Thursday April 23rd 2009. Launch -19 days and Holding.


My particular part of the test has ended for a day or so. We got a new delivery of software and observations late yesterday, but I rapidly discovered that there were problems with it. After some too-ing and fro-ing we have decided that it has to be done again. That will not happen today. This means that I can relax slightly and get on with some other things. The problem is that at any moment the delivery can come at any point and I will have to drop everything and get on with processing it and then pass it on to our Mission Planners: effectively, most of a day of very intense work which will then pass down the line.


Essentially I have gone into survival mode. This means balancing periods of intense effort with energy-saving where I try to take my mind off work. Any kind of other activity is just getting abandoned and keeping up with this Blog is becoming more and more difficult as I am getting home extremely tired each night and what energy remains is dedicated to getting out the minutes of the daily briefing.


Where possible, I start writing-up the minutes before going home when people start to go home and my office ceases to become quite so busy. Some nights though this has just not been possible and the job gets finished at home after a quick dinner. As the minutes are our primary record of day to day activities during tests it is essential to record them in as much detail as possible. When the document is ready it then gets sent to the Boss: he reads, checks and modifies as he sees necessary and usually gets back to me by about 1am or 01:30am with his comments. These then get incorporated into the document. Sometimes there will be a change that I do not agree with (let’s say that the Boss describes his present mental state as “cranky”, which just about matches mine so, occasionally, he inserts can be a little acerbic) and we end up to-ing and fro-ing for a while. If I see that he is dead set on the change that ends the discussion, although usually we agree on a compromise wording.


Once the minutes are ready, they get sent out to the distribution list so that everyone can see the record of what happened when they start work in the morning and, if necessary, challenge it (although this rarely occurs). Rarely is this happening before 2am, which means that if I want to unwind a little before getting into bed, it becomes a pretty late night. Going to bed wound-up though affects by ability to rest properly, so at very least I will read for 10 or 15 minutes but, if it has been a particularly difficult day I may still end up worrying and end up tossing and turning and waking up constantly. Usually I have been able to switch off completely and rest well when going to bed but, before Easter, things got so bad that I could not even rest well at weekends: I simply cannot afford to let that happen now.


This afternoon I found out why it felt that I was cycling through treacle this week: my front tyre was so soft that it was almost flat. Stopped off at the petrol station on the way home and pumped it up to 3 atmospheres: the change in balance was spectacular. Now, the question is whether or not the tyre will still be hard in the morning; if it isn’t, then I have a slow puncture somewhere.