I Met an Astronaut

Once, I met Scott Carpenter, one of the Original 7 Astronauts.

I was attending some University of Colorado dinner, around 1997-98, as I recall, in Vail Colorado. Scott Carpenter, a native Coloradoan, was there as a guest of honor. I have often wondered if the rich and famous get tired of regular people asking them the same questions all the time, so I racked my brain for something that I wanted to know, but that Carpenter would have rarely, if ever, been asked.

I introduced myself and asked him how it felt to ride an Atlas rocket. Judging by his facial expression, he hadn’t had that asked of him ever. As I remember, he said it was a smooth ride.

At the time, I was working at US West, the baby bell phone company for the US mountain west. I was working on “loop qualification” for Digital Subscriber Lines, the phone company’s preferred method of delivering broad band internet service. We talked about that for a while, he wanted to know if he could or couldn’t get DSL service at his luxurious Vail residence. I gave him my work phone number, and forgot about it.

A couple of weeks later, I got a call from Carpenter. While he was on the line, I looked up the circuit for his phone number. His Vail residence was a long way from the phone company’s central office, where the DSL hardware was located.

I explained. He said, “So the Coulomb resistance is just too high?” I agreed, that was the truth. He thanked me, and hung up.