Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Man On the Playscape!

My Thanksgiving stay in Houston was all that and a bag of leftover turkey. The day after Thanksgiving, Kate was nice enough to invite me on a family excursion to the Johnson Space Center, or "NASA," as most native Houstonians call it.

When I was a kid, just getting to see the enormous Saturn V rocket and some spacesuits was enough to warrant a trip to NASA for anyone visiting Houston. I'm pretty sure the whole thing was free, too.

Nowadays, "NASA" has been supplanted by something called "Space Center Houston" that charges amusement park prices. We can lament the passing of staid government presentations of space-related knowledge as an ends in themselves, but there's something to be said for bells and whistles, too.

Take, for example, the playscape I'm sitting in here. I don't know if a playscape is really necessary to make space interesting to 21st century children, but there's no getting around how cool it is to sit in a Soyuz escape pod-shaped moving turret perched three stories above a bunch of nervous parents.

You too would be nervous if you saw a childless man funning around in the playscape.

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