Moving is ugh

Moving is ugh

See this photo on Flickr.

I haven't lived in the same place for more than a year since high school (for those of you keeping score at home: 9 years ago).

Allen Hall, Urbana, IL (1999-2000) - Lewistown, IL (summer 2000) - Allen Hall, Urbana, IL (2000-2001) - Lewistown, IL (summer 2001) - Busey Ave, Urbana, IL (2001-2002) - White St, Champaign, IL (2002-2003) - 1st St, Champaign, IL (2003-2004) - Nevada Ave, Urbana, IL (2004) - California City, CA (2005) - Nevada Ave, Urbana, IL (summer 2005) - Newman, IL (2005-2006) - Strasbourg, France (summer 2006) - Lewistown, IL (fall 2006) - Fairfax, VA (2006-2007) - Potomac Falls, VA (2007-2008) - ???, Houston, TX (2008-????)

Enough. Maybe.

Finite Element on WEFT Sessions, 1 Dec 2003

In 2003, my band during grad school, Finite Element, played live on 90.1 FM WEFT, Champaign, IL. It was a three-piece band consisting of Sunil Chopra, Kevin Welch, and I. I'll use the phrase "my band" loosely here -- Sunil wrote all of the music, Kevin had some musical talent, and I was... the guy who would talk on the microphone in between songs, and that was only because I wouldn't shut up.

I had some kind of grandiose plan to post all of the songs from that concert one-by-one, describing each of the stories behind the songs. You can see the detritus from that if you follow the tag WEFT Sessions 1 December. Don't follow it; I'm not sure what I was thinking. I didn't write the songs -- Sunil did -- so I'm not qualified to explain much. Dumb idea. So, I've uploaded the remainder of the songs, and I'll let this post serve as the gateway for the whole concert, which is what I should have done from the beginning.

So, if you -- yes, you! -- would like to download our music, here's the whole album. It's not a torrent or anything useful like that; I've just posted them to my wiki and you'll have to save them to your computer. I'd feel bad for you, but I'm posting them mainly for archival purposes and your enjoyment is secondary. If you really, really want to know more about any of the songs, please post a comment and I'll track down Sunil or Kevin to talk about it. They're more interesting than me anyway.

Finite Element: Live at WEFT, December 1, 2003

Download the mp3's from this event:

  1. Turning Into Energy
  2. The Patterns of Her Eyes
  3. Under the Steps
  4. Don't Believe It
  5. Pull the Knife
  6. Behind Your Eyes
  7. You Could Be Mine
  8. Stay Awake
  9. Feedback
  10. I Know Everything
  11. The Beauty of Lies
  12. I Don't Want to Know
  13. Forget About the Sun

You may ask yourself: "What is on the cover of that album?"

It's Quaoar, kids, a trans-Neptunian object. Nerdy, yes, but cut me some slack. I'm an aerospace engineer -- and cut Kevin and Sunil some slack: this wasn't an album we released, and the image is something of my own doing, they didn't have any say in the matter. Then again, our band was named Finite Element, an eye-rolling experience for those that knew what it meant, an "is that the movie with Bruce Willis and Milla Jovovich?" experience for those that didn't know.

Triple Spacecraft Flyby Tonight

Rob G, a fellow International Space University alumnus, notes that tonight, three man-rated spacecraft will be visible from the ground:

Hi everyone,

Tonight there is a very rare opportunity in the history of human spaceflight...if the clouds cooperate, you can see THREE human-rated spacecraft (two with humans in them, one full of equipment being delivered to the ISS) flying in formation right over your head (or about 340 km right over your head…and maybe a few hundred off to the side, depending on your location). For most people in the US/Canada, this opportunity will occur in the early evening TONIGHT [note: 25 March 2008]. For those of you spread out over the rest of the globe, go to to find out what time you might be able to see this.

If you have questions about how to see them, where to look, or how to use that website, just let me know.

Clear skies!


So, if you're outside tonight -- look up.

Sneak Preview: Map of 2005 Mojave trip

Slowly over the last two years, I have been writing a book about the time I spent driving to, living in, and leaving Mojave, California in Spring 2005. The prospective title for this project has always been Mojave Road in the Sky, inspired by this photo I snapped in Death Valley National Park.

Quite a few of my memories from this time period are still quite fresh. Every week a few frames of the trip will slip into my consciousness: while driving I'll think of the road from Van Horn to Guadalupe Mountains National Park; while running I'll think of the hike to Lost Palms Oasis; while doing nothing at all I'll think of the vast green sea of North Dakota.

One trick I've always had up my sleeve is my ability to learn things by associating them with a location. I'm not sure what this is called -- it's sort of like photographic memory, I think. Maybe not. You tell me. I used to clean up in my aerodynamics courses in university because I could remember flow characteristics and equations by remembering where these things were located on the textbook page. Translate that to a larger scale, and I remember roads traveled, music heard, people met by placing these things on a mental map of an area. It's not a wildly useful skill; perhaps this will also give you some insight into why I don't own a TV because this feed of memories and places is often playing in the theater of my mind.

Anyway. I'm getting away from the point.

Slowly, I've been transforming memories from this 2005 trip into placemarks in Google Earth. This has opened up a flood of forgotten memories. Sure, most are useless ones -- I remember the name of the gas station where I stopped outside of dark and sinister Phoenix (Toor's Chevron) -- but it has been very useful in pulling thoughts and memories and insights from forgotten, unconnected dots.

If you like, you can have a look at the map as I'm creating it. It's a mess now -- but it's a work-in-progress.

Illinois to California

View Larger Map

California to Illinois

View Larger Map

The original .kmz files are stored on my wiki:

Also note that if you go to the links above, you can download a network link file for each -- download that to your My Places in Google Earth and it will be automatically updated whenever I update the source files on the wiki. It's magic.

There's not a lot of context associated with these points on the map; why should you care that I stopped at Brake Masters in Las Vegas? I don't feel pressured to move quickly yet since I have only 8 subscribers to this blog, according to Feedburner. Eventually I'll include pictures (if you're impatient see and other notes from this trip.

My secret, narcissistic hope is that someone -- be it a stranger or, more likely, Mom -- might see something they like or don't like, and tell me about it. Interaction would be a wonderful motivator. I'm planning one more update to these maps before the end of March. If you've actually played with the maps above, is there anything in particular you would like to see updated? Anything you would like to see augmented with photos or notes?

Desi Space Scientists

(Courtesy: NASAWatch) A desi friend mentioned to me that this is also an indicator that they don't want to go home: 36% of scientists at NASA are Indians. I don't know, I've lived in the US my entire life, save for a few months in France and Spain, and I have no inkling of what it would be like to really leave my homeland. Regarding the statistic, it would be interesting to know if this counts Indian-born scientists only, or if it also includes children of Indian parents, even if they were born and raised in the US. I have no problem with the trend; in fact, there's a certain desi engineer who I wish they'd hire at NASA Johnson Space Center...