NASA People

Center Snapshot: Patrick Lynch
03.23.09
Patrick Lynch with daughter, Anna Kathleen. Image above: Patrick Lynch with daughter Anna Kathleen: "How do you describe holding a baby for the first time?" Credit: Molly Lynch

By: Jim Hodges

He spent time on the outside, looking in. Now he's on the inside.

The view is certainly different for Patrick Lynch, a writer with the Science Directorate at NASA Langley.

"With a newspaper, you cover a broad variety of topics," said Lynch, who came to Langley from the Daily Press, where he covered the center and also wrote environmental science and general assignment stories. "With newspapers, you can't offer as much depth in a story.

"Here, I can have a narrow focus and get deeper into a story. I've found it interesting so far."

It's been a fast and furious four months for Lynch since leaving the newspaper. The time was broken in half by the birth of Anna Kathleen, his and wife Molly's firstborn, on February 7. Life since then has involved Anna and work, and little else. Grandparents have been in and out and back in from North Carolina and Indiana. Anna is also the first grandchild for both families.

"I'm trying to stay away from cliches," Lynch said. "But how do you describe holding a baby for the first time?"

It's been enough to set aside golf, which he plays reasonably well, and even his guitar, which he played as often as he could. A group – the "Kneeling Drunkards," from a Johnny Cash song -- that includes Lynch and the Daily Press's Sam McDonald and Joe Atkinson has been left high and dry, because Anna and Molly are too important.

There isn't even time for the occasional "open-mike night" that allowed the group to vent frustration with the newspaper business.

Like many "reformed" journalists, Lynch watches the ever-shrinking newspaper world with alarm. There is comfort in that the view is from a distance, but reports of the demise of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and Rocky Mountain News, plus stories of cutbacks in the business are difficult to absorb.

"It's sad to see what's happening in the industry and to my friends who are in it," Lynch said. "The time was right for me to get out of the newspaper business. It's sad to look back and see what it was."

The difference in what he did for the Daily Press and what he does now is oceans vast. He is able to spend more time on a story and is allowed to delve into issues more deeply. But, said Lynch, "sometimes I feel a little guilty walking out at the end of the day without having filed a 20-inch story."

There's even a difference in the way he can write for the Science Directorate. Sometimes the writing is more difficult.

"I can be more technical-minded," said Lynch. "I don't want to write so technically that people won't understand it, but there is a technically savvy audience here."

One real difference in what he did for the Daily Press and what he does now for the Science Directorate comes to the fore at this time of year. He ran the newspaper's NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament pool, a natural for a man who grew up in Indiana.

"I'm in a couple on-line," Lynch said.

That will have to do. Anything more would take time he would rather spend with Molly and Anna.