With the announcement of Project Wallaby, here are a few questions that various people have asked — added to the introspective voices in my head:
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.
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.
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.
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.)
Good way to spend a relatively warm (if somewhat drizzly) day after Christmas: a visit to New Jersey’s Turtle Back Zoo.
There was a komodo dragon.
There were penguins.
There was a yawning fox.
There were running wolves.
There were pygmy goats.
And a nosy sheep.
More photos from the zoo and the long Christmas weekend in general here in the NJ Christmas 2015 photoset.
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:
Somewhat less religious and much more forceful, Lauridsen’s setting of Robert Graves’s Lament for Pasiphaë — 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:
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.
Amy’s mom is having a lot of fun with her Cricut; here are some 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.
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.
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.
In the late afternoon the gardens afforded a lovely view of a golden sunset over the Hudson.
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.
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*.
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.
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.)