Virtual Idea Lab

Dad passed away 9-11-00

My father, Walter L. Wickman, passed away the morning of September 11th, 2000. Due to God's perfect timing, my mom and I were blessed to be there as he passed from this life into the next. We stopped by the hospice care center for a short visit on my way back to the airport to fly home, after having spent the majority of the previous several days with him.

In the brief time we were there, Mom asked me to read Dad a heartfelt card expressing deep, shared emotions from one of our in-laws, and afterwards suggested that I sing to him. I sang "Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus" and "Lift High the Cross" (a song that was especially meaningful since Dad had just taught it to me some weeks earlier from his hospital bed, requesting that it be sung at his memorial service).  It was while I was singing to him that he quietly slipped away. It was really quite peaceful, in contrast to the past few days when he'd had seizure after seizure. As a friend who was also there visiting at the time reflected, we had the amazing privilege of escorting him into God's presence!

My brothers and I participated in the memorial service, with John sharing some favorite scripture verses, and Mark reflecting on the man that Dad was. I talked about the closeness Dad and I had gained in the last few weeks of his life, which I had been longing for essentially all of my life. I also sang the two songs I'd been singing as he passed away, with the help of a dear family friend.

At the end of the service, the guests had an opportunity to talk about their memories of Dad. Hearing these people remember Dad really blessed me, as I was able to see how he had given so much of himself to others, and touched so many lives in so many positive ways.

Since Dad has been gone, I've had a strong sense of our time here being very short, and that I need to make the most of it. I feel like I've been more "heavenly-minded", trying to focus more on things of lasting value. I find myself thinking more about what heaven will be like, and how the things we consider unfinished business here will either lose their importance, or somehow be brought to perfection in eternity. "For I am confident of this very thing: that He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it…" (Phillipians 1:6).


2010 in Review

It’s hard to believe that yet another year has come and gone. As a kid, I couldn’t wait for Christmas time to come around, and these days it’s here and gone before I’ve even gotten the house decorated!

2010 was a busy year, filled with many good things. We heard brilliant scholars lecture at APU as part of our annual Science, Faith and Culture series ( - Dinesh D’Souza on “Answering the New Atheism” and Peter Enns on "The Benefit of Doubt" stand out as just two of my favorites). I attended several conferences throughout the year: the Asilomar International Conference on Climate Intervention in March, Aerospace Medicine in Phoenix in May, BioLogos in Boston in June, American Scientific Affiliation in DC in July, and I presented my Aerospace group’s research on Climate Change and National Security at the AIAA Space 2010 conference in Anaheim in August. I also gave a handful of talks at various venues on topics in science and faith, sports, and spaceflight.

In addition, I launched my own website (, vacationed in several versions of paradise (Maui, Sunriver, and Whidbey Island), went to Las Vegas (definitely NOT paradise!) to watch my nephew play in a basketball tournament in the heat of July, and adopted a little sister for Mulder (Scully - of course! - a Maine Coon who at nine months is threatening to outweigh her big brother by more than a little, and eat me out of house and home in the process!).  

Another fun activity was getting to watch whales three separate times this year: humpbacks off Maui and Massachusetts, and blue whales right here off Redondo Beach! What a treat.

I also learned last March that the ACL graft in my right knee has gone missing, and although I was able to play beach volleyball throughout the summer, the time has come for another surgery, probably in the February 2011 timeframe. There'll be no skiing for me until this gets fixed.

Finally, I spent a wonderful Christmas with my older brother’s family again in Oregon this year, and am now back home getting ready for the new year.

I pray that you and yours will join me in counting our many blessings as we look forward with hope to 2011.


"A-ha" Moments

I love it when one of my students has an epiphany: one of those "aha" moments when everything clicks and all of the sudden the world makes a little more sense. Recently I was with some astronomy students at a local observatory, and I was showing them how to find the ecliptic in the night sky (the plane that contains the sun, the earth, and most of the other planets). As I gestured to the crescent moon, I mentioned that the bright side of the moon would "point" to where the sun had disappeared over our horizon. Then I mentioned that earth's north pole points toward Polaris, the North Star, and pointed out Jupiter and Saturn, high in our night sky. Just then, one of the students exclaimed, "Oh, then we're tilted!", meaning that our whole solar system is "tilted" relative to what we perceive as vertical in our little part of the world! Once I figured out what she was talking about (sometimes I take these concepts for granted), it made my night.


The Good Life or the Good in Life?

Don't let your pursuit of and desire for "The Good Life" blind you to the Good in your current life.

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