Years ago, we had a CST-100 mockup spacecraft in the high bay at our building at Ellington.  I was tasked to install some lipstick cameras inside so that when the engineers and Astronauts were working inside, we could see and record what they were doing and talking about.  Lipstick cameras are small HD cameras that are cylindrical in shape and a little larger than a tube of lipstick. In fact, if you did not know what they were, you probably would not guess that it was an HD camera.  I requested four lipstick cameras from Boeing in Seattle which they promptly sent.  When we unboxed them, there were two new ones still in the original packaging.  One looked new but was obvious that it had been used before.  The fourth one was wrapped in bubble wrap and looked like it had been abused. The paint was chipped and it had a small dent on the side. 

We mounted the new ones in the prime areas of the spacecraft mockup to see close up shots of the people in the seats, the third one with an overall view of the flight deck and the last one, the beat up one, at the hatch looking in. 

When we did a test recording, the video quality varied.  At first, we thought it was due to the lighting.  We changed the lighting best we could within limits of what is supposed to be inside the spacecraft.  In other words, we could not add any lights, only adjust what was in there best we could.  Not much difference. I moved the cameras around and we got a little better video.  Then I had the idea of moving the beat-up camera into one of the primary positions.  When we did a short recoding of where it was now, I could not believe the difference, the quality was night and day.  That beat up camera had such a better picture that we kept in in one of the primary locations.

Later I called the guy in Seattle that sent us those cameras.  I asked him about that beat up one.  He said that they used it on the first 787 test flights. It was mounted to one of the landing gears and flew through all kinds of conditions.  It flew through extreme weather with the gears down and up.  They landed on a runway that had 6 inches of water to test the aircrafts response to high speed in water and how it stopped.  He said that camera performed flawlessly for all the aircraft tests.  He went on to say that when they were removing it from the landing gear, they accidently dropped it, that is where the dent came from.  When they got back inside, they tested the camera to see if it worked after being dropped. It still made great video.  Since it had out performed in all aspects of tough conditions, they sent it to us since we were going to use it in the spacecraft mock-up.

Funny thing about that batch of lipstick cameras, they were all the same brand and model and purchased at the same time, yet this one stood out as the best performer.  

I learned something from this.  Appearances can be deceiving.  The brand-new ones that had never been used should have been the better performers.  The one that went through extreme conditions should have been the lesser performer and probably left on the shelf.  But it ended up being so much better than the others.

I think of how I react to people according to their appearance.  Some of the best and smartest people are not the ones you would think judging by appearance.  Some people who have been through some really tough times have so much to offer as a survivor that we should pay more attention to them.