Saturday, September 30, 2006

Should I be an astronaut when I grow up?

I got this letter from little Willy Winkly, a nine year old from Shrewsbury. He wants advice on his future, and I am just the person to ask since parents are biased in favor of you and I'm not. Willy writes:

"Dear Mr. L,

Howdy partner! My name is Willy, but people only pronounce it with one 'l' to save time so it's Wily. I've been lately thinking about how I should make money when I get old like you. I was playing Legos and watching Star Wars when I decided an astronaut might be a pretty cool job because you get to fly and play with floating things and see the Earth from outer space and maybe even one day meet aliens like Yoda.

My parents say that dreams are like lightning bugs... they don't wait, they fly away, and you have to catch them while you can. They said if I believe with all my heart and do my homework and eat carrots, all my dreams will come true.

What do you think? My parents have the ultimate say in my beliefs, but I just was wondering what you think since other people seem to care.


Wily the young and easily influenced."

Oh Willy, how misguided you are! Dreams are more like scorpions: you try to catch them and they sting you and make you cry and then you get so mad that you squoosh them.

Please, I am not discouraging dreams in general, just stupid dreams like wanting to be an astronaut. It's one thing if some NASA employee comes up to you and says "hey, have you considered astronautism?" but it's something different when you say "oh mummy! I want to be a space man!" Greatness cannot be achieved, it must be thrust upon you.

Weightlessness may seem like a fun idea for a while, until you realize it will induce motion sickness and you will throw up and since you will be in space it will not fall and that will be gross. Also, when someone else sneezes it will go all over you since that won't fall either. Dandruff goes everywhere. It's not pretty like it is in the movies, like Star Wars, in which gravity is magical and still works in space.

If it's fun that you're looking for because you've seen astronauts playing with their food or floating about in educational videos, think again. First of all, those videos are meant to poison your mind, and especially watch out for the nature ones that try to get you to care about frogs and rainforests by watching frogs jump around in slow motion and playing pretty music and watching the frogs eat things. Frogs jump fast and they're ugly so who cares about them? Don't buy into that kind of "nature" stuff. Anyway, the truth is being an astronaut is actually lots of work. After astronauts made those fun videos in which they are all just wasting time playing around, they got yelled at by the boss because they were supposed to be using screwdrivers on machines to fix things and do experiments, like seeing what happens when you try to mix up chocolate milk without gravity or seeing what happens when you light candles. You have to have a clip board and take notes all the time. Also, there are lots of buttons you have to push and many of them don't have good labels so you'll be confused with buttons that say things like "GRRT 4" and "RER4-49F" and then the command center will say "What does your gerfometer say?" and you will have to find that meter among hundreds of meters or just make up a number like "oh, 58 gerfos" and then if the red shiny light goes off and buzzes you will have to say "Houston, we have a problem" and the guy working in the control room that day might not be Houston. And then he will say "To save your own life, you must switch SCE to Aux" and you will say "what the heck are you talking about?!" and he will say "didn't you do training in the pool?!" and you will say "I just looked up the answers on the Internet and did not actually study for the mission" and he will not be able to fire you since you will be in space.


I know that's a lot of garble to get through, but I do have some suggestions on what you could do for a living besides becoming an astronaut:
  • Be a high school teacher
  • Work for Microsoft
  • Start your own business writing calculator manuals
I can't think of anything else right now because I am a bit tired. Sorry, I have been so busy at work lately it's hard to stay focused ducks golden shiny tree ... oops! I started drifting off there.

Alright, here's the deal. Stay in school, do your homework, don't watch educational videos, and buy the time you get into a college, space travel will probably be common and astronauts will all lost their jobs anyway. Study hard and be one of the three previous listed things. Put your three options on slips of paper then pick one randomly out of a hat and focus on that for the rest of your life.

Well, I really must go. Remember, boys and girls, peer pressure hurts when your peers sit on you. E-mail me your questions. Thanks for your question and happy growing up, Wily the dunderhead.


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