I went to the annual Planetary Science Institute fundraising gala tonight. It was at the El Conquistador resort, very beautiful. Mountains, Maseratis. I hadn’t been to one of the dinners in 24 years, so it seemed like a good plan.
Unfortunately, however, I succeeded in enraging the current PSI director by suggesting that the giant flags which now wave imposingly in the entry were an embarrassment of nationalistic corporatism, and that they were definitely not an improvement over the case of nice space rocks and Voyager badges and such that used to be there. He was red in the face, said I didn’t understand the corporate culture.
After dinner, I then deeply annoyed the keynote speaker, the Vatican astronomer, by (privately) raising the point that the closing line of his talk, “Only humans experience wonder” was not borne out by even the most casual observation of primates, not to mention other animal species. He said, oddly, “Humans are animals,” as if that justified his unjustifiable statement, and then went on to add that anyway, if other species felt wonder, then they were just being graced by God with a shining (and presumably temporary) moment of Human-ness.
It made me so glad that my life is full of reasonable people.
Speaking of reasonable people, I found a photo of Bill McKinnon at the Buckydome in Montreal. The photo was taken on the day (or the day before) we decided to marry; I am sentimental about it.
The geodesic structure was part of the 1967 World’s Fair; and the dome was the US Pavilion, very futuristic. When we were there in 1991, it was abandoned, and I climbed it while Bill worried on the ground.
Now it’s a museum, which I suppose is much better. But I’m glad I got to see it as just a frame, standing lonely in the middle of nothing.
. . .
I guess it’s likely to be another 24 years before I am invited to go to another fundraising dinner. It’s probably just as well.