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Retired 97-year-old NASA employee discusses Apollo missions

A redditor translated his grandfather's tales of working on NASA's first 14 Apollo missions for the social news site. 


Kevin Collier


Posted on Aug 7, 2012   Updated on Jun 2, 2021, 1:12 pm CDT

The biggest AMA of the week, and perhaps in recent memory, didn’t actually come from r/IAmA, the Reddit section famous for it live interviews.

That’s because Firefly actor Nathan Fillion—of whom redditors are quite fond—posted his questions and answers in r/Denver for some reason. In response to the obvious question—why?—Fillion answered, cryptically: “I’m not. Just allow this. Seriously though? This app is not intuitive.”

The most popular AMA that was actually held in the right place was timed well with the Mars Rover landing: a redditor’s 97-year-old grandfather who translated his tales of working at NASA’s first 14 Apollo missions.

Honorable mention goes to John Smedly, president of Sony Online Entertaiment, who gave an extremely frank and informal talk for someone in such a high, corporate position. He used few capital letters, apologized to people who lost their jobs for his decisions, and offered up plenty of curse words.

A note on terminology: AMA stands for “ask me anything,” while “IAmA” is simply “I am a;” AMAA means “ask me almost anything.”

1) IAMA 97 year old that worked Apollo missions 1 through 14 and knew two presidents before they were president, AMA

Did anyone ever actually say “Houston, we have a problem.” ? And if so what was happening?

Yes, Jim Lovell said it when they had an explosion in the propulsion system.

2) I am Leo Laporte, Chief TWiT. AMA!

When did you know that TechTV wasn’t going to survive?

About a year before it folded.

I remember trying to tell the TechTV executives that we should target the 14 million computer programmers in the US with really smart programming. They told me that sponsors hate a smart audience and there was no future in smart programming. That’s when I started polishing up my resume.

3) I am a 16 year old girl with Alopecia Universalis (no hair anywhere on my body) AMA

So how do the eyebrows and eyelashes work? Are they re useable with some adhesive on the back? (hatryd)

They are both stick-on. the eyelashes are just normal fake ones you can buy anywhere. the eyebrows are specially made, they’re clear plastic with real hair sewn in. A pair of eyebrows can last me months if I take care of them well. In the beginning, I’d have to re-do my eyebrows over and over to get them to be even, but now it’s just second nature.

4) I am R.A. Salvatore, fantasy writer, geek, gamer…

Do you keep a “series bible”? Any advice for keeping things consistent and avoiding mistakes with character/setting details over so many novels? (Gloman42)

WotC keeps one, and it’s a good thing! Too many books! Too many years!

I remember I was thrilled when I started writing “Servant of the Shard” because Jarlaxle could finally be front and center. Then I was terrified because I was on a tight deadline and realized that I had no idea of what this guy had for equipment, given all of his cameos in the previous books. So I went to a message board anonymously and started a thread “Let’s inventory Jarlaxle’s cool items!” A few days later, I downloaded and printed the 10-page thread – these folks had put in page numbers from the books and everything in their discussion of Jarlaxle…hehehe.

5) I am Hitoshi Sakimoto, video game composer (Final Fantasy XII / Tactics, Valkyria Chronicles etc…) and Humble Music Bundle participant. AMA!

Have you ever recieved classical training, or did you learn everything you know yourself?

Formally, I received no training. I actually learned music through experience (that is, learning while I composed)…

However I would always try to do anything I can to learn the skill of music.. I would buy many books, analyse sheet music scores etc… so i could develop and understand the basics.

Developing the basics was just for my own practice though (I wouldn’t release anything like that publicly). But in the end, I try to express my own interpretation of what the game is.

6) IAmA John Smedley, 22 year game industry veteran, President of Sony Online Entertainment AMAA

[Y]ou’re the president of a gaming company and you wouldn’t even give your own son a job? should i be happy that you’re making him work for success or disappointed in your cold heart? (poptart2nd)

lol. rules are rules and it wouldn’t be fair to have my son working in the company I run. Plus he has a food service job. I love seeing that on resumes (no lie). It teaches you that hard work and service matter. Plus people should tip waiters and waitresses well.

7) We’re Jay Chandrasekhar and Kevin Heffernan of Broken Lizard (Super Troopers and Beerfest). Our new movie The Babymakers is out on August 3rd! AMA.

Do you guys feel that Reno! 911 borrowed a lot from Super Troopers? I remember seeing the first promo for the show and thinking “So they’re making a super troopers show?” (schrute_buck)

Reno 911 is funny. But I wish they had chosen different color uniforms. I feel like they were glamming onto our vibe by making the imagery so similar. That said, I’m over it.

Photo of Methusela1915’s (unnamed) grandfather via Imgur

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*First Published: Aug 7, 2012, 7:43 pm CDT