Saturday, June 28, 2008

Back to Aluminum

After a week that included the highest highs and the lowest lows of the year, Jake and I are taking a break from the city and heading out in aluminum. We're taking the Airstream north for two nights.

On our agenda:

A fellow Airstreamer's first photo show at a gallery in Prescott.

A party for a dear friend in her mid-thirties who just earned her bachelor's degree in education from Western Governors University! (She chose them before I did.)

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Wisdom of Obama

I first became aware of Barack Obama, like many Americans, when he spoke at the Democratic convention in 2004. My neighbor at the time recently reminded me how electrified I was by this young senate candidate.

I just read the following in The New Yorker:

“It is, then, not surprising that when it was proposed that America should invade Iraq with the goal of establishing democracy there, Obama knew that it would be a terrible mistake. This was American innocence at its most destructive, freedom at its most deceptive, universalism at its most na├»ve. 'There was a dangerous innocence to thinking that we would be greeted as liberators, or that with a little bit of economic assistance and democratic training you’d have a Jeffersonian democracy blooming in the desert,' he says now."

That is an excerpt from “The Conciliator: Where is Barack Obama coming from?” by Larissa MacFarquhar. It was published May 7, 2007.

That excerpt and the whole article hit home for me in many ways. First, on Iraq, I’ve come to the same conclusions as Obama after initially supporting the war. I believe now that that support of mine was idealistic, misguided, and frankly delusional.

But the quote, and other parts of the article, refers to something in my own life that is troubling. From all outward appearances I’ve been rootless. I had what Obama’s parents apparently had, a wanderlust that has left me refusing to stay in one place.

Though I love to travel, that wanderlust has manifested itself in a way that is contrary to things I’ve always believed in. To this day I love the place where I grew up. I never considered staying though because of what I perceived as the non-existent economic opportunities. So I headed out into the world from Ohio, determined to make something of myself.

I am deeply rooted in America and I am lucky to have good friends all over this great country.

Saturday, June 14, 2008


This morning in Florida, at the Kennedy Space Center, Mark Kelly and his crew landed the Space Shuttle Discovery--ending an almost fourteen day mission to the International Space Station.

This was Mark's third mission. I met him between his first and second, but followed this mission the closest. NASA names the missions using the official shuttle name "Space Transportation System" and a number. This was STS-124.

Even though I've known Mark for a couple of years, and personally know other astronauts as well, it wasn't until he invited me to the Kennedy Space Center for his launch that I really focused on the shuttle, and for the first time in my adult life, thought much about America's space program.

Our space program is an emblem of American pride. It epitomizes the can-do attitude of the United States. Far too many of us just take it for granted, but every time a shuttle or any rocket is launched, it's a major accomplishment and a reminder that we are living in the space age.

The investments we've made in our space program have paid off many times over in new technologies and even whole new industries.

The space shuttles will be retired in 2010--this is a good thing since they're based on a design from the 1970s and much of their technology goes back 30-plus years (of course many systems have been updated). The very bad aspect of retiring the shuttle is the fact that our next generation spacecraft is not yet ready, and won't be until at least 2015. This puts a planned gap in our human space flight program.

If we can spend and commit trillions of dollars on a poorly thought out war in Iraq, we can afford the relatively paltry sum required to keep our space program alive, strong, and moving forward. Spending money on a failed war is just a huge wasteful expense. Spending money on space exploration is an investment. As Americans, we need to understand the difference.

On Mark's mission he delivered a lab called Kibo to the International Space Station. Kibo means hope in Japanese. I hope we will jump start our space program and remain leaders in the exploration of other worlds.

Photo from NASA

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

A Day at the Office

Astronaut Mark Kelly, STS-124 commander, looks over a checklist on the flight deck of Space Shuttle Discovery during flight day 12 activities. Photo and text from NASA

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Can it be real?

Can it be? How can it be? Think of the marvel of the human mind and human accomplishment. "Here is a fan of solar arrays, a partial view of International Space Station and Earth's horizon. Photo by a STS-124 crew member on the International Space Station before space shuttle Discovery undocked from the station." Photo and quoted text from NASA

Monday, June 09, 2008

Do you ever think of the International Space Station?

"With the blackness of space and the Earth's horizon as a backdrop, astronaut Ron Garan completes the third spacewalk of the mission." I never thought much of the ISS--I just knew it was there, vaguely. Here is a view of it in all of its glory--and it is so, so glorious. Photo and quoted text from NASA

Mark and His Crew

The STS-124 crew members pose for a portrait in the the Kibo Japanese Pressurized Module of the International Space Station while space shuttle Discovery is docked with the station.

Photo and text from NASA

Friday, June 06, 2008

Thirteen Months of Bliss

Tonight is my last night as a full-time Airstreamer--at least for the summer. Jake and I are at home, enjoying our aluminumness for one quiet night--though the AC is so loud our ears are numb. When I dreamt up this wild scheme in March of 2007 I had no way of knowing how much fun it would be to live in a trailer. Over time I've increasingly embraced my inner trailer trash and have discovered an irrational passion for Airstream living. As I've said before in this space, the summer heat of the Phoenix sun means it isn't wise to live in the Airstream for the next few months. I found a wonderful place for the summer. We are putting the trailer in storage and moving closer in to town. I will be scheming for a return to aluminum-living this fall. The jury is out, it may or may not come to fruition. In the meantime I remain an Airstreamer at heart.

Where we were: 2007-2008

1. Arizona
2. Utah
3. Colorado
4. Kansas
5. Missouri
6. Illinois
7. Indiana
8. Ohio
9. Michigan
10. Kentucky
11. Tennessee
12. Georgia
13. North Carolina
14. South Carolina
15. Virginia
16. West Virginia
17. Maryland
18. Washington, D.C.
19. Pennsylvania
20. New York
21. Massachusetts
22. Vermont
23. Wisconsin
24. Minnesota
25. South Dakota
26. Wyoming
27. Montana
28. Idaho
29. Oregon
30. Washington
31. California
32. Nevada

For a slightly more detailed look at where we were last year read the Airstreaming Places entry. For even more detail, read this whole blog! ; )

Sunday, June 01, 2008

The Greatest Show on Earth, STS-124

"Standby for the greatest show on earth."
.........................................................................Commander Mark Kelly

Those were the words spoken by Mark just before blasting off yesterday.

Watching the shuttle rocket into the heavens was a better show than I could have imagined. Tears were streaming out of both eyes as they headed for orbit. And they get there fast, just 8 and a half minutes! They're called rockets for a reason.

My weekend in Florida at Cape Canaveral with Kim, Inge, Reed, and the Kelly support crew (friends and family), was wonderful.

Thanks Mark and Godspeed to you and your crew up there.

Photo from NASA