Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A new thing

I did something today that I'd never done before. Earlier this year, the American Astronomical Society called upon its members to volunteer to visit their local Congressional offices to advocate for space research. So today I met with a staffer, doing just that. I focused on the contributions that NASA makes to education, research, and inspiring people to pursue STEM careers. I don't know if I did any good, but I don't think I did any harm, and at least I did something!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


I had a lot of fun at Comic-Con. I'm already looking forward to next year. Two Battlestar Galactica highlights:

  • Attending a Music of Battlestar Galactica concert. Absolutely amazing. I'm a huge fan of the music, and I'm so impressed at how well Bear McCreary has translated his scores for the smaller, very talented, ensemble. It was also fun to see members of the BSG cast, and Katee Sackhoff was adorable playing the piano for, well, you know.
  • Just as K and I were looking at James Callis, he gave us a "oh yeah, the chicks dig Gaius" look. He instantly switched into the character and sent us into giggles. So much so that we bolted, not believing we'd been reduced to such behavior. I still giggle when thinking about it.

Other highlights involved hanging out with friends, seeing Robots in Orbit shirts on everyone, sighting random celebrities, and meeting Eoin Colfer. My feet are happy it's over, but I wish the next one wasn't a year off.

One of my goals for 2009 was "to do something I've never done before". The upcoming several days will present two opportunities towards achieving that goal. Wish me luck!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Looking back at Apollo 11

They aren't superheroes. They are intelligent, determined, disciplined, and immensely competent men who went to the Moon with a legion of brilliant and dedicated people behind them. That's worthy of being remembered today, 40 years later, and every day.

Apollo 11 crew with Chris Kraft:

Apollo 11 crew with President Obama:

(All images from

Thursday, July 16, 2009


I wasn't even alive for the Apollo 11 Moon landing. In fact, I was not yet 2 years old when we last left the Moon. That's a long time ago. I've often thought that the people of Apollo (and Mercury and Gemini) deserved better from us. Where is our Moonbase? When is our Mars Expedition? Why are we still here? The legacy of Apollo is a great one, but what will our legacy be? As our new NASA administrator Charles Bolden pointed out, he used to go to schools and the students wanted to be astronauts. Now, he says, they want to go into business. Really? Instead of spaceships and exploration, our children dream of MBAs? Not if I have anything to do with it.

There are many commemorations of this 40th anniversary of the first Moon landing.

  • For the uber-geeky amongst you, I recommend the January 30, 1970 issue of Science, containing the first science articles from the mission.
  • NASA has released some newly restored videos from the Apollo 11 mission.
  • And then, there is, which is broadcasting the Apollo 11 mission "live" as it happened 40 years ago. Take a few moments to listen to it, will you? The back-and-forth between CapCom and the astronauts sounds like an epic poem. Even the static whispers promises of adventures and knowledge and grandeur just within our reach, if we try.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Fourth of July

I had quite a lovely Fourth of July. It started off with a picnic by the bay with Greg - chicken, potato salad, chips, watermelon, pretty view, lovely weather. With all the people who have invaded our beach town, I'm glad that we can just walk to the beach. I think half of Arizona is here. Spent a quiet afternoon reading The Patriot Witch, which is appropriate material on this day. Tonight's dessert was red, white, and blue - strawberries and blueberries soaked in sugar and amaretto, poured over vanilla ice cream and cake, topped with whipped cream. After that, we decided to venture out into the neighborhood to watch fireworks. We passed by a house flying the Union Jack and remarked "Tories!" Fireworks started on the west side of the bay. Overheard comment: "I don't know how they can afford all the fireworks. They're just a small yacht club." That firework display ended as we reached the tip of the little peninsula that we live on. Next overheard comment, spoken as a challenge: "Alright, SeaWorld." Yup, we settled in to watch the fireworks from SeaWorld. A good show, I must admit. Watching the armada of boats going from the west bay to the east side of the bay to catch SeaWorld's show was almost as entertaining. All-in-all, a very nice Fourth of July in our neighborhood.

We live in an expensive area. In all seriousness, we pretty much live in a city park. Our rent is high, higher than we'd like. A day like today puts the rent in perspective, though. By the time we had our picnic, parking was scarce. A local gas station was offering spaces for $30 - yikes! We didn't have to drive to get to our destinations. We didn't have to spend $65 each to enjoy SeaWorld's fireworks. So the next time I pay rent, I'll try to grumble a little less.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

New view of the Moon

New images of the Moon from LROC were released today. If you go to this link and scroll all the way down, you can zoom in and see what 73 cm/pixel of the Moon looks like. Lovely. And some people think the Moon is boring.

Here's one of the press release images: