Sunday, July 06, 2014

Houston, We Have a Lydia

We got fancy in Houston for a few hours. 

One part of town had the coolest sci-fi intersections ever. 

We had lunch at the very shmancy RDG Bar Annie. I knew it was going to be an upscale place, so I wore my nicest beer t-shirt. I had the Ahi Tuna Salad (seared rare): with roasted beets, frisee, pecan butter, and truffle vinaigrette. Lydia had the Huevos Rancheros: crispy tortilla, black beans, Mexican chorizo, avacado slices, and salsa. Lunch is such a magically cheap time to go to expensive restaurants.

Our big stop of the day was the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center. We had just been to the Johnson Presidential Museum a few days prior so I already had the necessary Johnson background to put the history of the place in perspective. Kennedy of course launched the space race, but Johnson finished it.

A fun fact I read on Wikipedia while researching the space race was that Kennedy had initially suggested that the US and Soviets cooperate to get to the moon:

On September 20, 1963, in a speech before the United Nations General Assembly, President Kennedy proposed that the United States and the Soviet Union join forces in their efforts to reach the moon. Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev initially rejected Kennedy's proposal; however, during the next few weeks he concluded that both nations might realize cost benefits and technological gains from a joint venture. Khrushchev was poised to accept Kennedy's proposal at the time of Kennedy's assassination in November 1963.
Khrushchev and Kennedy had developed a measure of rapport during their years as leaders of the world's two superpowers, especially during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. That trust was lacking with Vice President Johnson; when Johnson assumed the Presidency after Kennedy's assassination, Khrushchev dropped the idea of a joint moon program.

Anyway, back to the tour. I am fascinated by the space race and by the possibilities for future space travel, so I loved this place. The place could use a little updating here and there, though. The biggest setback was our fellow tourists. There were so many rude foreigners there with uncontrolled children that I decided that it was like being in the cry room at the United Nations.

I impressed Lydia with some slo-mo space walking.

"Wait till I tell my friends back home I touched a moon rock!"

Robonaut (wiki page) is half awesome and half terrifying.

We then went and got in line to take the tour. When we arrived, we were forced to choose between 3 different tours with only a fairly rudimentary explanation of what each entailed. It was stressful but we were able to make a decision and continue on our journey.

We exchanged some friendly chit-chat with the family in front of us on the tour tram. That is, until they scolded a French family for taking their seats and made them get up later on. That was awkward for everyone involved.

We got to see mission control but it wasn't super interesting: pretty much looked like a room with a bunch of normal-seeming computers sitting on desks. I'd much rather see the room as it was during the Apollo program, but I may be a weirdo.


We sat through a really interesting presentation on the Mars rovers. In a particularly memorable example of the Lord of the Flies children situation at the Space Center, the poor man had to stop in the middle of the show to tell the parents to take their kids outside if they are crying, and get the ones running around the room to sit the hell down.

One thing that was especially awesome was when he revealed that the tires on the rovers have little patterns on them. According to the NASA website "the pattern is Morse code for JPL, the abbreviation for NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., where the rover was designed and built, and the mission is managed." How awesome is that? I personally would have made the tires spell out "F U Ruskies".

After purchasing the obligatory astronaut ice cream, we concluded a solid day with a short trip to the coastal city of Galveston.

You pretty much have to eat seafood when you're near the ocean. Even if that seafood has no chance of being from anywhere near where you are. It's a rule.

I ordered some oysters. From our seats at the bar we got to see the shucking magic. Considering how they were just dunked in a bucket to wash off I'm glad that mine were cooked. 

I am in an ongoing battle with the beach tourism industrial complex and their insidious lies. Let's be honest: beaches suck. To begin with, they are effectively a graveyard for sea creatures. There are always  piles of dead and dying things on beaches in various stages of odoriferous decay.

Our last couple of days in Belize were spent at a beach side hotel in Placencia and were filled with multiple hours of jaw-dropping, drool inducing boredom.

Galveston is a good example. We could smell the dead fish stink of the beach long before we saw it. The beach was about as bad on the eyes as on the nose unfortunately. There were huge mounds of seaweed all over the place. Seeing it from the car was enough. Other than that though, yay for Texas!

No comments:

Post a Comment