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From the People-Cooler-than-Me Department

Something about my brain thinks of lives (including my own) as a lot less boring if they contain cool or interesting things from more than one column of the menu, so to speak. For example, some people may think being involved in astronomy is interesting, but I'd probably get bored if I didn't also get to do lava hiking, underwater photography and go to meetings as part of academic teams reporting on a wide variety of sciences.

I mentioned this next bit to a few friends the other day, but... about a month ago, the Nearby Supernova Factory at Lawrence Berkeley Labs (where I know a lot of people) assimilated another person, Cecilia Aragon, who'll be working with them on (and these are her words) "research in visual analytics and information and scientific visualization with applications to supernova image data."

Yes, it's pretty much rocket science, but, well, that's not out of the ordinary over there. Nor is having a degree in math from CalTech and two in computer science from Berkeley, and a bunch of nifty jobs involving things like aerospace modeling at places like NASA Ames Research Lab. She'll fit in just fine, I'm sure, and people won't look at her funny or anything.

So what makes her cooler than me? Well... she's a former California State Aerobatic Champion, medalist at the 1993 U.S. National Championships and 1994 World Aerobatic Championships, and two-time member of the U.S. Aerobatic Team.

Yes. You read that right. Ph.D. in computer science, rocket-science job, and stunt pilot. That's cool.

Don't believe me? Ask Google.