Curiosity, On The (Martian) Ground

NASA announced today that the Martian rover, Curiosity, has successfully landed on the Red Planet.  In an amazing display of engineering, Curiosity roared through the Martian atmosphere, undertook a series of maneuvers to slow itself down, and then landed safely in the Gale Crater, near Mars’ equator.

The rover’s touchdown on Mars is just another triumph for America’s unmanned space program.  We have probes, satellites, robots, and landers operating all across the solar system — and for the first time in human history just outside of it, too.

Curiosity‘s mission will be a long, and interesting, one that will last for at least two years.  The rover is the largest device NASA has yet landed on Mars and is powered with a long-lasting plutonium battery.  It will navigate the Martian surface, scan the Martian soil for signs of water, climb a Martian mountain, and collect samples to test for organic compounds, and pulverize rocks with a laser.  And, because this is the social media age, Curiosity of course has its own Twitter feed.  The rover therefore also has made history by sending the first Tweet from the surface of Mars.  It said: “I’m safely on the surface of Mars. GALE CRATER I AM IN YOU!!!”

Parenting In Laundromat Hell

During our trip to Columbia, Kish and I went to a laundromat to give Richard a hand with washing and drying.

It’s the first time I’ve been in a laundromat for several decades, and I hope I never have to go back.  This laundromat had the standard sticky furnishings, tired decor, and tattooed patrons, but what really made the experience unbearable was the appalling conduct of a annoying boy.  He kept shouting for his ridiculously inattentive father, who seemed perfectly happy to play old video games and let his kid ruin the days of everyone else in the establishment.

On that day, the laundromat could easily have passed for one of Dante’s layers of hell, and the experience moved me to compose some bad verse:

Parenting In Laundromat Hell

We went to local laundromat

Some clean clothes to be had

But there we met an awful brat

Always yelling: “Dad!  Dad!! DAD!!!

The snotty kid, his Dad ignored

So he decided to be bad

He leaned back his head and roared

“Hey Dad!  Hey Dad!!! Hey DAD!!!!!

At first I laughed at Papa’s plight

But then my thoughts grew mad

As hellion crowed, with all his might

“Hey Dad!  Hey Dad!!  Hey DAD!!!

He ran ’round washers, dryers too,

That misbehaving lad

And sent us to hell’s raging fires

Screaming:  “Dad!  Dad!! DAD!!!

I wanted to give the kid a swat

But I felt like a cad

For fault was not with the tot

But with his Dad!  Dad!! DAD!!!