We got to see the space shuttle launch today!! It was close, down to the wire as to whether or not it would go. But then the green light came through and she launched! More thoughts on seeing a launch later, for now — pictures!
On a work trip to Houston last year, two of my co-workers and I asked the group we were there to work with for some restaurant recommendations. The recommendations included a list of BBQ places and Mexican places — the two things Texas is known for I guess. But one restaurant stood out not for it’s food but for it’s owner. The Tierra Luna Grille, we were told, was a newly opened restaurant by astronaut José Hernández. Huh? An astronaut running a restaurant? Is his day job not satisfying enough? And how does an astronaut have the spare time to own his own business, especially one as taxing a restaurant? Certainly he’s not actually running it. This we had to see.
I half-hoped but didn’t really expect he’d be there. We walked in and were seated by nice young Mexican server who wiped our table and took our drink orders. The three of us all looked at each other like, “uh, was that him?” The Co-worker With The iPhone googled José Hernández to pull up a picture. Sure enough, it was him. “Are you kidding me?,” I thought. An astronaut just bussed my table and asked me what I wanted to drink? This must have been what the disciples felt like when Jesus washed their feet. I mean seriously, this guy was selected from thousands as the best of the best to fly in the nation’s space program, and he just brought me a Sprite?
Turns out, it’s Hernández’ wife’s restaurant — and she cooks all the food — and he was just there after work to help. We, of course, acknowledged that we knew who he was and were recommended to come there, etc. His wife came out from the kitchen to talk to us and asked how we liked the food (food was great, btw). Some of his children were there too.
Who knew that astronauts were just real people! Well, I did, it’s just hard not to put them on a pedestal. In some ways it’s a very deserving pedestal. But when you meet them they’re so humble about it.
I’ve been following Hernández on Twitter (@Astro_Jose), and it was great fun this week to watch him get suited up and loaded into the space shuttle for his first spaceflight. I know he’s having a blast up there finally living his dream.
My junior high and high school Bible teacher used to recite this rhyme to us.
For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.
The meaning behind it — that the littlest things can affect such bigger things — hits me all the time! I think in some ways it’s a blame game, a way to take the responsibility off of ourselves and blame it on something else, in this case a nail.
I was reminded of this poem once again when I read this passage from “Some Trust In Chariots,” a book I am reading about the space shuttle Challenger incident. It is written by Gene Thomas who was launch director at the time. To set the scene, in the book Thomas has just written about the two days before Challenger launched and how and why launches were scrubbed on those days.
“I realized that had these two fateful incidents never occurred, the entire Challenger catastrophe might also never have happened. That fateful January 28, 1986 may have been avoided had we not gotten an incorrect weather prediction on Sunday, January 26. Challenger may never have occurred had we not experienced the failure of a two-bit hatch tool on Monday, January 27. Had we been able to launch under the conditions of either of those scrubbed opportunities, Challenger’s crew may have been spared. Surely the ‘O’ rings would have sealed properly under warmer conditions and America would be relishing the lessons of a teacher in space rather than mourning seven dead heroes. What a major part every event in history seems to play. Each minute detail must be in place to lead to a significantly historic event.”
This idea of how seemingly small details can have such large impacts is a topic I’m working on for another blog post. But I couldn’t let the opportunity pass of sharing a real-life example of something that I think deserves a lot of thought. Stay tuned ….