Saturday, October 30, 2010

Cars, pumpkins, TV shows and satellites

Stupid car. If you recall, last year about this time (well, more like November, but whatever)... the Low Coolant light started turning on. Eventually, while driving into work on a 17 degree day, the light came on.. and never went off... and the car overheated. Turns out the transmission fluid lines run through the radiator and they were leaking into the coolant. Trans fluid does NOT act like coolant. It also trashes the radiator. $2500 and a new radiator later, the car was fixed. Or so I thought. About a week ago, the damn light came on. And I knew right away that it wasn't just going to fix itself. So I took it in. And of course, I now owe another hunk of change to the service department to the tune of about $2000 to get the header gaskets replaced (a known issue in these stupid Pontiacs from the early 2000s) plus the coolant detector was faulty AND, to top it all off, I clipped a crub at about 45 MPH on the way home from a late night at work. I can tell you that doing this will 1) put a nice gash in your tire and 2) will snap part the sway bar. Oh well, that's how it goes when you own a car with 98,000 miles on it. Overall, it's in good shape. Minimal rusting, no real transmission issues to speak of, the inside doesn't smell like wet dog. So, if I can get this baby to run another year or two without any more major repairs, then I think I'll be okay with how well the car has done.

We did get to carve pumpkins this year (last year we never got around to it :( ). We tried out using a couple sets of 'pumkin carving tools' that we got on clearance two years ago. Lil N got to draw on one. M tried her hand at doing those intricate designs to put Swiper (from Dora the Explorer) on one of them. She did pretty good but she said it stressed her out too much. I did my usual, normal thing. We got seeds from two pumpkins and I got to toast some pumpkin seeds. This year was French Fry seasoning (always a winner) and also tried Mrs. Dash Southwest Chipotle which is strong but after about the first pinch or two of seeds is pretty hot n tasty. While the seeds were roasting, I ran outside a couple of times to catch a few satellites.

I'm starting to fall behind on my blogging of spotting satellites. I go out and check out the stars when the wife is getting lil N is getting ready for bed and then come in when the wife has returned. Instead of heading downstairs to blog about my sights, I tend to just sit down and watch the boob-tube with the wife.

We finished up 'The Big Bang Theory' Season 3 (thanks Marysville library) and Season 4 / The final season of 'thirtysomething'. BBT is just funny as all get out. The finale for thritysomething sucked, but that wasn't their fault. They didn't know they weren't going to get picked back up for a fifth season, so they never wrote a proper 'see y'all later' episode.

Up next on the list is finishing off the fifth season of The Brady Bunch (this one was put on hiatus about 4 years ago... ha!) and the sixth and final season of Dawson's Creek (again.. put on hiatus about 4 years ago... ha!). Wa're thinking about starting Alias when those are all said and done. I'm sure my wife would like to watch Angel again, though my interest with vampire stuff stopped when Buffy graduated high school.

And, without further ado.. the past two satellite spotting sessions: 3 on 10/27 and 9 on 10/29.

Here's the time-line of the evening of:
Date: 27-Oct-2010 Wednesday

8:22pm - ISS - -2.8 Magnitude
Int'l Designator: 1998-067-A
Third sighting of the ISS. Quick note, the ISS started with the the Russian Zarya and was launched into space in 1998 using a Russian Proton rocket. Zarya (or Functional Cargo Block (FCB)) provided electrical power, storage, propulsion, and guidance to the ISS during the initial stage of assembly.

8:32pm - NOSS 3-3 Rocket - 3.1 Magnitude
Int'l Designator: 2005-004-B
Second sighting for this one. This object is an Atlas 3B rocket body which was used to launch the Naval Ocean Surveillance System (NOSS) 3-3 satellites.

8:56pm - Lacrosse 5 - 2.4 Magnitude
Int'l Designator: 2005-016-A
This is my fifth sighting of the National Reconnaissance Office's SAR imaging satellite Lacrosse 5. No 'disappearing trick' this evening.

Here's the time-line of the evening of:
Date: 29-Oct-2010 Friday

7:30pm - GOCE - 3.2 Magnitude
Int'l Designator: 2009-013-A
This is my first sighting of the European Space Agency's GOCE satellite. GOCE stands for Gravity Field and Steady-State Ocean Circulation Explorer. This satellite studies the densities of the Earth's crust and oceans. This satellite is pretty cool in it's body design and use of a ion propulsion engine to keep it in orbital trajectory.

7:40pm - ISS - -2.7 Magnitude
Int'l Designator: 1998-067-A
My fourth sighting of the ISS.

7:44pm - Zi Yuan-2B - 3.1 Magnitude
Int'l Designator: 2002-049-A
This is my third sighting of the Chinese JB-3 'possibly a recon' satellite. Here is what NASA has to say about it.

7:58pm - Resurs 1-4 Rocket - 2.5 Magnitude
Int'l Designator: 1998-043-G
I had a bit of a dry spell in spotting this one. This is sighting number 13.

7:58pm - COSMO SkyMed 1 - 2.5 Magnitude
Int'l Designator: 2007-023-A
This is my fourth sighting of the Italian recon satellite, COSMO-SkyMed 1.

8:00pm - Cosmos 1408 - 2.6 Magnitude
Int'l Designator: 1982-092-A
This object is a Russian Tselina-D recon satellite named Kosmos 1408. This is my first sighting for this satellite. It was launched using a Tsyklon-3 rocket in 1982.

8:00pm - Cosmos 1315 Rocket - 3.0 Magnitude
Int'l Designator: 1981-103-B
First sighting! This object is the Vostok-2M rocket which launched Cosmos 1315, a Russian ELINT Tselina-D satellite. I spotted Cosmos 1315 itself on Oct 22 2010.

8:04pm - Helios 1B - 2.8 Magnitude
Int'l Designator: 1999-064-A
This object is the French photo reconnaissance satellite, Helios 1B. It's brothers Helios 2A and 2B are similar French photo recon satellites with a ground resolution of 30cm(!!!). This is my 4th sighting of Helios 1B.

8:11pm - Tansuo 1 LM2r - 3.1 Magnitude
Int'l Designator: 2004-012-C
This is my eighth sighting of this Long March 2C rocket body. This rocket was used to launch the Tansuo 1 satellite which was capable of taking stereo imaging.

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