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.

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.


Over the last week and a half, I’ve been going back to my old online matchmaking haunts and changing my status back to Single, adding this caveat on them: I’m newly single after an 18 month relationship. I’m not yet ready to dive into the dating pool, but I might think about checking it out from the deck for the moment. The site where I met HSTeacher I include that I met my former boyfriend there (and I’m starting to think that I should leave that site, as I can see his freshly changed profile and he can see mine – let’s just say that he doesn’t have the same caveat, though so far he just says he’s looking for fun. I guess things are different when you’re the break-upper, huh?  And I guess maybe we didn’t have all that much fun.). And the thought that rises above the others?

Ugh. I can’t believe I’m going to have to go through this crap again.

I thought I was done with dating. I thought I had finally found the right guy for me and no longer had to put myself in that shark pool again. It appears that I was wrong, in so many ways. And the thought of wading back in fills me with dread.

It doesn’t help that it’s still hard for me. That, while I’m no longer crying every day, I still feel a little stabby-stabby in the chest and I never know when I’ll be overcome with a case of the weepies.

(Just a couple of moments ago, for instance, as I started this entry.)

I’ve never been one who really enjoyed dating. I didn’t really date – in the commonly accepted perception of the word – until my early 30s. Until then I had either already known the men with whom I fell into relationships or, in one special case, met at a mutual friend’s Halloween party, went on a couple of dates and boom – six month relationship. I’m still good friends with that guy.

After FG (I can’t really call him The Ex any more, now that I have a more recent ex) left me, and after I picked up and glued together most of the pieces from that shattered dream, I dated off and on over the course of nine years. In some cases I dated one guy for about a month before one of us realized it wasn’t working out. Once I dated two guys simultaneously for a month. And then there was that whole CuteNerdBoy debacle, where we briefly dated in 1997-1998, not to mention the few months in 2003 that I wasn’t sure if we were dating or not because I wasn’t getting clear signals from him. And while the dating and the occasional one night stand were fun, neither are something I’m crazy about doing again.

Mind you, that’s not the primary reason I wish that HSTeacher and I hadn’t split up. I really do love him and, as I wrote earlier, thought I had finally found The Guy.

But the whole dating thing? Right now, I’m just thinking…ugh.


You know what really sucks?

(Aside from the whole, “My boyfriend broke up with me and I’m all heart-broken and shit,” part, that is.)

That I’m in the mood to write and all I can think of to write about is the breakup and my feelings. A big part of me doesn’t want to do that because, well, how long can a girl go to that writing well? A long time, which I’m well aware of, but I don’t know that I want to. At least not publicly. Because I’m someone who hates to cry in public and that’s what writing non-stop about the break-up would amount to for me.

It’s weird being back at work, though (I was off work yesterday). My cube-mate knows about the break-up, but no one else does. My world has hit a major snag in its rotating, but a person wouldn’t know that from seeing me at work. Oh, there would be clues, of course: taking down his photos from my cubicle walls; the fact that I’m a little quieter than usual, though I am still joking a little bit when talking with others. But, as is the case and should be the case, the rest of the world is spinning the way it always has. I’m feeling a weird disconnect right now. I know I’ll get back in line with the world at some point, and I know it’ll be awhile before that happens, but I’m still not liking this disconnection.

I do want to say, however, that my friends are once again proving themselves to be the most kick-ass friends in the universe. Thanks, guys, I love you all.

musical interlude…
from posted with vodpod

Ben Folds with the Western Australian Symphony Orchestra – Smoke –

not enough…

We did the best we could to work it out, but in the end it wasn’t enough. We talked about seeing a counselor to help us find an alternative that neither one of us was seeing, but we never got that far.

There are no bad guys in this scenario, except for the sociopath that he’s still legally married to, despite the years-long separation and his attempts to break loose without alienating his kids. He’s involved in a huge, huge mess that, by its very nature, intruded into our relationship. He’s tried to do the best he could, but it’s not enough.

Initially we thought that our differences could be bridged, but we were wrong.

He still wants to be friends, but I don’t know yet if I can do that. The feelings are still too raw. My heart still feels all too freshly pulverized. Tears fall without warning. My voice cracks and I can’t speak.

Things were leaning in this direction for several months, but that doesn’t mean it hurts any less. That doesn’t mean that I don’t still long for his touch, that on some level I don’t wish it were still yesterday, when he was still holding me and stroking my hair as I sobbed in his arms. Because at least then I was still with him.

The anger and harsh words, the stress and the pain over the last few months have been tough, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t still love him.

He says he loves me too. I believe him. But in the end…

…it’s not enough.

saddest comic ever…

One of the things I love about xkcd is its ability to make me laugh, to scratch my head (mainly about the nerdier aspects) and to touch my heart. This one does the third one, and in a big way.I look at it, wonder what inspired it, and hope that everyone turned out all right.Recently I’ve been told by someone – several times over – that the only person who can make me happy is me. And that is true. But I’ve had to respond that, while I agree, that doesn’t negate the fact that the actions of others can impact my happiness.Still, my happiness, even if it’s impacted by others’ actions, is still my responsibility and no one else’s.

Gotta remember that too.

world of confusion…

…that’s where I’m living right now. I can’t remember the last time I was so conflicted in my life. Even when my family did its little implody-thing a few years back, there was a clear side to be on. There was a right side and a wrong side. Now… There is no right and there is no wrong. There aren’t even really sides here. There are differences that may or may not be insurmountable. And I can’t figure it out. One minute I think that, with hard work, differences can be bridged in some way, perhaps with an objective opinion. The next minute, I think there’s no way that the differences can be bridged. Which feels like a sucker punch to the gut, which leads me right back to, “Maybe compromises can be found.” Which causes me to spin and spin and spin, because I keep thinking that I’ve found the end of the trail, when it’s really just my own tail I’m chasing.

Too much confusion and no resolution makes Carol a sad and tired girl.

damn it!

This makes me a very sad girl.

John Edwards’ 2008 campaign is the first presidential campaign I’ve ever worked on, so it’s hitting me much harder than I realized it might. I really do believe that he’s the best person for the job. so to know that he’s not going to get the chance (at least, not this time) is very upsetting.

I don’t have a second choice, because I REALLY do not trust either Clinton or Obama. I would love to see either a woman or an African-American in the White House, but not these two. So I’m not sure how I’m going to vote on February 5th. I may still vote for Edwards, just because I believe in him so much and I’m so opposed to the current front runners. Or, just to be pissy, I may vote for Mike Gravel. He hasn’t dropped out yet, he’s on the primary ballot and I actually like a lot of what he has to say.

Still won’t be the same, though.

I’ll miss ya, John, I really will.