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May 2nd, 2022:

Interview with Janet Dudding

Janet Dudding

When I first made plans to do interviews for the Democratic primary runoffs, I thought I’d interview both candidates in the races I picked, as my mission in doing these interviews is to help voters like myself figure out the best choices. But as I sometimes do in other contexts, I consider it a better use of my time and yours to curate who I interview. That was a deciding factor for the Comptroller runoff, where it was clear to me that Janet Dudding was the stronger candidate, and so I chose to just interview her. Dudding is a CPA who relocated to College Station with her family following Hurricane Katrina. She worked for the city of College Station and for Texas A&M before retiring and getting more involved in politics. She was a candidate for HD14 in 2020 and is currently president of the Texas Democratic Women of the Brazos Valley. Here’s what we talked about:

As before, you can see a full list of my interviews and a whole lot more info about the Democratic candidates on the Erik Manning spreadsheet. It was my intent to do more runoff interviews, but life caught up to me and I just didn’t have the time. I’ll have more for November.

Rich guys back from space

What goes up, must come down.

The first all-private crew to visit the International Space Station landed in the Atlantic Ocean on Monday, completing the first mission a Houston company organized as a precursor to building its own space station.

Axiom Space brought home its four-person crew at 12:06 p.m. CDT. Larry Connor, 72, Mark Pathy, 52, Eytan Stibbe, 64, and Michael López-Alegría, 63, spent 17 days in space, including 15 days living and working alongside NASA astronauts on the International Space Station.

Their mission was originally planned for 10 days, with eight days on the space station, but bad weather at the landing site off the coast of Florida helped extend the trip — giving the crew their millions of dollars’ worth with a few extra days in microgravity.

This mission, Ax-1, is the first of many missions planned by Houston-based Axiom Space. The company is sending paying customers to the International Space Station to generate revenues and learn how to operate in microgravity. It plans to launch the first segment of its commercially owned and operated space station in late 2024.

“It’s like the first chapter of many chapters,” said Axiom Space co-founder Kam Ghaffarian. “A beginning of many beginnings. We will have private astronauts going to space as part of democratizing low-Earth orbit and creating this new ecosystem.”

[…]

The men wanted to set a good example of what everyday citizens can do in space. They tried not to be a nuisance — their presence expanded the station’s crew to 11 people — and they contributed to a database examining how commercial astronauts (who may or may not be as fit as NASA astronauts) react to microgravity.

Houston’s Translational Research Institute for Space Health, a NASA-funded organization at the Baylor College of Medicine, is collecting this data. Connor is now the oldest person to participate in the database. And last year, the organization gathered information from a childhood cancer survivor who went into space on the Inspiration4 mission.

“The diversity here is key,” said Dr. Emmanuel Urquieta, chief medical officer for the Translational Research Institute for Space Health. “They really provide the data that we need to know so we can safely send any human into space.”

Before and after their mission, the crew had their eyes examined and provided physiological data, including heart rate variability and blood oxygen saturation. They also used tablets to participate in cognitive tests and sensory motor tests. The latter could help researchers understand who might get motion sick and how that might be prevented.

“This one is absolutely critical,” Urquieta said. “If you get space motion sickness, you’re going to be feeling bad for pretty much half of your mission.”

See here for the background. As someone who occasionally suffers from motion sickness, I applaud them for adding to the research, from which I hope to benefit some day. As I said before, better them than me.

May 2022 special election Day Seven EV report: Hey, this thing is almost over

As of today, there are just two days of early voting left for the May 2022 election, whether regular or special depending on who you are and what you may have to vote for. Election Day is on Saturday, so early voting ends on Tuesday, leaving the usual three days in between. I can just about guarantee you that if you show up to vote – you do have the two constitutional amendments on your ballot, no matter where you are – you will be in and out promptly. How do I know? This was my experience at the Metropolitan Multi-Service Center on West Gray on Saturday:

I was in and out in less than two minutes. Seriously, this will take you no time at all.

I expect these amendments to pass without any difficulty, so it’s not of vital importance what you do there. What is of greater importance for Harris County voters are the special elections, the school board and school bond elections. There’s the HD147 special election and the HCC special election, and I’ve seen diddly squat in terms of coverage for them. The Chron hasn’t even bothered to endorse in the HCC special election, which to me is a real dereliction of their duty. You can at least listen to the interviews I’ve done with the candidates and make up your own mind based on them. For HD147:

Jolanda Jones
Danielle Bess

For HCC2:

Charlene Ward Johnson
Baby Jayne McCullough
Kathy Lynch Gunter
Terrance Hall

There will be a runoff for HCC, so at least there will be a second chance to get to know who’s running. But really, why wait?

Here’s the EV daily report through Saturday, which is Day Six despite what the title of this post says. I didn’t feel like waiting until the Sunday report came in last night to finish this post, so there you have it. As of Saturday, 47,503 people had voted in Harris County, with 24,482 of those being in person and 23,021 by mail. Saturday was the tipping point for more in person votes than mail votes. I still have no idea how many mail ballots have been rejected. I will continue to keep an eye out for that. Have you voted, and if not do you intend to?