Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year from the Bilbrey Boys!

We wish all of you, all around the world, a very happy and prosperous 2009!

Tonight, we had a small private party that was by invitation only...just for the Huntsville Bilbrey Boys...

What started out as good clean fun...

Loud and good clean fun...

Soon turned into an all out blow thingy war!

This has been quite a year for me...I can honestly say that this has been the worst year of my life. It has been a year filled with new experiences...some good, some bad. The worst was having to separate from my wife and the best was becoming a single Dad.

Also, for the first time in my life, I left the United States and traveled to another country...Spain. I would say that it was the trip of a lifetime, but I sure hope not...I hope there are many, many more to come.

In fact, I have already booked my next vacation...but it's a secret for now.

So long, 2008...don't let the door hit you where the dog should have bit you...

I know that 2009 is going to be awesome!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Christmas 2008

Please click on the pics to see the larger versions...

This was my first Christmas as a single Dad and I was looking forward to our yearly visit from Santa. My oldest, Kevin, knows the truth and my youngest, Eric, still it's quite a balancing act.

On Christmas Eve, me and the boys went to the Christmas Eve service at our new church. This is something that I have always wanted to do, but never did for one reason or another. The boys were well behaved and it was nice to sit down and focus on the real Reason for the Season...

When we got home, the boys dressed for bed and brushed their teeth in record time.

Before bed, we made sure to put out milk, cookies and carrots for Santa and the reindeer...on a Gator plate, of course!

The boys were in bed by 8:15pm and about 9:30 I went into the kitchen to fix myself a drink and Kevin lifted his head and said, "Has Santa been here yet?" I wondered if he was so sleepy that he believed again or if he was just asking if the gifts were there yet. I told him "no" and he said he was having trouble getting to sleep. I prayed with him and asked God to calm him down so he could go into a deep sleep...

Finally, at about 11pm, I decided the coast was clear and Santa made his visit...even with no chimney!

When I put the boys to bed, I told them not to wake me before 6am, but definitely not before 5:45am...and that if they woke up earlier, they could play with whatever Santa had left, but not to open any presents. Well, as expected, they woke me up at 5:45am...Kevin told me he had got up at 2am to see what Santa had left. He also checked out what was in his stocking. Then, supposedly, he went back to bed...but I wonder.

They boys each bought me a gift from a service at their school. Kevin bought me the glass dolphin and Eric got me the sailing ship...

We were done opening presents just before 6:15am...yes, everything I have has a Gator logo on it!

Before lunch, I took the boys to a big empty parking lot to try out their toys. Kevin with his skateboard...

And Eric with his new remote controlled Air Hogs jet.

At 6:30pm, their mom came to come get them so that they could have their second Christmas of the day...I was sad to see them go, but also so glad to have had them this Christmas morning.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Our visit to Mobile

My Granny Bilbrey is a very young 90 and last weekend I took the boys down to Mobile, Alabama to visit her.

It's always so nice to visit her and she is doing so great! She still does at least one crossword puzzle a day...I don't think I could complete one in a week. She lives in an assisted living community with her very own 2 bedroom apartment.

As you can see, the boys have fun playing outside

My Aunt and Uncle live in Mobile as well as my cousins and their families, so it's always nice to also see them. While we were there, they had a Christmas get-together and a good time was had by all...

After a few days it was time to head home and get ready for Santa's visit!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The 24 hour Business Trip...

Today we drove down to New Orleans for a quick one day trip. We are coming down here to shoot video of a new piece of equipment that is arriving at the Michoud Assembly Facility tomorrow. It will be used to produce major parts of the Ares I rocket.

When we come down here to South Louisiana, we have started staying at the downtown Marriott. We used to stay in Slidell, but by staying at the Marriott, we are on the edge of the French Quarter and the food is MUCH better!

Just up the street was a little restaurant that I had always wanted to eat at...

Tonight we had dinner at the Original Pierre Maspero's...this building dates back to 1788 and it is said that Andrew Jackson met with the Lafitte brothers here and planned the defense for the historic and epic Battle of New Orleans.

I had an aligator po-boy, a cup of chicken and andouille gumbo and a draft Abita beer...that is about as New Orleans as it gets! Needless to say it was delicious!

Here is the view of Canal Street from my room...

Last weekend I took the boys bowling...we aren't very good at it, but it's fun to roll heavy balls down a slick lane! The 8 pound balls the boys were using could barely knock the pins over!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

A lot of nothing...

I have wanted to write things here lately, but not much has been happening...

At work things have been slow and steady. I have been doing lots of little things that keep me busy but are quite boring. Travel has sort of been put on a back burner for the Christmas holidays...although I have been told that the first 3 months of 2009 will be quite busy. I know of trips to Detroit MI, Cleveland OH, Ogden UT, New Orleans LA and Los Angeles CA.

On a side note, I have been told that the NASA Ares Quarterly Progress Reports that we shoot and edit have been very popular on iTunes. They are up to #5 on the most popular podcast list!

How about my Florida Gators? When the Gators played in their first National Championship in 1995 I was overjoyed (although they DID get stomped by Nebraska...) Then they beat Florida State to win the 1996 National Championship and beat Ohio State in 2006 for their 2nd Championship.

Now they will be playing in their fourth Championship game against Oklahoma in Miami on January 8th, 2009. I missed the first 3 Championship games, so I looked into getting a single ticket for this one. way! The nose-bleediest of nose-bleed seats cost over $600! I will be watching the game in HD in the comfort of my living room...

I was driving home yesterday and someone rolled down their window and threw a fast food cup right out of the window. As the cup and ice hit the pavement I thought to myself, how does someone do that? I can not even imagine doing that! It boggles my mind...

I have been planning my 2009 vacation...I can't reveal the destination, but you can bet there will be sand, blue water and palm trees!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Soak at Doak!

How about those Gators!

They defeated the Florida State Seminoles 45-15 on a field that looked more like a swamp that the Gators home field...nicknamed "The Swamp"!

Here's my favorite quote from FSU coach, Bobby Bowden...

"It was a good tail-whipping, I didn't think they would beat us like that here. The last time we had a beating like that was last year against them."

This victory makes it 5 in a row over "that school out west".

Now that Gators play the number 1 team in the country, the Alabama Crimson Tide next Saturday for the SEC Championship and a trip to Miami to play in the National Championship game...

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Ares Quarterly Report # 10

Here is the latest installment of the Ares Quarterly report that we shoot and edit at the Marshall Space Flight Center. This is our 10th that means we have been documenting Ares design and construction for over 2 1/2 years!

Hope you like it!

Ares Quarterly Progress Report 10 from AresTV on Vimeo.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Putting up the Christmas tree

Click on the pics to see the bigger version...

This year my boys and I put up our brand new tree a bit early. I have an artificial tree because...well because I have never had a real one before.

Because I am separated from my wife, we had to go out and practically buy everything from the tree and ornaments to stockings.

We went to a local store and I let the boys pick out the ornaments they wanted. Well, not every ornament...because if I had, there would be no money left for presents!

We made it with only 1 ornament breaking, so that's pretty good!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Why even do it?

Sometimes I wonder why I do this blog...

Is it historical...a record of my job and thoughts for my boys to read in the future?

Is it personal? A way for my family to keep up with me without daily contact?

Is it egotistical? "Hey everyone, look how cool my job is!"

I think it's mainly the first two, with a teeny-tiny touch of the third...

I have a tracking thingamajiggy that shows me the city, state and sometimes country of a person who surfs by and it is interesting to see where people come from.

Just the other day I had my first visit from someone at a University in Iran...which I thought was pretty cool and it's always exciting to have the Googlebot stop by...But still no one from Africa!

What I have discovered is that people all over the world seem to be drawn to a common topic...


I get so many folks who stumble across my blog by finding my Mythbusters blog posts back in January and February. Same thing on my top 10 viewed pics are all Mythbusters pics. What's the deal? People can't get enough Mythbusters!

Anyway...I thought I would try something new. Here are a few pics from a neat shoot back in 2000. We went down to the Talladega Superspeedway to shoot video for an episode of a show called NASA Connect. It was a kids show that always had a celebrity open the show and for this show we had Jeff Gordon.

In this photo, Jeff Gordon and our producer, Mick Speer, are discussing the lines Jeff will be reading to the camera, which I was operating.

We shot Jeff's lines for about 15 minutes and when we were done, I turned around and there was about 100 people surrounding us waiting for us to finish so they could get his autograph. He was nice enough to sign our press passes first and then we cleared out so the crush of people could move in.

After about an hour, Jeff was suited up and checking out his car...we needed some video of him racing, so I was permitted to go out and get some closeups before he went out on the track.

As you can see, the stands are empty because this was on the Thursday before the actual race...

As always, click on the little pics to see the big pics!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Boys First Gator Football Game


Last night I took my boys to their very first Gator game! Since graduating from U.F. in 1992, I have been to only 4 other this was an extra special game for me too. The boys were sick, with Kevin being sicker than Eric...but both boys absolutely did not want to miss this game! It didn't help that I had been hyping this game for months.

We arrived extra early so we could be there when the Gator football team arrived at the stadium...when we got there we came across the coolest 18-wheeler ever!

After a while the Gator band arrived with Albert and Alberta...We were lucky enough to get a picture with Albert!

Here we see the Gator band playing music and Albert and Alberta dancing...while waiting for the team to arrive...

Finally 5 o'clock arrived and the Gator football team arrived! Leading the team was the head coach, Urban Meyer!

The whole team passed right by me and the boys...literally inches away! We gave high-fives to most of the players!

After the team passed us by, we entered the stadium...only 2 hours until kickoff!

Here you see the boys watching the Gator team during their pre-warm-ups...

The 2008 Florida Gators during their pre-warmups...

Finally! Kick off! By this time we had eaten 2 cotton candies, 2 hot chocolates and a funnel cake!

One of many plays by the mighty Gators!

It was very cold, but the boys were troopers...

Although we left at halftime, we all had a great time! The Gators were up 35-0 and only scored one more touchtime after we didn't miss much.

All in all, it was a great evening...the boys had a great time. I would call that a great success! Next time, we'll see if we can make through the third quarter!