“Who wouldn’t want to go to space?” says Jay Miner, a 1994 Toll Gate graduate who is in the running for a trip to outer space.
Red Gate Software, an England-based company that produces tooling for technology professionals, is sponsoring the contest with the winner being selected by online voting, which ends Tuesday. He and 14 other database administrators (DBA) from the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and Germany are vying for the honor. The winner will be announced on Dec. 20.
While he lives in San Francisco, Miner works as a DBA for Boston’s Appalachian Mountain Club. He said he entered the contest online by answering a series of questions he described as simple and straightforward “a while ago” and then forgot about it.
“It didn’t occupy much of my mind,” Miner said. “For the moment, it seems like a distant chance but I think it’s a neat opportunity. If I get to go, it will be pretty remarkable.”
Miner is no stranger to traveling to far-away lands, as he has lived in Mexico, West Africa, East Africa, Europe and New York. He has made California home for nearly five months.
He alerted his parents of the possible space excursion via e-mail and wrote, “So, I just found out that I’m one of 15 finalists for a trip to space. No, I’m not at all kidding.”
While he said the idea might sound “preposterous,” his parents aren’t shocked. The common response he’s received from his loved ones is, “Only you.”
Yet, his father Jeff was a bit taken off guard.
“I said, ‘Really?’” said Jeff, who ironically applied for the Take a Teacher to Space Program in the late 1980s, as he taught English at Pilgrim High School for 28 years before becoming the Department Head at Aldrich and later Toll Gate. He additionally taught at the Community College of Rhode Island and retired in 2008.
Miner said his family is used to him coming up with interesting destinations to visit. In fact, when he told his parents he was going to West Africa, his mother’s response was, “Thank God. You were boring the hell out of us.”
“I think it’s getting harder to surprise them,” said Miner. “I’ve gotten into the habit where I have a job for a couple of years and then end up traveling and starting the process again.”
While in Mexico, he developed a deep interest in the country and learned some Spanish. This fueled his desire to explore more of Latin America and he hopes to visit again.
“It made me realize there are broad swaths of the planet I haven’t been able to set foot on,” Miner said.
Now he’s adding space to the wish list. He said he’s uncomfortable promoting himself but he’s still shooting for the stars.
“Every little kid wants to be an astronaut,” he said. “I think the topic is fascinating. Up until now I didn’t consider it as something that would cross my path, but I’d really like to go.”
The contest ends Tuesday at 7 a.m. but if readers see this article beforehand, they can vote by visiting https://www.dbainspace.com/finalists/jay-miner.
The contest page lists one question for each contestant. For Miner, his question reads, “What would be your first Tweet in space?” Tweeting is a way of sharing information on the social network Twitter.
“I wonder what this button does.”