Q: What initially sparked your interest in science?
A: I was a little kid. I think I was playing Crazy 8’s, this card game, on the front porch and I got stung by a bee and it was traumatic. I was freaking out. And then my mom put ammonia on it and somehow it neutralizes the proteins in the bee sting, it denatures them somehow and makes it feel better. And the ammonia bottle has a skull and crossbones on it and I thought “She’s trying to kill me!” which I can understand. It was fascinating because my brother had a chemistry set back when they were cool and dangerous, and he could make an ammonia-smelling compound in the palm of your hands. And the whole thing was fascinating. I think I was three years old and I thought science was cool.
Q: Do you attend a lot of launches at Cape Canaveral?
A: Well, yeah. I’ve been to more than a lot of people, I guess, but I’m not a professional rocket-launch viewer.
Q: Have you ever been to an Apollo launch?
A: Not Apollo but two shuttle launches and I’ve been to Maven, Juno, Curiosity. I tried to see Opportunity, the Mars rover, go but I had to leave before (the launch). But also I was there for New Horizons. That was spectacular. And I was there for LightSail and I hope to be there for LightSail 2 coming up this spring. I hope to be there for both – the first launch of the Falcon Heavy and the second launch. If you haven’t seen a rocket launch, it’s really cool. It was spectacular.
George Dickie has been a features writer for Gracenote/Tribune Media Services since 1989, when “Hee-Haw” was still on the air and George “Goober” Lindsay was his first interview. His early interviews ranged from Jim Henson and Dick Van Dyke to Phil Collins and the Dixie Chicks.