Spent a lot of Sunday worried about Curiosity. This is just so bad-ass audacious: shoot down through the atmosphere, pop the chute, blow the heat shield, scan the terrain, disgorge the rocket lander, then drop Curiosity from a crane. Insane. I’m sure there are good reasons for it; if they could just pop a chute and float down, they would.


It seems the tricky part of the Curiosity landing is the last minute, when it rides a unicorn pegasus down to the surface.

I mean, whatever happened to just landing a ship on another planet? This is like the Cirque Du Soleil of spacecraft landings.

Looking forward to NBC's six-hour tape-delay of the Curiosity landing.

Uh oh. Watching the NASA channel live feed; Ed Harris just entered the room and dumped office supplies & coffeemaker parts on the table

There's a rumor Curiosity is so big b/c OJ is on board, looking for the real killer. #CapricornOne #wakeupsheeple

NASA feed: Step 171546 has been completed; Step 171547 confirmed "windows shutdown." I hope BSOD isn't part of the plan.

NASA feed: "We are one-way non-coherent and the coherent lock is disabled." I've had nights like that.

Something to consider: Curiosity measured cosmic radiation en route, and it turns out we know a lot more about not dying on the way to Mars. It’s great news.

NASA feed: they're all eating peanuts. A JPL tradition going back to Ranger 7; 1 - 6 failed, someone ate peanuts on #7. Tradition born.

Curiosity looks like a centaur version of Wall-E.

How you know you're in the 21st century: we have the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter around the planet, monitoring the landing.

Attitude Control System is off. So, Curiosity is LIQUORED UP.

Cruise stage sep in 5 minutes. I have the heart-rate of a fargin' hummingbird.

There's a bald man pacing back and forth in the control room, chewing a towel

"Heartbeat signal" had dropped low for a moment, and there was consternation - which explained those WHOOs and grins of relief.

These people have to be tighter than piano wire. Someone should walk around with a firehose of vodka when she's down.

"OD227 looks like a missed distance of 232 meters." But it's "less than the divert." Whew. Or not.

The Curiosity twitter feed has gone silent, which is good. DON’T TEXT AND DESCEND.

(lots of all-caps updates)

(watching it happen with my daughter)

Crap: the estate of Edgar Rice Burroughs has issued a takedown notice on NASA for the Curiosity pictures.


Daughter was awake, so I brought her down to look. To watch. To remember. I know, we’ve done this before, but this was an astonishing landing. It’s been years since I’ve been this involved - emotionally, really - in a space mission, because for so long I’ve just grumbled: we should be doing this over there with that by now. But Curiosity is a big mofo, and the means by which we did this are just astonishing. The only way this night could get better would be Vulcans landing and asking if we wanted to, you know, work on stuff.

So. Digesting and processing. Earlier:


We've had an additional dog this weekend, a well-behaved poodle who wants to dig, chew his ball, and get a rise out of Jasper. There was some concern, since Jasper is hesitant around other dogs - can’t see them very well, and feels vulnerable. When they were introduced Jasper came over, ears as flat as possible, and accepted him, then sat down and ignored him. The other dog has tried to get him to play, but seems to realize he’s not up for it. By Sunday they were coexisting well enough.

But Jasper takes the high ground.

It reminds me what it’s like to live with a dog that’s always interested in what you’re doing and where you are and whether you are going to throw the ball or not, so it can grab the filthy, slobbery, mud-caked orb in its mouth and put it back in your hand. My daughter threw the ball while the dog was on the steps, and it launched itself off the porch, into the air, and flew head-first into the metal column of the gazebo: gonngggggggg! But of course their heads are made of the hardest material on earth, Skullium, so it was up and running in seconds.

Her hearing is better, unlike Jasper’s, so when neighbor dogs bark, she joins the barks that go up and down the block for a minute or so. Translation:





SAY THERE (English bulldog)

And so on. Jasper even heard it, and joined in, then looked around: what are we talking about again?

Nothing disabuses you of the idea that dogs are super-extra smart than two dogs together. Alone, you can invest all sorts of things into their actions and expressions. Together, they look like a comedy team that’s down one Stooge.

Friday we went to Target to spend her gift certificate. On clothes. This is a new thing; she’s interested in clothes. Really interested. (She went to the Mall of America on Saturday, and came back with her fall wardrobe - and some Chuck Taylors, which made me proud. And amused: I wear the same shoes as my daughter. Could be worse. Could be Crocs.)

When we saw the enormous Pencil hanging from the ceiling like the Sword of Damocles, I realized we should get school supplies. She balked - it’s like saying it’s all over, it’s done and gone, summer has fled again - but this is the time of year when kids start to edge next to the idea of school just a little, and find that it doesn’t bite. There’s great joy in new school supplies, after all - crisp books, clean folders, everything new and full of promise. This year they’ve changed the design on the standard composition notebooks:


Nice. There was a third style as well. She chose from each style, which earned a Spock-brow: interesting. Don’t you want them to be all the same?

“It doesn’t matter.”

Kids today. It doesn’t matter. Three different typographies, mashed together, LIVING IN FONT SIN? It doesn’t matter?

I held my tongue. The list had all the usuals, including Glue Sticks. Quantity: “LOTS.” No, I’m not going to buy lots of glue sticks. Must have bought ten last year and the amount of gluing performed in the course of pedagogical matters was notably low. I can’t imagine they step up the gluing in seventh grade, either. I’ll bet gluing peaks in third. They’ll probably be on the list for college, except you buy them at the University bookstore, and they cost $9.87.

When we’d completed the list she went off to shop for clothes. I went for groceries. Noticed another package innovation I’m not sure I can endorse:



So it’s all about Lucky, then. It’s come down to this. The mere sight of the hyperactive mythical imp is sufficient; we no longer have to worry whether there are sugar-dusted mallow-nodules within, or whether they have introduced a new shape to liven up the usual bleary mornings. It’s as if they’re giving up on the power of new shapes. I can see doing this with other cereals whose mascots preside over a fixed commodity, but in the ever-changing world of Lucky Charms, this is disturbing. It’s as if America has ceased to innovate.

I take that back. Our sex-book innovation continues apace.



New today: Matches. Head up and hit that button; I made it for a reason. See you around the usual places - have a grand day.








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