50 States (Updated: At least 49 anyway)

I’m trying to convince myself of what states I have and haven’t visited. There’s a chance Alaska was my 50th, but most of the New England states were just drive-throughs, and I’m not 100% sure on Mississippi. So I’m making a list. And a map! (Update late 2023: pretty sure it’s 49!)

From the nice people at https://gasfoodnolodging.com/visitedstates/generate/

Also per Friends, I’m going to try to see how many I can list in 6 minutes (while watching Resident Evil). So here we go… (I got 46 — I felt more like I ran out of time than that I wouldn’t get them in like 10 minutes, but I missed Hawaii, Iowa, Louisiana, and Missouri).

  1. Alabama
  2. Alaska
  3. Arizona
  4. Arkansas
  5. California
  6. Oregon
  7. Washington
  8. Idaho
  9. Wisconsin
  10. Utah
  11. Colorado
  12. Nevada
  13. Oklahoma
  14. Texas
  15. North Dakota
  16. Wyoming
  17. South Dakota
  18. Kansas
  19. Minnesota
  20. Illinois
  21. Michigan
  22. Indiana
  23. Ohio
  24. Kentucky
  25. Tennessee
  26. Mississippi
  27. New Mexico
  28. Georgia
  29. Florida
  30. South Carolina
  31. North Carolina
  32. Virginia
  33. West Virginia
  34. Maryland
  35. New Jersey
  36. Pennsylvania
  37. Connecticut
  38. New York
  39. Rhode Island
  40. Maine
  41. Delaware
  42. New Hampshire
  43. Massachusetts
  44. Montana
  45. Vermont
  46. Nebraska
  47. Hawaii
  48. Iowa
  49. Louisiana
  50. Missouri

I left those in the order I wrote them down in case anyone wants to dissect my thought process.

So… which ones have I visited?

AlabamaHuntsville – working for NASA
AlaskaParent’s 50th wedding anniversary cruise!
ArizonaLots – Phoenix to visit Mike and Sally among others
ArkansasLittle Rock to visit the Chamberlains while driving to Texas
CaliforniaLots – lived in San Francisco and Los Angeles
ColoradoLots – camping and visiting people
ConnecticutMaine Road Trip 2022 with Pregnant Wifey
DelawareDC-NYC Road Trip 2000ish / Rehoboth Beach
FloridaLots – Disney World 2022 with Pregnant Wifey
GeorgiaAtlanta for Zip Line Bachelor Party
Idaho2021 Road Trip with Wifey
IllinoisLots – Chicago w/Eric, Argonne national labs
IndianaI mean, like a super lot, it’s just across the river
IowaKansas-Nebraska Road Trip (visited Brian)
KansasKansas-Nebraska Road Trip (visited Brian), also HS Chess
LouisianaNew Orleans multiple times
MaineSailing with Pa and Joe forever ago
MarylandLots while living in DC
MassachusettsBoston, for work, and to visit Dan Swyers in like 1997
MichiganLots – HS Trip, Jim and Heather
Minnesota2021 Road Trip with Wifey
MississippiHave I never been here????
MissouriDrove through St. Louis lots. Was in the arch as a kid.
Montana2021 Road Trip with Wifey (Montana)
NebraskaKansas-Nebraska Road Trip (visited Brian)
NevadaBachelor parties mostly, also family vacation, camping trip
New HampshireMaine Road Trip 2022 with Pregnant Wifey
New JerseyDefinitely popped over during a NY/Long Island trip.
New MexicoGrand Canyon / Phoenix Road Trip with Kory
New YorkLots – 2021 w/Wifey ; winter in NYC!
North CarolinaSo much – Cousins!
North Dakota2021 Road Trip with Wifey
OhioLived there, lots (Xavier, Dayton, Akron)
OklahomaWork – Oklahoma City, Tinker AFB
Oregon2021 Road Trip with Wifey – visit Rebecca Wyland (Vierling)
PennsylvaniaDC-NYC Road Trip (like 2000?)
Rhode IslandMaine Road Trip 2022
South CarolinaMyrtle Beach as a kid
South Dakota2021 Road Trip with Wifey
TennesseeLots – Nashville, visiting “Jen”s, driving toys w/Joe
TexasAustin to visit John Mattingly, Natalie Vaughn’s wedding
UtahOgden Utah to visit the Chamberlains – 12th grade
VermontMaine Road Trip 2022 with Pregnant Wifey
VirginiaLots – driving Louisville to DC, white water rafting
Washington2021 Road Trip with Wifey
West VirginiaLots – driving Louisville to DC, white water rafting
Wisconsin2021 Road Trip with Wifey
Wyoming2021 Road Trip with Wifey (Yellowstone)

Ok, so I am pretty sure I have never been to Mississippi. How did this happen? MAYBE I drove through, to New Orleans or Texas, but there are paths that don’t go that way and it’s been a while. Does anyone remember going to Mississippi with me?

I DO know that I drove to Maine once and tried to hit some states along the way but I can’t be sure I hit them all (before Google Timelines, sadly). So….

UPDATE! Wifey and I took an extra long trip to go through the New England states while I was on a work trip to Boston. That brings the official total to 49! Only one road trip away! And I have to pull Wifey to a few I’ve hit and she’s missed. ROAD TRIP!

For the pedantic among you… most of these states I’ve thoroughly visited, and even slept in. There are a few exceptions. I think New Hampshire and one of the Dakotas were just day visits during longer road trips, and Idaho was also just a drive through on the narrow bit up top. Everywhere else I’ve spent a considerable amount of time, if not spending the night, at least visiting with friends or family for more than just a road-trip drive-by.

Demo-2 Launch America

My twitter feed right now is basically just me re-tweeting my company’s posts and mentions. All my favorite news outlets for the past 20 years have been talking about us…

Friends are talking about it online all over the place.

Good stuff. You should watch. There should be good coverage here:

Me, I’ll be at work… while it would be interesting to be in SpaceX Mission Control again, I’ll only be going in if things go off-nominal; if things go smoothly I’ll be watching from my desk. 😉

Terminal Madness

Here’s a short list of the various ways I type things into a command line on my machine (not necessarily an exhaustive list of what I COULD use… but what I seem to need to use regularly).  This seems excessive:
* Windows Command Line (I’d love to run linux native on my machine, but not quite there yet)
* Windows Power Shell
* MinGW (installed for git as the default git/bash shell)
* Cygwin (I can take this off; consider it early masochism)
* Ubuntu (the one installed as part of the Windows Subsystem for linux)
* Ubuntu (the 16.04 and 18.04 LTS versions are installed in Hyper-Vs for various testing)
* Docker (the docker linux host has a handful of images)

That seems excessive. I’m not sure if my linux dev box is better or worse.

Happy Birthday To Me! Oh, and Appollo 11.

This has certainly been an epic year. I got married (thankyouverymuch), went to Hawaii and lots and lots of gorgeous places in California, still live in basically a southern California paradise (year-round palm trees, ocean, pool, hot tub… it’s really quite lovely) with lots of people coming to visit. Work has been amazing. We launched our demo crew capsule to the International Space Station which looked and felt like sci-fi; we launched more rockets including a couple of Falcon Heavy launches that are amazing to watch, AND we launched our first collection of Starlink satellites — all first of their kind sorts of events.

The Aerospace world is pretty excited this year, of course, for another first… 50 years ago — on July 20th — the first human being set foot on the moon. Six years later on the same day, I was born. So I’ve always felt a personal connection to the moon landing.

I didn’t start out aiming at Aerospace. I wanted to be an astronaut as much as the next kid; I liked stargazing and I remember watching for meteorites while camping, or in the back yard, for as long as I can remember. But I had, and have, a million other hobbies. I ended up in Math and Computer Science in college. The fact that my first real job out of college took me to Wright Patterson Air Force Base was a domino effect directly from friends I’d made in grade school more than the industry itself. I was there because computers were everywhere, and I carved a niche in coding, data, and analytics. I got lucky again when I got to work on more and more interesting projects — supply and operational management related to the F22 and F35, process optimizations for the AWACS/E3, tracking systems for nuclear war materials, and QA and systems consolidation for the Air Force and eventually NASA’s logistics systems.

It’s only recently that I can look back and say, huh… I’ve spent the better part of the last 20 years in Aerospace. I’ve had dalliances in insurance, banking, healthcare… but those were brief. In the last couple of years I realized that I can actually lay some claim to the titles “Aerospace Engineer” and “Rocket Scientist”. No, I can’t design an engine, or an airfoil… well… at least that’s not what I actually do during the day. But I’ve had Software Engineer and Data Scientist jobs for Aerospace and Rocket companies. It takes a team and I’m excited to feel a part of one, from DC to LA, from KPMG to SpaceX, and everything in between… from camping out as a kid to watch the stars to staying up all night to watch the Dragon 2 launch and dock with the ISS.

And I guess that’s how you become an expert in something. I was amazed to find recently that I have friends who have worked at their jobs for 20 years now. I’ve always had smart, top notch friends, but that’s some serious experience, and now, hey, here I am too. Aging is peculiar.

So the Appollo 11 anniversary feels particularly personal this year. Happy birthday moon landing and happy birth to meeee! (Pics of the actual birthday trip to follow… Elephant Seals and San Francisco, Yay)!

UPDATE: My mom dug up a birthday card that my aunt sent me when I was young…

Crew Demo 1

Late update: A real picture from the ISS of our dragon 2 crew demo 1 capsule.
Doesn’t it seem like this should be out of a sci-fi movie, and not real life?

So this weekend has been one of the highlights of my career, in a lot of ways. I hadn’t contributed to SpaceX for the Falcon Heavy last year, but now I’ve been here just over 12 months, and while each flight has been exciting and was a learning experience, this one really brought together everything I’ve worked on in very tight focus, where I could see the impacts of software my teams have worked on in specific ways.

I’ve worked on two major projects here — our ERP and our Telemetry system. SpaceX’s ERP system is custom built, which is a bit of a badge of honor, and a challenging delight to work with compared to years watching companies and government entities mismanagement of billion dollar ERP rollouts. Our telemetry system is similarly in-house, and has been growing over the years in a similar fashion. I’ve worked with NASA and the Air Force and never seen anything remotely like our telemetry system, from the rocket’s sensor design to our ground software, to the openness that allows basically every simulation and test to leverage the same technology stack to make sure test are in as close to “real” as imaginable. Common goal in the industry, but it’s nice to see up close.

So that’s what I’ve worked ON. That and the two dozen side projects that pop up all the time… SpaceX’s software teams are extremely lean, so we host lots of other responsibilities. I’ve worked on a supplier portal, customer facing sites, I got to push the first code that introduced the telemetry system for “Starships” which was just cool; I’ve done dashboarding and metrics, data science APIs, a dozen different infrastructure, languages, and DevOPS projects. The PACE of SpaceX is so furious that I’ve certainly done more in a year here than I have anywhere else. Heck I pushed production code in my first DAY.

via https://twitter.com/SpaceX/status/1101299837322944513

But last night — even from when the rocket went vertical on the stand — through the near-midnight ignition, and for the few hours that followed it as we watched the last minute checks and tests, watched the launch, watched the little plush doll — er… Zero-G Indicator — start to float… last night I felt the most connected to the entire launch, because I got to see the software work end to end and see how I’ve impacted it. Hugely humbling, and immensely cool.

via https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/1101789828574777346

The technicians working on the rocket up to the last minute were following instructions from the ERP system. We could follow along as they performed tasks using the UI the team coded, watch the database we modeled get updated directly, and actually watch video as people used the software we’d been pushing code changes to for much of the past year. If someone turned a wrench, pressed a button, or pulled a part from the rockets in the hangar – waiting for our next mission – we knew what was going on. Our role was monitoring at this point; from our end the work was done and if we had messed something up it was too late to make changes. Well… we may have had plans in place, but they weren’t anywhere near plan b (or even c, d, and e). But we had processes running and things in place; the systems were doing their job tracking every little thing.

And when the holy mouse click happened, this time for the crew demo 1 mission, all the hardware was now under control of the ground and flight software. The feeling of being fully interconnected really hit me as most of the company watched telemetry streaming on a dozen screens in mission control, and our group of 20 or so flight software engineers huddled around a TV and a dozen laptops and workstations.

The flight went off as planned, but it was still more exciting to watch. For the first time we had cameras on our final payload. Stage 1 is amazing to watch, but stage 2 has always had the best views of the earth and the sky but you really have to be a satellite to see everything. Starman got some of the best views last time ’round, but this time we got to watch a camera from the nose cone of the dragon capsule go from pitch black to showing the sunrise over the earth. It took a second at first to figure out what was happening, but a long thin arc took over the screen and eventually became a sunrise (which I can’t show you because it’s not public, but here, enjoy Starman again).


The rocket is basically fully automated, but we see a ton of data. As we watched the temperatures for the liquid oxygen and rocket propellant tanks, I said we should throw up the temperature in the cabin… it was, after all, a human factors test. We clicked through telemetry, found someone who knew the name of the temperature channel, and threw them on the screen. I knew how all of that worked behind the scenes, because we had made changes to the source code for the last few months. When someone got excited that their piece of flight software worked… that the pressure sensor, venting mechanism, temperature or attitude control system they worked on was working, it’s because they saw it in the telemetry system we were managing.

I’ve never seen that level of excitement from people directly using software I’ve helped write; not like this. It’s intoxicating. Smiles and cheers were infectious despite the late night hours. As the night wore on we’d think about leaving, but it was always just a few more minutes until the next event. The capsule turned to point a certain way in 10 minutes, or was going to fire in 45 minutes to set the course for the next 20 hours.

Heading back in again today to watch the actual docking with the ISS. It’s been 24 hours since launch; and the excitement is still very high. Definitely glad I came out here.

UPDATE: Yeah, we finally got some amazing pictures. These aren’t renders — this is real! And we’re watching live!

Like a genius, I’m standing 20 feet behind the photographer, and through the glass. I probably should have slipped in the room and in the picture, but technically we weren’t required in mission control today (though we’re badged for it if bad happens). FWIW, note the software on the machines in the foreground. Such pretty pretty software.

UPDATE /morez: The exhilaration just continues. It’s currently 5:27 AM in Hawthorne, CA where I just recently left SpaceX to come home. We successfully docked with the space station and the hatch was recently opened and astronauts IN SPACE went inside. This probably happened on our cargo trips, but this is the first time it’s happened on a privately built capsule designed for people.

Watched the launch for a few hours inside the avionics lab this time, with some of our compatriot Flight Software coders and QA team. Got to say hi to Doug Hurley briefly, and had Elon and Bob Behnken floating around nearby. Again, same experience as last night but moreso… getting to see telemetry and people using our software, but being even closer to the mission control aspect with teams that were more responsible for coding the individual steps the capsule took as it approached the ISS; doing test approaches and retreats until every test passed and we successfully docked. This was an amazingly smooth launch from T-0 on, and it’s just been a delight to work with everyone on it. This team rocks.