It is a sunny Wednesday in Cape Canaveral, Florida, and the space shuttle Atlantis has just returned from a mission in outer space. Time to kick the tires, clean the windshield and check the oil--literally and figuratively.
In early March, NASA signed a contract with the local Jiffy Gas & Wash in Cape Canaveral to have "all their vehicles" washed and gassed for one uniform charge per vehicle. At the time, it seemed like a great deal for Jiffy's owner, Brion James.
"They were giving me $30 a car for a wash, dry and vacuum," says James. "I was ecstatic because they were bringing in like ten cars a week. Then today, this thing pulls up." He casually points to the space shuttle.
Atlantis has been on a week-long mission to collect space bugs, or rather, microbes that live in outer space. This particular mission was extremely messy as they had to fly through colonies of the bugs in order to capture some in the shuttle's collection tubes.
"It got pretty bad at times," states Captain Geoff Marin, lead shuttle pilot on this mission. "We plowed through swarms of bugs every day just to get enough for the geeks back in the labs. Twice, we had to spacewalk to clean off the windshield." He looks toward the employees assembling ladders at the shuttle's base and shakes his head. "They'll earn their money today."
Brion James is locked into the contract for three years but has expressed interest in pursuing a contract dissolution in court, citing technical references of pounds per axle.
Gorillas in the Miffed
Prague, Czech Republic (AP) - Researchers at the Prague Zoo have noted that their gorillas seem to be influenced by prudish Western ideals and habits. Over the years, the mammals appear to have become bashful about their bodies. The researchers blame the saturation of Western television and film.
Local Man Reties Shoes Twice in One Morning
Jonesboro, AR (AP) - Joey Tipperton, age 32, thought this was going to be just another Sunday. He thought he'd get up, think of a reason not to go to church, eat his cereal with milk, watch HGTV home improvement shows, then take a nap while avoiding mowing the lawn. He thought it would be a typical Sunday in Jonesboro. He was wrong.