Archive for People

State of the Apartment: One year later

No posts in a year is unacceptable. Most of my quick wit is out on Twitter. I really love the short form of 140 characters, dropping punctuation to denote subtle sarcasm or the popular all-caps for DRAMATIC EMPHASIS.

Tonight, though, a lot of life is going on around me, and I feel at once a part of it and yet wholly separated. An old college friend is in the hospital, dealing with the aftermath of a brain aneurysm. My boss tweets a video to a million people of a recent accomplishment: a rocket that comes back. An independent writer in the gaming industry decides she’s had enough of your (our?) bullshit. Meanwhile, I’ve worked through dinner again, unwinding to cartoons and reading about a computer virus that somehow burns your neurons. Am I missing out on something, or are we all just doing exactly the right things? I like to think that, if you made it so far as to have a Twitter presence, or a television and some Blu-Rays, then that’s not too shabby at all. It takes enormous willpower to change, and if something starts going to shit, we individual humans will definitely change… just as long as Earth keeps us around. I’m changing little bits, here and there. I’m doing a horrible job of it, but I’ve seen some progress. Let’s just make sure that no matter what happens, we keep moving forward.

History in video form

Just spent a year building a spacecraft that docked with the International Space Station. If you missed it, follow along!

Falcon 9 Liftoff, 5/22 early morning:

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The Missed Connection

Found this in my backup documents from a few months ago. Seems like it was well-written, and given the topic I assume I had ample time to craft it…


It felt like they took 45 minutes to board the airplane, but I finally got off my phone just as they pushed back, which was at 3:17 for a 3:40 departure. I thought it took a long time to board, but apparently it was disturbingly early. And yet we landed at 5:46, half an hour late.

A lot of things should have tipped me off that the plane landed late. They made an announcement urging the immediate and expedited passage of three people flying to colorado springs since they had to huff it across the whole Denver airport. When I negotiated my own exit, I made a beeline to my next gate, made sure everything was on time, and went off to find food. After all, I knew that I had an hour layover.

I stopped off at the bathroom, walked in a circle around the central rotunda, and unable to locate a proper sandwich (mayo AND mustard? Might as well set me on fire), I got a personal pizza and a bottled water, hoping that I could digest it because that’s the kind of trip I’d been having.

I leisurely walked back to my gate and found a spot among the crowd to sit down. But something seemed very off; the plane was moving backward. I guessed this was some kind of readjustment to align with the jetway, but dismissed that as the jetways themselves are adjustable. So I went to the front desk, and the flight to LA had disappeared from the boards. At this point I am more confused than I have ever been in recent memory. Where did my plane go? Did I miss a gate change? Confirmed this was the right gate, so time to ask: “Where’s the flight to LA?” “Gone. What seat were you?”

“Are you serious?” I grab my phone, and actually check the fucking time. It’s 6:17, seven minutes after my scheduled departure time. I thought I had an hour layover, and my plane is gone after 20 minutes of walking around the fucking airport? I checked my gchat and twitter post logs, since I know I was chatting right up until takeoff, and tweeting immediately after landing. This is when it actually dawned on me that I had missed my flight.

“Were you seat 15C or 11C? I gave them away when you didn’t show up.” “Yeah, I was 15C.” I didn’t even know my own seat number. I usually check that kind of thing while walking down the damn jetway. I guess I made some standby traveller’s night, but now I’m getting home at 1am.

The obligatory 6-month post

I am a week away from 6 months of working at SpaceX. It’s nearly unfathomable how bizarre that is.
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Great Transitions (part 2)

Editor’s note: This post was hastily written my first week on the new job, and sat in draft for 2 months.

I owe Hugh (one or two time poster on this very blog) at least one Very Fancy Hat for introducing me to a SpaceX recruiter.  Read more


I think I was in the bathroom doing bathroom-y things, and I noticed the brand new carpet in my apartment. Something so simple threw me down a scientific and philosophical rabbit hole, which I forgot about until just now discussing dreams about pizza. Not sure why, but that’s the point, right?
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Great Transitions (Part 1)

The blog’s been dark for too long… mainly because I haven’t known how to break this story. I guess I’ll just do it normally:

My life is changing again.

For the last few years I’ve worked at NASA Dryden Flight Research Center in southern California, and lived in Lancaster, 45 minutes away. It was my first real job out of college, and ever since I had picked aerospace as a possible career opportunity, I was elated to be serving my country by furthering scientific research in any way I could. It turns out, I am pretty good at it. Read more

This happens all the time.

The worst thing about being a nice guy is that any time I try to help someone do something on the Internet, two things inevitably happen.

More often than I can count, the person who I’m trying to help figures out how to solve their own problem. This is great, except why the hell ask for help in the first place? Solve your own problems next time, before you ask for help.

Now, I understand people like to say “Man I need help with this” and then immediately decide they don’t want to let themselves down by giving up. I’ve been in that situation many times. The way I’ve found to deal with any confusion that might arise, is to say something along the lines of “Ah I can figure this crap out myself.” This will at least let the people who might have been trying to help know that you’re still committed to solving the problem yourself. It leaves you receptive to commentary. But, they also know not to try too hard, since their efforts may go to waste if you figure it out yourself. The point is, TELL PEOPLE YOU’RE STILL TRYING TO SOLVE YOUR OWN PROBLEM, SO THEY DON’T FEEL LIKE THEY WASTED TIME AND EFFORT ON YOUR DUMB ASS.

Smart and stubborn as I am, if I get hung up on a problem, it must be pretty damn big. So, I usually take a step back, figure out how to ask the right questions, then ask them. Then I stop thinking about it, and I wait for people to respond. None of this operating-in-parallel bullshit. I asked for help, now I have to let help be offered. This would be a perfect time for a snack.

The only other time I try to help people on the Internet, the folks who need help have no ability to actually receive this help. My analogy for this is kind of like teaching a person with no arms how to play baseball. Even if I use the right terms (“swing the bat”), it’s still impossible to actually accomplish that, since the person has no arms. Note that this has only happened with two people: my grandmother, who used typewriters and had no muscle memory for “double-clicking”; and my father, who says “there must be some way to do X” and then expects me to impart enough of my years of computer knowledge in order to somehow let him do X. Instant messaging is quite the neato technology, but it’s not a brain link.