Thursday, March 24, 2011

Astronaut Douglas Wheelock's Amazing Photos

NASA astronaut Douglas Wheelock, known to his Twitter followers as Astro_Wheels, shares pictures of the Earth.

Clear starry night over the eastern Mediterranean. The ancient land with a thousand years of history stretching from Athens to Cairo. Historical land of fabulous and alluring island … Athens – Crete – Rhodes – Izmir – Ankara – Cyprus – Damascus – Beirut – Haifa – Amman – Tel Aviv – Jerusalem – Cairo – all of them turned into tiny lights in this cool November night.
 Florida and southeastern U.S. in the evening. A clear autumn evening, the moonlight over the water and sky, dotted with millions of stars.

“Dome” on the side of nadir station gives a panoramic view of our beautiful planet. Fedor made the picture from the window of the Russian docking compartment. In this photo I’m sitting in the dome, preparing the camera for our evening flight over Hurricane Earl.
 At the southern end of South America lies the pearl of Patagonia.
The amazing beauty of rugged mountains, massive glaciers, fjords and seas combined in perfect harmony.
 All the beauty of Italy, a clear summer night. You can see many beautiful islands that adorn the coast – Capri, Sicily and Malta. Naples and Mount Vesuvius are allocated along the coast.

This is part of the Great Barrier Reef off the east coast of Australia, photographed through the lens of 1200 mm.
 Our unmanned ‘Progress 39P’ approaches the ISS for refuelling. It is full of food, fuel, spare parts and all necessities for our station. Inside was a real gift – fresh fruit and vegetables. What a miracle after three months of food from a tube!

Night view of the River Nile, stretching like a snake through Egypt to the Mediterranean, and Cairo, located in the Delta. Far away in this picture, one can see the Mediterranean Sea.
Over the Sahara desert, approaching the ancient lands and thousand-year history. River Nile flows through Egypt by the Pyramids of Giza in Cairo.
Further, the Red Sea, Sinai Peninsula, Dead Sea, Jordan River, as well as the island of Cyprus in the Mediterranean Sea and Greece on the horizon.

 Morning over the Andes in South America. I do not know for sure the title of this peak, but was simply amazed by her magic, stretching to the sun and wind tops.
 A little farther east, we saw a sacred monolith Uluru, better known as Ayers Rock. I have never had the opportunity to visit Australia, but someday I hope that I will stand by this miracle of nature.
 Beautiful atoll in the Pacific Ocean, photographed using 400mm lens. Approximately 1930 km south of Honolulu.
 Of all the places of our beautiful planet few can rival the beauty and richness of colors in the Bahamas. In this photo, our ship is seen against the backdrop of the Bahamas.
 Northern lights in the distance in one of the finest nights over Europe.
The photo clearly shows the Strait of Dover. Paris is dazzling with the city lights. A little fog over the western part of England, particularly over London.
 ‘MysteryIsland’ …located in the Indian Ocean close to Madagascar.
Interesting features on the island and the unusual shape should be enough to help you discover this beautiful place.
Greek islands on a clear night during our flight over Europe. Athens shine brightly along the Mediterranean Sea.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Ramsey Montgomery

IT’S TAKEN ME THREE YEARS to write this entry.  It is very hard even now.  The loss of a child is so overwhelming that it does not go away; you do not get through it; you re-arrange your mental and emotional furniture.  Life is short; friends and family count the most; life is a true gift and you must not turn your back on it.

Our oldest son, Ramsey Montgomery, died of a massive brain aneurism March 4, 2008 in Saigon, Vietnam. He was just 40.  He had been living and teaching in Vietnam for four years.  He died in his apartment in his own bed.  Buddhists say that this is the kindest way to pass from this life to the next.

Ramsey was an adventurer, traveler, ski racer, author (4 Choose Your Own Adventure books), reader and thinker, teacher, and friend to people all over the world.  Rams could walk down a street in San Francisco or Boston or Paris or Bang Kok and run into people he knew.  He was loved by many people and loved them in return.

Rams spent 60 days in a Buddhist  forest monastery in Northern Thailand.  He had two roommates in his 9x10’ hut: a snake and a rat. Then one night the snake ate the rat.

Rams went to Green Mountain Valley School, a boarding school using ski racing as a metaphor for life, took a 13th year at a tutorial school in Oxford, England, went to UVM and UC Boulder.  He was a producer and project director for a number of start-up companies developing computer games and learning materials. He was good, really good.

Anson, his younger brother and also a CYOA author, Shannon my wife and his beloved step-mother, and I went to Vietnam where we met his friends both ex-pats and local Vietnamese. The warmth, acceptance, and help given by these people who loved Ramsey  helped us get through those days. His cremation was followed by a Buddhist ceremony in a temple with 50 of his friends.

Life is short.  At least the life we are currently in--remember energy is never lost, it is only transformed--so, Rams simply jumped the line at the bus stop ahead of us.

We love you, Rams, we will never forget you. Thanks.  Dad, Shan, Ans.


Friday, February 25, 2011