WW2 Flyover

It’s not everyday you get to see a 1940s B-29 Superfortress named “FIFI” fly right over DC’s National Mall; one of many historic planes to join in the World War II Flyover last week.

World War 2 Flyover

I was working at NASA HQ in SW DC at the time so I walked outside with thousands of others to the Capitol over lunch break to witness the event. It was an amazing sight: wave after wave of historic planes flying in formation for an hour, Mustangs, Corsairs, Hellcats, B-25 Mitchells such as those that flew the Doolittle raids, and yes, FIFI.

World War 2 Flyover
World War 2 Flyover
World War 2 Flyover
World War 2 Flyover
World War 2 Flyover

I also got some video but it wasn’t great.

My Full WW2 Flyover photo album here, and also see Samer Farha’s photos from Rosslyn, and Djenno Bacvic’s composite of all the planes in the flyover.


Got to see some rare mammatus clouds over Herndon earlier this week: round, pouchlike formations caused by damp, unstable air sinking below storm clouds.

Mammatus clouds over Herndon

I also tried getting a timelapse video, but somehow it didn’t seem quite so spectacular in motion:

More info on mammatus clouds.

DC Cherry Blossoms 2015

Me and Amy with cherry blossoms

Continuing an unbroken string of annual DC cherry blossom photos, we ventured down to the Tidal Basin for peak bloom on April 11th. Mostly I just used my NEX3’s fisheye lens attachment, occasionally detaching it to use the wide angle pancake lens.

Selfie sticks abounded amongst the crowd, such as this one that peeked out from behind a tree trunk.

Selfie stick peeks out from behind cherry tree

The Washington Monument, finally out of its post-earthquake scaffolding.

Cherry Blossoms

The Marine One chopper (no president on board) flew by and I managed to get a nice picture of it through the blossoms.

Cherry Blossoms and Marine One

Some equestrian park police also rode by.

Equestrian Rangers under Cherry Blossoms

Really a perfect weekend for some hanami.

Cherry Blossoms

A few days later I returned to the Tidal Basin over lunch break, this time with my new Google Glass to see the post-peak blossoms.

Pink was giving way to green in the canopy and petals rained down on the grass below. Still beautiful, and I was glad for the second opportunity to see the blossoms.

Cherry Blossoms #throughglass
Cherry Blossoms #throughglass
Cherry Blossoms #throughglass

Someone lost a hat.

Cherry Blossoms and Lost Hat #throughglass

Full photoset for DC Cherry Blossoms 2015 here.

Google Glass: Redux

My Google Glass suffered some damage over Thanksgiving, snapping at a weak point in the frame despite my taking pains to keep it from stress and bending.

Google Glass Damage

I thought that was the end for my Glass experience, but their excellent customer support quickly replaced the unit with an upgraded Glass XE-C. It was a marked improvement over the previous version: better battery life, more RAM, more responsive UI and less prone to overheating and crashing.

Continue reading Google Glass: Redux

Snows of March

“In like a lion, out like a lamb,” they say, but mostly March was in and out like a bunch of snow.

Icy Tree
Winter's last gasp


My reading backlog included a bunch of links about Ebola from late last year, but the panicked craze of media coverage died down long before I was done with all these articles.

The Nib: Ebola, A User’s Guide

One Powerful Illustration Shows Exactly What’s Wrong With How the West Talks About Ebola

MetaFilter: Perhaps the 4 most intelligent things you can read about Ebola today.

Inside the Ebola Wars

Diary: Ebola — by Paul Farmer. “Ebola is more a symptom of a weak healthcare system than anything else.”

Life After Death: NPR interactive presentation on how Ebola affected the village of Barkedu, Liberia.

An Ebola Doctor’s Return from the Edge of Death

Maternal health: Ebola’s lasting legacy

After November, when it became evident that Ebola was not going to overrun the US and political fortunes were suddenly less dependent on public panic, the coverage simmered down, and other health issues became the focus of the media hype machine.

Three Belief Stories

Three narratives of faith that recently caught my attention:

On Fear and Identity. I like Jason’s unique visualization of “Christ lighting the city” as a response to spiritual despair, a redemptive journey geographically superimposed over one’s soul, something akin to prayer-walking.

I Used to Believe Better. From Aaron J. Smith, aka “Cultural Savage.” This is where I’ve often found myself, wondering how I ended up in a nominal state of jaded doubt — I recover daily, but it’s much harder for someone with depression to deal with the climb out of that pit.

Why I’m Coming Out as a Christian. From Ana Marie Cox, once founder of Wonkette. She’s not so much concerned with the predictable reactions of nonbelievers as with the outrage of fellow Christians who cannot countenance that a snarky liberal woman could be a sister in Christ. As a fellow liberal Protestant egalitarian, I countenance this wholeheartedly.

RadioShack Bankruptcy

Shortly after RadioShack filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, stores near us closed down and emptied out.

Empty Radio Shack store

Good time to read Jon Bois’s stories on working for RadioShack through the course of its decline:

Older article of interest from a former employee: 6 Confessions Of A Former RadioShack Employee (2008) — and a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” thread by an employee as of three months ago.

Leonard Nimoy, 1931-2015

Leonard Nimoy has died.

When I was an introverted and emotionally befuddled third-culture kid who struggled daily with feelings of isolation and alienation while growing up, Star Trek and Leonard Nimoy’s Spock reached me in my confused youth, in ways that gave me comfort, confidence, and hope that I had a place in the world — a place that would involve space, science, and computers. I’m me today because of that, and today is the future in part thanks to him.

Goodbye, Leonard Nimoy, and live long and prosper.

Snows of February

February delivered some good snow towards the end of a mostly uneventful winter; still nowhere as close to previous February snowmageddons and snowpocalypses, but enough to close schools for a few days and make the general landscape look mildly Arctic.

Snowy Merrifield Pano
Snowy townhouses Parked by a snow drift at sunset #snow

Walking around DC on a Sunday morning after the snowstorm was especially fun since most businesses didn’t bother to shovel or treat their sidewalks till later in the day.

Slushy DC sidewalks, K St NW
Slushy DC sidewalks, 17th St NW

And here’s a snowy selfie.

Snowy selfie

(Yes, I know, I need a haircut, but while it’s still cold I don’t mind looking like a disheveled hippie if the extra layer of hair keeps me warm.)