Howdy. I'm Matt Todd. My wife and I have four kids and a dog,. I'm passionate about orphan care. I'm a die-hard fan of the Evansville Aces, the Indiana Hoosiers, and Star Wars. I'm trying to live life by the Todd family motto: "It behooves us to live!"

Space Shuttle Discovery

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I’ve taken several opportunities to share what I remember about the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster. It was one of those traumatic national events that is burned into my long-term memory. I still remember it like it was yesterday. It could be argued that my childhood dream died that day.

I also remember the day US astronauts returned to space. I was in middle school and our teacher turned on the radio so we could listen to the launch. I was on the edge of my seat, hoping against hope that the shuttle would arrive safely into Earth’s orbit. Although I didn’t plan on being an astronaut anymore, I was still thrilled that we had returned to space. I’m pretty sure I saw my  social studies teacher wipe away a tear during the broadcast.

The shuttle that ushered the United States back into manned spaceflight Space Shuttle Discovery.  Continue reading Space Shuttle Discovery

A is for Astronaut

A is for Astronaut - A to Z ChallengeThroughout most of my elementary school career, I wanted to be an astronaut. There were a few moments where I wanted to be a lion tamer. But mostly, I wanted to be an astronaut. I never really thought of being a lion taming astronaut. That would’ve been pretty sweet. Can you imagine taming Martian lions? Or what about bears on Venus? Or wrestling Saturn’s tigers?

Interstellar lions. And tigers. And bears.

Oh my.

But seriously, I really wanted to be an astronaut for a long time. I think a large cross-section of my generation had similar aspirations. And it wasn’t just because of Star Wars (although I suspect it might have had something to do with it. Maybe. Or maybe the two worked hand-in-hand. I loved Star Wars and I loved all things space. My love for Star Wars encouraged my love for space exploration. And my love for space exploration encouraged my love for Star Wars. It was a symbiotic relationship.

But then the unthinkable happened.

The Challenger exploded and everything changed. I think my dream, along with the dream of many other elementary school students, died that day. Don’t get me wrong. I have no delusions that I would have actually been able to become an astronaut. My woeful math skills and limited science expertise kind of helped slam that door shut.

But I still think quite a bit about space exploration, space travel, and discovering worlds unknown. I still get chills when I stand in the presence of capsules that have been into space. And yes, I’m still kicking myself for skipping out on the final Space Shuttle landing. On some clear nights, I stand outside and gaze into the sky. The unknown of the Final Frontier gently tugs at me. And I fantasize about visiting a galaxy far, far away.

I still find myself wondering what might have been. What would I have looked like in an astronaut suit?

Astronaut Matt Todd

And there you have it. Pretty impressive. Right?

**I’m participating in the April A to Z Challenge. This post is part of that endeavor. A lot of people are doing the same thing. You should check out some of their posts!**

3 decisions I regret

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Robert Frost
The Road Not Taken

Road Not Taken

We make decisions every day. Most of these decisions are rather inconsequential in the grand scheme of things – Do I want waffles or pancakes for breakfast? Should I get my gas at Speedway or Circle K? Should I wear argyle or striped socks? You know. Pretty mundane stuff.

But there are other decisions that we make that can stay with you forever. They can keep you up at night. They can haunt you in the middle of the day. They sometimes pop up in regular, everyday conversations. You can’t get away from these decisions.

I’m not talking about life-altering things like getting behind the wheel while you’re under the influence or choosing to marry someone. Those are life-altering decisions. I’m talking about other decisions. They might not alter the course of human civilization, but they still cause you to break out in a cold sweat when you think about what you did or didn’t do. They’re decisions you look back on and ask yourself, “Why? Why did I choose to do it that way? Why didn’t I choose to go the other direction as I stood at that fork in the road?”

As I look back on the decisions I’ve made, there are three choices that stand out. And when I think about them, I often wonder, “Man, why didn’t I take advantage of that opportunity?”

These were big decisions in my life. They’re landmarks on my journey of life. But they’re also relatively inconsequential in the grand story of life. They were fun things I could have done. I’m not talking about the really big regrets that I might have. You know, like dating that one girl in high school. Or cheating on a girlfriend while on a school trip out of town. Or leaving the youth ministry position that I had in Kentucky the way I did. Those are big things. They’re life-altering decisions that I’m not really dwelling on. Those things were much more complicated.

These? They’re more…simple…I guess. And I still regret them.

Simple Regret #1: The Corvette (non)incident

One weekend while at Milligan, my roommate’s parents were in town. You remember my roommate, right? Matt – aka Little Matt. He’s the guy who made us sit together on that one fateful Valentine’s Day evening oh so long ago.

Anyway, his parents were in town for the weekend. Through some kind of perk with his company, Mr. Good was able to drive a Corvette for his own personal use for a while. He brought it down to Milligan for the visit.

I don’t remember why I was in the car with them or where we were going, but I do remember Mr. Good pulling over to the side of the road. He put the car into park and turned around to say something to me.

“You want to take it for a quick drive?” he asked me.

I was shocked. I had a split second to make a decision. I didn’t know what to do.

So I said no.

I.said.no.

A college kid turned down an opportunity to drive a ‘Vette through the mountains of Tennessee. Are you kidding me? What was I thinking?

I had a headache that afternoon. So that was my reason. And while I understand that, it was a pretty lame excuse. Don’t you think?

I’m still kicking myself over that decision. It doesn’t really matter if I have other opportunities to drive a sports car like that. I still passed this one up like a bonehead.

Simple Regret #2: “Houston, we have a problem”

Remember when the space shuttle program was retired? I do. Because I passed up the opportunity to watch a shuttle land for the last time. Ever.

If you’re a longtime reader of this site (thank you for sticking with me, by the way), you might remember how I struggled with this decision quite a bit. I had some work-related responsibilities that I probably could’ve rearranged if I had pushed hard enough. In retrospect, I probably should’ve moved heaven and earth so I could go.

After all, they wound up firing me a few months later anyway.

When I mentioned this decision to Aiden a few weeks ago, he looked me in the eye and said, “What were you thinking, Dad?”

I’ve been asking myself the same thing ever since I skipped out on the landing.

What was I thinking?

Regret #3: “Go go go Matty…er…JOSEPH…”

The Spring musical during my senior year of high school was Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. In the weeks leading up to opening night, it was decided that they needed some more guys to join the cast. An call was sent far and wide throughout the hallowed halls of Harry High.

I could’ve auditioned. Most of my friends were already in the musical – either in the orchestra or up on stage. It would’ve been fun. I already knew all of the songs. I had been listening to the soundtrack nonstop for at least a month. Maybe longer. I wouldn’t have had to dance, really. And that was a good thing. You really, really don’t want to see me try to dance. They just needed more able bodies to be an Egyptian guard or one of Jacob’s sons, or some other extra up on stage.

I didn’t do it. I didn’t even express any hint of interest at all.

There’s an amazing feeling when you connect with an audience while you’re performing. I’ve had it happen while playing my tuba. I have no doubt there would’ve been a similar feeling while standing on stage during my senior year of high school. And it would’ve been pretty special to have shared that experience with my friends who were already in the musical.

But I didn’t.

And I still don’t know why I didn’t even bother to try.

I think that’s what bugs me more than anything else. I didn’t even try.

Get your story off your chest.

What decisions have you made that you still kick yourself over? What makes you stay awake at night wondering what might have been? Sharing those stories can be therapeutic. But don’t life solely in the past. Learn from those missed opportunities and keep moving forward. Because we cannot change the things that happened in the past. We can only influence things that happen today. Let’s make today better than yesterday.

What are you doing to make your life better today?

 

This #TwitterTuesday is out of this world!

Yup. That’s right. Out. of. this. world.

Speaking of out of this world, have you seen this?

Earth from Uranus
image via Huffington Post

Yeah. That arrow is pointing at Earth. That’s our home. Kind of puts everything in perspective. Doesn’t it?

Anyway, back to #TwitterTuesday. There aren’t very many for this installment, but that doesn’t mean that twitter was any less awesome this week. Just take a look….


I replied to this tweet. He replied back.

Holy cow! An astronaut tweeted me back!

I felt like doing this…

And maybe even a little of this…

Yeah. I geeked out about it.


In fact, I’m still geeking out about it.

I’m still doing cartwheels. In my head. I can’t do cartwheels at work. I  know. You’re disappointed.


It’s about stinkin’ time! Chewie getting that medal is way overdue.

Thank you, twitter, for a memorable week that was truly out of this world!

Flashback Friday: The Challenger Disaster

The anniversary of the destruction of the space shuttle Challenger is rapidly approaching. It’s amazing how fresh that day is in my mind, even though I was in fourth grade when it happened. Today’s Flashback Friday includes links to two different discussions about my memories of that day.

Do you remember the day the Challenger exploded? I’d love to hear your story.

Nineteen years ago, what was once called my generation’s Kennedy assassination, stunned the country. Like my parents remember where they were when they heard about the president’s shooting, I remember sitting in my fourth grade classroom and the Principal walked into the room and talked with the teacher, who was sitting at her desk. We got pretty loud when the Principal was talking with her.

read the rest here: Do You Remember Where You Were?

Challenger explosion
Image via The Drama Teacher

My friend, Matt, and I, thought there was a conspiracy. And we believed the Libyans were behind it. In those days, everything was the Libyans’ fault

 click here for the rest of the entry: Flashback Friday

Once in a Lifetime Opportunity…

Shuttle Atlantis landing

#84 on my 100(ish) Things is something I won’t be able to accomplish anytime soon, now that the final space shuttle launched about a week ago. I signed up for the NASA tweetup, but wasn’t one of the lucky 150 who were chosen to go. I was put on the waiting list. I’ve begun to start thinking of a suitable replacement for #84, and have been unsuccessful thus far.

Until I received an email from NASA yesterday.

They’ve put together a last-minute tweetup for the Atlantis landing this Thursday. I was informed yesterday that I was one of the 50 people who had been selected. They merely performed a random draw out of those who were on the waiting list for the launch. If I have the time and the money, I have been invited to join NASA to watch the landing of the final space shuttle. This is a once lifetime opportunity.

And I can’t go.

Believe me, I’ve been trying to figure out ways to make this work. But I have commitments at church on Wednesday night, Friday afternoon, and Saturday morning that I, in all reality, am in charge of running. It’s one of the worst possible weeks to try to shuffle things around this Summer. There’s not enough time to get someone else lined up to run these events. I would be doing this church a huge disservice (and maybe even put my job in jeopardy) if I dropped everything and drove to Florida.

Even if, for some reason, this was an open week in my schedule, there’s still the money issue. Because the IRS continues to hold on to the majority of our tax refund, we don’t have a lot of extra money to spend – especially after our recent trip to Charlotte and surrounding areas.

You have no idea how disappointing it is to say that I’m probably going to have to pass up this opportunity. The inner-five-year-old in me is throwing a big ol’ temper tantrum, trying to convince me to forget all that stuff and go anyway. Sometimes it stinks being an adult, doesn’t it?

 

Under the Sun…

When I was in fourth grade, the Space Shuttle program was shelved indefinitely in the aftermath of the Challenger disaster.

Now, 25 years later, Aiden is in the fourth grade and Discovery has flown its last mission. Endeavor and Atlantis won’t be far behind.

When I was in fourth grade, the President announced over the air that US forces had attacked Libya. Yesterday, the US joined NATO forces in attacking Libya.

What has been will be again,
What has been done will be done again;
There is nothing new under the sun.
Ecclesiastes 1:9

25 Years Ago Today


I shared a link to this speech earlier on my facebook profile, but I cannot allow today to pass without mentioning it here on my blog, as well. I remember watching President Reagan as he shared these thoughtful words that memorable day. I felt like he was speaking directly to me through that television. And I still mouth the words whenever I hear the conclusion to this speech. They’re cemented in my memory, along with the image of the booster rockets flying out of control.

My memory of that fateful day is well-documented on my blog. I’ve decided to highlight some of them here:

What about you, O Reader? What do you remember about the day the Challenger blew up and everything changed?

Flashback Friday

Me in First Grade
Me in First Grade

Christy is in Louisiana for a teachers’ conference this weekend, so I figured this video is appropriate for today’s Flashback Friday. I think this will be the longest she’s been away since we moved back to Indiana. But the kids will be going to their grandma’s this weekend, so they won’t really realize she’s gone all that much – which is a good thing for them.

The song always brings two memories to mind. It’s from the soundtrack to Armageddon, which came out while I was an intern at Athens Church of Christ in southeastern Ohio. I worked closely with the staff of Reach Out on Campus at Ohio University that summer, and got to know the campus minister – Rich Teske –  pretty well. Rich challenged me and encouraged me every time we got together. I saw Armageddon in the theatre with him. So I think of him whenever I see this movie.

During my first youth ministry in central Kentucky, we were on a trip to Louisville for a dc Talk concert. We got caught in traffic, moving approximately ten miles in a 2 1/2 hour time period. While we were sick of being in the van, we managed to make the most of it. I think they played this song three times on the radio while we were listening to it. I can still hear the girls mimicking Steven Tyler every time I hear this song. We only got to see the finale of the concert, but it was one of the most memorable trips I took with that group of kids.

[vodpod id=Groupvideo.2148319&w=425&h=350&fv=]

more about “Dailymotion – Aerosmith – I Dont Wann…“, posted with vodpod

Of course, watching a movie about space shuttles makes me think of the dreams I shared with many kids my age. During early-elementary, I wanted to be an astronaut. That was my life’s ambition until 1986. And I remember that day like it was yesterday. Many people refer to it as my generation’s Kennedy assassination, or September 11th.

We were sitting in Mrs. Griffith’s class, and I’d assume the class was reading (since she was the reading teacher). We were in a strange mood that day. We were more difficult to control than usual. And then the Principal came in, walked over to Mrs. Griffith, and whispered something into her ear. Normally when the Principal was in the room, the class would go completely silent. Not this day. I guess we decided that meant it was a good opportunity talk to each other. As the Principal whispered to Mrs. Griffith, we got louder. And louder.

Then she left.

And we kept getting louder.

Mrs. Griffith just sat at her desk, hands folded under her chin, and gazed ahead. Something was obviously wrong. And we kept getting louder. When I noticed her silence, I thought she was upset with us for getting loud and showing disrespect to our Principal.

We finally settled down and she told us the news. There had been an accident. The Space Shuttle Challenger, which had a teacher as part of the crew, had exploded during the liftoff.

The rest of our day was consumed with that news. Teachers rolled TVs into the classrooms and we watched the footage. My friend, Matt, and I, thought there was a conspiracy. And we believed the Libyans were behind it. In those days, everything was the Libyans’ fault (cf. Back to the Future…the scene does have some harsh language, so be warned). And I remember sitting in the living room, watching President Reagan address the nation, stating that we mourn seven heroes who “‘slipped the surly bonds of Earth’ to ‘touch the face of God.’

I think it was on that day that I stopped dreaming of going into space. Realistically, it wasn’t going to happen anyway because I’m not a science or math wiz.

Where were you when you heard about the Challenger explosion?

The picture of me is from first grade. For some reason, I was embarrassed about that and didn’t want to ‘ruin’ my class picture by flashing my toothless grin. In hindsight, it might have made more sense for me to smile. I look like a kid from the 19th century. So stoic. So joyless. That was hardly the case.

“Houston, we have the Force”

Luke’s lightsaber is safely tucked away aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery. Just in case anyonewas looking for it. I’m sure Darth Vader and his posse would never think to look there (just like they’d never think to look on his home planet for his offspring).

I haven’t said it publicly before, but is this really the best use of tax dollars – a publicity stunt for NASA? Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for space exploration. I just wonder if using an antiquated vehicle is really that good of an idea. Just thinking out loud here.