July 16, 2015

US Naval Observatory

Matthew, Jon, Jeff our Guide, Beth, Me, and Paul
Today we got a chance to film at the US Naval Observatory.  This is one of the oldest scientific research centers in the country and the home of the Vice President.  We didn’t see him today but we did learn that guards get grumpier the closer you get to his house.  The first gate we pulled into was wrong, and apparently close to the house.  They told us we were at the wrong gate, pointed in the general direction we needed to go and told me to back up, into traffic, and leave.  I asked if I could pull forward and turn around.  Nope, back up.  The next wrong gate we pulled into was a little further away.  The guard told us right where we needed to go, helped me back up, and waved as we pulled off.  The third guard, furthest away, basically just said, “Come on in!”

Our first stop was to look at a telescope they used to determine time with for over 100 years.  

The guys using a boom.
Then we got to go into the library.  It is amazing.  

It was designed by the same guy who designed the base of the Statue of Liberty.  It is round and houses the largest collection of astronomical books in the country.  While we were in there our guide brought out a sextant and chronograph.  The chronograph was given to Asaph Hall Jr. whose dad discovered two of the moons of Mars.  

Also, we learned what can happen when you end up in someone's panoramic picture.  The results are not always flattering.  
Man I have big feet!
The next stop was the nerdiest/coolest.  We got to see the US Master Clock.  It is THE clock for the department of defense (which on a side note, did you know that the backup system on all US Navy boats in case the GPS goes out is a clock and a sextant - can you imagine the GPS on an aircraft carrier going out and someone out on the deck with a sextant?) The atomic clocks here make up a large chunk of all of those used to determine US Standard Time.  The room was . . . boring, but super awesome on a nerd level.  It looked like a bunch of big old VCRs, some large filing cabinets and five water heaters.  Combined they make up the most accurate clock in the world.  It is accurate to within one one thousandth of a billionth of a second!  
The most accurate clock in the world!
I can’t wait to see all the footage we got today.  Our guys are amazing and the location was spectacular.  Here are a few other random shots from today. Did I mention that I work with a bunch of goofballs.
The master hard at work

The Force is strong with this one.
"How you doin'"
Can I submit this one to awkward family photos?
Our last location of the day.

July 6, 2015

DC or Bust - Day 1

Here is a mile by mile recap of the trip so far.

37 miles from KC: Bryce: “Daddy, I’ve got to go to the bathroom.”  Of course there were no places to stop.  We pulled up an on ramp, got out and I said, “Buddy we are going to pee in the grass.”  Bryce’s response, “Do I poop in the grass too?”  

87 miles: Stop #2 to go to the bathroom.  Another offramp, only this time the highway patrol pulled up to make sure we were okay.

174 miles: Stop #3 - at this point I’m wondering if we were even going to make it out of Missouri today.

241 miles: Stop #4, switching drivers and Bryce says, “Daddy you go too slow.  Mommy goes fast.  

255 miles: I became the most brilliant father ever.  Sadie was upset, so I told Sarah to put three pennies in an empty Gatorade jug and give it to her.  She loved it!

256 miles: I became the stupidest father ever, giving my kid a giant rattle in an enclosed vehicle.  What was I thinking.

311 miles: Sarah sound asleep

Mile 1 - most of the trip: Etch a sketch - Grandma got Bryce an Etch a sketch for the trip.  Brilliant.  He loved it.  He played with it, it was his table for his lunch, it was a drum (not so cool) and when he was trying to go to sleep we tried to put it in the toy box.  Nope, he wanted to sleep with it.  

328 miles: Stopped at the hotel where we had stayed on the way out to pick up the glasses I had left there - they actually found them.  Also, at this stop Bryce cheered on Comet as she went pee.

331 miles: Realized my wife can’t Etch a Sketch and it is pretty funny to watch her try.

372 miles: Best rest stop ever (Yes Mom, we survived a rest stop.  We were not abducted by any truckers.)

387 miles: Dog laid down for the first time.

388 miles: Dog is no longer laying down.

474 miles: Sarah got a milk shake, dropped some on her toes, and licked it off.  Yup, licked it off.  

508 miles: Realized I hate Minions, specifically happy meal toy minions that say La La La when you hit them.  

516 miles: Got to the hotel.  As we pulled in Bryce asked, “Are my girlfriends here.”  I asked who are they?  His response, “I don’t know, let’s go see.”  That’s my boy.

In for the night.  Dog gets a bath tomorrow while we hit the Children’s museum in Indianapolis.  Hope everyone is safe with the tornados back home.  Looks like one touched down just a couple miles from the house.  

June 21, 2015

Hole in the Ground

Today was a beautiful day in Washington DC.  I had a destination that I needed to go to.  Today I drove 300 miles to Petersburg National Battlefield to see a hole in the ground.  

History Lesson (Skip this paragraph if you don't want your daily dose of history): Petersburg was a siege more than one individual battle.  The Confederates had built forts (mostly dirt and trees) around the city of Petersburg to protect it.  It was a vital for getting them resupplied by rail and by river.  During the siege a bunch of Union soldiers who were also coal miners dug a tunnel under one of these forts, put dynamite in it, and blew it up.  Great plan, until they ran right into the hole they had created, and got driven back out by Confederate reinforcements.  Today you can still see the opening to the tunnel as well as the collapsed tunnel that runs up to the crater.  The crater is still visible today,

When Matt and I were kids, we used to drive all over the country for vacations, and many of them included stops at Civil War Battlefields.  There were very few major battlefields I hadn't been to by the time I graduated college.  

The day we pulled up to Petersburg, and the parking lot for the Battle of the Crater, it was pouring rain.  Dad got out of the car and went up to see the whole in the ground.  I went too.  When we got to the entrance, and then the crater, neither of us really said anything.  We just kind of stood there.  That was one of the first times I "got it."  I was standing where history happened.  

Today I spent about about 7 hours in the car getting to and from Petersburg.  I drove along part of the battlefield and walked around a couple of the pull offs, but mainly I had destination, the Crater.  They have built a little deck around it where you can sit in the shade, or walk up and look at the entrance.  I did both, but I lingered on that deck just looking at that hole in the ground and thinking about how much I miss him.  

May 18, 2015

Just Another Day at the Office

If you know me, you know that I don't like to call people.  My amazing wife gets stuck with that duty a lot.  I don't mind talking on the phone, I just don't like to actually call someone, especially someone I don't know.  So today I had to call and talk with two different astronauts.  They were both amazingly nice and wanted to help with the show, but couldn't because of scheduling conflicts.  So even thought it was out of my comfort zone, it was pretty cool to talk to them both.

On the way home from work today, I was driving along and I heard a helicopter.  Not a big occurrence here but it sounded really low.  So I looked out my window and saw not one, not two, but three Marine helicopters.  Yup, the President flew right over me today.  He always flies in a formation of three.

And, last but not least I was home over the weekend for Bryce's music program.  He gets his musical ability from his Mommy and his stage presence from his Mommy also.  I think the gets the goofy gene from me, and it is strong in him.

Started out good.
Dude, why ain't you singin'?
Wow, look at the ceiling! 
Looks good, but they weren't doing the chicken dance.
How many more songs are there?
Oooh, look something over there.
And a cute picture of Sadie!

May 9, 2015

Thank a Veteran

Today there was a big WWII event at the Udvar-Hazy Center.  There were supposed to be several vintage airplanes flying in as well as a bunch of veterans.  We went out to film some interviews with these heroes.  I was able to talk to several but the last two were amazing.

I'm not sure if they knew each other before today or not, but ran into each other as they were walking in.  They had served in the same company.  The interview became more of a conversation between long lost friends.  When I would ask a question they would both say the other should answer.  They had both served in the infantry in Europe.  One had been under heavy artillery fire, while the other said the V1 missiles were scary because you could hear them coming but the V2's were scarier because you couldn't hear them coming until they hit.  Both had gone to college on the GI bill, one becoming a lawyer and the other getting a Doctorate in science.  Talk about two amazing guys.  When the interview was done and they walked off, I turned around to watch them walk back to their families.  They walked away embracing each other, two long lost friends reunited.

May 8, 2015

WWII Flyover

Today was one of those days where it still amazes me they are paying me to do this job.  In commemoration of the 70th anniversary of VE Day, there was a flyover with WWII vintage aircraft over the National Mall.  There were over 50 planes, including a B-29 Bomber, the last one that is still flying.  Not only did I get to watch it, but I got to watch it from the roof of the Air and Space Museum.  Other than a scary ladder, it was amazing.  We filmed segments for several upcoming shows.  I am continue to be amazed at how awesome our crew is.  It is because of them we got such great pictures and video today.  Below are a few pictures that were taken today.

May 5, 2015

Paolo Nespoli

Today I got a chance to hang out with Italian Astronaut Paolo Nespoli.  He was awesome!  He filmed segments for three upcoming shows as well as a couple of different teasers and a show open.  Yup, still hasn't soaked in that I get to hang out with astronauts as part of my job.
Yes, he was fixing my mic!
Normal group picture
Dorky group picture (Beth's idea)
Russian group picture - he pointed out that one of his Russian crew mates never smiled for pictures so we took one like that.

May 3, 2015

Flight 93 Memorial

I went home over the weekend to get my car to help with the apartment hunt.  Over the last two days I've been driving the 16+ hours back to DC.  Today as I was driving I saw a small sign for the Flight 93 Memorial.  It was only about 20 miles out of the way so I decided to go.  It is really powerful.  Below are a few pictures I took.

The visitors center is still under construction.  The memorial itself is done.  It is a long granite wall that takes you to a white wall with the names of the passengers and crew.  The white wall follows the path of the flight.  In the field beyond the wall is a large boulder that marks the front edge of the crash site.

May 2, 2015

Stuff You Don't See Everyday

Here are a couple thing I've seen in the last two days that seemed a little out of the ordinary. 

Ketchup for dogs. 

A limo pulling a trailer