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Archive for July, 2009

Hi everyone:

As you will see below, I first wrote this entry on the 40th anniversary of the first landing on the moon by the Apollo 11 astronauts. I am updating this today (August 26, 2012) to note with sadness the death of Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, at the age of 82. To borrow a phrase from one of my lifelong heroes (Sir Winston Churchill): “If human beings are still living on Earth a million years from now, I believe they will look back on July 20, 1969 and say that this was one of civilization’s finest hours”.

Rest in peace, Neil. As Casey Kasem, the legendary host of the “American Top 40” music show used to say – “Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars”. Thank you for showing us the way to do just that, and may we honour your memory every day by always doing the same.

For a postscript to this blog entry, including links to a number of documentaries that you can watch about Apollo 11 and the American space program during the 1960’s, scroll down to the end of this article.

I also did another tribute to Neil Armstrong in the form of a couple of online musical concerts. I called the first “Fly Me To The Moon” (in celebration of that great song made famous by artists such as Frank Sinatra), and the second is known as “Walking On The Moon” (remember that song by The Police?).

You can visit the first one by clicking on: Fly Me to the Moon – A Tribute Concert to Neil Armstrong

If the second one is more to your liking, then have a go at:
Walking on the Moon – The Tribute to Neil Armstrong Continues

Thanks for reading this prologue, now on to the entry itself.

It’s July 20, 2009, and as I write this on a warm summer afternoon here in Hamilton, it is almost 40 years to the minute since one of the most important events of the 20th century, and maybe in all of history.  Just after 4:15 p.m. Eastern time on this day in 1969, we heard the words ringing across the vastness of space: “Houston – Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed”.

With those words, history was made and the world would never be the same again. That moment would rank among the most memorable of all time. There are many dates that are considered “seminal” moments. Times where people know where they were, or what they were doing when a certain event takes place.  How about when World War 2 ended in 1945. President Kennedy’s assasination in Dallas in 1963.  Paul Henderson’s winning goal for Canada against the Soviet Union’s hockey team in 1972. The death of Princess Diana in 1997. Or the 9/11 attacks in 2001.

It’s tempting to write a blog entry about what led to the moon landing, or if the world is better off 40 years later. Or what advances have taken place in society since 1969. Maybe another time. Instead, however, let me tell you about July 20, 1969 and what the day means to me.

I was 12 years old on that long-ago day. I had just completed grade 6 at  St. Lambert Elementary School. As we did almost every July during my childhood years, our family was in New Carlisle Quebec, my father’s hometown, visiting my grandmother. I remember that particular trip, because my grade 6 teacher, Miss Fitzgerald, had invited our entire class to her wedding. I declined, because of our trip to what my family often referred to as “down home”.  For those who may be wondering, New Carlisle is a small town located on the south shore of Quebec’s Gaspe Peninsula, about 600 miles east of Montreal.

In many ways July 20 1969 was just your typical summer day in a small town.  While I don’t remember for sure, I’ll bet that I spent time playing ball with my younger brother, Don. Or visiting with my uncle, aunt and 3 cousins who lived just down the street. Maybe a swim in the cold waters of Chaleur Bay. But all the while, we knew that something special was happening out in space, as Apollo 11 hurtled towards the moon, and a date with history.

And since July 20 1969 just happened to be a Sunday, we wouldn’t have done any of the above things before first heading off to church.  I’ll wager that some of the prayers we offered that morning at St. Andrew’s (the Anglican church in New Carlisle where the Browns attended for several generations), were for the safe journey of Apollo 11. No different from millions of prayers offered in millions of  churches,  and other places of worship around the world that day.

Today, of course, there are countless media outlets that would offer wall-to-wall coverage of the event. Web sites, television channels, even blogs like this one. But almost none of that existed in 1969. Still, I vividly remember that July afternoon, and turning on my grandmother’s black-and-white TV in her den, and watching coverage on CBC TV. I can still remember Gordon Donaldson in his Scottish brogue talking about man landing on the moon. Too bad you can’t capture a brogue in print! And over on CBS, none other than the legendary Walter Cronkite anchoring their coverage. Yes, we watched some of that too. As an aside, it is ironic that Mr. Cronkite passed away only last Friday (July 17), almost on the eve of this 40th anniversary. A broadcasting legend is gone, and may he rest in peace.

I don’t remember exactly when we started watching, but my guess is that it was probably in mid-afternoon. I am writing this very sentence at 3:35 p.m., and no doubt 40 years ago to  this very minute, Don and I, along with my mother and father and my grandmother, were sitting there watching it all happen.

It was a moment filled with suspense as we saw the grainy pictures from almost a quarter of a million miles away. And there was no guarantee that the small spacecraft would actually make it. Indeed,  it was only years later that the world discovered just how close it was to aborting the mission or worse. For instance, the spacecraft just missed a large crater, and had less than 30 seconds of fuel left before coming to rest on the lunar plain of the Sea of Tranquility. That’s probably why when touchdown was confirmed, Mission Control in Houston’s answer was something like: “Roger Tranquility… you had a bunch of us about to turn blue, we’re breathing again…”. It was that close.

Like millions (if not billions) of people alive back then, the 5 of us were all glued to the television, barely believing that this amazing event had happened. And in fact, many folks didn’t believe it. My grandmother was one of them, but more about her in a moment. There were many people, and even some today, who  believed that we never reached the moon that day, and never have. To them it was all done on a Hollywood sound stage, or other location on Earth – the greatest deception of all history. The whole thing even led in part to the making of the 1978 movie “Capricorn One” about a staged mission to Mars. And as the following Wikipedia entry shows, many folks didn’t believe that Apollo 11 and subsequent flights really took place:

Wikipedia article on the Apollo Moon Landing hoax conspiracy theories

How about it? Was the whole thing really done on a Hollywood sound stage? Or perhaps on a backlot at NASA headquarters in Houston? At Florida’s Cape Kennedy, where Apollo 11 had blasted off from 4 days earlier (July 16)? Are the things cited in that Wikipedia article true? I don’t think so.

Here’s one more element of this whole thing. Perhaps like many of you, I am a huge fan of the “Mythbusters” show, which you can find on the Discovery Channel. In one of their 2008 episodes, they decided to tackle some of the more popular conspiracy theories – and in each case provided evidence that Apollo 11 and the other moon landings really happened. For more info:

The Mythbusters Tackle the Moon Landing Hoax – And Prove We Really Did Get There!.

And you can watch the episode on video by clicking on the following link: Was the Apollo 11 Moon Landing A Hoax? – From the Discovery Channel Program Mythbusters

OK – enough of a tangent, back to the events of 40 years ago.

Neil Armstrong and Edwin (Buzz) Aldrin had now arrived on the moon’s surface. One could only imagine the view out of their small craft’s window. In a few hours, they would each exit the craft and for the first time, humans would walk on another planet. But there was some question about when that might happen, which also impacted my day back then. The original plan was for the first moonwalk to take place around 3:00 or 4:00 a.m. the next morning. In the middle of the night. So as we had dinner at my grandmother’s kitchen table that night, my parents decided that Don and I would go to bed, and then they would wake us up in time for us to run downstairs back to that TV set and watch it all unfold.

But then the word came that the folks in Houston had moved up the schedule, and that Armstrong and Aldrin would do their thing around 10:30 or 11:00 p.m.. So a new plan was drafted, and we would all watch that epic journey together before going to bed for the night.

It was not until many years later that I discovered what happened, and why the time was moved up.  When NASA drafted the original schedule, Armstrong and Aldrin were scheduled for a 5 hour sleep period shortly after landing. The plan was for the men to do a complete check of the spacecraft to ensure everything was in working order, and then eat their first meal.  All this was scheduled to take about 2 hours, then they would go into the sleep period.  So when you add all that up,  estimating that the walk would take place  at something like 4:00 a.m. our time made sense.

The sleep period noted in NASA’s schedule was understandable, given that they would have been physically, mentally and emotionally drained due to the time and energy used during the trip. In the end, however, they decided to just keep going, and started preparing for their historic moonwalk sooner than expected, only about 2.5 hours after landing.  Probably right after eating their meal.  Looking back on it now, I think they did the right thing. I’ll wager both men, while exhausted from their journey, were also on an emotional and physical “high”, and figured they would be too excited to sleep.  I’d also wager they made the decision on their own.  Sure, it’s conjecture on my part, but I think it’s a logical explanation of why it all happened a few hours ahead of schedule. And why Don and I stayed up late that night, rather than going to bed early and then waking up in the wee morning hours to watch history unfold.

Just after 10:30 p.m., some  six hour hours after the landing, it began. We heard Armstrong and Aldrin talking in the spacecraft, officially known as the “Lunar Excursion Module” (the “LEM” for short) . It had been code-named “Eagle” by NASA (which is why they declared “the Eagle has landed” upon arrival). According to the official NASA historical records,  Armstrong began to open the hatch at 10:39 p.m.,  and was soon out on the porch. Just a few steps to go. As the grainy images travelled across space, he came into view. It looked like baby steps as he descended the ladder and then stopped to pause, perhaps for dramatic effect. He offered a few comments about the lunar surface and that the LEM had made a perfect landing, it’s legs just a few inches into the soil. Then he announced: “I’m going to step off the LEM now”. And then, after a brief pause (and roughly 15 minutes after opening the hatch),  the historic words rang out: “That’s one small step for man – one giant leap for mankind”.  Many have argued since then whether Armstrong really meant to say “That’s one small step for a man…”. But that’s splitting hairs to me. Some might also argue that in today’s more “politically correct” world, the word “man” is no longer used as a generic term referring to all human beings, both male and female. Perhaps the 2009 edition of that famous line might have been: “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for all people.” Hmm!

Whether you get hung up on the words Armstrong said or not, it was official. Human beings had walked on another planet. With apologies to Michael Jackson fans everywhere (especially to those who weren’t alive 40 years ago and may not know better!), the first “moonwalk” happened at 10:56:15 p.m,  Eastern Time on July 20 1969, when Armstrong planted his left boot in the lunar soil. Just as with the recent passing of Walter Cronkite, there may be another touch of irony in that Michael Jackson himself died just last month (June 25). For many of this current generation of young people, Jackson’s death may go down in history as one of their generation’s “seminal” moments, just as the moon landing was for me and my generation of Baby Boomers. Or as the ending of World War 2 in 1945 was for my parents generation.

The world has never been the same since that day, and never will be.  That may be the greatest understatement of all time. The landing of Apollo 11 on the moon was a moment that will live as one of the greatest chapters in all history. If Winston Churchill had still been alive back then (the great British PM of World War 2 had died just over 4 years earlier in January 1965), he may have declared that moment as history’s “finest hour”.

One final memory before I close this off and share it with others out here in cyberspace. I mentioned earlier that Nanny (that’s what Don and I and all my cousins called our grandmother) didn’t believe the moon landing had happened. Well, that all changed the next day. Seems that a few years earlier, she’d had a boarder for a few months. Ernest was an avid supporter of the space program – to the point where he promised Nanny that when man landed on the moon, he would phone her, no matter where he was. So guess who called us the next morning? That’s right. Ernest confirmed with her that the great moment had indeed arrived.

So there you have it. My memories of 40 years ago today, July 20 1969. Has it really been 40 years? Where has the time gone? Hard to believe, but in fact it is 40 years ago today. Wow! My father was 51 that day, I am actually older today that he was back then. He died only a few years later, in January 1976, from Lou Gehrig’s disease. Someday I may do some blog entries here about Dad, his role in my life and also about the tragic and horrible disease that took him. He’s buried today in the churchyard at St. Andrew’s. But again, let’s leave that for another time.  Nanny is buried there too. And so are my uncle and aunt who as I noted earlier, lived just a few houses away back then, along with others from the Brown family.  

And what about the moon and the vastness of space? It would be hard indeed to contemplate that and summarize it in just a few words. But if it’s a clear and cloudless evening here in Hamilton tonight, I just might go out for a walk before I go to bed, look up at the moon, and then pause to reflect on it all. How about that? 40 years ago tonight, people walked on another world for the first time. Their footprints are still there today, and will be forever. Their legacy will be with us forever too, in ways too numerous to mention here.

May God bless the crew of Apollo 11 ( Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins – who stayed in the Command Module, code named “Columbia” by NASA,  orbiting miles above the lunar surface while Armstrong and Aldrin went to their date with history), the men and women of the American space program and everyone who witnessed history that day. And to those like Nanny, Dad and so many others who 40 years later no longer walk this Earth, and who I believe by faith now walk on a heavenly shore and in the eternal presence of God, may they rest in peace.

So long from Hamilton, and happy 40th anniversary to Apollo 11!

POSTSCRIPT: It’s August 2012 and an update to this blog entry. First, although it took until earlier this year to write something, I did indeed write a few entries here about my father and his role in my life. A bit painful and personal to be sure, but worth reading if you feel so inclined. Second, if you read the prologue then you know that the world is mourning the death of Neil Armstrong. A true American hero whose passinginspired me to create a concert tribute to him. Feel free to visit that page and watch the videos presented there at any time.

Finally, there are a number of excellent documentaries about the American space program and in particular about Apollo 11’s historic journey. You can watch a couple of them here:

Apollo 11 – For All Mankind

Moonwalk One – A NASA Educational Documentary

One Small Step from the PBS program NOVA

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Hi everyone:

Time for another blog entry – the second in my ongoing series. Although you may not realize this if you read my first one (which offered an introduction about myself as well as some thoughts on Hamilton, Ontario – the city I have lived in since September 2002) , it’s been a while since I did something “fresh”. That’s because I have tried to launch my blog a couple of times before. First in March 2009 and then again in June.  And even though people tell me I am an excellent writer and communicator, I just haven’t found the “rhythm” to try and do this on a regular basis. But I really should try harder, especially if I want to get myself noticed more online. So here’s entry number 2, published in July 2009.

During the spring of 2009, my e-mail signature statement featured something called the “STAR theory of human relationships”.  I had many compliments from people about this, who wanted to know where it came from, and whether I could publish it somewhere online for others to read it.

Let’s answer where it came from first. I wrote it. The inspiration came from someone who sent me a posting in honour of this province’s Family Day holiday in mid-February 2009. He had written something using the “STAR” acronymn, but relating to substance abuse, and how you could prevent your kids and/or other loved ones from getting hooked on drugs.

I liked it, but as I read the posting, I felt he had missed something. Why was this only about substance abuse? Instead, I felt this could have much broader appeal if it was done right. So after “sitting on it” for a while, I wound up writing a new version, which I then started using in my e-mails a few days later.

Can I publish this online for others to read and apply as they feel led? Absolutely! In fact, that’s just what I am doing right now. So here it is. I will not offer any further commentary other than what you are reading now.  If you like this idea, please feel free to share it with others ( although I do hope you will cite me as the author, and this blog as the place you found it).

If  you want to be a STAR – try the following advice, free of charge!:

S – Spend time with family and friends. Treat each person like they are the most important person in your life, because they are.

T – Take time to care, to listen, and to support them through their “dark” times. It’s easy to be a friend when life is good. But life doesn’t always go our way, so be there for those times too.

A – Accept everyone for who they are and respect their dignity. If you really want to help them through their “dark” times, make sure it’s OK with them first. We all have our personal space, be mindful of their wishes.

R – Recognize that each person in your life is a gift from God. Make them feel loved and special, and let them do the same to you.

Thanks for reading this entry. So long from Hamilton, and look for my next blog entry soon 🙂

Greg Brown

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Hi everyone:

Greetings from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada – located about 50 miles west of Toronto, our country’s largest city. Even though I have been doing Web sites since I took a Website development course in 1997, this is the first time I have tried this “blog” stuff. I know you don’t get it perfect right away – like everything else this takes a lot of practice and effort to do it right. So if the occasional typo, grammatical or spelling error creeps in here, go easy on me, at least for this first entry, OK?

Let’s start with an introduction – which will sound a bit familiar to any of you who have read the “About myself” page of this blogspace. I’m Greg Brown. I was born in Ottawa, and grew up in St. Lambert (a suburb of Montreal). In 1978 I moved to Mississauga (just west of Toronto), and lived there before moving to my current home city, Hamilton, in September 2002. I have a Master of Library Science degree from the University of Toronto, and a Bachelor of Arts degree from McGill University. I am a freelance consultant who offers interested parties a wide variety of skills and experience. Rather than a long synopsis here, you can learn more by visiting my Web site: http://www.gregcbrown.com

and following the appropriate links from my Home Page. For those of you on LinkedIn, I invite you to visit my Profile at:

http://www.linkedin.com/in/gcbrown1956

or feel free to visit the LinkedIn page of my Web site:  http://www.gregcbrown.com/linkedin.html

I am also a member of HAPPEN, Canada’s largest executive network, and serve on our Executive Committee as the Opportunities Administrator. I also facilitate our meetings inToronto,  Mississsuga and Burlington from time to time as appropriate. We cater to senior managers, executives and others at similar employment levels who are now in career transition – perhaps a “polite” way of saying they are unemployed. We also offer our members a growing number of programs and services designed to help them manage their careers. As our Opportunities Administrator, I serve as an intermediary between our members who are seeking employment, and those who are hiring staff at those levels. For more about HAPPEN, visit us online at:

http://www.happen.ca

For those living in this part of southern Ontario who may think HAPPEN can help you, why not join us at an upcoming meeting? Our Web site will give you all the information you need. If you are a GTA based recruiter, HR professional or perform similar functions in your company, and are looking to hire staff at the executive or senior management levels, I also invite you to visit our Web site, or contact me in care of: jobs@happen.ca  I would be delighted to send you some information about posting your open positions with us, and to offer additional help as best I can.

I noted above that I am also a freelance consultant. So in addition to my work with HAPPEN, I am always interested in doing other assignments as appropriate. That’s because, sad to say, we don’t have the financial resources for any of us on the HAPPEN Executive to be paid appropriately. It’s too bad, because in many ways I really enjoy my association with HAPPEN. My colleagues on the Executive Committee are first-class people. I have made many wonderful friends – fellow HAPPEN members whose company I enjoy and whose friendships I treasure and am grateful for.

But all this won’t put food on the table, pay my rent or take care of other needs. So if you’re someone in a hiring position here in the GTA/Hamilton area andwould like to use my services, then let’s talk. My preferred option would be part-time work, short term contracts or other assignments which could be done in addition to my work with HAPPEN.  I have a wide variety of skills and expertise, especially in areas such as library and information science, administration, management, basic Web site design and other matters.

I also am one of these weird people who actually loves public speaking. I often facilitate meetings at HAPPEN, and people tell me that I am very good at it.  I am also an excellent writer – something which I hope will be evident from this and subsequent blog entries. As a former Montrealer, although I am not fluent in French, my command of the language is still pretty good, and I can do some work in French as necessary.

If you are interested in working with me, please feel free to examine my online resume, LI profile and other credentials as noted elsewhere in this entry. I look forward to hearing from you at any time.

I could go on, of course, to talk more about the non-business/personal part of my life, but I think I will leave that for another time. That’s because I think it is time to finish this and present to the online world.  I think I have given you all enough to consider for a “maiden voyage” – maybe too much! So it’s time to end this, my first blog entry. I hope you enjoyed it and that you will visit me again sometime. It’s been fun trying something I have never done before, but I suspect it’s only the first of many times I will do this in future. Thanks for reading this, and I wish all who read this the very best. So long from Hamilton!

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