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OFJ Field Journal from Dave Atkinson - 11/14/95

It is 6:30 A.M. on Tuesday morning, November 14. I am sitting in my motel room at the Spokane airport Ramada and trying to decide whether to get on my 8:00 A.M. flight to San Francisco or to go home. We have a Probe Science Conference scheduled for 10:30 A.M. tomorrow (Wednesday, November 15) at NASA's Ames Research Center. Unfortunately, as I was sitting here last night watching TV I learned that the government's continuing resolution has not been extended and, as of this morning, the government is beginning to shut down.

Including NASA. Including Ames. Including the press conference that I am supposed to participate in. So here is the dilemma - the press conference is still scheduled, and will be until tomorrow (I assume). Therefore, I could get on my flight, go to Ames and take the chance that in the meantime the mess in Washington will be resolved. If not, then I get on another flight and come home. The real problem for me is that my travel money is severely limited, and with post-probe mission science meetings scheduled for January and February, conferences in March, May, and into the summer, I really can't afford the luxury of taking a trip without any guarantees that it will be productive. So, I guess I will head back home and listen to the radio, check email, and call the Ames hotline for updates. If something positive happens maybe I can head back to Spokane (about 1.5 hours from Moscow) and catch a flight later today.

November 15, 1995
Apparently I made the right choice. Except for Marcie Smith and Charlie Sobeck working on Galileo, most of Ames is closed. As I understand it, JPL is still open, but I'm not sure for how long. They are not furloughed like the rest of NASA because JPL is not officially NASA. So, as long as the stalemate in Washington continues things will be fairly quiet. That includes Online from Jupiter, originating from Ames (a joint project with JPL, but Online from Jupiter's computers are at Ames).

So, since you are reading this, the President, Gingrich, and the rest of the gang in Washington (trust me, other names besides "gang" popped into my head) must have gotten their act together.

Hopefully by the time December 7 rolls around this will be nothing more than a minor nuisance and distant memory on the road to Jupiter. It is unfortunate that with our hearts and thoughts halfway across the solar system, we are reminded that we still live in a real world with real politics. Nothing seems easy!


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