You may have noticed that about a month or so back, what had been a stream of (fairly) steady blogging has since turned into a trickle, when it hasn’t been shut off entirely. I’ve been busy, with family, with work and with a new girlfriend. Since all of these are news and today seems (at the moment) pretty dead, I’m writing about them now.
Family: If you read ‘s LJ, you know Storybook Mom’s been in for surgery on her knee. She came through it fine, is wheeling around in the hospital like a speed demon and is scheduled to be discharged on Saturday. My job is to pick her up, which led to an interesting conversation with on Thursday where she derided my Vast Psychic Powers.
Jords: “Can you come home on Friday?”
Me: (I’ve just spent three late nights in a row at work. At the time of the call, I’m in a server room and have just gotten done telling my sister about my goofs and how I fixed them) “No, but I’ll be home on time Saturday. When’s she being discharged?”
Jords: “At 10, but you just got home at 10 last weekend. I’m worried that Mom’ll just be stuck in the parking lot waiting for you to show.”
Me: “I’ll be home. This time, there won’t be an accident that delays me like last weekend.”
Jords: “How do you know?”
Me: “My Vast Psychic Powers!”
Jords: “Uh huh. Why didn’t you use them earlier tonight? Probably could have saved yourself some trouble.”
Upshot is that I will be home on time to get Mom. I just will. I’ll also be at my parents every weekend until probably the end of November. That’s my job, I’m the son.
Girlfriend: I’ve been seeing someone that I adore. Flat adore. No disguising it, I’ve turned into the King of Sap where La’s concerned. Which is OK, considering she’s the Queen of Sap where I’m concerned. Together, we reign supreme over Sapland, where the Us is the important concern. (waves at La). She’s generally Wonderful, specifically Delightful, and I hope she never stops seeing whatever the hell it is she sees in me, because it’s a mystery to me. She keeps telling me that it’s not a mystery to me, but it is, and I’m perfectly happy to leave it that way because fiddling with it might break it. Trust me here, I’ve broken more things by fiddling.
Work: Good God, it’s been busy. I’ve been confirmed as the Mac team lead here at NHGRI and I’m being moved to a new office off-campus to take more of the duties of a project manager. I’m still going to be on campus at least one day a week, but I won’t be running calls anymore. I guess I’ve been doing a good job with my team, in that when it was announced that I was being moved off campus, my team looked upset rather than happy. On the plus side, I’ve got a lot of ideas that I want to test out and now I’ll have the opportunity to do it, since I won’t be dividing my time between running calls and doing planning and administrative duties.
That’s basically all the news that’s fit to print. Tonight, La’s coming over, so we can carve the pumpkins we bought last night from Safeway. Hopefully, I’ll write some more tonight.
Moment of Zen
I don’t know if what I just did will provoke shrugs of “Yeah, I knew that.” from people, but I was astonished by something I just did without thinking about it.
I was burning a CD from iTunes (just updated to iTunes 4.1) while listening to the same music that I was burning. When it finished, I decided I wanted to burn another playlist of music while still listening to the same music that I had just burned to CD, so I flipped to the new playlist and told it I wanted to burn that while still listening to the original music. iTunes demanded a new blank disk, which I provided. It started burning, and I started marking the first CD with magic marker. I realized that I didn’t know the name of the album, so I flipped back to the first playlist to get the name, switching away from the burning. I got the name, then switched back. iTunes obediently did so and updated the display to show the burning status. I then switched back to the first playlist because I didn’t like the song that had come up next and told it to shuffle, which iTunes did without a complaint.
That’s when it hit me. No complaints. Just. Did. It. No pauses, no error messages, no crash, no nothing. Just did what I wanted it to do.
I love Apple.
Moment of Zen
China joined the elite club of nations who have sent men into space today with their launching of Yang Liwei into orbit, to which I say “Bully! Maybe it’ll prod our nation into setting its next great mission in space!”
But that’s not entirely the reason I’m writing tonight. I also want to showcase who may have been Imperial China’s first astronaut: Wan Hu.
Wan Hu lived around 1500 AD and, according to legend, dreamed of going where no man had gone before and set out to turn that dream into space age reality. According to the legend, Wan, a local government official, was obsessed by the stars and planned a rather harebrained scheme to get himself closer to them.
Something of a nutty professor character, Wan set out to make himself the world’s first astronaut. Picking up on China’s recently developed expertise in rocketry, he took up the task of building himself a space ship. Centuries before the Wright brothers took to the air or the Germans launched their V1 and V2 rockets, Wan was convinced that the weapons of war could also be a means of transportation and his ticket to the stars.
Wan’s pioneering spacecraft was built around a sturdy chair, two kites and 47 of the largest gunpowder-filled rockets he could lay his hands on. Come the launch day, Wan dressed himself in his imperial finery, strapped himself in the chair and called upon his 47 servants, each armed with a flaming torch, to light the 47 fuses. Their job done, the servants speedily retreated to a safe distance … and waited.
What came next, the legend goes, was an enormous bang. When the smoke eventually cleared, Wan and his chair were nowhere to be seen.
Whether Wan actually made it or not has never been made clear. The prognosis does seem a little doubtful. But despite the somewhat cranky nature of spacecraft he was certainly on the right track. Four-and-a-half centuries later and those same principles behind the first Chinese rockets did indeed lift Yuri Gagarin on his historic flight beyond Earth’s gravity. Another four decades on and China finally followed suit, launching a man into space and turning Wan Hu’s centuries-old dream into reality.
Moment of Zen
La and I (I’ve started going out with someone very special since my last journal entries) went out and about yesterday, to go antiqueing in Ellicott, MD and out to Thurmont, MD for a maize maze. What’s a maize maze, you ask? It’s acres and acres of corn that have had paths cut through in patterns to make a maze. You go at night, and you bring a flashlight along with old shoes because it’s muddy. Or, if you’re uber-prepared (and have plenty of stuff left over from Hurricane Isabel) you bring:
Two four packs of Double-A batteries
Two bottles of water.
A bag of dried apricots
A bag of Swiss trail mix
Four glow sticks
A casual disregard for the map (We don’t need no steenking map!)
Before actually tackling the maze, I discovered the Pumpkin Gun and played artillerist with La for a few shots. We hit one of the targets with a satisfying *thwack!* in two out of three shots, which was darn good considering how hard it was to actually aim the gun and compensate for fairly irregularly shaped ammunition. Afterwards, La and I tramped around the pumpkin and the turkey for a while, then came back out to try our hand at the Pumpkin Gun again. No luck this time, as we saw our shots (this time, watermelons) sailing either over the targets or falling far short.
In short, good times, good times.
Moment of Zen