Saturday April 25th 2009. Launch -19 days and Holding.


This morning I really felt too tired to do anything much. In the end I did summon up the enthusiasm to start on essential activities: cleaning, tidying, vacuuming, putting on a washing-machine and some shopping. I feel unusually sore in my muscles today too: has the bicycle really taken so much out of me this week?


The radio and the Internet are talking endlessly about the Swine ‘flu. There has been some misreporting that has made things look worse than they really are, but the overall situation is at least alarming and the potential for a global pandemic certainly exists. As a scientist, my first question is: “why the **** has it taken so long for this to be noticed and effective counter-measures taken to prevent the spread of the illness?” Surely the Mexican health authorities have known about a growing problem for days, if not weeks? On the positive side, there are no deaths outside Mexico, despite a growing number of cases, so this is not (yet) as apocalyptic as some of the pronouncements have made it seem. Influenza is though a tricky virus and mutates very quickly; the potential is certainly there for this strain to mutate into something very nasty. Only a fool will not take this outbreak very seriously.


On the lighter side, yesterday builders started knocking down some of the walls in out building (they are plasterboard, not stone) to make bigger offices for multiple occupancy from individual offices. This is to help solve our housing crisis as, despite the new portacabins on site housing part of the overflow (due to the barred windows some people are referring to the portacabins as “Guantanamo Bay”) there is still not enough space for the growing number of personnel on site. I had taken a picture yesterday evening of the work in process and the Boss has sent me several more. Some of these are going to appear on the notice board on Monday with humorous or jocular captions making reference to this being what happens to your office if you are rude to the Boss. These so-called “Action Pictures” with images of Tests and joke captions have been a feature of all the tests since last summer. Usually, but not always, I have been the ring-leader in their appearance (they have been very popular because anything that squeezes some humour out of a stressful test is welcome) but, on this occasion the Boss has beaten me to the draw.


It’s important to rest today because we are playing golf against NASA again tomorrow. And no, we do not expect it to be any more successful this time than last time.