Monday, July 20, 2009
When I stood outside on that summer night and looked up at the moon, I was disappointed. Somehow, I expected to see Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin (and yes, I thought they'd be waving). Even if they weren't in view, I was certain I'd be able to spot the American flag. After all, it was the only red, white and blue thing up there.
Just so you don't think I was the densest eight-year-old living in the town of Massapequa Park in 1969, I want you to know that I didn't expect to see it with the naked eye. I had binoculars.
I didn't really have to look up at the sky. I only had to look to earth to see what happened. Parents and teachers spoke to us about living on Mars and beyond. We played with space-themed toys, watched the Jetsons, and drank Tang, "like the astronauts". Even though the sixties were turbulent times, one thing was clear: Our futures would be ones with unlimited potential, where we would explore the unknown.
To celebrate the anniversary of that first step, here's a quote from astronaut Eugene Cernan, the last man to walk on the moon:
“The spirit of Apollo is not so much what we did but how and why we did it. Particularly in the period of time we did it, when the country was torn by civil strife, campus unrest, the start of an unpopular war and the president of the United States said after a grand total of 15 minutes of space flight that we’re going to go to the moon. He was asking us to do the impossible. He was asking us to do what most people at the time did not think could be done. That’s the spirit that we have to relay to younger generations. You never know how successful you can be or how good you can be unless you try.”
For the sake of the eight-year-old who tonight looks up at the moon, I hope we go back.
Friday, July 17, 2009
There's something empowering about crawling out on the garage roof and howling at the moon. Or maybe it's the word "Arrooo!" Since my book's been published, I've received "arrooo's" in text messages, emails, phone calls, cards, notes, etc. The word seems to take on many meanings, like "hello" "miss you" "cheer up" "congratulations" "don't forget the guacamole"...well..you get the idea.
We talked about it during the recording of the Ocean County Library's podcast on The 40th Anniversary of the First Manned Moon Landing. We were sitting in a room in the Bishop building, formerly the Toms River library. Even though the shelves are now empty, the building has that quintessential old-fashioned library feel. If you've seen the movie "The Amityville Horror", you know what the place looks like. The library scene was filmed there. (By the way, the Hollywood producers did not think the librarians who worked in that building looked enough like librarians to be in the film, so they hired extras from a local retirement community to play the parts.)
After we did the podcast, we celebrated with an Arrooo! Here's what we sounded like.
No need to wait for a full moon if you want to give it a try.
Friday, July 3, 2009
That's Buzz Aldin at a book signing for his latest book, Magnificent Desolation, in Huntington New York on June 24th. Check out the book in front of him. He's looking at Neil Armstrong is My Uncle!
Buzz Aldrin is my childhood hero. (No surprise there). The man walked on the moon! He also has a Doctorate in Science from MIT and a decorated Korean War veteran, (Distinguished Flying Cross). He earned the name "Dr Rendevous" for devising docking and rendezvous techniques for spacecrafts in earth and lunar orbit. An advocate for continuing space exploration, Buzz founded a few foundations and companies, including a rocket design company, Starcraft Boosters, Inc., the ShareSpace Foundation, a nonprofit devoted "to advancing space education, exploration and affordable space flight experiences for all."
A New Jersey native, he's also an author, scuba diver, and skier. Did I mention he's a hip hop artist? Here's the making of Rocket Experience where Buzz talks about his two passions: space exploration and hip hop.
Even though I live over a hundred miles away, when I found out he was going to be at the Book Revue book store, I had to go. I took a half a day off from the library and headed to Long Island. Traffic was horrendous, even by LI standards. I could have walked across Nassau county faster.
The 5 1/2 hour drive was worth it.
When I sat in the audience waiting for him to talk, (Buzz was caught in the awful traffic too) I spoke with an engineer from Grumman (who worked on the L.E.M), a few school teachers and some Long Island friends.
I was a little nervous waiting for Buzz. There's always the chance that the person you admire is not going to live up to your expectations. But Buzz was wonderful. It was great to hear him speak. There were at least a thousand people there, maybe more. So it's not like Buzz had lots of time to chat with anyone. But he did talk to people while he was signing books, which is pretty remarkable when you've got crowds waiting.
We were pushed through quickly. I gave him a copy of my book and got a signed copy of his. My friend Debbie stepped out of line to take the picture. (Thanks Deb, you rule breaker you. Sorry they made you go toward the end of the line to get your book signed). Seriously though, the Book Revue bookstore knows how to handle crowds. They get all the big names. I love this indie book store.
It was a great night. I almost met a twitter/facebook friend. WriterRoss, who joined us during the Twitter interview was at the same bookstore. I tweeted that I was going be there. She was there too and she even called out my name.
Sorry WriterRoss. It would have been nice to meet you. I hope to meet you sometime soon. And yes, I did hit traffic at 11:30 at night on the Southern State Parkway on the way home. But that's just the way it is on Long Island.
I haven't started Buzz Aldrin's book Magnificent Desolation yet. I think I'm going to wait until July 20, 2009. What a great way to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the first moon walk.