ecliptic

Posted on January 24th, 2011 by george.
Categories: Uncategorized.

we’ve watched your star’s slow sway
for a long time now
since before you noticed your spin
causes your star to rise and fall in your sky
and named that a day

since before you noticed your tilt
brings you many days of heat
followed by many days of cold
with equilibrium in between
and named those seasons

since before you watched your abnormally large moon
wax and wane
or noticed its effect on your vast oceans
of dihydrogen oxide

at first all we could parse
were those two failed stars
the one sweeping a wide path
locking your solar system’s angular momentum
in its gargantuan grip
the other with those beautiful rings
at first mere pixels from our point of view

beyond them two icy giants
blue and green

it took time to detect you
your planet and its rocky sisters, anyway
as they buzzed around your calm star

time to sense your thin envelope
and read its signature
across these limitless reaches

when last we sampled your planet
it was ruled by thunderous lizards
who grew wings
by the time we picked up your scent

we saw those bursts of light
those heavy elements hanging in your air
your first stumbling baby steps
foolishly turned on yourself
missing the potential of your own knowledge

we’ll be here
for the next kalpa at least
until this star runs out and we wander again

at least as long as your star lasts
or your precious seas survive
hung so perilously close to that nuclear furnace
that you’ve moved from worshipping
to harvesting

we’ll be here
as you grow
and prosper
and slowly gain a nobility
commensurate with your fortunate place among us

you will know us
when you grow eyes
that can see beyond

yourselves

4 comments.

sixteen

Posted on December 5th, 2010 by george.
Categories: Uncategorized.

the only in a squad of four
lounging by the pool
saw what we were looking for
but took me for a fool

magnetism drew us near
coyly made a case
anachronism’s feinted fear
while truth lay face to face

interrupted strangely then
by another dream
give me five but had a ten
plus one becomes sixteen

joined force against the evil one
let fly and made the chase
hunter, hunted on the run
we tread without a trace

introductions on the stair
drawn out from in the wall
the cube as black as sixteen’s hair
and not exactly small

convinced he’s more than binary
she listens to his tale
metamorphic finery
with heart beyond the pale

a flash of light and then he’s gone
we turn to find the source
the author of this heinous wrong
from that assassin force

but for our target it’s too late
we find him in disguise
in canine costume can’t escape
no matter how he tries

we find a quiet laundromat
with basins in the rear
a single patron calmly sat
nothing, we thought, to fear

with evil locked up in the back
we go out front to plan
and celebrate our clever knack
for catching such a man

her movements whisper how she feels
she twirls in close to say
I want to hear the dancing heels
on our wedding day

we fail to notice in our bliss
the patron sitting there
whose face unravels as we kiss
revealing hatred’s stare

then quicker than a blinking eye
our necks are in her snare
we perish there, sixteen and i
without a worldly care

4 comments.

The future of space exploration

Posted on April 15th, 2010 by george.
Categories: Uncategorized.

My friend Amin asked me today, in light of President Obama’s speech, if I thought the new plan for NASA was a good thing or a bad thing.  First, let me say thank you to the President for taking the time to visit the Kennedy Space Center, and recognize that the last time we had the Chief down here was during the Clinton Administration.  Landing Air Force One at the Shuttle Landing Facility is a serious gesture, and I appreciate that.  I believe the President when he calls himself a champion for space exploration, not least because he’s promised an extra $6 billion to NASA over the next five years, even while the country is in an economic crisis.  That’s commitment, if you ask me.

As for the plan, it is what it is.  I don’t make the call.  I toe the line.  One of the unique aspects of our system of government is the term limit; it doesn’t always make for the greatest continuity of vision for NASA, but we deal.  I’m grateful to have a job here, doing what I’ve always dreamed of doing.  I know we’re capable of building a heavy lift rocket to rival the Saturn V.  I’m glad Orion gets a second chance as an ISS lifeboat.  I have high hopes that SpaceX will succeed and Falcon9 will make access to LEO cheaper and more routine.

Everyone is so resistant to change…but that’s life.  You really have to let go of what you can’t control if you want to have any chance of being happy.  It’s much easier to describe the set of what you can control:  your own actions.  That’s it.  So I chose to work here.  They tell me what to do, and I try to do the best job I can.  That’s all you can ask of anyone.

I don’t get too caught up in the Team America rhetoric.  I have more respect than I can express for what NASA and the United States have accomplished.  But I’m just as happy to see other nations succeed with the peaceful exploration of space.  Look at what just happened today:  India launched a rocket with a homegrown cryogenic third stage.  It failed, tumbled out of control at 11,000mph.

Hey, we’ve been there.  We feel your pain, India.  But you’ll analyze the failure, address the problem, learn from your mistakes, and move forward.  Just like the Corvette racing team at Sebring this year, after the two Vettes collided in the pits.

Yes, I am a broken record, but I’ll say it again until it sinks in:  we are one human family.  I look forward to the day we can all collaborate, instead of everyone reinventing the rocket ad infinitum.  Not that it’s not a good engineering exercise.  But think of what we could achieve if we pooled our resources and worked together instead of competing, much less fighting.  Gather the brain trust of every country in the world?  Take all the money we spend trying to kill each other and turn it toward social justice, education, science, discovery, and exploration?  We’d already be on Mars.  We’d be on the moons of Saturn and Jupiter.  Permanently.  Today, Antarctica.  Tomorrow, the solar system.  Our fortunes would be diversified, and I can’t even begin to imagine the technologies we’d develop and how it would improve the lives of all humans, no matter which rock they ride.  It’s an unspeakably beautiful universe out there.  Look a little further:  can you see the day we set off to another star?

What matters to me is the question, “Are humans exploring space?”  The answer is a resounding yes.  Humans have lived in space, nonstop, since the year 2000.  There are more planetary probes and telescopes in space and on the ground than you can shake a stick at.  Spaceflight is exploding worldwide.  We learn new things every single day.  And let’s not forget:  if it weren’t for the Russians, the Europeans, the Canadians, the Japanese, and all our other brothers and sisters, the International Space Station wouldn’t be possible.  I don’t care what percentage of the bill was footed by the United States:  everyone helped.

How soon we forget that when we grounded the shuttles after the Columbia accident, ol’ Soyuz was the only ride in town.  How convenient that we omit that the very first satellite lofted by humans launched from Kazakhstan.  Yes, that’s right, the same Kazakhstan that Sacha Baron Cohen lampoons.  Now, when the whole fleet retires, we get to thumb a ride with Yuri again, and pony up a little gas money.  Let me be the first to say:  that’s not a bad thing.  Suck it up, America.  Show a little humility.  And a little gratitude.

I think it’s high time we Americans stopped thinking about everything in terms of us.  You wanna lead the world?  Fine.  Take the lead by inviting others to help.  The ISS is an incredible precedent, and a model for international cooperation.  We would be fools to let the bonds we’ve forged with this effort slip away.  Let’s propose a new vision that everyone can take part in.  Let’s throw our weight behind it, and put our money where our mouths are.

It’s not a party if you’re the only kid there.

2 comments.

Some things never change

Posted on November 8th, 2009 by george.
Categories: Uncategorized.

lorenia-then-now.jpg

Lorenia’s grandfather passed away recently, and her aunt just scanned in some of the photos he collected.  A black and white photo of the family was among the best of the batch, and not just because of the contrast and clarity.  I had Lorenia crop it close and put together this diptych.  It’s photographic proof that the mischief is innate.  Notice her mother’s tight grip, just to keep her in the frame!  I can only imagine what our children have in store for us.

1 comment.

A new sound

Posted on August 11th, 2009 by george.
Categories: Uncategorized.

1 comment.

Bloggin’ from Bolivia

Posted on April 26th, 2008 by george.
Categories: Uncategorized.

The llamas are a-spittin’ and the bowler hats are promenadin’ down the cobblestone streets.  Life is good in La Paz.

Tomorrow:  Lake Titicaca!

Next week?  MACHU PICCHU.

See you back in the States, kids.

4 comments.

Loss

Posted on February 18th, 2007 by george.
Categories: Uncategorized.

I find it amusing when something romantic doesn’t work out and friends all say, “It’s their loss.” Do they think that one wishes for the object of one’s affection to experience loss? Some consolation.

The end of a friendship or relationship often feels like a death. While I believe the end of life on this earthly plane to be a cause for celebration, grief is an understandable reaction in either case. Therefore I think the best course of action in the advent of a breakup is the same thing my Mom taught me about funerals: just listen. Be there for the grieving, lend a shoulder to be cried upon and comfort quietly or in silence. If you must say something, just say, “I’m sorry.” It does nothing for the distraught to say that this is part of God’s plan. Indeed, that can backfire. They are too consumed with self-pity to see the bigger picture until time passes.

Some wounds take longer to heal than others.

26 comments.

Mona’s Dream

Posted on January 20th, 2007 by george.
Categories: Uncategorized.

I encourage you to read the story of Mona Mahmudnizhad and to support the film about her life that is planned for release this year. I’m not usually known for my brevity, but I’m left speechless by her tale. Please forgive my reticence and discover Mona’s dream for yourself.

2 comments.

A lighter highway

Posted on January 15th, 2007 by george.
Categories: Uncategorized.

So I just arrived home from three hours of volleyball, and I’m sitting on my creamy, Miami Vice leather couch, looking at seven piles of freshly folded laundry and blogging on my swanky little Mac.  What do all these things have in common?  None would be possible without my friends.  So here’s giving credit where due:  Amanda, thanks for the invite to the game.  Shiva and Bahman, thanks for the couches.  Farah, thanks for doing my laundry and dishes, enabling me to tackle the hallway renovation project.  And Seth, thanks for Elvis.  I still owe ya, man.

Tomorrow I’m going to see STOMP for the first time with Denise, and if all goes as planned, I may finally have a roommate by the end of the month.  I just started posting pictures from Naseem and Greg‘s wedding.  Or at least photos from Dallas.  For those of you keeping score:  that was in August.  This just in:  it’s hot outside.  Like, it’s nearly midnight, in January, and it’s 71 degrees.  Who says global warming ain’t real?  Ok, enough toast from me.  Enjoy your week.

3 comments.

It’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Posted on January 15th, 2007 by george.
Categories: Uncategorized.

And all I have to share with you is this.  It’s stunning that such beauty exists, even moreso that it could come from the eye of one person.  Surf Kenny’s whole stream.  You’re bound to be amazed.

4 comments.