AstroNUT Crashed and Burned

Last Saturday, a colleague of mine, Robert Lee, went for the Astronauts’ Run – one of the early processes to eliminate applicants who are not up to mark. Around 10am that day, I received an SMS fro him saying that he failed to complete the given distance within the given time.

You should take up scuba diving, Robert, and become an AQUANUT like me.

Ouch!!!

Back to diving now.

Bent UK scuba diver back home with $37,000 souvenir

Now this is painful.

May I relate this to what a friend had experienced just a couple of weeks ago. He is an instructor. He recently applied for a life policy but was turned down simply because he is a scuba diver. If he wishes to have a policy, he will be subjected to extra “loading.” In fact I’ve faced the same condition when I skydived. But as an instructor, he doesn’t earn much.

Now, to say he or I would be better off without a policy would be plain stupid. But what choice do we have?

Some years ago..

Love is a funny thing. It makes people laugh, cry, happy, hurt. When two people share and love each other, they hope to die loving. In that, love can be dangerous.

My maternal grandfather passed away when I was preparing for my North Pole expedition back in 1998. My grandmother was totally devastated. Imagine spending the last three decades alone together, with the kids all away, building their own families. She was healthy. Then three months after the former’s passing, my grandmother fell ill and was diagnosed with colon cancer. I saw her…wasting away. The night before she passed, I held her hand. She smiled and told me that she could see my grandfather standing in front of her, smiling at her.

How she must have pined for him.

Then five years ago, my late friend, Siva, and I were with a recently-qualified freefall student, in a Cessna 172K, 8,000 feet above sea level at Mersing. Earlier that day, this former student from Australia had done something weird..out of the normal, like asking the drop zone manager to keep his belongings under lock etc., etc. So above the drop zone, he jumped, followed by late Siva, then I. This former student was supposed to deploy his main chute at 4,000 feet. He did not. Siva and I continued to watch him as we had 20 seconds before impacting the ground if we did not open our chutes. At 3,000 feet (15 seconds to impact), Siva hurriedly deployed his chute. This former student and I were still freefalling. I signaled for him to open his chute. He nodded but remained still. At 1,500 feet (7 seconds to impact), I opened my chute, and saw this former student zoom past me. To my relief, the CYPRESS automatic opening device activated and deployed his reseve chute at 700 feet (3 seconds from impact) above sea level. He landed safely at sea.

I learnt later that his wife was terminally ill with cancer in Australia, and he did not wish to live longer than necessary.

Love is beautiful….and dangerous.

Jupiter, Venus and the Moon

Babak A. Tafreshi

I received an SMS from my father at 5.34am today telling me to look at the heavens and see Jupiter and Venus so close together. The last time he told me to look at the stars was 31 years ago as I sat on his lap, just before he became the “property of the Government of Malaysia as the Inspector-General of Police.

I saw this phenomenon last Sunday, and pointed the planets out to my 3 year-old son. I never realised the two heavenly bodies have come closer to each other since then. If you look out there, Venus is the brighter than the other. If you look to the left of Jupiter, you’d be able to see Spica, the brightest star in the constellation of Virgo. However, it is being outclassed by the two planets for now.

After last night, the two planets are now traveling apart. However, come September 6th, the slender crescent moon will join these two in making your sunset spellbinding.

I hope the new hotspots the Department of Environment spotted both in Malaysia and Indonesia will not spoil this show.

Yes..and the answer is…

GO!

After a short discussion, the wife has agreed that someone should babysit the children when I go to Redang, since she’ll return the day after I’d leave. Okay, time to book a place on the trip.

Achieving target…

At the onset of this year, I vowed to do 50 dives this year. I’ve only done 24.

My wife’s finally confirmed her trip to Beijing. 12th thru 16th of September. I’ll be going to Tioman 9th thru 11th, hopefully to do 10 dives. Now the problem is an instructor friend of mine is organising a trip to Redang island. Even there I can do another 10 dives. But my wife’ll be away during then. Who’s to look after the kids?

Repulse trip, hopefully I can log another 6 dives. Then I would have achieved my 50-dives year…excluding my planned trip to Pulau Payar and Mataking.

Problem-solving time…