From: Bob Rankin
Subject: TOURBUS - 01 Sep 2005 - Pluto / Katrina
Today's TOURBUS comes to you from Patrick in southern California, where it never rains, with just a bit of editorial help from Bob in sunny Tillson NY, where the sun always shines and everyone is happy, and there are no run-on sentences, ever.
Over the past few years Tourbus riders have had the opportunity to
smash their names into the surfaces of two heavenly bodies. Back in
March of 1998 we showed you how to add your name to a CD-ROM that was
placed onboard NASA's Mars Polar Lander. Unfortunately, the Polar
Lander was destroyed after encountering a large, white, singing
monolith on the surface of Mars on December 3rd, 1999. [Or something
like that.] And in November 2003 we showed you how to add your name
to a CD-ROM that was placed onboard a JPL spacecraft that crashed
[quite spectacularly, I might add] into Comet Temple 1 on July 4th,
Completing the 'send your name to space' trifecta, Johns Hopkins University's Applied Physics Laboratory [ http://jhuapl.edu/ ] recently created a page that lets you send your name to Mickey Mouse's dog, Pluto.
Oh, wait. That's wrong. Actually, Hopkins and NASA plan to launch a spacecraft in 2006 that will pass by the *planet* Pluto in 2015. It's a fascinating mission, and you can read more about it or add your name to the spacecraft's payload, here:
Just key in your first and last names. That's it. No email, snail mail, or credit cards required. It doesn't cost you anything to sign up, and you even get a pretty cool color certificate to hang on the wall. [My certificate is hanging right beneath the light switch in my office, the light switch that says "Librarian" on it: http://netsquirrel.com/assets/light_switch.jpg ]
As you already know by now, Hurricane Katrina struck the southeastern United States early Monday morning. Up to one million people are homeless and millions more are still without power. Experts predict the hurricane will likely become the worst natural disaster in United States history.
Every major news organization in the US and many others around the world is covering this developing story, and once again our friends at Yahoo Full Coverage are on top of the story. You can find their Hurricane Katrina page at
This page is a collection of news articles from the AP and Reuters as well as from CNN, the Biloxi Sun Herald, the New Orleans Times- Picayune, and so on. In times of crisis, Yahoo's Full Coverage is always one of the first sites I visit.
Another helpful resource for information about Monday's hurricane and its aftermath is Wikipedia's Hurricane Katrina article at
A great deal of attention is also being paid to what's happening in New Orleans as we speak, and Wikipedia has a New Orleans page at
It is hard to look at the images from the American southeast and not want to do something to help the relief effort. The United States Federal Emergency Management Agency has a list of reputable agencies that desperately need your help:
Every time there is a disaster, scam artists crawl out of the woodwork. [See http://tinyurl.com/96c2t] The United States Federal Trade Commission has a free article on how to avoid becoming a victim of charity fraud:
As long as you stick to the organizations on FEMA's page, you can feel safe that your donations are going to those who truly need it the most. And on a personal note, my thoughts and prayers go out everyone impacted by this storm, especially to my friends in Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana.
Linda from Marlinton, West Virginia recently wrote and said "The next best thing to Tourbus is the Smart Computing magazine that you guys recommend. I've been getting it since last summer and it has solved numerous problems for me and my friends." Thanks, Linda!
We hope other Tourbus riders will discover the Plain English answers to their computing questions that Smart Computing delivers every month. Do you want to speed up your PC? Eliminate the threat of computer viruses? Get rid of spyware and keep hackers out? Try Smart Computing today -- get your FREE TRIAL issue NOW!
That's all for now, see you next time! -- Patrick Crispen