January 03, 2019 Dutch astronaut and physician, Andre Kuipers (1958- ), fumbled his telephone and dialed 911 instead of 011 for an international call. This caused quite an emergency scramble. Hopefully Dr. Kuipers is not a surgeon.
There are numerous problems with this event. First, did you even know there were Dutch astronauts? I did not. Where is their space program? Do they use environmentally sanctioned wind power from gigantic windmills instead of rockets or perhaps methane gas from vast fields of decomposing tulips?
Who was Andre calling? Was he wanting to order a Dutch fast food delivery, french fries with mayonnaise (ugh!) maybe or a fried sausage such as a frikandel? How was it going to be delivered to the International Space Station (ISS)?
Do Dutch astronauts wear klompen/wooden boots and must they leave them outside the space station? Are the Dutch involved in the space race because of their interest in the hypothetical canals to maybe be found on Mars? Ever since Italian astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli (1835-1910) postulated he had discovered canals on Mars and American astronomer Percival Lowell (1855-1916) wrote his book Mars and Its Canals countries have been interested in finding out if there was, and maybe is, some advanced civilization on Mars. Maybe the Dutch are curious.
I was not aware there is a fairly normal means of telephone communication from space to Earth. All ISS calls are routed through Houston before making further AT&T connections. Don’t you wonder where they put the poles and towers? According to the news reports of Kuipers’ accidental call, the connection from ISS to Earth was amazingly good and clear. Well, Gentle Reader, let me tell you our AT&T line in rural Posey County is about as reliable as two tin cans and a string. How come one can phone to and from thousands of miles in space without hearing “Houston, we have a problem” when Peg and I frequently cannot call our neighbors across Durlin Road?
Another question Andre Kuipers erratic phone call raised is, does the space station get robo calls asking about their credit cards or their health status? Are they only free from these infuriating interruptions when they are on the dark side of the moon? Can they put the ISS on a Do Not Call List?
Anyway, these are a few of the deep, perplexing thoughts I have been having while worrying if the astronauts are suffering from cabin fever or are simply lonely for contact with the rest of us 8 billion humans? However, I must now return to Earth as Peg is demanding I run into New Harmony and order a pizza at the Yellow Tavern. She said she tried to call it in but couldn’t get a connection!