2 years at Spaceflight Industries

Today is my 2-year anniversary at Spaceflight Industries.

Coincidentally today I am operating as an Engineering Lead for our 4th mission rehearsal in preparation for commanding Global-1 when it launches in a few months. In the last 18 months my team has built Gemini, a ground & control system, from the ground up (pun intended) to task a 20+ earth-imaging satellite constellation from our groundstations around the world. The system provides satellite operators with real-time telemetry on the state of the spacecraft during a contact pass.

It’s amazing to think about what we’ve accomplished since I’ve been here and I’m excited what the next several months have in store!

Books that made me visibly emote

Some books are so powerful and moving that you can’t help but cry on the bus, laugh so hard that you embarrass yourself at work, or throw the book across the room. Here are three memorable books that moved me in very different ways

The Shepherd’s Crown

by Terry Pratchett

The Shepherd’s Crown is Terry Pratchett’s last book and forever the last book of his Discworld. It is one of the Tiffany Aching series, good for young readers, which is also heavily linked to the witches series. Mr. Pratchett, knowing it was going to be his last book, took the opportunity to tie off some loose ends in beautiful and yet heart-breaking ways. Not just at the end of the book, but at the beginning which sets the stage for the remainder of it. As such I was totally caught off-guard reading this book on a bus a few weeks ago and found myself crying in sadness, both for the characters, Discworld, Mr. Pratchett, and all the readers who loved his books. And that was all before Chapter 3.

To really appreciate this book, I recommend reading the other witches books and Tiffany Aching books before reading this one.

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened

by Jenny Lawson

I have a crazy affinity for Jenny Lawson, also known as The Bloggess. She, too, lived in a small town in West Texas, in the Texas hill country, and has a healthy fear of chupacabras. I love her writing style, her humor, and how she relates to her husband. I’ve read this book at least 4 times.

It’s so funny that after the 3rd time of embarrassing myself in public laughing my ass off, I vowed to only read it in the privacy of my own home where laughing so hard that I can’t breath with tears running down my cheeks would only disturb my partner and the children walking down the sidewalk wondering where the distressed cat sounds were coming from. My vow lasted for about 12 hours when I left for work the next day, which led to more laughing my ass off in the office cafe over lunch. Shockingly, despite knowing exactly what happens, the book gets funnier every time I read it.

If you, gentle reader, are not from a small town in West Texas you may, alas, only find this book very funny instead of guffaw-inducing hysterical, but I recommend it all the same.

Fall of the Kings

by Ellen Kushner

Fall of the Kings is the 3rd book in Ellen Kushner’s Swordspoint series. Daniel recommended the series to me when we first started dating. At the time he was in Minnesota finishing grad school and I was here in Seattle. We would read books together and talk about them over Skype or recommend favorites of ours for the other to read and discuss.

The thing I love about the series are the moving and engaging relationships of the characters. Specifically the gay characters who have depth to them beyond their interest in each other. I was particularly taken with the relationship of two characters in Fall of the Kings, to the point that when unexpected tragedy struck I was so utterly gobsmacked and furious that I threw the book across the room and fumed for 15 minutes before picking it back up and seeing what happened next.

I believe this is the only book that I have ever thrown across the room. I still assert that it had it coming and yet deserves to be read all the same. Herein lies adventure, passion, legends, and tears.

#putashirton body shames men

Fruit of the Loom has a new, and rather clever, marketing campaign for their t-shirts: PutAShirtOn.org. Their tongue-in-cheek video1 explains that the real reason for all the shirtless selfies on social media is because the guy’s shirts are poor quality and are getting “ripped” and “shredded”. Their social media campaign suggests that people comment on these photos with a #putashirton hashtag, which ties into Fruit of the Loom’s marketing campaign, and promote their EverSoft shirts.

It’s clever.

It’s also body shaming men.

I spent all of my childhood and most of my adult life hating how I looked and feeling ashamed of my body. I remember in middle school my dad took my brother and I to an after-school basketball program. I had so much shame taking my shirt off for the “skins” team that I refused to go back after the first night.

In college I remember riding my bike one day without a shirt on. Some assholes in a truck pulled up besides me at a stop sign and mocked me to “put a shirt on that ugly body”, laughed, and drove off.

It wasn’t until two years ago that I did enough mental and physical work to like how I looked. After feeling more confident I started posting some pictures to Instagram (warning: I’m often shirtless). Positive reinforcement of those pics by friends and strangers helped reinforce that I’m not ugly. I can easily imagine how shamed I would have felt at the beginning of that journey if someone had posted this marketing hashtag to my shirtless posts. (Today I would just consider them trolls and delete them.)

Feel free to roll your eyes at we narcissists (or want-to-be narcissists) posting shirtless selfies, but please don’t use this marketing hashtag to shame us.

1 A video which includes generally slim guys, most of them white, and all but one of them smooth, thus further perpetuating this as the “right” way that men should look. To their credit, it isn’t all really buff guys, so there’s at least that.