Remembering the brave ones who dared

If there’s a NASA/Space-flight equivalent of Holy Week, this is it. This is the week where we mourn the sacrifices, but also celebrate the hope that those sacrifices bring.

53 Years ago today, the crew of Apollo 1, Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee were killed by a fire in their capsule during a test on the launch pad.

34 Years ago tomorrow, the Challenger 7, Scobee, Smith, Onizuka, Resnik, McNair, Jarvis, and McAuliffe, were killed when the Challenger broke up 73 seconds after liftoff on it’s 25th flight.

17 years ago this Saturday, Husband, McCool, Anderson, Chawla, Brown, Clark, and Ramon, were all killed when the Columbia broke up during re-entry after completing it’s 28th mission.

With every one of their sacrifices we got better, we got smarter, and we got more careful. Space isn’t our home, it’ll never be “safe” in the way that we’re used to. Over 30 years and 135 flights, 355 people flew on the Space Shuttle. The 24 Apollo astronauts who flew to the moon and back are tho only humans who have gone beyond low earth orbit. Every one of them knew about those who went before, and knew the risks they were taking, and chose to go anyway. (Personally, I think the crew of STS-1, Young and Crippen, may have been the bravest, when they climbed aboard Columbia to take a ride on a rocket that had never flown before.)

It’s easy to say how dangerous something is and choose not to do it. How much harder is it to know that three of your best friends were killed the last time they climbed into the capsule that you yourself are now climbing in to? No matter how many redesigns and modifications are made after every tiny issue that crops up, the very nature of climbing up a rocket and taking a trip beyond the air is danger. The rewards are, by all accounts, incredible, but the amount of work required to be one of the special few is almost unimaginable as well.

It’s possible that the greatest loss of the Challenger disaster was the cancellation of the Teachers In Space Program, and the idea that space had something to offer beyond simple science and engineering. It is understandable, at that time, why it was decided that the public perception caused by the possibility of a civilian, but we’ll never know what was lost in the leaving of the great adventure of space to those few elite who made it their life’s work. Bravery exists across the entire spectrum of humanity, and it is certain that there were teachers, and musicians, and dancers, and artists who would’ve accepted the risk gladly and shown us new sides of what it means to be human, and inspired us all to be braver and better. Maybe danger and risk is some part of inspiration, and by waiting until everything is safe we’ve lost an opportunity to create something truly new. Fortunately for us many Astronauts have taken up this mantle, and used what little free time and energy they have to work to inspire us and try and help us forget the immense danger of what they do in favor of opening our imagination and sense of wonder, and to honor the memory of those who were lost.

More people are going to leave this planet, many more, and more are going to die as well, but we’ll keep getting better, and it’ll keep getting safer, and someday you won’t think of anything of taking a ride on a rocket for a vacation or for work.
In the meantime, we should remember not only those who were lost, the daring crews of Apollo 1, STS-51-L, and STS-107, but all of the brave ones who have dared. Someday when it is considered normal for a person is able to book a vacation to the moon and watch the earth rise over the horizon, it will be upon their broad shoulders that we stand.

A cloudy winters morn

Ahh, the dark and overcast pleases me. Winter hath arriven indeed.

No, wait, as soon as I step out of the car everything is wrong! It’s 72 degrees at 7:30am, and incredibly humid, feels like Florida!

I do like the fact that we can go out on evening walks and even in our neighborhood there isn’t so much light that you can’t see the stars. So I’m not complaining, but it just keeps freaking me out when the weather around me just isn’t what I’m expecting to feel!

Huh

I got out of bed this morning and walked over to the window. After peeking through the blinds for a moment I said “huh”.

Bevin, still in bed, says “what, is it snowing or something?”

Flurries covering the backyard
The camera doesn’t accurately capture how much snow is in the air. Falling pretty good actually.

Actually yes. Apparently my “huh” communicated how perplexed I was quite clearly, and she tried to guess the most perplexing thing I might see out the window.

The screaming children we can hear were a clue too she says.

As a reminder, it was 70 degrees out yesterday.

Huh.

Omens of Explosions

7:30am on New Years Eve and the fireworks stands are open. (the stands are there year round)

I expect this means it will be an eventful evening.

There is one stand, the largest around, barn really, which is not open. They have sign out front reading “City of Roanoke forced us to close! Stand up to municipal tyranny!”

Perhaps they shall be the Alamo of fireworks and it’ll be an extra exciting evening!

A small problem

It wasn’t until while re-packing my backpack AFTER going through security that I realized my rain jacket isn’t in the bottom of it where it usually is.

I hear it’s a bit damp up PNW way these days. Oh well, not like I’ve never been damp before. 😂

Not quite home

Aside

It’s 6pm, it’s dark out, we can see stars, it’s 70 degrees. It’s the middle of December.

Sometimes this place just feels weird.

Our first actual Christmas Tree!

In all the years Bev and I have lived together we never set up a proper Christmas tree. Didn’t have room for it, didn’t have room to store it, and were going to be at our parents’ places where they had trees anyway. We always put up a tiny twig of some kind in homage to Charlie Brown, but that’s about it. Not this year though! Behold!

I shall call it: Christmas Tree, a work in progress.

We received a Christmas Tree from some friends who were moving shortly after we arrived here in Texas. Both Bev and I are big “real tree” people, but we have this, well, frankly GIANT house, and we figured we’d probably need at LEAST 2 trees eventually. (This year though this is our only one, and it’s got ALL our ornaments on it and isn’t quite full, so we’re not there yet!)

Boy were we right! The tree we got works perfectly in our, I believe the builder calls it, “rotunda”. Quite nice, since it’s a taller skinnier tree and fits perfectly without obstructing any movement!

Most of the ornaments on the tree are mine, including my favorite train engine, and many other train engines. Fortunately most of them have a year written on them so I have some sort of idea why they were given to me. “Grandchild’s first christmas ornament” from Hallmark is on here, although to be fair I’m not sure which set of grandparents that one is from. More extensive documentation may be required.

So many trains on this tree.
Keeping up family traditions…

When I was young and my family went to Florida to visit my great grandparents we got a christmas ornament for every year we were there, and Bev and I have kept it up with out 2015 and 2018 Disney ornaments, pictured here. Also on the tree is an ornament for Vienna! The traditions must be maintained! (To which end, yes, there’s a pickle on there somewhere!)

The tree does need a bit more work though, gotta find a nice skirt for the bottom of it, and we desperately need a Texas ornament, possibly a Texas star tree topper of some kind. It’s only right. 🙂

We also did a little visible-from-the-outside decoration, the front yard tree and a tiny tree in the window above the garage:

All in all it feels quite festive! The living room has some nice greenery going on, although not really a traditional Christmas tree:

Unfortunately I think we’ve been beaten by the neighbors in terms of outside decorations:

Yes, that’s the Grinch, stealing the lights off their house. Brilliant!

Oddly flavored adventures

Trying a coffee place today. Bev’s (left) is coffee soda with ginger, and a carrot cake whipped cream. Mine is the “moth man” with some sort of condensed milk and activated charcoal.

This coffee shop is near the big college, is an “ale works” as well as coffee shop, has a bunch of trestle tables, and a big wall board games, and behind Bevin you can see some classic arcade consoles. Neat spot! I’ll bring some quarters next time and get my Galaga on.