So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
Ethnicity. that of my father and his father before him
Location Altadena, CA
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The Link To Zanzibar's Past
This is my page in the beloved art community that my sister got me into:
Extra points for people who know what Samarinda is.
The Phases of the Moon Module
The Tree and the Telephone Pole
I Do Not Know Their Names
Today I am Young
A Night Poem
Siren of the Sea
If I Were a Dragon
To the Dreamers Leave the Sky
The Honor of the Oyster
Return From San Diego
A Late Summer's Night
Of Dragons and Men
The Edge of the World
The Snake's Terror
Metaphysics and the Middaymoon
Of Adventures in Foreign Lands
The Rogue Wave: The Unedited Version
Adventures in the PRC
Voyage of Discovery
Drinking the Blood of Goats
Ticket for a Phantom Bus
Os peixes nadam o mar
Three Villages Far Away
The River Weser
Children I Should Have Kidnapped, Part I
Let's Get You Out of Those Clothes
If Underwear Could Speak
Croc Hunter/Combat Wombat
Only My Favorite Baseball Player EVER
Aw, Larry Walker, how I loved thee.
M: Science and Exploration
T: Cook a nice dinner
Th: Parties, movies, dinners
F: Picnics, the Louvre
S: Read books, go for walks, PARKOUR
Su: Philosophy, Religion
The Reading List
This list starts Summer 2006
A Crocodile on the Sandbank
Tales of the Alhambra (in progress)
Dark Lord of Derkholm
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
The Lost Years of Merlin
Harry Potter a l'ecole des sorciers (in progress)
Atlas Shrugged (in progress)
A Long Way Gone (story of a boy soldier in Sierra Leone- met the author! w00t!)
The Eye of the World: Book One of the Wheel of Time
From Magma to Tephra (in progress)
Lady Chatterley's Lover
Harry Potter 7
The No. 1 Lady's Detective Agency
Introduction to Planetary Volcanism
A Child Called "It"
Is Multi-Culturalism Bad for Women?
Americans in Southeast Asia: Roots of Commitment (in progress)
What's So Great About Christianity?
Aeolian Dust and Dust Deposits
The City of Ember
The People of Sparks
When I was in Cuba, I was a German Shepard
The Golden Compass
Clan of the Cave Bear
The 9/11 Commission Report (2nd time through, graphic novel format this time, ip)
The Incredible Shrinking Man
The Elves of Cintra
The Gypsy Morph
Animorphs #23: The Pretender
Animorphs #25: The Extreme
Animorphs #26: The Attack
A Journey to the Center of the Earth
A Great and Terrible Beauty
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
To Sir, With Love
Alice in Wonderland
Through the Looking Glass
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
The Hunger Games
Shadows and Strongholds
The Jungle Book
Beatrice and Virgil
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
No One Ever Told Us We Were Defeated
The Name of the Wind
Tao Te Ching
What Paul Meant
Lao Tzu and Taoism
Sand and Sandstones
Lost Christianites: The Battles for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew
The Science of God
Great Contemporaries, by Winston Churchill
City of Bones
Around the World in 80 Days, by Jules Verne
Stranger in a Strange Land
The Old Man and the Sea
Flowers for Algernon
Au Bonheur des Ogres
The Road to Serfdom
De La Terre à la Lune (ip)
In the Light of What We Know
Devil in the White City
The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August
How to Be a Good Wife
A Mote in God's Eye
want to read: Last Hunger Games Book, Honeybee Democracy, The Bell Jar
Friday. 3.15.19 8:40 pm
Conversations with my NASA Boy
Friday. 3.8.19 11:58 am
Me: I found a huge boulder in the side of the Moon pit. If we can wrap our tether around it, we can descend into the pit from the due West direction and intersect all the lava layers I want to measure.
Ben: Aw, you really want to go down that west side don't you?
Ben: But honey, we can't go down that side. It will be too hot!
Me: But I want to, babe.
Ben: Honey, do you want our rover to melt?
Me: My baby designed me a rover with a good thermal system that can go anywhere
Ben: No he didn't, babe. No he didn't.
Dancing in the Moonlight
Monday. 1.21.19 5:16 pm
When I was nine, my mother packed us all into the car and took us out to a meadow to dance in the moonlight. There was a meadow of prairie grass in a preserve across the street from our neighborhood. They were going to turn the preserve into a neighborhood for luxury houses, and my mother wanted us to have one last chance to revel in the wildness of the prairie before it was gone forever.
Let me tell you about my mother. My mother grew up wild and brave, riding her bicycle, exploring the neighborhood: a natural athlete with the spirit of a ten-year-old that has lasted throughout her adult life. She is a talented artist, with a studied eye for opportunities to make the world more beautiful. She has a tremendous gift for hospitality, remembering favorite things, delivering comforting foodstuffs, and transforming rooms from ordinary to extraordinary, lit with warm lights and a festive atmosphere. She combines her talents for art and hospitality to make every holiday come alive and sparkle with delight and excitement, from the place settings to the beauty of the food, to the magical lights that she sets to sparkle after darkness falls.
She dedicated the early years of our lives to raising us. She used to sit us up at the counter, three little girls in a row, to give us a snack and talk to us about everything. She took us to the museum, taught us to bake, quizzed us with flash cards and turned us outside to play in the rough-and-tumble outdoors. From her we learned to appreciate impressionist paintings, Greek myths, and the enduring beauty of classic literature. My older sister has followed in her footsteps, creating bakers and museum-goers with her own (soon-to-be three) little boys in a row.
I had the happiest childhood one could imagine.
When we got older, she returned to her profession as a librarian. From age ten onward, I watched as she climbed through the organization, building her skill set, taking on stretch assignments, until she was the Associate Director of the entire district. She applied her artistry and hospitality to turn her employees into productive teams and the library into a welcoming home. She applied her deep knowledge of the human spirit to encourage and develop everyone around her, and used the resources of the library and the internet to voraciously learn more. No matter her position in the organization, she used it to serve: diving in to help move furniture, bake brownies, imagine the future of the libraries, and give back to the community around her. When faced with my own professional challenges, I often fall back upon the many lessons we had learned along with her, vicariously, throughout her impressive career.
My mother is never the same person as she was the last time you met her. In the meantime she has taken a new course, learned a new skill, and invented new hobbies. One could call her many things: capable manager, loving protector, imaginative creator, loyal friend. But to me she will always be the woman knee-deep in the wild prairie grass, teaching her children to dance in the moonlight.
Shooting for the Moon and All That
Wednesday. 1.9.19 6:55 am
Well I'm in the middle of writing the science section of my Moon rover proposal, and I have come face to face with just how unprepared I am to write a proposal of this magnitude.
But as Aristotle once said, "For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them."
Monday. 1.7.19 10:23 am
My Speech to Congress About Space
Monday. 12.31.18 6:56 pm
This is the speech that I would give to Congress if ever I were to address them. :)
Members of Congress,
In in the course of a generation, there are moments that we all remember. Moments where everyone in the nation remembers exactly where they were, and what they were doing. What kinds of moments were these? The day the towers fell. The day John F. Kennedy was shot. Pearl Harbor. If you notice, most of these events are bad things. Everyone remembers precisely where they were because we were collectively horrified: filled with uncertainty about the future, horrified by the capacity of mankind for evil.
But there is another event that is collectively remembered by the members of a generation: the Moon landing, on July 24, 1969, of Apollo 11... an event remembered not only throughout the nation, but throughout the entire world. This is one of the only events in living memory when everyone in the world remembers what they were doing because they were electrified-- filled with wonder about the future, and electrified by the capacity of mankind for good! This moment is a moment that will be famous not just in a generation, but in a hundred generations-- in a thousand generations. It is a first unlike any other-- the first time humans went beyond our home planet and walked on the face of another world.
Since 1969, the consistent value of NASA, beyond satellites, beyond velcro and teflon, beyond LASIK and memory foam, is the consistent delivery of good news, the consistent delivery of wonder at God's creation, and consistent inspiration at the our increasing ability to grasp it, to explore it, and to reach it. I live in Los Angeles, and they've started launching more rockets from the Vandenburg Air Force Base. That's something that gets your attention! How extraordinary to live in a place where you can look up from your bedroom window and see a rocket launching into space! Every day, our constellation of missions beams down scientific data from the edge of the Sun to the edge of Interstellar Space! Every day, American innovation is illuminating the darkest corners of the Universe with the light of human knowledge!
As members of Congress, you have many things competing for your attention. There are mouths to feed, there are roads to build, there are alliances to defend. These are all important. So important, in fact, that I would say that 95% percent of all of our funds should be dedicated to them. 95% percent of our funds: dedicated to the here and now, to the near future, to the world's ever-pressing problems of hunger, and sickness, and disease.
But suppose that we spent 5% of these funds on the future... the far future. Suppose we spent 5% of these funds on something that will be remembered not only by a generation, but by a thousand generations.
When I ask you, Members of Congress, for the money to fund NASA's Mission to Mars, I am asking you to fund a moment that will reverberate through a thousand generations.
I hope you will consider our proposal.
Tuesday. 10.16.18 3:31 am
Today I woke up early and was in the shower by half past six. It was dark outside, and suddenly all of the lights went out.
So there I was, in the shower, no light to be found. I could barely see the dim outline of the window of the bathroom. As my eyes adjusted, I could see the square of my window a little clearer, until BAM! A SHADOW BLOCKED THE LIGHT! WTF! WHAT WAS OUTSIDE MY WINDOW!
I was a little scared, but I decided that it was probably nothing so I finished washing my hair and I got out of the shower. I mean... what else was I supposed to do? Turns out the lights cutting out and the shadow passing in front of the window were related-- it was a wind storm, and some kind of falling tree had cut out the power. The shadow in the window was a bunch of branches on my neighbor's tree.
There is only wind here about once a year, so it catches us off guard.
I was so distracted by the wind storm and power outage, I forgot that it was Monday and there was supposed to be a guy coming to replace my shower. I guess I'm glad he didn't come by when I was in it. Especially in the dark. So I forgot to leave a key for him or put away my dog.
I went to work, and I was being interviewed by a Brazilian TV station. They are doing a story about the movie "First Man" and they wanted to interview someone from NASA about what is going on right now regarding the Moon in the space program.
I was being interviewed outside the gate of the center, but the wind was so INSANE that the interview had to be stopped every few minutes as some other item would fall over or go whipping across the field of view. My poster of Mare Tranquillitatis, which was neatly wrapped in a tube, burst open and wrapped itself around the tripod leg of the camera. By the time we wrestled it back into a tube shape, it had torn in several places and gotten a bunch of bends in it. I didn't do a great job at the interview, either, because I forgot half of the names of the missions that our lab has going to the Moon, and the other half I wasn't sure if I was allowed to talk about on TV. Oh well--- hopefully it will only be on TV in the nation of Brazil and I will never have to see it.
The day was completely filled with meetings, and when I wasn't in a meeting, people were texting me about work related things. I guess I have a reputation for responding to texts faster than emails. But texts take longer to write.
In one of my meetings I learned that the wind had collapsed my friend's chicken coop, killing one of his chickens. :(
The wall that I had built, on the other hand, with lava rocks sticking out of it, stayed perfectly stable.
By the end of the day I had done nothing except accumulate more things that I was supposed to do. I went home and ate dinner and thought about all of them, and then got ready to go back to work for a late work-a-thon to catch up. I looked at the clock. 7:45. Suddenly: PANIC! I had been signed up for a massage at 7!! I was so stressed out about work that I'd missed my massage!!! WORST DAY EVER!!!!
Now I am back at work. Whether they will charge me for my missed massage is still up in the air. I had missed a call from them during the day saying that the person I had the massage with had to cancel (hallelujah!) but that they rescheduled me with someone else and still expected me at 7 (nooooo!)
Anyway, I rescheduled my massage to Thursday, so if you see me on Thursday night, you should say, "SHOULDN'T YOU BE GETTING A MASSAGE!?!?!"
I blame the wind.
I am Tired
Thursday. 9.6.18 3:44 am
I am tired. Today I got to work by 7, led a teleconference with the whole science team from 9-10, and then worked feverishly for the rest of the day setting the science team up to do some tasks.
Meanwhile I am trying to build a wall for my Moon rover to rappel down. I have to finish it before the end of the fiscal year so that it can be costed.
Tomorrow I am giving a talk remotely in Providence, Rhode Island at 9 am. Then I have meetings all day. The most fun meeting will be the one at 11, when all of my Moon buddies and I get to be in the same room.
Starting in October, we'll get what they call a "War Room". We'll have the same conference room from now until the proposal is due in May, and nobody is allow in there except for our team. The thing that I'm probably most excited about is to have that room to decorate. I kind of want to buy myself a big throne chair to sit in, and I want to hire my friend who works for the Natural History Museum to build a fake lava wall onto the entire side of one wall. She says that they do it all the time. I also want to cut a big hole in the conference table and sink a scale model of my Moon cave into the hole. Then we can move scale landers and rovers around in and around it using long sticks like it's an actual war strategy room.
So far I have gone so far as to buy a rug from the UK that looks like a big hole in the floor if you look at if from the right angle, and a set of Japanese curtains with the Moon and some cherry blossoms on them to make the doorway look more mysterious.
Oh well, off to bed. Goodnight, Moon.
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