atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,

#4635: That's when it hurts

Through very careful budgeting, I managed to get to my Friday with $8 left in my checking account. Both utility bills hit last week and it just about cleaned out my account, but at least I was able to pay them, right? I merely had to be very careful, otherwise, about what I spent money on, and with the $14 I put in the tank on Thursday I knew that I could now make it to payday without having to spend any more money. It left me with that $8 in the account, but it's all good, because the way this week is scheduled I won't need to go anywhere until Friday (real Friday, I mean) comes, when there'll be more money in my checking account.

Breakfast, of late, has been bagel sandwiches. Mrs. Fungus started that, at least a month ago, when she bought lunch meat and bagels, and I realized that a ham and cheese bagel was cheaper and better for me than anything from McDonald's. But because of finances, we were running out of lunch meat, and cheese. Since we'd had corned beef last week, Sunday's sandwich was corned beef and the last of the salami, and two slices of pepper jack. We had dinner out Sunday evening as a special treat and this morning I--with permission--used the meat from her entree, and the last bagel, and two slices of pepper jack, to make a sandwich.

I figure that I can go on Thursday evening and buy bagels, ham, and cheese, and be okay.

Still--the bagel sandwich is tasty and filling, but some days they don't hold me as well as others, and today was one of the "less well" days. Well, after four hours anyone's going to be hungry again, and since my checking account is coughing up blood there's no way for me to buy a snack; I just have to tough it out until I can go home.

...and then, today, a client tries to tip me.

We're not allowed to take tips, of course. There are a variety of reasons why, but as far as I can tell from the various training modules I've see, tips are verboten, so I always hand the money back and express my thanks and regrets. In the past few weeks, attempted tips have come to about $40, which sure would be nice to have, especially now when my personal economy is moving on fumes and momentum.

I sure wanted to keep the $10 the guy handed to me today. (I really wanted to keep the $20 the guy tried giving me about two weeks ago, too.) I could have used it, really I could...but policy is what it is.


* * *

I am afraid to ask if tips are okay, because if someone tells me they are, I'm going to be unhappy about it. But perhaps I should, so that if this happens in the future, I can accept with great gratitude. Everything I've seen, read, and heard, however, says otherwise.

* * *


For most of my life, manned space exploration has a been a series of disappointments. Let's face it: from the time I was seven years old until I was fourteen--seven years--there were no manned space flights originating in the US. The last gasp of manned spaceflight, until I was fourteen years old, was Apollo-Soyuz, which was nothing but a publicity stunt for both NASA and the USSR's space program. And when they started flying the space shuttle in 1981, it turned out to be a government boondoggle, about nothing but having a reason to employ government bureaucrats and engineers. "We're going to low Earth orbit to do science! We're advancing the boundaries of human spaceflight! Look, this year our greatest achievement is to have an all-woman crew!"

Going to orbit is great and all, but it's a select few who get to do it, and it doesn't do anything to make space more accessible to the average person or business. It's not even a case of "practice makes perfect" because nothing changes between flights even when NASA discovers something's seriously wrong. (Making changes--too expensive. We'd have to update all the documentation.)

So from 1981 through the end of shuttle operations in 2011, there were no advances, no new platforms, no nothin' that a man with the space bug could get excited about. There were some moments where some interesting things happened, and there were a few where there was some pride in how we'd come back from this or that setback...but in retrospect, and against the backdrop of what SpaceX is doing, I've come to realize how pale those proud moments were.

The first flight after the Challenger explosion pales in comparison to this photograph:

...which is a Dragon capsule descending on parachute after re-entry. That's a privately-owned reusable spacecraft, there.

Privately owned.

Reusable spacecraft.

I just can't get enough of SpaceX. And damn it, they're making space exciting again.

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