Aircheck: Various Sources, 7/11/1979, The Fall Of Skylab

This was a bit of a big deal back in ’79, as the first American space station, Skylab, visited three times by crews in Apollo spaceships for several weeks at a time in 1973 and 1974, was coming back down to Earth. It’s orbit was allowed to deteriorate, leaving a big mystery as to where the ship would crash back on our planet.

I remember watching the bulletins and reports on TV as a seven year old two months shy of my 8th birthday, with Walter Cronkite anchoring on CBS, doing a few minutes on the latest developments every hour. I imagine the other networks did the same, this being the year before CNN took to the air.

They were hopeful that the space station would crash into the Atlantic, but it stayed together long enough to where parts of it crashed into the mostly barren portions of the Western Australia state of Australia. Pieces of it were put on televised display nine days later when the Miss Universe pageant aired from Perth.

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Gums Blazing

I had a tingling sensation in my mouth most of the last week which got noticeably worse on Friday. I was having some kind of either tooth or gum problem, and my ignorance of it allowed it to get to the point where it was waking me up whenever I attempted sleep.

I made the trek to Walmart at around 4am Friday morning, no doubt looking like a mad man as I scavenged up Gatorade, Ibuprofen pills, extra strength Listerine mouthwash, and Campho Phenique, just in case my diagnosis wasn’t correct. But somehow, the Campho Phenique got lost in the transition, because it wasn’t there when I opened up my bag when I got home. It probably stayed on the asphalt parking lot as I headed back. Crumb!

By later on the morning, it felt like I had smuggled a very small egg in the left side of the mouth, and nothing I tried was working. I was trying to avoid going to the doctor for it if at all possible, mainly because in the early 2000’s I had a similar problem on the right side of my mouth and was able to solve it, and if I can solve it then, certainly I can solve it now. On this Friday before Memorial Day, I couldn’t just remember what it was I did years ago.

How do I get the swelling down before I start looking like the Elephant Man? Pouring through Google, I found the answer.

When I did, I thought to myself, “You put ICE on the swelling, dummy!”

Doing that once in a few hours finally got the swelling down and the pain level WAY down, and I was able to sleep well into Saturday morning after being awake for all but 2 hours and a couple of catnaps over a 36 hour period. I watched my Rays lose to the Yankees 4-1 on Friday night, but fell asleep several times during the game. something baseball rarely does to me.

Saturday was a vast improvement, the swelling is still there a bit, but is reducing every time I apply an ice pack to it. The pain level is barely there now. Can’t believe I couldn’t remember to do that all of the time I was hurting.

A Day Of Bolts And Rays

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My eyesight isn’t what it used to be, so when Chris Johnson of the Miami Marlins hit a homer to our section, self-preservation kicked in. So I ducked…

Thursday wound up being a very busy day for me, but one of those “busy” days I really didn’t mind at all.

I scored tickets to the Rays-Marlins Thursday afternoon game at the Trop, a few short weeks after going to see the Rays play the Indians on yet another Thursday. This time, me and my mother (an avid baseball fan whose childhood hero was Duke Snider) sat in Section 143, the left field bleachers. We thought we might get lucky and catch some home run balls, and sure enough, two landed in my section, one hit by Chris Johnson of the Marlins, the other by Brandon Guyer of Tampa Bay. It was not much of a game, with the Marlins winning 9-1. We left in the 8th inning when Miami built up a lead of five runs, which I usually use as an indicator that the outcome had been decided. I was home before the game even ended!

I did pick up a memento in the way of a book: Position To Win by Dewayne Staats, the Tampa Bay Rays television broadcaster. In fact, he’s the only principle TV play-by-play guy in Devil Rays/Rays history with the franchise in its 19th season. When I’m done reading the book, I’ll review it here in a blog entry.

At night, the Lightning-Penguins game took center stage, and as you know by now, it was the Bolts swan song for the season, as Pittsburgh got the 2-1 win to become Stanley Cup finalists.

A lot of fans I see on Twitter and Facebook love to talk smack with fans from other teams, but I don’t intentionally try and do that 99% of the time. What does it prove? I have no problem congratulating the other team when they win, because the world of sports is a zero-sum enterprise. Somebody always loses when somebody else wins, and if isn’t your day, there’s always the next game, or season.

Personally, I was proud of what the Bolts did this year. When Ben Bishop got hurt in Game 1, everyone feared that they’d get beat four straight. Instead, we took the Penguins to the last game, and only lost to one goal. They never quit, it was just time that out on them.

20 Items Or More

It was another trip to Walmart on an early Wednesday morning, getting to the store just before sunrise at 6:30.

Why do I always talk about my Walmart trips? They’re like snowflakes. No one trip to the store, no matter what the hour, is like any other trip to Wally World. Each trip is like its own individual experience. I might get the same thing every time I go, but the list is never same. The impulse buys are never the same either, as they are masters of placing something in the store, it’s mere location setting off some kind of psychological enticement, kind of like how Facebook plays games with your head.

The store I visit in Pinellas Park made a major change if you pay by debit card, as I often do. You no longer swipe your card in the slot of the right side of the card machine. It recognizes if you have a chip in your debit card (mine does), so doing things the old familiar way can’t be done. You have to stick your card in the slot in the bottom of the machine, which is how most stores do business these days. I find it a bit of a pain, but it’s one of those things done for security purposes.

I went to checkout this morning, and I was pleased to see that unlike my last blog entry a few weeks back, they had a register open that wasn’t restricted to 20 items or less. Not only that, they had a lady at the register AND a lady who bagged the groceries for me, as I was the only one in line. While that’s good in some respects, it keeps me busy most of the time because you’re putting things on the moving counter AND you usually have to bag things quickly after all of that effort.

When I go early and amble out of Walmart, I sometimes notice I’ve worked up a tiny bit of sweat. With summer time near, maybe I should just go at more normal times.

Elimination Game

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The Tampa Bay Lightning made history last year when they became the first area franchise to be the finalists in two separate seasons of their respective sport. Last night, they looked to break their own record against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Tampa’s Amalie Arena. Leading three games to two in the race to four wins in a best of seven series, they needed just one win in the next two games to make it back to the Stanley Cup, where Pittsburgh needed a win in Game 6, then again in Game 7.

An apparent goal scored by Tampa Bay early was later nullified when a video replay challenge Pittsburgh lodged showed that the officials should have declared Tampa Bay offside before the goal was scored. Instead of a 1-0 Bolts lead, the score remained 0-0.

After that, it was all Pittsburgh. A 3-0 lead was cut to 3-2 in the third period, giving the Lightning fans in Tampa some considerable hope. But, the Penguins answered with a goal with about two minutes left followed by an empty net goal moments later, and the lead was quickly back out to three at 5-2. It stayed there as the final horn sounded.

The series is now even at 3-3, making Thursday’s game the decider. The Lightning, as they did last year, need a win in Game 7 on the road.