“Help Wanted,” or “Your Name In Print”

printed manuscript for Homesteading space

Printed manuscript for my first book -- NOT what we're asking for help reading.

It’s been a while since I’ve written much about the book Heather and I are writing, “Bold They Rise.”

The book is a history of the space shuttle program, to be published by University of Nebraska Press as part of the same Outward Odyssey series that included my first book, Homesteading Space,co-authored with astronauts Owen Garriott and Joe Kerwin.

We’re now rapidly approaching our deadline, and we need your help!

We would love to have some volunteers read over chapters as we wrap them up, and give us some feedback. It would be great to have a variety of people — space buffs, people who know nothing about space, grammar nazis, history fans, whatever.

There’s no monetary pay, however, but if you help us, we’ll include your name in the acknowledgements, and you’ll have the benefit of knowing that you have helped share an important part of our nation’s history. And, a handful of people who give us the most help with get a small bonus token that I shan’t mention here.

If you’re interested, let us know either by posting a comment here or by contacting one of us directly. Depending on what the response looks like, we may not need everyone, since we’re trying to keep the readers diverse, but we would really appreciate anyone willing to step up!

Various and Sundry, Part Something

Things going on in my life lately that aren’t worth entire posts:

— I have a few buy-one-get-one-free tickets to Saturday’s Face2Face Improv show for people that have not been to see us before, and would like to. That said, I won’t be in the show, which might actually be a plus in some people’s book. I will be in a show Friday at Kenny Mango’s Coffee Shop in Madison. I will not be in tomorrow night’s show at Sam & Greg’s, but should be back next Tuesday.

— After writing that post a few weeks back about Apple’s recent successes, etc., I decided that I should be an Apple stockholder again, so now I am. And, yes, I’ve already lost money. Wheee!

— I forget if I blogged about the contest that was being held as a collaboration between NASA and craft site Etsy to create space-themed art projects, but the finalists have been posted in the three categories, and include an awesome space-Western shirt designed by my friend Melissa Meek, so you should go vote for her.

— The book I co-wrote with astronauts Owen Garriott and Joe Kerwin,  Homesteading Space: The Skylab Story,has been selected for a paperback edition. It won’t be available for another year, however, so don’t let that stop you from buying the slightly-more-expensive-but-better-quality hardcover edition in the meantime. But, hey, I’ll be a paperback writer, paperback writer.

— I wrote a post earlier this year about wanting to participate in The Jonah Project, in which people with differing viewpoints read The Unlikely Disciple and then discuss it. Well, I found my nemesis, applied for the project, got selected, and, finally, after a very lengthy delay, received the books, and finished reading it. I’m participating in the project with my good friend Joe Gurner, and the resulting discussions have been very interesting. Joe and I had a general idea where the other stood on a lot of issues (to wit, as far from the other as possible), but I think this may be the first time we’ve actually really discussed a lot of those things, and it’s been fascinating. I’m blessed (can I say that? lucky?) to have a friend with whom I can have such an enjoyable conversation about such loaded topics.

— After our unsuccessful attempt to watch the space shuttle launch, I took Heather’s sons out this weekend to launch model rockets, as an attempt to capture some of the excitement the scrub didn’t inspire. Needless to say, I was utterly unable to put anything in the air. Sigh. Rather embarrassing to be such a poor space pitchman to a sympathetic audience. They were really good sports about it, however, and we’ll probably try again soon.

— ADDENDUM: Welcome to the world, Baxter Hughes. Hope you enjoy it! You’ve got a good tour guide to start you out, kid.

Here And There Online

My co-author Owen Garriott has donated a signed copy of our book, Homesteading Space: The Skylab Story, for the 2010 annual Astronaut Scholarship Foundation auction. Bidding begins a week from tomorrow, but you must be registered to participate. If you don’t want a signed copy of Homesteading, you can also do some Christmas shopping for me on the site.

I wrote a guest post for Heather’s official NASA blog, Taking Up Space. I’ve been writing for NASA for more than eight years, and I’ve been blogging for almost that entire time, but for some reason doing the two together for the first time makes me happy.

Along those lines, Face2Face director Eugene Banks this week posted my weekly post-show e-mail to the troupe on the Face2Face Facebook page again this week, which also made me happier than it should. For some reason, going on Facebook this morning and linking to my stuff that had been posted on Heather’s blog and my stuff that had been posted on the F2F page made me feel kinda like a writer, which is always a nice feeling.

I finally got tweeted to today by Lori McKenna, which, again, makes me happier than it should. I’ve heard a lot of new songs since her last album, Unglamorous, came out over three years ago, and I’ve been afraid that I would have already heard all of Lorraine by the time it comes out in January. She confirmed that the album will include a song that I’d not heard of before. This, again, makes me happy.

“If you always wanted to go to space……..”

A new review has been posted on Amazon of our book, Homesteading Space: The Skylab Story.It’s relatively brief compared to some of the others, but I like it.

This is a great book. Although Skylab is a distant memory, this book gives great insight into the challenges and dramas of mankind’s pursuit of space flight / colonization.

Well worth the read and highly entertaining (if you are a space nut….. of course).

Distinguished Company

Last year’s Space Camp Hall of Fame prompted me to write a post on my blog about costume party moments, times when I get to go out and pretend that I’m this cool person. The 2010 induction Friday night was definitely one of those moments.

The picture above of six of the eight people at my table at the event was taken to send to the editor at the University of Nebraska Press of the Outward Odyssey series that includes my Skylab book and forthcoming shuttle book.

At right is:

Heather R. Smith, NASA education writer and creator of the NASA Taking Up Space blog, and co-author of the forthcoming Outward Odyssey volume Bold They Rise.

From left are:

Robert Pearlman, author of the epilogue of Footprints in the Dust, creator and editor of the collectSPACE, and 2009 inductee into the Space Camp Hall of Fame.

Francis French, co-author of Into That Silent Sea and In the Shadow of the Moon, Director of Education at the San Diego Air & Space Museum, and 2010 inductee into the Space Camp Hall of Fame.

Owen Garriott, co-author of Homesteading Space, Science-Pilot of Skylab II and mission specialist for shuttle mission STS-9.

Al Worden, Command Module Pilot for Apollo 15. Which, lest you miss it, means that he spent days solo-orbiting the moon and holds the record for the deep-space EVA furthest from the Earth.

Without question, the coolest, most-distinguished table at the event. And, somehow, I got to sit at it.

Yeah, I’m blessed.

Paint The Moon For You

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I just had to share this video of Stephen Colbert’s interview with Alan Bean. Good stuff. Bean is just a cool, neat guy, and it really comes across in this video.

A handful of thoughts watching it:

He talks in the video about how he cuts up his patches to put some moon dust in each of his paintings, possibly the only way normal citizens can acquire even that tiny amount of lunar material today. I’ve seen those patches, framed on the wall of his studio area of his house, and it’s bizarre. These are history, selections from a very limited number of artifacts from one of the greatest achievements of human history, and they’re gradually being taken apart until they’re gone. It would be like if someone had an original copy of the Constitution hanging on his wall that he was slowly cutting up. I’m sympathetic and possibly supportive of what Bean’s doing and why; I’m not saying he’s wrong to do it. I’m just saying, to actually see it, it’s viscerally bizarre.

Bean talks about the fact that the original Apollo astronauts won’t be around much longer, and it just drives home how incredibly fortunate I am to have met him and some of the others, and the responsibility that comes with that; the day will come when it won’t be possible to meet the moonwalkers first hand, the closest you’ll be able to come is talking to people who did, and reading their preserved histories. I’m incredibly honored and blessed to have been a part of both, and hope to be worthy of that legacy.

Alan Bean is cool. Have I mentioned that? He’s just a neat guy.

In introducing Bean, Colbert refers to him as the fourth man to walk on the moon, and even though the phrasing was different, something about the cadence reminded me of Hefner’s song Alan Bean, and how the interview belies the opening lines: “Everyone will forget soon / the fourth man on the moon.”

The song isn’t making that argument, it’s imagining what Bean would have been thinking. It’s a beautiful song, and one that I connect with several parts of:

Ever felt like giving up?
I’ve felt like giving up.
But not since 1969.

I found a greater truth,
At a godly altitude,
Won’t waste another day of my life.

As we tumbled down to earth,
We felt the capsule turn,
We saw the blue skies burn.

As we splashed down in the sea,
You were praying on your knees,
It bought a change in me.

Everyone will forget soon,
The fourth man on the moon,
But I’ve got it in my mind.

I’d like to paint your eyes,
But I’ve got to paint the sky.
Going to be a painter all my life.
As we tumbled down to earth,
We felt the capsule turn,
We saw the blue skies burn.

As we splashed down in the sea,
You were praying on your knees,
It bought a change in me.

And what you didn’t see,
I’ll let you see through me.
I’m going to paint the moon for you.

Ever felt like giving up?
‘We’ve felt like giving up’
Ever felt like giving up?
‘All the time.’

(When did “Stories …” become a music blog? That’s all I’m writing about now, apparently. This post doesn’t even have anything to do with music, but half of it’s lyrics. Hrm.)


I wasn’t going to write about going to the U.S. Space & Rocket Center’s annual gala at the end of January, but my co-worker Heather did. So I’m just linking to her post, ’cause it’s better than anything I would write about it.

Also, I have to link to one of my favorite pictures ever of my co-author Owen Garriott.