Monday, July 22, 2013

Fly me to the moon.

Freshman year at Holy Alcatraz Catholic High School for Boys began my true introduction to formal “hands-on” science.  Prior to that time my experience was limited to exploring a chemistry set owned by my childhood friend Ricky. 

We made more than ink until his grandmother banished me from her basement for a concoction I dreamed up   Somehow my brew emitted a putrid sulfur / rotten egg aroma that permeated the firewalls of a few of the neighboring row homes.

There was no real formula, it was at best a watch and see if anything would begin to percolate or catch fire.  We weren’t expecting the really foul smell but there it was, I couldn’t cover it up, the dirt was on my hands and I was busted and banished.

I was shocked my parents never found out but I certainly was not going to volunteer my guilt.

I don’t recall exactly the name of my freshman year science course but I know I had to weigh things; there were test tubes and my favorite, BUNSEN BURNERS! Now I was not only able to mix stuff and see what bubbles over, I could melt things when the priest on guard duty would sneak out of the room, somehow "called" to attend a pressing matter, only to return reeking of Lucky Strike cigarettes.

Sophomore year Biology found me gathered around a table with 3 lab partners, none of which were willing to dissect anything.  I always seemed to pull surgical duty be it a frog, worm, heart, eyeball you name it I was the anointed.  It was not that I was smarter; my cellmates were quicker at fleeing to the rest room to lose their breakfast. 

I was last boy standing.

(At this point I need to set the record straight.  I continue to maintain my innocence, as I was not the one who turned on the ovens roasting the frozen dead cats that were thawing on trays awaiting science experiments from the biology club.  I thank the guilty party as the early dismissal was surely appreciated.)

What really fueled my scientific curiosity was the coming Apollo 11 Moon Landing.

After I first saw Sputnik floating across the night sky, and all through the Mercury, Gemini & Apollo programs, I was excited about space exploration and it’s future projects.  Each new launch found me riveted around the black and white. Apollo 11 would now help fulfill President Kennedy’s goal of reaching the moon by the end of the decade.

On July 20, 1969 Apollo 11 landed and six hours later Neal Armstrong made that historic first step as the world enthusiastically watched.

It was one of those moments in life where you knew exactly where you were as it was happening.

We now celebrate the event with barely a notice. Two days ago was the anniversary.  Did you remember?

During those years our nation had a unified purpose, a goal that not only gave us a dream to fulfill, but space exploration provided numerous benefits that touched every aspect of our lives.  Lest we forget, check out this link from NASA.

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