Daily Archives: December 17, 2018

40 Years Ago Today . . .

Forty years ago today, December 17, 2018, Jan, myself, our 10 year old son Chris, and our 5 year old daughter Brandi arrived in Houston, TX for the next big adventure in our lives.

For the previous two years I was the Chief Electronics Engineer over Alabama and Georgia for Storer Cable TV in Montgomery, AL, at the time one of the largest cable TV companies in the country. Later, in the mid 90’s, it was sold off and split up between Comcast and TCI.

Although I occasionally helped troubleshot problems out in the field, the ‘Electronics’ part of my title meant that I maintained all of the headend electronics equipment, but especially the satellite system.

At that time there was only one satellite downlinking TV channels for cable systems. RCA Satcom 1 only had 12 channels to start with, though it later went to dual polarization, with 24 channels.

Among the original 12 were HBO, TBS, WGN, MSG (Madison Square Gardens), ETWN (Eternal Word), PTL (Praise The Lord), and a few others that I’ve long forgotten. It was only after the second 12 channels were added that the whole satellite thing really took off.

At that time you didn’t receive satellite channels on some dinky little 18” DirecTV dish. No, it required a 10 meter (33 feet) antenna like one of these.

Scientific Atlanta 10m Dish

And at the time the entire installation was over $100,000.

In addition to the satellite receiver installation, there was also a microwave system that linked the satellite installation up in Prattville about 15 miles to the northwest, with the offices in Montgomery. It was enough to keep me entertained. But I always had another dream.

My father worked for Boeing on the Apollo program at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, and Jan’s father worked for Rocketdyne at Cape Kennedy. So when I was offered a job working on the Space Shuttle Program at Johnson Space Center in Houston, I jumped on it.

Although I accepted the job in October, I told them I didn’t want to start until the Christmas vacation time frame to make it easier for Chris and Brandi to switch schools.

One thing nice about the move was that they moved us. So while the movers were packing us up on Thursday and Friday, I was wrapping up things at Storer, with Friday the 15th of December being my last day. And later that afternoon we were on our way to Houston, with Jan and I driving our two cars, and my parents in theirs.

After spending the night along the way we finally got into Houston very early on Sunday morning, the 17th. It took a lot longer than it does now because large parts of I-10 were still under construction. But the reason for all the rush was the fact that I was supposed to start work at NASA  the next day, the 18th.

Luckily for us, my job with the DOD, moving around to different airbases in the late 60’s – early 70’s, gave us a lot of experience coming into a town and quickly finding a place to rent. And by later that afternoon Jan and my mother had found us a house in the old part of Heritage Park.

While we could have stayed in the hotel a couple of more days and taken our time, we had another reason to rush. The moving van with all our furniture was due the next day, and if they couldn’t deliver it as scheduled, then it would have to go into storage. And WE would have to pay the unloading, storage, and reloading fees.

So that’s how we all became Texans. As they say, “We weren’t born here, but we got here quick as we could.”

Tomorrow afternoon is my appointment with the ‘cornea guy’ to check out the slight yellowing/thickening of the cornea in my left eye, which is what the Sam’s Club optometrist mistook as a cataract.

So we’ll see what he comes up with.

Thought for the Day: 

Nothing is sometimes the right thing to do, and always a wise thing to say.


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