Monday, 27 February 2006


I can't sleep, past the point of lying in bed wondering why I can't sleep. Read a couple of chapters of a book, wandered round the house trying not to wake up the neighbours and then had a think about today (yesterday as was).

I went and did some training and got incredibly frustrated with myself because I simply wasn't explaining something in a way that the person I was with could understand - my fault not their's. I hate it when that happens because however easy it is to blame the other person we all know, deep down, that it's our fault - we're being paid to help them understand a task and if they "don't get it" whose fault can it be?

Anyway. On the way back I stopped for some logs from a petrol station that I use infrequently (it's on the A2 heading towards Canterbury from the M2 if anyone knows it) and while paying for the logs I noticed that for GBP 4.99 they had my favourite film on DVD and what's more it's the two disk edition so it has all the bonus stuff. It's cheap as it's ex-rental but for a fiver? Has to be worthwhile.

People who know me know that I'm passionate about a lot of things, I'm like a cross between a magpie and a rotweiler - I see something interesting and pick it up and then, no matter how hard you might try to stop me, I will not let it go. The space race is one of those things. On a good day ask me to name the crews of the major US flights and I'll tell you. Ask me to describe the final touchdown of Apollo 11 on the lunar surface and and I can show you how the astronauts were standing, how they were controlling the motion of the lunar module and much of what passed between Houston and the crew. Ask which flight did what from 1 - 13 and I can detail the purpose of most. On a better day ask me to name the twelve men who have walked on the moon and I'll get at least 75% of them. Even on my poorest day I'll tell you who died in the fire on what was later designated Apollo 1 and why the accident happened.

I am forever amazed and in awe that men can get themselves to a position of trust and training where they will overcome the survival instinct and allow themselves to be blasted into space - or fly experimental aircraft (two words you would never wish to see next to each other), and it's not just the astronauts but cosmonauts too - Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space, was literally heading into the unknown in 1961 and fuelled the race to the moon. Sputnik, the first artificial satellite was launched the year I was born so I'm a child of the space age (and still only 37!)

On 11th April, 1970 three guys took off in Apollo 13 and that's the film I got today. Of course it's not entirely accurate, Lovell didn't say "We have a problem" he actually said "We've had a prolem", but the film is true in most regads to both Lovell's excellent book and the NASA flight logs (yes I'm that sad!). It's also well acted with Hanks good and Ed Harris excellent as Gene Krantz, a character he seems to get accurately as the other books about the space race all agree with the portrayal of this incredible man who managed a disaster with such skill while facing incredible political pressure as well as the desire to save three lives.

Apollo 13 splashed down on 17th April - the flight lasted just less than 6 days. 29 years later my father died on the same day - another reason Apollo 13 is special to me.

So why karma? Well - it's great karma to simply come across the film like that. It's also good to be reminded that a sense of perspective is needed. The mission gave us "Houston, we've had a problem" but it also gave us "Failure is not an option!"

4 careful considerations:

TRT said...

Seems to be Moon night tonight on BBC 4.

kat said...

I hate it when that happens because however easy it is to blame the other person we all know, deep down, that it's our fault.

I know the feeling but it is a two way thing. Sometimes the other person is trying to relate it to something else and if they don't tell you what they are trying to relate it to, or you can't guess, it can be very difficult. Also, if someone they know and trust has already told them something, which is not quite correct, it is very difficult to turn that round. That's the problem I had last week - And still have this week for that matter.
The whole space thing is fascinating.

Nogbad said...

BBC4??? BBC4??? Bah lad! You're lucky! Here we only get two BBCs - if I watch it twice will that work? It's "Life on Mars" tonight anyway :-)

Yes Kat there are any number of reasons it goes sideways (and I have a few theories about yesterday) but the bottom line is that it wasn't good enough :-(

On the upside - I watched some of the bonus stuff on disk 2 after making that posting and there are interviews with Gene Krantz, the real highlight is when he discusses the final splashdown and they intercut archive footage of mission control with this guy - 20 years later - and in both he's crying over the emotion of it all. I admit I was crying too by that stage. The bonus documentay is about making the film and includes the usual stuff by the actors but it has interviews with those people involved, newsreel footage and NASA archives of the mission. Incredible stuff.

TRT said...

BBC4's "moon night" consists of a documentary on Apollo 11, some reruns of "The Sky at Night", and a liberal sprinkling of an old documentary called "The Clangers".

I watched Life on Mars instead.