And so.

Posted: November 27, 2013 in Uncategorized

I had a friend come to visit who recently declared himself atheist, though he has been Christian in the past and comes from a Christian family. The backlash from his family and some friends has been…harsh. Weirdly harsh. Like, I don’t understand how you can just stop talking to someone who you were previously friends with just because they decided on a different religion than you. Disagree with them? Sure. Maybe have a conversation about it and explain why you don’t like their decision (ONE conversation). I can understand that. That’s not my reaction to it (actually, my reaction was “if you need someone to rant to, by all means- I’m good with rants.”) but I could understand it. I can’t wrap my head around completely shutting off from them though. 

I’m starting to become really tired of Christianity. Not that all of it is bad. I like the emphasis on grace. I like the emphasis on being considerate of those with materially less than you. That’s a nice thought. I like Jesus. The whole Jesus bit. That was good. I don’t like the inflexibility, the shaming, the downright horrible things that can be done based on “such and such God-inspired scripture”, I don’t like the arguments that end in tears in the most mild form and wars in the most severe. I don’t like that several of my friends have been so hurt by Christian ideas that they are permanently emotionally scarred from the experience and have trouble getting through life with a healthy view of themselves. I especially don’t like the fact that if Christianity as a whole is right then I have a huge list of very close friends and family members, people I care so much about that I don’t even have words for it, who are supposedly going to hell. That is not ok with me. 

 

And so. And so I am saying that as of right now (and I change views every now and then, obviously, so it is fluid.) I am first and foremost for people. I am for my friends who I don’t want to see harmed. I don’t want to see them harmed by people, I don’t want to see them harm themselves, and I don’t want to see them harmed by God. Ever. I don’t care what religion or lack thereof they follow, they are my friends and family. They matter to me. They matter in general. I want none of them harmed or shamed unless they start putting babies on spikes or something. If God is totally also for this no-harming thing then great. Awesome. But if not, then I guess I’ll deal with that later. (It seems as though Jesus is all for people being loved and accepted and worth a lot because he did actually DIE trying to prove to us that we’re loved. I’m still parsing through the part where there’s something inherently wrong with us, but yes we do screw up and hurt each other and want some kind of retribution sometimes, so maybe it was for those wrongs.) But I never want my religion to get in the way of loving people. People come first. Their well being comes first. I want that to be ok, but even if it isn’t then I’m still going with it. 

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LADEE launch and astronomy

Posted: September 7, 2013 in Uncategorized

In case you are not up on the latest NASA news, we just launched a mission to the moon to study lunar dust and the lunar “atmosphere”- a near-vacuum layer of particles over the lunar surface. It’s also carrying the first ever space-based optical communications system. (It’s a laser, but if you say laser people automatically think like the things that Tie Fighters fire in Star Wars and it’s nothing like that at all. It’s a concentrated data stream, like radio waves but higher frequency for more data carrying power.) Basically FiOS in space. Imagine getting 3D movies of a flight past Jupiter instead of just still pictures someday! 

Anyway, if you missed the launch here it is: http://www.wavy.com/news/local/wallops-island-moon-probe-launch

It launched from Wallops Island, VA which is actually decently close to where I live, so I got to watch the launch from the field where we were set up for astronomy. It was so cool! You could see the stages of the rocket separating off and everything. So excited to start having bigger launches from Wallops. 

The beginning part of the night before the launch was spent looking through some decently big telescopes (13″ mirror Cassegrain) at various nebulas, star clusters, galaxies, and planets. We saw Saturn, the Ring Nebula, the Hercules star cluster, the Andromeda galaxy, the Eagle nebula… and I found the twin stars Alberio all by myself! 😀 Image

Alberio is cool because it shows how different temperature and sized stars are different colors. You can tell how big a star is by what color it is, because star size depends on temperature. Imagine a blue flame being hotter than a yellow flame. Same idea here: the blue star is hotter than the yellow star. All stars look kind of white-ish when you see them with the naked eye, but through a telescope you can discern their color, especially if two are right next to each other! 

Another one of my favorites is the Ring Nebula- it looks like a smoke ring through a telescope. 

Image

We were stargazing up at the observation station which meant that we were surrounded by NASA’s telescopes as well. They can use them to track satellites and look for space debris among other things. The entire time we were there a huge radio telescope dish behind us adjusted every 15 minutes or so, tracking some unknown object across the sky. 

Image

 

We sat and talked about galaxies and interstellar travel and telescopes and it was just wonderful. 🙂 A great night overall. 

Fall Deer

I painted this for my grandparents. 🙂

Image  —  Posted: September 2, 2013 in Uncategorized

Bye Xanga. *waves sadly*

Posted: August 30, 2013 in Uncategorized

Well, it finally happened. I went to log onto Xanga and all I got was a “Xanga 2.0 work in progress” page. *sigh* Guess I’ll be blogging only here now…

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Grasshopper: 

 
 
Also, please keep in mind that this thing is crazy big! It’s a rocket for goodness sake. Size it by those trailers down next to the launch pad.

 It’s a solid rocket booster (SRB) that will actually LAND ITSELF BACK ON THE LAUNCHPAD after separating from the main launch vehicle. I don’t know if you know how weird that is, so let me explain. 

This is what solid rocket boosters normally do: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2HOsc7r7BiQ

(You can just skip to the 2 minute mark. It switches back and forth from cameras actually positioned on the SRB to a camera on the ground.) 

The booster helps get the rocket into orbit by giving it an extra “boost” of power while it’s still close to the ground, still accelerating hard to escape from Earth’s gravity. The only way that solid rocket boosters have worked in the past is to drop away from the main rocket engine after they’ve exhausted their fuel and free-fall back into the ocean for later recovery. Recovery doesn’t mean they’re ever used as SRB’s again. It mostly means we’re cleaning up our trash. (Good job, NASA!) 

But the Grasshopper. Holy crap you guys. The Grasshopper is an SRB that is meant to not only be reused, but will deliver itself right back to your launchpad after use! It has it’s own CONTROL SYSTEM. It corrects its trajectory in flight, balances itself upright (have you ever tried balancing a broom on your hand? This is about the same, but with more fire.), then gently touches back down in the exact spot it left from. I don’t even believe it, really. Like, I need to go out to the launch pad in California and see this sucker because I’m convinced it’s photoshopped. That’s how complicated this is. An exciting day for rocket technology! AHHHHH!!!! EXCITING!!!!!

If your relationship with someone doesn’t involve both people feeling ok and accepted by the other then that is something that should definitely be addressed. Love means acceptance. Not to be confused with lack of respect or boundaries. It just means feeling safe. 🙂

Video  —  Posted: July 23, 2013 in Uncategorized

When teens are angsty

Posted: July 11, 2013 in Uncategorized

I’ve discovered twitter. Holy crap. Hoooooollly crap. Who exploded the internet? And because I am friends with people on twitter who are also in several circles with angsty teenagers my feed is FLOODED with the endless stream of angst that comes with being 13-19 years old. 

Angst is not a bad thing. It seems like it when you’re going through it because it feels like it consumes your whole world. It seems like it when you’re older because you see it and it looks egocentric and selfish. But… I think it’s a necessary thing. I think if we didn’t have all of these feelings of being misunderstood and complicated as teenagers then we would never fully know ourselves. Maybe as teenagers we somehow realized that we needed to be alone more because we needed to find out who we were when no one else was around. Maybe we needed to feel like we had all of these hopes and dreams and feels and wants that no one could possibly understand because no one COULD fully understand it. It was us becoming. Sometimes it seemed hopeless, sometimes it seemed amazing, but looking back on it it mostly felt like a lot of waiting. Waiting for independence, waiting for self-sustainability, waiting for life to happen. Trapped. I felt very trapped during those years. Some of my best writing came from being trapped. Some of my best drawings too. Sometimes artwork is best when birthed out of lots and lots of angst. Maybe that’s the only way to create it. 

Teenagers and their angst. Turned inward to look at themselves and determine whether or not they like what they find there. They look to the outside world to see what that says about them, then form their own opinions. They are fragile years, but also bold ones. No one lives as recklessly as when they feel bigger than their world can handle. I hope that most of the angsty teens on twitter make it through. It’ll be neat to see what they can do once they are no longer trapped.