Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Something Martian This Way Comes

My wife and I have been listening to an unabridged version of the first Harry Potter book on tape on our commute that she borrowed from a friend. About a day after the whole scene with owls delivering Harry’s invitation to Hogwarts, I got word from The Mars Society that both my papers – Project Daedalia and Saturn Direct, had been accepted, and asked me what I needed for presenting them. They also pushed off the deadline for submitting papers for print until the conference itself. This was a great relief, as the second paper was in no way ready.

All the same, the e-mail arrived in my PC as if delivered by an owl. I would spend four days this August speaking and learning amongst my own space-enthusiast brethren. Almost everyone there will have paid between $150 and $550 to attend, plus airfare, so one assumes that these six hundred people or so are, well, serious about it.

It’s held at a posh hotel downtown, and James Cameron (yes, the director of Titanic, Aliens, and Terminator 2) will be there. Fredrick Pohl, the famous golden era science fiction writer, Eric Anderson (president of Space Adventures, who arrange tourist flights to the space station for Russia), and several other famous people should be there as well. I’m on the committee for the Chicago side of things, and am helping round up vendors and volunteers. I’m supposed to speak three times. I keep having recurring fantasies of Ray Bradbury being in the audience, though I’d settle for any supportive audience that outnumbered me.

Speaking of Bradbury, I found an old poetry book from him from the mid-Seventies at the Duckon sci fi convention. In two poems, he addresses “Why Mars?” in exactly those words. His reasons start beautifully but end up in Timothy Leary-Land. It’s a nice trip for most of the journey, though.

A co-worker named Annette, who is typically my lunch buddy, is also into this stuff, and is also attending. She regards me as a mentor when discussing space technology. She also got me into Toastmasters at work – I’m hoping that I can improve my speaking ability before the conference.

I’m not sure my wife will attend, or if she does, it will only be on the weekend. I’m thinking of organizing a Mensa field trip there on that Saturday to boost attendance and to help promote both organizations to each other.

My father was in the hospital twice in two weeks with a leg infection. After having been told he had six months to live five years ago, he is slowly loosing his mental faculties. I suspect the slow oxygen starvation over such a long time has a similar effect to acute oxygen starvation over five minutes – brain damage. He loves his family, but he’s loosing his memory. I’m going down to visit this weekend, and again part of next weekend around Cornerstone music festival.

I’ve been getting depressed lately at his condition. I tend to cocoon when that happens. Sorry for the lack of posts lately.

This Saturday night is fireworks at the farm, and a bonfire with hot dogs and so on. Dad is out of the hospital, so while he probably won't be doing anything much outside, he'll at least be home. Saying goodbye to your father is like taking off a comforting winter coat on an icy Fall afternoon in the deep woods, when you know you can't put it back on at night when the temperature will chill you to the bone. If he doesn't live through this convention I'll just snap - I want to tell him what I've done in person, not in prayer. I'm finally closing the loop of passions I had when I was twelve and designing spaceships on a drafting table in the exact spot in the parental living room where his lift chair contains him 23 hours a day. These passions faded and were replaced with growing up and college and career and marriage and homeownership and downsizing and all that mess. Now I'm twelve again, and I want my Daddy.

Comments: Post a Comment

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?