Monday, January 30, 2023

Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay

Going aboard the Gray Ghost, with San Francisco in the background. The Hornet is berthed in Alameda, where they (used to) keep the nuclear wessels.

Karen and I spent the day at the USS Hornet Museum, and a nippy but unusually crystal-clear day it was. San Francisco, across the Bay, looked close enough to touch. 

THERE'S the City across the Bay! She's a beauty.

As I might have mentioned once or a hundred times, my daughter Laura is the COO of the Hornet, a retired aircraft carrier that is now the coolest museum in the Bay Area. Karen visited today because the Hornet is looking into what kind of services it could provide in a disaster, and Karen is an expert in that. Personally, I can't think of a safer disaster shelter than an aircraft carrier--immune to earthquake, firestorm, tidal waves, whatever you've got, plus hundreds of bunks already installed--and it's my personal zombie-apocalypse destination. 

I went today because years ago I built a "Gravity Box" for the Hornet's Apollo Mission exhibition. It has two handles visitors can pull to see what 24 pounds on Earth would feel like on the Moon. (I won't keep you in suspense: 4 pounds. Also, the Hornet has an Apollo exhibition because it's the ship that picked up Apollos 11 and 12 from the Pacific Ocean.) It was past time to refurbish the box, which has had a lot of love that, most notably, eroded away much of the trim that held the top of the box together. The first generation of trim was PVC, which didn't stand up well to thousands of legs and little bellies rubbing against it. Worse, when the PVC disintegrated, it left little finishing nails sticking out. The main goal of today's work, besides a general inspection and cleaning, was to replace the old trim with aluminum L-bracket that I expect to hold up better.

[Sidebar: designing stuff to hold up to thousands of uses, including some people abusing it in ways you can't imagine, is a real skill. I don't know how people at places like Disneyland do it. Respect.]

Part of the Apollo Mission exhibition, with the Gravity Box at lower center.

My Gravity Box pre-refurbishment. Notice especially how the bottom piece of trim has disappeared. The rest of the trim was no great shakes, either. There's also a fine powder of sawdust where the handles enter the box due to thousands of mighty piston strokes.

And post-refurbishment, cleaner and more durable, I hope.

Karen's work took a couple of hours more than mine, which left me a lot of time to explore the ship and lounge in the sun on the flight deck. It wasn't crowded; at one point, I had the whole deck to myself. You should go visit and make it more crowded. If you're lucky, you'll get a day as beautiful as mine.

The hangar deck's got planes and helicopters and spaceships and Airstream trailers, oh my!

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