2015 in review (Baby Edition)

2015 was quite a year. Biggest news of the year first: we successfully formed a baby! Amy is dealing with pregnancy admirably, now with a definite bump. Sonograms show a boy, healthy and moving. While we don’t have a name picked yet, I have code-named him “Project Wallaby.” Tentative due date is June 2016.


Other stuff that happened in 2015: in space, New Horizons flew by Pluto, while on Earth, Leonard Nimoy passed on.

We bought a townhouse, moved into it, and sold our old condo. (We did wish to wait till we were in a house before trying for a baby.) In the summer we visited Paris and Amsterdam. I was a creeper for Halloween. In December I went to Kennedy Space Center for work and visited the Atlas V launch pad, but I missed the launch itself.

Selfie with Dava Newman and Bill Ingalls at NASA HQ

Best selfie of the year: an impromptu NASA HQ shot with Deputy Admin Dava Newman and senior photographer Bill Ingalls.

First Artsy Weekend of 2016

Power and Pathos

Had a very artsy Saturday at the National Gallery to see a bunch of exhibitions and works that had recently piqued our interest:

Power and Pathos: a traveling collection of extremely rare Hellenistic bronzes from the 4th Century BC to the 1st Century AD.

The Serial Impulse at Gemini G.E.L.: collection of multi-part print series by 20th Century artists at the Los Angeles print studio Gemini G.E.L. (Graphic Editions Limited).

Louise Bourgeois: No Exit: the late Louise Bourgeois died in 2010 at the age of 99, leaving an amazing corpus of existentialist art. I also learned her marble sculpture Germinal was once redone in chocolate.

Celebrating Photography: recent acquisitions for the museum’s photography collection, including Richard Avedon’s The Family.

17th Century Dutch painter Jacob Ochtervelt’s A Nurse and a Child in the Foyer of an Elegant Townhouse. Yes, that’s a 5 year old boy in a dress, as was the style at the time.

Over in the Smithsonian Natural History Museum we checked out the Windland Smith Nature’s Best Photography exhibit. (I’d entered a few of my scuba photos into this juried show but ey obviously did not make the cut.)

On Sunday we also dropped by the National Geographic Explorers Hall to see Pristine Seas, photos from marine conservation expeditions led by NGS Explorer-in-Residence Enric Sala around the world.

Turtle Back Zoo

Good way to spend a relatively warm (if somewhat drizzly) day after Christmas: a visit to New Jersey’s Turtle Back Zoo.

Happy Zoo Year, Turtle Back Zoo #NJ

There was a komodo dragon.

There were penguins.

Penguins, Turtle Back Zoo #NJ

There was a yawning fox.

Gray Fox, Turtle Back Zoo #NJ

There were running wolves.

Wolf, Turtle Back Zoo #NJ

There were pygmy goats.

Goats, Turtle Back Zoo #NJ

And a nosy sheep.

Sheep, Turtle Back Zoo #NJ

More photos from the zoo and the long Christmas weekend in general here in the NJ Christmas 2015 photoset.

Music for Christmas

#Christmas in NJ 2015

We’re up in New Jersey to spend Christmas with Amy’s family this long weekend, and my mother-in-law asked me what my favorite Christmas carols were. This was my answer, although I guess none of these are really carols:

From American composer Morten Lauridsen, his Grammy-nominated setting of O Magnum Mysterium, which I sang for Candlelight Carols in 2006.

Somewhat less religious and much more forceful, Lauridsen’s setting of Robert Graves’s Lament for PasiphaĆ« — a melody I would love to see as a setting for “Silent Night”:

One of the songs we sang for this year’s Candlelight Carols was The Work of Christmas, Dan Forrest’s setting of a poem by Howard Thurman:

And from the mists of history, a medieval chant of a legend of Saint Nicholas, Reno Erat Rudolphus:

Merry Christmas!

Cloisters NYC

OA-4 Prelaunch

Me and the VAB (GoPro screenshot)

Early December I went down to Kennedy Space Center to shoot some video for work, and got a chance to do remote camera setup at the Atlas V launch pad for Orbital Cygnus CRS-4. (Unfortunately bad weather delayed the launch so much that I had to leave before the successful fourth attempt.) This was a replacement craft for the one that was lost in an explosion last year, launching on an Atlas V rocket while the Antares is redesigned with new engines.

Continue reading OA-4 Prelaunch

Thanksgiving Weekend 2015

Amy’s mom is having a lot of fun with her Cricut; here are some squirrel pilgrims (squilgrims).

Squirrel Pilgrims (squilgrims)

Thanksgiving dinner with the in-laws was a feast as always, with all the standard classics, and also some very interesting sweet potatoes. I don’t normally like sweet potatoes but this recipe with vanilla and marshmallows (!) was amazing. Brussels sprouts were also a highlight, as was the day-after-Thanksgiving turkey carcass soup.

Thanksgiving Dinner

On Friday we went to upper Manhattan and walked around Fort Tryon Park and the Cloisters, which we hadn’t visited for over a decade. It was a perfect day for it. For lunch, New Leaf in the park. Super-busy that day, with a long wait, but well worth it for a pork belly and fried egg sandwich.

Fort Tryon Park
Cloisters NYC

Medieval art at the Cloisters is always a treat: I’d been looking forward to the unicorn tapestries after seeing the ones at the Cluny.

Unicorn Tapestries, Cloisters NYC
Cloisters NYC
Cloisters NYC

In the late afternoon the gardens afforded a lovely view of a golden sunset over the Hudson.

George Washington Bridge Sunset Silhouette
Cloisters NYC

I also got to test out my “new” DSLR, a used Sony NEX-3N body, compatible with my current set of E-mount lenses. Other than that, I got to see more Leave It To Beaver than I have since childhood. Weekend was over far too soon.

First shot with NEX3N
Cloisters NYC

Full Thanksgiving 2015 weekend album here.

Mars Exploration Teaser

Short teaser video I storyboarded and edited for NASA Office of Education’s Digital Learning Network, focusing on the theme of “Surviving and Thriving on Mars”:

Most of the footage was recycled from the 50 Years of Mars Exploration commemorative video and Mars: Journey of a Lifetime, but there were a few choice clips from other parts of the NASA B-roll library, all cobbled together with Adobe Premiere. I also had our intern make a 3D spinning Mars globe and some background textures, which I threw together into visual flourishes for the text titles with AfterEffects. Music is Fractal Planetoid by *imp*.

Autumnal Marsh in Morning Fog

Autumnal marsh in morning fog

Walked to Metro this morning; it was warmer than usual for early November and a light fog hung over the area, softening the trees as their leaves turned from green to brown and orange and red.

Halloween 2015

Since we moved to a townhouse, we now live in a neighborhood with trick-or-treaters, making this my first Halloween where I’m the adult giving out candies rather than one of the costumed children gathering them. There was a momentous sense of unreality and aloof benevolence to my assuming this role, as I sat on the stoop in a Minecraft creeper box head with a Costco bag of fun size chocolates.

Giving trick or treaters candy in my creeper mask

The mask was far too stuffy with no peripheral vision, however, so I opted instead to set it beside me on the step with a flashlight shining on it, kind of a green 8-bit jack-o-lantern. We got a total of 37 children between 5 and 8 PM, Star Wars costumes most popular. I grossly underestimated the number of kids, and paced my candy output badly, running out at 8PM and having to retreat into the house and shut off the lights in Halloween shame.

(Maybe four or five kids acknowledged the Minecraft mask with glee.)