Lost In Space

It’s a shame that we lost Neil Armstrong over the weekend, but I’m grateful that he was the one chosen to be the first to set foot on the moon. Imagine if, instead of the quiet, private Armstrong, a shameless braggart like Donald Trump had been first off the LEM. There’d have been no tranquility at Tranquility Base. Or should I say Trump Crater?

But Trump wouldn’t have had the patience to do the necessary training, nor the calm judgement to properly command that mission – “Aldrin, you’re fired! I mean, help us blast off here and get back to Earth, but then … you’re fired!” And of course the famous first quote would have been quite different.

“That’s one small step for man, but one giant leap for me, Donald Trump! No one else can ever be the first man on the moon. I Win! I’ll buy and sell hotels and casinos and make and lose fortunes, but this, I will own forever, and you’ll never stop hearing me talk about it!”

Neil Armstrong’s self portrait on the Moon, 1969.
Image courtesy of NASA

But then the statement we heard from Neil Armstrong was not exactly what he meant to say. Of all the gloves, nuts and bolts and bits of debris and flotsam that Americans have left in space in the course of our efforts to reach the moon, the particular item that interests me most is Neil Armstrong’s dropped “a”. When he stepped off the LEM an on to the moon’s dusty surface, people all around the world heard him say “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

Later, Armstrong would insist that he actually said “That’s one small step for A man, one giant leap for mankind.” He acknowledged when listening to recordings made of his first moments on the moon that he didn’t hear the “a”, but confirmed that he said it. Or at least that he intended to say it.

I believe him, because adding an “a” before “man” is the only way his historic statement can make sense. Without it, he and mankind are essentially the same. And it suits this humble fellow that he would want to make a point of it – he is simply A man taking a step. The lasting achievement belongs to everyone.

Analysts have suggested the technology of the time may not have been good enough to capture a sound (35 milliseconds!) as brief as that singular “a”, but I prefer to believe that Armstrong’s indefinite article bounced off Earth’s invisible humility filter, and it is still drifting in space.

On a clear night you can still see it up there, tumbling.

Vowel fly, vowel high,
first vowel stuck in the sky.

Armstrongs ‘A’- his noble try
to let us know he’s just a guy

When have you had a crucial part of an important message lost in transmission?

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57 thoughts on “Lost In Space”

  1. While rearing my three kids, I rarely displayed anger. My oldest son, David, was particularly well-behaved and easy-going. One evening, he’d done something so unacceptable that I was furious with him (I can’t recall what he did). I was finally going to confront this boy and let him know who was boss. As I rushed up the stairs to his room, full of righteous and angry indignation, I yelled very loudly, “DAVIT, DAMON!!!!” Needless to say, laughter immediately replaced my anger.

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    1. A college friend of mine said he came home from high school one day to find that his mom was making soup. She told him it would “warm the heartles of his cock” which of course wasn’t what she meant to say.

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  2. Good moring. Do to my problems with typing and spelling, I make many mistakes in massages. I can’t remember any that stunk out, but sure there are sum.

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  3. as i posted last week i have part of my axel lost in the transmission and its a sore point for sure. what was i thinking? pj gave me a guy who has a suggestion but so far no go. i willl keep trying.houston there is a problem.

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    1. I’m also having transmission problems. We are on vacation and the resort that we are at has some problems with maintaining a connection to the internet. I hope to get my problem solved and hope you have good luck with your problem, tim.

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    2. OT – tim – a few days ago, you mentioned you knew someone who could perhaps fix my daughter’s macbook (which had water spilled on it and then it died) and I said that the macbook was in philly. Well- she has ANOTHER macbook that died, this one is older, 4 years old, and it died a couple years ago (I wonder if she spilled water on that one, too?), and that one is here. It has been taken to the repair guys at the apple store and their recommendation of a new battery didn’t work…all this to ask if this guy is still available to see if this computer is fixable?

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      1. I got a computer rider on my homeowner’s insurance. It did a nice job when juice spilled on the laptop in paying for a replacement.

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        1. good idea…probably doesn’t cover damage done while student is at college, i’m guessing. but it might be a good idea in the future for this particular daughter who is prone to accidents and at least one of the water spills was the water she was using while painting – she’s not going to stop painting and probably won’t stop being clumsy either.

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      2. 80 bucks to find out. i doctor at eden prairie mall. they will give it a shot. tell em i sent you. they know me by name. (not a good thing)

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  4. Morning-
    First day of college classes for my son and the students at my school. Daughter starts next week. So I predict lots of opportunities for mixed messages today.

    Those of you texting know that sometimes the phone will auto correct for you. I had a very funny text exchange with my son where I was simply trying to say something along the lines of ‘Get home Safe’ and it came out no where near that. Cracked us both up before he finally figured out what exactly I was trying to say.

    Forgot to add yesterday: ‘Life is short; eat dessert first!’

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    1. Daughter is on her way to first day of third grade today. Three of her best buddies are in her class – which delights her (and her buddies). She is also excited that there will be regular math homework again.

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    2. First day of school for the teenager as well. Senior year – where does the time go? Your experience is why I have the auto correct turned off!

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      1. My senior started last week. She can’t believe this is her last year of High School, and neither can we.

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  5. Fantastic to hear you this morning, Dale! When the radio came on and I heard first a folk song and then your voice, it was like home. I’ll miss “The Takeaway” when it goes, but much less if this morning is indicative of the direction for the new KFAI morning show.

    I’m sure a lot gets lost in transmission thanks to my one-sided hearing loss, but beyond an occasional odd look I seldom find out that I’ve missed anything. My roommate’s hearing is worse than mine, and she experiences marvelous creative listening. I’ll say something, there’ll be a pause, and she’ll say “You know what I thought you said?” and off we’ll go. Of course I can’t think of any examples now, but it’s typically on the level of “Scuse me while I kiss this guy” confusion: http://www.amazon.com/Scuse-While-Kiss-This-Guy/dp/B0028N73KM/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1346075754&sr=8-1&keywords=scuse+me+while+i+kiss+this+guy.

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    1. looking forward to the new kfai show with dale doing his thing. i missed it this morning but will be tuning in to find out when the takeaway is taken away. i looked it up on their website yesterday and there was no reference

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  6. I used to participate in the mass publication of garbled messages when I edited a very badly run magazine for MN outdoorsmen. I’ve posted about this before. We had too few workers to do the job properly, and they were untrained and rushed. One luxury we could not afford was paying anyone to proof-read articles before they went to the printer. One of my favorite lines was in an article about bow-hunting for carp. The author said, “It takes a stout string to hold 35 pounds of thrashing crap.” (I’m sure that is true!) I hastily typed a headline for a camping story about cooking over an open fire. My headline promised an article about “Camping Over an Open Fire.” Some of our readers wrote to say that sounded uncomfortable. Then there was the article on goose hunting that cried out in 30-point Bold Cooper type that the article would describe Hunting Illinois’ Home-Grown Honkies!

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  7. It’s consonants that get dropped at this house – which drives me batty. “Mommy, can I have a snack?” can sound like “Mommy, car I hay a snar?” A snar? What’s a snar? Some Dr. Seuss created critter?…Though I have also had my share of thinking I said one thing and it getting garbled on its way to the intended ear. Nothing leaps immediately to mind, but I do recall laughing so hard with one friend about a misheard something that we both fell over.

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  8. There are some very interesting conversations with my mother, who has two hearing aids and wears at least one. I hope I’ll be able to remember some before the end of the day. I do remember when student teaching in a 5th grade classroom in Des Moines, asking the question “What’s matter?” and someone said “Nothin’!” – the reverse of the Neil Armstrong snafu where the kid inserted the article I didn’t say.

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  9. Typed misteaks in dictation are fun. Standard hospital notes read “the patient was prepped and draped in the usual manner.”More than once my patient’s chart said, “the patient was prepped and raped in the usual manner.” Proofreading is important!

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    1. Daughter likes to use the dictation app on Husband’s iPad – that one also comes up with some doozies for what it thinks she has said. Oh, and then she giggles when she listens to/reads what it “transcribes” for her…

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    2. I don’t think I want to know what the “usual manner” of prepping and raping is.

      A lifetime ago, I did outpatient billing at a hospital. A co-worker about fell on the floor laughing when she had a bill she was sending out for a pap smear – what made her laugh was that it was billed for something like 47 times for the same patient…

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  10. I think I’ve told the story before, about my one week stint as admissions clerk at the hospital in Cheyenne, Wyo., my first job in the U.S. My only training for the position consisted of the young woman who I was replacing showing me the Blue Cross/Blue Shield and Workers’ Comp. forms that I needed to fill out. “Use the Workers’ Comp. form when the patient has been hurt at work,” she told me, “for everyone else use the Blue Cross/Blue Shield form.” Coming from a country with socialized medicine, I had no concept whatsoever that these were insurance forms to assure payment for the services rendered.

    The first morning on the job alone, a man came in in dirty work clothes and with one arm wrapped in a bloody towel. “Aha,” I thought, “a work accident!” so I inserted the Workers’ Comp. form in the electric typewriter. I managed to capture the name, address and phone information without incident. Occupation was the next thing required on the form. The man told me he was a “seaman finisher,” something I had not heard of before. Not sure if I had it right, I asked him to please spell it; he told me didn’t know how to spell it, so I typed in “seaman finisher.” Keep in mind, all this time the man is sitting there bleeding from heaven only knows what injury, and I’m filing out this stupid form.The form completed I directed him to the ER.

    That evening I asked wasband “What does a seaman finisher do?” I had trouble imagining a seaman finisher in Cheyenne as there’s no major body of water around, but I was determined to better my English and knowledge of American ways. Wasband hadn’t heard of a seaman finisher either, so he inquired as to the circumstances under which I had encountered the word. When I related the story of the injured man and the Workers’ Comp. form, he brightened. “Oh,” he said, “he meant cement finisher,” and proceeded to tell me how some people pronounce certain words differently. I was terribly embarrassed and to this day I wonder what the people processing that form thought of the idiot who had filled it out. Mercifully, I never found out.

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    1. I have a rowan (mountain ash) tree in my yard in Northfield. I love it when the robins or cedar waxwings come and eat the berries. What are you going to do with the berries and how many do you need?

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      1. The rowan berries make absolutely wonderful jelly. I haven’t made it since my friend who had a mountain ash moved to New Jersey. How many do I need? A pound or two would do.

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        1. We used to have one of these, but the Asian beetles killed it last year. One year the berries fermented as they thawed in the Springtime. When the robins arrived home for the summer, they ate the alcoholic berries, and we had the great pleasure of watching drunk birds. Pretty funny.

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    1. I wonder if those who invented the electric guitar – Les Brown et al. if memory serves = had ANY idea what it was capable of.

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  11. There’s a famous local line from a play where an actor instead of saying ‘…Give you a whack across the face’ he said ‘…give you a Hack across the Ace!”

    These stories have reminded me of a girl that once asked me if men got their prostates tattooed……

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  12. transmission is still in question. i fund a guy who is going to be my new mechanic if im any judge of people. he concurs that this job is way too messed up to be understod and will be back tomorrow to take whack number two at the axel removal. transmission is leking fluid all over the garge houston, we still have a problem.

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