Flakes of white ash floated around me as I got in my car this morning for my first day of work at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The Station fire was still burning nearby, tinting the air a strange shade of salmon. Some of the other employees walked across campus wearing masks. I was actually supposed to start yesterday, but the air quality was so bad managers decided non-essential employees should stay home on Monday. By Tuesday the air quality had apparently improved. New-employee orientations are always a little funny. There was a whole powerpoint segment on the wild animals we might see on campus (e.g., mule deer, bobcats, rattlesnakes). There was a standard 1980s-style training video with actors sporting perms and titles running over neon geometric shapes. We also learned about the informal process for resolving problems through an ombudsman’s office and incentives for staying many years at JPL (e.g., on-campus parking spots!). I was impressed: they really seem interested in retaining people.
And, for the record, most of the lab is in La Canada Flintridge, but the mailstop is in Pasadena, so that’s why most reports say JPL is in Pasadena.