You couldn't be here if stars hadn't exploded.

To the dumb question, “Why me?” the cosmos barely bothers to return the reply, “Why not?”

13 July, 2014

Killing Other's Kids

It was this bullshit between Jews and Muslims egged on by Christians that made me become actively atheist. People killing other people's kids over idiot religious beliefs. Beliefs in which there is no way to reconcile between religions. Tolerance? Coexistance? None of them want to do that, that isn't acceptable to any of them. How many Muslim kids have died this round? Dozens, Jewish kids? One. Why? Ask the Christians egging on the Jews. Fuck all religion.

I helped EAA62 fly over 100 kids today. Muslims, Sikhs, Catholics, Hindus, who knows what else, all together. They were all too young to understand this bullshit and to hate each other. It takes religion to do that. 


http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/13/world/middleeast/israel-gaza-strip.html

Why would anyone support the GOP?

"If you are afraid about a public option and competition stop calling yourself a capitalist. If you don’t want to help the sick stop calling yourself Christian. And if you don’t want to save American  lives stop calling yourselves patriots. I think what the President is up against right now is a party that is at war with itself. And I do think there is a great chance here for the President to step in and remind the American people especially socially conservative Republican voters, these guys shutdown the government and cost you billions. These guys had over 50 attempts to repeal this and now a lawsuit we all know is not going anywhere. If you are not a millionaire, why are you still supporting the GOP?"

04 May, 2014

Brain Status

Update: The brain doctor said I am good to go. He is taking me off the anti-seizure drug (slowly, last dose on Tuesday) and as far as he is concerned I can resume driving. The EEG and MRI were clear of any reason for the seizure to happen again. He says it happens, a perfectly normal person can have one out of the blue, possibly triggered by dehydration, lack of sleep, stress, drugs or just some neuron dying at the wrong moment. One in 30 of us will develop epilepsy of some form in our lifetimes (this isn't considered epilepsy since I've only had one seizure with no known cause or evidence) and 60 out of 100,000 people will do this once and never again. So brain-wise I seem to be ok. My shoulder is still broken. For more info: http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1184608-overview

Apparently the FAA wants to see me be seizure free for four years, the last two years without any anti-seizure medication. And then they'll listen to the brain doctor. I have some options in the mean time as long as the DMV allows me to drive. Safety pilot/instructor can fly with me in my plane. I can fly Light Sport category aircraft (there was one I could rent but I think it is gone now). I can fly ultra-light aircraft (para-gliders, hang-gliders, powered hang-gliders, etc...). There is also some legislation in congress to relax medical requirements for my class of aircraft to be the same as Light Sport. I have not heard from the DMV yet. I called them last week and they had no restrictions on me noted. That could change and there is a form the brain doctor can send in to reinstate me, he said he would if it happens.

23 April, 2014

Comment about free speech and campaign financing

Let me try to be clearer. Money to support candidates for election to the legislative and executive branches has become less restrictive due to the two Supreme Court decisions on free speech and campaign financing, especially with respect to corporate funding. Corporations have interest in getting candidates elected that favor their business. Corporations and people with a lot of money provide funds for the candidates and to PACs to support their candidates. The result is that those with money can drive who gets elected, possibly with some quid pro quo expectation. Money (corporations, PACs, wealthy) can say whatever it wants, true or not. That makes the side with less money spend its more limited resources defending, rebutting, correcting and less able to express its case to the voters. The purpose of campaign finance controls is to allow a fair exchange of ideas and positions on issues for voters to decide with. That is an ideal state that I have no expectation of ever achieving. To think that corporations have any right to back a candidate or provide campaign financing for a candidate is in my mind wrong. Government representation is for the people, not corporations. A corporation is not a person, does not act like a person, does not have interests like a person. I don’t think corporations should have any direct influence in the election of government representatives. They have plenty of indirect influence. People with money don’t deserve any more say in who gets elected than from anyone else. Basic nature of a democracy. Examples of issues are socialized medicine and climate change. One is a political/social choice the people should make for themselves. The other is a scientifically determined fact the people need to choose to respond to. Both through their elected representatives. The problem is when the few (wealthy and corporations) use their money steer the choices of representatives and ultimately the choices for the issues to their benefit by overwhelming opposition with lies, misinformation, and distortion. That does happen. The people are not getting clear debate to choose with. They may choose against their best interests (like a plumber voting for a small government tax cutter who eventually cost him his business) or don’t vote because they are confused or ambivalent due to the fighting. What I desire is a level debating field where positions can be laid out clearly for people to make educated decisions. There can be noise all around the field and being a free speech advocate I support that, but within the political campaign debate, it has to be limited so that all sides (liberals, conservatives, greens, libertarians, etc…) can get their points across. That means limiting money and who can donate. I think it also means who can speak within the campaigns. I think there have to be rules of evidence as well. Within the campaign sphere. Right now, there is no such thing. I suspect voting would be more prevalent with the ability of people to go straight to the candidates’ positions without the flak and noise and lies and misinformation the free-for-all we have today gives. That is not government control of any message, that is control of the election process to allow the people to make informed voting decisions.

21 April, 2014

I was told to look in the mirror

I look in the mirror and don't see any hatred of minorities. I am a minority. I've tolerated religion all my life and still do, I don't oppress anyone, and seldom make claims without evidence. However, religion doesn't get a free pass anymore. If it makes claims that can't be substantiated, it gets questioned. No longer is faith a virtue. No longer can religion claim moral high ground. No longer can religion claim the only purpose and meaning to life. No longer can religion claim any explanation for why or how we came to be. Showing where religion is wrong is rational human growth, progress out of darkness and superstition. That isn't war, that's rational thought. That's growing out of fear and into understanding of our place in the universe. If the religious feel embattled and persecuted, they should consider the arguments they make based on ancient texts and personal anecdotes that usually are easily explained by statistics, imperfect human perception, and corruption.

Well. That does it. As a private pilot anyway.

My seizure of 10 April killed my ability to fly as a private pilot for the next 4 years at best.  Assuming I'm off any drugs for the previous 2 years and I am ok to drive.

The good news is I can fly Light Sport aircraft if I am ok to drive.  Slower, smaller planes, only one passenger.  Now to deal with the DMV.  That means getting past the EEG test later this week.  If that shows no sign of epilepsy they will take me off the seizure medicine and I can start back to normal.

19 April, 2014

Grand mal seizure

Flew some kids on April 5th, these will be my 301st through 304th Young Eagles officially.  I am hoping they are not my last.

On April 10th I experienced a grand mal seizure strong enough to fracture my left shoulder and stress the crap out of my back.

Thanks to everyone. Standing up to the face of what life throws us is what makes us human. I'm proud of being part of this bunch.
A good friend and coworker suffered a seizure today at work. It was both a horrifying and amazing event. The seizure itself was horrific to witness, understandable, but traumatizing to some. The response of our team of coworkers was astounding. People clearing the room, people dialing 911, people running to various doors to await the emergency response, people holding the elevator, people holding doors.... There is NO WAY the medical responders were going to have any doubt where to go. Yes it stressed people out, but they did well. A true team  I'm proud of them all.

I visited him in the ER tonight, and he is doing well. The MRI showed no sign of a stroke or tumor. He's loaded on morphine at the moment and seems, well, drugged. lol Lucky him. After this I may need some.
Like ·  · Promote · 
  • Vicky George Love this report, and love how people act in crisis like this. I don't know why but it always makes me really emtional to see how KIND people are when circumstances liberate them to be so.
  • Chuck Thurston We were in the middle of a nationwide VTC at the time, so we thought about rolling Tom under the table to keep the meeting going, but the swearing he was doing would have disrupted the meeting anyway.

  • Mary Jane Pace Owen Thank goodness for all the wonderful people who helped my dear cousin.
  • Catherine Chappuis McMahon Thank you all for the fantastic response you provided when my nephew needed you. We are so very grateful!!! I know he would have done the same for you as well.
  • Melanie Moreno Stuart What a beautiful message Chuck! I second that, it was difficult yet amazing to see how everyone worked together to help Tom. And yes Tom has quite the potty mouth! 
  • Austin Wright Tom, I feared the worse during that VTC and am glad that it wasn't a stroke or worse. Sorry that you had such a rough time, seizure and broken shoulder. Hope you can get some good rest and get your health back quickly - but for your sake I hope you don't return to work too soon! Thanks for all your hard work on our program.


    I am just a tired, grumpy liberal atheist whose brain decided to leave the room at the start of a customer briefing.  The raving maniac that remained was hauled away by paramedics.  Brain and body rejoined somewhere on the way to the hospital.  :-)

24 January, 2014

Now I've seen it both ways

I've seen the sun both ways now.  Still above the horizon at midnight and now below the horizon at noon.  In 1979 my friends and I went to northern Norway in July and in Bodo stayed up to midnight to watch the sun not set from the top of a hill.  Today I am sitting in a Boeing 747 over the middle of Greenland at 34,000 feet, the local time is a little after noon and the sun is below the horizon. Awesome when I realized what I was seeing. Airline crews on polar flights see this all the time, but I wonder how many passengers do, realizing what they are seeing.  My row mates appreciated it when I pointed it out. Explainable given they are young Europeans with an effective educational system.

Also saw Greenland glaciers and land mass along with ice floes and cracks in the ice since the weather was clear. Another new sight to me.  


02 January, 2014

Very Basic Astronomy

This is harder than I thought… trying to find a very basic astronomy video or web site.  Easier to just write it out.  And trying to not be condescending.

With the exception of eight things, every light in the sky you can see with just your eyes is a star.  Including the sun.
1. Planet Mercury (hard to see unless you know where and when to look)
2. Planet Venus
3. Our Moon
4. Planet Mars
5. Planet Jupiter
6. Planet Saturn
7. An occasional comet or meteor
8. Airplanes/Satellites/Space Station/Shuttles (man made stuff in the sky)


The sun is a star.  It is our star.  It is really really close to us, compared to any other star you can see which is the only reason it looks different.
Other stars all seem to have planets in orbit around them, but we, with our eyes cannot see any of them.

The order of things is: Earth is a planet in orbit around the Sun.  The Sun is a star in orbit around the center of the galaxy.  Our galaxy is one of billions in the universe.

Our sun is an average star, born from dust and gasses that coalesced about 4 billion years ago into our solar system, destined to burn out and explode in another 4 billion years.  All of the elements in our solar system heavier than Helium were created in the fires and deaths of previous stars in the previous 10 billion years. The carbon in your right hand was probably not created in the same star that created the carbon in your left hand.

The stars we see with our eyes in the sky are all in our galaxy, a fat disk of billions of stars, 100,000 light years across, with a massive black hole in the center.   We are about 2/3s of the way from the center to the edge so there are stars from our galaxy all around us.  Looking towards the center of our galaxy is what the Milky Way is, looking towards where most of our galaxy’s stars are from our point of view.  If a model of our galaxy was made 100 yards across, our entire solar system, including Pluto's orbit, would be smaller than a grain of sand at that scale.   The light from most of the stars at the center of our galaxy is blocked by clouds of dust and gasses, otherwise the Milky Way would be nearly as bright as the sun.  Infrared and x-ray telescopes can see through that dust and show us the structure at the center.
100,000 light years distance = 6 × 1017 miles = 600,000,000,000,000,000 miles.

There are billions of galaxies in the universe, each with billions of stars.  They are faint and impossible to see without a telescope with one exception, the Andromeda galaxy which can been seen from a dark location on a moonless night.  If you hold a dime at arm’s length against the darkest, emptiest, part of the sky, in that direction the Hubble space telescope saw thousands of galaxies.  Each of these are millions of light years from each other now.  The Universe is expanding, all of the galaxies are moving away from each other.  Someday, a future civilization in our galaxy will not be able to see the light from any other galaxies or of the background radiation from the Big Bang. They will not be able to derive the true history and structure of the universe.

We are far more insignificant than you have ever imagined.


01 January, 2014

Twitter thing again.