I once heard a story that went as follows:
The Space Shuttle and the Horse's Rear End
Did you know that the US Standard railroad gauge (distance between the rails) is 4 feet, 8 1/2 inches.
That's an odd number. Why was that gauge used?
Because that's the way they built them in England, and the US railroads were built by English expatriates.
But why did the English build them like that?
Because the first railway lines were built by the same people who built the pre-railroad railways, and that's the gauge they used.
Well, why did they use that gauge in England?
Because the people who built the railways used the same jigs and tools that they used for building wagons, which used that wheel spacing.
Okay! Why did their wagons use that odd wheel spacing?
Because, if they tried to use any other spacing the wagon wheels would break on some of the old, long distance roads. Because that's the spacing of the old wheel ruts.
So who built these old rutted roads?
The first long distance roads in Europe were built by Imperial Rome for the benefit of their legions. The Roman roads have been used ever since.
And the ruts?
The original ruts, which everyone else had to match for fear of destroying their wagons, were first made by the wheels of Roman war chariots. Since the chariots were made for or by Imperial Rome they were all alike in the matter of wheel spacing.
Thus, we have the answer to the original question. The United States standard railroad gauge of 4 feet, 8 1/2 inches derives from the original specification for an Imperial Roman army war chariot.
That’s right, Because the Imperial Roman chariots were made to be just wide enough to accommodate the back-ends of two war-horses.
So, just what does this have to do with the exploration of space?
Well, there's an interesting extension of the story about railroad gauge and horses' behinds. When we see a Space Shuttle sitting on the launch pad, there are two big booster rockets attached to the sides of the main fuel tank. These are the solid rocket boosters, or SRBs. The SRBs are made by Thiokol at a factory in Utah. The engineers who designed the SRBs might have preferred to make them a bit fatter, but the SRBs had to be shipped by train from the factory to the launch site.
The railroad from the factory runs through a tunnel in the mountains. The SRBs had to fit through that tunnel. The tunnel is slightly wider than a railroad track, and the railroad track is about as wide as two horses' behinds.
So, a major design feature of what is arguably the world's most advanced transportation system was originally influenced by the width of a horse's rear end.
Step Two: A Power Greater Than Ourselves
I love all of the 12 steps, but step two is one that gives us the hope so many of us were and are searching for. With step two we learn that we are not alone, and that something greater than ourselves can help to conquer addiction and despair.
Becoming a sober person, free of your addictions means a restoration to sanity. In AMP we learn that by working the 12 steps the restoration is happening in part because addiction and its accompanying insanity are not controlling our lives anymore.
All of the words of the 12 steps are very specifically chosen, which is another thing I really love about working with them. The second step doesn’t say “We came to believe in a power greater than ourselves” it says, “We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.” That’s the beauty–we are invited to begin to think about what our higher power can be.
The emphasis is not on who or what the power is, but on what the power can do for us. Out group itself certainly qualifies as a power greater than ourselves (our fellowship is in the powerful and growing stronger weekly) as do the spiritual principles contained in the 12 steps.
The awareness and understanding that we can’t recover alone and that we need some kind of help is really the lesson at this point in recovery. The spiritual principles that are the foundation of this step are open mindedness, willingness, faith, trust and humility. It really doesn’t matter whether we have any idea of how this power greater than ourselves is going to help, just that we come to believe it is possible.
I have come to believe that by being in our fellowship, with the aid of the 12 steps, that I can walk through the painful times in recovery knowing that an end is near, this too shall pass and there is always light at the end of darkness, as I stay sober and continue to work the steps.
But it’s important to remember that step two, like all of them, is a process, not an event.
I think of the ocean that I love... I love watching the waves, where I see parallels to our sobriety, and they complement each other beautifully. It just doesn’t get much better than the vast and powerful blue water, looking out over the horizon and enjoying the waves...
Life and sobriety are often like the waves of the ocean, I am sure like me, you have seen some rough waters. Sometimes there are lulls and gentle waves, other times the crashing ferocity of huge swells! Both require patience, humility, and presence, forgiveness and a faith or trust in something uncontrollable, and much bigger than me.
My Name is Dean P I am a grateful believer in Jesus Christ, striving for moral and sexual purity.