F + 2 Days Furlough Report

First, why do this?  Several reasons: 1. I’ve got the time.  2. If I can’t laugh at myself or the absurdity of this situation, then it’ll be a more depressing situation than it actually is.  3. Show what work isn’t getting done because of this impasse.  4. It’s good to have an outlet.

With that out of the way…

Furlough beard 2

Just a few more days before I look like unshaven Justin Timberlake. Or maybe not…

Duration of Furlough: 2 days

Work not done: Yesterday, I would have been given the monthly status of each group’s progress in completing our wildly important goals. The first Wednesday of every month, each group lead for the four groups in my branch reports on the progress we’re making in reaching those goals.  We discuss any potential obstacles, potential solutions, and what progress we expect to make in the next month.  These goals are usually centered around improvements we need to make – our ISE and ISO flight controllers are both working to try and improve the training flow required for certification to work in mission control.  Our Crew On-Orbit Support System software development lab is currently putting together their strategic software development plan for the next 1-2 years.  Our PLUTO flight controllers, responsible for ISS computer networks, is preparing for a major software update to the ISS LANs that’s supposed to be released in early 2014.  Work on these projects will continue to an extent as our contractor teams are forward-funded for the next couple months, but progress on these will be slowed without some key contributors.

In addition, we were also slated to continue discussion on improving proficiency training for all of our certified flight controllers and instructors.  Proficiency training is refresher training for controllers who are already certified.  We’re currently revamping that training to ensure that certified personnel are always ready to ensure the safety of the crew on ISS, ensure the safety of the vehicle, and successfully complete our mission.  We’re comparing plans across our groups to see where we can share resources, ensure we’re being consistent, and ensure we don’t miss anything.  Most of this work is just not getting done.

Outlook for Continuing Resolution passage by Congress: Still poor.

Yesterday showed little if any signs of progress.  There’s talk of a grand bargain in the works, but I’m skeptical that Democrats will agree to anything that further reduces spending.  More on that in the liberal thoughts section below; I’ll spare my conservative friends from me getting into that here.

Have I showered today? Yes!  Rationale below.

Chores done: None. Dishes pending.

Wife-requested tasks: Take youngest daughter to preschool since my wife had to be in to work early (hence the shower to not scare off the preschool teachers). Submit forms for Texas Unclaimed Property (Done! $200 comin’ my way). Write something (I’m not sure this counts).

Video games played: Injustice: Gods Among Us, The Simpson: Tapped Out

I’ve never been much for fighter games as I mostly just mash buttons. I’m also not up to speed on my comic superheroes – my knowledge stops at the core characters – but it’s satisfying to pound away in this game.

Mood: Resigned.

This is going to take a while.  It’s hard to tell how much urgency both sides have in this discussion.  The last time this occurred the shutdown lasted 21 days. Comments saying that the shutdown was wanted make me incredibly unsympathetic to your view.

Furlough Fun Fact: It is illegal for a federal worker on furlough to check his or her work email.

Movie of the day: Deep Impact

God, this movie is depressing.  But fairly realistic!

*** Warning: Liberal Views Ahead***

If you think a liberal is inherently a bad person, you’ve probably already stopped reading or never ventured here in the first place.  If you can consider that 2 people can look at a problem and come up with 2 different solutions and not think they’re terrible people because of those views, then you may be open-minded enough to read on.

I thought I’d spend a few minutes answering a question from an old friend:

When did I become such a Democrat?

First, I’m not a registered Democrat.  I’m still an independent because I don’t have a lot of trust in the career politicians on either side.  I will admit to being very liberal.  Did I used to be more moderate?  In some ways, but over the last 6 years, my worldview has definitely shifted more to the left; though I also wonder how much the right shifted away from me.

So what’s important to me?  The following is in rough priority order.

Environmentalism

This isn’t about save the Earth, because the Earth existed just fine millions of years before we came along and will continue to be here long after we’re gone.  I do believe though that we need to protect our environment as much as possible.  Pollution, be it air, water, light, or other, destroys our environment and the environment of the plants and animals we share the planet with.  We require biodiversity among those other planets and animals in order to survive.  Lack of biodiversity puts humanity’s food chain at risk.  Extinction of species, like say the honey bee, could also be devastating to our food supply. We release more pollution every day in many different ways.  In my view we need to curb that as much as possible.

I haven’t even touched on global climate change which climate scientists are now 95% certain is caused by humans.  I believe the science, but I’ll admit there’s a small chance it could be wrong.  I look at it this way – What if climate scientists are wrong?  We may waste money on renewable energy sources, jobs may disappear from coal and oil industries, but then we would have an energy supply not dependent on foreign assets and jobs would likely spring up in other areas.  Now, what if climate scientists are right and we don’t do anything?  Well, the potential consequences are fairly dire.  I’d rather make changes and have them not be needed, then not make changes and have the situation get worse.  Good businessman will find other ways to make money.

Women’s Issues

I have 3 girls.  I want them to have the same opportunities and same rewards as anyone else – man or woman.  I support fair pay laws and equal opportunity laws that will allow them to get opportunities in male-dominated industries.  I also support anti-discrimination laws that protect the from any institutional sexism.  Don’t think that exists anymore?  Talk to women in the video game industry or IT industry.

I also don’t want any of them to get pregnant before they are emotionally, financially, and physically ready for it.  However, I’m not naive enough to believe they will abstain from sex before they get married in their mid-to-late twenties or later.  They need to be educated on how to protect themselves and what contraception they should use to avoid unplanned pregnancies.  And God forbid they ever get raped and get pregnant from that, but if one of them ever were, I would want them to make whatever decision they feel is necessary for that pregnancy and for them to have the right medical care when making that decision.  I would want the same if that pregnancy threatened their well-being.

Science

I’ve already talked about climate change. I would also site the controversy over teaching creationism as science as something that drives me to the left.  The Theory of Evolution is not just some supposition; it’s well-supported by scientific evidence.  That’s the definition of a scientific theory. As long as the religious right pushes to teach creationism as science, as they’re currently doing with Texas science textbooks, I will vehemently oppose those efforts.

Economic Recovery

I fully admit this is not an area where I have a thorough understanding of the principles of the system.  I’ve learned a lot from reading sites like baselinescenario.com.  I don’t believe that focusing on the deficit and cutting government funding is what this country needs right now.  Fiscal conservatism has its place and time, but I don’t believe that time is now.  My view is that the government needs to spend more on infrastructure, science and medical research, and education in order to improve the foundations of the country, better prepare Americans to succeed in the real-world and create more jobs.

The lack of jobs is the most important issue that I believe our government should be addressing.  When taxes are low, the rich save more money rather than spend more.  Building and improving infrastructure creates jobs, research and development of new technologies creates jobs and a better education allows people to get better jobs.  Employers will continue to seek ways to lower their costs through automating tasks or finding cheaper labor.  This will continue to move manufacturing jobs out of the country and eliminate other jobs.  We either need to find other ways for people to work or change the expectation that everyone has to have a job.

I’m going to stop here.  I could also discuss pushing religion on government, gun control, military spending, government lobbying and several other issues, but I’ve probably either agitated or bored you enough already.  None of this is to say I love the current Democratic leadership – Obama seems to not really value NASA, both sides are too beholden to corporate interests – but in the current environment, I do support more of what they’re after.  In the past, pragmatic environmentalism, prudent government spending, trusting science, and equal treatment for people would not have made me a liberal.  Today, it does.

If you missed it:

F + 1 Day Furlough Report

Advertisements

About Jason
Family man. NASA manager. Writer. Football fan. Hockey fan. Deist. Left of center. Left-handed. Born in New Jersey, raised in Philadelphia, college educated in Massachusetts, now living in Houston. Thoughts here are my own.

One Response to F + 2 Days Furlough Report

  1. Sue says:

    Very entertaining reading, Jas! I’m going to print it out for Gammie…she’ll love it! She’s 90 today. You’re next kiddo 🙂 Love to all and Happy Birthday Eve! Sue

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: