A Perfect Calm

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Well, today is my birthday. We are on vacation and are presently staying with our daughter and her family before heading up the west coast to visit our oldest son and his family. When we got here, our daughter said she was taking my birthday off work and what would I like to do on my birthday? My response didn’t take long: I’d like to go somewhere so I can shoot some photos. She asked where, and all I could think of was the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. She graciously agreed and so today we all piled in the car and headed into the city.

It was a nearly perfect day for shooting in the city: it was overcast with that San Francisco fog bank that sometimes lingers all day. The sky was “high” (meaning bright), but still overcast. I would have been nice if it had been a tad darker, but I surely couldn’t complain. When it’s been a loooonnngggg time since I’ve shot I sometimes forget how much I love photography and this was a perfect reminder.

We wandered around the garden shooting. Even though there were quite a few people there, I was reminded of the peace that can be found in a garden. I’m not into growing flowers, but I can appreciate a beautiful garden.

After we’d wandered the garden, we stopped by the little gift shop and while everyone else was inside, I wandered around looking for something else to shoot. And on the other side of the shop was where I found a stone boat with a bamboo fountain that poured water into it…and that’s where I got today’s shot.

Dang…I love photography!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1995, the American space shuttle Atlantis docked with the Russian space station Mir to form the largest man-made satellite ever to orbit the Earth.

This historic moment of cooperation between former rival space programs was also the 100th human space mission in American history. At the time, Daniel Goldin, chief of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), called it the beginning of “a new era of friendship and cooperation” between the U.S. and Russia. With millions of viewers watching on television,Atlantis blasted off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in eastern Florida on June 27, 1995.

Just after 6 a.m. on June 29, Atlantis and its seven crew members approached Mir as both crafts orbited the Earth some 245 miles above Central Asia, near the Russian-Mongolian border. When they spotted the shuttle, the three cosmonauts on Mir broadcast Russian folk songs to Atlantis to welcome them. Over the next two hours, the shuttle’s commander, Robert “Hoot” Gibson expertly maneuvered his craft towards the space station. To make the docking, Gibson had to steer the 100-ton shuttle to within three inches of Mir at a closing rate of no more than one foot every 10 seconds.

The docking went perfectly and was completed at 8 a.m., just two seconds off the targeted arrival time and using 200 pounds less fuel than had been anticipated. Combined, Atlantis and the 123-ton Mir formed the largest spacecraft ever in orbit. It was only the second time ships from two countries had linked up in space; the first was in June 1975, when an American Apollo capsule and a Soviet Soyuz spacecraft briefly joined in orbit.

Once the docking was completed, Gibson and Mir’s commander, Vladimir Dezhurov, greeted each other by clasping hands in a victorious celebration of the historic moment. A formal exchange of gifts followed, with the Atlantiscrew bringing chocolate, fruit and flowers and the Mir cosmonauts offering traditional Russian welcoming gifts of bread and salt. Atlantis remained docked with Mir for five days before returning to Earth, leaving two fresh Russian cosmonauts on the space station. The three veteran Mir crew members returned with the shuttle, including two Russians and Norman Thagard, a U.S. astronaut who rode a Russian rocket to the space station in mid-March 1995 and spent over 100 days in space, a U.S. endurance record. NASA’s Shuttle-Mir program continued for 11 missions and was a crucial step towards the construction of the International Space Station now in orbit.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: In 2007, a dog named Rocco discovered a truffle in Tuscany that weighed 3.3 pounds. It sold at auction for $333,000 (USD), a world record for a truffle. A Mir trifle, I say….

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4 thoughts on “A Perfect Calm”

  1. Mir trifle, haha! One cool thing about astronauts is the brotherhood that has no borders. Despite our political disagreements with Russia, the space programs are actually quite harmonious when working together. I suspect it’s because space flight is about research and exploration, not about military advantage or might.

    Happy belated birthday my friend, I hope all is well in your world and with your family! Let me know if you make it up to WA. ;-)

    1. Yeah…and from space you can’t see lines drawn on a map in arbitrary places…a reminder to us that we really are all in this together and need to figure out how to resolve differences without using bombs and bullets.

      Glad you got the Mir trifle….but I would expect nothing less from you!

      We will probably only make it as far north as White Salmon (just across the Columbia into Washington) on this trip. It would be fun to meet sometime though! If you ever get to Atlanta, be sure and give me a shout out!

      1. Will do! I have family in Atlanta that I haven’t visited in like 20 years, obviously we’re not close. But it might be an excuse to go. I think I’d probably spend more time there talking to you though. ;-)

        Enjoy your best-coast vacation sir! :)

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