Friday, 31 December 2010

Final Post of the Year

And the Decade too. Lots to do next year and as some of you know, plans in motion. Even if these do not come to fruition, the prospects from the process I am to undertake, are limitless.

Thanks to everyone who has backed the blog and I hope you'll come back in 2011.

Still need a more up to date photo...

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Haircut 100 (Fanta-stic day)

As I type this I wait in the Barber of The Oval, for the last cut of the year. Does this read like a tweet? If so let me know, as I'm thinking of making 2011 a year of Twitting. I suppose after all the idiocy of 2010 it cannot hurt...

Went to Tron again yesterday. I think I came to the conclusion it must be a work of fiction, but not for the reasons most of you are thinking. That is of course if there is anyone out there reading this. I might be passing comment on banality but boil it down, what isn't?

For those still in the Game, you can now put in your requests for my picture of the year. I'm up for more Rock Lobstar but I suspect there's more than B-52 fans out there reading this (at least I hope so...)

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Thoughts of Tron: Legacy

Last night, I got in.

Having listened to the Soundtrack for over a week I was sort of prepared for what I got. And I wasn't. You have got to see this movie in the biggest 3D screen you can. But for all it's workings and beauty (for it is a thing of Beauty, there is no doubt) Ton: Legacy left me in a very vunerable place, as I veered dangerously home, in the snow.

For those who have followed in the past, you will no doubt know of the fabled return journies home from London. Well, this one took me as far as New Cross, where I thankfully met a night bus home. Regrettably, having managed to stay warm for the majority of the trip once leaving the night bus I was bitterly cold. I'm running on three hours sleep now.

My thanks go out to the two others who saw Tron with me, thanks for backing me up on this one. Now, with less than a week to Christmas, all the presents bought and imagry of the Grid swirling in my mind, I wonder what innovations I might see, whether Immersion is a possibility. Should I go to see Tron again (well, that's a yes).

So to sign off in some weird fashion this time around, I'm a User, and Immersion is my idea.

End of Line.(for now)

Saturday, 18 December 2010

A Quiet Beer...

Alright then... So I get talked out of going to the All Bar One as my friend thinks it's good idea to try this other place out... What he don't know is it's Karaoke nite. Next time we go to my first choice my friend!

This is Martin Balm, reporting live from a pub off the Old Vic, waiting for his friends to show up for Tron (next posting: Tron thoughts)

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Oh Well...

I didn't get the Tron tickets...

Monday, 22 November 2010

Tron: Legacy - Can I blag some tickets?

In a vain effort to see Tron: Legacy way, way, way earlier than anybody else I'm going to take the liberty of plugging a website here called and the blatant fact they're asked me to plug the competition link to enter a competition. So plug away I have done (didn't I say a while back there'd be a blatant plug or two along the way?), lo, a plug above for the main site above and a link below to the Competition. Double Plug. As a triple plug told me about the previews for Tron: Legacy at IMAX London in Late October. Thanks for the heads up on that, but I didn't get to go. Oh well...

Just to hype up this movie and in case some of you have been living on Mars, or better still a Martian Commune here on Earth, Tron: Legacy is the Sequel to Tron, a movie in 1982 (which did better than Blade Runner at the box office...) which starred Jeff Bridges as Flynn, a Man zapped into a cyber world, to fight some massive techno nasties pre-Lawnmower CGI Internet era. But dig this, he's not the main guy, no sir, the Man who would be Star Killer, Bruce Boxleitner, is TRON. And he's in the sequel too... Here's a link to the official Disney UK site:

They've got some nice edits of the Soundtrack on there and loads of other stuff too. The Soundtrack, by the way, is done by Daft Punk, who did the bleeding cool (plug) album 'Discovery' which went on to be the basis of the movie Interstella 5555. Which was way cool. Track Three is just brilliant...

Having said all of this though even if I were to win who would want to go with me? Apparently I get a second 'Golden Ticket' - but there's no need to fight for it, I haven't won, have I. As much as I'd like to make a personal plug, isn't that a bit too much plugging? (plug overload).

Here's the link to the Competition:

On a completely separate note, something bleeding cool I saw a while back - a Max Headroom advertisment at the Coca-Cola Museum, Sunday 16th August 2007. Something to do with the future so I'm told... Max equipped for the Future, it being bright and all, with Sunglasses. As for me - well... Was Johnny Rotten a Prophet?

Monday, 20 September 2010


This fella was a surprise visitor a few Sunday Mornings ago...
Sorry space kiddos and kiddettes, I've been without homenet access for three or so weeks now but the new system is now up and running so hopefully a few additions in this in the next few weeks. Heck, some feedback would (and is always) welcome.

Saturday, 7 August 2010


Today marks the third anniversary of my trip to the USA...
A heck of a lot has happened in those three years. As I type these words another sunset falls on SafeHaven; we've had a miserable day here with a few showers and now at the end there's a break in the sky and transparent blue lies above, pink sunshine to the west as insects dance into the air, a cool evening where for one moment I caught my breath drifting away... the faint sound of seagulls in the background, above even the noise from the crossroad below.

It's still out there and it'll be no surprise to anyone that I miss it greatly. It was more than a Mission to go around the USA by Greyhound Bus alone, it was more than some kind of crazy wish furfillment as well. It's out there waiting and I saw so much and so little while I was out there and if there were any ambition left for me it's to go back again and take a different road but go by Greyhound again. See the Northern States, maybe a lot more of the East Coast. Don't tempt me, I might not come back this time.
For now though I'll leave you with a picture taken in Santa Fe, New Mexico nearly three years ago and think about those heady days of adventure in the USA.... Beyond The Launchpad...

"Almost heaven."

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Super Monaco GP

As I said right at the start of the Blog in March, there will be some shameless plugs on Beyond the Launchpad. Today, the absolutely brilliant Digital coverage of Formula One on the BBC. I'm not sure if it's being transmitted in HD yet but the 'Red Button' option of today's race was fantastic! On my 1080p Samsung I had Picture in Picture when I switched to the onboard Car Race coverage, showing the actual footage chosen for 'normal' televison, whilst I rushed around Monaco on several of the cars, a choice of commentaries (I stayed with the TV commentary) and indication of the race at the bottom of the screen. An absolute dream. Monaco is a race of dreams but so too is Monza, home of the Italian Grand Prix, where I went to see my only F1 race in 2006 and that was a real good couple of days... This really is akin to being there though:

R. Kubica in Cruise Control: Picture Courtesy of BBC coverage, copyright 2010 Formula One Administration Limited.

The image is a demonstration of what Digital Television was surely made for. The BBC have really optimised the coverage here and I hope that this gets even better in the Future, with perhaps an option of vehicles to be in-car with as well?

I've been a huge fan of Formula One since I was 4 years old, when there were six wheel cars and Turbo-Charged engines, yet I've never had the desire to drive 'in real life', except maybe a Ferrari (how cool would that be?). Still, I'd be happy to be driven around New York City by a Blind Man, just to be in a moving Ferrrari...!

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Bluewater: iPad and Iron Man 2

Something of a pictureless post today, following a very interesting visit to Bluewater yesterday. No crowds, it was a weekday. Wouldn't want to be there on a weekend or Bank holiday...

Saw Iron Man 2. Once again a very smart piece of work... Even if something happened in the film that really hit me hard. Whilst I'm on the matter here and in case anyone's listening out there: I like Rock 'n' Roll, I happen to like a lot of music (if anyone knows if or when Bear McCreary is playing the UK with his band LET ME KNOW) AC/DC have done some okay tracks BUT! Can I see the REAL Iron Man 2 Soundtrack please? Also, a neat Robin Hood trailer but Russell Crowe is not Errol Flinn, it was like watching Gladiator in the Forest of Endor... Finally on this matter, a public apology and affirmation - Yes, I will see this at an IMAX...sorry I went on my day off.

I also saw my first iPad out there. The hope is that I will be able to run Beyond The Launchpad from one of these impressive machines in the future. Whether it was a full mobile version or not I could not tell from the view I got of the machine (from someone who was clearly SHOWING OFF the fact they had the machine... oh of course I will as well!) but it looked good too... I have to say though advancements must be made to the width of these machines that offer these facilities... Anyone remember the Ericsson T-28? Now that was a really thin phone and I believe there's a way something like that could happen again with a touchscreen phone (without all the breakdowns though, that was really the big negative of the T-28)...

Unnervingly my presense went virtually unnoticed throughout the day. Not a bad thing you Launchpad fans would say but I do wonder when you have to wait to pay for stuff and you happen to be the only person in the shop apart from staff - what on Earth is going on here?! Do I need an iPad to get noticed?

EDIT 2/5/10

July 7th for the score...

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Two Sunsets - One Message

This is the wrap up session for the first new mission from Beyond The Launchpad. There were a lot of photographs taken on my voyage across the atolls of the Maldives - and the first of two images here is from my penultimate evening there. A magnificent skyline at the end of the day. This was something I attempted to see every day I was there. It was never the same, despite being in the same place. Yet nothing changed - how can you improve on brilliant?

I came home on 10/04/2010. Days have passed.

And it came to pass that a Volcano should erupt in Iceland. The skies became deserted and the evening was promising a 'lavender Skyline'. I returned home as quickly as possible to make good the opportunity to photograph a skyline here in the UK. My second picture shows the fall of night here at SafeHaven. It's been over a year now that I have been based here and the magnificent view is a good reason I think for it.

So, what have I gained from this journey? A reacquired taste for Strawberries, thanks to Strawberry Cornflakes. Pineapple Curry. Lime Juice. Calm, for now.

If any of you want to see further pictures of the Maldivian mission please feel free to contact me and I'll try to arrange a viewing. Meantime, anticipation for the next journey to grace Beyond The Launchpad grows...

Friday, 9 April 2010

"GEKKO! We've got GEKKO!!" Life on Maldives pt.3

On the penultimate evening here I went Gecko hunting. Gecko are Lizards, whom in some SE Asian Cultures are believed to bring Good Luck, Fortune and fertility. I have sought out these creatures as I find them fascinating to watch, incomprehensible at times but a sure means to control pests, as can be seen as this little fella is eying up Dinner in front of him... The Gecko here are tiny, perhaps around 3 inches in length but move fast and have a high vocal call...
This call is usually prevalent towards dusk and into the early evening, when these usually nocturnal creatures emerge -alertly- into the artificial light and feed on the insects drawn to the light. Gecko in the Maldives are usually to be found on the sides of buildings, seemingly defying gravity. As mentioned this is the first time I've really noticed these cute little critters and on previous visits I saw them virtually everywhere, on occasion within peoples homes. Now, they seem content to being outside...
This more or less wraps up the adventure in the Maldives for 2010. Unfortunately I must report that the opportunity to photograph a Fruit Bat may have passed but I will attempt before I leave to see if I can get something on record. Some more postings to come over the weekend...

Eye of the Storm

First of two today. Last night I went out into a further Electrical Storm taking place around my Island Retreat. A screen capture of the night lights is below:There is a two minute HD video of the event and some other image captures...

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Life on Maldives 2 - the struggle for survival

My second forray into 'Natural History' on the Maldives, my first photo was taken a few days ago at a deserted beach, where by chance I was to come across a Crow, one of the rare Avian Lifeforms that traverse during the day, making some kind of victory dance across the beach. Magnification of this image will reveal it's beak wide open - I wondered what it was doing. The Crow holds kingship of the skyline and treeline during the day, but by night leathery wings take control of the sky, as giant Fruit Bats dominate the Heavens. I have as yet been unable to photograph these creatures in their aerial habitat - but should I do so...

Whilst on the Dawn Patrol this morning I came across another of the diverse land-based lifeforms which frequent the island. This little Lizard had the good nature of pausing to allow me to photograph it and hence the inclusion here. These little beasties come in various sizes but nothing to the size of their ancestory, namely Dinosaur, scale. They are keeping the insect population here in check. Did I mention there are Insects? So far nothing to report of any menacing size or threat capability, but they are organised savengers, picking off carcases (a lot feeding on dead Crabs and the like). Some of the Soldier Ants could pose a significant threat if they were exposed to altering Radiotherapy treatment...

I hope to post another Life on Maldives entry before departure, hopefully including Previous trip favourite (but extremely elusive on this trip!) 'Gordon' Gekko and the Fruit bat in flight. A day or so to go, weather update: some stormy weather last night (crossed from Male to my hideout in an electrical storm: thankfully no power outage...) but nothing to photograph alas. Today clear skies again!

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

More Morning Photos

Close to being the perfect reason for waking up in the morning, for the second of today's postings, Daybreak number ten for me here. So far I have observed all but two daybreaks: the first missed because I was too tired to see it (I was fighting to get into the right timeframe) and the second due to unexpected poor conditions (we had rain Monday - I got soaked!). But every day I have disciplined myself to get up and see this and it's something I intend to do until I leave.

Flat on my back, somewhere. You'll need to enlarge this to see it, but hidden in the blue is a Cresent Moon, looking down on the bright, bright Earth. In a few days this will be gone, but I have intentions of more photography of the Celestial Body in the future. I think this won't be here though...


The first of two postings today. Here, the view from the top of the Holiday Inn on Male, as seen yesterday afternoon. As you can see, a stunning view. To keep you cultured souls in the know: on the left to sea is an Australian Frigate, which has been there for the past two days. The give away to the origins of the vessel? The big Red Kangaroo on the side of the ship...

In keeping with custom there was no Alcoholic beverage available to me. Instead I was treated to a Cappuccino, probably the best on the island (and that's a shameless plug for the staff in the Holiday Inn). Strangely, as the days wear on the desire for alcohol fades. Has my Abstinence for Lent become a permanent condition for 2010? I'm sure all you reading this will have your opinions...

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

The logo does the talking

Who would have thought that...

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Water is Life!

Yes, another daybreak photograph. However, this is not the real news today. I've been kicking dust around on this island in the sun for TOO LONG now, so it was about TIME I got into the Water (why on Earth do you go to an Island if NOT to go into the Water?). So, after several hours in the Sun I decided to cool off under the stars with a dip into the Ocean... As you Launchpad fans know the last time I was in this particular Ocean I made like Samwise Gamgee and nearly sank to the bottom of the Sea...
(which might explain WHY I stay on the Islands.)
This time, with no Frodo in sight to drag me back to safety I did not sink and enjoyed the view of the Stars and Planets whilst floating on my back, including one particular Planet called MARS which just so happens to be in the sky to the West of here. If any Martians were looking on I'm sure they got enough information to stall any further invasion plans from their observation my heroic efforts in the sea - but as you all know from your classical education and (in the case perhaps of one or two of you) from the study of the specimen in the Natural History Museum, Martians are effectively Octopus, with big luminous disc-like eyes, so perhaps they might be more efficient in our seas and at Nighttime...
Just some off the cuff thoughts for you all on Easter Sunday... Our temperature here today was around 30 degrees centigrade and we had good skies.

Friday, 2 April 2010

Crabby Pictures

"You talkin' to me?"

Clearly not - I'm off.

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Easterly View

Thursday Morning. Today, for the first time in four days I managed to catch sunrise by rising at 5.45am, some fifteen minutes earlier than usual and despite the cloud cover, I think managed to get some good photos. In a flipside to the previous post I'm adding a few more images as this side is Daybreak side and (did I mention this before?) because it is thirty seconds from where I'm staying at the moment.

Yeap, it certainly pays to wake first thing. My routine is good now: up at Daybreak, circle the island taking some photos, (which usually take up an hour or so,) breakfast, work (today another 2,800 words, sorry I don't think I'm going to get to my proposed 50,000 written before I leave but I think if I get at least half of that I'm doing good), and the afternoon off to catch up with friends and more photos.

The clarity of the water here fails to be captured in my photos, but here you can readily see the reflective nature and near stillness of the water at low tide. As has been mentioned my iTouch has been deployed on this adventure: this morning's delights were tracks from Royksopp's 2009 album Junior, Chicane's 2007 album Somersault and Goldfrapp's 2008 album Seventh Tree.

Finally, no, I haven't forgotten either. I know that some of you wanted more 'hilarious' photos of Rock Lobster but given that the feedback has been substantially worse than the initial run on Beyond the Launchpad I'm beginning once more to question if this is real or a New York State of Mind. If it's the latter, please be advised some real upbeat posts will be issued shortly.
Further details to follow.
(n.b. heck, that's kinda catchy isn't it? That would be good for a Blog name...)

Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Westerly View

Sorry, no pictures of today but one of yesterday, the sunset as seen from my island outpost.

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

"Did you ever see anything so wonderful?" (EDITED)

Alrighty then, today's offerings are once more from my hidden resort island, and firstly, Alpine Road. It was like being in Central Europe in the Summer walking this morning (very early) around the perimeter of the island. It doesn't get much busier than this but first thing, deserted. Just the way I wanted it, as I wandered with my iPod in play mode.

Will you look at those?! Initially I was drawn to an oasis of Green but then I had the opportunity to do some flower photography. Flowers?! Well, these have a very good aesthetic quality and the lighting was catching them magnificently, so I was compelled to photograph them. The title of today's entry is in reference to the flowers as well: anyone want to venture a guess where the quote is from?

(EDIT 2/4/10) ah, there's a bottle in the photo...
Finally, as I said, I was drawn to an oasis of green. No expectations of finding grass here so when I did find it, I had to test it, I had to know if it was real. Oh, it was real, maintained to a very high quality. I think I will go back to this oasis again tomorrow and enjoy the air here once more. If any of you are familiar with opening to the movie Silent Running you might have an idea of what it was like to be here this morning. Unfortunately (?) I don't have the Folk soundtrack that went to that, as I think that it might be appropriate to listen to here. I guess I'll just have to make do with Bear McCreary for now...

There's still a chance to get some more 'comical' pictures of Rock Lobster from yesterday published - my thanks to those (all of one of you) who have asked for his return but lets see if there's anyone else out there who wants to see this fella again?! GMT 1700hrs, Wednesday, 30th March is the deadline for your request(s)...

Monday, 29 March 2010

Life on Maldives

Day Three, and my first walk around my base of operations. In an anticlockwise motion I took myself on a journey around this urbanised, yet deserted island. The plan is to create a well constructed, totally modern environment here. The initial structures are here, there are *some* people here and there are *some* shops here but it is nothing like the capital island, which to some extent is a good thing but in others, not. Of course there is some wildlife here as the next photos suggest. Our first picture is of a cat that decided to strike a pose for me as I headed back this morning.

My next encounter with Wildlife here was this little Hermit Crab, who decided to enjoy the view with me this afternoon. There are other 'cuter' photos of this vicious sea predator and I will bow to requests to show these if I am asked but be advised - the cutoff date for requests to see them is Wednesday 1700hrs GMT

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Arrival at Male

As photo one to the right shows I am here and for those who saw me on Friday, in near full dress uniform -STILL- after a very long flight last night. A number of my team here met with me on arrival, including a very old friend to the right of me in this picture. As I type this I am fighting fatigue from a very long day or so. But I did see Creation, Where the Wild Things Are and The Damned United as inflight entertainment.

Our Second Picture does NOT show a 777, but a 747! Well, this is a surprise, I was of the impression that these couldn't land here - can someone back 'home' give me some confirmation I id'd the aircraft correctly?

Please note, due to a very sudden set of circumstances, my Ground Team here have been called away to the Equator on urgent assignment. This will leave me in complete charge of the Outpost for an entire week -at least- alone...

Friday, 26 March 2010

At Gatwick (edited 27/03/2010)

I am here. There is a beautiful Red Ferrari (F430?) here. Here is a picture of the engine. I know, the car is the star but I need to remove some faces from the photo before I post that. I will hopefully get some pictures of the mighty 777 (Triple Seven!) Lucky Star Flight of fantasy at it's gate, which as has yet to be called.

I am enjoying a Malteasers Milkshake (go figure) and am geared up for my 10 hour flight into adventure. Maybe they'll show a good movie onboard...

As I leave the UK there is a feeling of Anxiety, not fear. Strange, when I went Beyond the Launchpad in 2007, there was a simular feeling which went away once I was on my journey, on the road again. Next post: Maldives. And I will update this with the car then...!

PS - all of a sudden I am hearing the lyrics "Starlight, starbright! First Star I see tonight" in my head...!

UPDATE: Sorry, no car as yet - but instead the 777 at the Barding Gate (59) at Gatwick...

Monday, 22 March 2010


Well, this is a test of the camera I'm going to be using shortly for a field exercise. I went out yesterday and did some photography of the locality. This is one of the better pictures I thought I'd include. A mere test. Wish it had been a little more sunny...

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Back in Business!

Howdy Everyone, welcome back to Beyond the Launchpad. It's been a while since the Halcyon days of the West to East Coast run across the USA. There was an aborted attempt at a day to day blog but that wasn't really as good or as raw as what is without doubt, a really good name for a really good blog (even if I do say so myself).

My intentions are very specific for this Resurrection. Photos, thoughts and shameless plugs as I hurtle through the Cosmos - Beyond the Launchpad - travelling without moving, keeping this very special title alive. Stay tuned for the further adventures of Martin Balm and of course, feel free to pass (polite!) comment.

"It's Changing Everything - AGAIN."