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 

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 FCVand, 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


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.