8.30.2011

The Eagle Has Landed...In My Heart.

Now that I ride a bus for an hour and a half each way, I get to spend time reading.

But the past 3 weeks haven't felt like reading. They've felt like an afterschool job that I love. They've felt like intimate meetings with some of the most extraordinary minds who have ever developed themselves, for the greater good. They have felt like walking a mile in a great man's shoes.

I've been reading about SPACE.

More specifically, the U.S. space program, and not just the astronauts, whose stories are of course amazing but well known.  Instead, I've had the chance to read about the space program through the eyes of the directors, engineers, telemetry guys, guidance systems gurus, and even the security guard of the Mission Control Center.  Every single one of their stories makes it so real, and so powerful, and reading it has truly been a life changing experience. 

This morning, my 45 minutes on the bus corresponded perfectly with the 40 minutes that it took Mission Control to guide the Lunar Module from lunar orbit into descent, and onto the surface of the moon.  Reading each of the commands, hearing the voices of all 15 of the guys in Mission Control and the crew responding as they determine altitude and fuel quantity and the splendid but curt description of the surface of the moon as the astronauts seek out a landing site. You've just never read anything like it. 

This particular book, "Failure is Not an Option" is written by Gene Kranz, who was the flight director in Houston.  What I love about his writing style is that he writes to you as if you are intelligent, capable of keeping up with his descriptions of people and titles and timelines and unbelievably advanced engineering and physics.  He writes to the world as if just reading the book is a standing invitation to join his team. By the time you land on the moon with Apollo 11, you just get it. You see the extraordinary talent and courage it took not just to be the man on the moon, but the men and women who put him there. 

It is sad to me that I have had a hard time finding a friend who feels this way about the space program. Who doesn't see it as a waste of money and a trivial part of the political cold war game. I guess Gene Kranz is that friend, the guy who devoted his life to putting a man on the moon not for fun or for money or to beat the Russians, but because, as he so magnificently states, there is a draw to "accomplish some feat where the human factor makes it possible where technology, no matter how brilliant or advanced, cannot. We have slipped the surly bonds of Earth."  The moon landing, that moment, is one of the masterpieces of collective human genius and valor. 

I just can't recommend this book enough, and hope that someone will take me up on the offer to read it, just so I can have someone to talk to about one of the best bus rides of my life.


Another one of my favorite space moments: Ed White completing the first Extra Vehicular Activity in history.

8.18.2011

For Safe Keeping.

Everytime that I want to use my mom's pie crust recipe (which is the best pie crust recipe) I have to go SEARCHING for it in the only place that I know it exists forever, which is my sister's blog. No offense to mom, but middle sister definitely has this recipe memorized, and I don't think mom memorizes anything anymore. But the farther we get from September 2010 the harder it is for me to find it in the backlogs of blogs.  Which is annoying. So I'm putting it

HERE.

beware, for this link will take you to the world's best mommyblogger with ADD (which is more charming than anything), the world's most photogenic blogchildren, and the world's best Pie Crust Cookies.  (as well as actual pie crust.) 

By the way, this comes about as a result of us picking our Plum Tree last night- AREN'T I SO FREAKING DOMESTIC AND CHARMING?  Less so when I say it in all caps? Good.

8.12.2011

The World As Seen by My Phone

Awhile back I got a nice camera to go with all my photographic ambition, and more recently, I've continually forgotten to charge it, or pretty much that it even exists. So that when I went to Austin recently for work, I said, meh, I'll just take my point and shoot, and proceeded to forget to get batteries the entire time I was there.  It's a residual issue for me, the fact that things needs power to run. It's baloney, anyway, I've been running on fumes since April.  beat that, CAMERA THAT HAS ENOUGH BATTERIES TO TELL ME MY BATTERIES ARE EXHAUSTED, BUT NOT ENOUGH TO TAKE ANOTHER PHOTOGRAPH. That's all, the ranting is done. I've sat with it, and I'm over it.

Ergo, here is my life the past three weeks brought to you not my a DSLR, not by a point and shoot, not even by an artsy iphone instagram, but by my ENV 2 and all both of its megapixels. (like I'm going to complain that my PHONE can take PICTURES.  that will always be awesome.)

The Austin skyline at sunset from my hotel room. It's purrrty.

The Texas Capital. Hotter outside than you can really gather from watching Real World Austin. Almost died walking here.

Texas dome. If a state could copyright a shape, Texas would copyright stars.


Best Door Hinges in the world, ever.  I can't compete.

the Texas House of Reps. When they say that everything's bigger in Texas, they mean, our house is bigger than America's House. And they would be right. Also, their chairs are nicer.

You may or may not know that Austin is also known as BAT CITY. Those brown swirly things? Bats. about 100 of the 1.3 Million bats that live under the Austin bridge and leave at dusk every night to go a huntin' like good little Texans.

See the black specks on the right over the horizon? Bats. I KNOW.

Coworkers and I took a little detour one night fer some outlying rural texas BBQ. I ate the rib of a cow, and it was amazing. Then we went sightseeing, to walk off all of the eating.

A purrty building in Lockhart, our BBQ town.  I loved this town, if you can't tell.

Back to Austin. This is the Driskill Hotel.  Real fancy, in a country and western sort of way.

This was in the Ladies Bathroom in the Driskill. I didn't go in there to take this picture, but it was a delightful bonus.

The stained glass dome in the Driskill, which I thought was just lovely. Dan, can we put one up in the "Stoker house"?

And here are two other nice things my camera saw recently. One is from when Aimee and the kids came to visit, and Dan and Sylvie had a nice peaceful bonding moment by the duck pond at Pioneer Park, while Aimee ventured alone into the land of chaos which was trying to wrastle two scruffy and wonderful boys into their car seats.

I'm glad you can't tell that's what's going on behind this pastoral scene of utter cuteness. Though I wish I had a picture of that too. 


This is our cat, Jeoffrey c.o.u.g.h. Cannonball.  He is a kitten, and he is a handful, and he makes terrible odors, and I love him desperately. 

Oh, the life of a camera phone. Her life is charmed, if you ask me.