March 26, 2008

Night Sounds

We live in Orlando, you know, the city where dreams come true. For several years, we stayed in an apartment located just two traffic lights away from Mickey Mouse's door. Every night we would hear a cacophony of fireworks explosions from Epcot, Magic Kingdom, or Downtown Disney. (Every now and then we would hear heavy walking and late night furniture rearranging from the neighbors upstairs.)

Fireworks are exceptionally loud during holidays like the eve of the 4th of July or New Year's. They usually last about 10 to 15 minutes, so they won't really keep you up. If they ever wake you up, especially the finale super-explosions, you quickly realize it's the Disney fireworks giving all those breathtaken visitors the awe of their lives, and you promptly fall back asleep.

Since we moved to our new place last year, we have a different set of nighttime sounds. We now live about two blocks from Seaworld, where they also have fireworks, although not everyday, and not as loud as Disney's. And because the Orlando International Airport is just 15 minutes away, the traffic of airplanes can sometimes be heard in the stillness of the night.

But tonight, we heard a totally unusual sound. For a second it sounded like someone dropped a piece of furniture upstairs. Only thing is, there's no "upstairs" -- unless someone dropped something on our roof. It didn't quite sound like thunder... the weather was clear all day.

"What the heck was that?"

So, we paused the show we were watching and we stepped outside, looking around for whatever may have caused that thunderous explosion.

A neighbor was taking a stroll. She saw me walk out to our driveway and look up at the clear blue sky.

"You heard the sound of the shuttle," she called out, smiling.

"That was the space shuttle?"

"Yes, the sonic boom of the space shuttle."

"Oh, wow! That's right! They're landing tonight! Thanks!" It was a huge "aha" moment for me!

So, there it was, our first sonic boom experience in all the years we lived in Orlando. Next time we hear a thunderous sound like someone dropped a piece of furniture "upstairs," we'll know to suspect it was another space shuttle announcing its arrival.

A news article said the Endeavor caused a "twin zonic boom" as it came in to land at the Kennedy Space Center. For more about the Space Shuttle Endeavor and its mission, and some tidbits about the International Space Station that's now 70% complete and gearing towards human expeditions to the moon:

http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/shuttle/main/index.html

March 19, 2008

New Articles: Aquarium Design and Decor

How to Design an Aquarium

Designing an aquarium, also called aquascaping, is one of the most exciting and challenging aspects of the fishkeeping hobby. The aquarium is a mini replica (or simulation) of the fishes' natural homes, which means utmost care must be taken in designing, preparing and maintaining the tank's elements and ecosystem. Here are some guidelines in designing a successful fish tank.

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How to Be Creative With Aquarium Decor

Aquascaping or decorating an aquarium involves the bringing together of various elements primarily to simulate the natural habitats of the resident fishes. Setting up aquarium tank d├ęcor is a basic task--and after you've done a few setups and seen others, they start to all look the same. How can you make your aquarium stand out? Here are a few suggestions.