LHC Reunion

LHC Meetup
LHC Meetup

Took the NEX3 camera to lunch at Serendra with old friends from college. We wryly called ourselves “Lonely Hearts Club” back in school but we’re not lonely today, and I’m who I am because of their friendship. Love you all, great to see you again.

Chili Chocolate Gelato

And the chili chocolate gelato was amazing.

EFT-1

Exploration Flight Test 1 was the first test launch for Orion*, NASA’s next deep space exploration capsule. After a day of delays from exclusion zone boat incursions and stiff fuel valves, the mission launched on December 5th aboard a ULA Delta IV Heavy rocket.

Continue reading EFT-1

Stained Glass Sunlight

Winter afternoon sun shining through stained glass windows, First Baptist DC

Since I’m in the First Baptist DC choir, the day of Christmas Candlelight Carols are an all-day event for me, from morning rehearsals and worship service to more rehearsals in the afternoon, to the Candlelight Carol service itself. During a break in rehearsals I noticed the sun shining through the famous stained glass windows and casting colorful light on the sanctuary pillars; quickly I took out my phone and snapped a photo. Seconds later a cloud had covered the sun and the light was gone.

Lola

IMG_1009

Lola (Tagalog for “grandmother”) was actually more of a step-Lola, my paternal grandfather’s second wife after his first passed. I have vivid childhood memories of Sunday mornings in their old house, watching morning Mass on TV, and she would bring pan de sal around Communion time. We were never really very close, but she was the only grandmother I knew, and my last remaining grandparent.

Lola died early this week, peacefully, in her sleep. We’ll remember her.

Thanksgiving Weekend 2014

Spent the Thanksgiving long weekend up in New Jersey with Amy’s folks.

"Uniquely New Jersey" board game

There was turkey, of course. I also learned about how olives and celery as traditional American Thanksgiving fare. (You can see it on the plate at upper right.)

Roast turkey, Thanksgiving 2014
Thanksgiving dinner

On Saturday we ran up to New York City for a bit to see El Greco at The Frick and the Metropolitan Museum (having already seen his anniversary exhibit at the National Gallery). At the Frick we also viewed some masterpieces from the Scottish National Gallery, and at the Met we lingered for a bit over ancient Assyrian reliefs from the Palace of Ashurnasirpal II.

Moody subway scene, 68th St Station
At the Frick Collection
Temple of Ashurnasirpal, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Thanksgiving is over, now Christmas is coming.

First Baptist Church Westfield NJ Christmas Decor

More photos from the weekend.

Comet Landing

And now some good space news after the bad: a robotic comet landing by Philae, companion spacecraft to ESA’s comet probe Rosetta. I’m a big fan of their “Once Upon a Time” series of cartoons which do a lot to humanize the mission and make the probes more relatable to kids:

Philae bounced a few times before coming to rest on its side in a shadowed spot that blocked a lot of light from reaching its solar arrays, but the plucky little robot still managed to complete its primary science objectives, send back the first dim images taken from the surface of a comet, AND record the sound of its touchdown.


First comet panoramic

More amazing photos of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko from ESA’s Rosetta probe.

SpaceShipTwo Crash

Bad time for commercial spaceflight a couple weeks ago. First there was the Antares explosion, then the SpaceShipTwo crash.

Virgin Galactic was going to be it: a pioneering commercial space tourism company offering air-launched suborbital hops into space for wealthy celebrity passengers. (Not that I’d ever have been able to afford the $250,000 ticket for a flight.) After the successful X-Prize flights of SpaceshipOne, it was supposed to be the dawning of a new age of commercial space. It hasn’t happened.

And then, disaster, as a feathering problem caused SpaceShipTwo to disintegrate early in a test flight, killing the copilot and injuring the pilot who managed to parachute to safety. Combined with the deadly Scaled Composites tank test explosion in 2007, incidents like these make me despair of safe commercial passenger spaceflight going mainstream anytime soon. Adam Rogers of Wired thinks risks like these aren’t worth a space tourism venture aimed at the wealthy. David Portree is even harsher, dismissing space tourism as a probable failure.

I want to go into space some day, and I’d like to still be hopeful about space tourism, but if Virgin Galactic is our most promising opportunity, there’s a long way to go still.