Monday, November 20, 2006

Veteran’s Day 2006: Getting It From the Horse’s Mouth

The Veteran’s Administration tells me I am not a veteran (and therefore that I do not qualify for a VA card). Yet I have three honorable discharges. One is from the Alabama National Guard. One is from the United States Army and one is from the Texas National Guard. So, regardless, I still take Veteran’s Day seriously and I celebrate it.

I don’t do anything elaborate for Veteran’s Day. Maybe I eat out. Maybe I catch a parade. May I visit the 45th Infantry Division Museum. This year I went to a book signing.

I learned of the book signing at the November meeting of the Oklahoma City Astronomy Club, of which I am a member. During the announcement part of the meeting, the event coordinator stood and said that on Saturday Tom Stafford would be autographing copies of his book We Have Capture at the Oklahoma History Center. This occurred after the lecture which, this month, was on binary asteroids. This lecture was presented by Dr. Bill Romanishin of the University of Oklahoma.

Saturday was a bright, pleasantly cool, sunny day. I woke about the middle of the morning. Stafford was going to be at the museum from 1 pm to 3 pm. I got up and headed out to the junior college.

I have a picture of Tom Stafford’s statue. I snapped this picture while I was photographing statues in Oklahoma City. The camera was a Sony Cybershot DSC T5. I will insert here that it was my opinion that statues were only erected to honor dead people but I found Stafford’s statue appropriate as it stands across a sidewalk from a statue of Wiley Post; another great Oklahoma aviator and the inventor of the space suit. Photobucket - Video and Image HostingI wanted to get Stafford to autograph this picture:Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Unfortunately, these pictures were on a DVD and my computer was down. My computer was down because of a SNAFU by the manufacturer. My hard drive had started sounding more like a Geiger counter than a hard drive so the manufacturer told me that they would replace it as it was still under warranty. Since I have a RAID configuration, they said they would replace both of them. In order to comply with the warranty, a technician would come and do the install.

The technician called me and said she just had to pick up the drives from FedEx and would then come right over. So I shredded my hard drives. When the technician arrived, she only had one hard drive and an empty hard drive box. She tried to just install one but both my hard drives were bad so, due to the RAID configuration, she could not get the system to come up. She tried to bring my drives back up but the install would not take.

This was on a Thursday. It would take two days for FedEx to receive another hard drive. That would be on a Saturday but the technician did not work on Saturdays so she said she would come back on Monday (which she did). The astronomy club meeting was on Friday and Tom Stafford was at the history center on Saturday; the same Saturday that the technician did not work on.

So I headed out to the junior college computer lab to get a color printout of my picture. Unfortunately, the lab attendant that could/would do this for me was not working Saturday either. Another attendant suggested Kinko’s so I headed there. Unfortunately again, the computer at Kinko’s malfunctioned and the lady there could not get it to work right so I left there too sans printout. I wanted to go to another Kinko’s to try another computer but I was running out of time so I headed over to the History Center.

When I got there, I was second in line at the middle of three tables; the one with Tom Stafford sitting behind it. He was flanked by two United States Marines who were also signing books that they had written. (As it turned out, the Marines were hosting the event.)

Tom Stafford had a sign sitting on the front of his table that read: “Due to contract restrictions, Tom Stafford may only autograph copies of his book.” I looked at him, said, ”General Tom Stafford?” He put out his right hand and, as I shook it, I said, “Citizen Quasar’s real name.” I told him my story and asked if he had any copies of his book for sale. He pointed to the gift shop behind me.

I told him that I would buy a copy of his book and asked if I could take his picture. He said yes so I began adjusting the settings on my camera. I had difficulty with the white balance as he was sitting in front of a large window with bright light showing through it from behind him leaving him in a dark shadow. I took a picture anyway and then realized that I had the camera set on video as I clicked the exposure button.

I switched to still picture and began to re-adjust the settings. However, by now there was a line building behind me so I told them to go ahead and went over to the gift shop to buy the book.

When I returned, I adjusted the white balance as best I could and snapped two pictures. Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting Unfortunately, again, I had the camera’s radar set to “Infinity” rather than “Spot AF” so it bounced off the window behind him thus leaving him in shadow and adding a slight blur. (Hey, give me a break here. The camera has over 100 different settings and I haven’t had it but just a few days.)

In the near future, I am going to scan in Tom Stafford’s autograph and Photoshop it onto a picture of his statue. If I can track him down, I will also send him a picture of it. Also, I will then ask him what his ring is for. In the pictures, he has his left had resting on the table in a manner to display a very large ring on the same finger as his wedding band.

At the time, I could only think of one thing to ask him. I asked, “Are there any space aliens?” He said, “Huh?” So I leaned slightly forward and said again: “Are There Any Space Aliens?” Tom Stafford then smiled, leaned forward himself, and said, “I’ve never seen one.” I then shook his hand as I said, “Thank you, sir.” As I was retreating from the table I turned, looked him in the eye, and said, “Happy Veteran’s Day.”

There you have it, from the commander of Area 51.

7 Comments:

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Blogger Citizen Quasar said...

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9:25 AM  
Blogger Mexigogue said...

VETERAN'S DAY???? Dammit! No wonder those vegetarians were looking at me all weird when I threw them a parade!

9:37 AM  
Blogger Mexigogue said...

VETERAN'S DAY???? Dammit! No wonder those vegetarians were looking at me all weird when I threw them a parade!

9:37 AM  
Blogger Citizen Quasar said...

Do you like vegetables? How about fruit? Apples? How do you like them apples?

10:04 AM  
Blogger Citizen Quasar said...

Picture test.

4:59 PM  

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