Postmark Here

Postcards from Travel Near and Far by Jia-Rui

92310, Goldstone

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In the construction zone

Dear ——–,

I forgot my steel-toed boots, so one of the guys handed me these hard plastic green toe covers, lovingly nicknamed “Klingon war boots.” I got up at 4 a.m. on Wednesday morning to drive out to the Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex to check on the beginning of “major surgery” on the historic 70-meter “Mars antenna.” The main part of the work is replacing part of the runner and grout in the hydrostatic bearing assembly, which enables the antenna to turn sideways. The scale of this thing was immense. I had to go up several flights of stairs to get up even to the level of the steel runner. About 9 million pounds floats on a film of oil about the thickness of a piece of paper over this runner, so it’s incredibly important for the runner to lie flat. (After 44 years of constant wear and tear, it no longer does.) I was surprised by how brisk it was out there. The chill came from the wind, which was blowing at about 20 miles an hour. “A mere breeze,” one of the Goldstone staffers explained.

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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!

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