On this day in 1986, the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded over the Atlantic Ocean:
A little more than a minute after launch and high above Kennedy Space Center, shuttle Challenger was ripped apart after failure of a rubber seal allowed a spurt of rocket flame to ignite the spacecraft's giant fuel tank.
The roiling plume of Challenger's disintegration would sear an image in the nation's psyche that spoke of a particular sorrow; among seven astronauts killed 30 years ago [today] was teacher Christa McAuliffe.
"We will never forget them," said President Ronald Reagan in a broadcast hours later evoking triumph from tragedy. "The Challenger crew was pulling us into the future, and we'll continue to follow them."
Studying the decisions that led to Challenger launching that day uncovered serious cultural problems within NASA. It also led to groupthink about groupthink as people continually mis-applied the lessons from the disaster after not actually understanding them.
I remember exactly when I heard about the disaster: I was taking a final exam in high school when the PA broke in to tell everyone it had happened. (We still had to finish the exam.)
Too many interesting things to read today. I've got some time between work and Bel Canto to get through them:
I have not read Bel Canto, though I understand it's loosely based on an actual historical event. I also haven't ever heard anything from composer Jimmy López before, since it only permiered last month. Friends who work for the Lyric tell me it's pretty good. I'll find out in a few hours.
Here are some numbers illustrating 2015 (cf. 2014 also):
- I took only 14 trips and flew only 25 segments, visiting 7 states and 4 countries*.
- Of those, 11 flight segments took off or landed outside the US, which is the highest proportion of international-to-domestic flights in any single year. Those years in which I've flown more international segments were also heavy-travel years in general. For example, in 2001, my heaviest travel year ever, I flew 15 international segments—my record—out of 63 total—also my record.
- I flew 67,187 km, barely re-qualifying (with bonus points) for American Airlines elite status.
- The Daily Parker had 493 posts, the lowest since 2010. The daily mean dropped to 1.35, continuing a slight downward trend since 2013.
- Chargeable hours no longer made any difference as I no longer work as a consultant. However, I did log 148.82 hours walking Parker, 10 more than in 2014.
- Reading suffered a bit. I started 21 books but only finished 15. On the other hand, I went to more operas in 2015 than any year previously, and also ate at more Michelin-starred restaurants than in the preceding 45 years combined.
- 2015 was the first full year for which I have complete Fitbit statistics. During the year, I walked 4.67 million steps, averaging 12,787 per day; slept 2,287 hours, averaging 6.3 per night; and had a net loss of 1.2 kg. (Though at one point in 2015 I had lost 4.1 kg, and am now hoping that the slight bump in November and December was simply holiday food.)
In 2016, I expect more travel, more Daily Parker posts, about the same number of books, and the same number of live performances.
* Germany, Poland, the UK, and Italy; DC, Virginia, New York, Wisconsin, Indiana, Arizona, California, and Texas.
After all the kvetching I did this morning, I'm pleased to report that I hit my step goal today (before 5pm), as I expect to do the remaining two days of the year.
There will be stats and sunrises soon. Stay tuned.
I'm having my worst week ever since getting a Fitbit: only 65,000 steps from last Tuesday through yesterday. Christmas, traveling, and yesterday's horrible weather have really hobbled my step count.
So far today I'm at 4,200 steps, and I have some errands to run this afternoon that will help. But wow, five days below 10,000? Scandal. Even Parker is bored.
Combine a full moon, a really good camera, and a beautiful church on Christmas Eve:
(The grain is from shooting a HDR photo at ISO-12800.)
Did I mention the candlelight part?
The final piece of the service is the entire congregation singing "Silent Night" holding candles. Even as an atheist, I found it moving. And the Winnetka Congregational Church, while still a Christian church, doesn't beat people over the head with religion. I'm certain I wasn't the only atheist in the congregation.
The Apollo Chorus performed Händel's Messiah yesterday and Saturday both, which explains the radio silence here. This is my second year with the Chorus. Though last year's performances were really good, this year's were better.
Here's the view from the stage to our sold-out crowd yesterday afternoon:
And those who have followed The Daily Parker for a while know that I have had a troubled relationship with bow ties. For this weekend's performances, I might have gotten it right:
Sunday morning, after Saturday's snowstorm:
Last night, making mini turkey pot pies for tomorrow:
That's all from scratch. Inside a rosemary-sage crust, from the bottom we've got turkey, pinot noir-reduction gravy, stuffing with organic Italian sausage, and cranberry sauce made with cranberries, orange, honey, and a secret ingredient that makes them amazing.
I think I'm going to gain three kilos this weekend.
I missed an important anniversary last Friday, probably because I was traveling and got distracted.
The Daily Parker is now ten years (and six days) old. I launched it officially on 13 November 2005, from Inner Drive Technology World Headquarters in Evanston, Ill.
In the 10 years ending last Thursday night, I posted 4,842 entries, averaging 40 per month, or one every 32 hours or so. Not a bad record.
Any odds the blog will be around another 10 years?
So the masthead is blue now. Any thoughts?
Parker and I managed to go for a one-hour, five-kilometer walk earlier today, as hoped. So my lazy Sunday hasn't been entirely lazy. But just on principle, I think the rest of the day will involve a nap and some time at a local bar with a book.