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Where Were You When the Challenger Exploded?

01/23/2016 10:08 AM

NASA Remembers Its Fallen Heroes, 30th Anniversary of Challenger Accident

Do you remember where you were and what you were doing?

There was electronics aboard the Space Shuttles that I had worked on.

I, and half the grade school kids in the USA, was watching when it exploded.Sad day.

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#1

Re: Where Were You When the Challenger Exploded?

01/23/2016 10:48 AM

I was working for an electronics company in the Tampa Bay area at the time. Even though KSC was 150 miles away, we still could watch the launches easily from there.

That morning I needed to be in a lab working so I'd missed the launch. My wife called and told me about it right after it happened. I was shocked, of course. I went to the front of the building and looked through the windows. I could see the crazy exhaust trails that the solid rocket boosters made as they continued to burn after the explosion.

I knew a guy who was scheduled for a shuttle flight later that year. He'd been training for a couple years. I called and talked to him later. He was very saddened by the news, since he knew a few of the people on that flight. All flights were cancelled indefinitely. He finally got his flight 4 or 5 years after the disaster.

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#2

Re: Where Were You When the Challenger Exploded?

01/23/2016 11:28 AM

The short story is I was in 5th grade at school and we were watching it live.

A few of us were smiling and laughing while most everyone else was crying. I got pulled off by the teacher and asked about what I and the others thought was so funny.

I said something about there being a teacher on board and we were wishing it had been ours.

I spent a while in the principals office after that.

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#3

Re: Where Were You When the Challenger Exploded?

01/23/2016 12:14 PM

"there were"

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#5
In reply to #3

Re: Where Were You When the Challenger Exploded?

01/23/2016 12:41 PM

Bite me!

My grammar is correct!

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#4

Re: Where Were You When the Challenger Exploded?

01/23/2016 12:24 PM

I had taken classes at the local college. I took off and went home to get a paper for a class, as I was home I just happen to turn tv on to watch the launch. I recall going back to school, and I mention that the challenger exploded at launch. No one believed me.

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#6

Re: Where Were You When the Challenger Exploded?

01/23/2016 8:06 PM

Wow, 30 years. Thanks, Lyn, for making me feel older than, than....than a trilobite.

Watched the launch at home (where I [pretend to] work).

O-rings. Thank you, Mr. Feynman.

And Lyn, I think yore grammar are good.

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#7
In reply to #6

Re: Where Were You When the Challenger Exploded?

01/23/2016 8:55 PM

Well, I was 38 at the time, working for Motorola who made the radios for those missions.

After learning that the O-rings failed because the temperature was well below acceptable engineering limits for them, I was appalled.

I heard that the engineers were overruled (for political reasons) when they advised strongly against the launch.

My "electronics" was singular.

Stay warm and safe.

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#14
In reply to #7

Re: Where Were You When the Challenger Exploded?

01/24/2016 8:56 AM

That's what happens when bureaucracy rules.

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#19
In reply to #14

Re: Where Were You When the Challenger Exploded?

01/24/2016 10:10 AM

Rumors floated at the time that there was considerable pressure to launch so that President Reagan could point to the "Teacher in Space" as one of his/our accomplishments.

Although I believe this to be true, Reagan himself may never have been the one to apply that pressure.

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#17
In reply to #7

Re: Where Were You When the Challenger Exploded?

01/24/2016 9:28 AM

Indeed you can get away - just - with "electronics " as a noun in the singular. Nevertheless you need a plural verb in the next sentence
"I, and half the grade school kids in the USA, were watching..."
although an acceptable version is
"I, along with half the grade school kids in the USA, was watching..."

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#18
In reply to #17

Re: Where Were You When the Challenger Exploded?

01/24/2016 10:02 AM

I, and half the grade school kids in the USA, was watching when it exploded.Sad day.
Since ",and half the grade school kids in the USA," is segregated by commas I believe the singular is OK.

My mistake was that I put no space between the "exploded.↓Sad day."

That's my reasoning, flawed though it maybe.

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#21
In reply to #18

Re: Where Were You When the Challenger Exploded?

01/24/2016 12:26 PM

Regrettably, the use of the comma makes no difference. The use of the conjunction "and" links the two subjects of the sentence.

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#22
In reply to #21

Re: Where Were You When the Challenger Exploded?

01/24/2016 12:36 PM

OK, I'll defer to your superior knowledge. (or your ability to baffle)

I had some electronics on board, none the less.

And it was certainly a sad day for all.

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#8

Re: Where Were You When the Challenger Exploded?

01/23/2016 11:34 PM

I was sitting in my Computer Integrated Manufacturing demo lab in the International Demo Center at ComputerVision's Customer Center in Bedford, MA. (For those who may be too young to know, ComputerVision, aka CV, was the premier and first large scale CAD/CAM vendor with 7000 employees worldwide at the time.) Rumors were flying and we had a tv with cable feed in the lab so we turned it on. We soon had a ton of people numbly staring at the tube for the rest of the day.

Frankly, I was scared to death because of my previous involvements in the Shuttle program.

First, as a NASA employee (research machinist) I was involved in building brass models of the shuttle, tank and boosters for thermal wind tunnel studies very early on in the program. There was a design competition for the final design among various NASA centers. Unfortunately, Langley Research Center, where I worked, was not the winner.

Second, I was involved with the then NASA Contractor, Martin Marietta, I believe, at the Michoud, LA external tank fabrication facility. I taught them how to use the FEM/FEA systems in ComputerVision CADDS4x systems in their design process.

Lastly, I worked with Rocketdyne, outside of LA, helping to develop some very specialized 5 axis CNC software (also running on CV's CADDS4x) to help machine the shrouded impellers for the high speed turbopumps in the shuttle engines. The impellers were fabricated from a single billet because of the speed and pressures involved and the fluid channels were extremely difficult and costly to machine.

Needless to say when the accident happened my first impulse after the shock wore down was to review all my involvement to see if I could have been part of the cause. I was pretty relieved when they tracked it down to the booster o-rings. Yet I still grieve for the astronauts and their families.

Also, I was living in New Hampshire where Christa McAuliffe, the teacher in space, was from. She was quite a local celebrity and a tribute to American Education.

Godspeed Challenger and crew. I will never forget.

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#9
In reply to #8

Re: Where Were You When the Challenger Exploded?

01/24/2016 12:07 AM

At Rocketdyne, did you ever meet James Glass? He is a physicist who once worked there, later becoming Dean of Physics at Eastern Washington State College (now retired.)

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#13
In reply to #9

Re: Where Were You When the Challenger Exploded?

01/24/2016 8:05 AM

I don't recall meeting him, though it was possible as a lot of people seemed to be interested in our experimental machining techniques coming off of an early graphical NC/CNC programming system. It was all wireframe and surface modeling CAD.

Hooker

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#29
In reply to #13

Re: Where Were You When the Challenger Exploded?

01/25/2016 6:40 AM

As I mentioned earlier, he is now retired, but remains active in reading up on late astronomical and physics developments. He has written some novels, not too much to my taste, but some really good short stories, as in his collection "Matrix Dreams". He , his wife, me, and my wife are regular attendees at regional SF&F (science fiction and fantasy) conventions. He is a pretty good painter, too, and has taken some lessons from my wife, who is a past professional in scientific illustration and art instruction.

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#36
In reply to #29

Re: Where Were You When the Challenger Exploded?

01/25/2016 11:07 AM

Oh, yeah, I have read him. He had a novelette in Analog Sept 2014, "Beneath the Ice of Enceladus". Quite an interesting take on what may be happening on those ice moons out there. I'll look for his other works.

Thanks, Hooker

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#10

Re: Where Were You When the Challenger Exploded?

01/24/2016 3:39 AM

I do believe I had a day off from work (if it was work day, I have forgotten!), I was playing with my 3 year old daughter, as my wife was changing our 2 month old daughter (I don't do nappies, then or now!!).

I know I wanted to watch the take off live on German TV.

When it exploded, I remember thinking something like, "they make it even more spectacular each time they are started!"

It took some minutes for me (and the commentators) to realise it was an awful and subsequently proved to be, a completely preventable accident....

When you realise just how many possible accident scenarios could happen with such a flight, it was sad to be informed MUCH later that it was known that the "O" rings did not seal well in very cold weather and there was only one per booster and a second one could dramatically reduce the incidence of failure to as good as ZERO!!!

What a waste of good people......

I was working in our factory in Palm Bay(?) (near Melbourne), Florida a few weeks later, everyone was still feeling the great sadness....

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#11
In reply to #10

Re: Where Were You When the Challenger Exploded?

01/24/2016 4:32 AM

Nice move, chauvinist. Your personal circle in Hell will consist of tending the sewage plant.

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#12
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Re: Where Were You When the Challenger Exploded?

01/24/2016 6:09 AM

Unbelievable, how rude you are! I do not find it amusing in the slightest.

Your over reaction sort of demonstrates a singularly bad upbringing to my mind, and all in so few words! Almost a record I would imagine, even for some of the sociopaths here on CR4!!

If its any of your business, my wife and I had an "understanding" on this subject, well before she eve got pregnant. It did not worry her in the slightest, now why would it worry you? Very strange behaviour on your part to my mind!!!

Poking your nose into someone else's dirty nappy?

Or was it simply an excuse to be nasty for no real reason? Bad hair day?

It would appear that maybe your wife MADE you do the nappies, I would hazard a guess, how nice for you to be so good with piss/shit! It fits well.......

You obviously have been in the "nappy" hell already and know full well what it is!

Still not for me!!!

Try and be a happy and friendlier "cr4er" in the future......I understand that you find it difficult, but unprovoked, unfriendly comments are simply not the way to go for anyone in this world, let alone CR4.....and are certainly only funny for a few here (who will probably now pop up out of the woodwork to be counted as being of your opinion I bet! )

How some people get their "online rocks" off is a mystery to me personally.....it will stay that way too!!

I never start by being unfriendly, but I do tend to finish........

Do have a great day!! I really wish it to you from the heart, in spite of your unfriendly attitude to me personally....again!!

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#16
In reply to #12

Re: Where Were You When the Challenger Exploded?

01/24/2016 9:08 AM

CR4 Ruling Council becoming touchy. My my! Dissension within the ruling party!

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#23
In reply to #16

Re: Where Were You When the Challenger Exploded?

01/24/2016 12:49 PM

Of course there are two things 100% certain and known here:-

1) It obvious exactly who you are, as ever......you know too.....WAW.....

2) Furthermore, you are a very obvious coward, as Will Shakespeare once wrote:-

"Cowards die many times before their deaths; The valiant never taste of death but once.
Of all the wonders that I yet have heard, It seems to me most strange that men should fear;
Seeing that death, a necessary end, will come when it will come."

Julius Caesar

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#24
In reply to #23

Re: Where Were You When the Challenger Exploded?

01/24/2016 4:24 PM

Andy, based on your numerous irrational responses to certain criticisms, I have come to believe that you display the classic symptoms of a:

persecution complex

"One of the top fifteen factors that can transform a reasonable, amiable, friendly person with reasonable, friendly beliefs and ideas into a ranting, screaming, judgemental zealot with poisonous, nauseating, self-righteous dreck for beliefs.

Persecution complex can strike anyone, regardless of belief, creed or religion, or whether they disagree with you or not. Once you start believing that the whole world is against you, you begin to justify your abominable actions by the presumed hostility of the world."

You will note that, as always, I identify myself as the originator of all responses to you and others.

Have a pleasant day.

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#28
In reply to #24

Re: Where Were You When the Challenger Exploded?

01/25/2016 2:30 AM

You can believe what you say Lynn, you always do.

I find it amazing, I write a few lines here on CR4, maybe quote a bit of Shakespeare (as I recently did!) or similar, and each and every time you HAVE to post, EVEN THOUGH YOU WERE NOT ADDRESSED OR EVEN INVOLVED......very predictable!!! Bad trait!!!

Now if I was fly fishing, and I got a "rise" each time I cast, I would be the happiest fisherman around, every one a bite!!! Are you a bit of an old Trout?

I do feel that I can possibly help your further, so as to not be quite so "predictable" with these CR4 webpages, if you take the time to read it that is, which I seriously doubt.....

What is the Difference?

Remember, you are one or the other.......which one, I am not certain, but your shrink will know!! Ask him!!

But if that's what you need to get your rocks off, then I am happy to keep giving what you crave!!!

I wish you a great day, in spite of my joshing you again and again and again and again "ad infinitum!!"

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#15
In reply to #10

Re: Where Were You When the Challenger Exploded?

01/24/2016 9:01 AM

Yes, I can understand that, what was chilling for me was that mission control was still giving systems reports after it blew up... Until he looked at the screen and announced ......."Apparently, we have a major malfunction"

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#20

Re: Where Were You When the Challenger Exploded?

01/24/2016 11:09 AM

The ANALysts are out in force today.

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#25

Re: Where Were You When the Challenger Exploded?

01/24/2016 6:10 PM

Working at a DOS computer at my lab.

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#26

Re: Where Were You When the Challenger Exploded?

01/24/2016 8:47 PM

I was in a class room watching with the rest of my class (6th grade). That was a sad day.

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#27
In reply to #26

Re: Where Were You When the Challenger Exploded?

01/24/2016 9:07 PM

Considering the thousands of things that could have gone wrong, and the one thing that did, it was truly a sad day.

That was an envelope that had been pushed beyond its limit before. This time they went too far.

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#30

Re: Where Were You When the Challenger Exploded?

01/25/2016 8:29 AM

I was a reference librarian at Carnegie Mellon University back then. I watched the launch in the library's AV department, along with a few other random people. This flight was a big deal on campus because Judith Resnick was a Carnegie Mellon alumna. A few years later a new dorm was named in her memory.

How many of you remember Richard Feynman dipping an O-ring into his glass of ice water at the hearings?

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#31
In reply to #30

Re: Where Were You When the Challenger Exploded?

01/25/2016 9:13 AM

You wrote:-

How many of you remember Richard Feynman dipping an O-ring into his glass of ice water at the hearings?

I missed that, many thanks for mentioning it.

I have caught up by reading what appears to be an excellent Wiki article on the Rogers Commission hearings.

It also appears that he was a fine person and a good engineer/physicist, who died far too soon, not that long after the hearings......

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#33
In reply to #31

Re: Where Were You When the Challenger Exploded?

01/25/2016 9:59 AM
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#38
In reply to #31

Re: Where Were You When the Challenger Exploded?

01/25/2016 5:28 PM

Also while I was at Carnegie Mellon, one of my friends was a brand-new faculty member with a brand-new Ph.D. from Caltech. Friend and I happened to watch NOVA on public TV one night when the Richard Feynman biography, The Pleasure of Finding Things Out, aired for the first time. My friend regaled me with all manner of Feynman anecdotes from Caltech. Evidently lots of students -- undergrad, graudate, post-doc -- would sit in on his introductory physics classes because he was a totally awesome teacher.

I heartily recommend Feynman's autobiographical books to anyone and The Feynman Lectures on Physics to those of you who are interested. I'm sure a lot of CR4 folks know the books and the man. He did die young-ish of cancer but he left quite a legacy for the rest of us.

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#37
In reply to #30

Re: Where Were You When the Challenger Exploded?

01/25/2016 4:38 PM

If only management had listened to their engineers and placed life before schedule this would never have happened.

I worked in a polymer materials lab at the time doing the packaging of electronics. We were all stunned when the temperatures at launch became known.

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#32

Re: Where Were You When the Challenger Exploded?

01/25/2016 9:52 AM

I was in High School at the time, we were in class when the news broke. I don't remember much of the day, aside from seeing the footage of the post-explosion cloud on the classroom TV. I guess I was too stunned to get the 'traumatic event burns every detail of the day into your memory forever' effect.

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#35
In reply to #32

Re: Where Were You When the Challenger Exploded?

01/25/2016 10:24 AM

That was similar to Apollo 13, I was in grade school at that time, and that day class was let out for everyone to view Apollo 13's reentry

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#34

Re: Where Were You When the Challenger Exploded?

01/25/2016 10:00 AM

The day the Challenger exploded was like any other launch day in Florida, except colder than most. I was at the family Health Food Store in Ocala Fl. Cleaning the soft frozen yogurt machine and listening to the preflight on the radio. It was a beautiful crystal clear day. As launch time approached we all went out to the parking lot to watch for the trail to rise up over the trees, car radios giving us the countdown. There were people standing in parking lots and on the sidewalk all around us . At the word lift off we all cheered as was a very common practice in Florida since the beginning of the "space age". Within a few seconds the familiar white trail appeared and rose into the sunlight. Then something unusual happened. A larger than normal puffball of vapor appeared, the radio announcer said there seems to have been a problem with booster separation. Then several streamers of smoke falling, then the realization. The radio had gone silent. People stood motionless, stunned, a few even started crying. Launch day was never the same after that.

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#39

Re: Where Were You When the Challenger Exploded?

01/25/2016 6:17 PM

At the Presidio of San Francisco watching the TV in the office at the San Francisco MI Detachment, 902d MI Group. Very shocking and sad to be sure.

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#40

Re: Where Were You When the Challenger Exploded?

01/25/2016 6:30 PM

I had gone home for lunch from the Doctor's office where I worked at the time. Watched in on TV. It was a terrible thing to witness. Such a tragedy. And to think it could have been prevented.

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#41

Re: Where Were You When the Challenger Exploded?

01/27/2016 3:17 AM

Wagner College in Staten Island NY, inspecting a chem lab.

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#42

Re: Where Were You When the Challenger Exploded?

01/27/2016 1:27 PM

I was one of those grade school kids. 6th grade

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#43

Re: Where Were You When the Challenger Exploded?

01/28/2016 1:26 PM

Similar thread from the 25th anniversary http://cr4.globalspec.com/thread/65304.

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#44
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Re: Where Were You When the Challenger Exploded?

01/28/2016 1:40 PM
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#46
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Re: Where Were You When the Challenger Exploded?

01/28/2016 11:00 PM

From everything that I've read over the past several years, it seems everyone involved in allowing the launch to proceed, from the President down to the engineer who gave in, was to some degree culpable.

Not a rant, simply an observation.

Maybe phoenix911 was right about "...sometimes it best that one doesn't know what he's getting himself in, or nothing will be developed."

(I believe that at the very least the disaster resulted ln the SRB contractor adding a third O-ring)

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#47
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Re: Where Were You When the Challenger Exploded?

01/28/2016 11:10 PM

"the engineer who gave in"?

Which engineer gave in?

I thought they were overruled.

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#48
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Re: Where Were You When the Challenger Exploded?

01/29/2016 11:51 PM

You may very well be correct on "overruled", but in a more subtle manner.

I've been through so many reports on the reasons for the accident, as well as seeing a couple of dramatizations on it, that frankly I can't specify where I heard or read that the engineer ultimately responsible for the"go/no go" decision was essentially bullied into approving the decision to launch.

Somewhere in the back of my brain, the phrase "take off your engineer's hat and put on the manager's hat" keeps bubbling up.

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#49
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Re: Where Were You When the Challenger Exploded?

02/02/2016 9:32 AM

From this article:

"The VP of engineering was pressured to change his mind and "Take off his engineering hat, and put on his management hat." He then told NASA that "The data predicting blow-by (of super-hot gases) was inconclusive." NASA heard silence on the phone after that, which was interpreted by them to be a go ahead to launch."

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#50
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Re: Where Were You When the Challenger Exploded?

02/02/2016 10:50 AM

Seems logical to state 'murder' is only murder for the public and corporations are immune. What a lovey country the US is!!!!

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#51
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Re: Where Were You When the Challenger Exploded?

02/02/2016 12:58 PM

Our loveliness is only exceeded by your ignorance.

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#52
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Re: Where Were You When the Challenger Exploded?

02/02/2016 1:25 PM

You really should'nt feed these trolls that don't have the gonads to post as a registered member.

Hooker

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#53
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Re: Where Were You When the Challenger Exploded?

02/02/2016 1:38 PM

I know, but I'm a sucker for the 'bait'.

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#54
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Re: Where Were You When the Challenger Exploded?

02/02/2016 2:17 PM

heh, go sit in the Bay. The Blue Crabs will love ya. Unless the Chinese knockoffs get ya first.

Hooker <--- who hasn't had a crab feast in way too long

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#56
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Re: Where Were You When the Challenger Exploded?

02/02/2016 8:47 PM

Actually, I'd rather have a clam bake. My roots hail from a bit further north.

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#58
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Re: Where Were You When the Challenger Exploded?

02/02/2016 10:24 PM

Now that you mention it my druthers would be for a huge batch of ocean scallops from off the Virginia Capes. That's from my roots on the southern Bay.

But clams would work, too.

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#55
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Re: Where Were You When the Challenger Exploded?

02/02/2016 2:22 PM

Well said.

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#57
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Re: Where Were You When the Challenger Exploded?

02/02/2016 8:50 PM

Thanks, I was beginning to think the phrase was just part of a dramatization, and never actually was uttered.

I Googled the phrase "Take off his your engineering hat, and put on your management hat." and found numerous recantations of the story behind it that ultimately led to the disaster.

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#45
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Re: Where Were You When the Challenger Exploded?

01/28/2016 1:41 PM

Oh no... Its ground hogs day all over again...

I can't wait till daylight savings time this fall,... ah spring..

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