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Postcards from Travel Near and Far by Jia-Rui

91109, Pasadena


Rose-colored light outside of the visitor center at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Rose-colored light outside of the visitor center at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Dear ——–,

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.


Author: postmarkhere

I'm a journalist based in Los Angeles who has always said that writing postcards for a living would be a dream job. The posts -- short enough to fit on an actual postcard -- chronicle recent travels near and far. I could blab on about being inspired by epistolary novels, the short poems of Emily Dickinson, and the New Yorker's "Talk of the Town" pieces, but I'll just say that I'm aiming to give you a sense of flavor of a place without boring you to death. Wish you were here!

5 thoughts on “91109, Pasadena

  1. love the blog and the polaroid-like snapshots. am i being selfish for wishing you’d actually send me postcards like these… in the post? well, you’ve inspired me to send some postcards!

    • Get with the internet age, Julia! Nobody sends actual postcards anymore! ;P Actually, this blog has also reminded me that I should send more paper postcards, too.

  2. Thanks for all the updates.
    Sounds like your new job is a winner!

  3. I learned about the La Canada-Flintridge thing for one of my stories…interesting how that is. Let me know when I can come visit! How’s the cafeteria? I presume there is one?

    • The cafeteria is quite good, actually. Lots of choice for about the same price as the LA Times cafeteria. One day I ordered the chicken, pesto and sun-dried tomato individual pizza, which was very good. It was also large enough that I had it for lunch for 3 days.

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