All posts by HAL 9000

I was born in 1956 and was very much a child of the 60's and a teenager of the 70's. I was totally enthralled by Manned Spaceflight, having watched with avid interest all the early missions and the with wonder, man actually landing on the moon. Started my working life as an apprentice compositor in the print industry and then with the advent of desktop publishing and the demise of traditional typesetting, ended up working for the best part of twenty years working with various publishing companies. My role was predominantly working supporting the Apple computers, which were used in the production of the various publications that were produced. I left the publishing industry in 2009 and took the opportunity to have a change in career by working for Apple Retail in there store in Bluewater, Kent. I am married and fortunate to live in the beautiful, historic city of Canterbury in the United Kingdom.

Autumn is here and the days are getting shorter . . .

The days are getting shorter now the clocks have been gone back. The trees are letting us know that those summer months are now long past us, by giving us one last glorious flourish of the golds and browns of autumnal colour. Very soon they will be bare and have gone into their long sleep through the coming winter months. Along with those early nights and the smell of bonfires and wet leaves, our minds will inevitably be drawn to Christmas, shopping and the thoughts of spending time with friends and family.

Our ancestors were very wise back in pagen times, when they elected to place a winter festival in and around the years shortest day, giving us something to lift our spirits during those bleakest of winter days.

Spare a thought too for those of us who are affected by SAD. This is the affliction that due to a lack of daylight that accompanies the short autumn and winter days, can trigger feelings of sadness and exacerbate depression in those that suffer from it.

This time of year can be very challening for those that suffer from those illnesses.

I liken it to standing at the foot of a mountain and looking up and thinking, that before you get to see the daylight again, you have a long, long climb before you.

. . . Britain’s got ‘talent’ . . .

I would like to say right from the outset of this post, that I have no knowledge of how the worlds financial systems work.

I guess my level of knowledge – monetary speaking – is the same as most other people out there. I know enough to get by month by month and that is about my limit.

At long last we are getting to hear some good news about the economy here in the UK. It would seem that the UK economy has recovered to the level where it was, just before the sky caved-in during the financial crash of 2008. Those that study these things, are happy about this outbreak of good news about the economy. According to our political masters, this news vindicates the governments economic policies since wresting the reigns of power from the Labour Party in 2010. Continue reading . . . Britain’s got ‘talent’ . . .

A Long and Winding Road

Do you ever wake up in the morning and feel that you are standing at the start of a long and winding road? Because of what I am, I find it hard to reconcile why every day for me seems to much of a challenge. Analogies such as standing in the foothills of Mount Everest or the example that I give above, define how I feel about the start of my day.

Am I alone in thinking this way? I would love to be like those others who I share my life with, who seemingly seem to embrace each day with the sense of joy and relish any new challenges that it may present to them.

I so want to feel like that too. I will instinctively know that I am getting on top of my condition when one day, I wake up and feel that I want to seize the day and all it has to offer with both hands, and run with it like a rugby player or American footballer.

Alas, that is not where I am now. For me each day is something that I fear. The thought of having to interact with others – be they family, work colleagues or customers – fills me with dread and my instinct is not to stand and fight, but recourse to that other default position – flight. When the phone rings, I always think that the person calling has a problem and wishes it be mine, or the bearer of bad news. This is also how I view social interactions in general.

So now, that is why the image that I have chosen for this short post, seems to strike a chord within me. Each day I am having to walk this long road, or climb the mental Everest within me and having to figure out how to interact with people all around me. All the time I am seeking ways to cut those interactions short and looking for physical ways to extract myself from them and make my excuses and withdraw.

Before I even start these routine and everyday social activities, my anxiety levels are running high which ultimately leads to me feeling fatigued, confused and dull-witted.

I hope that one day I will be like all those others who view the start of a new day as something that is celebrated and as such, be embraced. I will know then that I am beginning to face down my demons and starting to walk along a new road, one that has lots of twists and turns and alternative routes that may offer delights and choices that I can only dream of.

. . . long time, no post . . .

It seems like a long time since I posted anything on my blog, for which to anyone out there who have followed what I have written in the past, I apologise profusely for what may seem a lack of commitment on my behalf. As I mentioned in my last post, it is my intention to alter tack completely about the subject-matter that I decide to write about. As much as I love all things related to human and robotic space exploration, I have come to realise that this is not the case for most of you out there. Continue reading . . . long time, no post . . .

. . . long time, no post . . .

It had to happen at some point and I hold my hands up to apologise for falling into that most obvious of traps – ‘Writers Block’ – followed by a period of total malaise and aversion to exercising my brain cells.

The catalyst for this was my spending 10 days in Majorca with my ever patient and supportive wife. The holiday was long overdue, especially for Nancy, for whom this break was needed and well deserved. Continue reading . . . long time, no post . . .

Too Upbeat For Cancer

My post this week is short and – believe it or not – has nothing to do with space, spaceflight or the Apollo Program. For those of you who have read my posts on a regular basis, know that those subjects are what interest me most and I hope if nothing else, I may have increased your knowledge or understanding of those heady days back at the dawn of the space age in the 50’s and 60’s

I am going on holiday to Majorca for 10 days from this Monday onwards and prior to my leaving, had fully intended to unearth another spaceflight related topic to share with you. However, that intent got swept by the wayside when I read a blog that a work colleague has created about his experiences fighting cancer.

My colleague’s name is Nicky Boardman and he is a senior manager at the Apple Retail store where I work at Bluewater here in the United Kingdom.

Nicky had a diagnosis of cancer last year and for the best part of it, has received treatment in the form of chemotherapy for an aggressive form of the disease that is now blighting his life.

Nicky is one of the most upbeat, kind and inspirational guys I have ever had the pleasure of working with. To be so universally loved and thought of in those terms, takes some doing in any walk of life. But considering the height at which Apple has set the bar when it comes to recruiting anyone to work for them, goes some way to explaining just how special a person Nicky is to all his work colleagues.

Having a diagnosis of cancer, is one of those life changing moments that nobody wants. There is no easy way to break that news to someone. The recipient has to figure out how to cope with and then learn to live with, this unwelcome ‘guest’ that has just decided to muscle into their lives.

Nicky – being Nicky – has decided to cope with this unwelcome intrusion in his own unique way by sharing his experiences with anyone who cares to read them, in the form of a blog. Which is why I am sharing this news with you all. It is brilliantly written and comes straight from his heart. It is both witty, eloquent and because Nicky is going through the treatment and writing about it as it happens, deeply personal. It will make you laugh at times and for those who may recently have had a diagnosis of cancer themselves, reading it, might just help tear down some of those inevitable fears of the unknown.

Nicky has called his blog Too Upbeat For Cancer and that title just about encapsulates the spirit of the man and how he is facing down this disease.

I urge everyone to take the time out and read of Nicky and his experiences. The more people who follow him by reading his blog, the more Nicky knows that he is not alone in his battle against it.

Click on this link here and read Nicky’s blog. You will not be disappointed.

Apostles of Apollo

The Apostles of Apollo
The Apostles of Apollo.

I am presently reading a very interesting book that I happened to come across whilst browsing through a week or so back. It is a little known story but one that had to an air of secrecy about it, because of the sensitivity that revolved around the symbolism, politics and religious implications of those who would eventually takes those first steps upon The Moons surface. The title of the book is ‘The Apostles of Apollo’  Carol Mersch. Continue reading Apostles of Apollo

5, 4, 3, 2, 1 – NASA is Go!

5, 4, 3, 2, 1 Thunderbirds are GO!! Along with millions of others – both adults and kids alike – I was expectantly ‘glued’ to the family television on a Thursday evening in September 1965, when the first ever episode of Thunderbirds was shown.

The creators of what was to become an iconic television series, were Gerry and Sylvia Anderson, who would later find more success with their ‘Supermarionation’ puppet format, with series such as ‘Captain Scarlet’, ‘Jo 90’ and a hybrid venture incorporating both real life actors and model machines – ‘UFO’, which I personally felt was a very underrated TV series. Continue reading 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 – NASA is Go!


We live in incredible times.

Today I checked out the NASA website as I always do and saw a news feature that immediately caught my eye. Under the heading ‘NASA Space Assets Detect Ocean inside Saturn Moon’ the article went on to describe some data which has been returned from the Cassini mission robotic explorer which indicated that it may have detected an ocean underneath the ice that covers one of Saturn’s moons – Enceladus. Continue reading “ALL THESE WORLDS ARE YOURS . . . “

From the Pillars of the Earth to The Moon

Ken Follett
Ken Follett, author of The Pillars of The Earth and World Without End.

A few days ago, I had the good fortune to attend an evening presentation given in the Crypt of Canterbury Cathedral. The subject of the presentation was to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the first publication of his novel ‘The Pillars of the Earth’ and it was being delivered by none other than the author himself – Ken Follett.

Collaborating with ‘Waterstones’ – a well-known chain of book stores here in the United Kingdom – Ken Follett is marking this auspicious landmark by delivering a series of presentations in the crypts of a select few cathedrals to mark the occasion. And what could be a more atmospheric setting or right place for a presentation celebrating both this book and its sequel – ‘World Without End’ – than for it being delivered from the crypt of one of these timeless buildings. Continue reading From the Pillars of the Earth to The Moon