My business trip this week was tedious, but fairly productive. The highlight was definitely getting to see some actual hardware, including going into the spacecraft high bay. Think of this as a giant clean room. The ceilings are approximately 150 feet high. Before you go in, you run your feet through a shoe cleaner, suit up (paper smock, shower cap, and shoe covers), and walk through an air shower. There are other types of clean rooms that require even more serious garb - a sort of coverall that we refer to as a "bunny suit" - but those don't generally permit visitors. Looking at hardware is always a cheap thrill, but reminds me of how the science fiction movies and TV shows get it so wrong. Satellites are not nice shiny pristine things. They're miles of cabling, bits of pink insulation taped here and there, and loose sheets of mylar held on with duct tape.
The hardware viewing was just a small part of the trip, with most of the time spent in discussions. I had some other side meetings while I was in California, so made reasonably good use of my time. I also used some spare time (and a free ticket) to finally see the movie "In America." There was one incredible scene, involving thunder and violence and passion, and it was generally enjoyable. But there were serious holes in the plot and the whole "dying man teaches others how to live" bit is rather trite. It was still worth seeing and a step up from either of the movies I saw on the flights ("Something's Gotta Give" and "School of Rock"). Finally, I had time to stop in at Vroman's (a very good independent bookstore in Pasadena) where I found blank books of the right sort and a guide book for Bulgaria. So, all in all, it was a successful trip in both the work and non-work senses.
At home, I've just been catching up on housework. Household paperwork just eats up so much time. Throw in my ongoing decluttering efforts and the weekend evaporates quite rapidly. I just have to keep reminding myself that I didn't accumulate all this stuff overnight, so it's natural it will take me time to go through it.
Copyright 2004 Miriam H. Nadel