Category Archives: the day lee

Women are not small men

“Small is fine. Small is good. Small is cute. Small is a whole size bigger than XS. Small rocks.”

“Don’t sweat the small stuff. For our mailers it’s quantity over quality. Let’s mail these puppies out!”

“It’s just for a short time.” Who needs metal links when plastic does the job just fine.

“Hey, you’re small, you can climb up behind the stacked washer/dryer and fetch that little roll.”

“…”

On the bicycle front, building a small frame requires a bit of problem solving in order to make the triangles meet up without sacrificing speed, power, comfort, and looks. This is more than just knowing geometry, as most mass produced bikes for women are put together by the guy who doesn’t understand why women can’t just wear the smaller men’s button-down shirts and call it a day. (This guy, this fashion extraordinaire, made that comment to me in front of his wife who was trying on clothes and complaining about women’s shirts that didn’t have darts).

Enter Paul Sadoff, who’s building me a new Rock Lobster track bike. *swoon*. I’m not going to reveal the handlebar tape design yet but one of the colors of the harlequin wrap is definitely going to be Celeste. The frame is not so small if you have to draw the whole thing on paper full scale.

If you doubt Paul’s finesse watch this:

[Superstars Alex Brewer & Kate Wilson pictured above, posing while rolling]

Acid reflux that is good for you

For those interested, 1001 Plateaus and Bana Tea Company will be hosting a Tea Lab focusing on pu’er tea at the Huntington Gardens, on Saturday, September 9, 2017 at 9:00AM. We will talk about why pu’er is so unique, and why pu’er made from old trees has a lot of gan, the sweet, sometimes cooling sensation that is experienced in the mouth and throat (yup, like acid reflux) after an initial bitterness, and if you can’t taste the gan you shouldn’t be paying the money that is charged for old tree pu’er.

First, a head’s up. The brilliant Cleaver Quarterly will be publishing an essay I wrote on gan in the very near future so I won’t get into it now. It explains everything. Stay tuned!

As with any kind of tasting, one of the best ways to highlight a certain flavor/effect is to drink it side by side with something that lacks that flavor/effect. So in preparation for our Tea Lab we compared a tea with gan to a tea with no gan.

The crazy thing about gan is that if you drink some tea with a lot of gan, it will infect all the teas you drink afterwards. Best thing is to drink the no-gan first and then wait and see if anything happens. And wait and wait and wait.

After a few minutes of waiting you can probably assume there isn’t going to be a delayed reaction so it’s safe to try the second tea.

The no-gan tea was a 2004 terrace-grown raw tea (with a lot of tips rather than leaves) that had a lot of things going for it taste-wise: it was round, thick (being 13 years old), had a good dried jujube taste, almost like a strong white tea. But without the gan it became more like raisin-juice, which just shows that drinking pu’er is more about flavor and sensation put together, rather than flavor alone.

The tea with gan was a 2017 Mengseng made by our friend Xiao Cao. Here he is in his tea room in Yunnan with a tea table from Laos that took ten people to move.

The 2004 no-gan is the tea on the bottom (on the left in the second photo). The color of the leaves is lighter, due to all the tips, but the color of the brewed tea is darker because of its age.

Next we revisited one of my favorite teas, Young Jade from Denong, which I tasted in 2012 when it had just come out. It’s a blend made from old trees grown in three crazy famous regions – Jing Mai, Xi Gui, and Lao Ban Zhang, picked before the spring rain.

Back then it was a little tricky to brew, it easily went bitter if you used too much or brewed it longer than 5 seconds. I had given some of that tea to a friend who promptly brewed it incorrectly and told me he thought the tea wasn’t very good. So much for that friend. Now five years old the tea has a super sweet gan on top of the last remnants of its floral flavors. Five years is roughly the time the date and plum flavor start emerging so there’s a lot going on in this tea. I think because it’s a blend all the sensations happen at different times, or even on different levels of your mouth. There’s a slight puckery taste at the sides of your mouth, and a sweet, vaporous sensation that floats above your tongue like a cloud. My suspicion is that it’s the Jingmai doing that, levitating, since the next tea we tasted was the 2017 Jing Mai (Meng Ben area) also from Denong, so smooth and floral and crisp we stopped drinking tea altogether and switched to water. Those few grams of leaves next to the gaiwan is all we have (for now) of this tea, and when that last little bit is gone that paper towel will be worth rolling up and smoking.

Peaceful chickens and mockingbirds

So I know it’s been awhile. You might say that the election and its aftermath has subsumed all rational activity. Every day I wake up and take an extra long time to do the mundane crap, extra care for the same old same old, because when you consider the number of people in certain swing states who voted for third party candidates versus the number of votes Trump won over Clinton, or the news that the impending retail job market crash will be #(*&@@!x number of times worse then the coal worker’s crisis, even with the news that Pandas have been upgraded from Endangered to Vulnerable things just seem so awful.

Many years ago I wrote a story where the Aphex Twin was the president of the United States and he changed the name of “The White House” to “Rationality.” The fact that his chief strategist was Klaus Meine (from the Scorpions) made the story a little over the top.

It’s classic June gloom in Los Angeles, but the recent rains have given us poppies, fat blackberries, bees, and tons of weeds. Our gardener is very stressed out. He just wipes his brow and says “Everything keeps growing.”

We’ve planted tomatoes every year but this is the year the squirrels have decided they are good enough to steal. They (the squirrels) have suffered a little bit of a setback the last few weeks because a pair of mockingbirds have started hanging about the yard, another first for us. Usually we get a cooper hawk visiting every spring, which is a beautiful thing to see in the crepe myrtles, but these mockingbirds are assholes.

They attack Stevie the border collie, going for her eyes. They attack the squirrels (OK) and they attacked the cooper hawk (not OK).

They’ve woken up Bing Bing the cat, who for the past six months has done very little other than sleep and vomit, and now she’s climbing up on anything that gives her a front row seat of the mockingbirds beating up on Stevie.

For some reason MO is free to walk about and enjoy the sunshine, being the hippie, solar-addicted bird-lover she is. Or maybe it’s random, right? Like each dog walks out into the yard, and they don’t know what’s going to happen?

The last Trumpian I have spoken to since the night of the election was this guy that walked into the Thai restaurant where I was picking up dinner. He takes one look at the polls on the television (at that point bleak but not apocalyptic, yet), and tells me and the owner that he hadn’t voted yet, “but I’m gonna.” The owner says “White rice or brown rice?” and the guy says “Well, we all know what we’re going to get with one candidate. We know exactly what we’re going to get. With the other one, it’s different. It will be something new.”

It feels silly to end on such a low note, so I’ll put this out there:

Yingelishi is a genius and crazy language opera written by Jonathan Stalling that “works” in both Mandarin Chinese and English. The Chinese phrases read out loud mean different things depending on whether you’re asking the words to produce their meaning in English or in Chinese. For example, my name in English is Angie. An easy way for me to get Chinese people who don’t know English to pronounce my name is to have them call me “Peaceful Chicken,” because Peaceful Chicken in Chinese is pronounced “An Gee.”

The title of Jonathan’s opera, Yinglishi, means “Chanted Songs, Beautiful Poetry” in Chinese, but it also sounds like what he calls “an accented pronunciation of the word ‘English.'” All of this is part of a brilliant effort to teach English using the sounds of the student’s native language, rather than making them first learn romanized letters and their sounds before actually speaking English. I figure this is totally helpful in a large part of China where the English teacher doesn’t actually have great pronunciation, and the students (being nice, eager mockingbirds) simply repeat what they hear.

Cheese please

At the certification class at the velodrome a few weeks ago there was a kid who conceivably had never been on bike before, much less seen a fixed gear or knew how to clip in and out of pedals. The fact that English was not his first language made the morning even funnier. But he was enthusiastic, having watched the Chinese track sprinters at the Olympics win some medals wearing their awesome Peking Opera decorated helmets.

chinese-helmet

The first thing he did after practicing clipping in and out of the pedals — brave soul — was to ride the apron to the far side of the track and crash.

cat-bikes

He was bruised but determined. “I am tough,” he said, before the adrenalin wore off.
Ten minutes later he noticed a weird bump next to the raw skin burn on the back of his forearm. “What is this bump?” he asked, running over to me exactly like how you’d imagine a guy to move who is scared and yet has never run with cleats on. I checked out the bump, and found a matching one on his other, unscathed arm. “Its just you,” I said.

The next time he came to class (the velodrome certification is typically a 4-session deal, sometimes longer for those that need it) his neck was covered in hickies from a new girlfriend. He apologized for having not come to class for a couple of weeks. He rode the apron without falling. He got on the black line. He got tired.

When he showed up a few weeks after that he said the girlfriend hadn’t allowed him come to class, so he “just had to get rid of her.” This guy has priorities. This time he got up to the blue line and stayed there.

Last night I had a dream where I was stuck inside a computer game, and the only way to advance to the next level is to explain to a Chinese guy what fresh mozzarella is. And this guy shows up on level one. If I can’t get past him, I can’t get to the next level. This guy, he doesn’t get anything I am saying about the cheese. I am stuck on the first level.

(I am reminded of one of the track sessions where a Cantonese speaking kid who spoke even less English than my guy showed up. When the instructor asked if any of us could speak Cantonese my guy held up his hand, but all he did was go up to the kid and speak Mandarin to him very loudly. I guess if I was awake I could’ve tried yelling about mozzarella.)

zipper-extract

All this, for no particular reason, leads me to my Rapha merino wool cycling jersey. Only two seasons old it’s gotten so stretched out and faded I “just had to get rid of it.” But I salvaged the zipper with the circle pull and cut a piece of the black mesh to make a new wallet.

jersey-salvage

new-bike-wallet2

new-bike-wallet

Now maybe I’ll see about getting one of those Olympic helmets.

Tea lab and snorting catechins

tealab

For those interested, 1001plateaus and Bana Tea Company will be hosting a Tea Lab at the Huntington Gardens, on Saturday, November 5, 2015 at 9:00AM. We will be doing side by side tastings of several factors that can affect how a tea tastes.

Tea tasting is comparative, like running in a marathon. In a race, no matter how small or large the field, you can only win against the other people who have entered, much like how a tea can only be compared to what else is at the table. It’s fairly common to do a tea tasting comparing different types of teas or different price points, but what about brewing the same tea under different circumstances? Beyond the obvious ones like using a porcelain gaiwan versus a Yixing pot, or varying the temperature or type of water used to brew. What about the harvest season? How about if we introduce some vibration to the water molecules? Or compare the same tea which has been stored on different continents?

In preparation for our upcoming Tea Lab at the Huntington Gardens, we thought we would brew a few comparisons. But first, because we knew one of the tests would be a tea brewed with tap water, and we’d also have to drink a tea harvested in the summer, we treated ourselves to some *@@&#^#!! jasmine tea.

That’s right. Haters are going to hate. I hate jasmine tea also, but I mean the stuff that’s known around the world as “jasmine tea” – bitter and smelling like Jean Nate. Those tea leaves have never seen a jasmine flower in their life, their jasmine scent has been sprayed on, much like the machine that coats dog kibble with flavors.

jasminetea

jasminetea2

The real stuff is made by spreading fresh leaves on the ground in a thin layer and covering the leaves with jasmine flowers. The flowers only bloom for one night so in the morning the flowers must be picked out. (BTW – that pretty jasmine tea at the store which still has flower petals mixed in with the tea? The flowers are not adding any flavor to the tea, but they are adding weight. It’s the equivalent of the deli guy resting his thumb on the scale when he sells you bologna but tells you it’s prime rib. Not to knock bologna, but still.)

This process is repeated many many times until the tea has absorbed the scent. The jasmine we drank was made with small tea buds, whose fuzzy hairs absorbed more smell. Probably too small to roll into the usual pearl shape, which is good, since I have a bad connotation with that visual.

jasmine

jasmine-brewed

Sure it tasted flowery but in a subtle way, like you’ve already walked past the house with the flowers blooming in the front yard. There was no astringency at all, no resemblance to drinking something at a Chinese restaurant, and actually it didn’t taste like tea either, more like a precious juice.

On to our taste tests:

– Organic Wild Peony (ming qian) White tea from Fuding brewed with Crystal Geyser versus Los Angeles tap water.
This comparison is the crowd pleaser. You’re pretty certain one of these will taste better, but it’s plenty surprising how salty and gritty that tap water can be.

whitetea

– 2011 Treasures of the Five Mountains raw Pu’er. Stored in Hong Kong, vs. stored in Los Angeles. The larger puck is HK, the smaller is LA. There’s a pretty noticeable difference in color.

la_5mountians

hk_5mountians

This is one of those tastings where it gets personal. Sure the HK stored tea seems more aged, is generally darker in appearance and has more plum flavor. But the LA one is more floral, more complex, in a way, with hints of different flavors, probably due to the fact that Five Mountains is a blend. Aging a tea will flatten the differences out and since the LA tea is “younger” there are more differences to taste.

hk-la1

hk-la

We over-brewed these teas for fun to see what that would do, and the HK one showed it’s age. It was definitely less astringent, and more mellow than it’s twin other. Another great example of how a tea is brewed is just as important to how or where it’s stored, and since most of us don’t have a choice on where our tea is stored…

We ended the day with some magical white powder called catechin. This is the phenol or flavonoid that is responsible for gan, that sweet or minty taste you get after drinking Pu’er teas with high mineral content (and eating bitter melon, ginseng, and a few other foods. More on gan coming very soon). What a better way to experience gan than to lick it off a wet finger?

catechin

The sensation was purer than when you get it through tea, more direct, no tea flavors diluting the experience, and the sweetness lasted a good fifteen minutes or so, especially noticeable when we drank some water. That water, good old plain water, tasted incredibly sweet I wanted to floss my teeth with it.

catechin-wrapper

mo-smello-tea

My counter guy is a Stalinist and I benefitted

glue-blob

Getting work done on the house is nuts. Not only do you need to like the people you hire, philosophically, you also need to like them physically, as they are in your house everyday.
And shit is expensive. But not everything costs money. Sometimes you get roped into doing more. Sometimes deals just come your way.

Several years ago one of our neighbors was having some concrete work done and he figured if he got other people to hire them as well, he’d get a deal. We let the guys pour us a new set of front steps, and they offered us a steep discount if we did something else.

Anything.

OK, we said, why don’t you take away our concrete deck, which was already in pieces, and tended to collect stagnant water. So the Samoan concrete guys broke the deck into more manageable-for-them sized pieces, drank two cases of Hawaiian Punch, and drove the deck away. We were left with a large dirt mound (and 24 empty cans), which was all fine until it started to rain, and the backyard turned into what the dogs called the “great epic most fun thing.”

We called up a contractor whom we met originally when we bought the house. Before the housing bubble burst he had run his own construction company. Now he taught Kundalini yoga. His prices had come down by a lot. He was also into tea. We served him and his worker (who only drank iced tea) all sorts of Chinese teas as they built our deck, using a discontinued Trex color that was 50% off at the builder’s supply. During one afternoon tea our contractor mentioned something about needing to see the dentist. His truck needed work too, as it was leaking oil all over our driveway, so we asked him to put up yoga ropes in the garage which we made sure he hung from first to test the engineering.

hanging_with_mo

More recently, we decided we needed a new kitchen counter. The grout in the kitchen was chipping and gross, and I had gotten tired of photoshopping out the brown bits from my Instagram pictures. But a new kitchen counter leads to craziness. Do you also get new cabinets and sink and faucets and drawer pulls and shelf liners and lighting fixtures and flooring?

We decided to list out the real mod cons.
1. Let’s plumb the espresso machine so we don’t have to constantly dump the bucket we currently use in place of a real drain.

espresso_bucket

That’s it. End of list. Everything else is, as they say, Russian chicken feed.

espresso

We scored LED lights from a guy we know from the Velodrome who sells them wholesale. Then he turned out to be a Trumpian. He, the Trumpian, thinks he’s getting an invite to “see the lights,” but I stick to my “you gotta like them philosophically and physically” mantra.

That seemed easy enough, but then we had to go through the process of hiring a cabinet maker who flaked for 6 months and then took another 2 months to officially flake. Meanwhile we entered our fireplace design era, and it turned out that the guys who set our tiles do a lot of general construction work, especially kitchens and bathrooms. Yay!

Then came the hard part. Turning off the espresso machine felt like unplugging from life support. We embraced the nail gun. We washed dishes in the bathroom sink. We MOVED THE CAT FOOD BOWL. We ate one tray of cold baked ziti a week.

ziti

We returned the crappy Heath tile samples under cover of night via bicycle rather than face that saleswoman again.

heath-returns

We got to bring out some old friends and wire them up.

orange-lamp

Incidentally, the contractors LOVED our deck. It became their giant work space.

stevie_on_deck

kitchen_antler

kitchen_spray

This is what we’ve been living with all these years.

kitchen_demolition2

Our counter guy is a Russian Jew from Belarus who has great recommendations on where to get real Tel Aviv falafels, where the people can be “slightly rude.” He’s a Stalinist at heart and a big Viktor Tsoi fan. He thinks an espresso offers clarity. He only takes his espresso when the job is about to be glued in.

sergey_glueing

It’s all concentration when he’s working and in true stone mason fashion makes sure to measure twice. He told us his definition of “professional” meant that you could do what you do without really paying attention and it still comes out fabulous. He said he didn’t really become a professional until a few years ago. In the end he used some tight connections to score us a small piece of Calacatta marble that is so silky and luscious it feels like even I could carve Persephone’s soft butt out of it.

persephone_butt

But maybe I’ll just make pastries on it, and get a soft butt that way.

calacatta

Discussion.

kitchen_discussion

The final plumbing.

espresso_plumbed2

Sometimes you’re the hammer, and sometimes you’re the nail.

plumbing_whoops

mo_construction

kichen-completed

Newbaums 4 color weave

old-newbaums

Whenever I think about re-wrapping the harlequin Newbaum’s weave on my handlebars all I hear is the line from Car Talk where Click and Clack the Tappet Brothers say, “Well, it’s happened again—you’ve wasted another perfectly good hour listening to Car Talk.”

It feels like it takes an hour just to remove the perfectly good existing bar tape, then a real hour to remember how it was done (the start is critical, and the bend in the bars a royal pain in the ass), and another serious chunk of time to get the second side to match the first.

newbaums-four-color_mid

But like most things, the four-color weave takes a little patience and a little practice but it’s well worth it when even the Trumpians at the Velodrome take notice.

buddha_bottle

newbaums-four-color_dregs

newbaums-four-color_velodrome

Be careful what you wish for

toilet_porch

After taking down the crumbling top of our chimney and fixing some hidden gas and plumbing issues, it was finally time to replace the cracked tiles on the fireplace. We originally thought we’d use Heath tiles, being big fans of Edith Heath (and a Batchelder tile fireplace being completely out of the budget).

demo_fireplace

One of the guys we talked to about setting tiles told us “Heath tiles suck,” and we knew the original company had been bought out by a pair of hipsters in 2003, who turned it into a “holistic business model, one that integrated designing, making and selling.” But we went to the showroom anyway. I think the tile guy was talking about the quality of the actual clay, since he agreed that the glazes were beautiful, but we also found out they have minimums for each size of tile in each color, and this minimum is 25 square feet, much larger than the average-sized fireplace + hearth. This means you have to use the same size tile with the same glaze, and then you’ll have shitloads of this same-sameness tile leftover when you’re done.

Not only that, but the really stiff and aggressive showroom lady said to us, repeatedly: “You really ought to try the Our Modern Basics collection. It’s an in-stock offering of two sizes in a carefully edited palette of six matte and glossy glazes. The depth and character of the glazes are classic Heath—refined and contemporary, yet timeless.”
OK. She didn’t actually say that. But that’s what I heard. Whenever someone says they think/know their “carefully edited” selections are perfect for your project (having never seen the house or the fireplace), it’s time to get the hell out of the store.

Lamenting on the way home, I said, “I wish we could just buy from someone who makes their own tiles.” And what do you know, we found her in Pasadena.

pasadenacraftsmantile

Now that we could have any color in any size in any pattern we pulled out the graph paper and colored pencils. We started with Batchelder designs, and then quickly lost our minds.

tile-designs

The cost was going to be less than if we had gone with Heath so we bought a few Batchelder and other colored tiles as accents. Even though the blue monster tile (Mosaic Tile Co., Zanesville, OH) didn’t fit the program I couldn’t leave it behind, because you never know when you’ll come across a blue monster tile again.

batchelder_tiles

Here’s our final design. Not exactly final because we soon realized that the guys who built the firebox enlarged the box by a couple inches (they were being nice), and we had to move a row of 2×2’s from the top to the middle. Nothing too major. Phew.

tile_design

tile_selecting

After quite a bit of back and forth about color variations and the unpredictability of glazes, and testing the infinite patience of Cha-Rie, we laid out the entire thing in front of the fireplace, and were ready to have Miguel and his amazing group of guys glue the suckers in.

MO_tiles

fireplace_setting

tile_support

batchelder_tile

Yes those penciled X’s on the top right of each tile meant that the tile was to be set with the X on the top right. Anal retentive we may be, but the tile guys sure appreciated it. I’d rather have them think about how the tiles meet at the corners rather than which way to turn the tile.

tile-corner

Just in time for a lazy summer in L.A. lounging by the fire.

final_fireplace

Rainbows vs. Trumpians

velodrome2

The Velodrome down in Carson is the only indoor world class cycling facility in the country. Some people say “too bad it’s all the way down there in Carson,” but after you ride the 45 degree banked Siberian pine boards in its perfectly temperature controlled environment, you might think “we’re so lucky that Carson is so close.”

Lately, the thing about the Velodrome being in Carson is its proximity to Orange County, which seems to be the bastion of Trumpians and they are out in force, shouting loudly as cyclists tend to do, and man-spreading without even having to be present. Yes, that’s their shorts, turned inside out, in the foreground.

shit-spreader

And when one Trumpian (with a gut so large we call it “the baby”) decides to make one too many jokes about missing female parts and nuts as he asks for help in putting an old bike together, and concludes the conversation by claiming Clinton killed some of his army buddies, the solution is to make a rainbow tool roll based on Eddie Van Halen’s guitar for my old Trek, which we converted to a fixed gear awhile ago for riding to museums and ice cream runs. Why convert? It was impossible to ride. I rode that thing every day when I was in college, happy as a clam. But times do change.

Here’s how it was, original parts from 1984.

original_trek

Not only was that saddle unbearable, the handlebars were too far away, the brakes too stiff and the gears auto-shifted themselves when going uphill. So we did a little makeover.

trek_onstand

And here comes the tool roll, which has been named the “Eddie Van Halen.”

tool_roll_plan

I know I’m going to be so happy the next time I get a flat, and see this when I unroll.

tool_roll_unwrapped

tool_roll_wrapped

tool_roll_trek

Mars rover, Mars rover, let C#41 on over

JPL_streetsigh

When the sign in the parking lot shows the speed limit in KM/HR, you know you’re in for some serious science. Last weekend was the Open House at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and the freeway signs near Pasadena were bubbling over with excitement like it was beaujolais season. “Hurrah! It’s here! A Ticket to Explore JPL – this way!”

There were also cops in extra-large and extra-darkly-tinted vehicles at every major intersection, and IDs required for entry (tickets were free but had to be reserved in advance). It occurred to me as we drove in that there was going to be enough people at this event to warrant a terrorist threat. In space, if we detected an asteroid that might hit us, JPL would probably launch something to swing the asteroid off its path or actually collide with it (depending on who’s president). But here on the surface of Earth, if something’s going to hit us, we have to rely on good old-fashioned bag searches and vapor-waking dogs. But then again, some of my friends used to joke that as kids in Los Alamos during the cold war we were safe from getting bombed because wouldn’t the Russians want to keep all our scientist parents alive?

infared_biscuits

Having attended a few “Family Days” at the Lab in Los Alamos I’m always wishing for a little less hype and more day to day stuff at these types of events. For example, the real JPL mission control room pales in comparison to a “Control Center” fabricated for the movies, but there is nothing like seeing the ID-activated vending machines that track the use of special machining drill bits and tools, the safety glasses overflow storage, or old soap dispensers from the 60’s.

NASA’s mission control (the red LED lights don’t actually do anything):
JPL_mission_control

NORAD Control Center from the movie WarGames (when that red light starts to wail, well…):
WAR-GAMES-900

Plus, all the obtuse illustrations and charts of data that are scientifically significant but don’t look good on social media are hanging in the hallways you can’t get to, and you can only put your nose to the glass to look into the labs with nano-technology experiments sitting on top of Laminar Flow Isolating table supports (awesome for playing air hockey).

JPL_boraxo_logo

JPL_Airrover

But there’s nothing more fun than watching the real Mars rover crawl over some Southern Californian rock, and then laying down and getting rolled over by its little cousin. Apparently each wheel has its own engine. Felt like some little kid next to me kept elbowing me to move over.

mars_rover

mars_rovering

They sure have tire tread all figured out.

JPL_tread

We skipped the long wait for the Spacecraft Assembly Facility, after hearing the guy say, “If you can hear my voice you’re looking at a 45 minute wait for about a 5 minute visit,” opting instead for the guy who lured everyone with a: “Welcome to the solar system where we’ve got AC.”

space_suit

space_suit_detail

My story about an asteroid named C#41 who crashes into the moon was just published at Entropy so we paused in the middle of the solar system and had a wake for the little guy.

C41_wake

A visit to the Fabrication Facility AKA the machine shop put any resemblance to Disneyland out of my mind, but the ice cold water bottles that cost $1 (A BUCK!) probably did the trick as well. At the shop there were 3-D printers, vending machines for bits and gadgets, rolls and rolls of thermal fabric. We were told the next big thing was going to be 3D printing using metal, namely powdered aluminum, which is so explosive the technician must remain completely free of charge, as a single spark will send the whole building into space. No party tricks like rubbing a balloon back and forth across the top of your head to get it to stick to a wall…

We got to meet the guy who’s idea it was to add the star to the top of this postmark. His friend designed JPL’s postmarks for years, and he told us anyone can suggest a design to the post office and they decide whether to create a stamp for the occasion. Hm…

JPL_postmark

Very unlike “Family Day” at the Los Alamos Lab, there were plenty of stickers to go around, and JPL bags being given away by the dozen at the end of the day.

JPL_swag