"Thus open the gates of paradise."

In this issue

The Apollo Project (10 Aug 2003)

A new project begins here at The Front Page -- an attempt to visit every Apollo command module, roughly in order. Join us, won't you?

Fleeting Shadows (06 Apr 2002)

Available light photography in and around the ROM.

Mummy Talks (06 Apr 2002)

Brief musings on another ROM course, this one about mummies, mostly.


Links to older articles.

The Apollo Project

10 Aug 2003

In order to stave off the usual mind-numbing boredom that has come to be synonymous with the drawing of breath, The Front Page has embarked on a project -- to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of visiting all of the Apollo command modules. These are the spacecraft which were flown by NASA to the moon and in Earth orbit, between 1967 and 1974. They are all here on Earth, and all but one are in North America. In an ongoing series, we will bring you pictures and riviting commentary, laden with impenetrable, Grade A techno-jargon. So grab your MSC/KSC TLA guide, and join us as the journey begins.

Apollo 7 

Where is it now? National Museum of Science and Technology
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Crew Wally Schirra, Jr., Don Eisele, Walt Cunningham
When did it fly? October 11, 1968
Milestones First manned flight of a the Saturn V rocket. First manned flight of the Apollo Command Module (CM). First manned flight following the Apollo 1 fire.


Apollo 7 Command Module: The crew hatch is open. Three mock-up astronauts sit in the crew couches; two are visible in this picture -- they are on their backs, with their heads towards us. Though the forward heat shield is missing (an artifact of the landing procedure), the central heat shield is intact. 
Heat shield
Apollo 7 Command Module: The aft heat shield. The crew hatch is on the opposite side of the CM.
Apollo 7 Command Module: Right side. The two black holes just above the aft heat shield (in the center of the picture) are the positive yaw engines. Window 4 (left of center) has been covered. Below it and to the left is an air vent. The inside of the crew hatch is visible at the far left.
Apollo 7 Command Module: Looking in the crew hatch. The commander sits in the left seat (not visible), the command module pilot (CMP) in the center, and the lunar module pilot in the right seat. The controls in the CMP's hands control the rotation of the ship. The assembly on the hatch with the gear and handle are part of the pressure equalization system. 
Apollo 7 Command Module: Detail of the top of the aft heat shield. Note the tracks that look as if someone ran their fingers across the shield while it was plastic.

Apollo 7 (NASA)
National Museum of Science and Technology

Where Are The Others?

Apollo 8 Chicago Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago, Illinois
Apollo 9 ("Gumdrop") Michigan Space and Science Centre, Jackson, Michigan
Apollo 10 ("Charlie Brown") Science Museum, London, England
Apollo 11 ("Columbia") National Air and Space Museum, Washington, D.C.
Apollo 12 ("Yankee Clippper") Virginia Air and Space Center, Hampton, Virginia
Apollo 13 ("Odyssey") Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center, Hutchinson, Kansas
Apollo 14 ("Kitty Hawk") Astronaut Hall of Fame, Titusville, Florida
Apollo 15 ("Endeavor") USAF Museum, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Dayton, Ohio
Apollo 16 ("Casper") U.S. Space and Rocket Center, Huntsville, Alabama
Apollo 17 ("America") NASA Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas
Apollo-Soyuz Test Project NASA Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral, Florida
Skylab 2 Naval Aviation Museum, Pensaola, Florida
Skylab 3 NASA Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, Ohio
Skylab 4 National Air and Space Museum, Washington, D.C.

Fleeting Shadows

06 Apr 2002

Don't I ever get tired of these courses? No. No, I don't.

Taking a rest from Egypt for a session, I turned my attention to the mounting heap of photographic equipment in my study that seldom gets used. This course, taught by Beverley Galandzy, was all about how to take decent pictures using available light. And it allowed us to take tripods into the museum galleries, which are normally forbidden. That alone, was worth the price of admission. Fortunately, my picture taking skills improved a bit too, so that was just fine.

Here are two that I think turned out well:

Crest oole detail As you enter the ROM galleries, you pass by two large staircases that were built around two crest poles -- one Haida, and the other Nisgaa. This picture is a detail from the Nisgaa pole.
I took this picture of a ladybug across the street from the ROM. It's the sort of shot I seldom try for -- macro lens on a windy day. I was originally going for just nice picture of some leaves; the ladybug just happened to be in the way. How it came to be in focus and centered is a holy mystery.

The maxim from this course for me was "Go big or go home." Fine advice that I took to heart in both of the pictures here. Perhaps the other thing I learned (or started to learn) was when to walk away from a shot that you just can't make. By that, I don't mean the ones that don't have enough light (I take those anyway and hope for a miracle in the developing room), but those where I can't find a suitable way to frame the subject, or those that just don't have any subject at all. Just walk away and go look for a better picture.


Related Sites

About the crest poles

Mummy Talks

06 Apr 2002

After the great success of Whatever Happened in Ancient Egypt, I signed up my mom and myself for Gayle's next course at the ROM called Mummy Talks. What else should you bring to a course on mummies?

This time, Gayle was joined by fellow historian John Ide whose background is more in art history than Egyptology per se. And so we talked about the process of mummification, and the impact they had on Western culture of the 19th and 20th centuries. All really quite interesting, and a fabulous excuse to get out of town and do something about a million times more worthwhile that watching television.

Ever wonder why we call a mummy a mummy? The word mummy is from the Arabic mumia which refers to bitumen, which is what some people thought Ancient Egyptians were covered in during the embalming process. You can tell this factoid at dinner parties to fill an awkward silence if you like.

There are two stories about this course that I want to tell: the first is about the oddest evening I've had in ages. It started out with a quick visit to the Chapters bookstore on Bloor Street, just east of the museum. We zipped up to the top floor to find a great line of people waiting to see Sophia Loren. She was there, in person, signing her new cookbook. We jockeyed around a pillar and there through a clot of bodies was Loren. Live. In person.

"Huh," I said, trying to recall a single film I'd seen her in. Of course I know who she is, and that she's an icon of Italian cinema, but really, I was more interested in knowing about the people she had worked with. Ah, Marcello. And then we had to go. The down escalator swept us very close to the table where she was sitting, and looking up as I descended, I thought, "And now I'm looking up Sophia Loren's skirt. Huh."

In class that night, we got to touch some very old artifacts from the ROM's collection. Stuff so old, that the gulf of years has only the barest of meaning to me, being more of an abstract notion.

We also had a guest speaker, William Jamieson, who is a collector of shrunken heads. How do you go about collecting shrunken heads, you may ask. It turns out you put an ad in the Globe and Mail and sit back and wait. If memory serves, I think he got his first two in about three weeks. Since then, he has been to South America to visit the descendants of the peoples who made them, and through other channels, had added to his collection. And he brought some by to show us. Real live shrunken heads of dead people. Huh. By far the oddest three experiences to have in a single evening.

The cartonnage of Djedmaatesankh
Djedmaatesankh (Photo: CKIRIE)

I doubt the other story I wanted to tell will be of much interest to you, but I rather like it, so here it is. We were all in the Egyptian gallery one night -- this is excellent by the way, being in the museum after hours is one of the greatest thrills you can have. Really. We were in the gallery gathered around the cartonnage of Djedmaatesankh. There's her on the right. We were talking about images of women using post cards that featured photographs and paintings of women from the last hundred years or so. The card I had was of a painting from early this century, done in an impressionist style. It's a sunny morning. A young woman, or so you suppose because her face is but a suggestive pink smear, is en route to church. The title on the back alluded to a particular ceremony that slips my mind. There are trees and shadow and large swaths of dappled colour, and perhaps a priest off in the corner waiting to usher the woman into a church. For me, this picture was all about memory. Take this morning: a very special day in that woman's life. Were she to remember it, no doubt it would be bright and glowing, just like the painting. But after enough years, would she still be able to recall the priest's face? Or the material her dress was made out of? Or is there just the pastel recollection of the day? As time goes on, memories fade and change, and maybe that's just how it's all supposed to work, in the same way that death is a natural part of life. Even a photograph loses its meaning once the people in it have passed from memory. Maybe you have a picture yourself of you and barely remembered childhood friend. Arm in arm on a bright summer afternoon, staring at the camera.

Related Sites

Royal Ontario Museum
The Faces of Djed (About Djedmaatesankh)


Previous articles:

Shakespeare And The Elizabethan World (06 Apr 2002)
Whatever Happened In Ancient Egypt (06 Apr 2002)