Friday, March 17, 2006

Ask Josh The Pilot, Volume 1

By: Josh The Pilot

Honestly, y'all, I'm thrilled to see so many questions submitted for this new feature on BlondeChampagne. I was very happy when Tink called asking if I would like to do this, and believe me, it was a tough competition with Jim the Baby Nephew over who would get the spot. I'm glad my college degree was able to beat out "Mama's truck!" or maybe I won because even with her dislike for math, MB knows that "Twenty-four!" is more than "Two!" Speaking of Jim, that leads me to the first question.

bobob said...
Do you ever get tired of hearing about Jim? Let me guess, she talks about him all the time!

Yes, bobob, she talks about him all the time. Every weekend when I visit her she has a new Jim update. At times it's rough knowing there's another man in her life, but when we first started seeing each other she let me know that I wouldn't always be the center of her existence, and I've come to accept that and by now I've grown used to it.

More later!

Happy St. Patricks Day

to my brothers and sisters in the Notre Dame Family.

I'll celebrate as well as a German who graduated from a school founded by French nuns can.

Thursday, March 16, 2006


Most of you know that I used to work in education at Kennedy Space Center beneath the great eagle's wing of Nick The NASA Poobah, but left after the loss of Columbia because 1) (never mind) and 2) the subcontractor who hired me defined "health insurance" as "coupons for ten percent off one medium-sized Tang in the Visitor Complex gift shop." So I went away.

But not really.

I teach at an aeronautical university where people fret a lot over the space program, and it's nice, but sometimes I miss an educational environment in which the students are, like, sober. So thanks to an assist from Scott The Taller, I began training as a docent at the Air Force Space and Missile Museum at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. What happens is, Nick the NASA Poobah or one of my other former coworkers brings a bunch of people over from Kennedy Space Center as part of a NASA history presentation, and I point at mold-gathering space leftovers for half an hour, and then they ask me where the bathroom is, and then Nick takes them away again precisely as they're starting to piss me off, and then I go home and take a nap. So it's a lot like being an aunt.

Scott and I are the youngest docents by approximately 4000 years. I'm a few months away from 30, and in six weeks of training I have been addressed as "Young lady," "Girlie," and "YOU'RE a college professor?" Most of these gentlemen are war veterans; were the brains, hands, and pilots of the earliest days of the space program, so I am sure to maintain at least seven feet of respect around them at all times, but it appears that the Boat of Modern Social Interaction has sailed right past them and directly into Marge Schott's dock.

"Any of you know why Jews and Italians look a lot alike?" one asked a visiting junior ROTC unit. I stand in ignorance of the answer, as I fled the scene lest I be charged with a hate crime simply for standing in the vicinity.

One day a group of F-15 test pilots from Eglin wandered into the museum, as much as a test pilot can wander, anyway. (These things happen, at the Cape.) One of them even had ovaries! Just like me! They said they were in town for some weapons testing over the weekend, which is always how I like to spend my Sunday afternoons, and invited us to visit the Skid Strip to see.

Since I am the Best. Girlfriend. Ever., I got Josh the Pilot a security badge so he could join me, but because the terrorists don't work weekends or past four on the weekdays, he was forced to make a mad dash to the security office from Orlando before it closed on Friday. He had to double-super-mega promise that he was nice and not at all the type to push over a rocket, and so they let him in. I feel safe. I feel safe! I FEEL SAFE.

You would not want to anger an F-15. "ROOOOOAAAAAR!" says the F-15.
Two test pilots, Dick and Michelle, took us on the flightline and let us walk all around
the plane. I even got to touch it. So it probably got lost on its way back to Eglin. Sorry, F-15.

I didn't have a Museum uniform shirt yet, and that was totally okay, since the uniform shirt is sewn from some sort of indestructible polyester... thing that frightens me very much. A bra fashioned of thistles and tweed would be more comfortable.

But it was a fine thing to be standing there in my T-shirt and accept the Talking Space Stick from Nick for the first time in four years. It was a great moment of transference, we knew.

"The circuit is now complete," I said as his pupils filed off the bus. "When I left, I was but a learner. Now I am a master."

"Only a master of evil," he said tenderly, whereupon I chopped him in half.

We were standing just a few feet from the launchpad of Explorer 1, where the first U.S. satellite was launched. There was a blockhouse and a couple hundred feet of cable and a concrete slab. You add about seventy feet of rocket and a couple of room-sized computers capable of far less than a $2.99 Office Depot calculator and you have 1958. My dad saw that launch from atop the roof of his barracks at MacDill Air Force Base. I saw the aftermath.

A football field away was Complex 5/6, where Alan Shepard and Gus Grissom were first launched. I drove right up to the flame deflector and listened. The ocean was to our left and the shuttle launchpads a couple miles ahead.

You know how silence sounds? I have always heard it at 5/6. When I lived on the Cape, I used to take a beach chair and a bottle of water to the pad and sit with Alan and Gus, studying for the next presentation. I watched Josh the Pilot fiddle with his digital camera, felt the jubilant weight of the entire world staring down the country at this one little bump of Florida on May 5, 1961.

The bus carrying Nick and his students whined off. I stayed for a little while, then got back in the car, shoving a stack of lesson plans off the back seat. I don't work here anymore. But someone in Monday's tech writing class will someday.

Ask Josh The Pilot!

Given his popularity amongst the commenters, we're starting a new feature here on BlondeChampagne: Ask Josh The Pilot! Go ahead! Ask him anything! He'll respond to some of your questions in an upcoming post! If he feels like it!

I wanted to institute Ask Jim The Baby Nephew!, but all of his answers would pretty much consist of "Mama's truck," or, if you're lucky, "Two!" (Since his very favorite person in the universe is turning two next month, all attempts at counting pretty much begin and end here. You would expect more from the son of an accountant. Still, he's 99.99 more accurate than I am.)

Post your questions in the comments section or email to:

Tuesday, March 14, 2006


I gave up sweets for Lent, by which I mean cookies AND ice cream AND candy AND chocolate AND basically everything that makes life livable and you know what? It's really not that bad.

Perhaps it's because I'm in Yogurt For Jesus mode, but I find myself curiously untempted by the displays of Peeps and caramel eggs in the grocery store. However, we're only about a week and a half in, so check in with me again some time in April, when it's likely I'll be sucking on packets of Equal in random Denny's parking lots.

Maybe it's because I haven't given over my one true love: Cheese. I do believe I would die if I had to forego cheese. It comprises at least 97% of all meals. I give unto You all Kit Kats, Lord, but do not take from me my cracker-sliced baby swiss.

Then again, maybe I'm eeking through because I'm cheating via Go-Tarts. Settle me this: What is a Pop-Tart? Is it a breakfast food or a pastery? And what of its bastard child, this "Go-Tart?" The box says "breakfast pastery", which clears it right up. I say the fruit negates the frosting, but maybe I'm just kidding myself and headed straight to hell anyway, riding the delicious sprinkled crust of strawberry goodness.

mea culpa at:

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