Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Maybe next time

Well, the 9 highly-skilled individuals that were selected from over 3,500 applications (including mine) to NASA for astronaut have been announced. I, unfortunately, did not beat the odds (roughly 1 in >389) this time, and am not one of the happy few. These astronaut candidates are being rightly touted as the first group to not fly on the Shuttle, which is a bit of a turning point in the space program. Their average age is about 37 years old, so I've at least a few years before I reach that tipping point. It will be moot unless work prospects in my profession turn around relatively soon. Anyhow, I live to fight another day.

“It’s not the goal, but the way there that matters, and the harder the way, the more worthwhile the journey.”
~Sir Wilfred Thesiger

Saturday, June 27, 2009


That's toasty not in the typical Ice-lingo way, but just plain hot. Here our thermometer at home recorded a high temperature of 104.5 degrees Fahrenheit in the shade. That's 40.2 degrees Celsius for those of you who think otherwise. Allegedly today will be the last of the real heat before a cold front knocks the edge off the oven's blast. This isn't anything, though. I guess the summer I was born we had 60-some consecutive days over 100 F. On the way home from the hospital my folks stopped to pick up their share of one of my grandparents' cattle that had been butchered. I got a little break from the heat in the back of their un-air conditioned VW Rabbit when they piled the frozen meat packages in around me.

My PQ process has hit the almost inevitable snag of waiting upon the unnecessarily slow billing apparatus of the American health care system. Otherwise, I have all my tests and examinations complete and am ready to send everything off to RPSC. It will be great to finally get that all on its way and out of my hands.

I've been doing plenty of work outside, though have been bookending the heat of the day by getting an early start and then resuming in the evening after the heat abates. I had to do a third sweep of thistle in the pasture, as the purple menace keeps rearing its ugly, nodding head.

I wish more reporting were being done about the situation in Iran, instead of so much cult of personality worship around the death of a pop icon from decades past. I watched the "Neda" video, and totally felt the bottom drop out of my stomach. It isn't every day that something as important as this happens, unless you count the small ways most people meet adversity and injustice in their own lives. So, with the heat on here, and these thoughts of revolution, my mind (as it does often) takes me to the world of "Dune":

Atrocity is recognized as such by victim and perpetrator alike, by all who learn about it at whatever remove. Atrocity has no excuses, no mitigating argument. Atrocity never balances or rectifies the past. Atrocity merely arms the future for more atrocity. It is self-perpetuating upon itself - a barbarous form of incest. Whoever commits atrocity also commits those future atrocities thus bred.
~The Apocrypha of Muad'Dib

Friday, June 19, 2009

Wild Life

Well, my PQ process for Pole is nearing its completion. All the bits and pieces of me seem to be functioning correctly thus far.

My family was out in one of our big pastures in the Flint Hills last weekend to hunt musk thistles. These nodding-headed invaders can take over the prairie with their insidiously spiky leaves and deceptively pretty purple blooms. We spade them out, chop them up, and collect the heads. Once the heads have dried some, we burn them. Having just read Bram Stoker's original "Dracula", I feel like Van Helsing describing some arcane method for destroying the Un-Dead. While out in the pasture I got to see all sorts of wildlife, including: a swimming muskrat, two dung beetles rolling a ball of their precious namesake, 6-7 prairie chickens, an aquatic soft-shell turtle, many big bull frogs, and a very friendly farm dog. I was just out cutting thistle in a pasture adjacent to our house this morning and actually saw a Texas horned lizard! That was a first for me ever in the wild, and I certainly didn't expect to see one in my own backyard. There have also been a number of ornate box turtles that I've seen trooping around our yard. I'm continually amazed at how much life there is out here in the world.

I have found the recent events taking place in Iran to be exceptionally interesting. It is amazing what power an informed, involved, and motivated populace can achieve. Hopefully not too much violence will be committed before it is all said and done, however it goes.

“If malice or envy were tangible and had a shape, it would be the shape of a boomerang.”
~Charley Reese

“So much attention is paid to the aggressive sins, such as violence and cruelty and greed with all their tragic effects, that too little attention is paid to the passive sins, such as apathy and laziness, which in the long run can have a more devastating effect.”
~Eleanor Roosevelt

Monday, June 8, 2009

Carry on

Well, my PQ (physical qualification) process is off to a good start. I got my dental done on Friday, and have some appointments made throughout this week to knock out a bunch of the medical requirements. It is nice to be moving forward toward something definitive, though who knows what twists and turns life might throw into the process.

I was reading a book of Rudyard Kipling's poetry titled The Seven Seas, and came across this little poem that spoke aptly of a very familiar subject:

"Sestina of the Tramp-Royal"

Speakin' in general, I 'ave tried 'em all,
The 'appy roads that take you o'er the world.
Speakin' in general, I 'ave found them good
For such as cannot use one bed too long,
But must get 'ence, the same as I 'ave done,
An' go observin' matters till they die.

What do it matter where or 'ow we die,
So long as we've our 'ealth to watch it all-
The different ways that different things are done,
An' men an' women lovin' in this world-
Takin' our chances as they come along,
An' when they ain't, pretendin' they are good?

In cash or credit-no, it ain't no good;
You 'ave to 'ave the 'abit or you'd die,
Unless you lived your life but one day long,
Nor didn't prophesy nor fret at all,
But drew your tucker some'ow from the world,
An' never bothered what you might ha' done.

But, Gawd, what things are they I 'aven't done?
I've turned my 'and to most, an' turned it good,
In various situations round the world-
For 'im that doth not work must surely die;
But that's no reason man should labour all
'Is life on one same shift; life's none so long.

Therfore, from job to job I've moved along.
Pay coldn't 'old me when my time was done,
For something in my 'ead upset me all,
Till I 'ad dropped whatever 'twas for good,
An', out at sea, be'eld the dock-lights die,
An' met my mate-the wind that tramps the world.

It's like a book, I think, this bloomin' world,
Which you can read and care for just so long,
But presently you feel that you will die
Unless you get the page you're readin' done,
An' turn another-likely not so good;
but what you're after is to turn 'em all.

Gawd bless this world! Whatever she 'ath done-
Excep' when awful long-I've found it good.
So write, before I die, "E liked it all!"

Monday, June 1, 2009

Every journey begins with a single step

I'll be heading back to the South Pole for another 13-month contract.