Tuesday, July 26, 2011

What if you don't make it?

Except when you don't.
Because, sometimes, you won't.

I'm sorry to say so
but, sadly, it's true
that Bang-ups
and Hang-ups
can happen to you.

I've been writing about the shuttle's impact on my life, about my journey to becoming an engineer, and about planning my studies.  Alas, I've gotten hung up on trying to write more about my adolescence, and specifically the parts related to space.  Does *anyone* ever have an easy adolescence?  I don't think I've heard of anyone who did.  But most of that isn't relevant.

One part, is.  See, all the time when I was trying to plan for my future, trying to build a secondary education on the primary foundation, the one question my Dad kept asking, over and over again, was "What if you don't make it?  What if you never become an astronaut?"

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Proper Prior Planning

 Before I present Part 3 of my shuttle memories, I wanted to go back a bit.  Part 1 and part 2 were posted previously, and in part 2 I discussed some of my middle school / junior high school experiences.  I think it's important to mention that during those years, my school was already preparing me for high school and college to come.

Along the way, I also learned what high school courses I would need to prepare for an engineering major.  Basically, 4+ years of math, 4+ years of science, meet the State requirements for graduation (4 years of English, 2+ years of foreign language...).

I think it might have been my high school, in a pre-enrollment presentation, that talked about Nebraska's Academic Honors diploma.

So by the time I started my Freshman year of high school, I had a pretty good plan of study already worked out.  I adjusted it some, as time went on.  Worked band in, as I got back into music.  Considered doing chorus for a year.  Thought about starting a second foreign language.

This kind of planning proved *critical* when we moved, and moved again.  Indiana's state requirements were a little bit different from Nebraska's, but not in the basics: Math, Science, English, foreign language.

Proper prior planning also came in another area.  I think I mentioned that I started babysitting about the time I was 12.  Before I started babysitting as a business, working for other families, I took at least two different babysitting courses (IIRC, one by 4-H and the other from the American Red Cross), and Infant/Child CPR.

My first CPR class, they pointed out that simply by taking the class, we were making a decision to help people.

Now, I haven't *stayed* certified the entire 20-mumble years since that time.  Sometimes I was, sometimes the cert lapsed and I didn't take another course for a while.  But for a layperson, a non-medical professional, I still try to stay alert to medical news in the mainstream media.  And when my workplace asked for volunteers to maintain first aid & CPR training, I stepped forward.

Knowing what to do makes a huge difference.  Training helps get through the initial "freeze" and "panic" phases, and move on to "think this through" and "useful action."

So when the tornado sirens went off while I was babysitting, I got the kids in the basement. Found, plugged in, and turned on a radio down there.  By the time the parents called, I was looking for their candles & a flashlight.

Twenty-mumble years later... When my son got sick last weekend, I mostly knew what to do.  There's about two things that, with hindsight, I probably could have done differently and "better," but for the most part that training / instinct was right on.  We got to the ER in a timely manner, everything worked out fine.  (He is well now.)

My CPR / First Aid certifications have expired again.  It's time to look for another course.