Thursday, April 7, 2011

Beautiful Vistas and Thrilling Bursts of Speed

There's still a big part of me that would love to work for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. To be part of a team that sent a probe to a neighboring planet, to send a probe out to the stars.

NOVA may be the closest I get.

I wanted to be an astronomer, thinking the thoughts Carl Sagan thought as he put together his television show COSMOS. Then I encountered algebra, trigonometry and such in junior high, in high school. The Ds and Fs I got in those subjects, consistently -- I did better in geometry, but I'm at a loss to explain why -- steered me away from that dream.

But I can write. So I've been working on that.

But there are a lot of writers, a lot of science writers, a lot of technical writers, who also want to work for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, so the competition is fierce. And living in Southern California is expensive.

So I can watch these shows. I can read a lot about science, and space exploration. And do my little bit of technical writing for those guys in the Lost River Desert digging up the leftovers of nuclear weapons production.

"Anyone who imagines that bliss is normal is going to waste a lot of time running abound shouting that he's been robbed," says Gordon B. Hinckley, former president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. "The fact is that most putts don't drop, most beef is tough, most children grow up to be just people, most successful marriages required a high degree of mutual toleration, most jobs are more often dull than otherwise. Life is like an old time rail journey . . . delays, sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders and jolts, interspersed only occasionally by beautiful vistas and thrilling bursts of speed. The trick," he says, "is to thank the Lord for letting you have the ride."

These JPL guys in the video know all this. They work through it. As do I. I'm not working at JPL, but I am working on other stuff that takes me, maybe, to those beautiful vistas and thrilling bursts of speed Hinckley talks about.

And go to the stars in my mind, every time I listen to this:

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