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Good Eats, the Space Shuttle, and Me

Sorry for the later post today. I was working on it last night and other things demanded my attention.

I haven't had cable for a couple of years now, but last I did, I became a fan of the Food Network. In fact, what got me watching Food was two shows, really: Iron Chef America and Good Eats. Now, spare me the eye-roll at the unrealistic nature of Iron Chef. It's probably more real than its critics think but less real than it appears. Anyway, it's TV: entertaining and fun. Star Trek is fake, too, and I still like it. Plus, Michael Symon will always have a special place in my heart as a chef since he used halloumi in one episode.

However, Good Eats was the main hook. We started watching that show when we caught a snippet one night of a disheveled looking fellow in a bathrobe muttering about breakfast. This fellow went on to look a little less disheveled and cooked pancakes. We tried the recipe, it was good, and we became Alton Brown fans. In fact, though I had loved to cook before this, watching Brown and his show convinced me that I could cook and cook well, and challenged me to expand in kitchen skills.

A part of me even hoped that, someday, I might manage to become credible enough to take over Good Eats when the inimitable Mr. Brown decided to retire. Maybe I could host Good Eats: Generation 2 or something like that. After all, my jokes are as good as his!

Alas, this past spring it was announced that Good Eats is over. There are three one-hour specials this year, but the show is now headed to permanent re-run status. I'll be scouring the Internet for DVDs or Blu-Rays of it, that's for certain. My dream, though, of cooking with Alton Brown had to come to an end.

Meanwhile, we're all aware of the end of the Space Shuttle program in NASA. I could bemoan the death of the US Space Program in general, but I hold out hope that we'll realize the benefits and re-up our commitment to science and exploration. The whole conspiracy I perceive in that deserves its own post, so comment if you want to read that one.

It's just that, when I was a kid, I wanted to be an astronaut. Wanted to be one so bad that I actually considered joining the Navy, as more Naval Aviators went on to be astronauts than Air Force pilots did. I still remember the depression I felt January 28, 1986. I remember attending Grissom Elementary before then. I remember vividly (perhaps my clearest memory from all of elementary school) the day the Louisiana Teacher-in-Space participant spoke at our school. She had a heat-shield tile. She had a real NASA Astronaut jacket and she let me wear it! All day! (She almost forgot it when she left.)

I wanted to go up in a Space Shuttle. I imagined that the movie Space Camp could actually happen. I went to Space Camp. It didn't. My group did design the best Space Station, though. To this day, though I love Almyra (except the mosquitoes), my dream pastorate is still First Baptist Church, Lunar Rock (or Chaplain on the International Space Station).

Yet with the end of the Space Shuttle program, that dream, already mostly dead since I went to seminary instead of engineering school, is now completely dead. There's no miracle to bring that one back.

Both of these dreams have gone for me. In a way, it's kind of sad. These were ideas, both simple, like a cooking show, and complex, like space, that inspired me to be better at something. The reality? I will likely never cook well enough to get a show. I won't even get Bobby Flay to challenge me on Throwdown (partly because I can't see opening a restaurant). I was never quite disciplined enough to make the astronaut corps.

But those dreams challenged me to get better. They challenged me to grow. For that I'm thankful, and will continue to strengthen myself in those areas. My challenge from this?

1. Learn to grow from the things around me. It's important.

2. Don't let the death of a perceived end-goal be the death of effort.

3. Strive to be the challenge someone else wants to be. Whether it's to cook better, study harder, preach better, or just in life: be an open example that's available for others to follow.

Doug

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