Welcome to the Wilcox Family weB LOG, your source for the latest Wilcox news, anecdotes, and rants; and, as Jack Benny quipped on his first radio show (March 29, 1932), “There will be a slight pause while you say, ‘Who cares?’””
Took Sarah ‘s father out planetgazing (finally) to the exotic location of his driveway.
Fabulous viewing of Jupiter and Saturn tonight with his NexStar 130 SLT and the lenses our dear friends gave us (one advantage of driving to Indiana, I could bring more stuff).
I have finally, definitely, seen the Great Spot! In our view Jupiter was inverted as in the image just above, but the 2 major cloud bands and the Great Spot were clearly visible! (As were all 4 Galilean moons.)
When I was about six, I constructed a theology of Sundays. I knew that Sundays were a celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus. I knew that “Sunday” had the words “Sun” and “day” in it. I surmised that God had ordained it that Sundays would be always sunny in honor of that most wonderful of miracles. I recalled that all the Sundays in my memory (at that time, perhaps as far back as a month) were, indeed, sunny.
And so this became an article of faith. My faith was confirmed for a number of Sundays thereafter.
And then, we had a cloudy, grey Sunday.
I revised my theology: God just made sure it didn’t actually rain on Sundays.
Then we had a drizzly Sunday. I reasoned that God had held back a larger storm. Then, rain that even I couldn’t explain away.
What to do? This could have shaken my faith in God, as happens to people when their faulty theology is exposed. I could have kept revising reality to fit my theology: people do this all the time. Or I could have concluded, as even at six I did, that my theology was wrong.
Theology is a human endeavor. Like that other human endeavor, science, we need to write our theology in pencil. That is what my professors at Gordon taught me.
Still more time saved by not showering or bathing.
Who needs to put on clean clothes every day?
Wait, what is that? …
Day 2, Continued.
Holy, freaking crap! There is nothing left of the Pop Tarts but wrappers. Do you children have no discipline at all?!
(The boogers mumble something about apples and trees.)
We’re ruined! Doomed. Do you hear me!? We’re going to starve, or worse, have to eat something I cook! Do you remember fiasco of the pancakes? Ashish remembers the pancakes? (“You cooked steak? I thought you were going to make pancakes.”)
Someone in this house smells. It seems to be worse around the children. And the kitchen.
Maybe the philosophy of, “Why clean? It’ll just get dirty again,” needs some reevaluation.
At least Juno is happy, although this morning she walked over to me, looked me right in the face, sniffed once, and ran away.
And. We’re hungry. The children are sticking firmly to their commitment to starve before they eat anything I might cook.
What we thought was thunder turned out to be the combined output of stomachs rumbling.
How much longer?
It’s midnight now. The house is dark. I am not sure how this will turn out. The kids are all desperately sick, throwing up. I can hear my son and daughter retching in separate bathrooms. I went in to check on them a few minutes ago, to see what was coming up.
I think I’m okay, at least for the moment. But of course the odds aren’t good: most of the people involved in this business are already dead. And there are so many things I can’t know for sure.
I have a ringing in my ears, which is a bad sign. And I feel a vibrating in my chest and abdomen. The baby is spitting up, not really vomiting. I am feeling dizzy. I hope I don’t lose consciousness. The kids need me, especially the little one. They’re frightened. I don’t blame them.
Okay, wanna see something really cool? (Actually, it’s kinda hot …)
Below is a cropped image from a 1969 National Geographic map of the seafloor, showing the Pacific basin. What’s the cool part? See that long, almost L-shaped line of ridges and seamounts and islands that has Hawaii at the very end? That’s where the Pacific Plate has slowly moved over a hotspot in the earth’s mantle, which causes seamounts to form, and, occasionally, islands like Midway or Hawaii.
The ridges show the movement of the Pacific plate over the last 75,000,000 years. Kind of slow movement, only about 6,000 km in that time, or 0.000000009132 km/h, about 80 mm/year.
That bend in the L is where the Pacific plate shifted direction 43,000,000 years ago.
In case you’re wondering where it goes as it moves, you can see the trenches on the top and left edges of the plate. Those are subduction zones, including the Marianas Trench, the deepest part of the ocean on earth. That’s where the Pacific plate is moving underneath the other plates, getting recycled very, very slowly.
This is something I stumbled across, looking at images Sarah was using for school. I looked over her shoulder, and exclaimed, “Oh my gosh! Look at that! Do you see what that is?!” I love personal moments of discovering the wonders of our universe like that, such as the time as a teen I took a borrowed telescope out one summer night, pointed it at a bright “star,” and discovered I was looking at Jupiter and the Galilean moons.
While my wife—Sarah Latimer—and I were walking our dog, Juno, we chanced upon an outside window of this history classroom at Nashua’s Fairgrounds Middle School, where our daughter, Naomi, attends.
I was moved to tears at the display, particularly given the anniversary of Kristallnacht. This was a meaningful reminder that, despite what we have seen all too often on social media and propaganda outlets, there are, indeed, those like this English teacher who are quietly and efficiently going about making the world a better place for all our children.
One of the best parts of the March for Science Sarah and I attended on April 22, 2017, in Washington, D.C., was the nearly endless creativity the marchers put into their signs. Not too many were repeated, and few would have been considered offensive. The preview image here is my sign, cribbed from “Stand back! I’m going to try science!” of XKCD origin.
“The use of the word ‘today,’ should not by any means be interpreted as meaning that I (‘The Speaker’) do not believe you (‘The Addressee’) do not look radiant at every moment. Nor should you feel that subjective beauty is an expectation or requirement of gaining or maintaining the affection of The Speaker. The Speaker acknowledges the numerous beneficial and desirous qualities The Addressee possesses, which include, but are in no way limited to: supreme intelligence, unquestionable moral character, delightful humor, unparalleled business acumen, unassailable logic, perfect sexuality, and infallible parenting. The Addressee is the Speaker’s constant delight, his dearest companion, his partner in all ways. The Addressee is due The Speaker’s complete emotional involvement, financial remuneration, and temporal dedication. In the unlikely event of a disagreement, The Speaker preemptively cedes all possibility of correctness to The Addressee. The Speaker further acknowledges The Addressee is the solitary possessor of his undying affection and his eternal soul, world without end. Amen.”
Remember Scotty’s remark about his nephew in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan? (No, of course you don’t.) Scotty explains to Kirk, after an inappropriately emotional response by Midshipman Preston: “My sister’s youngest, Admiral. Crazy to get to space.”
“Come on, R2, we’re going.”
Although I never pursued a career as an astronaut, I certainly remain, “Crazy to get to space,” and the description from Khan still resonates with me. I may yet get there, in my lifetime, especially with companies like SpaceX competing to make the cost of getting to orbit as low as possible.
For now, I’m going to have to settle for a proxy. Eliszabeth* MacDougal, one of the human family members I inherited when I married Sarah Latimer, has a friend, Cian Branco, who offered her the chance to send something small up on the Terrior Improved Orion rocket as part of the RockSat-C program. Eliszabeth realized this would be thrilling to me, and passed along her opportunity.
I ordered a new Lego R2-D2 minifigure, and a few parts to complete another mini-me as an astronaut, and shipped them off to Eliszabeth. They will be going up on Thursday, June 23, 2016, somewhere between 6:00 and 10:00 am, from the NASA facility at Wallops Island, Virginia. (My son, David, and I stood on our roof in the cold in October, 2014, to watch a night launch from Wallops.)
Update: (June 24, 2016) I got up early to watch the launch today! In my mind, I was thinking, Saturn V. Long, slow acceleration. This is, uh, quite a bit smaller, and it zoomed upward so quickly I missed the rocket itself in the launch video screen capture. (The video will be posted soon by NASA/Wallops, anyway.) The crew was worried about missing the launch window due to weather, and debated skipping the camera alignment step. In addition to the pad camera, there was a UAV (drone) flying around, as some of the pictures below show.
The rocket got to its apogee of 119.08 km (74.0 miles) almost immediately. The payload detached successfully, and hit splashdown in the Atlantic, where it would be recovered, only 8 or 9 minutes later.
Update: (June 24, 2016, 16:05) Just got the official word from Cian: “Hey Doug, will send pics a bit later, currently wrecked. Your minis all went up and returned fine. I have pics of reintegration. Cheers!”