This morning I am on my way to visit a long lost friend. When I was younger I used to attend summer camps out on the cape. We would spend the days playing various sports, out on the river rowing, cooking and singing by the fire. It was all very picturesque and twee. Every summer I would team up with a boy called Eddie Herder to cause mischief and play pranks on our camp leaders. We’d put mattresses on beds and replace the milk with orange juice. We wouldn’t really speak during the year but every summer we would get back to our old ways as if our lives were built for that purpose. We lost touch as we grew[…]

Unlike most people, I’m not fond of weekends. I like to be kept busy, and for many people the weekend is suddenly this time when you’re free to do whatever you please. I haven’t really found many hobbies thus far, and I don’t really get into traditional television entertainment, so I spend most of them wandering aimlessly in an attempt to occupy my mind. I’ve been conditioned to be busy. There was ALWAYS something to do on the space station, at every hour of the day. Even when you took a break, they were short and the back of your mind was thinking about the next thing to do. That’s just how my mind works now, forever. This last Saturday[…]

You know what kind of glass they use in space shuttles? I know, everybody is probably wondering, since spaceships have to go into space (funnily enough) and you can’t have a stray rock or bird flying into the windscreen and sucking everyone into the vacuum. I’ll tell you: it’s three separate layers of different types of glass specially designed to withstand heat, and placed at the back of shuttle to avoid the hypersonic speed of reentry burning them to a crisp. I remember learning this way back in the academy, back when my life had purpose and drive. Now I sometimes look out of my windows at home and imagine I’m back there, thinking back to the inky blackness of[…]

You get used to the quiet, being in space. Perhaps that’s the first thing you notice once you’re up there: the world’s chatter, just…fading away. Like it never existed in the first place. It went from peaceful to strange, and later went back to peaceful as the hum of the engine and equipment faded into the background and you begin to become used to the overwhelming quiet. It’s really quite nice, in fact. Then I got back to Earth, and it’s just noise all the time. I couldn’t even sleep for the first night because of the possums in the trees, and the birds all chirping at some awful time. In my first week in this house I had to[…]

I like things to be quiet, which is why I’m dreading summer. All the kids run out in the street to play, and the noise they make is just plain oppressive. There’s no other way to describe it: downright oppressive. Then we have the ultimate party house next door, which just drives me to insanity when they open all the windows and blare their horrible tunes. I’m tempted to buy them an air conditioning unit and leave it on the doorstep anonymously, just so they’ll keep all the windows closed. Might get some peace. I’ve never been into sport, but I have a friend from my school days who’s repeatedly asking if I can come along on one of his[…]

Had a spare evening, so I thought I’d see what this television thing is that people keep going on about. Yes, I know what TV is, but I just haven’t been interested since I got back to Earth. It was rubbish programing when I left, and I doubt things have improved. Up in the space station we made our OWN entertainment, often with bits of string and faded playing cards. They weren’t the best games, but it didn’t matter. Our fun threshold was way down. Funnily enough, something on television did hook my interest, although I’m fairly sure that it was a children’s programme so perhaps that’s a bad sign. Power Rangers it was called, about these park rangers with[…]

One of the things you notice when you’ve spent time away from earth is the amount of noise everywhere. When I talk about noise, I am not referring to sound waves emitted as a byproduct of life as it occurs, I’m talking instead about interference. Clutter. Unnecessary messages that we are subliminally bombarded with every time we step outside. In space, there’s no advertising, no careful positioning of labels or cues to make you say ‘yes, I need this’. Up there, all you know is that you need to eat and you need to sleep, you have no choice in products and so it doesn’t matter. What I have to admire is the immensity of colour and talent that goes into[…]

People have some serious misconceptions about astronauts. They think that we eat pills for breakfast and that we spend our time floating around in a capsule. While it’s true that we eat carefully packaged and highly condensed foods, and we’re in superb physical shape which allows us to adapt to the lack of gravity conditions, it’s far from the cliche. Another misconception is that astronauts care not for their physical appearance. I guess Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong probably gave the world that impression. But it’s not true. Some of us are quite into pruning and manscaping, and take pride in our looks. Since my daughter has been doing her makeup courses in Brisbane, I’ve learnt a lot about how[…]

Used to be that you could turn on the TV and watch whatever came on. I don’t want to make myself sound too old, but reality TV just wasn’t around when I was growing up and it shows in what the young folks of today are really into. Sometimes I’ll turn on the TV a for a bit of a curious squizz and I’ll see all sorts of inane rubbish. Oh, ten idiots living in a house. How does that qualify as entertainment? I come back to Melbourne and TV antennas have popped up all over the place. Really, sticking out of every roof. You know where we didn’t have TV? That’s right…space. We picked up a lot of signals,[…]

People think that there are no trees in space. They are wrong. We had one in our capsule. It had actually been planted into a giant pot  during construction of the shuttle and allowed to grow. By the time it was due for us to go up into space, the tree was flourishing. It was an attractive feature of our space shuttle. I have to say we might have gone stir crazy if it wasn’t for old Bella (that’s what we called the tree). It was a cherry blossom tree that was genetically modified to be flowering roughly one week out of every month instead of for a few weeks every year. The psychologists working on the project made a[…]