I spent today catching up on some much-needed housework. I was up rather early, as at 10 AM a home inspector was coming to check out the place as a requirement for the new homeowners' policy I recently enrolled in. He came and went without incident, though I had been nervous that he was going to poke around the basement and find something not to someone's liking and I would be forced to shell out money I don't have to repair it or else they would drop the policy. Thankfully, none of that came to pass.
I had the front door to the house open as I was working, and around 11 AM I heard the squeal of tires outside, of brakes being laid on hard. The house is on a relatively busy road, and there has been at least one car accident that I have witnessed almost right outside the house. When I arrived at the front door, to my horror, I saw my neighbor's dog from across the street writing and yelping in pain - it had been hit pretty much dead on, and the back of it's body clearly crushed.
I ran across to my neighbors and asked if they knew the location of the emergency vet in the area. They were clearly distraught and there was much confusion, so I ran back inside and looked up the number and called them to let them know there was a dog that had been hit by a car on the way in. By the time I got back out to the road, the dog was still, clearly in shock. They gently put him into a laundry basket and took off for the emergency veterinary clinic, which thankfully isn't too far.
I'd like to say that this has a happy ending, but it doesn't. About an hour later I saw them come back, so I popped over to see what had happened. The poor animal had died on the car ride over, his injuries too severe. The worst part was that the driver who hit him didn't even stop. They kept right on going, even though the squealing of their brakes clearly indicated they had seen the dog. Whoever you are, you are a coward and criminal for leaving the scene of accident.
All of this hits rather close to home, as I have a nine-month old dog in my house. He is well behaved, and I think I have instilled a healthy respect of the road and the front yard in him (he isn't allowed near either), yet this could have easily been him. What if he had spotted a squirrel or a...something, and taken off in the direction of the road? It all happened so ridiculously quickly that there would be no time to react. In any case, the whole incident left me very shaken and upset. I made sure to give the pooch some extra hugs today.
In order to make myself feel a little better, I decided to go to the movies after I had finished the housework. Last night I was watching Tron on my AppleTV. (n.b. - I don't know which of those things makes me a bigger geek.)(Additionally, G-Fav - Tron is in reality a really bad movie...I don't know why I didn't remember this. What was with all the ginormous eyeglasses in the 80's?)
Anyway, after the movie was over, I was futzing with the AppleTV and was looking at the movie trailers when I spotted In the Shadow of the Moon.
What's this, I think? Turns out it is a new Ron Howard documentary about the Apollo program told by many of the surviving Apollo astronauts. The result is a deeply personal look at the Apollo program as told through the eyes of the men who lived it. It also featured a great deal of footage from the Apollo era that has recently been released and restored by NASA.
So this is the movie I ended up seeing this afternoon, and it is breathtaking. For those that know me well, you know that I am an unabashed space enthusiast. I have been to Florida for a Space Shuttle launch, I know, work with, and am friends with a real live former astronaut. I took a bunch of aero/astro classes in grad school, and I met Buzz Aldrin once at M.I.T. You know, all basic nerd stuff. I was on the edge of my seat watching Apollo 13
even though I knew how it turned out.
I don't know what it is about the notion of space travel that appeals to me so much. I don't think of myself as an explorer by nature, and I also don't think of myself as particularly courageous or fearless or thrill-seeking. I really think it is the engineering and passion that drove and does drive the people who work on these types of projects. The notion that every piece of equipment was designed and tested and integrated by human hands, and that it has to work, perfectly, every time, or there is a very real possibility that people will die and billions of dollars in equipment will be lost.
I admire that passion and that almost-fanatical devotion to a cause, to something larger than oneself. The knowledge that you are contributing to a great undertaking, something that pushes the boundaries of the human experience, and makes much of the petty squabbling seem, well, so petty.
In any case, as G-Fav is often captivated by the visual and aesthetic qualities of art and film, I find that I am very often drawn to the auditory components...I've often thought that my life would be better if it had a soundtrack. This film is no different. The composer, Phillip Sheppard, manages to create a score that wonderfully captures the notion of a grand endeavour, of a time and place in our history when a multitude of forces came together just perfectly and allowed us as a people to transcend what we are.
Nothing captures this more beautifully that the liftoff of the Saturn V. At once elegant and clumsy, graceful and yet brutally powerful, the Saturn V represented (and some still believe represents) the pinnacle of human rocket design. 7.5 million pounds of thrust, with millions of interconnected parts that all must work perfectly, or else people die. Sheppard sets the breathtaking visual of the Saturn V launch against this beautiful score
that I think brillantly captures the beauty and building momentum of a launch, as well as the hopes, dreams, and sweat of the generation that made it happen. Watching this scene in the film left me in tears. If you are an engineer, see this film - it is inspiring.