Posts By: Mark Alexander

23 Emotions People Feel, But Can’t Explain

  1. Sonder: The realization that each passerby has a life as vivid and complex as your own.
  2. Opia: The ambiguous intensity of Looking someone in the eye, which can feel simultaneously invasive and vulnerable.
  3. Monachopsis: The subtle but persistent feeling of being out of place.
  4. Énouement: The bittersweetness of having arrived in the future, seeing how things turn out, but not being able to tell your past self.
  5. Vellichor: The strange wistfulness of used bookshops.
  6. Rubatosis: The unsettling awareness of your own heartbeat.
  7. Kenopsia: The eerie, forlorn atmosphere of a place that is usually bustling with people but is now abandoned and quiet.
  8. Mauerbauertraurigkeit: The inexplicable urge to push people away, even close friends who you really like.
  9. Jouska: A hypothetical conversation that you compulsively play out in your head.
  10. Chrysalism: The amniotic tranquility of being indoors during a thunderstorm.
  11. Vemödalen: The frustration of photographic something amazing when thousands of identical photos already exist.
  12. Anecdoche: A conversation in which everyone is talking, but nobody is listening
  13. Ellipsism: A sadness that you’ll never be able to know how history will turn out.
  14. Kuebiko: A state of exhaustion inspired by acts of senseless violence.
  15. Lachesism: The desire to be struck by disaster – to survive a plane crash, or to lose everything in a fire.
  16. Exulansis: The tendency to give up trying to talk about an experience because people are unable to relate to it.
  17. Adronitis: Frustration with how long it takes to get to know someone.
  18. Rückkehrunruhe: The feeling of returning home after an immersive trip only to find it fading rapidly from your awareness.
  19. Nodus Tollens: The realization that the plot of your life doesn’t make sense to you anymore.
  20. Onism: The frustration of being stuck in just one body, that inhabits only one place at a time.
  21. Liberosis: The desire to care less about things.
  22. Altschmerz: Weariness with the same old issues that you’ve always had – the same boring flaws and anxieties that you’ve been gnawing on for years.
  23. Occhiolism: The awareness of the smallness of your perspective.

Legal!

One of the tasks I was dreading upon returning to Arizona was going to the DMV. While compared to Colorado (where drivers’ licenses and vehicle registration are administered by two completely separate entities requiring separate visits to different offices) Arizona is heaven sent; it’s a one-stop-shopping experience.

It turns out that it wasn’t all that bad. I had feared that because I did not have my Title, it would turn into a major hassle to get the car registered. (I paid off the car a little over a year after we’d moved to Denver, and the finance company mailed the Title to my old Arizona address after the USPS forwarding order had expired, so I never received it.) Turns out the only issue I had was needing a smog certificate before getting a duplicate Title from Arizona. Once I had that in hand, it was a breeze. I got the Title, re-registered the car in Arizona, and even got my AZ Driver’s License in about 30 minutes.

Pluto in Full Color

The latest and greatest from New Horizons:

Four images from New Horizons Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) were combined with color data from the Ralph instrument to create this global view of Pluto. (The lower right edge of Pluto in this view currently lacks high-resolution color coverage.) The images, taken when the spacecraft was 280,000 miles (450,000 kilometers) away, show features as small as 1.4 miles (2.2 kilometers), twice the resolution of the single-image view taken on July 13.

The best is yet to come!

“Because You Can’t Evangelize and Antagonize at the Same Time!”

“Amazing delivery, and refreshing message! But, the core of his message is homosexuality is a sin and a shame, but we shouldn’t judge that sin because we’re all sinners. I reject the idea that homosexuality is a sin or a disorder at all. But he can’t come out and say that without admitting the Bible is wrong. And if it’s wrong about that, then the whole ball of yarn unravels.” ~ Crewman

Delightfully Strange

That’s the phrase I have to use to describe our return to Phoenix. Things are familiar—yet different. I find myself straining old, unused neural pathways to remember where things are and what the best route is to reach them.

That being said, my first impression upon being back is seeing how incredibly easy it is to get around. Compared to Denver, even having to go completely across town is a breeze.

Have I mentioned that I can breathe again? It’s funny, but it seemed like the altitude had only started affecting me within the last year or so, and it wasn’t simply because of being out of shape and having to climb two flights of stairs to get to our apartment multiple times a day.

Most—if not all—of our old haunts are still in business, although as one can imagine, subtle and not-so-subtle changes have occurred over the past four years. It’s also fun seeing how memory has played tricks on me; things that I could’ve sworn were in one location are actually somewhere totally different.

When I was in Phoenix briefly two years ago to attend to my dad’s end-of-life affairs, Phoenix felt alien; it wasn’t home any more. Driving past my old apartment felt like I was viewing it through someone else’s eyes.

That’s different now. Not only does Phoenix now feel like home, in many ways it feels like we never left. But then I’m confronted with something that has wildly changed since our exodus, and I’m reminded that Denver was not, just a bad dream.

Okay, I’m not being fair. We had some very good experiences there, and the first winter was kind of fun. Because of its location, we got to see several things (Devil’s Tower, Mt. Rushmore) that we probably would n’t have otherwise. But on the whole, I’m glad to be gone from the place. It was time. Cosmically speaking, I tell myself the entire reason we went there was to get Sammy.

And speaking of the lovable little furball, he’s adjusting to life here more quickly than I could’ve imagined. He loves having a yard to run in and doesn’t seem to mind the toasty temperatures. He does seem to have developed a garden hose addiction, however.

If I have any regrets about leaving Denver, it was that we didn’t get a chance to take advantage of the relatively quick drive up to Yellowstone. It’s still a bit of a hike to get there from Denver, but nothing compared to driving from Phoenix. Then again, the west coast is so much easier to get to now.

Fingers crossed on the job front. I had what I consider to be an excellent interview with a state agency yesterday (as well as meeting with a placement agency that was a complete waste of my time). They liked me, I liked them, but I am up against one other candidate. I’m not going to stress; I know in my heart of hearts that we’re supposed to be here and work will be forthcoming.

Amazing…and Tantalizing

While data and pictures will be downloading for the next sixteen months, NASA’s New Horizons probe already provided humanity with some astoundingly tantalizing photos of Pluto and it’s main moon, Charon.

What strikes me the most about the color photos of Pluto is the color. They look like antique tintype prints. Even when I see the planet with the dark grey Charon immediately next to it, I still have a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that this is the planet’s actual color.

What’s even more amazing to me is the fact that with the level of sunlight falling on these worlds and the speed at which New Horizons sped past that NASA was able to get any images whatsoever.

Science is cool.

And the fact that they can get closeups of the surface of this quality is nothing short of astounding—with even higher resolution images coming that will download over the coming months.

If Pluto weren’t fascinating enough on it’s own, Charton is revealing just as many surprises.

For example, how do you get a peak rising out of a circular depression? No one seems to know. What it looks like to me is that a space rock came in very, very slowly, and almost had a soft landing on an extremely plastic surface. Not traveling fast enough to form a traditional crater/ray structure, but fast enough to impact the surface and only slightly deform the surrounding terrain.

All I know is that after seeing these few images, it’s obvious that humanity will have to return at some point for an even better look. I doubt it will happen in my lifetime, but it still fires the imagination—especially when you consider that we didn’t get any sharp photos of Pluto’s much more interesting face:

Sammy Discovers the Garden Hose

This pup is still full of surprises!

New Mexico, Land of Enchantment Endless Road Construction

New Mexico really needs to change its state motto from Land of Enchantment to Land of Endless Road Construction.

I can’t recall a single trip through the state over the last fifteen years where we didn’t run into major road construction of one type or another. The place is obviously mainlining federal highway funds.

That being said, the place is still incredibly beautiful.

One Last Look

The day has finally come. The truck is being loaded. In a few short hours we’ll be on the road to Phoenix.

Hungry Mouths to Feed

Several weeks ago a couple birds decided to take up residence on our balcony. They built a pretty impressive little home on the sprinkler head. It’s been quiet up there, but today while cleaning off the balcony I noticed several broken eggshells below the nest and happened to look up.

Free at Last!

Yesterday was my last day at ██████. My eighteen months there was—without question—the absolute worst experience of my entire career. Maintaining my professionalism in the face of such unrelenting unprofessionalism exhibited by the immediate management and most of the members of my department was a huge drain, both physically and emotionally, and something I hope to never go through again.

That being said, I did gain some additional Windows 7 proficiency that I didn’t have before coming on board, I received formal OS X training, and I made two new friends (forged through fire as it were), the only positive things to come out of the whole experience.

My exit interview was enlightening, only because it confirmed that our H.R. representative already knew about what had been going on down there.

I didn’t use the phrase “Fecund Vat of Toxic Hellstew” to describe it, but I so wanted to.

Her eye rolls and other non-verbal reactions to my answers to her questions told me all I needed to know and I finally said, “I’m not telling you anything you haven’t already heard, am I?”

She replied, “No, but I need multiple data points before any action can be taken. And I wish you had come to me earlier instead of letting it come down to this.”

Like anything would have changed had I done that—and I told her as much. As long as my manager has the protection of our department’s VP, nothing is going to happen.

If nothing else, it felt good to get it all off my chest.

Now I can begin to detox, and by this time next week—as I came to realize when we were on vacation in Atlanta a couple months ago—it will return to being nothing more than the distant, tiny, petty little box of toxic hellstew that it truly is; not the center of the universe as it would like to intimidate its employees into believing.

W00t! Back Online!

From NASA:

NASA’s New Horizons on Track for Pluto Flyby

Science Operations to Resume for On Time Encounter

The recovery from a July 4 anomaly that sent the New Horizons spacecraft into safe mode is proceeding according to plan, with the mission team preparing to return to normal science operations on time July 7.

Mission managers reported during a July 6 media teleconference that NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft resumed operations on its main computer overnight. The sequence of commands for the Pluto flyby have now been uplinked to the spacecraft, and full, as planned science observations of Pluto, its moons and the solar winds will resume at 12:34 p.m. EDT July 7.

The quick response to the weekend computer glitch assures that the mission remains on track to conduct the entire close flyby sequence as planned, including the July 14 flyby observations of Pluto.

“We’re delighted with the New Horizons response to the anomaly,” said Jim Green, NASA’s director of planetary science. “Now we’re eager to get back to the science and prepare for the payoff that’s yet to come.”

The investigation into the anomaly that caused New Horizons to enter safe mode on July 4 has confirmed that the main computer was overloaded due to a timing conflict in the spacecraft command sequence. The computer was tasked with receiving a large command load at the same time it was engaged in compressing previous science data. The main computer responded precisely as it was programmed to do, by entering safe mode and switching to the backup computer.

Thirty observations were lost during the three-day recovery period, representing less than one percent of the total science that the New Horizons team hoped to collect between July 4 and July 16. None of the mission’s most critical observations were affected. There’s no risk that this kind of anomaly could happen again before flyby, as no similar operations are planned for the remainder of the Pluto encounter.

“This is a speed bump in terms of the total return we expect to receive from this historic mission,” said Dr. Alan Stern, New Horizons principal investigator with the Southwest Research Institute, Boulder, Colorado. “When we get a clear look at the surface of Pluto for the very first time, I promise, it will knock your socks off.”

This is Disturbing

Especially with the New Horizons project going on for nearly a decade and now being so close to Pluto…

From NASA:

The New Horizons spacecraft experienced an anomaly the afternoon of July 4 that led to a loss of communication with Earth. Communication has since been reestablished and the spacecraft is healthy.

The mission operations center at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, Maryland, lost contact with the unmanned spacecraft — now 10 days from arrival at Pluto — at 1:54 p.m. EDT, and regained communications with New Horizons at 3:15 p.m. EDT, through NASA’s Deep Space Network.

During that time the autonomous autopilot on board the spacecraft recognized a problem and – as it’s programmed to do in such a situation – switched from the main to the backup computer. The autopilot placed the spacecraft in “safe mode,” and commanded the backup computer to reinitiate communication with Earth. New Horizons then began to transmit telemetry to help engineers diagnose the problem.

A New Horizons Anomaly Review Board (ARB) was convened at 4 p.m. EDT to gather information on the problem and initiate a recovery plan. The team is now working to return New Horizons to its original flight plan. Due to the 9-hour, round trip communication delay that results from operating a spacecraft almost 3 billion miles (4.9 billion kilometers) from Earth, full recovery is expected to take from one to several days; New Horizons will be temporarily unable to collect science data during that time.