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The Knights of Afghanistan

Just another day in Afghanistan, fighting dragons and repairing my government issue chain mail. Check out the above video of these two historical reenactors. We have a lot of free time to develop hobbies out here. Some of us build things, or paint miniatures. So smoke cigars every night and a few play D&D. Then you have guys like this who take their playtime seriously. I have to hand it to these guys, they had some great showmanship for two people wrapped in leather and steel in 110 degree heat hitting each other with bats. Bravo.

TIME: Speaking of history, fighting and time in general, I09 had a great short article detailing “The first Time War“. It did exist, in the 16th century, in fact.

SONIC: What does it sound like to take the original 1963 Doctor Who theme and slow it down to a whopping 20 min. Its a sonic experience you have to hear to believe.

NASA:  With all the space shuttles in museums, NASA is dead, right? Wrong! Huffington Post blogger, Lauren Lyons is doing her part to educate the masses with her blogpost “5 Popular Misconception About NASA” Did you know that public opinion polls show Americans believe that we spend 20% of the national budget on NASA? Or that NASA is part of the Department of Defense? Get the facts by clicking the links above.

With only 38 days left in theater, I am getting really excited about coming home.

Sol -5 : Go go gadget Martian Geologist!

The Mars Society’s Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS)

I just spent several hours doing research for a project that April and I hope to make sample collection and testing in isolation easier for geologists on Mars and the Moon. We are hoping to have a research proposal ready by the end of September for submission to the guys and gals running the Mars Society’s Mars Desert Research Station.

We would like to design a container for the collection of individual rock samples that is airtight which could be stored inside a habitation module. These containers could then be opened within isolation glove boxes to be prepared for testing in attached equipment all kept isolated, if necessary. The kicker is that the containers have to be easily transported in a quantity that makes it useful to Planetary field geologists, plus the desktop apparatus must be as light a possible and fit in a relativity small space.

The image of the Curiosity rover with its wheels removed comes to mind for the laboratory. I will have to double check to see if all the required instruments are on board. I would imagine they have been miniaturized to the max. Put her guts on a table with an isolation chamber and a storage area for samples under isolation and I think we have the idea.

Totally Focused. Todd

Song of the day goes to:

Sol -10 : Intelligence is complicated

I got a chance to meet David Brin at the Mars Society convention and he is one of those people you could listen to talk for hours bathed in his calm and metered speech. If you ever wanted to explore every side and depth of AI and the nature of intelligence, you should set aside and hour or so and sit in the warm glow of your laptop watching this video.

On other topics, I’m keeping my eye on a few organizations such as Mars One and Lift Port. These guys are all-stars and I wish them the most wonderful success. Check them out.

Bringing it back to David Brin, today he linked a great news feed called The Economy: Past, Present and Future. Its an amazing collection of articles i’m still going through.

Excitedly rushed. Todd.

Sol -17 : Only Half a Martian Year

I think we all wish we could be as cool as the Mars rover, Curiosity.  Who wouldn’t want to be trailblazing in a new and strange land, ‘doing a science’, or forging ahead against the unknown. Afghanistan is surely an unknown, strange land; a land where as you may know, I will be spending the next year. I feel some kinship with the Mars Science Lab. Unlike MSL, though, I will get to come back home from my desert wasteland. With all the things Curiosity and I will be learning this year I have decided to blog the whole experience. In keeping with my new perspective, and because counting days makes me feel like i’m making chalk marks on a a prison wall, I am going to chart my journey by counting Sols. I want to remember what I love about humanity, as I have come to understand that I may be encountering the worst of humanity on my trip.

We’re on Sol negative 17, or seventeen days from when I sign my orders and commit to my deployment. Today I worked on my list of online mini-courses the navy has ordered I take in preparation. I got my hearing tested and I’m learning some Dari.  I’m learning everything I may need to know about an M4 Rifle, which is the weirdest thing to stick in an online course, and that says a lot after what I’ve found available online from ASU.  The rest of the week I’ll be learning about the M9 pistol, Army core values and a bunch of other mind numbing but potentially life saving topics. That is Sol -17 through -14.

Also the computer is in the shop, so I’m posting this from my family’s HP. The repair guy thinks its a hardware malfunction, and we can fix it before I leave. The error is most likely in the RAM, but the processor and the hard drives are not being ruled out. It doesn’t make sense this would be a software issue because it happened before and after the whole system wipe.

Here’s a few links I want to throw at you, first is a collection the best photos from MSL posted on the WSJ.  Secondly, here is video experience out of 1969 of Armstrong’s landing on the moon from Space(dot)com. Lastly,  here is the track for the night: Cthulhu Sleeps by Deadmau5

Its only half a Martian year. Todd.