Moon Landing

By Beacon Staff

On A December day in Montana, it is just too cold to ski.

On a blazing hot day in July of 1969, I was about to be introduced to the wonderful world of electronics. It would be many years before Steve Jobs and Bill Gates would invent what they invented.

I had spent the day at San Onofre riding shoulder-high waves. In short, I had spent a perfect day enjoying perfect surfing conditions.

The stove had been put away and most of the people on the beach had gathered around the for the Saturday night guitar, ukulele and sing-along fest.

There was a full moon shining brightly when a friend invited me to the tailgate of his station wagon to view something on his TV that no one on Earth had ever seen before.

I sat in warm sand while watching men landing on the moon.

I could sit there and watch the small TV and look up at the moon in a mental state that was totally impossible to believe.

I learned many years later that the computer capability of that entire space craft and lunar landing module had far less capability than your cell phone has today. The two astronauts climbed out in their space suits and walked around for awhile for the ultimate photo op.

Then they climbed back into the landing module and blasted off to reattach to the rocket that would bring them back to earth. The mathematical probability of all of this working is so remote and complex that it is impossible to write the formula on a single piece of paper.

I never did invest in a 12-volt television set so I could watch TV from the remote places I traveled. I could never figure out how to get the signal. Now you can get cell or internet service just about anywhere. In retrospect, I doubt that I would have watched it anyway. I would rather spend the time with my kids teaching them old stuff that I knew. At the time, I was still shooting 16mm Kodachrome film with a hand-wind Bell and Howell, three-lens turret movie camera. I was recording my narration on 16mm magnetic tape with sprocket holes that matched those on the film. Then I would feed the sound track and the film through a synchronizer and match the words to the images. I wished I had some of the electronic wizardry of today to make those films better, but it had not been invented yet.

Amazing what can be done these days just with an iPhone. Yesterday, I filmed a whole video shoot using just a cell phone. This century is already passing me by.

An iPhone with a camera that is the same thickness and dimension as half of a deck of cards has more computer capability than those astronauts had with them when they blasted off for the moon that July in 1969.

Since it costs $10,000 per pound to get stuff up to the space capsule, it costs $20 million to get a 200-pound astronaut up there. So don’t look for a village on the moon any time soon.

The morning after the first lunar landing, I was spreading the word that it had been staged in a sound studio in Hollywood and I had some of my less-clever surfer friends convinced that my story was the true one. I’ve always been known to stir things up a bit.

I realized the next morning that nothing had changed in my surfing and movie-making world. You still had to scramble for a good spot on a wave. I still used wax on my surfboard and I still paid all of the bills of raising three young children.

Now it’s the time of year for us to get on the chairlift and ride up to the Timberline Cafe with Laurie and watch her ski down the hill once again.

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