Friday, April 08, 2011

Symphony in Space...

Last weekend, I had one of the truly special experiences of my life... Our family has a package of tickets to the Houston Symphony's season of family performances (3 or 4 shows). Last weekend (2-Apr) was the last show of the 2010-2011 season, entitled "Symphony in Space." It was really great. But one part of the show stood out... At about the mid-point, the conductor (dressed as an alien...yes, conductors in Houston do that for the kids) called out an actual astronaut, the distinguished Chris Hadfield (@Cmdr_Hadfield on Twitter) who will command the final shuttle mission next year and spend six months on the International Space Station as well.

In addition to "just" being an astronaut commander (what am I doing with my life) he sings and plays guitar. His brother, just by chance (WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE???), composed a song about him going up in his first mission called "Big Smoke." [FN] Cmdr. Hadield played guitar and sang the song during the Symphony's performance, along with a chorus of children from a local school. [Yes, in addition to being a Space Shuttle commander, he was an accomplished guitarist and singer.]

After the performance, Cmdr. Hadfield took questions from the audience. At first, my son Noah was throwing his hand in the air to ask a question. I immediately told him to put his hand down. I asked him if he had an actual question to ask. He did not [of course]. After about a fifteen count he told me he did have a question. He explained it to me and I told him that was a good question, and he put his hand up, way up, again.

Belive it or not (we had pretty good seats) the conductor called on "the boy in the striped shirt," -- Noah!!!

"What does if feel like to float in space?"

Noah asked that question loud and strong -- in front of about 4,000 people filling Jones Hall.

Cmdr. Hadfield ( @Cmdr_Hadfield ) proceeded to answer Noah, in detail, for several minutes. He called a little girl out of the chorus who had pig tails and demonstrated how your hair floats in space; talked about how your blood doesn't flow down to your feet without gravity so you have to do certain exercises in space; and how you eat without gravity in space.

I was floored. This was my son asking a real life astronaut -- commander -- what it was like to float without gravity in space. And the commander answered the question in such detail and with such deliberateness, yet, spoken from the actual experience.

ARE YOU KIDDING ME??? What a wonderful moment in my life --- and Noah's life. What a special time. I would never have guessed/expected that this would be my life. Providence!

[FN] Big Smoke refers to the smoke that emits from the launch of a Space Shuttle.