The View Up Here

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Posted by Tom Benedict on 07/01/2014

It’s a new year! The Earth has another orbit under its belt, and the stars are back where they like to be when the northern pole is tilted away from the sun. It’s time for: A – a stiff drink and some loud singing, B – wishing out loud in a whiny voice that I had more days left on my vacation, or C – new year resolutions.

The answer, of course, is A. But I took care of that a couple of days ago. And a couple of days before that. Come to think of it, I’ve been doing that pretty regularly this whole vacation. And B has been going on for the last 48 hours. So I’ll go with C instead.

Here are my resolutions for 2014:

1 – Quit being so damn uptight.

This one kicked my butt in 2013. I am uptight. I worry that the global economy will finally tank to the point that people don’t want to spend money on observatories. I worry that we’ll have another bigass earthquake like the one we had in 2007, or another wildfire like the one that nearly claimed my entire neighborhood a few years ago. I worry about my kids and about their futures. All these worries have one thing in common: They are things I cannot control.

This particular exercise in stupidity came to a head in the middle of last month. The latest round of a child-induced stressor had me sitting in my car in the parking lot at work with a pulse over 120bpm and intermittent chest pains. I sat there taking my vitals, trying to analyze the chest pains, and deciding whether to drive home or call 911 for a ride to the hospital. That really was the last straw.

I have to learn to let go, even if it means I let my kids learn consequences in an occasionally irrevocable way. It’s their life. Not mine. It’s outside of my control.

2 – Get out more.

Ever since Rydra went in for her craniotomy in 2012 I’ve been in caretaker mode. Initially she needed it. She couldn’t cook, she could barely walk, and we had three kids in school. That was true for maybe the first few months after surgery. But even once she was back on her feet and doing her normal activities (like TRX and spin classes several times a week – activities that would have me panting on the ground wheezing, “No more! No more!”), I was still in caretaker mode. I couldn’t shake it! I stopped going out to do KAP or even photography on the ground just so I could be available at home in case I was needed. (Hint: I wasn’t needed. Not that much, anyway.) The little photography I did was either work-related, or was done while walking my daughter to school.

This vacation has been wonderful in that regard. I did get out. I did do KAP and ground photography. And nothing bad happened as a result. Only good came of it. And honestly Rydra was glad to see me go outside so she could get some peace and quiet without someone hanging over her shoulder the whole time.

I have to quit assuming I’m responsible for everything, and go play more.

3 – Stop drawing and start making.

I get into cycles with design vs. fabrication. It was one of these cycles that delayed my entry to the world of KAP. I got interested in kite aerial photography when I first ran across Cris Benton’s web site in 1999. But it wasn’t until 2007 that I finally put a camera in the air. Why? Because I spent all that time desigining KAP rigs instead of flying them.

I’ve had a couple of projects in the design phase for a while now. I’ve done sketches, 3D models, and a couple of shop drawings. But honestly most of the stuff on my plate is really scrapbox work: grab a chunk of something, machine on it ’till it looks about right, and make a part to mate with it. It’s not rocket science. I could probably hammer out half this stuff in a single weekend if I just stood at the cranks and did it.

I need to stop using CAD and start using my hands.

Actually, come to think of it I really only have one resolution to make: Stop worrying and go create.

So that’s my plan.

– Tom

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