It's Not Rocket Science
Stephenville Empire-Tribune and Glen Rose Reporter, April 2019
It was very hard being raised by a former NASA rocket scientist. I could never say to my dad, “It's not rocket science,” because it just...was. Every aspect of our lives being dictated by logic, he once got out his T-square to hang curtain rods. No “eyeballing” it for us. This was also the reason we usually lived in homes without curtains. It was quite exhausting to live with a perfectionist.
I remember one time when my dad was helping me with math homework; I contemplated an alternate solution to the problem at hand. My dad's eyes lit up with hope—maybe another engineering mind in his household.
Running to get a pad of the graph paper he always had on hand, he sat furiously measuring and drawing and erasing and redrawing with the mechanical pencil, usually housed in the pocket of one of the short-sleeved button-up shirts he wore to work. (The ensemble was typically completed with a clip-on tie and clear plastic pocket-protector.) He then maniacally thrust the pad of graph paper toward me, “Here; draw this as if you are looking at it bisected.”
“Erm, what?” I asked, beginning to question my sanity at trying to speak mathese with my dad.
“Cut in half,” he explained.
“Oh, yeah. I knew that,” I laughed, then frowned, looking down at the graph to find a complex multi-faceted pyramid-like structure. There were angles, little diamond and octagon shapes, and shadows turning this 2-D drawing into a seemingly full-on 3-D structure.
“Looks like a spaceship?” I questioned. My dad was nodding furiously, the hopeful gleam still in his eyes.
I was boggled by this challenge. My mind didn’t work this way and I could not see beyond the penciled drawing in front of me. I tapped my forehead, come on, think, think. Crickets chirped and the silence became deafening.
“I can't seem to…”
“Just try,” he pleaded.
“OK,” I nodded with eyebrows furrowed.
Taking up the pencil, I tried to imagine being an astronaut inside of that tiny space shuttle—a quick flash of claustrophobia—then haltingly began to pencil what was in my imagination. First the flat edge where it had been bisected. Next, little diamonds, octagons, a couple of weird angles, and a shadow here and there and I might be close.
I handed it back. I saw the light dim a bit in his eyes and he chuckled, “It’s pretty good, but it's not rocket science. Now getting back to this math problem; how many times have I told you? You have to show your work.”
By Lisa H. Owens
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