Tag Archives: communication

The Space Shuttle Columbia Lifted Off 10 Years Ago Today for the Final Time

Ten years ago today, the space Shuttle Columbia lifted off for the final time. When the liftoff occurred, no one knew that it would be here final departure from the planet. Rather, it was the start of a science mission scheduled to last about two weeks. Onboard the orbiter were seven astronauts:

  • Commander Rick Husband
  • Pilot William McCool
  • Mission Specialist David Brown
  • Mission Specialist Kalpana Chawla
  • Payload Commander Michael Anderson
  • Mission Specialist Laurel Clark
  • Payload Specialist Ilan Ramon

About 82 seconds after lift off, a large piece of the insulating foam on the external tank came loose and hit leading edge of Columbia’s left wing. This incident was captured on the film of the launch as a white streak training away from the wing as the shuttle ascended. Over the next two weeks, the crew flawlessly executed their mission, knowing that something had struck the wing, but not knowing that this impact would cause the end of their lives.

On the ground, at Mission Control in Houston and at other NASA Centers, some engineers were not so certain that the impact hadn’t caused damage. In the end, however, there wasn’t much done to investigate the effects of the impact. Truthfully, nothing could have been done to repair the damage.

Wayne Hale, a Flight Director at Mission Control and leader in the Shuttle program, has written a series of blog posts over the past several months examining the totality of the Columbia disaster, which are definitely worth a read. See his blog at waynehale.wordpress.com for his insights.

Over the next couple of weeks, I hope to post more thoughts on the Columbia disaster, its place in history, and other related topics.

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A Civil Debate

Last night, the Washington State Senate passed Senate Bill 6239 last night, a bill that would allow same-sex couples to marry in the state of Washington if passed by the House and signed by the Governor. However, I’m not writing on the subject matter of the bill, I’m writing on the civility of the debate. Having worked in the Washington State Senate for five legislative sessions, I’ve seen my fair share of debates. Some good, some bad, and some downright ugly. The ugly debates usually center around hot button issues and usually aren’t any better than kids calling each other names ont the playground.

Last night’s debate on SB 6239 was amazing for its civility. It was also amazing as a statement of how far the Senate has come in the last 6 years. In 2006, the debate over House Bill 2661, which added sexual orientation to the list of protected classes under civil rights laws, was an example of the ugly. There was name calling, scare tactics, and hyperbole on both sides of the issue. It was a sad example of political debate. The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 25-23, which is the minimum number of votes a bill can get and pass.

Contrast  that with last night’s debate on SB 6239, which was respectful, filled with decorum, and an example of what a good debate should be. Senators who supported and opposed the bill got up, made reasonable arguments for their case and sat down. They didn’t engage in scare tactics, fear mongering, or hyperbole. It was an amazing sight. I was particularly impressed with the lack of any parliamentary games or fights over amendments. Twelve amendments were offered, some were passed and defeated by voice votes, and some on roll calls. There were no parliamentary games or delaying tactics. The opposition, didn’t use the rules of the Senate to attempt to slow the bill down, which is their right. They conformed to the practices of the body and let the bill move forward.

Regardless of how you feel about the subject matter contained in the bill, it was a good night for our representative democracy.

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Zones of Exclusion

When I feel overwhelmed, stressed out, or just unsure about life, I tend to retreat into myself, retreat from the outside world, and stop communicating with my family and friends. This isolation is a self preservation mechanism, but it’s also very self destructive. What I want most is to talk to people about why I’m feeling the way I am and get their unbiased thoughts about how to get over the way I’m feeling.

Instead, I draw in upon myself, make my world smaller and enter a zone of exclusion. I don’t do things that I know make me feel better, I don’t do things that I know help me in the long run, rather I turn inward and look to myself for the solution. Sometimes, I have the solution, most of the time I don’t. This isolation is a product of my youth, a product of my upbringing, and a product of who I had to be to survive my childhood.

As an adult, I dint need the same defense mechanisms I needed as a child. I don’t need to push everyone away, rather, what helps is talking to my friends and getting their unbiased thoughts and input.

Why do I still invoke these childhood defenses? I don’t know. Possibly, because it’s comfortable to do so. Possibly because it’s how I’ve dealt with things for most of my life. Possibly, it’s habit. I don’t know all the reasons, but I do know that it doesn’t usually do me much good.

So, I’m trying take little steps to get out if the ZOE. I do little things for myself that I know help. I write, I go to church, and I try and get some sleep. Mass is about to begin, so I’m entering another ZOE. With any luck, I’ll come out of this one feeling a bit better.


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