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Archive for May, 2011

by Shannon Penrod

“Welcome to Disneyland for Geeks!”  That’s what the tour guide said as he opened the door to the “Dark Room” at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab today.  Once a year they hold an open house and this year for the first time guests were allowed to enter the mission control room.   My son and I were part of the 30,000 people who stood in line for hours this weekend to see the magic up close and personal.  It was cool.

It was amazing to see the slice of humanity that showed up to see this unique spectacle.  There were new-born babies and seniors with walkers.  There were teenagers in Goth gear and young couples, race, nationality and ethnicity was represented.  There we all were, sharing a similar passion – SPACE.  So we all stood in line, and stood in line some more.  Oye!  There was a lot of standing in line!  But I have to say, the wait was worth it.

I stood with my son and looked down into the clean room where the Mars Laboratory Rover “Curiosity” sat waiting to be shipped to Cape Canaveral for a lift off in September and an August 2010 arrival on Mars.  We saw it, the actual rover, not a model, not a fabrication….the real deal.  When that rocket takes off later this year my son and I will feel a connection; that’s something that money can’t buy.

Since he could speak in sentences my son has said that when he grows up he wants to be a rocket engineer.  As we walked through the halls of JPL I asked him is he thought he might work here one day.  He not only told me that he would, he told me where he thought his office would be.  I took a picture of it. Someday I plan to visit him in that office.  Hopefully Moms of rocket engineers don’t have to stand in line to see their kid’s offices!

We ended the day by watching a beautiful film that was narrated by Harrison Ford.  He closed the film by reminding us that we are all made of star-dust.  That alone was worth standing in line.

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by Shannon Penrod

Well the verdict is in and I don’t agree.  James Durbin won’t be the winner of American Idol 2011 but there are some contests that are even more important than Idol and as a proud Autism Mom I know that James Durbin has already won them. 

James Durbin

Not to take anything away from the other contestants, I’m sure they have all overcome some adversity to get where they are, but I know first hand that it can’t compare to what James has surmounted.  He is a true champion.

He stood in tears at the end and proudly said that he had done what he had come to do.  I think that’s true, James, but I don’t think it was to give metal a chance.  Okay, maybe that was part of it, but you also gave a lot of us hope.  To watch you sing every week, to watch you own that stage lifted my heart and reminded me that all things are possible.  You helped me and thousands of other mothers remember that dreams don’t have to be deferred by Autism.  You were brilliant, and the “Autism thing” was incidental, a foot note…irrelevent…what a lovely gift. I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

James Durbin, you are my American Idol.  I will buy your records and I will go to your concerts and I will listen to metal.  Rock on my friend!

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