Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Meeting of March 23, 2015

An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth 

Muse and Views met at Carla’s to discuss Chris Hadfield’s An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth, Jolene’s choice. Beth, Betty, Colette, Jane, Janet, Jolene, and Shirley were in attendance and Carla hosted the evening. She served shrimp cocktail, an array of lovely cheeses and hors d’oeuvres, and some gluten-free desserts that were out of this world. She even had a depiction of the solar system on her table!

Much of Colonel Hadfield’s life is portrayed in the book itself, and Jolene added details about his present ventures. He is currently working as adjunct professor at Waterloo University, where he uses his experiences as a pilot and commander of the International Space Station to lecture students on such topics as the historical and scientific importance of photos from space (many of which can be found in his book You Are Here), the usefulness of advanced remote sensing techniques, and for upper-year aviation students, technical notions such as lift vectors and landing distances. Quite an accomplishment for a farm boy from southern Ontario, who knew at age 9 that he wanted to become an astronaut!

He is also a musician, and Jolene suggests that we check out internet videos - see chris hadfield song. It is no surprise that Hadfield seems to have been able to promote the space program better than any other astronaut to date, using social media and the help of his techie son Evan. Hadfield’s wife Helene says of her husband, “He just thinks everything is so great and cool and wonderful and he wants people to feel it too.” (The Ottawa Citizen, November 30/13, p H1). 

We all thought Helene was pretty cool too. She and the couple’s children have had to take a backseat to the astronaut’s educational and professional life. Most of us did enjoy the educational insights of the book, particularly the emphasis on servant leadership, excellence, and perseverance. There was a debate about whether Hadfield was actually humble or just trying hard to overcome his lack of humility. Because high achievers are not always team players, we found it interesting that nurses and others were contacted to see how potential candidates for the space program interacted with people at every level. 

Although reviews of the book were mixed, many of us found personal and family connections because of backgrounds in education, military service, and even the aerospace industry. The book’s style was not well liked, described as choppy, and ‘the writing of an engineer’, with events compartmentalized and sometimes oft repeated. 

Two other interesting side items were discussed. Apparently, one of Hadfield’s blue flight suits was found and bought at a Toronto Thrift Store. Also, Chris Hadfield said on CTV’s Canada AM on October 20, 2014, (http://canadaam.ctvnews.ca/video?playlistId=1.2061551) that Warner Brothers and ABC are developing a pilot for a sitcom loosely based on his life as father and husband with the added complexity of the technology and jobs he has handled. 

Till next time…stay grounded.