Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Celestial Tourist

Some people head to the islands for vacation. Others hop the pond to Europe. But billionaire and self-proclaimed nerd Charles Simonyi headed in a very different direction for vacation — into space. Simonyi reportedly paid $25 million for his trip to the International Space Station aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft. Simonyi, who was expected to head home on April 20, is the fifth space tourist to visit the space station. During his 10 days aboard, Simonyi planned to assist with experiments and use his ham-radio skills to communicate with U.S. high school students.

Friday, April 13, 2007


Just tell her. Just open up your heart and spill it out. That's what some people do. But Damien's plan was special and as he began to put it into action, everything in the universe seemed to click into place, and all things rang with Emma; even the muted throb of the car's engine sang her name - Emma, Emma, Emma. He looked in his rear mirror at the diminishing oblong that was Industry House. Emma would be sat there this very minute, right next to Damien's empty desk. Every evening she lingered in his thoughts. Did he exist in hers? He was about to find out.

At the junction he hesitated. Usually he turned right and headed straight for junction nine. Fourteen minutes and three junctions later he'd roll off the slip road and another eight minutes thirty saw him in his flat eating toast and staring at the fridge. But tonight was different. Instead of turning right, he turned left, then left again, and into the supermarket car park where he stopped. He laughed and slapped his hands on the steering wheel in a rapid tattoo. 'Woo-hoo,' he cried, self-consciously.

Exuberance didn't come easily to Damien; he couldn't understand why people whistled and hollered out at concerts - he was unable to find the motivation within himself, even though he was sure he enjoyed the gigs as fully as he was intended to. Tonight was different. A new life was spread out before him, a life that would give the answer to the one question that mattered; could Emma love him as he loved her? He sat for a time listening to the ticking of the metal as the bonnet cooled down.

Half an hour later he glanced at himself in the rear mirror. 'Bye-bye, Damien Jones, legal consultant. Nice to know you.'

In the supermarket toilets Damien's transformation took place. He climbed into baggy blue overalls, glued on a false beard, jammed a woolly hat onto his head and balanced a pair of giant oval green-tinted spectacles on his nose. He nodded at his reflection in the mirror, made a gun with his finger and pointed. 'Hey! Kev! Kevin. Kevo. Kevvy. Kay. Kev. The k-miester. What's going on mate? What's going on pal, mate, pallo. . . matey - What's happening dude. Hey, how you doing? How's it hanging? What's going down - dog. Dog? What's new? Hey, lad, what's the crack? What's new fellah?'

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