Sunday, December 4, 2022

Not Much...

It's a pretty slow news weekend which I've got to admit beats a lot of the alternatives.  If WWIII has started, you couldn't prove it by me.  TV, electricity and internet are all working, and there are no mushroom clouds over any of the nearby, likely targets.  Likewise, it doesn't appear that the world economic collapse has happened, and the news looks pretty much like SSDD (Same Shit Different Day).  Orion is still on its slow trip back to Earth, performing another course correction engine burn today, this time changing its velocity by a blistering 1.16 mph out of a cruising speed of 3,076 mph. Tomorrow it will make its closest approach to the moon on its way back to Earth.

That means some odds and ends.  Tonight, that will be about two videos I've watched that I can't embed here, including one I can't even link to.  But they're both good so go watch if you can.  

Here's the first one and it's something you can click on this link and watch.  The program is a half hour show about ham radio produced by the University of Montana's School of Journalism.  To borrow a blurb from the webpage just below the video:

Join us as we investigate the culture of Montana Amateur Radio Operators, or "hams", as they recount their admiration for the global Amateur Radio community.  This niche hobby has produced long-lasting friendships between radio enthusiasts around the globe, and has been a pastime of choice for much of their lives.  Produced as part of a new Certificate in Documentary Film program, by students in the School of Journalism and the School of Visual & Media Arts at the University of Montana, this short film takes an in-depth look at the particular ways in which amateur radio enthusiasts remain active both locally and globally.

Sure enough, the top of the page says MT PBS on it but these appear to be reasonable kids trying to learn what that ham radio stuff is all about.  That blurb says it's Montana Amateur Radio Operators and it features a handful of hams from the state.  The journalism students let the hams talk, don't interrupt, and don't bring up any absurd tangents or woke nonsense - pretty much as I'd expect Montana kids to behave, although I freely admit to being naive about Montana kids.  Content-wise, I thought it was well put together; while some of the stuff they talk about is technical, the emphasis was on what hams do and the people in the hobby. 

The other video is a documentary on the 2007 Mars Rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, called "Good Night Oppy."  The film is 1hr 45min long and is currently available on Amazon Prime as a free (or no extra cost) video. 

It is a documentary, after all, so aside from narration by a professional (Angela Bassett) it's a story about the Spirit and Opportunity rovers, the program that got them developed and to Mars, and many of the people who worked on the program are featured in it.  It's largely told by the people who actually did the things, with some well written narration to add to the story.  The two rovers were planned for 90 day missions.  Spirit had a somewhat rougher mission and lasted around five years.  Opportunity (Oppy) lasted nearly 15 years out of a three month mission.

Yeah, heartwarming, and they anthropomorphize the robots constantly but it also feels natural.  Any of you who have worked on major space projects will probably identify with it.  It's real and they keep the hard moments real.  Good Night Oppy won the #criticschoice Documentary Award for Best Science/Nature Documentary, November 13th.


  1. So, it's fair to say that Opportunity has passed?

    Sorry. I will give the documentary a watch, though.

  2. Angela Bassett? Huh:

    1. That's her. She just narrates it. If she appeared on screen, it was in a corner somewhere without them pointing her out. I really doubt it, since it was pretty much all either JPL archival footage or animations of the robots.

  3. I got my ticket some 15/20 years before Rod Newkirk's article in QST. At that time it wasn't an Elmer, but an Elmo that was the mentor to a person looking to obtain their Novice. "Elmo" (at that time, the early '50s) arose from St. Elmo's fire, the electrical aura seen at the top of a sail's mast prior to a lightning strike (also likely at the top of a ham's antenna mast) and was considered a good omen and helper.

  4. Nice video on MT hams.