A year ago I was taking flying lessons a few days a week. I had interviewed the office manager and a person that worked at the front desk. This time I was interviewing Franz, one of the “rampers”. A ramper is responsible for getting the airplanes out of the hanger in the morning, put them on the ramp (the parking place for planes outside of the hanger), making sure they have fuel, oil levels are topped off, and everything else needed for them to fly. And to maintain them throughout the day. At the end of the day to put them back in the hanger and close everything up.
Franz is also a student pilot. Pretty much everyone associated with a flying school either is getting his/her license or has it. I am sure that part of Franz’s compensation (haven’t confirmed) is some flight time or discounted flight time.
In the background you can see this awesome mural of the Wright brothers’ plane inside the hanger. And towards the end of the interview you will hear an airplane starting.
Meena is my mother in law. It was late in the day and I had not interviewed someone. Would the project continue, or would this be the day.
Meena was in Dubai in 1969. She did not see it on TV. They did not have TVs to watch at that time. But she heard about it. People were excited about it. What was this new thing? People on the moon? It was exciting. What other great things were in our future.
My nephew Ian was visiting this time last year. It must have been a weekend. We had an amazing conversation. He asked good questions “How does the moon cause the tides?” “Do you think there are aliens in the rest of the universe?” And we talked about how to determine if something is true. The testability is key.
It was late in the day. Christopher, Sonia, and I had gone to the boba place. I was like who can I interview. There were people working at the boba place, but I was trying not to interview people who were working. (I’ve since given that up and everyone is a potential interview candidate). We sat there drinking our Boba, playing Mastermind. And Christopher knew one of the people that worked there. Sierra goes to Klein Cain High school also.
The conversation with Sierra was very giggly at the beginning. It made me realize how “date game showy” the phrase of putting the “first woman and the next man on the moon” is. Sierra even asked if they were going to live there. And in addition to the reasons I outlined before about how “the first woman” is not the objective that we want to be in people’s minds. It may be easy to rally some broad support around it, but as soon as it is achieved on that first flight, that support will disappear and it will be like “Why are we still going?”
We need to focus the message on the future of humanity is in the stars. The moon is a step towards that. Everything else will short change us.
I am trying to think where I was driving from. Did I go to tennis? Did I drop Christopher off at tennis. Anyway, it was late in the day and I didn’t know who I could interview. The idea of interviewing Sunil popped into my head. I called him up, explained to him my project and he said it would be fine to stop by.
Sunil is OK with going to the moon as long as it doesn’t cause his taxes to go up. He does not see how it involves him. He makes a good point that we talk about all the good out of the Apollo program, about the technological spinoffs, and the creation of a large technical workforce that may have directly resulted in the creation of silicon valley and many of the computer, aircraft, and automobile advancements over the next decades. But was there anything bad that came out of it?
Ammaar works at our local Starbucks. I probably saw him several dozen times. But I didn’t actually realize it until a week or so after the interview when I went to Starbucks and he recognized me, but I failed to make the connection.
Ammaar is excited about us returning to the moon. He thinks it will be a good thing. And that we need to push further. With right intentions and the right systems in place we can go in a way that is safe and respectful of everyone interests. “I don’t think the moon can be messed up.”
He is excited about what Elon Musk is doing. “I believe in Elon Musk” “He is a genius.”
I hope to cross paths with Ammaar again. I have not seen him at Starbucks, but with masks on and not going inside doesn’t mean that he isn’t there. I’d like to know how his interest in space exploration has changed over the past year with the pandemic on one hand, and successes on the other hand like the two SpaceX missions that carried people.
A year ago I was at the Barbara Bush Library. Charlie and I were both waiting for Latha’s Yoga’s class to begin. I told him about my project and he was willing to do an interview.
Did you know that NASA was planning to send people to the moon in 2024? “What for?”
Charlie is interested in solving everyday problems. In curing disease. If space exploration has a link to solving those things, then it makes sense to him. If we are going just to go then it does not make sense.
What other things do you think we are misspending money on? “To take a slightly better photo or to communicate better. It is creating more stress and is not moving us forward.”
I also tried to explore the idea that money does not equate to solutions. That it is ultimately people that solve problems.. And that if we want to solve cancer, we need to get more people working on the problem from different directions. How do we do that? How can get more problem solvers solving more problems?
It was late on Monday. I just had the workshop (the first one) for people to work on their Space Communicator program. People to talk through and think about their speeches. I had probably been busy at work during the day. And while there were many people at the workshop, I was going to try to interview non-space people. Doug Hall and I were walking out after having cleaned and straightened the room. David was working at the library. I had also planned not to interview people at work. But if I didn’t interview him, I’m not sure who I would interview. So I asked, and with a little hesitation and trepidation David agreed.
David remembers the Challenger explosion more vividly than any other space event. He had heard about “robot things on Mars”. And when I told him that 1972 was the last time we went to the moon he says “Shocks me that I’m not more on top of that.”
David wonders “Are we ready fo this? Would the resources be better some place else? Otherwise, he thinks it is a great idea”
Would he go to the moon? “Probably not. I’ve not even been out of the continent which I hope to fix this summer”. I wonder if he was able to travel during the summer. On one hand the library was not opened and maybe it was possible for library staff to have more time off. On the other hand with Covid it might not have been possible to travel.
I am at our neighborhood Starbucks again. Christopher sees some of his classmates. Giavonnah is willing to do an interview. I remember thinking “Who can I ask?” and “How can I ask?”. Going up to people to do an interview was really nerve wracking. I think it still is. I do not think I have gotten any better at this in the past year, because I have been nicely hidden behind zoom. But I am hoping that next month (February) to start interviewing people again in person, randomly on the weekends. And then move more and more of my interviews to in person.
Giavonnah had not heard we are going to the moon in 2024 but she thinks it is “really cool. Amazing. Awesome” But she should not go to a party, would more likely just read about it. She thinks it is good to study and not bad to know more. It is not a waste of money.
What will humanity be like in 500 years? “Like this but times 10” There will likely be robots. But no woods because humanity would have grown so large that we would have chopped them all down. Would we live in places off earth? “Yes. We would find a way”
Did she know about Blue Origin? She did not. But while she would not have an interest in going into orbit, to the moon, or to Mars. She would be interested in going on a 15 minute New Shepard flight.
How can I improve? Keep doing what I’m doing. “Really cool to ask people’s opinion”.