Saturday, October 30, 2010


I'm a bit of a history buff. More than a bit, actually. If wool weren't so hot and scratchy, I'd be one of those guys giving up my weekends to re-enact Revolutionary War battles. (And may still end up there one of these days.) That said, I wouldn't want to live in Colonial America. Visit? Sure. I'd be first in line to hop in a time machine - preferably a Delorean - and head back to walk around, see the sights, experience some things first hand. But live there? Not a chance. Leaving aside the entire issue of wool being hot and scratchy, there are a host of other reasons why these are not times I want to live in. I like my modern conveniences, which should not surprise anyone as I sit here writing on my laptop, listening to a radio program, intending to publish this on the internet in a few minutes.

There is an exception to this general rule. Two, possibly. However, I'm only going to talk about one of them today. I would really haved liked to have been around for the Apollo Program. And I'd be willing to put up with all the craziness of the 60's to be able to watch even just one launch.

Mind you, I wouldn't mind being an astronaut, but I know full well I lack the right stuff. Starting with my vision. I still hold out hope that before I die there will be at the very least commerical low-Earth orbit flights into space, but that's as much as I am expecting. Even if I grew up expecting more than that (Arthur C. Clarke I blame you) I'm very aware that kids in the 1950's and even earlier grew up expecting jet packs. Which they don't have yet, either.

With the shuttle program winding down here, and no successor to it in sight, my brief hope that I might personally witness a moon launch is dwindling. There were leanings towards that for a few years, but between the economy and shifting priorities, I think that's all but dead for now.

Which disappoints me. So, I would gladly go back and live in the 1960's, despite the politics, the civil unrest, and the horrid fashion sense (especially at the end of the Apollo Program in the 1970's) to be able to watch one launch in all it's ground-shaking glory.

I've seen my share of shuttle launches. I grew up during the heydey of the program, when every launch was still televised, and confess that as long as I know when they will launch and can get to a television, I still watch them. Even on television, they are awesome. But, for as spectacular as they are, they lack that certain something of the Apollo launches. Different rockets, perhaps, but there's more to it.

Most of it is, I think, that sense of collective awe and wonder that held a nation (possibly even the world) spellbound as we sent these three-man crews into space. They weren't going very far, in astronomical terms, and yet... they were going to the moon. And for those lucky few who got to land there, they could stand on the surface of another world - small and lifeless though it may be - and look back at Earth. To be a part of that, if only as a spectator, to watch it unfold as it happens, that's something I'd like to be able to do.

(Okay, I take it back, I would want to be an astronaut. As long as we're delving into pure fantasy anyway, unless someone has my Delorean, I might as go all the way.)

So while there aren't too many places in history I'd be willing to live, that is one of the exceptions.

And in fairness, good wool clothes aren't very scratchy once you've broken them in.

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