--- white lab rat ---

June 2005


June 1, 2005 W #

Incapable of Procrastination

This weekend I got to spend a few hours at the beach and an evening with Shelly Street (a worthwhile break from writing). She's a friend of several friends in Colorado, and now a personal friend. Fun girl, and she has lived in more places than anybody I know. Not because her family moved there, but because she personally took off to Africa, Belgium, the Caribbean, or wherever.

She identified my major malfunction. I am totally incapable of procrastination. That's it. My parents never taught me how to procrastinate. I an entirely unable to put something off until later. If there is any possible way to do something right now, I will do it right now.
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And on another note. I chose a screen name last night. It's derived from a post Katie made, and a comment djake made on it. My life experience is the same as that of a white lab rat.

Does anybody have a small picture of a white lab rat (a small clean white mouse actually)?
I think I need one for the box in the right corner.

June 2, 2005 R #

We have two good pictures I'm going to decoratively fit into this page.


Meaning of the "white lab rat"

Katie sent an email today, puzzled about why I chose this screen name, since on the surface, it seems to imply that the solution to life's problems is to simply not think about them. I had to babysit one of our tests we had running for an hour, and I couldn't design anything, so I ended up writing this long response.

Katie -

Ceasing with analysis is not an option for me. You know this. It isn't about ceasing analysis in life, and certainly not with people and our interactions. It is about my individual relationship with anybody I want to live with. I want somebody who I can go home to, who I can rest with, and who I can play with. I want to trust and be trusted. I want to share an existence of confidence with each other. I want to be alive and be among people who are alive. This holds for all my friends.

Stressful Analysis arises from fear. Explorative / Inquisitive Analysis arises from desire. It is fear of an uncertain future with The Ear Doctor that leads you to stress and over analyze. It is hope of an uncertain future with The Ear Doctor that leads you to explore who his is, his personality, his responses to scenarios... to get to know him. The difference between the two is the perception of an unfavorable uncertain future vs. a favorable uncertain future. A future you fear vs. a future you desire.

When fear enters any individual's state of existence, it diminishes the quality of their life. If fear enters one of two individuals involved in a relationship, the fear will affect the relationship. A relationship of perfect confidence cannot exist when any of the individuals involved lives in fear. Fear is a self reinforcing cycle. It spreads within an individual, and spreads from one individual to another. If you become fearful of your future with The Ear Doctor, he will sense that fear, and he in turn will see the potential of a future with you that he does not want to share in. Depending on his reaction of acting by choice or yielding to instinct, he could react with either confidence or fear. In fear, he may likewise start over analyzing, or running away, or clinging to you. In confidence, he may consciously decide that he wants a future life that does not include fear, in which case he would not remain with you, or observe if you are likely to continue in this state of fear. In Confidence, he would apply appropriate analysis of you as a person, not you and him as a couple.

Over Analysis arises from fear. Likewise, blinding yourself to analysis arises from fear. There is also the element of apathy, which brings inadequate analysis. (Erroneous analysis is the result of inability, but we're talking about intentions here). There are many mistakes that can be made. Avoiding analysis is not a productive way to live, but avoiding over-analysis is. Appropriate Analysis (The Explorative / Inquisitive sort) arises from desire (Derek is the King of Explorative / Inquisitive Analysis). We must be diligent in our lives if we are going to fulfill any of our desires. Just because we're not afraid doesn't mean we shouldn't be afraid. This is where the difference between being Courageous and being Clueless arises. Picture the little kid unafraid to run out in the street after his ball. Picture the hot blond sticking with her slacker boyfriend and still hoping for an affluent lifestyle in ten years. We must be aware and apply appropriate analysis.

I want my relationships with friends, co-workers, and especially whoever I choose to raise a family with, to be freely confident. I don't want to have to spend time and energy thinking about “us”. In the situations where I have had to think about “us”, or wondering what their intentions were, or what they meant by this action or that word… it really detracted from life. I don’t enjoy living like that. I have thoroughly enjoyed all my relationships where we just lived our lives as they naturally came together. I’ve spent some time with some great girls, and I loved every one of them all the way through. When it came time for us to move on, none of that disappeared. We continued to be close friends, and held the same appreciation for each other that we developed together. There were occasional times of miscommunication, and we addressed them (Angie showed me how to do this). There were times we had to think about where our lives were going, and where we wanted to take them. Sometimes we talked about it, and sometimes it wasn’t necessary. We didn’t always desire the same course, but we did understand and respect each other. We came together in confidence, and we lived in confidence. When we went our separate ways, we departed in confidence.

It is in the principle of avoiding over analysis that I choose the screen name “white lab rat.” The “white lab rat” finds itself in an optimal state of mind when it has finished its analysis. It analyzes its surroundings, learns what it needs to be cautious of, and settles down to do whatever white lab rats enjoy doing… like finding a way out of the cage (planet) it is living in. Not because there’s anything wrong with where it’s living, but because there’s something to explore out there.

There is also the connection to the white lab rats in The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy that my vanity couldn’t resist. The Humans were 3rd smartest, the Dolphins 2nd smartest, and the pan-dimensional beings embodied in little while lab rats, who financed and drove the whole creation of the earth, were the smartest. They built this earth for their own inquisitive interest. They learned a lot about humans and life by all the experiments they ran on them. When their earth got blasted by the Vogons, they didn’t fret about it. They just picked up what pieces they could, and moved on with their lives. I can be one of those white lab rats.

But on a more serious note...

Space Industry parallels between 1996 and 2005

I listened to a recent edition of The Space Show with Jim Benson, founder and CEO of SpaceDev, on my commute today.

Back in '96 (less than a year after he sold the software companies he built and got bored with retirement), he decided to enter the space industry either as an investor, or by starting up his own company. There was a relatively large influx of space launch entrepreneurs at that time due to several projected satellite ventures who were going to need well over 1000 satellites sent into orbit in a few years, with continuing demand beyond that. Many of these ventures died, contributing to the dot.bomb of ’01.

At the time he was investigating this, he evaluated half a dozen entrepreneurs who were starting up space access companies. There were three strikes he saw common to each of the companies.

1) None of the principal founders or managers had successfully built and run a profitable company.

2) None of the principal founders or managers had successfully brought a product from concept to profitability.

3) Each of the companies was relying on at least one undeveloped technology for their market advantage.

To an investor, each of these strikes flags a big risk. I personally think that strike 3 is symptomatic of pipe-dreamers who will never be able to distinguish themselves from the pile of people who fall under strikes 1 and 2 (Even so, bringing a company or product to profitability has got to be a difficult thing). As we’ve seen, those relying on this third strike were not able to distinguish themselves in this industry either.

He related this period with excessive satellite launch companies to our current situation with several sub-orbital tourism companies seeking investment. Jim thinks the industry can support up to four of these companies, but he thinks several of them are operations run by people who just don’t know what they’re doing, using smoke and mirrors to compensate for technical ability. They simply lack the comprehension of what it takes to build and run a successful space operation.

He also pointed out a useful analogy of a lesson he had to learn after his first few years building SpaceDev. He initially looked at the goal of a commercial space program as though he were stepping into a motorboat. As he kept running the power toward his goal on the horizon, he would eventually get there. He learned that the scenario is more like him stepping into a sail boat. He has to tack back and forth, always working toward his single goal, but doing so with deviations that are circumstantially necessary. This is the way SpaceDev’s Roadmap to Space is laid out, and they’re executing it just as envisioned. They compete for contracts that require them to develop the technology they need to achieve their goals. The contract itself may not be one of their goals, but the technology in the contract is right in line with their goals.

I would fill in a detail of his analogy with a comparison. The source of propulsion for his boat is money. If Jim Benson had enough money, he could make a straight line approach like a motorboat. He could be fully internally propelled. Space is expensive though, even for someone who has built and sold two software companies. He must rely on external propulsion / funding / wind. If wind is his source of propulsion, then he must go in some vector associated with the direction the wind is blowing, or rather, the direction NASA and the Military want to develop their products.

A couple of his one liners that I heartily agree with:
“We can accomplish anything, if we can make money doing it.”
“If we want to stay in Space, Space must pay.”

The whole interview is worth listening to. It is lessons just like this that carry the greatest influence in my personal plans for space, and that I think everybody interested in space should pay close attention to. Jim started yet another rocket company in 1997, when the market was already saturated with dreamers... but he pulled through, and is not only surviving, but growing while turning a handsome profit.. He's obviously doing something right.

June 3, 2005 F #

I bought SpaceDev stock today.
Ticker: SPDV
I plan to hold it long term. With the X Prize, their stock soared for a couple months. A lot of people sold off on the publicity, and those who didn't know the industry got excited and lost a little change as they bought the stock which was bound to decline to reasonable trading levels. It was a mini-tech bubble. Since then, SpaceDev has acquired some significant follow on contracts, their profitability has been favorable, they're expanding for more business, and they're moving forward strong. Their stock has been cycling around a fair price, and I think they will be continuing to move forward. All that = time to buy.

June 7, 2005 T #

I put together my
Space Management Roadmap this morning before heading into work. It's been floating in my mind for a while, but I've been working on my book (making excellent progress). For all those giddy with anticipation, here's a sneak preview of a new section from Saturday that will be integrated.
Live Communication
(comments are welcome)

June 8, 2005 W #

Quotes for today

Katie sent a response to the above analysis. Her sentiments found perfect form in these words:

"letting go is hard because you have no idea when you're going to be able to hold on again."

That ties in with a polarizing quote from dinner last night:

"You believe God is controlling our destiny. I believe Man is controlling our destiny."

Comment on my communication clip from a guy who worked with Burt Rutan:

"..." but I can't put it here per their request. It was good though.

Discussing meanings that culturally become synonymous with people's names, even though the person didn't stand for a position as unbalanced as they're used to represent.

"A journalist's job is to get the story, not to get the story right.."


For all those not on the SpaceX mailing list, check out their latest progress on their Falcon I rocket, the Falcon V they're not moving toward, and the contracts they're getting in place. Hit their site, and click on Updates. Elon is doing a killer job with this project, and he gets to post the coolest blog in the world... he gets to blog the development of rockets that are going to take people into space.

Bionic Eyes

And my little bro, CmndrJ, sent this article on Bionic Eyes from Wired. It's from 2003. Combine that with the bionic arm from earlier, and we're getting some real progress into creating a Matrix style plug in option for kids.

June 15, 2005 W #

Greg and Erica's Colorado Reception

Since I didn't post anything from their wedding and reception in Utah, we get everything all in one shot here.

Shots from Utah

Shots from Colorado

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And in case it make a difference to any links anybody has made, I changed the file structure for my blog. Everything for this year is now under a 2005 folder that previously wasn't there.

June 16, 2005 R #


I think I just experienced my first real live California Earthquake!!! Just barely now! Less than 5 minutes ago! A real earthquake!!! at 1:54 pm, PDT!!!

Two guys outside my apartment have been sawing down trees, shaking the building pretty soundly when big chunks fall, so I gave up sleeping. (I've been working graveyard this week because some others went on vacation. Bad idea.) Then the whole apartment started shaking in much bigger waves, and at a far slower frequency. It wasn't a shaking as much as a wobbling. It felt like being on a boat while the wake of another boat rolls underneath you. It lasted about four to five seconds. Windows rattling, a little bit of creaking in the building, and it was done. Then the tree sawing guy asked the other guy:

"Did you just feel that earthquake?"

June 19, 2005 O #

Heap O' Livin'

My Grandma died a couple days ago. My Dad's Mom, Anna Gardner. She was somewhere in her 80's. She left in a good way to go, but more important, she lived in a good way to be here. Few people are as intrinsically happy as my Grandma was. She was always on the verge of being giddy about some new thing she learned, or some new thought she had about life. She even learned how to use a computer! Her eyes were going, so we had to customize the screen to display an inch tall font, but she learned to write letters with it. That's pretty typical of the way she lived. Her body was wearing down, but she never turned old.

I'm not sure where she was born, but her and my Grandpa lived and raised their family in little tiny Snowflake, Arizona. She never graduated from High school, but always thought education was important, and would have been "as proud as peaches" if my Dad had been so successful as to become a High school teacher in Snowflake. She was a thinker. She would read, and think, and sort out life, and tell us little grand kids what she had learned most recently. Always living with a smile, relaxed, and easy to be around.

When we were kids, one of the highlights of summer was going to Grandma and Grandpa's and climbing their orange trees, and spending every morning until noon making orange juice... packed with so much pulp you could chew it. I guess it really was winter when we went, but it always felt like summer, so that's how I remember it. When we weren't there in Mesa, we were out at Sholo with all our cousins at a cabin in the mountains. Streams to fish in, get wet in, hills and rocks to scramble all over, snakes to find and be scared of, older cousins with motorcycles, guns, bows, and other cool mountain toys,  a huge swing  that was so big it still looked enormous when I was there as a teenager, an upstairs we climbed a ladder into and slept at night... and there's just no way to describe the feeling of being there where there was so much to explore... it was the feeling of being alive. Good times.

My Grandpa died a few years ago while I was on my mission in Indiana. He was always the quiet cowboy type. I always associated him with his rancher hat, a long walking stick, and a pocket knife. If you could carve something out of wood, I thought you must be the coolest person in the world. When they'd come to our house in Colorado, he'd walk out to the backyard with his hat and stick, and stand for half hour intervals looking out over different areas of the rocks and hills.

My grandparents raised a huge family, spread over several generations, and about as diverse as they come. At last count, I think there were somewhere around 144 total, including the great-great-grandkids. The family has done a good job of staying connected. About a month ago at my cousin Andy's reception, we drummed up the idea of building a Gardner Family web site. We need some way to keep everybody updated on everything happening. We chose the domain  name after a poem my Grandpa used to recite. "It takes a heap o' livin' in a house to make it home..." So the last couple afternoons I have been putting together the beginnings of our family web site, www.heapolivin.com.

June 22, 2005 W #

My commute home on the PCH.

You really have to be there to catch the clarity of it all. The silver to black contrast is as sharp as the splinter reflections in the surface waves. And the air... as clean as the light from the moon... inviting you to stay for a while.

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June 21st Anniversary #

I can't believe I almost missed this?!?! The 1st anniversary of the birth of the commercial space age!!!

A year ago, several of us  woke up in a corner of the Mojave Spaceport to the soud of a helicopter engine starting up, and joined the crowds to watch the launch of SpaceShip One.

The night before, we ran into a whole herd of space nuts at a party between a few hangers on the airport. It was the coolest gathering of scientists and engineers you've ever seen. Everyone you talked with was involved in some kind of cutting edge project from hypersonic air/spacecraft, to carbon-nano-tubes, and of course, rockets.

Justin, Quoc, Sean, and yours truly.

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Solar Sail

This June 21st didn't pass without event either. A privately funded and operated space program launched the first Solar Sail into orbit, and will be running the first space based hardware tests of this passive propulsion system. The idea behind a Solar Sail is like that of a regular sail, except you're catching winds of light, instead of winds of air. These aren't solar winds. Solar Winds are radioactive, and kill people and machines. A Solar Sail actually catches the photons (light) coming from the sun, and uses it to propel the spacecraft. It takes a HUGE Solar Sail to get any kind of effective propulsion. But space is a big place. There's plenty of room for large sails.

It is dramatically significant that The Planetary Society accomplished this for a scanty $4 million. Comparitively, the cheapest traditional launch to space will cost about $28 million (not including a penny for the project). This Solar Sail launches from a converted Russian ICBM, out of a submarine. Creative and cheap access. Something like this through NASA would cost.... let's just say NASA has around a $14 billion budget, and couldn't fit in such a costly project as a Solar Sail. NASA has it's appropriate role, but it's amazing to see what independent private operations can produce. Individual desire and accountability drives effective engineering and management, which in turn drives success.

June 24, 2005 F #

Subculture Survival Tactics

Anytime you find any kind of sport, passtime, workfield, or whatever humans spend their time doing, you get subcultures of those who are on the fringe of their field. Usually it's the "hard core" crowd that embodies this subculture. These are those people who spend such a large percentage of their time doing this one thing, that they must develop special survival tactics that  are unique to the mainstream mode of life. Often, these tactics are a witness to the ingenuity of Man.

We've been running a test at work for the past three weeks, and due to our regular crew taking  overlapping vacations, I've been handed the duty to transition between graveyard and swing shift. It's MISERABLE. Well, graveyard is miserable. I managed to get the same total hours of sleep, but by the end of the first week, I woke up and my body felt like I had Pace Thick'n'Cunky Picante Sauce flowing through my veins. Napping in light works fine, but sleeping in light is entirely different.

I had hung sheets over my windows to keep the morning light out. That's a "Swing Shift Subculture Survival Tactic," and it works if you're on Swing (3:30pm - Midnight). But Graveyard calls for more drastic measures. On Graveyard, you don't even drive home until the morning light is out in full strength. The Hard Core Graveyard Crowd appllies the technology of Man through Aluminum Foil.

It works well, but light is a formidable foe. It can find its way through any crack. Nevertheless, I've already learned from the Graveyard Subculture. I'll apply Duct Tape to these seams, to seal off the remaining light.

(It's pretty cool how light works with pictures. Both the above foil pics were taken at the same time, both with a flash, but the second with my night exposure setting.)

But even with foil on the windows, this is what it looks like during those first moments while waking up as a Graveyard Worker.

June 25, 2005 S #

The World is Flat

They recently confirmed the existence of a rocky "earth like" planet, about 7 or 8 times the mass of earth, orbiting a red star that's only 15 light years away. This particular planet is tidally locked to its sun, sort of like the Moon is tidally  locked to our earth, meaning the same face is always directed toward the sun.

What if our planet were tidally locked to the sun? We'd probably still have every reason to believe that the world is flat. The archaic belief that the ocean boils if you sail too far South would be true. We could never survive to the edge of the planet, so we could really believe that there was an edge of the world to fall off from.

Now try this idea. Knowing what we know now, we think it's ludicrous that the world community was so resistant to believing the world was round. But then this concept of big spheres floating around each other was generated by several scientists, explored, and proven. What a revolutionary and novel idea!!! It's not exactly intuitive. Then, with a spherical world, for the first time, people can understand how the world doesn't require an edge to fall off of. The world went from 2 dimensional to 3 dimensional. It doesn't require any funky figure 8 twists. It makes good logical sense.

Now extend this perception to our present 3 dimensional model of the Universe. Culturaly, we don't understand how the universe can exist without having an edge. That's probably because we're thinking in a framework that still requres an edge. A circle must have an edge, but a sphere needs no edge. For our universe, a box must have an edge... but what kind of model works mathematically, and doesn't require an edge?

Mathematicians have already developed these models, so all I have to do is find a book and read. I love living in a world scattered with smart people. In addition, we don't culturally understand the space-time relationship.  It's still a far-out science. I think that frame of thought will also change, sometime along our progression.

Yes, I know science geeks have rolled through this type of realization several times over, but it was new to my thought, so I thought it was fun.

June 26, 2005 O #

Ben Hellewell:
"I may not be as smart as Greg, or as talented... But I bet I can make a lot of money."

June 29, 2005 W #

"Welcome to your life as it should be."

Diego came down this weekend. It's the first time one of my old climbing buds has come to California... and it became the first time I've gone climbing in California. It was a good time. It's been a while since I've lived in that lifestyle I was so accustomed to. A good day of climbing followed by a good day of volleyball.
after several years in Las Vegas, Diego will be moving down here for Law Shcool at Southwestern, intent on heading into entertainment law.

"Remember the person you wanted to be."

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I have a new second favorite musical: Wicked. This show has everything. Good story, good music, good humor... everything. It's the flip story of the Wizard of Oz, from the perspective of the Wicked Witch of the West. Very well done. I was skeptical during the first 15 minutes, but they pulled it all the way through. I give it my top recommendations to anybody considering an opportunity to see it.

June 30, 2005 R #

I'm finally done working graveyard!!! That means no more pre-drive-home naps on my office floor in the morning!!!

Chad is Moving

Yes, Chad is heading off to Law School in Pennsylvania. We all wish him the best.

The Fame and Popularity of Chad has grown so much over his year here that his little going away dinner ended up jamming five tables at BJ's stacked full of people. We'll miss the kid.

white lab rat

The "white lab rat" screen name was fun, but I think it was just a month long thing. I think in the forthcoming months, I'll just be plain old Bryan again. So go passing interests.

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Maybe I'll use this space for something.