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In Other Words...

A Research Service Of Facts & Humor For Christian Leaders

July 2019


CREATIVITY: When Apollo 11 thundered towards the moon, the three astronauts didn’t have life insurance.  NASA wouldn’t offer it to them because their job was considered “high risk and experimental.”  Knowing that the possibility of death was significant, a unique solution called “insurance cover” was created.  The men signed hundreds of postal covers (cards & envelopes), which had all three signatures, and were then given to a trusted source.  They were then postmarked at the Kennedy Space Center post office on the day of the launch and/or the day of the moon landing.  The thought was these autographs would become valuable if they died on the mission and their families could sell them.  Each trip to the moon was handled the same way, and thankfully the “Apollo Covers” were never needed.  In November of 2018 one such cover sold for $35,000 at an auction in Dallas.  Problems offer opportunities for creative solutions. Houston Chronicle, 6/4/19, p.A9
DETAILS: It’s been said “the devil is in the details,” but sometimes there’s a lot of money in those details as well.  A former NASA intern is expected to add a million or two to his portfolio when Sotheby’s auctions off three video tape reels of the Apollo 11 moon landing.  Three years after his internship at NASA, Gary Johnson bought 1,100 reels of video tape in 1976 for $218 at a government auction.  He then started selling the reels for $50 each to TV stations so they could use them for recording.  The 65-year-old retired engineer from Las Vegas said, “I had no idea there was anything of value on them.”  After selling about eight reels, his dad spotted three tapes labeled “Apollo 11 EVA” and suggested he hang on to them because, “They might be valuable someday.”  Turns out he was right.  In 2006, NASA acknowledged they could not find the tapes and concluded they had been erased and recorded over.  In 2008, George played the tapes for only the second time so NASA could see what they’d been missing.  The tapes show Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the moon, the deployment of the U.S. flag, the astronauts’ solar wind experiment, and the phone call to the moon where President Richard Nixon said, “This certainly has to be the most historic phone call ever made from the White House.”  The July 20th auction is designed to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the historic lunar landing.  Details can bite you, or they can buy you nice results. USA Today, 7/3/19, p.4A; Parade, 6/23/19, p.7
FLEXIBILITY: NASA had carefully chosen a spot for Apollo 11 to land on the moon but that option unknowingly disappeared when the Eagle separated from Columbia for the descent.  Unvented air pushed the lunar module farther and faster than planned, which put it on a trajectory to overshoot their landing spot by four miles.  Nobody realized it until Neil Armstrong saw a large crater with boulders the size of cars when they were just a few hundred feet above the moon’s surface.  He overrode the computer and manually guided the Eagle to a safe landing on the Sea of Tranquility with no more than 20 seconds of fuel remaining.  Had the seasoned astronaut not exercised flexibility in the moment, history would have recorded a much different story about Apollo 11. Parade, 6/23/19, p.7
GRATITUDE: Most Americans recall what Neil Armstrong said when he stepped 3 ½ feet down from the lunar module onto the moon’s surface, “That’s one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind.”  But few will recall what he said on the return flight home.  Collins, Aldrin and Armstrong made a TV broadcast on their way back in which Armstrong said, “We’d like to give a special thanks to all those Americans who built the spacecraft, who did the construction, design, the tests, and put their heart and all their abilities into the crafts.  To those people tonight, we give a special thank you.”  True heroes are truly grateful. AARP, June/July 2019, p.30; Beaumont Enterprise, 3/24/19, p.A22
POTENTIAL: When Apollo 11 landed on the moon, the average age of NASA engineers was 28.  They thought like British statesman William Pitt who stated in the movie Amazing Grace: “We’re too young to know certain things are impossible, so we will do them anyway.”; Do Hard Things, Alex & Brett Harris, 2008, p.188
PERSEVERANCE: Michael Collins rode in “the loneliest seat” as he orbited the moon alone 30 times.  He commanded Columbia while Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin spent 21 hours and 36 minutes on the moon’s surface.  Collins was the life-line home and served an indispensable role, but had he responded to failure like most, he wouldn’t have been in that seat.  The West Point graduate was a test pilot at Edwards Air Force base in California when he watched John Glenn become the first American to orbit the earth.  He immediately applied to be an astronaut, and was rejected.  He was devastated, calling it “a big flop, a big failure.”  Rather than concede, he applied again a year later and was selected in 1963.  Seven years before he circled the moon, he was told he didn’t know enough to be an astronaut, but perseverance got him to the moon and back. Houston Chronicle, 5/9/19, p.A8
SKEPTICS: Polling consistently reveals roughly 1 in 20 Americans don’t believe the moon landing really happened.  They say it was staged. Houston Chronicle, 6/3/19, p.A6
VISION: On September 12, 1962, President Kennedy exclaimed to 40,000 people at Rice University’s football stadium, “We choose to go to the moon.”  He then said, “We choose to go to the moon in this decade…”  When he said that, nobody had any idea how to do it.  In fact, when Apollo 8 made the first test run to the moon in 1968, it was the first time anyone had left Earth’s orbit and Chris Kraft, NASA’s director of flight operations, gave it a 50-50 chance of success.  Vision isn’t the promise of certainty, it’s the challenge for a compelling risk. Houston Chronicle, 6/11/19, p.A7; 6/23/19, p.A27


COMMITMENT: Elizabeth Veldboom wrote about her little niece fiddling with her dad’s wedding ring during Thanksgiving dinner.  Elizabeth’s dad told his granddaughter, “That never comes off.  You know why?  Because I love your Nana.”  Mackenzie looked at her grandfather and replied, “Nana takes hers off.” Reader’s Digest, March 2016, p.68
MAJESTY: Five-year-old Judd understands our Lord’s majesty more than most of us.  In his Sunday School class, the teacher asked, “What would you do if Jesus walked in the door right now?”  Judd quickly laid down on the floor, so his teacher asked what he was doing.  He replied, “Jesus just walked in, so I fainted.” Mature Living, July 2019, p.56
VACATION: After Fred packed every inch of their suburban, he told his wife, “No need to lock the house – there’s nothing left to steal.” Beaumont Enterprise, 6/30/19, p.SC3


IN OTHER WORDS... began in 1991 and is produced by Dr. Raymond McHenry, Senior Pastor of the Westgate Memorial Baptist Church in Beaumont, Texas.  Subscribers receive full access to our Web site of over 5,000 illustrations PLUS two email issues per month filled with fascinating facts, quotes, humor, and spiritual illustrations from headline news.  All content is copyrighted.  Visit to start a new subscription or send inquiries to:

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