The Netherlands-based nonprofit company Mars One is looking for people to help colonize and pave the way for future settlement on the planet Mars.
The catch? It’s being planned as a one-way trip.
A few days ago Mars One released its basic requirements for future astronauts heading to Mars. The requirements don’t seem to be too strenuous. You have to be at least eighteen years old, intelligent, and in good physical and mental health. You don’t need to be the top of your class in test pilot school like the old days of NASA.
And of course, I’m sure you need all of your affairs settled here on Earth before blasting off to Mars. After all, you’re never going to see any of your family and friends ever again. You’ll probably be able to send and receive video messages to and from the Red Planet, but that’s about it.
I’ve heard of this one-way-trip concept discussed for a while now when it comes to future space exploration. The problem is that when you consider the extreme distances, travel time measured in years, and costs that will exceed billions of dollars, it’s hard to convince governments to send astronauts outside of the Earth’s orbit. Through in the development of future spacecraft plus all of the necessary testing and re-testing to make sure it’s as safe as possible.
That’s just getting the astronauts and equipment safely TO the destination. Bringing them home safely is another task and significant expense.
But what if you found volunteers who would make the one-way voyage knowing full well that they’ll most likely never return to Earth? Think of all the work and research those volunteer astronauts could accomplish as long as they keep receiving resupply ships along with fellow colonists. We’re talking about leaps and bounds of advances without worrying about bringing the astronauts back home.
It sounds cruel but it’s just part of the exploration and colonization process. Plus, is it really that cruel if you have an all-voluneteer crew? Read more…
Back in early November, my family received news that my dad’s aunt, my great aunt, died from complications of dementia and whatnot.
Technically, we really didn’t receive word about it directly from our relatives. My second cousin made mention of it on Facebook and we took it from there. My great aunt turned a bunch of family members against my parents and I, and those bad feelings are still lingering in some people. Considering the intentional lack of sentiment from those people when my brother died two years ago, those so-called family members are dead to me.
My dad still wanted to go to Michigan and pay his respects, so I joined him for the trip. We planned to stay up in the Detroit area for a few days and make the most of our time up north.
National Museum of the United States Air Force – Dayton, Ohio
The drive from Atlanta to Detroit was divided into two days. We normally make the entire drive in one day, but my dad and I both wanted time to visit the National Museum of the United States Air Force at Wright-Patterson AFB in Dayton, Ohio.
The best way to see the museum is when it first opens at 9 am each weekday. You’ll have the museum to yourself for a few hours before school kids and more tourists arrive.
The National Museum of the USAF is one of the best aviation museums you’ll find in this country. There are hundreds of aircraft exhibits spaced throughout three large hangers, taking you on a journey through the history of the U.S. Army Air Corps and U.S. Air Force. A fourth hanger is scheduled to be constructed starting in 2013 with an opening slated for 2015. Read more…
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This past weekend my girlfriend and I had an opportunity to visit the Great Smoky Mountains. This included visiting Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and as you can guess by the title of this article, the Dollywood theme park.
As some of you may know, Dollywood is a small theme park created by music legend, Dolly Parton. This is essentially her park, and she’s been known to make occasional visits and say hello to the guests. The park is clean, the workers are friendly, and there’s plenty of live country and bluegrass music.
And for the past few years, Dollywood has been making a name for itself in the world of roller coasters. It’s been making a BIG name, and the park’s coaster collection just recently took a giant step forward.
“Wild Eagle” is the latest addition to the growing number of roller coasters inside Dollywood. This is a custom-made Bolliger & Mabillard (B&M) creation that not only seats riders four-across, but it seats them on the sides of the track. In fact, there’s no coaster car above or below you. This creation is known as a wing coaster, and believe me, it’s an AWESOME experience!
This past Sunday we rode the Wild Eagle coaster twice at park opening. Later that afternoon there was a massive line of people waiting for the ride. Read more…
It’s that time of the year again.
Time to take those darling, never misbehaving, always polite children to the shopping mall to get that precious picture with Santa.
But with all of the Santas throughout the northern metro area, how do you know which malls have the best displays for that all-important and holiest of holiday photos? Just which mall (or store) should you visit? (DISCLAIMER — Those are all just Santa’s HELPERS as we all know the REAL Santa Claus is busy monitoring the toy factory in China, err, the North Pole, and he’s also checking that naughty list one more time)
The other week my girlfriend and I visited many of the Santa locations in northern Atlanta. We couldn’t hit every single one, but dammit, we saw plenty of malls, a$$hole drivers who can’t back out of parking spots, and plenty of self-centered, ADHD parents pushing their way through stores. Our pain is your benefit.
Here we go.
“Here comes Santa Claus, here comes Santa Claus, right down Santa Claus Lane . . .”
Town Center Mall; Kennesaw, GA
Right off the bat, this is by far the absolute WORST Santa meet-and-greet in northern metro Atlanta.
What kind of crap is this? Semi-translucent, color changing trees? WTF?!? A wide open area of, well, nothing? Wow. Maybe next year the people will actually TRY to have a pleasant Christmas display that Santa would be proud to call a temporary home.
Town Center is still a busy and lively mall, too. It’s better than Gwinnett Place and safer than Cumberland Mall. It’s just amazing that so little effort went into Town Center’s utterly craptastic Christmas display. Read more…
Situated on the south side of the Tennessee River in downtown Chattanooga is the Tennessee Aquarium.
The aquarium itself is divided into two separate buildings and experiences. The original aquarium is known as River Journey and it is the world’s largest freshwater aquarium. The second, and newer, building is Ocean Journey, and it focuses on saltwater creatures and fish. Admission to the Tennessee Aquarium includes both buildings and requires a few hours to see and appreciate all of the fascinating exhibits.
Arriving at the Tennessee Aquarium, you’re treated to two creative and imaginative structures that house both primary exhibits. Although the glass pyramids on top of both buildings may feel more like the Journey into Imagination pavilion in Epcot at Walt Disney World, the rest of the building is a massive, multi-level complex filled with dozens of exhibits and literally thousands of animals that live above and below the water. Long escalators take you to the top of each building, and a self-guided tour takes you back down to the street level, seeing many interesting exhibits along the way.
Outside of the buildings is a creative display of various water features in the sidewalks. It’s fun and imaginative, and I’m sure that the kids love to splash around in them during the summer months. Read more…
During our week in the Ellijay, Georgia, area, we decided to take a one-day excursion to Chattanooga, Tennessee and be tourists for the day. This part of the trip report involves activities on Lookout Mountain including Ruby Falls, the Incline Railway, and Rock City (includes the full park guide map for Rock City).
Well, to be honest, we actually planned on going there well before leaving for the trip. Purchasing ticket combos through our local AAA office saved some time and money in the process.
Situated mostly in the state of Georgia and not really Tennessee is Lookout Mountain, a 2,392-foot mountain home to several of Chattanooga’s most famous tourist attractions and spectacular views of the city.
Driving up the mountain involves lots of elevation changes and curvy roads. Just take note that some of the attraction directional signs can be misleading and actually take you off the main roads and through residential land.
Our original plan was to visit Rock City first, but very overcast skies send us deep into Lookout Mountain and through the caves to Ruby Falls. As it turned out, seeing Ruby Falls first was a great idea as our tour group only had about eight people. Later groups that morning had about thirty or so people. Score another one for BDL (born dumb luck). Read more…
Part two of the North Georgia trip report involves an excursion that we made to Helen, GA, followed by Brasstown Bald, the highest natural point in the state of Georgia.
Driving to the alpine-themed town of Helen is one of the most scenic drives in the state of Georgia. This drive was even better for us from Ellijay as we took a number of scenic roads through the mountains as we drove to the town.
Helen originated as a logging town. As the industry declined, the town switched to focus on tourism and themed the town to that of the Bavarian region in southern Germany. The result is a German-themed town that brings in plenty of tourists, especially in the fall during its Oktoberfest celebration. Read more…
Just the other week, my girlfriend and I returned from a week of vacationing in the north Georgia mountains along with Chattanooga, Tennessee.
For me, vacation time always meant loading the car and heading down to theme park land in Orlando, Florida. Other trips went north to Detroit, Michigan, to visit the Motherland, but those weren’t so much as vacations as they were family visitation periods along with taking trips down several memory lanes.
Although I’ve lived here in metro Atlanta for well over twenty years, my experience in the mountains just north of here is almost nothing. Friends of the family live on Lake Burton in the northeast corner of the state, and I’ve made many trips to Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee and the Great Smoky Mountains many times, but as far as the mountains in Georgia, I’ve generally skipped them. This past week in that region was quite a unique experience.
My girlfriend has a condo in Ellijay, Georgia. Ellijay is a quaint little town, although listening to the southern accent can be quite brutal at times, especially when it’s spoken by children. The local Walmart parking lot is the hangout place for teenagers after school. A local clothing store we visited had seats up front for the husbands to sit and socialize while the wives went shopping. Otherwise, Ellijay has a nice mixture of livestock, farms, and very hilly and curvy mountain roads. At least most of the locals know how to drive fast along the roads.
And as I discovered, Ellijay is a great point of origin for accessing many locations throughout that part of the state. Read more…
For those people living and commuting along Interstate 85 in DeKalb and Gwinnett Counties in metro Atlanta, the opening of the I-85 toll lanes may have continued to screw the regular rush hour traffic drivers.
Yes, screw them. Not help. Not assist. But continue to make the morning and afternoon commutes a living nightmare.
Sure, the drivers lost a lane a while ago when the furthest left lane became HOV only (carpool, buses and motorcycles only), but now it’s even worse.
Sadly, this toll lane project has been flawed from the start, and if the city planners actually think that this will help lessen the horrendous rush hour traffic problems, or even get its money back on the project, that’s another story.
As most of you probably know, the city of Atlanta ranks up there with the absolute worst of the worst in the nation when it comes to commute times to and from work. People live everywhere and work everywhere, and they’ll zig-zag along the city’s interstates and major roads, trying to find the quickest way possible to and from work. The problems with this being A) the city continues to grow, B) no road will ever have synchronized traffic lights, and C) many drivers don’t know how to drive efficiently, let alone knowing how to drive that well period. This city is just full of traffic nightmares whether it’s a work day or the weekend.
So what do the almighty city planners do to try to fix the situation? Read more…
My favorite month of the year has finally arrived.
Actually, it officially arrived while my girlfriend and I were on vacation in the north Georgia mountains. On October first we came home and attended a carnival-themed party hosted by a very good friend of ours. The next two days after that have been, well, a recovery period from the change in weather and wee bit of drinking that took place at said party.
But October is here!
It’s the time of cooler weather, leaves changing color and falling to the ground, earlier evenings, the absolute best month in college football, and of course, harvest time and All Hallows’ Eve.
I love Halloween. From the spooky decorations to horror movies on TV to haunted houses to Halloween parties to trick-or-treating, Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. I’m addicted to watching all of the Halloween related shows on Travel Channel, that is, as long as it doesn’t conflict with watching my beloved Detroit Tigers in the MLB playoffs.
So, yes. October is here. This month is awesome. The Tigers are playing right now in Game #4 of the ALDS against the Yankees. New episodes of South Park and The Walking Dead resume this month. Halloween is fantastic.
Great times for all.