What a month! Earlene Rentz Online Publications has had a record-setting month in August. As of this writing, we have had more than three times the sales of past years, and there is more of August on the calendar! EROP has been in business since the very end of 2011, and so much has happened with the choral music market and technology since that day in 2011 when we began this incredible journey. Mine seemed to be the first of its kind back then, and that is no longer the case. I wanted to start a business that would allow me to live "in the middle of nowhere," avoid the post office (done!....that journey took about an hour of the day for travel), sell the music (done!), send immediately to customer (done!), and receive money for payment (done!)...all in two seconds. We did it, and the journey has been wonderful. I love my lyricists, and I am looking forward to another great year with this company. The move to Texas has been great for business....totally great. I really appreciate Texas choral directors welcoming me warmly into the state.
Brian, Jan, Me
August has also been special because of other reasons...one of which was a special visit from good friends and fellow choral directors Brian and Jan Knutson from Wisconsin. They braved the Houston heat, came for a visit, and requested a possible visit to NASA's Houston Space Center. Uh....Yes! As you know, July was a marvelous anniversary month (50th) for the moon landing, and because I am in Houston, I sometimes hear about friends who were involved in that event. For example, a friend from my church was Gene Kranz's right-hand-man during the mission. His wife was my husband's secretary when he was pastor of South Main Baptist Church. I had no idea of this connection with the Space Center and history, but how interesting!
On one of the NASA tours, we had a wonderful presentation, with all of Mission Control restored to its form (flowers, stations, ash trays, and board data) from that historic day...July 20, 1969. We sat in an observation room above MC, and I remembered that one of my friends (now deceased) from California's NASA site (their chief contractor, in fact) had sat in this very room, and I was again connected to my personal history.
We also saw where the future begins to formulate in the minds of those whose future goal is to train astronauts and to put Americans on Mars. I have no idea about the purpose of the equipment, but the NASA facility is a huge campus, and I am certain that there were reasons for all of the contents of the training room.
Astronaut Training Facility
I was impressed with the intricacies of many of the older rockets...tubes! The rockets were huge, and I hope these photos give you an idea of the scope and power these giant rockets represent.
The thing I remember most from the day...when these brave men were sent into space the very first time...their fuel? Kerosene and liquid oxygen! Are you kidding? We had kerosene heaters when I grew up! I had no idea kerosene was that powerful...mixed with liquid oxygen? Whoa....what a combination. I suppose I had expected something a little more sophisticated, but no....those brave souls went way out into space on very basic fuels. The minds behind the missions and the use of those fuels were the most impressive ever! Scientists whose brains were so genius and so hungry for "the unknown" they were willing to give their all to the exploration of whatever was "out there" in the universe. And....yes....sometimes it didn't work out well. To see the tears of mission directors and sense their anguish was also part of this moving day. To sense their pain and despair led to a memorial moment all its own.
Well....one thing "out there" was a moon rock. So...I had a new experience...I touched a moon rock...one of about 13 or so in the world. Maybe you can see it...well-worn from thousands touching it, too. Great photo of Brian's hand touching it.....it was dark in the room.
Look really hard to see the moon rock!
Of all the emotions I had that day, the primary one was "pride" and "admiration." I admired the bravery and courage of those men who 50+ years ago wanted to explore the unknown, and allowed those on earth to put them into another atmosphere....just to have information up-close about things that are far away. I was proud that there was a curiosity in Americans who climbed aboard a rather small vessel.....
...not knowing if they were ever return to the planet on which their families lived. In addition, I was amazed at the rather crude, but still impressive beginnings...
The Redstone Rocket (Early Rocket)
...and certainly I was in admiration of the wonderful minds like Katherine Johnson (Hidden Figures), friends Spencer Gardner and Leland Bethers, and thousands of others whose names I do not know, who went to work every day....after day....after day....after day....not knowing if the request of President Kennedy was actually possible or not...and not knowing the realistic consequences of pushing ahead. But....they....did....it.
For me, the entire experience was inspirational. It gives me incentive to strive for those things the world may not understand, but knowing for me, the goals I reach are delightful in my mind, just because they are. We've come a long way in many areas of knowledge, but there is always so much more to learn. I relish that quality in my work. I am so proud of those who have the same delight in their chosen paths of professional delight....those at NASA accomplishing goals I might not be able to appreciate in all implications for the planet, but they know why they do these things....and they continue to "do it."
THANK YOU! I am a proud American.