En Vogue

This is the latest in my series of blog entries taking a fresh look at a variety of topics. I’ve set up a page on the blog explaining the project and linking to my entries. This post’s topic is “Fashion.”

david hitt

Here’s the interesting thing about fashion. When you look at pictures of people from the last 50 years, they look ridiculous.

Since I’ve been able to dress myself — well, say since college, to avoid having to include the horrible red pants of high school — I’ve always worn stuff that seemed pretty normal.

When does normal turn into ridiculous?

Or do we only remember the stereotypical styles of any particular time and forget perfectly normal stuff being worn at the same time.

Today, I’m wearing a pair of blue jeans and a blue short-sleeve knit shirt. Is there a day coming when I’ll think, “oh, gosh, I can’t believe I wore that”? Or are some things going to be safe? Do we ever know in real-time?

Have you ever worn anything that you knew was going to look ridiculous in ten years?

Lori McKenna — “Buy This Town” Lyrics

(“Buy This Town” is from Lori McKenna’s album Lorraine. Additional Lori McKenna lyrics can be found here.)

Buy This Town
Lori McKenna

If I could buy this town, I’d keep it small and rough
Full of third-shift dreamers and high school love
I’d keep the Church of Christ and the bowling alley open
Where the Bud Light signs crackle while they’re glowing
If I could buy this town

If I could buy one night, I wouldn’t buy the one you’d think
I’d buy the one when my eyes teared up by the light above the kitchen sink
And you held me tight and you begged me not to cry
If I could buy the sweetness of one kiss, well, that’s the one I’d buy
If I could buy one night

All the money in the world couldn’t buy a drop of real love could it?
And it really shouldn’t, now should it?
If I could buy the stars I’d polish them so bright

If I could buy your pain, first I’d buy the great big sea
And I’d put that pain inside a box and bury it so deep
If I could I’d buy you back the years you worked yourself to death
I would buy and waste your suffering until there wasn’t any left
If I could buy your pain

All the money in the world couldn’t buy a drop of real love could it?
And it really shouldn’t, now should it?
‘Cause I’d gladly give you every piece of my whole heart

If I could buy this town, I keep the Friday night bleachers
Full of kids falling in love and unlikely believers
And the firefighters are there, ’cause their kid’s in the game
And we don’t win too often but that ain’t why we came
If I could buy this town


I haven’t missed a day of blogging since starting post a day, and I’m not going to start now. Good night.

Obligatory Travel Post

I’d hoped to have time to write an actual post today. I didn’t. Hopefully soon. Here’s some pictures in the meantime.

Obligatory STS-133 Post

Most of my pictures were taken with my DSLR, but I wanted to get a post up before the day was over.

Quote Backlog III

I keep a folder of quotes that I like to use in my sidebar, but I come across them more frequently than I can use them, and some just never really fit where I am when I update. So here’s a whole bunch of them I haven’t used.

“I’m not writing it down to remember it later. I’m writing it down to remember it now.” — Field Notes

“And the God of all grace, after you have suffered a little while, will himself perfect, establish, strengthen and settle you.” — 1 Peter 5:10

“‘Safe?’ said Mr. Beaver; ‘don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the king I tell you.'” — C.S. Lewis

“To the world you might be just one person. But to one person, you might just be the world.” — Unknown

“It’s no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God.” — Gal 2:20 (MSG)

“There is wonderful freedom and joy in coming to recognize that the fun is in the becoming.” — Gloria Gaither

“If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance even less.” — Phil Cooke

“Prayer is what happens for people who realize that God is Dad.” — Mark Driscoll

“The fewer the words, the better the prayer.” — Martin Luther

“Say that you are well and all is well with you, and God will hear your words and make them true.” — Ella Wheeler Wilcox

“It is a remarkable thing that some of the most optimistic and enthusiastic people you will meet are those who have been through intense suffering.” — Warren Wiersbe

“Man prefers to believe what he prefers to be true.” — Francis Bacon

“God is painting with thousands and thousands of colors and shades and textures a picture we call history.” — John Piper

“It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.” – Albus Dumbledore

“I love her and that’s the beginning of everything.” — F. Scott Fitzgerald

“Religion is for those who don’t want to go to hell, spirituality is for those who have been there.” — Clarissa Dickson Wright

“We can awesome! And we can sexy!” — Ryan North

“As a writer, words are your paint. Use all the colors.” — Rhys Alexander

“Writing is the only thing that, when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.” — Gloria Steinem

“Anybody can make history. Only a great man can write it.” — Oscar Wilde

NASA: Doing What No Else Can Do

The new social networking tool at work has a “Question of the Week” feature that invites users to share. This week’s question was “What is it about NASA that makes you proud to be a part of it?” Only a handful of people had answered when I did, and they started by talking about what they do, so I did, too. Here’s the answer I posted.

I work in education. I’m proud to, but I’m aware that I’m a very small cog in a very big machine.

My team got to be “mission” for STS-118. We were involved in a “real” payload, and when the crew visited Marshall after the mission, we were the ones invited to join them for lunch. But that was the exception. We have nothing to do with putting people into space, with exploring other worlds, with bringing crews home safely, with conducting science on the space frontier, or any of the other sexy things the agency does.

Our job is to help inspire the people who will do those things in the future.

I love my job. A lot. I’m proud to be a part of the agency. But, every once and a while, there comes a moment that reminds me just what this agency is that I’m a part of.

I hear a talk by Alan Bean. I watch a launch of the space shuttle. I talk with astronaut aboard the space station. And I’m reminded just what this agency is.

We do the things that no one else on the planet — or off, which in our case is a necessary distinction — can do. The only reason we can’t say that we do the impossible is because NASA takes those things that are impossible for anyone else and makes them possible.

Who else could have landed men on the moon? Who else could place two rovers, back to back, on the surface of Mars? Who else could deliver a crew of seven people to help construct the International Space Station? Who else could peer into the cosmos the way we have with the Hubble Space Telescope? Who else could inspire the people of America, and of the world, the way NASA has?

Who else? No one. NASA does the things no one else can do. These things must be done, and therefore we must do them.

And we do.

How could one not be proud to be part of an organization like that?

A Shuttle-Launch First — Seconds!

Back in November, I spent about a week in Florida. Waiting for the space shuttle Discovery to not launch on its STS-133 mission.

Going down there for a launch and coming back without seeing it was not a first for me.

This week will be.

I’m going back down this week with Heather and the boys to try once again to watch the launch of STS-133.

I’ve been down to Florida for shuttle launches six times now.

I’ve seen three launches.

I’ve seen three scrubs.

I’ve never been back down to watch one launch that I also watched scrub. This week will be my first time making a second attempt to watch a particular mission launch. Obviously, I’m hoping this trip is more successful than the last.

We hadn’t been planning on trying again for this mission, so soon after our last trip down, but Heather was offered the opportunity to go down to the launch on a work trip, so all four of us are driving down there.

I’m really hoping it goes this time, so that she and the boys get to see it. As we finished up the book, Caden in particular took a real interest in the shuttle, and started talking recently about wanting to go try to see one again. (“Even if we don’t go to Disney this time,” he offered.) On the plus side, it will probably mean more to him this time than it would have in November. And, of course, Heather, having now co-authored a book about the shuttle, really out to see one launch.

So, wish us luck. Should be an interesting trip.

Lori McKenna — “American Revolver” Lyrics

(“American Revolver” is from Lori McKenna’s album Lorraine. Additional Lori McKenna lyrics can be found here.)

American Revolver
Lori McKenna / Barry Dean

She’s crying again
You lay quiet on her chest
She knows you’re a dangerous comfort
But you haven’t broken her heart yet

She wants to feel safe again
She thinks that you understand
Maybe it’s crazy; maybe it’s brave
Either way it’s a losing game

She’s hoping she’ll know what to do
With a six-shot .22

When the only one who’s innocent is cold blue steel
For the first time someone’s listening to how she feels
Lord knows you can’t save her
You can’t stop or change her plans
Just an American revolver

You’re proof she means what she says
It’s a fairer fight with you around
To rescue her if things get so bad
There’s no other possible way out

She keeps going back and forth
Between herself and the door

When the only one who’s innocent is cold blue steel
For the first time someone’s listening to how she feels
Lord knows you can’t save her
You can’t stop or change her plans
Just an American revolver

Too late now for I’m sorry
American revolver
He’s coming up the front steps
American revolver
He’s been drinking again
She keeps going back and forth
Between herself and the door

When the only one who’s innocent is cold blue steel
But this time someone’s gonna listen to how she feels
Lord knows you can’t save her
You can’t stop or change her plans
Just an American revolver
American revolver
American revolver
American revolver

Review: Troy Hickman’s Common Grounds

With Troy Hickman back on comics racks with his new series “Twilight Guardian,” I was inspired to order a trade paperback of what I recalled being his brilliant series, Common Grounds, which I had originally read in single issues as they came out.

Two things to get out of the way at the outset. The cover is horrible. I mean, as a piece of art, it’s OK, but not great. As a cover by which the Common Grounds book is being judged, it’s awful. But we’ll get back to that in a second. The other thing — you can buy a used copy of the collection for a little over a buck on Amazonwhich means you would be crazy to not. I mean, like, even if you don’t read comics; stop right now, follow that link, and order a copy.

OK? Back? Great.

Common Grounds is a brilliant comics reconstruction. Many of the noted works of the last 25 years have been comics deconstructions, taking apart the pieces of golden and silver age comics, seeing how they work, and building something dark and modern from them.

Hickman does a brilliant job loving examining the tropes and conventions that make comics work, but he then puts them back together in a way that honors, rather than diminishing, the classic feel. He’s a clever writer, approaching his stories from unexpected angles, and with the occasional surprise turn. But most of all, Common Grounds is a fun read.

From the secret struggles of a super-speedster to the reunion of two retired archrivals to the story of the Acidic Jew, Common Grounds is enjoyably fresh and greatly entertaining.

In some ways, there’s a feel to Hickman’s Common Grounds that’s not unlike Kurt Busiek’s Astro City(another must-read); there’s a similar lovingly creative approach to the classic elements of superheroes.

The other flaw with the Common Grounds trade paperback? The spine is marked with a large “Volume 1.” It’s a huge shame that it wasn’t followed up with a Volume 2.