Friday, December 31, 2010

Kennedy Space Center

Wednesday, while the girls went shopping, the guys toured the Kennedy Space Center, 90 minutes' drive away. I have visited the central Florida area at least 20 times before, but this was my first visit to the KSC. It was outstanding: part museum, part science, part history, part nostalgia (for us oldsters), part working-launch site. It is the one and only Florida attraction I have unqualifiedly enjoyed.  Alas, its future will include rather more of the past...
Grand entry















From the very historic Gantry 39, looking back to the
colossal Vehicle Assembly Building, and, in the
foreground, one of the huge portable launchpad "crawlers,"
manufactured in Marion, Ohio, where I briefly taught at the
OSU campus there; Go Bucks! Beat Hogs!



















Crawler track, forking between launch sites A and B















Seriously, this has got to be one of mankind's
most historic places




















Apollo launch control















Lunar lander















Apollo Saturn V, "disassembled"















Apollo XIII  ("Houston, we have a problem") crew module;
imagine, Tom Hanks sat right there...
















Jeremy and Will before a Space Shuttle we toured















In the "Rocket Garden" (no specimen of the hapless
Vanguard)















"Fully-assembled" Saturn

Fun Old-Fashioned Family Christmas

It was our first Christmas "at home" since
2007, and we observed all the Sherouse Xmas
traditions; here's Vicki putting the final
touches to the dessert course of the
Christmas Eve Grand Fondue; between
courses we did the ritual screening of FCV,
and, earlier, even saw Bing Crosby tap-
dancing with Danny, um, Kaye

























Christmas tree and presents and the warm glow of a
roaring virtual fire; thanks Norm and Marie (who were
visiting Stacey and The Boys in Knoxville) for the use of
their house

















Jeremy displays one of many gifts of infant-wear















Rachel enjoys the antics of her new Turkish cat, Mehmet















Will and Rachel display hang-over cause and remedy gifts















Chef Vicki announces Christmas dinner





















Rebecca and Jeremy, Vicki, Will and Rachel















Sunday afternoon: Rebecca and Jeremy have gone to stay
with his dad, Robert, and brother Damien; Carole and Lexi
have arrived from Weston, bringing gifts of Shorty's BBQ,
re-supply of Farm Stores egg nog, and the best Key lime
pie I have ever had; here, Vicki leads the group in virtual
bridal gown shopping



















Monday brunch at Kiki's, Will and Rachel, Lexi and Carole,
Rebecca and Jeremy
















Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Thursday before Christmas we did our family tour of Universal Studios, focusing on the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Embarrassingly, I am the only one of the party who is largely ignorant of Potter lore, despite being exposed to nearly all the movies--I do remember the quidditch battle scenes, where Harry blew up the Death Star, right?--so my captions may be a little vague, if not erroneous.
In Potter World















Signage















Rachel and Will preparing for blast-off














In Potter World



















Luncheon at the Three Broomsticks; Rebecca, Jeremy,
Rachel, Vicki, me, and Will
















Dumbledor welcomes us into the castle



















The Hat



















Another view of the environs




















Rebecca (with child) before the famous train



















Friday, December 17, 2010

Intermission Again: Back in the States

We spent our last few days putting the Grey Wanderer into storage at a marina north of Athens, packing, and watching those old snowflakes fall. The weather Friday turned from balmy 70s to near-freezing, with gale winds off the bay and snow accumulating in the mountains. On Monday the 13th we flew from Athens to Ft. Lauderdale for two months in the States, beginning with a stay with sister Carole, and Jim and Lexi, and then moving up to St. Cloud, with Marie and Norm, and Christmas holidays with Rachel and Will and Rebecca and Jeremy. I'll post again when there's news.
View from the marina storage center, Sunday morning

Plato's Academy

On our numerous bus rides to and from the centrum, I noticed signs for the archaeological site of Plato's Academy, and, of course, had to follow them to the site, well into some of the working-class neighborhoods, just outside the ancient walls of Athens. There's not much left, but I was there and saw the remains of one of the world's oldest and most famous educational and intellectual institutions.
























































Athens Museum of Archaeology

As it happened, we visited Athen's Archaeololgical Museum three times: first time, we found it closed by a strike; second time, arriving after lunch, we learned it closes at 3PM; third time was the charm. But it would have been worth four tries or even five.
Museum entrance















Notice of closure on our first visit; when we returned from
Mykonos, public transit workers were on strike; railway
workers went on strike the day we left Athens (we got
out just in time); and there was a national strike all day
December 15th; all recession/EU bail-out/austerity related



















The museum is arranged chronologically but also has
special galleries for bronze, vases, etc; here we are in the
Cyclades gallery (mid-Bronze Age, out in the islands),
admiring the very distinctive Cycladian figurine work 


















And now in the Mycenaean galleries; this is
the famous Agamemnon death mask
Schliemann found; of course it could have
been any of scores of kings/princes/rulers,
but since Schliemann was looking for the
most famous Mycenaean, it had to be
Agamemnon
























Schliemann's famous communication to the king of Greece















The golden cups...
















Moving right along, the very famous Zeus/
Poseidon (scholars are divided) throwing a
spear/trident/whatever





















The Jockey















Jumping back a little in time, the "boxers"
fresco from Akrotiri/Santorini, 16th century
BCE





















There is so much at which to marvel...but the Antikythera
Mechanism, another find of marine archaeology, is a knock-
out; it is a complicated brass system of gears for calculating
astronomical phenomena


















It took many years and much high tech to figure
out what this thing was and to reconstruct it,
as above; no one was expecting a 2000 year-
old computer























Interior side view of all the gears, etc.





















The Hellenistic Gaul pleading for his life




















Incredibly realistic bronze bust, showing how
eyes were represented in such things




















Aphrodite and Eros fighting off Pan




















Head-smashed-in bronze


























It's an incredible museum, worthy of many posts...but I'll leave it at this.