Sunday, July 20, 2008

Where were you, when --?!

They do say that everyone who was alive at the time (and old enough) can still remember where they were and what they were doing when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Adrin got their boots firmly onto the surface of the Moon. (These days, 39 long years later, it would probably be prudent to explain to most people that Armstrong didn't ride a bike there. It's been ... a wee while since it all happened.)

On this side of the dateline at least, it's July 20th, and I can't help remembering the night when it happened. I was a little kid, but old enough to still remember sitting by the hearth with my parents, watching, entranced, as the drama unfolded in glorious black-and-white ... that being the capacity of our TV. Fortunately, the Moon, and spacesuits, and space, tend to actually BE black and white, so it turned out the upmarket folks with the color tellies didn't benefit much -- and some of them actully phoned up the broadcasters, asking why they were receiving black and white pictures. Because, sir or madame, Outer Space is black and white. It's Star Trek that's in color. Easyto see how you could confuse the two. Neil Armstrong, Bill Shatner? Amazing likeness, there. Twins, I agree. It's the pointed ears, they're a dead giveaway.

Next year will be the 40th anniversary, and one would hope something major will be done to mark it. The technology has become antequated, and the fact Project Apollo was little more than a political maneuver in the Cold War has become public knowledge, which tends to somewhat tarnish the early space program. But, damn, it was a thrill when it was happening for real.

And yes, the little kids who watched it happen (I was one) really did think humans would be on Mars by the turn of the century. Our teachers used to tell us to study hard, 'cuz we'd have the chance to live and work in space.

Right. Uh huh. Okay. In retrospect, you have to wonder how naive we all were, but -- shoot, it was fun while it lasted. The dream ebbed away during the 1970s, when the public became bored with moon missions. (South Australian TV didn't even cover them. We had bigger things to spend broadcast time on, like "Hey, Hey, It's Saturday!", and the "The Don Lane Show.") But I do believe the whole thing is going to turn full circle.

In fact (if anyone's interested -- and actually, it's pretty interesting) I updated the whole article, "The Future According to Mel Keegan," for the NARC page, just recently. Let me save you a trip to the website:

A history of the future, starting ... well, right now!

The original article is four years old now (and archived right under this one on the same page), and I gotta tell you, it's a little bit creepy, how 'right' ol' Mel picked it. Have a squiz, see what you think -- let me know.

The next 10 - 15 years could easily be as exciting as '65-'75. Here's hoping.

Otherwise, the dead calm of the Mel-o-sphere continues, and is so featureless a horizon that I'm going to upload pictures instead.

Today, I'm pasting in Alaskan shots, largely for Aussie and European visitors (of whom there are many -- and thank you, all, for dropping by!) ... tomorrow I'll paste in Australian pics, for US'n and European visitors (again, thanks for visiting, and don't be strangers, now!) ...

NOTE: pictures are parked on Jade's Flickr account for sheer convenience at this time. Keegan took 'em, but if you want to use 'em elsewhere, contact either one of us either via Flickr, or the blog or the website...

Potter Marsh, the bird sancuary just below the suburb of Rabbit Creek, on the shores of Turnagain Arm, maybe 12 minutes outside Anchorge itself. Glorious place ... so quiet, you can actually hear yourself think. Imagine that. It's even more quiet in the wintertime, but on this day in the summer of 1999, the salmon were running and the creeks were teeming...

You would not believe the miles I covered in this little car. It's a mid-1990s Pontiac Sunfire, and on this particular day it was parked on the far side (reckoning distance from Anchorage) of Belugah Point, somewhere between Bird and Girdwood. That's Turnagain Arm in the background. The Chugach is a mountain range which surrounds the city and seems to guard it like a fortress.

Here's food for thought. Sure, it's a gas station. Tesoro Alaska, not too far from the Portage exit, as I recall (or is it the one closer to Girdwood??) ... but, take a look at the price of gas!

This might even have been the same day ... I'm honestly clueless. Moose, grazing in the puddles off the side of the road along Turnagain, maybe 20 minutes out of Anchorage. Daddy Moose is the guy with the 'rack' of antlers, obviously.

And here's the city of Anchorage itself, seen from the Coastal Trail, Earthquake Park. The fluttering blobs in the foreground are swallows, which nest in the cliffs.

More tomorrow, either pics or blather, if anything has actually happened in this neck of the woods worth the blathering space!

Ciao for now,

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