April 10, 2002
Saturn Boredom

My dad used to work on the Apollo space program. He has any number of stories, all of them funny. Some of them may actually be true. Here's one of them:

In spite of working on one of the greatest endeavors in human history, it wasn't always super-exciting all the time. There were huge chunks of time when a given crew would have to be on-site, but wouldn't have anything at all to do because they were waiting on someone else. Of course, it was still a government job, so there were all sorts of regulations that specified what you couldn't do when, well, you didn't have anything to do. So it became a real challenge to a) not go insane waiting for the other guys to get their act together while b) not getting caught and getting in trouble.

Many of the crews, including my dad's, worked out of mobile-home trailers, classic single-wide models, near the pad. You nearly always worked on the weekends, so you nearly always missed the good football, baseball, and/or basketball games (this being before the VCR). It was, of course, against the rules to have a TV in your trailer, and besides the site was remote enough that you had to have a pretty good antenna to get any sort of reception.

Well, when you leave a bunch of very talented, very motivated, and very bored engineers alone for any length of time, solutions can be found. Turned out that the trailers they were issued came with large roof racks that looked like extra-large barbeque grill grates. A simple test with some wire showed that the grate could indeed function as an antenna, but the reception wasn't quite right. If the antenna could be moved somehow, the picture would probably be near perfect.

One three-inch drill bit later, a well-disguised pole was in place through the center of the rack, with the secret TV's cable connected to it. From that point on, apparently, dad's trailer could be spotted because of it's slightly off-center roof rack (which, of course, had gotten blown that way in a storm... no no, we don't need a new one, everything is fine).

Of course, that paled when compared to the solution guys nearer to the beach found. Many times you could see fishing poles mounted to the roof of the trailer of one contracting crew. The cape is a wildlife refuge, and restricted, so there's really good fishing out there. But the problem was that there was a really big fence between them and the water. It was only when dad saw them actually catch a fish that he found out their solution. The fish was drug up the beach, whereupon an "assistant" would run out and hold a section of the fence up, allowing the angler to run out and have his picture taken with his trophy. The fish got thrown back, and everyone quickly ran back to the trailer.

I don't remember if he ever mentioned they ever got grilled. Your tax dollars at work! :)

Posted by scott at April 10, 2002 07:27 PM

eMail this entry!

I hope you are sending these to your dad. I know he will enjoy them as much as I do, maybe more.

Posted by: Pat on July 17, 2002 02:50 PM
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