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January 10, 2019

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Do take care, too, Phil. Glad your daughter is coming back.

I am now in my third day of sympathy explosive diarrhea, as is my wife. This is either the Norovirus or our unconscious commitment to solidarity with you. What fun you have!

As I age, I am now frequently reminded of that scene from Apollo 13, just after the shit hits the fan, where Ed Harris in the role of Gene Kranz asks that fateful question: okay what do we have on the ship that works?

You reminded me, years before Tom Wolfe wrote The Right Stuff, he had a four-part serialization in Rolling Stone, from late-1972 through early '73, talking to astronauts but not for attribution. It spanned the whole space program at the time, and it was amazing stuff (I once asked Wolfe if he would revisit this and publish; he laughed but said he was considering it. Oh well.)

Among the things from this series, the astronaut claimed, "I can tell you: no one ever took a dump on the Moon." The Lunar Module didn't have the weight capacity to hold equipment for bowel movements, so the astronauts had to eat food that was binding prior to Lunar Touchdown and just hold it in until they returned to the Command Module. The astronaut also commented on the splashdown, when the Navy frogmen secured the Command Module and then opened the hatch, to the effect of "You can imagine the smell of three grown men who hadn't showered, in the same small space, for two weeks...the frogmen practically went green with the stench and fell back into the ocean..."

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