Tag Archives: space

The Beautiful Stars


I must have been about eight at the time, maybe nine.  I had never left the city farther than some of closer in ‘burbs, and here we were camping in the open in the middle of Montana.  I was so mesmerized by the stars that I couldn’t sleep.  I just lay on my back, staring straight up.

I watched those same stars, eyes wide open.  Only this time they were brighter.  Although I knew the small differences that could be created by position of the planets was totally insignificant compared to the light years that lay between my and those stars, they seemed closer, infinitely closer.

With my first real taste of space from the big sky of Montana’s thin air, I knew that I couldn’t stay in the city forever.  And even the mountains out West were too confined.  I had to explore.  I had to go out There.

And I did.

As I watched the glorious stars, I thought back on how I had pushed myself.  I followed the standard path set up so many years before I was born.  I studied mechanical engineering but got a Masters Degree in Physics.  I went into the Air Force and flew fighter jets.  I became a test pilot.  Finally I was chosen to be an astronaut.

My third trip up was to explore the “dark side” of the Moon.  Of course there is plenty of light, it is just facing away from Earth.

Or there should have been light.

We crashed in the shadows just shy of our destination.  There was no Earth in our sky and no sun, just stars.

I say “our”, but I was the only one to survive.  And that, just barely.

But I am content to wait out these last few hours, unable to move, laying flat on my back, staring at my beautiful stars.

Hidden Figures – Almost a Review


A few weeks ago, I read the book “Hidden Figures” by Margot Lee Shetterly.  I really liked the book and can’t imagine the movie covering one tenth the ground it did.  There is so much context and background in the book, and yet I know the author was still only scratching the surface.

This is not a review of the book (review = excellent.  Read it).  I just want to say something about the book, something that I thought about as I read it but that is even more relevant after the recent events in Charlottesville.

A lot of this book is about racism at its ugliest, but also how some people were able to rise above it, or perhaps “rise in spite of it” would be a better phrase.  A little background about how hard it was for people of color, and blacks in particular, to get ahead in the pre-World War II era was needed to place the events of the book in context.  There were black professionals back then, but for the most part they were segregated, dealing with the black community at much lower pay than their white counterparts.  The idea brought out in the book that they had to accomplish twice as much to achieve half of the recognition, unfortunately, is still with us to some degree to this day. Continue reading