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Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Distracting Toilet Breaks

Sitting in my hotel room in Madrid this evening, bored out of my mind, I'm zapping through the TV channels. I see "breaking news" on one of the American news channels and I pause to check it out (after all, I am Israeli; so the first thing that comes to mind is "something blew up back home").

I see it's a press conference at NASA so, thinking this is just another shuttle launch, I almost continue my zapping. But the frown on NASA's deputy administrator's face tells me this is more than just another launch. She starts talking about some Lisa Nowak but I can't figure out what's going on. So I log on to Google News and search for "Lisa Nowak". There's this story about a female astronaut (married, mother of 3) who drove from Houston to Orlando to confront a woman she suspected was involved with a colleague male astronaut she herself was involved with. Donned with an air rifle, and wearing a wig to disguise herself, she stalks the woman and sprays her face with pepper spray. Not a very interesting story; just you regular love triangle between space travellers.

But here's the intriguing part. The reporters kept asking questions about Nowak's mental stability. And the NASA deputy administrator talked about the rigorous psychological tests astronauts go through and how Lisa Nowak passed all of these tests. Nobody came right out and called Nowak a nutcase, but they were close enough. Why?

Well, you see, Nowak was in such a hurry to get to her target, that in order to avoid unnecessary toilet breaks on her long car journey halfway across the United States, she wore a... diaper! Yes, a nappy! "A piece of cloth, or other absorbent material, folded and worn as underpants", as defines it.

Ahh, I say to myself, now I understand all those polite questions about mental stability. My boring evening just ended on a perkier note: a nutcase astronaut driving around in a nappy!


Gandalin said...

I don't think the diaper was what marked her as crazy' that was just something she learned from space flight. In the context of space flight, making a 14 hour vehicular trip with a diaper on is simply how it's done.

Sharvul said...


Yes, I know that. Yet there is a difference (and I can't believe I need to point it out). In space, you have no choice. When driving, you can stop for 2 minutes to take a pee. Not to mention driving for hours with a wet diaper, willingly. I think "crazy" is more than appropriate here.

Gandalin said...


Thank you for your response. Certainly the woman is crazy, there's no doubt about that. The entire gestalt is crazy. The entire project is crazy. All I am trying to indicate is that in the context of her training and experience, wearing a diaper to expedite travel is not in and of itself as crazy as you think it is. Once one is accustomed to a practice, even if it is a practice that is unpleasant and objectionable, it no longer seems as unreasonable or objectionable as it does to those who do not practice it. And that applies to much more than wearing a diaper.