fair winds and following seas, dr. phil

UCF_Chicon
Largest meat-up of UCFers: Chicon 2012 – Chicago. Dr. Phil is the GRRM look-alike on the far left. We’re a klassy group.

Many moons ago, in an internet far, far away, I was fortunate to become friends with an amazing group of people. Known as the Union of Collaborating Founders (UCF, for short), we’ve been close friends for a long time, many of us meeting in real life over the years.

Yesterday afternoon, one of our original founding members passed away. Philip Edward Kaldon – best known as Dr. Phil to everyone, long before that other Dr. Phil came along – was a physicist, sci-fi writer, professor, photographer, humorist, and all-around excellent human being. He joins his sister and fellow UCFer Wendy, who passed away nearly five years ago (and in whose memory the above meeting was arranged).

Dr. Phil is survived by his wonderful and amazing wife and companion of 32 years, Debbie. We love you, Debbie, and we are with you in spirit. He will be deeply missed by all.

Fair winds and following seas, my dear friend. This earth just won’t be the same without you.

Dr Phil
Photo by Al Bogdan.

sobering…

I’ve said many times that working at JPL is a truly fantabulous thing for me. I’ve been here for just over two years now and I still sometimes feel the need to pinch my arm and confirm, yes, it is real. It still feels like I’ve only been here a couple of months.

So yes, working here is terribly exciting for me. But it can also be sobering.

The lobby of the building in which I work has been home to a few exhibits. A scale model of the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter recently graced the lobby and, until this morning, a scale model of the Phoenix sat in the roped off area, gold foil glinting in fluorescent lighting. This morning the Phoenix exhibit was removed and a new one took its place: the Shuttle Columbia Safety Exhibit, which is not open to the public but has been touring the various NASA space centers.

I took a walk around the exhibit, looking at the nine pieces of the Columbia that were displayed in the case – some pieces fairly large, others on the smallish side. Taking in the remnants of that disaster, there in front of me, reminded me that, no matter how thrilled I am about my workplace, there are very real dangers in what many people in the space business do. Reading the names of those killed in the explosion, along with the victims of Apollo 1 and the Challenger and feeling the faint rise of tears in my eyes made those dangers fresh again, however briefly.

I wish I could share photos of the exhibit, but NASA has requested that we not do so, to honor the families of the Columbia crew and I will honor that request. But pictures aren’t needed to remember.

Official accounts of the exhibit: Reid Center and Johnson Center.

fun photos…

BTW, here are a few fun photos from recent weeks (courtesy of CuteFilmNerd):

Meeting Buzz Aldrin at the Egyptian:

Posing for CuteFilmNerd, who was the official photographer for the event.

Almost looks like we’re having an actual conversation…

Mentioning that I work for JPL reminds Buzz that he has a phone call to make…

Meeting Eddie Deezen at the New Beverly:

No, he is not asking me to smell his finger. He worked with my best friend’s father many moons ago on 1941 and we were briefly chatting about him, with Eddie remembering BestFriendFather fondly. Turns out BestFriendFather remembers Eddie just as fondly.

And walking by George Carlin‘s star a few days after he died:



Damn, now that was sad to hear about.

i humbly apologize…

…for leaving up such diabetic coma inducing photos at the top for so long. I hope no one needed a quick trip to the emergency room over the last few weeks.

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My dear friend Polarbeast has a wonderful new site which y’all MUST check out, especially if you’re a diner in the Los Angeles area: Dining in L.A. He’s always been an excellent writer, but his reviews of some of his and his wife’s favorite haunts are truly stellar. As it was his descriptions of area restaurants in his rarely updated blog that helped put us back in contact with one another (he and his wife are old high school friends of mine and he used to work around the corner from me in West Hollywood), I’m especially happy to see the new site. Especially since he’s as fond of a favorite restaurant of CuteFilmNerd and myself as we are: Green Leaves Vegan in Los Feliz.

Check out both the site and the restaurant. You’ll be happy that you did.

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A number of entertainment legends have died over the last couple of weeks: Bo Diddley, Dick Martin, Sydney Pollack and Harvey Korman. Each and every one of these deaths make me a little bit sadder than the one before, especially Sydney Pollack and Harvey Korman. But three other legends in the world of science fiction television have also left this earth: Alexander Courage, Bob Justman and Joseph Pevney – all associated with Star Trek, one of the most formative television shows in my life, as well as the lives of many others.

I can safely say that, were it not for the talents of each of these gentlemen, I daresay my life may have turned out rather different. But it was Joseph Pevney’s contributions as director of several of my favorite episodes (“Amok Time,” “City on the Edge of Forever,” “Journey to Babel”) that affected me the most, especially that episode that started it all for a shy thirteen year old girl: “The Trouble with Tribbles.” I initially watched it because William Schallert (aka Nancy Drew’s dad) was in it, but it was the writing, casting and, of course, direction of the episode that kept me coming back for more.

Fare thee well, gentlemen, each and every one of you. You and your talents will all be sorely missed.

just on his way to clavius…

Arthur C.Clarke has died, at the age of 90 in Sri Lanka.

I’ve read precious little of Clarke’s work. Many years ago I devoured a science fiction short story collection, the name of which I no longer remember but loved like nothing else. The anthology contained two of the most influential science fiction stories of my youth: “It’s Such a Beautiful Day” by Isaac Asimov and “History Lesson” by Clarke. Decades later I read my first Clarke novel – Childhood’s End – and was moved beyond the telling of it. Shortly thereafter I devoured the novelization of 2001: A Space Odyssey (which I finally saw last weekend).

I may not have read much of his work, but I’ve loved everything of his that I have picked up.

RIP, Sir Arthur. I’m sure that the mysteries of Clavius are just the beginning.

Edited to add: Space Monkeys has a great tribute.

thank you, teddi…

Yesterday morning Teddi Winograd passed away in her Beverly Hills home from cancer, her family by her side. She was 87.

I may not have mentioned Teddi in these pages before, and to be honest, I didn’t know her all that well. I worked for her daughter Marcy last year, when Marcy ran for Congress against Jane Harman. It was through Marcy that I met Teddi and attended several events and meetings in her home. She always impressed me as being kind, warm and generous, welcoming to all who entered her home. She seemed to be strong of heart and mind, didn’t suffer fools gladly and was fiercely devoted to her family.

She was also quite the activist, sure to be on the front lines and in the front rows of numerous protests and progressive events, many of those events in her own home. Her convictions drove her to fight for peace and justice and the real American Way.

I didn’t know Teddi well, but I was amongst those who could count themselves as lucky for knowing her at all.

Thank you for your hard work, your graciousness and your positive energy, Teddi. You will be missed by many.

Teddi Winograd: The “Maternal Heart” of Progressive Democrats

good night, mr. fishman

Hal Fishman died this morning of colon cancer, which had been diagnosed last week after he had been rushed to the hospital for a serious infection.

For those of you not in the L.A. area, Hal Fishman was one of those news anchors who seemed to have been around since forever. He was a bit of an icon in these parts and was one of those guys whom you trusted to give you the straight news, even as local news became more and more sensationalist. Along with the late Jerry Dunphy and Harold Greene (who also anchored in San Diego when I lived there), Hal Fishman seemed to be a part of my life since my family moved to Los Angeles in 1981, when I was 15.

RIP, Hal. You’ll be missed.