Travel To Mars & Manic Cats


When the caveman and I head south for an Amazon jungle escape in his homeland of Peru, we first have to endure a six hour flight from Houston. Since we are not made of money, we do not fly first class. And so far, I have yet to find an airline with a cuddle section in coach. Also, because of the horrible pollution in Peru’s capital, Lima, it’s location along the Pacific coastline and it’s coastal desert climate, there are only certain times of day that are suitable for flights because of smog and fog. The airport is active at night. So, getting there is not so bad. We can leave at a decent hour in the afternoon and arrive sometime after dinner. However, I have never been able to find any other flight back to the states that is not scheduled in the red-eye hours. This makes homeward air travel a grouch inducing event.

The gringa’s return trip experience usually goes something like this:

  • 10pm – Arrive at the airport
  • 12am – Settle into my airplane seat
  • 12:30am – Take off and read until I’m sleepy
  • 1:30am – Attempt to go to sleep which involves my travel neck pillow hanging in front to avoid the forward head bob which usually never really works so eventually I dig out a scarf and tie my head to the headrest
  • 2am – After tying my head to the headrest, I now have to pee after all the bending and twisting has tortured my bladder.
  • 2:15am – Re-tie my head to the headrest after returning from the bathroom. Discover I am wide awake. Untie my head and begin to read.
  • 3am – Tie my head to the headrest and try to sleep which involves fits and spurts of dozing off then those little jumps a body makes as you merge into deep REMs, wake up frightfully scared then embarrassed, need to pee again, blah, blah, blah.
  • 5am – Flight attendants come around with breakfast and I give up completely on sleep since now there is food involved.
  • 6am – Arrive in Houston where I am an absolute grouch until I collapse in my bed when I get home.

And that’s a “good” trip. One time we went and the air conditioner vent, those little circular doo-hickies up where the reading lights are that can pivot around? Well, the passenger in front of me had his on full blast and every now and then it would start spitting ice out and the angle was perfect for me getting shot in the eye about every thirty minutes or so. Just long enough for me to let my guard down, thinking that the other time it happened was just a fluke, then, “BAM”, right in the eye again. Oh, boy, I tell ya the gringa was spitting mad.

Then there was the time these three brothers were traveling together and they were all drunk as skunks. They wouldn’t stay in their seats. They would stand up, arms around each other, sing songs in Spanish, sometimes Portuguese, then hug and cry. I don’t know what they were singing about, maybe about their women that left them because they were loud and obnoxious drunks, but, eventually, one of them got sick right in front of the poor lady that was seated by the emergency exit. You how those seats that have all that extra space in front of them in the middle of the cabin? Yeah, he walked right over there and heaved. Then the lady screamed, jumped up, stepped in it, got so upset, tried to yell, gagged, then she puked. The flight attendant’s solution? Scatter a bucket of coffee grounds over it. Yeah, good times.

Which brings the gringa to the hopeful news out of NASA. I’m talking about their groundbreaking laser propulsion system. They are claiming that if the technology works, eventually crews could reach Mars in a matter of days. I’m guessing if that technology was put to use to get me to Peru a trip would be about as fast as Star Trek’s transporter technology. That sounds sensational to the gringa. No more dodging ice pellets or dealing with drunks or tying my head to the headrest and arriving home grumpy as a mad, wet cat.

So how does this laser propulsion business work? Scientists have known for some time how to propel objects at light speed. The reason this is not done with current spacecraft is because they are too heavy. Their weight creates all kinds of complications. Laser propulsion takes liquid fuel cargo out of the picture which drastically reduces the weight making light speed, then, a possibility, or at least a quarter of light speed a possibility. At that rate, a spacecraft could reach Alpha Centauri within 15 years. That’s a star about four light years away.

With that in mind, then, a spacecraft that weighs about 100 kilograms/220 pounds could reach Mars in about six months, give or take a couple of months either way. So, to get serious about space travel, we’ve got to speed up transit time.

The laser propulsion system is called “photonic” propulsion, but laser just seems a word most people immediately can visualize. When I think of laser propulsion, I envision spacecraft zipping through the skies like a flash of light and all the cats on Earth will end up with manic disorders. Many will injure themselves attempting to launch through windows at the laser light displays crisscrossing the skies. There may be troubling and dangerous times ahead for cats and cat lovers. But, heads up to the gringa’s more innovative readers. This could lead to a niche market in cat care products for kitties that are suffering from spacecraft laser related mania.

But, I digress, to get back to how it all works… rather than one giant laser shooting a spacecraft off into the heavens, multiple lasers would propel an aircraft. Multiple amplifiers would then combine the power of the individual laser to create a singular beam powerful enough to propel the craft. And, guess what… the technology already exists! Scientists and researchers only need to develop and test the technology with actual aircraft and spaceships.

Scientists and engineers are very excited because they know this idea will work. They have small amplifiers that are about the size of a school book. What they really want is an array of amplifiers floating in orbit around Earth in a six-square-mile configuration. That’s what it would take to shoot a black-eyed pea to Alpha Centauri. Um, the gringa’s going to need a little more room than that on a trip to Mars. I’m just sayin’, ya know.

Although the necessary scope of how large an array really needs to be sounds absolutely outrageous, like, perhaps an array covering hundreds of square miles and orbiting the earth, scientists still believe it is do-able. And yet, with all of this good news, there is one little problem the scientists save to the last to mention.

That would be the sticky issue of how to put on the brakes. I mean, what good is it to send a satellite or probe blazing a light speed path through space if it can only pass through, never being able to slow down and click a couple of snapshots or collect some atmospheric gas samples or drop off a few passengers? It ends up just being a real expensive slingshot with old, highly educated kids playing around with it.

And, if a craft can’t slow down, how in the heck could it maneuver around space debris? That pea shaped probe will get obliterated the first time it comes up against a chunk of space ice the size of a nickel. So, the gringa says, “Well, scientists, sounds like you folks need to get back to the drawing board. At first I was very excited and now I’m just aggravated that you got me all excited for nothing. I am not interested in a light year speed fly-by to Mars or a light year speed crash landing suicide mission.”

That’s when the scientists remind us of another option. We could use the array for protection. Yes, we can zap asteroids and space debris that threaten Earthlings. See, I told you Earth cats are in for it.

 

Source: http://www.nasa.gov

image source:   http://www.spoki.tvnet.lv

 

 

 

Advertisements

Handcrafted From Peru


The caveman and the gringa traveled to Peru in 2013. We wandered to a beautiful town at the foot of the Andes called Chosica. It has a reputation of having sunshine year round and the coldest damn river running through town from the snow melts up in the mountains.The caveman played soccer there in his younger days and we were on a mission to find an old soccer buddy.

We wandered streets in the old neighborhood (hills, mind you, up and down for hours) knocking on doors and asking people if they knew “So and So”. They would point us in a direction and off we would go. From the many people we met in the streets and asked, we finally got lucky. A very friendly drunk fellow knew just the house we were looking for. I think he got confused and took a couple of wrong turns but we eventually got there. The caveman’s friend wasn’t home but we chatted with his daughter and exchanged phone numbers and addresses. We thought we would try again later.

Although we were exhausted from traipsing up and down “suburbia” for hours, we walked back to the town’s main attraction, a large, beautiful park. We visited the park and it was filled with people. We drank fresh pressed sugar cane juice and viewed the icy river rushing under a walk-over bridge. We saw an enormous statue of Jesus with a walk-under waterfall. We enjoyed some talented street performers, one of which played this beautiful handcrafted harp.

Eventually we called his friend but it was impossible for us to all get together that night. It would take three more days of the caveman waiting anxiously until, the very day we were to leave, he was able to meet with his very best friend that he had not seen in almost thirty years. Everyone cried. The only way our trip could have ended more perfectly was if we could have packed him up and brought him home with us. But, at least they now know where each other are and can keep in touch.

One Lonely Egg


Out on a sandbar exploring the river in la selva de Peru and we stumble upon this one lonely egg. That is most definitely the caveman’s hairy foot with the egg and not the gringa’s.

Flowers or Death By Landslide


Lying on my back in the wet grass after a rainstorm in the Peruvian jungle, about two feet away from a forty foot drop into a raging river, with my heart in my throat imagining death by landslide, to take a picture of a beautiful flower. The caveman is in the background yelling, “What the hell are you doing?” The gringa is not in her right mind sometimes.

Dug-Out Canoes and Memories of Grandfather


My caveman and I deep in the jungles of Peru, in “la selva”. As a boy growing up he remembers his grandfather, from time to time, making a dug-out canoe just like these. His grandfather would take the caveman and his cousins out on the river and toss out some kind of explosive. Then he would tell the boys to dive for the fish. No playtime until dinner was gathered!

Peru Trip, 2008


Monday, Wednesday and Friday, the gringa publishes her thought provoking articles. I’ve decided the rest of the week, in order to keep myself busy (which keeps me out of trouble), I will publish some of my favorite photos. The caption for the above photos is:

My caveman and oldest son, back in 2008, collecting fresh coconuts from abuelito’s ranch in la selva (the jungle) de Peru.