Tuesday, 28 September 2004
|0036 - The third date on the air|
The third date was, as promised, a once-in-a-lifetime experience, especially for a space geek like me.
I knew in advance at least some of what this would involve. The producer called me a couple of days before and asked me if I'd be interested, and I said "hell yes". I wasn't disappointed, either.
I rode in the production van out to Burbank Airport, where things would start. I was introduced to my date, Carol, by no less a personage than Buzz Aldrin. Of course, I was in serious fanboy mode for that, and of course it showed on the air.
The first part of the date was a flight on Zero Gravity Corporation's G-Force One. It's a slightly modified 727 cargo aircraft that flies the same kind of microgravity parabolic flights as NASA's famed Vomit Comet. The program for the day was to fly two parabolas simulating Martian gravity, six simulating lunar gravity, and seven at microgravity (zero G, to the non-geek). After the introduction, Carol and I went inside. She got fitted for a flight suit, and the producer got them to agree to let me fly it in my costume. We were briefed on what would happen, and formed into teams that we'd stay together in during the parabolas.
The plan was to depart about 3 PM. Unfortunately, two problems, including a hydraulic leak, delayed our departure for four hours. We finally launched about 7 PM, as night was falling. It took about 20 minutes for us to climb out and get out to the area over the Pacific where the parabolas would be flown.
The first few were fun. Martian gravity wasn't bad at all, Lunar gravity was enjoyable...but the combination of the sudden changes in gravity (the recovery from one parabola and entry to the next is done at 1.8 G), and the maneuvering I was doing, caught up with me. I got sick about the third Lunar parabola. By the fifth, I was really out of it, and was led back to a seat and strapped in for the remainder of the flight. I got to experience microgravity mainly sitting down. Carol didn't have any problems, of course, and neither did the director who went along - though he told me later that one more parabola and he'd have lost it too.
I must point out here that the folks at Zero-G did everything they could to make it a fun experience for everyone. There were only three of us (out of about 30) who got sick, and they took good care of us. The flight plan is designed to minimize the effects of motion sickness; only those who are sensitive to it are usually affected. The rule of thumb is that it's like an intense roller coaster. If you can handle that, you'll be fine on their flight. As it happens, I'm sensitive to motion sickness. I knew I was going to get sick, and told the producer in advance of that - and also said "but don't let that stop you!" I'm glad they didn't. If they asked me to go flying with them tomorrow, I'd jump at the chance, even knowing how my body would react.
By the time we landed, it was 9 PM. We got nice framed certificates stating we were now Weightless Certified (dunno if that means anything, but you can bet mine will hang on the wall in a nice prominent spot anyway). We rode back into town, and to a karaoke bar named Dimples. There, I finally ate (I didn't eat before flying, knowing it wouldn't stay with me), and Carol and I relaxed and talked a bit. Then, the final bit: We got to sing a song I'd never heard before in my life, Air Supply's All Out of Love. The director's comment afterwards was that my "what the hell do I do now?" look was perfect. He pegged it: I had no idea what to do. Had Carol not carried the song largely herself, we'd have looked even more ridiculous. I'm relieved that didn't air.
After that, we went back to her hotel and dropped her off, and I went back to mine and collapsed. It was after midnight, and I was wiped out.
I'm sorry to say that Carol and I never really connected. This wasn't her fault, really; things just didn't go as planned, and by the time we got to talk, it just wasn't working. I'm truly sorry it came out the way it did. My big hope out of all of these is that the ladies involved have a good time, and I think it's my responsibility to see that they do. I blew it with this one.
The next date will air next week, I think. I'm taping another one later this week, and flying home Saturday. (rillaspins, I guess I'll have to catch up with you sometime next week, if possible.)
current mood: geeky
You are a prince among geeks, Mr. Jay. Great job tonight.
Wow, Buzz Aldrin. I'd have been all gaga, myself. I remember watching all the lunar TV coverage...
Unfortunately, sometimes folks don't connect for one reason or another, but making a new friend is never a waste. Besides, how many people can say they "hung out" in zero gravity with the Tron Guy?
Keep up the good work. You make all us on the geekier side of the scale proud.
Dang it... I missed it.. set out to watch ... didn't realize how wiped out I was after my day and dozed off in front of TV and woke up to the "music" of the band... did see you peaking up from behind the sofa at the end... mutters to self about forgetting to set VCR...
We'll get the 100 gigabyte hard drive installed shortly...then you can use MythTV to record. (Of course, the question is whether it will do the right thing when the show start time is delayed by a football game of indeterminate length. Any chance that you could ask Kimmel to avoid putting your segments on Monday, Jay? :))
This time I set the VCRs to start an hour later - and run the length of the tape, as usual - and managed to get the entire show somewhere in the middle of the tape. I have yet to watch (or skim) the whole thing. That's the good part. The bad part is that channel 5 added their graphic to the screen during your segment. [Insert rant about football and scheduling not being worked out despite years of data.]
You're living the Geek good-life, Jay. I'm envious, and will have to continue to live via proxy through you. :-)
I'll hand it to you - you are a great sport !
Fortunately, I caught your journal note and as it was caught the show. Way, way, too much fun. You're a great sport and it's a quality that jumps right out about you. Keep it up - and the sky won't even be your limit ! Please keep me posted for the next date - almost missed it. Hey by the way - did you get your glasses - tracker says they were shipped out? Carol seemed like a very nice person and I'm sure she's thrilled with her certificate too.
Re: I'll hand it to you - you are a great sport !
Right here is the best way to keep up with when things will air; posting here is the first thing I do after I find out.
The glasses arrived, in good shape. I'm looking at ways to use them now. Thanks.
That last pic made me chuckle....