Starting at the bottom left

Let’s tell a story. Some of you know me as John. Some of you know me as Wally. And I want to tell you a story about a great email address that I had once. It was my favorite email address ever. I’ll put it up there with the greatest email addresses that have ever existed. But that is just my opinion. The rest of this should have lots of facts in it. Not complex facts. Just straight forward, John/Wally tells you things that happened. The email address is john.wally@nasa.gov and the story is for people who know me as John or as Wally. If you made it to this website, and you don’t know me, don’t believe the things written here. Find someone else to tell you about their favorite email address.

I was standing in Dupont Circle doing a phone interview for a job that I found on craigslist. No this wasn’t a scam for a stolen cellphone. Nor was it someone seeking a new and exciting online relationship. This was a job for a Linux Systems Administrator at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. NASA. And it was a very nice phone interview. The man on the other end of the line had a thick African accent. The noise from the traffic around me made it hard to hear. But somehow I managed. And, from a posting on craigslist, I was invited to a second interview with a contractor that would have me working at Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, MD.

“Had to go to the doctor,” was the excuse I used to leave work and head 30 minutes out to Greenbelt from Dupont Circle. I got there early. Really early. Like an hour early. I had a beard. I had a beard and I was staring at the 12 foot tall fences and gates of a serious NASA installation that I had never even heard of before. “Holy shit, I have to shave my fucking beard.” Words that run through young mans mind before an interview at NASA. So I went across the street to a Kmart. I bought a razor and shaving cream and shaved my whole beard off in the back bathroom. Made a huge mess. And drove back across the street to my interview.

gsfc

It went well. Most of the people interviewing me had facial hair. I got the job. My beard grew back. They gave me an email address that involved my entire last name. That is a lot of last name, if you know it. I went online and asked if they could change the email address to something easier to tell people. It worked. john.wally@nasa.gov was born.

So some of you know me as John. Some of you know me as Wally. And nobody knows me as john.wally@nasa.gov anymore. But thats ok. I left the job in September of 2014. I had worked there about 2 years. I learned many many things. I met amazing people. I fixed their computers. And I used the email address john.wally@nasa.gov.

The computers that I fixed were for the good scientists and researchers at the Global Modeling and Assimilation Office in Building 32 and 33 at Goddard Space Flight Center. I got to see their work. I got to see how their work worked. I got to see when their work didn’t work. I got to see posters and graphs and big walls of amazing videos that showed satellite data and beautiful pictures. On cold days, I could come in the front door of Building 33, and if just the right video was playing you could get a brilliant blast of radiation to shake the cold sting from the left side of my body. And I would go upstairs and I would check my email. I would get coffee. Because I am human. And I would throw sugar and cream into it. And that would help me very much with my email.

“Hey John, It looks like Nimbus is down. Can you take a look?”
“Hey John, I have some more research money. I need to spend if before the end of the fiscal year. What can I add to my servers in that time?”
“Hey Wally, I’m looking at getting a new monitor. What’s a good one?”
“Hey John, Can we setup our own screen with visualizations on it to show of GMAOs works?”
“Hey John, Doodle is broken. When can we get a new printer?”

All of that is real. None of that is an opinion. All that came into the inbox of john.wally@nasa.gov. Sometimes that’s a days worth. Sometimes a weeks worth. Nimbus is a server that would take data from a big super computer and turn it into something pretty that people can see. It has lots of storage. And we had about 20 servers just like Nimbus. And sometimes Nimbus would break. I would go from building 33 over to 32. And I would fix Nimbus or the big hard drive attached to Nimbus. And Nimbus would come back and the good scientists and researchers could start sciencing and researching again. And then, I would recommend more storage to hold more data, before fiscal years end. And then, I would recommend a monitor that had good reviews at a good price. Then, I would work on a visualization solution so the good scientist and researchers could show off their pretty science. And on cold mornings the left side of me would be warmed by the glow of just the right images on the screen down at the entrance of building 33. And then I would fix Doodle. Printers are the worst. I guess that is one more opinion on here. Sorry.

So on these printers something different would be printed than a lot of other printers. On these printers I would see lovely pictures of graphs. The graphs would have lines on them. All the lines would start on the bottom left and end up on the top right. Like this: /.

And I would ask the good scientists “What’s with all these lines starting in the bottom left end ending up in the top right?”
They would say, “Well you know all those Nimbus servers we have?”
I say, “Yes. The ones that break and keep me employed.”
They say, “Yes. Please stop letting those break. And do you know the super computer in the other building?”
I say, “Well, please stop breaking them. And yes, the big fancy one for science. It produces a lot of data that fills up all our hard drives.”
They say, “Well we looked at all that data. That 1000 TB worth of data. We looked at all the numbers and figures that come from satellites and from thermometers and super complicated pictures. And we made graphs that show where our temperature used to be and where it is now. The temperature has gone up. We did the same thing with human generated carbon in the atmosphere. Those start at the bottom left and go to the top right too.”
I say, “So the carbon is causing the temperature to increase. ”
They say, “Yup.”

geos5

Not everyone gets to know scientists. Not everyone gets to be friends with scientists. Not everyone gets to be so close to science happening. I was. And john.wally@nasa.gov got to help make science happen. Some of you know me as John. Some of you know me as Wally. And you good people are my friends. And I would never lie to you. I didn’t launch the satellites. I didn’t make the pretty graphs that go from the bottom left to the top right. I didn’t break the servers and fill up their hard drives. I didn’t get lied to. I just answered the emails. And I fixed the printers.

This is the last email I sent to myself as john.wally@nasa.gov

last+email