I didn't sleep at all last night. Too excited. Running on two or so hours of sleep and feeling wasted.
I've been waiting for this moment of the Pluto flyby, for nearly all my life. The little world has been an enigma since it's discovery; my discovery of astronomy and space must have come before I was ten when I was reading my first books on the subject from the library and the encyclopedia and I was trying to imagine what all these worlds were really like apart from the mostly blurry photos until early space exploration started revealing those worlds in greater detail.
So it was with a sense of history and a little sadness that I stayed awake all night to 'watch' the flyby in a simulation running on my computer, showing the Plutonian system and the spacecraft, and how various instruments were active at a given moment and what parts of the little world and its companions were being scanned. It's a little eerie to see our entire Solar System so distant and tiny, finally playing out in a way I could not have imagined as a nerdy child (personal computers were still a couple of decades away). Science fiction has become science fact.
I finally gave up and went to bed for real after NH was now looking back at Pluto as it eclipsed the Sun and Earth, itself an experiment to measure Pluto's atmosphere, and begins it's next phase of exploration beyond the arbitrary boundary of Pluto's orbit.
The vast majority of the data has yet to be downlinked, and it will take more than a year to get it all because there's so much of it (we hope!) and the extreme distance and low power of the transmitter means it can only trickle in.
For now, the world finally has a true picture of Pluto's face, an iconic image that I think people will associate with the little world for a very long time to come. It's historic, this age you and I have lived through, from fuzzy telescope images to actual visits and even landings of the entire Solar System by our robotic minions.
The First Age of (Space) Exploration is complete. It's time to move on.
One of the last unalloyed pleasures of my life is music. You have to feel Bach fugues at some volume to really appreciate his music. I live for music, because it makes me feel alive.
To that end, I've been building and collecting audio gear since 1968. I've just put together yet another audio power amplifier based on the late Marshall Leach's design, but with better output transistors in a chassis that approaches what a commercially built amplifier should be. I'm about five years behind schedule getting this thing put together and working properly, for various reasons. But it's finally ready.
It sounds good. (A testimony to Prof. Leach's design skills and love of music.)
Dawn and the cats think I'm mad, but I don't care.
Looking back on my growing years (the 60's), I realize that I never had a mentor, a wise friend. I had parents, yes. My father was often drunk on the weekends and buried himself at work (an engineer for a major aerospace company). He was cynical and negative, and very likely as depressed as I am now. I have always abstained from alcohol as a result. My mother simply didn't know what to do; attention deficit disorder and accompanying major depression didn't have a name in those days, much less treatment. But she was certain I'd turn out to be a failure, and sometimes said so.
I had some terrible teachers and two employers for the first half of the 70's who could be best described as anti-mentors, that's for certain.
I'd like to believe in a guardian angel, a guiding spirit; I needed an archangel at the least.
Dawn's the only thing that keeps me going now. She cooked corned beef for our holiday meal, with her grandmom's simple but savory sauce, cabbage and mashed potatoes.
The only thing worse than antidepressants that don't work, are the ones that make me feel A WHOLE LOT WORSE when I go off them. What the hell does medical science think it's doing? Nothing to do but tough out another bad weekend. I'm beginning to suspect I know why my father was an alcoholic.
I'm not about to start. I'm already addicted to chocolate.
(At the library trying to distract myself from a pounding head; staying at home is a lot worse when I feel this badly.)
I started working at Carlisle Interconnects last month, building various cables and electrical harnesses for commercial aircraft. The job consists of standing at a 40 foot long table, laying out the wires, spacing out the labels (made of heat shrink tubing) and shrinking them, tying together bundles of wire with equine-duty waxed dental floss (I've made enough clove hitches and square knots to earn an Eagle Scout badge about ten times over) and pretty much double-checking nearly everything before electrical test and shipping. I will be learning other duties as time goes by.
Pay isn't great, but the environment is comfy and the people friendly (if rather heavily accented). There's a company-wide exercise/stretch routine early in the morning. Work hours are 6AM - 2:30PM; I may be working a 50 hour week soon, if I can stand it. I certainly need the extra money for a long and difficult financial recovery from the Great Republican Recession of 2008.
First "real" job I've had in many, many years; it's not really electronics but at least I can practice that skill at home, now that I'm starting to have a budget for projects and parts.