Asides

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 . . .

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.

. . . “affirmative Dave, I can hear you . . . “


Beginners Guide to the HAL 9000 Computer

I have had a number of people ask me what significance the HAL 9000 image has with last post that I published, in which I described the problems I had in retrieving my repeat prescription.

The iconic sequence of the Pan Am space clipper approaching the giant rotating space station.
The iconic sequence of the Pan Am space clipper approaching the giant rotating space station. It is during this part of the film that we are transported to the present and the we become almost fellow travellers on the Pan Am space clipper which is taking Dr Heywood Floyd to the orbiting space station.  It is during this sequence, that viewers senses become immersed by the visual, ballet like sequence of the clipper and space station docking; accompanied by the inspired choice of ‘The Blue Danube’ as the soundtrack. Up until this point of the film, there has been no dialogue to accompany the visual spectacle which has so far been viewed. Other than the sight and sounds of the primeval grunts and shrieks of our human ancestors and the various other creatures of the pre-history scenes, the first conversation takes place as Dr Floyd is welcomed aboard the orbiting space station after the successful docking between it and the space clipper. So successful has been this docking scene – along with ‘The Blue Danube’ soundtrack that accompanies it – many people find themselves becoming automatically transported to this iconic sequence upon hearing it. After his brief visit to the orbiting space station, Dr Floyd will embark for his onward journey via the Moon shuttle to the American ‘Clavius Base’, whereupon he will then brief everyone there about the implications of the discovery of the ‘Monolith’ which has been recently uncovered during a geographical excavation nearby. For those of you who may not either be interested, or are too young to remember, HAL was one of the more unusual star characters to come out of the 1968 seminal film “2001 A Space Odyssey”, which was a collaborations between the visionary film Director – Stanley Kubrick – and the great Science Fiction author and pioneer of the theory of geostationary orbits – Arthur C. Clarke.

For those who know me and now hopefully – those that know me for my written posts – it must be pretty obvious by now, that I am something of an aging ‘Space Cadet’.  This being the case, the film 2001has had a lot to do with my lifelong interest in all things Spaceflight related.

After many years of collusion and researching what the future may hold for mankind in and around the year 2000, this joint venture of a film was finally released around Christmas time of the year 1968. They say fortune rewards the brave and this films release could not have been more fortuitous, in that it was finally able to be viewed by the general public at the time Apollo 8 had become the first manned spaceflight ever to leave low Earth orbit and then orbit The Moon. Continue reading . . . “affirmative Dave, I can hear you . . . “

From Mercury to The Moon – Alan Shephard


It had been a long journey for Alan Shepard, both in time and the sacrifices he had to make in his life to be at the place he was now. The defining moment of all of these things; long hours of training, the frustration of looking from the outside in, had now taken him to this pivotal moment in time and space – literally.

Continue reading From Mercury to The Moon – Alan Shephard

For All Mankind: Vintage NASA Photographs 1964 – 1983


There are five things that I own that I covet above all else – other than my wife and family of course.

These possessions are as follows and the order that I commit them to this post, does not in any way place one above the other in my affections.

Continue reading For All Mankind: Vintage NASA Photographs 1964 – 1983

. . . . sobering thoughts when you are boldly going . . .


Alan Shepard arriving at Launch Complex 5.
Commander Alan Shepard walks to the launch pad on the morning of America’s first manned space mission at Launch Complex 5, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, May 5th 1961. Image courtesy of NASA. Retrieved from NASA 29/01/2014.

‘It’s a very sobering feeling to be up in space and realize that one’s safety factor was determined by the lowest bidder on a government contract.’

Alan Shepard . . . first American astronaut to enter space and walked on The Moon as Commander of the Apollo 14 Mission

NASA Day Of Remembrance


Today – January 31st 2014 – NASA officially remembers those astronauts who lost there lives whilst engaged in the pursuit of human space exploration.

NASA Centers throughout the United States will be marking this occasion and there will be a wreath laying memorial attended by NASA Administrator Charles Bolden at Arlington National Cemetery, Washington DC.

Continue reading NASA Day Of Remembrance

For those who paid the highest price of all . . .


January is a notable and poignant month in the history of NASA Manned Spaceflight. The exploration of space – like all human exploration that has preceded it – has had its share of triumphs and tragedies.

Invariably, to undertake such challenges as the human exploration of space, requires pushing the envelope not only of science and technology, but also the courage of those who volunteer to man the vehicles that enable them to leave the surface of our planet and enter the realm of space.

Continue reading For those who paid the highest price of all . . .

Dryden Research Center to be renamed in honour of Neil Armstrong


Neil Armstrong and X-15 rocket plane.
Neil Armstrong standing in front of an X-15 developmental rocket plane of which he was one of a group of experimental test pilots. The NASA Hugh L. Dryden Flight Research Center is going to be re-named as the Neil A. Armstrong Flight Research Center, in honour of his lifetime achievements as an aviator, astronaut and the first human being to walk on the surface of the moon. Picture credit: NASA.