FROM 2-2. Equator-Dutch Harbor

3002.21 16938.19 A lopsided tribute.

John Grunsfeld
About a century ago, when I was a kid, a young guy called Lonnie Donegan and his Skiffle Group (yeah! That long ago!)made a record called ‘I left my chewing gum on the bedpost overnight’. I was idly contemplating the beauty of all this ocean and sky out here – plenty of time for that in these long, hot, empty, dreamy days – and I felt the stiletto tip of envy just brushing past the membranes of my heart. I think I wrote about him before, when I heard he’d got the guernsey for the gig, but there’s a guy at NASA who most of you have never heard of, and I expect he’d like to keep it that way, who has got the job that I would most like to have, in all this world at least. His name is John Grunsfeld and he was at the LSU Symposium where this silliness began. Sometime soon, John is off back to the Hubble Telescope for, I think, his third time, to service it and add new goodies – probably the last mission ever to do this. He will be thoroughly sick of chewing gum and lost spanner jokes, but perhaps, John, when you get out there, you could turn the thing around and take one last loving series of pictures of the Earth. Bring back a copy for me and leave one up there in memory so that when we destroy the planet or the Vogons arrive with their yellow tip trucks to take it all away and, in their usual sloppy fashion, fail to check that they have finished the job, the Hubble will drift off and perhaps some new life form anthropologist will have the technology and the imagination to recreate the images and appreciate just how stunningly, sublimely lovely it all was. Good luck mate! I’ll have a cold Coopers for you when I come to collect my copy – perhaps if we get this old barge across the top and go home via Houston?

We’re in the calm before the – what? Oily swell, no wind, tiniest ruffles on the water, big build up of cloud to the NW and dire warnings from Met Japan about the depression forming out there. We’re due for about 35 kts from the SW tomorrow sometime, but all that might change before you get to read this.

Classic example of a safety feature that causes so many problems that it is preferable not to have it at all – a bit like some virus checkers. Easymail is the software for the SatC device we use for Inmarsat communications – free weather downloads etc, plus safety and distress messages and it can be tracked, but very expensive if used for email. Really useful bit of kit. When the Inmarsat system sends a distress or urgent message, Easymail takes over the receiving computer and puts a big flashing message on the screen. If you are not watching the screen and don’t immediately acknowledge the message, it sends another…and another. Each of these has to be separately acknowledged (or else I don’t know how to wipe them all at once)before you can do anything else so I have just spent 20 minutes getting rid of a hundred or so of them. And then I switched off Easymail – if there was an easy way to fix it, I’d rather leave it on but….The SatC system is still on, but we can’t read the messages without Easymail.

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