austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

Have you seen the stars tonight

Sewing birds, or clamps, were Georgian-era tools to hold cloths firmly while seamstresses stitched them, and were indispensable before the sewing machine was invented. I know this because I was recently at a museum which claims to be home to North America's largest collection of 18th and 19th century sewing birds. I don't doubt their claim, even though I only saw a few of them; I just feel bad for whoever has North America's second-largest collection. You just know number two is also in New Jersey, so they can't claim the nation's or even the state's largest collection of such.

The reason I was at this museum: they were having a talk from Gregory Olsen, materials science engineer and the third man to go to the International Space Station as a tourist. My father knew him, years, ago, first teaching the core people of the company from which he made his fortune about total quality 9000 management through involvement et cetera, and then by consulting for the company for several years. We couldn't resist the chance to go, and wondered naturally if he might possibly remember my father. We got there early, and gazed at the weird simulacrum of a Lunar Module and Lunar Rover sitting outside the museum (it appears to have been made of leftover ventilation components, and without looking too closely at Lunar Module photographs), and had got to the part of the museum with the sewing birds when my father said he needed to go to the bathroom.

So I waited, watching the birds, and waited, and finally stepping out of the bathroom was an elderly, be-jumpsuited human, carrying a suit on its hangar and a carry-on piece of luggage, looking ready to use those special parts to make his robot friends, with my father chatting eagerly behind him. It was Dr Olsen, who was changing into the jumpsuit because everyone at these sorts of affairs wants to see people wearing space clothes with mission patches, and my father stepped in while he was stripped down to his underwear.

He did remember my father, and was delighted to see him again.

Trivia: Apollo 16's Lunar Module landed about 230 meters northwest of the planned target. Source: The Apollo Spacecraft: A Chronology, Volume IV. Courtney G Brooks, Ivan D Ertel. NASA SP-4009.

Currently Reading: Randomness, Deborah J Bennett.


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