News & Notes
Last night I went out to the seawall at Fort Monroe to see if I could see the Space Shuttle Discovery as it headed away from the Kennedy Space Center towards it’s link up with the International Space Station. I was out on the fishing pier, scanning across the Chesapeake from Norfolk to Virginia Beach just before the launch time (2047 Eastern). I had my PRO-548 monitoring the 2M repeater up in Gloucester where WB7URZ, Randy, was giving out a running commentary of the launch to those of us trying to catch a glimpse “Main engine start, she’s on the way”. I was quite cold and the wind was strong, biting my ears and exposed fingers. Word was passed – Discovery was on her way. I wasn’t quite sure what I was looking for…. a streak of light? Crackling over the scanner was Randy saying he didn’t see anything and another ham also saying he wasn’t see anything either. The wind was consistently sapping my internal heat… I saw lights from a helicopter, lights from aircraft… the stars… the constellation Orion was above Virginia Beach. I turned and started walking back towards the truck. Then I saw it…. a bright dot of light, moving from south to north about 10 degrees above the horizon…. moving fast! The scanner crackled, “I see, do you see it?!”… “Cool”… the bright dot continued it’s movement, flickered, and diminished in brightness. “She just dropped her external engines….” And across the horizon, getting fainter, the dot continued.
Other news… I tried my first bottle of beer from my first attempt at brewing. I had four bottles in the fridge that have been cooling, one I had added brown sugar, two I had added white sugar, and the last was half and half. I forgot to label what was what. I pulled out a bottle and brought it over near the sink. Wasn’t sure what would happen… would it explode with too much carbonation? I popped of the lid slowly… I could hear the carbonation being released. That was a good sign. It didn’t explode. I poured the bottle’s contents into a glass… it looked like beer. Light golden in color, slightly cloudy (like the book said). Not much carbonation. A little bit of bubbles on top, but not much. I tasted it. Cool, beer-like. But not quite right. I took the glass and sat down. I looked at the color… the color was good. I smelled it. Slight vinegar smell (which the book said meant that something got dirty during the process). It kind of had more of a hard cider taste. My guess is that this bottle had all brown sugar. I’m going to try another beer today and see if the experience is different. I also want to mix another batch of a different flavor and get it going.