In the Shadow of the Moon

I watched the documentary “In the Shadow of the Moon” last night. I have been fascinated by the Apollo program for a few years now. What an amazing achievement. Incredible to put those 12 men on the moon, so long ago. It almost brings me to tears that we (humanity) can achieve something so remarkable.

I was too young at the time – I was only 2.5 years old when man last walked on the moon – I don’t remember any of it. All that work, effort, skill and astounding results happened before my time. Today, I realize that I am only a few months younger than Neil Armstrong was when he went to the moon (38y 9m; Neil was 38y 11m during the first landing).

What a moment in time. As they said in the video, the astronauts were approached by people who didn’t say “American’s went to the moon”, they said “we (humanity) went to the moon.” For one shining moment, the world came together to celebrate what man is capable of doing.

Today, 35+ years later, the world is less united than any previous point. Ethnic, religious and economic differences between people have widened. We came through the Cold War without incinerating ourselves, and now seem bent on destroying ourselves through pollution and hatred because we cannot work together.

We were once here
We were once here

But no matter what happens now, nothing can take away those footsteps on the distant world. Our presence is there permanently, and nothing we do now (or fail to do) can ever take that away.

Plate Tectonics

If the Earth has been slowly cooling over its history, presumably this means that the crust must be getting thicker too, right? How would that effect plate tectonics? Would the continental plates be thinner in the past than they are today? What about mountain building (from plates colliding) – if the plates are thinner in the past would mountains be smaller (because there is less material) or taller (because the plates move faster and there is less material to lift at the collision point)? Would the plates move faster in the past, since they were thinner (and lighter)? Would the thinner crust allow more volcanic activity to reach the surface, adding more material and slowly thickening the plates until they reach a thickness that would be constant between different geological times?

Or has internal radioactivity in deep in the Earth allowed the surface of the planet to be roughly constant over geological time? Over time, the amount of radioactive materials in the Earth (keeping it warmer) should decrease, which should lead to the same cooling effects, although over a longer period of time than if there were no radioactive materials in the Earth.


I want to see a better government in the US, and have been so hopeful that Obama will bring that change to Washington.

But so far, there has been some disappointment.

  • Treasury Secretary nominee Timothy Geithner did not pay $34,000 in Social Security and Medicare taxes.
  • Health and Human Services Secretary nominee Tom Daschle owed over $128,000 in taxes over three years.
  • Chief Performance Officer nominee Nancy Killefer had failed to pay the unemployment compensation tax for a household employee.
  • Labor Secretary nominee Hilda Solis’s had issues because of $6,400 in unpaid tax liens against her husbands auto shop.
  • Judd Gregg withdrew his name from consideration as United States Commerce Secretary, citing policy differences with Obama.
  • Chas Freeman withdrew his nomination for chair the National Intelligence Council due to a firestorm over his comments on foreign policy.

Hope is what makes us human.

Setting Targets, Meeting Goals

Here are my goals for 2009.

  • Become bi-lingual. I am already taking french classes for 6 hours a week. Je parle bien, mais j’oublie les mots.
  • Win a race. In 5 years of road racing, I have had three 2nd place results, a few 3rd places, but never a class win.
  • Write an essay. I have all these things in my head I want to say, but never had time to put anything down.
  • Create a personal web site and gallery. Glad to say that this site is working the way I want it now. Although I would like to continue to improve the look of the site. And find a better name!
  • Earn a small income from photography. This year I want to focus on stepping up my involvement in photography. I might look for opportunities to assist a professional photographer. Or I might offer my services; I have already taken photos for Les Petits Ballets, Ottawa Chinese Art Troupe and the Nortel Asian Business Council. One of my photos will be used for an ad poster for the ballet school this month. Another photo is being used on the cover of a CD for a friend.
  • Add a light in the storage area. I’ve never done any electrical work, so it’s scary and challenging.

Living with Layoffs

When I started work in Ottawa in 1997, it was during the ramp up of the tech bubble. Something exciting was happening everywhere. I shared an apartment with the founder of Linux Chix. Corel was competing against Microsoft with Linux, and was producing the Sidewinder. You could get a job anywhere. Companies were doing massive hiring. Nortel hired 1000 new grads in one weekend and competing with Cisco. Startups were everywhere.

Soon after I started, our division starting having free pizza on Friday afternoons every quarter, then every month then every 2 weeks. The cafeteria was open 24 hours a day.

We would receive $2000 USD for every resume we could bring that led to a hiring. Filing for a patent was worth $5000 USD and having the patent meant a $7000 USD bonus. Everyone was getting stock options, which was such a thrill even thought they took years to vest. Just like the book “Microserfs”.

Our director had a room created in our building with a large screen TV, DVD player, pool table and a leather couch. The room was badge-locked so only members of our division had access.

In 2000, that all changed. The wireless auction prices were sky-high. Our customers seemed less likely to be able to create enough revenue to pay off the bank loans required to buy the wireless spectrum. The high-speed optical build-outs were slowing as much of the optical bandwidth stayed dark, which led to other cuts.

Banks cut loans, customers cut back on spending, and the layoffs started at work.

In the fall of 2001, already 30,000 had been cut from the payroll. We watched 9/11 on the TV in the room our director had built. Six weeks later, our department was cut, and I was out of a job.

I was lucky and was brought back to work in late winter 2002, this time in CDMA Wireless.

I have been in CDMA Wireless since then.

WiMax equipment
WiMax equipment

Our business has continued to cut every year. We had to re-file our financial results (over and over), and the cuts kept coming. And the penny-pinching kept coming – death by a thousand cuts. They cut the milk for the coffee and then they cut the coffee. The cleaning staff was cut, and now we don’t eat in our office because the food waste is only collected once a week.

Since 2000, over 60,000 have lost their job at work. That’s more than the population of Moncton, NB. Another 3200 people were cut in February; friends I’ve worked with for years were cut.

I’m 38.5 years old. The corporation has been cutting jobs for 8.5 years. I’ve been living with the uncertainty of keeping my job for over 22% of my entire lifetime. Almost a quarter of my life has been living with layoffs.

I spent less time in high school. I spent less time in University, even after changing my major in my third year.

I am so tired of living this way.