Jul 19 2019
05:31 pm

Margaret Hamilton (seen above with a printout of the Apollo 11 guidance software) was the first programmer hired for the Apollo project at MIT. In 1965, she was put in charge of the MIT Instrumentation Laboratory team who wrote the software for the Apollo Guidance Computer.

The computer was primitive by today's standards. It had the equivalent of 5000 or so transistors, 74KB of OS and navigation programming, 4K of RAM work space, operated at about 2 MHz, and had about 20 operation codes in its instruction set. It weighed in at about 87 pounds with the display/keyboard module. The command module had a similar computer. The only backup was a sextant and a slide rule.

The software was written on paper, transcribed to punched cards, compiled on a computer, and embedded onto magnetic core memory "ropes" by hand.

The AGC worked flawlessly, even when it failed. During the lunar landing, Neil Armstrong reported numerous "1202" errors that almost caused the landing to be aborted. NASA mission control contacted the MIT team who told NASA they could ignore it. It appears the rendezvous radar was in an incorrect setting and it was overloading the computer which was busy with the landing radar. The software was designed to cache the data, reboot itself, and start back up where it left off.

President Obama awarded Hamilton the Medal of Freedom, saying “her example speaks of the American spirit of discovery that exists in every little girl and little boy who know that somehow to look beyond the heavens is to look deep within ourselves." You can read more about her at the above link.

Trivia: The AGC source code was posted on Github by some guy who transcribed it from scanned images of the printouts. Check out some of the issue reports.

Jul 19 2019
11:37 am
By: michael kaplan

As I type, there is a pile-up on the Henley Bridge, apparently from a driver trying to get out of the 'left-turn-only' lane. Several cars were involved. Fire, police, and ambulances on the scene. This turn lane has been a problem since it was created when the bridge was repaired and reopened. Not a great design solution ...

Jul 19 2019
08:11 am

On a long trip you're gonna get hungry and have to eat. At this point 50 years ago in their journey to the Moon, the Apollo 11 Astronauts had been cruising through space for about three days and were just hours away from lunar orbit insertion. So what did they have to eat?

According to this NASA paper "SP-368 Biomedical Results of Apollo - Apollo Food Technology," the Astronauts had a fairly extensive menu to choose from, including:

Peaches (R), Fruit cocktail (R), Canadian bacon and applesauce (R), Bacon squares (8) (IMB), Sausage patties (SBP), Sugar coated corn flakes (R), Strawberry cubes (4) (DB), Cinnamon toasted bread cubes (4) (DB), Apricot cereal cubes (4) (DB), Peanut cubes (4) (DB), Grape drink (R), Cocoa (R), Orange drink (R), Grapefruit drink (R), Orange-grapefruit drink (R), Beef and potatoes (WP), Frankfurters (WP), Cream of chicken soup(R), Shrimp cocktail (R), Applesauce (R), Turkey and gravy (WP), Ham and potatoes (WP), Brownies (4) (IMB), Chocolate pudding (R), Cheese cracker cubes (6) (DB), Grape punch (R), Chocolate cubes (4) (DB), Date fruit cake (4) (IMB), Salmon salad (R), Spaghetti with meat sauce (SBP), Tuna salad (R), Beef stew (WP), Chicken and rice (SBP), Pork and scalloped potatoes (SBP), Chicken stew (SBP), Coconut cubes (4) (DB), Sugar cookie cubes (6) (DB), Pineapple grapefruit drink (R), Pineapple fruit cake (4) (IMB), Butterscotch pudding (R), Banana pudding (R), Grape punch (R).

Forms of packaging included "rehydratable, irradiated, dry bite, wet pack, intermediate moisture bite, and spoon-bowl packet." Water for rehydrating meals came from the byproduct of hydrogen fuel cell energy production.

Astronaut nutrition involved a great deal of science, research, development, and engineering, and it evolved over the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs. They operated under a number of constraints such as nutrition, stability, packaging, storage, weight and "crew idiosyncracies." You can read more about it at the above link.

For some reason, all this reminded me of this:

Jul 18 2019
02:41 pm

The vote was 231-199. Burchett voted no, said it will cost millions of jobs.

Jul 18 2019
06:16 am

If you're going on a road trip you gotta have a playlist (or a mix tape as they were known back then). According to this Miami Herald article, NASA supplied the Apollo 11 Astronauts with Sony TC-50 cassette recorders, ostensibly to record mission notes, but they also provided entertainment. Here are the songs selected by the Apollo 11 Astronauts for their moon travel mix tape:

  • Fly Me to the Moon, Frank Sinatra
  • Galveston, Glen Campbell
  • People, Barbra Streisand
  • Three O'Clock in the Morning, Lou Rawls
  • Angel of the Morning, Bettye Swann
  • Everyday People, Peggy Lee (cover version)
  • Everybody's Gone to the Moon, Jonathan King
  • Spinning Wheel, Blood, Sweat & Tears
  • Mother Country, John Stewart
  • Mist O' the Moon - Music out of the Moon, Dr. Samuel J.Hoffman, Harry Revel, Les Baxter
  • Moon Moods, Dr. Samuel J.Hoffman, Harry Revel, Les Baxter

Read more about the selections and how they came about at the above link. Buzz Aldrin was apparently the fun guy. But we already knew that. "What goes up must come down..."

Jul 16 2019
08:47 am

CBS real-time livestream of Apollo 11 launch, 50 years ago today. Liftoff is at 9:32AM EDT.

Jul 16 2019
07:07 am

A censure (sometimes referred to as condemnation or denouncement) does not remove the president from office. It is a formal statement of disapproval, however, that can have a powerful psychological effect on the president and his relationships. Of course, this president may wear it as a badge of honor. The only president to be censured was Andrew Jackson.

As most everyone knows, the president told "‘Progressive’ Democrat Congresswomen, who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe" to "go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came."

Of the four women it is believed the president is referring, Ms. Ocasio-Cortez was born in the Bronx. Ms. Pressley, was born in Cincinnati and raised in Chicago. And Ms. Tlaib was born in Detroit.

The president continued his hate speech and doubles down, "If you’re not happy in the U.S., if you’re complaining all the time, you can leave, you can leave right now,” he said."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is looking to counter the president's comments legislatively by introducing a resolution to officially condemn Mr. Trump's remarks.

I commend the Speaker for considering a resolution, but it is not enough. It is time to censure the president. He is putting many of our citizens at risk. Is it domestic terrorism? I don't know. But, it is endangering our country and must stop.

Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Richard Shelby (R-AL) decline to condemn President Trump after his racist attacks on several Democratic congresswomen.

GOP senators dodge CNN reporter when asked about Trump

Leadfoot drivers across the Southeast are risking a little summertime blues this week thanks to the third annual Operation Southern Shield, which kicked off today and continues through Sunday, July 21.

Law enforcement officers in Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina and Alabama are cracking down on speeders during the campaign ...

Southern speeders face a miserable week during Operation Southern Shield

Jul 15 2019
09:53 am

Buzz Aldrin's Apollo 11 travel voucher claims $33.31 in expenses. Modes of travel include "POV" (personally owned vehicle?), "Government Spacecraft" and "USN Hornet." Travel itenerary listed as "Houston Texas to Cape Kennedy FL, Moon, Pacific Ocean, Hawaii, and return to Houston Texas." "Government meals and quarters provided," it says. (Click image for bigger).


Upon arrival at the Honolulu airport, all three Astronauts signed a customs declaration form. Flight routing was noted as Cape Kennedy, Moon, and Honolulu." Their cargo was listed as "moon rock and moon dust samples." Under "persons on board known to be suffering from illness" it says "none." Under "any other condition on board which may lead to the spread of disease" it says "to be determined." (Click image for bigger.)



Jul 14 2019
02:15 pm

Tennessee is once again in the news because Gov. Lee declared a state Nathan Bedford Forrest day, and his bust remains on display in the statehouse. National news outlets and even Ted Cruz piled on.

Never mind that every governor is required by state law to commemorate the former KKK Grand Wizard, along with other Confederate causes at various times. Haslam had to do it for eight years. Bredesen for eight years before that. And every other governor going back to the 1920s.

The real shame is that these laws have been on the books for so long. It's the Twenty-first Century! Why is it so hard to get rid of these laws and remove the bust? Oh, wait. Rhetorical question.

Gov. Lee says he's reluctant to change the law, because it would be a "mistake to whitewash history." Interesting choice of words. So maybe we should have commemorations and statehouse memorials for victims of lynchings or the Fort Pillow massacre? Why not tributes for the East Tennessee patriots who joined with the Union? Or the Clinton 12?

That seems like a natural for a senior living facility. Indoor safe place to walk or electric transport. Easy to monitor for safety. Businesses would have builtin customer base. Medical facilities could be there. Lot's of seniors centric businesses. Solar power maybe, they would have the surface area on roof and parking lot.

Knoxville Center Mall: More retailers depart with major closing sales

Jul 11 2019
08:17 am

In a Gannett exclusive op-ed, Haslam says public service was "not my calling for the next period of my life."

Seems like a good idea ...

Trails through Michigan's Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore can be steep or sandy -- but people who require hiking mobility assistance can now rent a motorized chair with treaded tracks to get around.

Michigan national park is the first to allow visitors to use a powerful 'track chair' to experience trails

Jul 8 2019
04:38 pm

Press release:

The U.S. Small Business Administration announced today that Economic Injury Disaster Loans are available to small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture and private nonprofit organizations located in Tennessee as a result of rain and flooding from May 1, 2018 through Feb. 25, 2019.

The loans are available in the following counties: Anderson, Bedford, Benton, Bledsoe, Blount, Bradley, Campbell, Carter, Cheatham, Claiborne, Cocke, Cumberland, Davidson, Decatur, Dickson, Franklin, Giles, Grainger, Greene, Hamblen, Hamilton, Hancock, Hawkins, Hickman, Houston, Humphreys, Jefferson, Knox, Lawrence, Lewis, Lincoln, Loudon, Marion, Marshall, Maury, McMinn, Meigs, Monroe, Montgomery, Moore, Morgan, Perry, Polk, Rhea, Roane, Robertson, Rutherford, Scott, Sequatchie, Sevier, Stewart, Sullivan, Sumner, Unicoi, Union, Washington Wayne, Williamson and Wilson in Tennessee.


Jul 7 2019
11:49 pm
By: michael kaplan

It doesn't quite change everything, but it's a refreshing reprieve from current aesthetic trends.


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