Friday, January 27, 2006

It was 20 years ago today...

Sergeant Pepper taught the band to play. And what they played was Taps for the crew of the Space Shuttle Challenger.

This was my "JFK" moment. I vaguely remember where I was when Regan was shot (Jr. High...I think I watched some of it on a portable black and white TV in the gym teacher's office), but I have crystal clear memories of Challenger:

I was a freshman in college and was foolishly taking Calc 3 (without the help of software or web sites like this). The class, as all math classes were for Freshmen, met at 8 in the morning. 4 days a week. Cruel and unusual punnishment.

As I recall (and this part isn't as crystal clear) it was a clear, crisp winter day in Walla Walla. I got up, probably ate some Froot Loops for breakfast, and went off to class. I was way behind, struggling in the class and pondering dropping it. The prof was late. I secretly hoped he wouldn't show so I could go back to sleep.

He showed up about 5 minutes late and asked the class "have any of you seen the news?"

"" we answered (he apparently had forgotten that we were college freshmen and therefore didn't care about the news. And we were all still asleep anyway.)

"Well, something big has happened. As soon as class is over, go find a TV and watch the news. Now, we were talking about how to integrate the fifth quadratic of the fiftieth multi-variable" (ok, this part is I said, I was about to drop the class).

Class ends, I head back to the dorm to find the one guy who has a TV in his room (a tv with a nicely jury-rigged UHF aentenna so he can pick up the local TV station out of the Tri-Cities. And that's when I see this (only in motion...):

I'm pretty certain that most of the guys in my section blew off our classes that morning just watching that sucker blow up again...and again...and was like the video of Joe Theisman's leg breaking: you just couldn't look away (if you've never seen that and you're a glutton for punnishment, thanks to the wonder of the internets it's here. But don't say I didn't warn you).

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