The Big Think

June 23, 2004

Semper Fidelis

Filed under: Uncategorized — jasony @ 12:22 pm

Some amazing and humbling facts about the servicemen who guard our unknown soldiers. link

1. How many steps does the guard take during his walk across the tomb of the Unknowns and why? 
21 steps.. It alludes to the twenty-one gun salute, which is the highest honor given any military or foreign dignitary. 

2. How long does he hesitate after his about face to begin his return walk and why? 
21 seconds for the same reason as answer number 1.

3. Why are his gloves wet?
His gloves are moistened to prevent his losing his grip on the rifle. 

4. Does he carry his rifle on the same shoulder all the time, and if not, why not? 
He carries the rifle on the shoulder away from the tomb. After his march across the path, he executes an about face, and moves the rifle to the outside shoulder. 

5. How often are the guards changed?
Guards are changed every thirty minutes, twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year.

6. What are the physical traits of the guard limited to?
For a person to apply for guard duty at the tomb, he must be between 5′ 10″ and 6′ 2″ tall and his waist size cannot exceed 30.” 

Other requirements of the Guard: They must commit 2 years of their life to guard the tomb, live in a barracks under the tomb, and cannot drink any alcohol on or off duty for the rest of their lives. They cannot swear in public for the rest of their lives and cannot disgrace the uniform {fighting} or the tomb in any way. After two years, the guard is given a wreath pin that is worn on their lapel signifying they served as guard of the tomb. There are only 400 presently worn. 

The guard must obey these rules for the rest of their lives or give up the wreath pin. The shoes are specially made with very thick soles to keep the heat and cold from their feet. There are metal heel plates that extend to the top of the shoe in order to make the loud click as they come to a halt. There are no wrinkles, folds or lint on the uniform. Guards dress for duty in front of a full-length mirror. The first six months of duty a guard cannot talk to anyone, nor watch TV. 

All off duty time is spent studying the 175 notable people laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery. A guard must memorize who they are and where they are interred. Among the notables are: President Taft, Joe E. Lewis {the boxer} and Medal of Honor winner Audie Murphy, {the most decorated soldier of WWII} of Hollywood fame. Every guard spends five hours a day getting his uniforms ready for guard duty.

On the ABC evening news, it was reported that, because of the dangers from Hurricane Isabelle approaching Washington DC, the military members assigned the duty of guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier were given permission to suspend the assignment. They respectfully declined the offer, “No way, Sir!” Soaked to the skin, marching in the pelting rain of a tropical storm, they said that guarding the Tomb was not just an assignment, it was the highest honor that can be afforded to a serviceperson. The tomb has been patrolled continuously, 24/7, since 1930. 

Car Buying

Filed under: Uncategorized — jasony @ 12:12 pm

Starting the process of getting Erin another car. We’re looking for a late model (2003-2004) white Toyota Corolla LE Automatic with less than 20,000 miles on it. Cruise is our only preferred option. If anyone has any information on a car like this, please let me know.
We’re willing to travel up to 1000 miles to get it as well.

NASA Awards

Filed under: Uncategorized — jasony @ 10:27 am

NASA is finally getting smart. After Monday’s success with SpaceShipOne, NASA is considering offering cash prizes to private companies who attain certain space milestones. has an interesting article about it.
“What we’re looking for is innovation like what Burt Rutan brought to the table”
The article goes on to say:
Some of NASA’s roughly $16.2 billion annual budget should be earmarked for privatizing space, the report concluded, suggesting even that Congress consider prize money for commercial spaceflight milestones.
Not to be an I-told-you-so, but this is exactly what I’ve been saying for the last 5 years. The government shouldn’t be the only one in the space business. Their job is to provide incentives for competition, do basic research, and help fund infrastructure (think of the interstate road system). Space travel stopped being about prestige as soon as Neil stepped on the moon. Now it’s time for development, and fortunately technology has caught up with the vision.
NASA’s announcement is a wild contrast to their attitude of the recent past. During the 90’s the agency seemed to go out of their way to protect their turf by suggesting that it would be many, many years before space travel could be done by “mere” civilians-if ever. Either they didn’t take into account the rate of technological advance, or they were trying to buttress their standing as the only space game in town. With thousands of the smartest rocket scientists in the world on their payroll, you can bet it wasn’t the former. In fact, NPR had an interview with NASA historian Alex Roland on Tuesday. Roland couldn’t say enough discouraging things about the Rutan flight. He called it a “stunt”, derided their business model, and called SS1 “worthless” because it couldn’t even reach orbit, much less geosync. Hey Alex, I’ve got two words for you: Alan Shepard. The government spent billions of dollars and millions of man-hours to do exactly what a few home-builders accomplished in four years in the Mojave desert for 20 million. And Burt Rutan has said an orbital flight is on the drawing board.

There are many good people at NASA, and many of them joined the agency because they believed it was the only way they could make a contribution to humanity’s space efforts. My hope is that Monday’s private flight will show them that the game just got a whole lot bigger. Hopefully this will encourage some healthy competition among NASA and its prospective, ahem, competitors. And hopefully NASA will remember that the space program is not about keeping your budget intact and your people employed.
The vision is a whole lot bigger than that.

DVD Rewinder

Filed under: Uncategorized — jasony @ 9:56 am

What to get the gadget freak in your life who has everything. heh

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