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Dreams Have Sequels Sometimes

You've seen the statistics I'm sure. 27 golds, 23 silver, 17 bronze medals. Second on the medal table, above China. First host nation ever to increase their overall medal tally in their first away Olympics after hosting. Gold medals across 15 different sports, more than any other team, and medals of any colour across 19. It still feels a bit unreal that it all went so well for Team GB, even though it went less well for some team members. Tokyo 2020 will be a real test I think, so many of the London 2012 generation who competed at Rio will be retired or will regard Tokyo as their swansong. The trick is to ensure there are plenty of new competitors to take their place, and it will be hard work, even though we're better equipped than ever to ensure these competitors come through. But I think there is a determination that we never want to see the likes of the medal tally from Atlanta again. We've had our nadir in Olympic sport, just as we had it in league football, albeit of a more unpleasant nature.

Tokyo is a long way off, but we've got the Paralympics in a couple of weeks' time so all the cheering on Great Britain is really only half-way through. And we'll be hosting the World Athletics Championships in 2017 in the Olympic Stadium. Then beyond that, 2018 has the Winter Olympics, Winter Paralympics, and the Commonwealth Games. Once Rio is past, there'll be plenty to look forward to.

So far

So far it's been pretty good for Team GB at the Rio Olympics - currently 6 golds, 8 silvers, 6 bronze - 20 in all, 4th on the medal table behind USA, China, & Japan. We're at the start of velodrome coverage so hopefully that will increase. It felt a bit tentative on Tuesday, as it was mentioned that we'd had more 4th places than any other nation, but then Wednesday was a productive day. It's not easy to watch much of the time, especially in cycling - Team GB are so strong but you can never underestimate the competition, everyone else (especially Australia) would love to beat us to gold I'm sure. But it has been good to see Team GB winning new medals, we've won our first gold in diving and today our first ever medal in trampolining.

One concern I can see is that there are lots of empty seats, if there are any sell-out sports they're still to come (which is understandable as the athletics only started today). During the men's road race last weekend there was a point where lots of the cyclists disappeared off to the side for a pee stop, the BBC commentator pointed out that this would never happen in the UK as there would always be far too many fans lining the route.

I bought an Amazon Fire stick today so I can watch Olympics coverage late at night, as the TV in my bedroom has until now only had a DVD connected, no other broadcast receiver plugged in. It was very easy to set up. Because I wanted it quickly I went with the 30-day free trial of Amazon Prime, hoping for some good free movies to watch after the Olympics, but all I've found is Paddington and a film about Queen Victoria. It's just like back in the early 1980s when we first started renting videotapes, going into the video store hoping for a decent (or at least recent) film and finding a load of titles you've never heard of before. I've no plans to continue with a Prime subscription once the trial is up, so it'll be a one-off purchase, cheaper than a second cable box (albeit with fewer channels).

Rio 2016

I managed to stay up until almost 3am last night, to the end of the athlete's parade. I'd TiVo'd the opening ceremony but having seen highlights of what I missed I don't think I'm going to be watching it. Hazel Irvine did the same Ouagadougou joke as she did during the London 2012 opening ceremony.

Have been watching some of the live coverage today - cycling, with the men's road race, which I stuck with for so long because Rio is absolutely beautiful. Much of the cycling was along a coastal road, with plenty of views of a lush blue sea, wonderful waves crashing on the beach. I'm now watching the rowing, the Serbian men's pair fell in the water but they must be rescued by now because it's the women's double sculls with Katherine Grainger and Victoria Thornley, Grainger in her fifth Olympics.

Fly The Flag

So for Tim Peake's landing yesterday, there was no Stargazing Live special as so many of us had hoped. Instead, there was live coverage (mostly the NASA TV feed) on the BBC News channel, which had the usual experts (Libby Jackson from UKSA, Professor Lucie Green from UCL) along with BBC science correspondents who knew what they were talking about, and general studio presenters who didn't. So glad all went so well, there was a BBC guy who was practically interviewing Tim Peake on the Kazakh steppe. Yuri Malenchenko was sitting bolt upright early on like the seasoned space traveller he is, but Tim Kopra looked a bit wobbly for a while but he seemed to be getting his bearings OK eventually.

Having this on the news rather than a dedicated programme meant the news headlines ticker was on screen almost the whole time, so all the stuff about the man who murdered the MP Jo Cox was there. I can't believe what a nightmare that was. I've met a few people through work, my age and younger, and you know immediately they're a future MP for a left-leaning party, and they'll be a very good one, just like Jo Cox.

My friend and I took a little break from the usual work routine on Thursday morning to watch the Aviva Women's Tour go past along the main road near our business park. I had read about this early in the year, and my friend wanted a photo to illustrate a staff newsletter article she was writing about the Cycle To Work scheme. I took my flag and was cheering and yelling as they went past - it was still quite early in the race so they were all in a big bunch. Sadly we didn't get on the TV highlights, they went straight from the start in Atherstone to the part just after us when they went through the University of Warwick campus. But it was so exciting seeing all the build-up, the police motorbikes, the race marshal motorbikes, and the support cars going past, all waving at us, and us waving back. There wasn't many of us along that stretch of road, but there was lots of TV coverage of other stretches of road where there were lots of schoolkids cheering and waving flags. I was only going to watch the highlights once but I'm going to keep them now, as there are lots of sights I recognise, and I'll always remember being out there, even if it was only for a short time.

Preparations

Yes, I am still here, although I am more frequently found on the Wii Fit these days. And I'm still using Facebook like a proper Facebooky person. But as my last post was about Tim Peake and he's now more than halfway through his mission, I thought I'd better get back on here again so that the post on his EVA wouldn't then be directly followed by an end-of-mission post.

Generally, and specifically nowCollapse )
Have also been enjoying The Night Manager, even though I doubt I'd have tuned in if Hugh Laurie wasn't in it. Spy dramas, no matter how brilliantly done, aren't my thing. But it's so good to see Hugh playing a properly evil baddie. And Olivia Coleman is awesome as always.

Stargazing Live

It's been Stargazing Live week, and it's been the best one yet. We had an extra show tonight to cover the EVA, which was amazing even though the EVA didn't completely run to plan. I hadn't realised how youthful some of the regular presenters are, I generally assume that they must be older than me because they know so much more than me (generally they're all professors or have doctorates or both). But they had a closeup of Chris Lintott and he looked very youthful, so I Googled him and he's only 35. But to balance this out, John Bishop is older than I thought he was, must be his sports career (he's a former semi-pro football player) keeping him looking younger. He was so fabulous at the astronaut training, and it was great to see Andreas Mogensen on TV too.

I had the EVA on NASA TV on a browser tab at work this afternoon, and took my flag into work and draped on the back of my chair - this is the flag I took to the Olympics, and got ready last year when Tim Peake was part of the backup launch crew and he favourited my tweet of it, so I'd wore it for his launch. I could only follow it briefly, but there were amusing parts - at the start while the Tims were in the airlock, Scott Kelly was looking at something on a laptop while adjusting his trousers, then realised he was on camera and stopped suddenly and smiled at the camera. To be fair, he's done worse in the past :)

But it was so cool to see Tim Peake out on the EVA, and it was great to follow all the news coverage and Twitter coverage, and the comments about him being the first under the British flag to conduct an EVA. I didn't find out about the terminate call until I got home and switched my phone on, and then I had stuff I had to do before I could get my laptop out. The detail of the issue showed it wasn't as critical an issue as when Luca Parmitano got water in his helmet a couple of years ago, but it was the right thing to do to terminate the EVA. Hopefully we'll get to see more of Tim's mission, there's still five months to go.

Ten

Ten years ago today I followed many of my friends on the Devoted to Hugh messageboards and set up my LiveJournal. The first post was short and sweet. I don't post very often these days but I'm glad I still come back occasionally, sometimes a longer post is required and it's nice to have somewhere quieter to retreat to.

So, 2016: the Road to Rio 2016 is already well-worn yet there's some distance still to go. Hoping for a decent defence of gold medals won at the Home Games, even though many have retired and many more will no doubt do so after Rio. It's likely to be a closer call in terms of the GB-Australia rivalry though.

Space: I notice Tim Peake looks well settled in on the ISS, his somersaults and flips are more controlled, which is a good indication he's used to moving around in microgravity. A crew swap in March will see the ending of the Year Long Mission, and the end of 2016 will see the launch of Thomas Pesquet, the last of the ESA Class of 2009 to go into space.

Work: Don't want to think about it. There's a reason we eat lots of cake and biscuits in our industry. One work-related highlight expected is a workfriend is to become a first-time Dad in the spring.

Home: I discovered this Christmas how much I prefer my own home-made versions of goodies to the shop-bought stuff. So in order to get them right for next Christmas I need to practice during the year. A friend gave me an afternoon tea recipe calendar for Christmas so I might try some things from that if I'm in the mood to make something new. Also, I am hoping I can actually grow some flowers this year instead of crabgrass.

Screen stuff: Certain articles are hinting that Peter Capaldi is about to give notice on his tenure as the Doctor. I think he's right not to stay too long but he's the best Doctor ever and I don't want him to go.

Not Quite

It's Chrismtas Eve, and while things are generally OK / good / very acceptable, little things continue to bug me. Yesterday I was cleaning the kitchen and while wiping under the edge of the microwave, I cut my finger on something on the corner of the microwave. It was one of those cuts you don't think much of at the time because you don't realise what's happened until ten minutes later you look at your hand and see the blood. Thankfully not much, but it still had to be dealt with. Then I woke up this morning to the sound of the wheelie bin lorry and the realisation that I'd forgotten to put my bins out. They should be OK until next time - the refuse bin only has to go another week (assuming I don't forget again) but the recycling has two weeks to go. I don't think there will be too much wrapping paper here tomorrow so that should be OK, there will just be more empty pop bottles than usual.

Also this morning I discovered a proto-zit while washing my face. Got some TCP on it to stop it developing into a full-blown zit, which I really hate at Christmas, and is really stupid when you're 42. One year in my mid-teens I had a massive zit on the highest point of my right cheekbone for Christmas which was naturally much worse, but this is less understandable. Anyways, if you're travelling through the English Midlands and can smell TCP, it's me trying to nuke this thing on my chin.

Hopefully the crescendo was reached when I came downstairs - first I had a grovelling (but not grovelling enough) letter from my energy company to say they've reopened the complaint I made the first time they were useless. Then I clipped my laptop on the edge of the wall and it made horrible groany clockwork noises which took ages to settle down, but thankfully now they have. All remained functional throughout, I have some images to make for my blog which will appear in the New Year.

Tomorrow is the one day I don't mind setting an alarm for in the holidays. Hoping all will go well tomorrow and for whatever is planned the following day (ie it will likely be me falling in with other people's plans). Hope everyone has a Merry Christmas!

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Brit In Space

It's been a long day, and I've spent most of it sitting on the sofa in front of my laptop. I took the day off so I could follow today's Soyuz launch unencumbered by work. It's been amazing, it was such a perfect-looking launch, then a bit of unwanted drama with the docking having to be done manually, and then a long wait for the hatches to open. Luckily the live BBC coverage overstayed its time so we could see the crew enter the ISS.

There were two Stargazing Live special programmes on TV today, covering the launch and the hatch entry. Chris Hadfield was on both programmes alongside Dara O Briain and Professor Brian Cox, and Helen Sharman was also on the evening programme. Additionally, I listened to Ron Garan on a BBC Radio Five Live programme last night, and on Sunday I heard a BBC World Service documentary about the history of space stations which was narrated by Samantha Cristoforetti. There have been glimpses of other astronauts on the BBC TV coverage - biggest name was Alexei Leonov was on the morning programme with Helen Sharman, there was a clip of Tim Peake's training with his fellow ESA astronauts, and I saw Mike Fossum with the crew's families in Baikonur on the evening programme. The Stargazing Live specials came from the Science Museum which was full of schoolchildren, all waving flags and being fantastically noisy - counting down with the launch countdown, and cheering loudly when Tim Peake waved and gave a thumbs-up during ascent.

As always, I was waiting for this sight:

Expedition 46 Crew 15Dec15

It was very busy on Twitter too, lots of debate over whether Tim is the first British astronaut - he isn't, he's the first British person to go into space as a member of the astronaut corps attached to Britain. Helen Sharman, the first Brit in space, went as part of a privately-funded venture, and in the intervening time there have been three NASA astronauts with joint US/UK citizenship, and two spaceflight participants with joint UK/other nation citizenship. It's a great question to ask on QI.

This crew is scheduled to be onboard until June next year, so there will be lots of opportunity to follow along. It will be so cool.

Spacey Leicester

It's a few weeks since my visit to the National Space Centre in Leicester, and since I'll probably be writing here about Tim Peake's launch and Christmas, I thought I ought to get typing about this.

I finally wentCollapse )
I also spent some time getting lost in Leicester City Centre, it must be ten years or more since I was last there and it has some new shiny shops, including one selling American Candy where I just about managed to get more JellyBellys in my bag to purchase than I scattered on the floor. I had wanted to go into WHSmiths to buy some Christmas cards and a 2016 diary, but I didn't pass one.

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