Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Fourth Time Is the Charm

Recently, I spent a long (hot) week of work down at Kennedy Space Center working with NASA on the booster portion of the proposed shuttle replacement system. We (well, most of us - too bad, Jeff) got a nice perk for all of our hard work that week in the form of watching the shuttle launch. Truly an awesome spectacle; I feel very fortunate to have been able to witness that. For nerds like me who watch a computer screen all day long, it can be hard to really wrap my mind grapes on the very scale of the things we are dealing with - not to mention the idea that those very things will be pushed into space by a controlled explosion more or less. These trips to KSC are an excellent reminder of just what an amazing achievment reaching space is.

Even being there on site, it's difficult to put things in perspective as everything around is magnified in size to support these huge vehicles - wrenches, carts, hoists, yes, even... bugs. OK, maybe that's more due to the warm, humid climate, but still. I'm just sayin'. (For those of you that know me, you're probably laughing thinking about: how much I'm sweating in that heat, and how out of control my hair is there. Yes, it's ridiculous, but not quite as bad as in New Mexico, Vincents.)

For instance, take a look at the facility we're looking in. In the picture below, the tip of that needle-looking thing poking out of the bottom-left corner is about 70-some feet or more off the floor. You might notice that the roof of the building is a just a bit further up.

inside the VAB

As I wrote earlier, we did get to see the shuttle launch as well (after 3 scrubs due to weather). Here's a shot just after liftoff:

yep, pretty cool

The engine fire got so bright that I could no longer focus manually at one point and had to switch over to the autofocus. Pictures alone don't do the sight justice. You really need the sound. Fortunately I've got a video (thanks to Shannon for taking this).

STS-127 Shuttle Launch from Ryan Tuttle on Vimeo.

As I said, a long week, but a pretty fun trip. Thanks to all our friends at NASA for their hard work and getting us out to see some really cool stuff. All the pics from this trip here, and a previous trip over here.

post-launch beans and cornbread

Sunday, July 26, 2009


I've been telling people for years that they should pay closer attention to me whether it be acting out at inappropriate moments or in the classier written letter form (not that anyone would have the decency to reply - I'm looking at you, Megan Fox). But finally, at long last, I have gathered indisputable proof that I am, in fact, the center of the universe. Don't argue with me people, it's science. Adjust your schedules / behavior accordingly.

Center Of the Universe from Ryan Tuttle on Vimeo.

OK, how did I make that awesome video? Like this. Thankfully Indiana (unlike some states) still has little regard for adolescent head injuries). Special thanks to Mom for spinning me. Now if only someone could get this link to the guy cutting the Little League outfield grass, I bet this day would make a lot more sense to him.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Howl At the Moon, Shoot Out the Light

I haven't been back to Indiana for the 4th of July in what must be a decade. And as good as the beach cities of Los Angeles' South Bay are on this holiday in particular, I do miss it a little bit. Of course I miss being with my (ever-expanding) family, but I also missed the little things about Indiana and rural, small town life in particular.

It's nice not worrying about where to park, and adding the time to your outing required to actually find the aforementioned parking. It's nice to sit in and enjoy the quiet (and space) afforded by a less congested landscape. It's nice to see a blue sky with white fluffy clouds every day (to be fair you are getting better LA sky); it's even nice to get a little summer rain to cool you off a little. It's nice to unexpectedly see friendly faces you haven't seen in years.

Most of all, though, it's about seeing loved ones and catching up. In the midst of all the baby cooing, we did manage to find time to visit all of the famous Cass County eateries: Mr. Happy Burger (best Cokes on the planet), Sycamore (best soft serve ice cream anywhere - still don't know what those girls were laughing at), Bruno's (originators of Indiana-style pizza), and B&K (birthplace of the unequaled hot dog condiment "Spanish Sauce"). As well as: sit around on Mom's new deck, corhnole, play in a pool that we had absolutely outgrown, and see the spectacle that is the Walton 4th of July Fireworks (even if it was on the 5th). I had a great time with all of you friends and family. Miss and Love you all. See all my pics here.

met Rease the nice for the first time; not a
whole lot of fun yet, but she's pretty cute

played with Riley (and Caleb) in the kiddie pool

Riley swinging in the park

Woody drives the parade route

Josh flips it around along the parade route

everybody (???) hangs in the living room

hope everyone reading this had a happy 4th

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Remembrance Of Things Crappy

Remember when it used to be fun to get mail? For most of us this period of our lives coincide with that of virtually no responsibility and, perhaps more to the point, no utilities in our names. You see, what was once a rare exciting event (Hey! The new issue of Boys' Life!) is now a daily occurence filled with credit card offers and Pottery Barn catalogs (thanks, Dawson). As adults, we are filled with a special sadness that comes only with a love turned wrong. That is... Unless...
...we are returned to our innocent, joyous child-like state with the discovery of internet shopping sites like Woot! and SteepAndCheap. And if we order enough junk, we can even be caught by an unexpected package that we had forgetten was on the way. This is precisely what happened to me this evening.

I returned home from work to see a Woot! box sitting outside my door. It only took a few seconds to recall that I had been one of the lucky wooters recemtly to get a bag of crap along with his woot! off lights.

And Woot! you really outdid yourself this time, as it is even crappier than the last. A rundown:

Left column - 3 Yankees dry erase boards (total crap!), 3 more Sansa MP3 players (1 is missing a button - what crap!), woot off! lights (not official crap), 3 international outlet adapters? (but to adapt to what? unclear. but clearly crappy!), iPod dock cable and accessories (iCrap!), a battery (to what? who knows. probably to something crappy.)

Right column - SpongeBob SquarePants backpack (kid crap!), Leatherman wannabe multi-tool (knock-off crap!), blood pressure monitor (crap for a healthier you - or just more aware of the unhealthy you), refurb Microsoft Zune (clunky crap!), not sure, weatherstripping? (unknown crap!), EyeTV tuner, antenna, and software - without required tuner! (literally useless crap!)

And my personal favorite: install CD for Polaroid camcorder (no camcorder), blank (?) CD, and a manual for a Kodak digital picture frame (frame not included). Honestly there were also little bits and chunks of other things as well. I imagine Woot! headquarters having a large crap bin, and come bag of crap time, workers just go over a pull a lever emptying an appropriate bag size of crap into a box. Similar to a soft serve ice cream machine. Thanks again, Woot! It was crap. But I liked it!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Chili Breath

Haven't posted in a while since I only had about 48 hours when I got back form Indiana over the 4th until I traveled on. Doing some work here in Florida now and don't have much time but wanted to post my first experience with Krystal Burger - it's the White Castle of the South! Our team from work stopped at one outside the Orlando Airport because it was late and we were hungry. Surprisingly they actually taste more like a real hamburger than White Castle. (White Castles have this unidentifiable flavor that sits on top the burger flavor that you just can't quite grasp. It's hard to explain, but if you've had them, you already know.)

Krystal Burger

5 cheesy Krystals, chili fries, a corn pup (get it? took
me a minute) , and drink

wrapper boxes decorated with hall of famers
and their hall-worthy stories

But the most unique part about it - and I'm not certain this is typical of Krystal Burger - was that it was like a freezer inside. Literally. There was a family sitting together across the restaurant - well, the parents were sitting, the kids were running in place to keep warm and rubbing their bare arms with their hands. I made a joke that you could probably see your breath, and, well... check it out.

Cold Krystal Burger from Ryan Tuttle on Vimeo.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Sequoia? I Hardly Know Ya!

I kicked of the summer camping season last weekend with a trip to Sequoia National Forest / Park / Monument. It wasn't a real adventurous trip, a majority of my time was spent sleeping / driving / eating with some short hikes and sweating (even though I was up around 8,000 feet most of the time, temps still managed to climb into the 80s) mixed in.

Being in a National Park, it had all the accompanying nuisances: the RV crowd, bad drivers, overzealous rangers, etc. I ended up doing a few touristy things that didn't turn out to be so bad. First, visited the visitor's center and picked up a 3D View-Master with reels for Sequoia an Yosemite, a nice addition to my desk toys. I actually had to go to the visitor's center to pick up tickets for the guided tour of Crystal Cave. Though I am not much for guided tours, the appeal here was that the cave stays around 50F, so I could escape the heat during the middle of the day. The tour turned out to be really cool, in fact, and really it was a good thing I went. I volunteered to bring up the rear of our group and was more or less responsible for the safety of roughly 40 people. I shudder to think what would have happened to all of them had I not been there. Not to mention the fact that they would have missed my clever The Price Is Right jokes wen the guide asked us all to guess the age of the cave. "One dollar, Bob." Surprisingly those all got a good chuckle out of everyone. I think it even endeared me to the family camped next to me as they came over to hang out a little later that night (I didn't even realize they were on the tour).

bringing up the rear

I took a little stroll up a cut-step trail to Moro Rock. It's a short hike (so the thing was packed) but fairly steep (so I still worked up a sweat - big surprise, I know) and still accessible to just about anyone that can walk (read: crowded). But the view was really incredible. I even drove through Tunnel Log.

Monday morning I spent at Hume Lake beating the heat before the soul crushing drive back to LA. Getting out, but having to deal with the crowds, really has me hankerin' to do some backpacking and get a little more wild. Who's with me? Pics here.

WWII Memorial of CA-99; kind of appropriate as
I read
Slaughterhouse-Five this weekend

of course I got to hang out with the big trees

finally getting the hang of these night shots; end up
staying up late though taking 30 min photos!

back to reality; the 405