Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Earth in its full glory

A couple of days ago, Derek posted a link to an image of the Moon's south pole. That picture was derived from data generated by a European spacecraft called SMART-1. The picture reminded me of another space achievement.

In 1994, a space probe called Clementine was launched. Its mission was to space-test on-board electronics, gather more information about the Moon, and then continue on to a minor planet called Geographos, to do similar things.

During the maneuvre to reorient and propel Clementine to the final target, an attitude control thruster malfunctioned, which made the gathering of data at Geographos almost impossible (the spacecraft was put into a rapid spin). Instead, Clementine was put into a geostationary orbit to explore the effects of the Earth's van Allen radiation belt on spacecraft electronics.

Before all this, though, Clementine generated specialized maps of the Moon, and in the process, took some impressive images. One that strikes me particularly is this one of the Earth as seen over the Moon's north pole (at left - source: USGS). It shows the continent of Africa, almost totally clear of clouds. Click on the image to enlarge it.

What a contrast with the gray and desolate surface of the Moon.

Saturday, September 20, 2008


I've not posted anything in more than a week - this is due to my being very busy in my (home-based) business. Reading Derek's blog, though, has prompted me to make a couple of comments.

Derek's theme in that post relates to depression and the effects it has on the person and families and friends. My comment is: I've been there. In 1970, after the treatments for the cancer I was fighting at the time were finished, I went into a very deep, clinical depression; the cause - the surgery, radiation, or the thought that everything that could be done had been done, and that now only time would tell - I don't know. The medications prescribed to me at that time did not improve the situation; the depression went on for months. The final treatment, resulting in an absolutely miraculous cure from my point of view, was electroshock treatment. I went through four sessions, and after the last one, I had my life back. I know that my wife went through hell when I was depressed, and, as Derek said, when you marry for better or for worse, it is the "worse" that strengthens a marriage.

Check the links in Derek's blog. Our daughter-in-law is also dealing with this. I want to repeat what she says in her comments and re-emphasize that depression can be successfully treated - do not hesitate to get professional help.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


Last weekend, Derek organized a Bar-B-Que in the house and garden for Airdrie and my wife, who are turning 40 and 70 respectively. Derek and I are both lucky to have these intelligent and attractive women share our lives. And it looks like the line of women like them will continue on in our family. Both our granddaughters (Derek and Airdrie's daughters) look like they are already well on their way to that admirable state.

This party was a potluck dinner, so there was lots of food. Derek and Airdrie invited all their friends and gave us a free hand to invite ours, too. Our rec room saw an unaccustomed party as well. Derek's friends obviously had read my previous blog, and gave the old sound system a good workout. A good time was had by all, Derek's cousin Tarya had organized a fire dance performance, and the party, which started at 2pm, finished around midnight. Most of the food went - we finished eating leftovers yesterday.

Thank you, Airdrie and Derek for organizing everything, and thanks to all our friends for making it such a big success.

More pictures here: