The post Beth wanted to write

A few weeks ago Beth begged me to set up a blog – or more precisely, begged me to let her set up one herself. She wanted write this post, but call me old fashioned, I think ten is still a wee bit young for a blog. I offered to post it here, if she wanted to write something for internet consumption, but that wasn’t good enough. It HAD to be her own blog. She HAD to do it on iWeb. She HAD to post it to her own web site. I suspect she wasn’t really that interested in the writing part. What she really wanted was to play with a new online toy.

I can’t say I blame her. I know the feeling.

This evening Beth gave up hope of getting her own blog and asked me to write about it.

This is for Beth. (Though she probably would have said it better.)

A few weeks ago our house was given a good shake just after dark. It came with a really loud boom.

This is not normal. This was not like the rattling you get with a close lightning strike. This was like some force gave all the exterior walls, windows and doors of the house a sharp push all at once. Oh all right, that’s just like a close lightning strike – but the sound was all wrong. This seemed deeper – somehow more powerful.

The tip off, if you weren’t too startled to notice (or lose control of certain muscles you don’t think about much, unless you’re losing control of them): it was actually two loud booms very close together. Just so you know… I didn’t notice the second boom (but I did manage to stay dry). If I had noticed, I would have known right away what it was: the shuttle on approach for landing at the cape. It doesn’t always land at Kennedy, and even when it does it normally doesn’t follow a path so close to the I-4 corridor (where a lot of people live… who have enough problems with incontinence as it is). It turns out they’d made at least one extra orbit waiting on some storms to move through – that didn’t – so they made a slight change in approach. We can normally hear the twin sonic booms of the shuttle coming in, but it’s usually far enough away that it doesn’t shake things off the window sills (I might be exaggerating at teenie-weenie bit).

It’s really cool when it comes in just before sunrise and you can see it glide by silently (a couple brief exceptions previously noted) with the mark-one eyeball. For a space/sci-fi junkie like me, it’s almost a religious experience – especially with a good pair of binoculars. This time it wasn’t sunrise, but it was still a religious experience… just a different kind.

I’m not too proud to admit it: it scared the bejesus out of me. It was way too loud for a car accident, and the power stayed on so I didn’t think it was a transformer blowing. That doesn’t leave a lot of (mostly) harmless explanations – that come readily to mind when you’re struggling to retain all of your fluids.

I suppose it didn’t really scare me that much – long term anyway. We did go outside. It was still dark out, there wasn’t any ominous glowing on the horizon, and the moon was still right where it was supposed to be. But we didn’t go looking for breaking news items on the web, and I didn’t give it much thought until dinner the next night, when my dad asked, “did you all hear the shuttle come in last night?”

Have you ever slapped your forehead so hard you left a mark? I haven’t either, but I’ve said it before and I’ll probably say it again: it’s hard to let the truth get in the way of a good line. (Aren’t I presumptuous?)

Give the gift of words.