I am starting to write this posting on the day lots of us watched the memorial service for George H. W. Bush at Washington National Cathedral. This service was a truly moving service for a fine man who contributed so much to our world. People who spoke -- especially his son George W. Bush -- told us about what a good man he was who made so many fine contributions to our world. I still have memories about the demise of the Soviet Union during his term in office as President of the United States. Russia is still not some sort of paradise, but it is better than it was 30 years ago.
By 1988 I had become an independently thinking culturally open minded person involved in things like the exploration and development of space and the arts, especially photography. I had also become more than a bit of a writer. I was also a leader in visionary groups favoring space exploration and development. I still have a piece of visionary space exploration art I received as an award for public relations in 1987 from what had become the National Space Society.
By the time of George H. W. Bush's election as President I had become a moderate, open minded Republican who was friendly with Democrats and thought they had much to contribute to society. Part of that was because I was living in New Jersey who had in 1988 the fine Republican Governor Thomas Kean who was a much better governor than his predecessor Brendan Byrne who was a good man but a poor governor. I also lived in Hamilton Township just outside Trenton, New Jersey where the local government was also being led by fine, open minded, caring Republicans.
In the 1980s I had become as a young man a supporter of Ronald Reagan as President because I -- like so many others -- thought he was much better than Jimmy Carter who was President before him. Jimmy Carter was a good man of considerable intelligence who turned out to be a poor president. Some people think might have been because of his work as an engineer. Too many engineers lack the people skills necessary to be a leader of humans. There was one other engineer who had become President. Who was it? Herbert Hoover. Yes, the President who led the country during the beginning of the Great Depression.
My artistic side kept me involved with artists who were socially and culturally liberal as I could be in important ways. I was very much supportive of people who worked to make our society better for humans in so many ways. People need time to care for family and friends and community. A workplace that demands far too much time from the people who work there might have some success in the short term but not in the long term. They can even do their own work significant harm by trying to work too hard. Think of, for example, the Challenger disaster. People who decided to launch that space craft were so sleep deprived that they "thought" it OK to launch that vehicle not only when the temperature was too low by standards of the day but there were even icicles hanging from the shuttle. But the staff wanted to get the shuttle into space so that President Reagan could mention the Teacher in Space during his State of the Union address. He did mention the crew -- but not in his State of the Union speech. He mentioned them when he addressed the country about the Challenger disaster. To begin learning more about the consequences of sleep deprivation read the article "Zombie Nation" in the the February 2014 Mensa Bulletin.
When did I become a Democrat? When I moved to Maryland in 1990. I had already been told by a few people that the Democrats in Maryland were good, open minded people who worked to make our society better. I found out when I moved to Maryland that Maryland Republicans were almost a bad joke. The elections that mattered most were the Democratic primaries. That year was the governor's election. The Republican was a bad joke. On the other hand, the Democrat who had already served one term was William Donald Schaefer who was not only a good Democrat but a good man and a good leader. With that evidence I became a good, open minded, caring Democrat. Oh -- because of my interest in space exploration and development I had become aware of what a good person Senator Barbara Mikulski was. She had been a strong, thoughtful supporter of space exploration and development for some years. I think I started becoming aware of that in the 1970s when she did some things to support the dreams of some space visionaries. I became aware of that work as a member of the visionary group the L5 Society and the more professional American Astronautical Society. It was by answering an ad in the American Astronautical Society magazine that I was recruited into a position in the supercomputer center at Goddard Space Flight Center.
The beginnings of my career at Goddard had some very good points. The group I joined was happy to have a man who was not only a good computer geek but was also a published writer. They told me before I formally joined their group one of my tasks would be to write the minutes of the Computer User Committee. I was happy to have that task. Then the bad point came. The meetings of this group were normally held on the first Monday of the month. Everyone in my group was banned from the meeting in April 1990 so that the scientists could discuss the problems of the group. In May I got an example of the group's problems. Before I arrived a company secretary was writing the minutes and people from my group were going over her notes to correct obvious problems After seeing her draft in May I told people to not send her again. I would do the first draft. After doing this I started getting phone calls from as far away as NASA Headquarters congratulating on the good work I was doing. People started complementing me on my work as well.
My photography side also contributed to my work. People were impressed with my visual talents. This was at a time when scientists and engineers were increasingly using computer software that helped people visualize their work. People started treating me as the go to person for computer graphics.
There were a couple of other good points. Goddard had a running club that did races in April and October. One was a two mile fun run. The next week they had a 10K race for serious runners. I found out I was one of the fastest runners at Goddard. That discovery eventually led to me doing the Marine Corps Marathon in 1996. Another good point was finding out that Goddard had a Music and Drama Club that put on good productions a few times a year. I approached them with my photographs and became their chief photographer.
In general my first years at Goddard were good. People genuinely appreciated not only my technical work but also my writing and even my photography in groups outside the supercomputer center. People came to me to help fix their problems during those first years at Goddard. I thought I had settled into a career that would carry me through to a good retirement.
Then the good manager who led our group (with my help) burned out. He was replaced by an abusive woman control freak. The first man she abused was Joe. Joe was 40 years old. He had been working there 12 years. Then Joe made "a bad mistake." What did he do? He got married and started spending time with his wife. Most people consider that good. It is even good for your work. Spending too much time at work is actually bad for your work. Tired people do not do good work. Think Challenger Disaster. Our manager -- whom I shall now call Crazy Susan -- told Joe to forget about the marriage and concentrate on work. Joe was appalled. He was able to get a transfer out of the group.
I also remember the first time Crazy Susan went over the top in abusing me In 1995 the delightful Evyan started our affair with my enthusiastic participation. When she told me I needed a wife, I thought it would be her. Then in September 1996 she ended our affair. I was disappointed but could handle it. In October I did the Marine Corps Marathon. Doing that impressed quite a few people. Then in November Crazy Susan ordered me into a conference with the words "Do you know these computers are for government work only?" I wondered what this was about. We walked into said conference room where an older man that I did not know was sitting. Crazy Susan sat down on one side of the conference table. I sat down on the other side. Crazy Susan slapped down in front of me a piece of paper. On the piece of paper was a spam e-mail from a pornographer. I got all kinds of spam e-mail. That was because my job required me to have a high public profile so that the people who used out supercomputer center could get to know me better and reach out directly to me for help on problems. What did I do? I simply said "This is spam." The older man whom I did not know simply rolled his eyes. That ended that confrontation in my favor. I wondered though what had really caused that confrontation. I don't look at pornography at home when I am alone. OK, when I was young and in college I did look at Playboy occasionally out of a curiosity that clearly had some sexual curiosity. Since then I have even seen some art with clearly sexual (think sometimes nude models) dimensions. Still though this is hardly something that is I would do at work. My primary thoughts about sex it is my desire to be married to a wonderful woman and to love her with all my heart and soul.
I had more conflicts with Crazy Susan. So did other people in our group. Think men who were happily married as one significant group. Then in 1999 Crazy Susan drove me out. I heard from other people that she said about me "He's brilliant. Why doesn't he get it?" My thoughts about her is that this crazy control freak was the one who was not getting it.
I was not unemployed for even a day. I was invited to join a new small firm by really good people. My first weekend with this new company I went up to New Jersey for a high school reunion. That reunion started off well with Lucille Romano being the first person to see my medal for doing a marathon. She was very impressed and made me wear that medal for the rest of the evening. Then Lucille told me about Diane. Learning about her suicide really saddened me. To learn more about that read Fiftieth Anniversaries.
The next few years went reasonably well for me. Unfortunately the company I joined started going out of business in 2002. I started looking for more work. It took a few months, but I found it. The new company was decent but not as good as the one I joined when I was forced out of Goddard.
In February 2003 the space shuttle Columbia was lost in another disaster. Since Central Jersey Mensa has a Regional Gathering in March, I contacted friends in Central Jersey Mensa and offered to give a talk on the problems with NASA. They accepted immediately. My talk was described as riveting. In 2004 I came back to deliver another talk -- this time with the backing of a government investigation. Not only did people respect my talk at the end of it a man I did not know stood up and began talking. He told us he was a NASA employee. He then praised what I said. That weekend he told me NASA needed people like me.
Then came May 2004. I was let go from my job. I was unhappy with this. But my financial condition was still OK. At a Rutgers Club meeting one young man stated that people volunteered for political campaigns to get to build relations with political leaders. I thought about that and started volunteering for political campaigns including that of Senator Barbara Mikulski and Congressman Steny Hoyer. I did begin attracting attention with my volunteering.
The next few years I got more involved in politics. I spent my saved money to live on. I also ran up credit card debt. I eventually started collecting Social Security. My original plan back in the 1990s was to work until I was at least 70 and not collect Social Security until then. If I had been able to do that I would have gotten substantially more from Social Security.
People started paying attention to what I was doing. In 2006 I walked into a meeting of the Governor's Workforce Investment Board on the topic of Aerospace Initiatives. I wound up leading a committee to create a Maryland Aerospace Association. Quite a few people liked what I did. They even saw me as the paid executive director of such organization. Industry however chose not to fund such an organization. I have saved on my blog some things from my work with said organization. The short public policy piece is Aerospace Workforce Issues. The much more detailed description of what the group that I led did is also on my blog as Aerospace Initiative Home Page. Yes, these pieces are long even by my standards.
In 2008 there was the Presidential election. Barack Obama became the Democratic Party candidate, possibly surprising many Hilary Clinton supporters. After all she was much better known at the beginning of the campaigns to become President. Obama made a favorable impression on me. John McCain, the Republican candidate, while seeming a good man did not seem nearly as good as Obama. Obama won the election by a significant margin. I thought this was good for the country.
In December 2008 I walked into Steny Hoyer's annual Holiday Party. It was, as usual, a good event attended by good people. That morning on page 2 of the Washington Post was an article about problems with the transition at NASA. I brought this up when I was talking to Steny Hoyer when I arrived. I offered to help. Congressman Hoyer turned to one of his staffer and asked her if they had contact information for me. She said they did. That was the last I heard on that topic. What happened behind my back I do not know. I will say that I thought these people had a quite favorable impression of me. Perhaps I could be wrong.
After that I was dismissed from positions in more than one organization. Did I ever get any help? When I was in the process of losing my home, Congressman Hoyer and the government in general helped me get into a program to keep veterans from becoming homeless. That allowed me to get some money from the government which helped me move into an apartment in Washington DC with the government paying part of the rent. That made my life significantly better than it could have been. Still, though, I am living alone in a small apartment without even a car to get around the local area. I think I should still be working at NASA, being paid quite well for my work, married to a good woman and perhaps even having some children with this woman whom we are bringing up to be good citizens in this country and world.
President Obama when he ran for reelection won but by a significantly smaller majority than he won by in 2008. This suggests that his support in the larger community was declining. His administration has now been described as "closed" and run by "control freaks" in the New York Times. I wonder if this had something to do with his decline in voter support.
The 2016 election was disappointing to many. Hillary Clinton got more popular votes than Donald Trump but he got more electoral votes. Some liberals especially have called for reforms on this issue. A few people have noticed though that Clinton did not even get 50% of the vote. Third parties -- especially the Libertarian and Green Parties -- saw a significant rise in the number of popular votes that they got. I wonder if this was due in part to many people being disgusted with the major party nominees. I know I have some clearly libertarian views as do a number of better educated, thoughtful caring views. I also have some sympathy with the Greens. I might have stronger disagreements about how to accomplish their goals, but that does not mean I think they are not making significant contributions to our country and world. One of the things that got me really interested in space exploration and development was the prospect of solar power satellites powering the Earth cleanly and cheaply. Those space colony dreams have not come true yet, but I think those ideas are worthy of support. I think our society would truly benefit if we spent a large portion of our money that we now spend on the failed drug war and spent it instead on space exploration and development.