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Reflections September 2014

The Old Gal

Good Old News

By Anne Ashley

There’s a new “sleeping” bed (presumably as opposed to the tennis playing bed) available with a computerized gizmo that allows the mattress to conform to my shape! What? There’s middle aged, fat beds? Surely not.

Nothing focuses your attention on aging like celebrating a milestone anniversary of a major historical event! For those of you who missed the modest media coverage, July 20 was the 45th anniversary of Apollo 11 being the first manned mission to land on the moon. Now, in itself, setting foot on a satellite some 250,000 miles away is a landmark occasion all on its own, but considering the infancy of technology in those days, the feat grows to phenomenal proportions!

As the event fell on a school day, we elementary students were released from our typical lessons to drag our chairs from one classroom to another to watch the landing on a television especially installed for the occasion. For some of us, getting out of class was reason enough to celebrate … it mattered not what else we were doing … it wasn’t math!

Anyway, as it wasn’t standard then to have multi-media devices in every classroom, where communication with the entire world and its orbiting planets was possible with no more than the click of a mouse. We all crowded into one classroom and became a fragment of the 500 million people worldwide witnessing the monumental event as it happened.

In complete darkness and without fully understanding the enormity or the ramifications, the grainy images of Neil Armstrong taking the first ever steps onto territory that had previously only been available to us in our nursery rhymes or storybooks came into view. Then we heard the stirring words never to be forgotten: “That's one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind.”

There it was – the moment millions of dollars, thousands of people and their labor, not to mention, ingenious technology, had all united to achieve. We had accomplished the seemingly un-accomplishable! Despite my youth and the fact that I didn’t know exactly why we needed a human to walk on such a remote surface, I still knew it was a game changer.

And I was right too: from that moment on, standards and potentials changed. Similar technology would soon be available in everyday life. Opportunities for worldwide (and inescapable) communication devices advanced and computerization would make everything faster, more efficient and less labor intensive – albeit that the computers of yesteryear occupied an entire room and comparable contraptions today fit in your ear!

On a more personal note, from that moment on, I would never again be allowed to underperform without being held accountable to this event by teachers and parents, alike! “Well if they can land a man on the moon, the dreaded lecture always began, surely, you can clean your room, pass a math test, get ‘A’s on your report card, be nice to your siblings, wash the dishes without complaining” – the list of comparisons was never ending. Even the routine threat of starving children in third-world countries deserving my food more than I, was forfeited to the moon landing! Gone was the “eat your vegetables, there are starving children in whereverland that would be grateful for your dinner” and became “men in space eat their vegetables!”

All too soon, I began to resent the moon landing!

Anyway, fast forward to almost half a century later and the recent celebrations have caused a return of the nostalgic comparisons to the astronomical achievement! I recently attempted to purchase a bed. As is the modern way, I employed the technology of the Internet to scour nearby shops and narrowed my search considerably. Upon entering the chosen establishment, I cataloged my modest requirements and was instantly informed that I had been underestimating my needs! There’s a new “sleeping” bed (presumably as opposed to the tennis playing bed) available with a computerized gizmo that allows the mattress to conform to my shape! What? There’s middle-aged, fat beds? Surely not.

I was further assured that men in space were responsible for technology that now allowed me to correct my sleep plan. Evidently, a nightcap, comfortable pj’s and lights out is no longer considered a sufficient sleep plan – I now need to program my sleep chamber to support me in places that haven’t been supported! As frustrating as this news is to me, it’s going to please the long suffering husband no end to know he’s off the hook!

Ahhhh NASA …. will the curse of not measuring up to history never end?


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