Sunday, July 26, 2009

House next door burns down

We came home Sunday to discover the house behind us in flames. It was frightening, especially because I thought it was our house that was on fire as we drove up. (Click on the photo to see a larger size)

Apparently, there was some kind of an explosion, then the flames started. Speculation is that a BBQ may have blown up. Fortunately the family of four got out safely and are uninjured. But the house is a write-off.

I've got some other photos that I'll add to this page later.

One thing this does is make you realize how fast these things happen. I think I should consider more insurance...and make sure I've got off-site back-ups.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Michael Collins: “Carrying The Fire: An Astronaut’s Journeys”

Today is the anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. Andy Ihnatko honoured the day by dragging out his copy of Michael Collins' "Carrying the Fire: An Astronaut's Journeys:" and crafting a very moving and timely blog post:

Last night I got down my copy of “Carrying the Fire: An Astronaut’s Journeys,” Michael Collins’ first-person account of Apollo 11. It’s one of the most marvelous books about the space program ever written. It was published shortly after the landings and stays firmly in the orbit of the events of July 16-24 1969 (the training, the engineering, and the mission itself), but also provides important context and background.

As pilot of the command module, Collins was no idle spectator to the moment when Armstrong and Aldrin became the first to step foot on the Moon. Firstly, because his role was no less important than that of the two astronauts who undocked from the command module and set off for the Sea of Tranquility. Secondly…because he was on the wrong side of the Moon at the time. Ironically enough, he was closer to the event than any other man or woman…but he couldn’t even listen to the radio chatter, let alone watch it live on video.

Andy copied out some of the more memorable parts from Collins' book about the time when Aldrin and Armstrong were down on the surface. It's a great perspective. As Andy notes, after 40 years, we are tempted to take what happened for granted. Reading these first-person accounts make us realize just how gripping and risky it really was. No one knew what was going to happen - they just went ahead and did it.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

A day to remember

Forty years ago today, July 16, 1969, Apollo 11 blasted off into the heavens, bound for the moon and launching a new era in space travel. If you are going to draw up a list of events that re-shaped society, walking on the moon certainly rates as one of them.

To honour the occasion, NASA has launched a special commemorative website, featuring a collection of restored video clips from that historic trip. And "The Big Picture" blog has a great collection of photos culled from that magical trip. I'm amazed how many of those images have become icons that I instantly recognize. (Link to the story)

What were you doing back then? I have a memory of playing little league baseball during that time, although I can't be sure. But I also remember watching the first steps and those pictures from the moon, so I must have been at home when they were on the moon. Or maybe I just remember the pictures from all the times I've seen them over the years.

No matter. It was, and still is, a pivotal event.

Ironically, just yesterday, a Canadian, Julie Payette, headed into space on the Space Shuttle Endeavour, bound for the International Space Station, where another Canadian, Robert Thirsk,
is waiting to greet her. Two Canadians in space at the same time. Another big moment in time worth remembering.