Tuesday, September 09, 2003

"I Read the News Today, Oh Boy..."

Beatles, "A Day in the Life"

Things happen in early September.

2003: Warren Zevon died Sunday. I'll confess to never being a fan, outside of his 1978 hit "Werewolves of London". He was diagnosed with terminal cancer a year ago and given only a few months to live. He lived long enough to see his final album completed and to see the birth of his grandkids, just within the last couple weeks. Then he died. There are a lot of people like that, who have this one final task to complete before they die - and then when it's finished, they don't have to struggle to hang on, and they expire peacefully in their sleep one night. There's a Trader Vic's bar/restaurant in Beverly Hills on Wilshire that I pass when I'm in LA. I've always wanted to go inside and see if there's a werewolf with perfect hair drinking a pina colada.

2002: Less than a week before my departure for Australia on Sept. 14th. I got an unexpectedly big income tax refund check back in April and decided to do something fun with it instead of just dumping it in the bank. I spent the summer making plans to go scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef, climb Ayer's Rock in the Outback, visit the Sydney Opera House, and on the way back, lay out on Waikiki Beach in Hawaii. I did all of that and more, and had the best vacation of my life. It really bums me out that it was a year ago.

2001: I was preparing for a visit with the ophthamologist, trying to figure out what happened to my eye. Turns out a blind spot that suddenly appeared was actually ischemic optic neuropathy, a blood clot getting lodged in the blood vessels that supply the optic nerve. I wouldn't find out for months that it was due to some genetic factors I was born with. Meanwhile, a bunch of fanatics were finalizing their plans to hijack at least four airliners and turn them into bombs.

2000: Preparing for my certification run as a Sim Control Area instructor at NASA, training flight controllers. I had already passed my ascent/entry cert, the last thing I needed was my orbit cert. My final cert date was Sept. 11, 2000.

1999: Labor Day weekend, I moved into my new house. It took the better part of a month to get everything unpacked and put in its proper place (or at least the box moved to its proper place, some of my books still haven't been unpacked yet after four years).

1995: Interviewed for a job in the Systems section of the Space Flight Training division at NASA. It's what I'd wanted to do for years, since I found out about it, but for a long time there was a hiring freeze. But in spring 1995 Congress decided that since NASA's work on the shuttle was more operational than R&D, they needed to turn more shuttle work over to contractors and focus on the upcoming International Space Station. That meant a lot of shuttle instructors had to leave, so there were a lot of openings. Ironically, in hindsight this is one of the things that the Columbia Accident Investigation Board faulted pointed out, that the shuttle should never have been deemed operational.

1994: Broke up with Chris the weekend before a friend's wedding.

1989: Went skydiving for the first (and only) time. The short story: A friend cornered me while we were drinking at J. Larkin's one night at Happy Hour, and it sounded like a good idea at the time. While we were up in the (perfectly good) airplane the next day, the instructor had to push me out of the airplane because I couldn't jump by myself; I was too transfixed by the ground moving below me. I told my parents after the fact by saying, "Remember that thing that you didn't want me to tell you about until after I did it? Well, I did it."

1984: Started college. The kids starting college this year, Class of 2007, were born in 1985. If I had a kid right out of high school, he's be in college already.

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