Arecibo: Huge scientific loss

I’m so very sad after hearing the news about Arecibo, the largest radio telescope in the world, completely collapsing yesterday, especially since it was completely preventable.

The partner and I went to see it (meaning, we planned a trip to Puerto Rico and I insisted he drive me all the way across the island to go see an amazing scientific instrument that appeared in one of my all time favorite movies) in 2012 and now I’m even more glad and thankful we did.

I’m reblogging my little tribute to Arecibo and my (and my son’s) love of space science.

Enjoy, Earthlings.

Here’s Something

Today is going to be a hodgepodge of a blog post.

  1. Here’s something that annoyed me but I did not allow to ruin my day.

We went hiking today. The weather app on my phone did not predict rain. I live in Oregon. I’ve lived here for almost exactly 7 years now. Fricknfrack, I should know better to carry rain gear with me wherever I go after Labor Day, whatever the app may or may not say. I’m just so tired of lugging my entire household with me whenever we go on an outing. Jackets aaaaaand rain jackets, hats, snacks, water, plastic bags for when things get wet and/or dirty, extra snacks, and now I’ve included masks and hand sanitizer, plus the toddler potty in case the restrooms are closed due to Covid. Ugh.

At any rate, we got rained on. In true form, the kids complained at first that we weren’t going on the long hike. And then later on, they complained that they were “wet” and “tired.” We didn’t get completely drenched and we didn’t have any complete meltdowns so that’s considered a success in our book. The kids reported that their favorite part was the snack. Parenting high-five!

2. Here’s something that brought tears to my eyes and made my heart happy

We watched the SpaceX launch today. A multicultural, international team of three men and one woman got catapulted into space today and they’re headed to the ISS!! My eyes teared up as soon as they reached max q, a few minutes after launch.

What made me even MORE happy was to see a panel OF THREE WICKED SMART LADIES giving us commentary after the launch. I can’t remember a time where I have ever watched any sort of big, important science endeavor be presented and interpreted for the public via a panel of womenfolk. Moving forward, I’d like to get to a place where I am no longer astounded by this. But for now, good on you, NASA and SpaceX.

3. Here’s something that tickled my funny bone.

Yesterday, a lonely, lonely person with a sexual affinity for clowns stumbled across my blog and I feel like I owe that person a heartfelt apology.

I’m so sorry you didn’t find what you were looking for here. I hope you enjoyed a post or two before moving onto…more edgy entertainment…but if not, I understand too. The heart wants what the heart wants. Good luck to you!


Day 15 – we’re halfway, folks!

Spaces in-between

We exist in parking lots now.

We have a routine that we do almost every day now since Covid hit. After lunch, we put on sunscreen and bike helmets and we walk or bike or scoot to a parking lot. The kids will ride or scoot or run or kick a ball in the parking lot.  And I will walk laps around the perimeter to try and get some exercise for the day.

We’ve started searching for more unused pockets of space in our town. Little spaces that are forgotten or neglected or just empty. The elementary school parking lot that has been vacant for months now. We venture down to the park-and-ride train station parking lot that is vacant on weekends. In the past week, we found this new-to-us section of parking lot in an apartment complex. The kids were delighted; they gathered pine cones while I walked laps around them, going nowhere.

They are spaces meant for waiting. They are spaces for the in-between, where cars sit and wait to be turned on so that they can take their occupant from point a to point b.

So here it is where we play or bike or scoot or walk or run so that we may pass the time and wait until we can be turned on again and we can continue our journey from point a to point b.

parkinglot

My Rock Alien

I was the last one alive on the ship, and I had just blasted the hell outta those alien assholes.

Seriously, slimy greenish translucent alien guts were raining down on me and were starting to coat the platform right next to the airlock.

I was too busy screaming in relief and celebration to notice that a few many-legged alien larvae scuttled right past me and disappeared into a crack between the wall and the floor. I looked and felt like a badass Sigourney – white tank top and toned arms.

The scene shifted abruptly and my ship had finally landed back on Earth. Somehow, I was able to maneuver and dock my poor, banged-up spacecraft into the interior of this official-looking massive gray building, like plugging it back into a socket to recharge. Was this NASA? Or some private entity, perhaps. A lot had changed since I’d been gone.

I disembarked and found the sterile, industrial building completely deserted. Something felt eerily off. I found the exit, shoved open the heavy steel doors, and ran to the nearest patch of dirt and grass, my whole body collapsing and my fingers pawing at the ground. The grass felt so good between my fingers and the dirt under my nails. Home.

And then, a clanging sound echoed from within the building. It became so strong that I started to feel vibrations through the ground. I scrambled to my feet and started to walk backwards, keeping the building in sight.

With little warning, the main double doors slammed open and a huge creature rumbled out. It looked like that rock-eating rock monster from The Neverending Story, only meaner. And faster.

It saw me and started walking. Crashing.

Oh shit.

I took off running, even though I didn’t feel like I had anything left in me.

The scene changed again, and I had found a house. Was it mine? It seemed familiar, and I knew it’d be unlocked.

I ran upstairs and hid, tried to steady my rapid breathing. The rhythmic thumping and crashing was shaking the whole house now, and any second I’d hear it start to rip the house apart.

Behaving more human than I’d thought, it came through the door and up the stairs, smashing them as it went. It was clearly searching. For me.

In an effort to not get cornered in the bedroom, I tried to slip past it and into the hallway. I figured out quickly that it had poor eyesight and relied mostly on sound. Maybe smell?

Pressed my back against the wall and held my breath, closed one eye. It (he?) stomped past and I wondered how long the house would stand at this rate. Once it was well into the next room, I threw myself down the stairs, avoiding the holes where steps used to be and all the broken, pointy shards of wood jutting out everywhere.

Sweaty, filthy, and heaving, I lunged for the door, or the wood in my way that used to serve as a door. I heard a growl reverberate from behind. My right arm reached out in front, and I turned my head to glance back over my shoulder.

That very moment…was when my kids woke me up.

That day, I was watching Frozen with the very same children who disturbed my slumber. It was the scene where Anna goes to Elsa in her ice castle to tell her what has happened to Arendelle. Her fear and desperation building, Elsa creates a huge and scary snow monster named Marshmallow.

Hey! I yelled at no one in particular, pointing to the screen.

That’s my rock alien!


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To the Moon and Back

“Mummmm!”

To an untrained ear, you might think that my toddler was addressing me using a sweet accent he picked up from overhearing Downton Abbey.

Now that I think about it, that would be pretty sweet.  But what he’s referring to is something even sweeter in my opinion.

He’s actually saying, “Moon!!  Look at the moon!”

quote-about-moon

Source: GeniusQuotes.net (duh)

Lately, my kid has become obsessed with everything moon-like, which developed quite randomly and unexpectedly.  My husband and I, before we were parents, used to think it was weird and quirky when we saw kids being obsessed with seemingly random objects.  Of course, we now realize that, with toddlers, random is the norm.  Case in point – I once babysat for a sweet 4 year old boy.  On one of our first meetings, I asked him to go get his favorite book and we’d read together.  He brought out a ceiling fan catalog.  I glanced at his mom, who happened to still be in the room, and she smiled and nodded.  Unsure of how to read this book, I asked the kid to read to me and he proceeded to point out particular fans and explained to me exactly why they were his favorite.  Yuup.

My son’s obsession with moons began innocently enough through reading his growing collection of books.  I never realized how many kid books have moons in them or reference moons – there are a lot.  There’s Goodnight Moon, for starters, and on the very first page of The Very Hungry Caterpillar there is a large moon.  We started pointing these out, among other objects in the pictures, to Dylan when we read to him every night.  And then one night, he started saying it back to us.  He’d point at the yellow crescent and coo, Mumm!

I remember the first time Dylan pointed and named the real moon.  We were coming out of the library and it was just starting to get dark.  The lights in the parking lot had come on already, and since my kid loves lights, I figured he was pointing to a light, thinking it was the moon.  But nope, he knew the difference and he had also made the connection between the yellow crescents on paper with the glowing crescent in the sky.  What an amazing moment.

Since then, he works hard to seek out the moon wherever he can.  If he spots a yellow circle, it’s the moon.  Even pictures of the sun are, in fact, the moon. (Duh, mama!)  He’ll sit in his room and page through books he knows have moon pictures in them just to point them out to us (or to confirm they are still there).

More recently still, Dylan has started searching the sky looking for the moon.  He asks us to take him outside or to a window so he can see it.  (Points to window/door and shouts MUMMM!)  If it’s the wrong time of day, or if it’s overcast (welcome to the pacific northwest, moonlovers!), we explain to him that we can’t see it right now, and he gets so very frustrated and upset.

All of this is incredibly exciting for me to watch.  First, it’s evidence that my son is learning, growing, and showing preferences and making connections.  How freaking cool is that?!  Second, I love astronomy and space travel and…the moon.  When I took the PSATs, they had you list your projected career choice.  As a Junior in high school, I chose astronomer (this was while I was still in denial about my abilities in physics and quantum mechanics).  I can quote Apollo 13 in its entirety.  The Air and Space Museum is one of my all-time favorites.  I just watched a documentary about Scott Kelly’s historic year spent on the space station.  One of my favorite movies – Contact – speaks to me on so many levels.  I even insisted we visit Arecibo while Brian and I were in Puerto Rico a few years ago.  It was my nerdy pilgrimage of joy!

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So anyways, I am so excited to be able to share my love of space science with my son!  I told Brian that it’s only a matter of time until we have to get Dylan a telescope.  (And by Dylan, I mean me, because I was the kid who asked for a telescope and instead got a pair of high-powered binoculars.  So much for getting to be Ellie Arroway.)  I can’t wait to explain to Dylan why the moon is always in a new place in the sky and why it looks like it keeps changing shape.  And why we have seasons and about retrograde planetary motion and red shift and blue shift!!  So far, we’ve introduced Dylan to Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s reboot of Cosmos (which is a really cool program, I might add).  And while Dylan largely ignores it to play with his toys, he always comes back to pictures of the moon.

 

Space

She was weightless

Floating, drifting

Unable to control course or direction

She spun

So she stopped flailing

It was dark

Her eyes couldn’t find a spot on which to focus

It didn’t matter where she looked

So she stopped searching

Finally

After how long, she didn’t know

She spotted a sliver of light

How far it was, she didn’t know

She was unable to move toward it

With nothing to hang onto


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