, or like-minded commercial behemoth.

In related news, my cop alarm clock count is up to four now, all very different experiences, but all leading to an 'ok you're free to go'. Never a pleasant phrase to hear before coffee.

One of those experiences was totally my bad, meaning I should have known someone would descend on me because I pulled off an exit called Secret Naval Priority Clearance Nuclear Headquarters Washington DC, or something like that. I found a great dark lot (try finding darkness in a city, seriously it's an interesting challenge), went to sleep at midnight or so, and woke to blasting white lights in my face at 2. This one was scary (#2) because they were really angry and had an enormous amount of power considering where I was. I of course assumed I was about to be whisked off to an underground bunker in Tangiers and then beaten to death until I admitted I was smuggling Uranium 328357 from Mars. In a few minutes ... "Ok, start your engine. You're free to go. This ain't a good place to pull over."

Up the street a bit, I visited another Top Secret facility, but this time as a tourist. I went into the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center museum and it was essentially a kids romp through posters and gee gaws in a one small building. I asked if this was it and they told me, after 911, no one can go in to the real area. I said COME ON! They said LIKE, I KNOW! And then, while sizing up my sneaking-in options, I spotted a NASA employee looking fellow who was dragging a group of young folks out of an auditorium. I accosted him and said, hey man, how do I get into the better neighborhood, I'm a writer you know. And he said, cool man, they would totally let you in if you make an appointment, etc. Then I asked, what's up with all these kids.


And he said, this is a science club from an Albany High School (where I am now kind of) and they were about to take a tour of the facility. I said, heeeeey, and he said, I'll ask. So I joined the tour!

Here's one of the students trying to pick up a dime without sliding while wearing astronaut gloves. The kids were mostly disinterested, but I think it was due to the long bus ride and crap weather.




The building we went to was the world's largest clean room, where the Hubble Telescope was tested, part of exact copy pictured here for trial repairs or work.



The most interesting item for me on the tour was this satellite, created by Al Gore when he was Vice and expected to launch during his presidency. Funding was cut and it sits here still until next month when Obama's new funding finally puts it in orbit. It's function - climate observation.





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