Falcon Heavy

Much-anticipated launch of a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket yesterday out of KSC Pad 39A: three F9 boosters strapped together, with a Tesla Roadster mounted atop the upper stage as a test payload. Two side boosters returned for a synchronized double landing at CCAFS, while the core booster aimed for a barge landing in the Atlantic (but missed and went through RUD in the water).

Falcon Heavy Demo Mission Falcon Heavy Demo Mission

The Tesla Roadster, while definitely a frivolous indulgence on Elon Musk’s part, made for some amazing visuals as cameras sent back live views of the car, spacesuited “Starman” posed in the driver’s seat, backdropped by space and a shrinking planet Earth. After a departure burn, Starman and its car are heading out past Mars to the asteroid belt.

Video of the boosters landing as seen from nearby CCAFS SLC 37B, with very loud sonic booms at 0:28:

Amazing remote camera photos photos from near the launch site from Kraus, Mahlmann, and Killian, Studwell, and Walters.

2017 in Review

While 2017 was a dark and worrying time for the country, we had some bright spots:

Our son continued to level up his stats: turning one year old, getting dedicated, having his first haircut, and learning to walk, talk, and long-press to get Siri on iOS devices.

Ezra at 18 months

Visited Toronto (with a side trip to Niagara Falls).

View of Toronto from Centre Island

Watched a total solar eclipse in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Eclipse 2017 Single LE HDR Exposure

One high-profile death that hit hard: Apollo astronaut Eugene Cernan, who on a trip to the Philippines once said of 7th grade me, “this kid’s done his homework.” Still doing it, Captain.


Best selfie of the year: my first pair of glasses. Now we enter 2018: the year of SeaQuest DSV.

Bit of Snow

We’ve gotten barely two inches of snow total so far this winter, but record cold kept it on the ground for a while. The first accumulating snowfall of the season in December I found a little snowperson by the bridge.

First Snow (Dec 2017)

And last weekend, out in the woods behind the house, we spotted a fox napping by a log before trotting off through the snow.

Fox in Snowy Wood (napping)
Fox in Snowy Wood

Wintry photo album building up here.

Christmas 2017

Back to NJ for Christmas! Ezra had a lot of fun being showered with toys and fawned over by relatives.

Amy gave me a ukulele, a simple fun instrument I’ve been wanting to learn for a while now.


Some highlights from the in-laws’ tree:

Christmas Tree highlights

After Thanksgiving’s Turnpike backup we opted for the US-15/I-78 route up through Pennsylvania. Longer drive, but much better scenery, and almost no tolls. Ezra got to be King at a rest stop.

Ezra at Burger King

Full Christmas 2017 photo album here.

Thanksgiving 2017

Visited Amy’s folks in NJ for Thanksgiving, with a trip to Turtle Back Zoo over the weekend.

This is Ezra’s first Thanksgiving away (we stayed home last year as he was just 5 months old). He’s gotten past his stranger anxiety phase and had a lot of fun with everyone, even mistaking Amy’s cousin Dave for me a couple of times.

Ezra at Thanksgiving Ezra at Thanksgiving

He also enjoyed the zoo, especially the penguins, goats, sheep, and dinosaur park.

Turtleback Zoo

Enjoy these closeups of a penguin and a ram.

Turtleback Zoo
Turtleback Zoo

Oh yeah, I’m skipping the NJ Turnpike next trip. Due to accidents, construction in Delaware, and a toll plaza bottleneck, we were stuck in traffic with this view for 2-3 hours.

NJ Turnpike Toll Plaza Traffic

Full Thanksgiving 2017 photo album here.


Work gave me an opportunity to tour the Library of Congress National Audio-Visual Conservation Center out in Culpeper VA a few months ago.

LoC Packard Campus

Also known as the Packard Campus — after its benefactor David Packard of Hewlett-Packard fame — the facility began as the Culpeper Switch, a cold war Federal Reserve bunker burrowed into a mountain.

LoC Packard Campus
LoC Packard Campus

Today the bunkers are now vaults and labs for film reels, cassette tapes, records, wax cylinders, photos, video games, and other artifacts of bygone eras of audio-visual media, all carefully restored, cataloged, and digitally archived by Library of Congress workers — with help from a few robots here and there.

LoC Packard Campus
LoC Packard Campus
LoC Packard Campus #throughglass

I mentioned video games. They had a spread of various games across all kinds of on one table, which seemed a haphazard scatter at first, but I don’t think it was an accident that ET for Atari, CD-i Zelda, and Battletoads — some of the worst titles in the history of gaming — were clustered together.

LoC Packard Campus

Meanwhile, someone took severe umbrage with these.

LoC Packard Campus #throughglass

For those wanting to visit, the Packard Campus also has a lovely theater with free events for the public, and yearly open houses with facilities tours. More photos in the full LoC NAVCC photoset.


After decades of 20/20 vision I finally started having trouble reading small text close to my eyes, and an optometry appointment showed mild farsightedness and astigmatism, which means reading glasses.


I only need them for reading small text near my face, very important for Pokémon GO. I picked the thinnest frames possible so I wouldn’t scare our son, who’s failed to recognize his grandpa when he puts on his glasses. Good news is that a puff test showed no glaucoma. This is fine.

Halloween 2017

Ezra outgrew last year’s Star Trek: Next Generation outfit, so this year he was in Original Series Captain’s Command Gold. Meanwhile, Amy and I donned our red shirts as his security detail.

Captain Ezra and security detail

He’s still an unsteady walker and doesn’t have enough teeth to handle candy yet, so no walking around trick-or-treating, but he had fun staying out late and greeting the monsters and superheroes who showed up. Two bags of Costco candy — only one was finished up, which means now we have 150 pieces to ourselves.

First Haircut

Another milestone: Ezra’s first haircut. We brought him to a local Cartoon Cuts which specializes in first haircuts, and has TVs and toys for the kids. None of that mattered as Ezra wailed and struggled through the entire ordeal. Still, he looks a lot better after a trim.

<Ezra: before haircut Ezra: after haircut
Ezra: during haircut

Oh, you know how you get a keepsake lock of hair in a baggie to remember a first haircut? Make sure the lock of hair is dry. Turns out wet hair in a sealed bag gets moldy.