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2003-02-01 - 11:45 a.m.

BF got back from his business trip to Houston, Nacogdoches, and Lake Charles last night. Of course, I had plenty of errands waiting for him. As he was stringing up another set of lights for my tomato and pepper seedlings, I decided to check the internet. It showed a picture from someone's amateur video, claiming that the space shuttle Columbia went down over Nacogdoches. A short while later, a NASA official confirmed that the space shuttle blew up at 200,000 feet and rained down in pieces all over northeast Texas, with a huge debris field in Nacogdoches. The crew could not have survived. We don't know yet if anyone was killed on the ground in Nacogdoches or elsewhere, but we are keeping our fingers crossed. The shuttle came down in pieces, like the Russian satellite that BF and I saw come down many years ago over Grand Isle.

The space shuttle Columbia is the one that BF was allowed to touch and walk under many years ago when he won the International Science Fair.

tiles on underside of Columbia, 1981

detail, tiles, underside of Columbia space shuttle, photographed with an instamatic camera

1981, all rights reserved, by Roger Williams

This is worse than the Challenger because of all the suspicion on top of all the sadness. One of the astronauts was the first Israeli astronaut. NASA says that they had their tightest security ever, but you can't help but wonder. There is no such thing as an uncomplicated tragedy any more. There has to be evil little fears of: Did someone plan this? Would we be informed if they did? I called D. to see if he had heard the explosion in New Mexico -- they said you could hear it in New Mexico as well as Texas -- but he'd left New Mexico last night. Then I felt terrible that I had awakened him to such news. D. says that terrorists will take advantage of the doubts to take credit and spread confusion, and I wouldn't put it past them.

Someone has made mention now of securing the crash site, and the word "quarantine" was even used once. Does that mean people can't get in or out of Nacogdoches? If so, I'm even more relieved that BF wasn't stuck there over the weekend.

The people in the crew were in their forties. It just seems too young. You finally get to an age where you start to know something, and you're taken.

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