To Forever and Beyond…

45th Parallel – Along I-75

This week’s New Yorker featured an article, The Plan to Make Michigan the Next Space State, touting Michigan’s burgeoning spaceflight industry that as of yet has not gotten off the ground. As with most of today’s modern spaceflight tales, at its center lies another billionaire, at least I assume that is what Tom Baldwin is. As a purportedly rather successful commodities trader, I think that that is a fair assumption. According to the article, Mr. Baldwin owns a Lake Superior property that hosts one of the largest log cabins in the world, called Granot Loma. I guess Shangri-La was already taken. Located lakeside, northwest of Marquette, this cabin is nestled within about 5,000 acres of shorefront property. Baldwin would like to see at least part of this property used as a vertical rocket-launch site, by the Michigan Launch Initiative. Sitting north of the 45th Parallel, this site could be used to safely launch satellites out over the lake and into polar orbits.

The Grand Tour

This initiative is looking at two other locations to be part of their effort. One is located down state, but Chippawa International Airport is slated to be this operation’s command-and-control center. Are we looking at a future upgrade for this facility to spaceport? “Final boarding call at gate-one-and-only for Mars, Jupiter and all planets beyond.” In this article Baldwin even hints at his openness to collaborating with another big billionaire space enthusiast, Elon Musk.

The Big Game

Sombre Helmet with Horses, Donald Robertson, 1952

This afternoon, the Michigan Wolverines, ranked 6th in the nation, came to East Lansing to face the Michigan State Spartans, ranked 8th. Both teams entered the game with identical, perfect 7-0 records for the season. Both teams entered the stadium undefeated, only one will leave like that. The game was broadcasted on Fox, which we could have watched over the air, but whether it was terrestrial weather or that G3 geomagnetic storm that is supposed to generate the aurora borealis tonight, maybe even far enough south for us to see here in Saint Louis, but the Fox broadcast was coming in all pixilated. Not to worry though, because we now have Direct-TV, which came in crystal clear over our Wi-Fi. The first quarter was all Michigan, aided by two State turnovers, for a 10-0 score. In the second quarter, the Spartans came back to take the lead, briefly, before falling back behind 23-14 at the half, but it could have been much, much worse. The second half was a see-saw battle, with the lead changing hands back-and-forth. In the end though the Spartans were victorious, 37-33. Go Green! Go White!

It was a Dark and Stormy Night

TV Test Pattern

We woke to no power. We were not alone, along with our hotel and Jane’s place, 700,000+ other households in Southeast Michigan were also without electricity. We missed being able to stay at Harry’s, what with his backup generator. He still had power at his new place. I showered in the dark, while Anne bathed by the light of her iPhone. Fortunately, the hotel hadn’t lost power until after seven in the morning, so there was hot coffee. I snagged the last cup. After checkout, we had to drive into town before we found a coffee place that still had electricity. After coffee, we swung by a UPS store to turn in the router that had been at Harry’s. It was a perfectly painless process. Not having anything else to do, we returned to Jane’s and called an Uber. The first one hailed took one look at us, drove on by us and decided not to stop. Maybe it was the Missouri plates or the four Trump bumper stickers on the car next to ours, I don’t know? The second Uber called did stop to pick us up. It’s driver had worked all night, 13 hours straight, and we were his last fare. He regaled us with horror stories from through the night. We got to the airport early, found an out of the way corner to sit, wrote this post and waited for our flight.

End of an Era

Emptying Out the House

We are in Ann Arbor tonight, spending our last night at Chez Harry’s, ever. As you can see from the photo, things have been significantly cleared out. Harry, Jane, et. Al. have done a monumental job of moving stuff out of the house. What stuff that is still in the house has a well-defined exit strategy that should be implemented by the time we return from up north. The night before and after our flights to and from Boston, we will be hoteling it. Harry should be proud of what he has accomplished, because earlier this week, while on a walk through the rich neighborhood that adjoins our little slum, we saw a very sad sight. A home there had a dumpster parked in the street before it and not one of those small dumpsters, but a walk-in one, as big as they come. Half-a-dozen people were carrying stuff out to it, in a seemingly never-ending fire bucket brigade. It was a sad sight to see, a sight that Harry has avoided in his own case.

Soon after we arrived in town, Harry whisked us off to his new place, All Seasons, which I keep wanting to call Four Seasons, as in the Philly lawn and gardening place, but that’s just me. It is brand new, has excellent curb appeal and at the moment is less than a third full. Dinner was excellent. Harry had the lamb chops, Anne had their Whitefish, which had a fancy Italian name, bronzini, and I had a filet minion. Like I said, the food was excellent, but the best part of the meal occurred after we were done eating. First one and then another and another resident came to the table to introduce themselves or rather reintroduce themselves. Invariably, their first question asked was are you Harry R? One, Gordon, Harry had hired as a French teacher lo these many years ago. Further, Harry also hired a woman, who later became Gordon’s current wife. The wife of another teacher friend later reintroduced herself by way of saying, “It really is a small world after all.” Cue the music, Jane. She still has a drink recipe that Harry had shared with her many years ago and has invited him over for drinks.