It’s been 219 days since the Pulse Nightclub shootings on 12 June 2016 when 49 innocent people were slain by a demented religious nut. I drove past today because, in part, it was MLK Day. There’s a community core that won’t forget. I certainly won’t. No one deserved to suffer and die the way they did.
Earlier today news reports were published that the FBI arrested Noor Salman, wife of Pulse nightclub shooter Omar Mateen. She’ll be headed back to Florida on charges of obstructing justice and aiding and abetting the attempted provision of material support to a foreign terrorist organization. I’ll wait to read all the material facts of the case; in my opinion, the FBI isn’t the best law enforcement organization, especially after Comey’s incompetent handling of the non-existent Clinton e-mail evidence right at the end of the general election.
Out early picking up bagels at a local Einsteins. I love Florida mornings, with the sunlight streaming from the eastern horizon. The colors are big and saturated, and the streaming sun has a wonderful, almost angelic flare to it when it hits at the right angle. The shopping areas are mostly empty and quiet. They’ll eventually fill up as the Sunday store opening hour of noon approaches, and they’ll stay full for the rest of the day, well into the evening. But for now, in the early morning, it’s a quiet, reflective, and soothing time to be out.
Writing a narrative is both challenging and satisfying. I’m ramping up my narrative writing to document those little aspects of my life, a personal historical record of living right here, right now. I feel we’ve hit what the Valley wags like to call a major inflection point. I feel if I don’t document it now, it’ll slip away and be forgotten, certainly by me. We as a nation and a society are changing, and I’m fearful of the direction we’re headed.
Another reason for the narration around my photos: I read on some blog (Phoblographer? Petapixel?) that narration was a Bad Thing. That photographers were doing this now because they were immersed in the Narrative Way while in art school. I call BS on that. I’m writing narration around my photos because that’s what I grew up with reading Look, Life, Time, and National Geographic (all of this in the 1960s and 1970s). Newspapers did this as well and still do. So when I write prose around my photos I harken back to the practice of the entire twentieth century of magazine publishing.
Everything taken with my iPhone, post processed in Snapseed, and pushed up to SmugMug. The idea to do this was sparked by Andy of ATMTX and his digital sketchbook.
I’ve lived in the same house here in Orlando since 1985, which is a hop, skip and a jump from International Drive, or I-Drive. There are some places on I-Drive that have been here as long as I have, or at least they seem to have been. These places are very kitschy looking, but they also harken back to a much simpler time, when folks just liked to have a little visual fun. Some folks may be appalled when they see them, but every time I do they bring a big of a guilty smile to my face.
I’ve decided to start documenting some of these places before they disappear for good. I-Drive is split into a north end and a south end, with the dividing line Sand Lake Road. Everything north of Sand Lake up to and past Kirkman is “old school”, while everything south of Sand Lake is “next generation” businesses that are attempting to cater to a “higher class” (i.e. higher spending) tourist. The south end is anchored by the Orange County Convention Center complex. While pretty in an empty sort of way, the south end (at least down to the Beachline Expressway) is pretty devoid of anything approaching the personality of the north end.
But the north end is slowly being taken over by the bigger major tourist companies. For example, Universal has purchased Wet-‘n-Wild. Scuttle-butt has it that once Universal finishes its own water park on Sandlake, that it’ll shut down, then tear down, Wet-‘n-Wild. What goes up in its place is anyone’s guess.
There are other places scattered around the tourist locations, such as 535 near Disney and 192 in Kassimmee. I need to document them as well before they completely disappear.
I used the E-M10 with the 14-42mm EZ pancake for all of these. Then I decided to post process them using Snapseed on an iPad Air 2, a tablet I’ve used since November 2014 starting with my December 2014 trip to Tokyo. Then I decided to use the iPad version of the WordPress app to write this post. That’s when things went a bit wonky. Specifically, the photo sizes were all over the place, literally. To clean up the photo sizes I had to open this post up using the web-based WordPress editor and custom set each photo to 500px width. Once I did that the photos looked a lot better size-wise. It would appear that the WordPress app has a problem with multiple photos in a blog post, especially if they follow each other directly. I wish in a way I could get the source to the WordPress app; there’s some things that need fixing, and there’s some things I that need adding.
Once again I had a ring-side seat to a bit of important history being made, the launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with CRS-8 mission and payload up to the ISS. I watched it simultaneously from my front yard (with the image taken above right after liftoff) as well as on my iPad Air 2 streaming from the SpaceX feed. Using that feed I watched the payload reach orbit and then watched the first stage land, on its drone ship, in the middle of the Atlantic. Talk about stoked. If I weren’t in my early 60s I’d make a bee-line out to Hawthorne California and SpaceX’s headquarters and do whatever I could to work there. This is the real future, real technological prowess, not the crap VR gear being pushed. We need to be forever pushing forward and outward, not turning inward and away from the challenges of the real world. What follows are screen captures from the Air 2. Capturing a bit of history for myself.
First stage overhead
Second stage firing with Florida in the background
Falcon 9 first stage, right before touchdown
First stage standing confidently on Yes I Still Love You
The landing of the Falcon 9 first stage, which spectacular, isn’t the only spectacular part of this flight. CRS-8 is carrying an inflatable habitat up to the ISS. If it works then it will attach to one of the ISS’ ports and be expanded. The Bigelow Expandable Activity Module, or BEAM, is an attempt to attach one of the expandable habitats onto an existing space station. Bigelow Aerospace has already launched two test articles into orbit, but this is the first time an expandable has been delivered as part of a cargo and attached to an existing structure. This is in line with what the future use of much larger expandables and will allow another way to lower the cost of building large enclosed habitable spaces on orbit. When (not if) this is proven to work later next week, then this flight will be remembered not for one milestone, but two: lowering the cost of launch, and lowering the cost of habitation. These are the true milestones that NASA should have been trying to solve ever since the end of the space race and the end of Apollo. We seemed to be trying to go there with Skylab, but it fell back to Earth before the first Shuttle could fly and help boost Skylab to a more stable orbit. Thus did incompetence and politics conspire to cripple our expansion into space from the 1980s up until now.
I find it interesting that these milestones are given short shrift on the regular news sites (BBC, NPR, Guardian, Reuters, etc). Perhaps I’m still stuck back in the 1960s and early 1970s, when every launch was something more grand than today. But no matter. We’re really headed back into space now, critics all around not withstanding.
I voted today in the Democratic primary for Bernie Sanders. Why I did I wrote about the day before. Today was the day to “walk the walk.” I’m now curious to see how the candidates fare, both Republican and Democrat. I have no idea how the Republican side may vote, but on the Democratic side, all I can say is this: I hope that if Clinton does win, it’s by a far tighter margin than the polls indicate. The polls have been a mess this election season on both political parties, especially the Republican side. It’s going to be an interesting wait until the polls close…
I’m deeply disappointed in, but not surprised by Clinton’s wins today, especially in Florida. I’m also not surprised by how Rubio got smoked by Trump. Because Rubio won’t run for re-election, there’s the possibility a Democrat might get elected as Senator. You never know.
And I was pleasantly surprised by Kasich’s win in Ohio. Kasich’s win is a solid smack upside Trump’s overcombed head. I’m hoping against hope that Kasich does become the Republican nominee, but that’s even less likely than Sander’s becoming the Democratic nominee.