Thursday, January 28, 2016

January 28, 1986 -- 30 Years Since Challenger

Space shuttle Challenger's final voyage is remembered, 30 years later - CBS News:

JFK Assassination, Moon Walk, Challenger, 9-11 ... those are the days I remember for sure right where I was and what I was doing from a "national event" perspective in my life so far.

Thirty years ago today we were married less than a year. I happened to be home from IBM sick at our place in Chatfield for one of the very few times in the first 20+ years of my career. I wasn't feeling good enough to be watching TV, so got a call from a friend at work that "people were saying something happened to the Shuttle. Those were the days before Internet and there were not any TVs around the site and radios were wither prohibited or frowned upon.

Being the space buff I was, it was shocking, but technically certainly not hard to believe. I understood that the Shuttle system was flawed at best -- solid boosters and tiles for re-entry being big examples. 2.5 million parts and 400K lines of code to keep it flying. There is some detail on the mission hardware and software here. I did feel horrible for the families -- but I can still remember feeling guilty for how sad I felt for the Challenger and the engineers. The shuttles were an embodiment of a spirit and capability that may never return to this nation. It was a privilege to be alive and experience both the highs and the lows of that era.

As always, Reagan had some of the best words possible and remembrance of him certainly brings back nostalgia for that spacefaring nation of heroes that built and flew marvelous machines.

In 1986, Japan was flying high -- you can glance at one article here, but the assumption was that they were an unstoppable economic force ... better methods, harder working labor force, better social programs,  you name it. We HAD to copy Japan, or they would just buy us up.  Japan's economy has been essentially in a recession since '92 -- it turns out their sure fire policies that we were supposed to copy didn't pan out so wall. Starting in '06 with Democrats taking over both houses of Congress, we finally started to copy them.

I'd say the Japanese policies DO "work"! It's just that the definition of "work" isn't maybe what some had thought!

Kids were still in the future in '86, now a Grandchild is the earthy center of our universe. There was lots of IBM career ahead in '86, now it is in the rear view mirror.

Time marches on for the living. The USSR is dead ... but then, the US that we knew and loved in '86 is dead too. Now we have no space capability and hitch rides with Russia, whose leader is listed as the most powerful man in the world.  (BO was third, indicating stench isn't everything!)

My tendency to pine away "for the old days" is getting stronger -- I must REALLY be getting old!

If you are feeling as nostalgic for that time as I am, I might suggest checking out the book "Riding Rockets"

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