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Wednesday, May 3, 2023

walking (35 miles) to Office daily ~ spaceport - UK to Australia

Aware of ‘Shanti ~ Saffire’ syndrome ?

A few decades ago, life was pretty different.  People joined offices [be it small proprietorships or even shops] worked there and retired peacefully.  Many commuted by walk and bicycle, while some preferred Pallavan buses.  Travel in a taxi was on exigencies and only the rich owned the few Cars and twowheelers seen on roads.  Offices were mostly in Parrys area or were situate in that famous road called Mount Road, the preferred stretch was that part  nearer Island Ground to Saffire theatre complex – that had so many cinema theatres on its curve.   

Now as one traverses OMR aka Rajiv Gandhi Salai – one understands that few miles do not matter much for the milling crowd – who travel the length and breadth of the city for that daily bread.  If we ever thought that 30 odd kilometres one way was rough and tumble, do read on about Steve Simoff. 

Sometimes people stop to pick him up. But in this day and age that is not guaranteed; motorists are suspicious, worried. So on those occasions Steve Simoff’s only real alternative is to keep walking. All 35 miles if needed. And then he has to get home. The 61-year-old does not think there is anything that extraordinary about his commute, or that of James Robertson from Detroit, who whose story became international news last month when it was revealed that he been making 21 mile round trip to his factory job for many years.

Mr Simoff, from Davis City, Iowa, works at the Lakeside Casino in Osceola where he does the night shift as a janitor. To understand it,  it is the job of cleaning and maintenance of buildings such as hospitals, schools and residential accommodation. Janitors' primary responsibility is as a cleaner. In some cases they will also carry out maintenance and security duties.  His regular shift starts at 11pm and so he sets off on foot most days at 3.30pm. Apart from two fifteen minute breaks, he spends his shift on his feet. He earns $9.07 an hour. He wife receives disability benefit after suffering a stroke.

He said that he never thumbed for a ride but that people stopped to give him a lift, some of the way, three days of five. He said that Sundays were the trickiest as there was less traffic on the road. He told the newspaper he estimated he walked an average of four hours every day and wears out his shoes every two months.  Mr Simoff lives with his wife, Renee, and their grandson, Steven, whom they adopted. Recently they bought a car but struggle to pay for the petrol. The reason they live in Davis City is the affordable rent – just $400 a month.

The story of Mr Robertson’s walk to his factory resulted in an outpouring of public admiration, matched by $350,000 in donations. The money has made life easier for him, but he has had to move out of his home for safety reasons. Mr Simoff told the newspaper he has no plans at this stage to change his routine. “If I don’t get to work, bills don’t get paid,” he said. “As long as my two feet are good and my health is good, I don't think I'll change.”

Distances are shrinking and elsewhere is the news of UK Govt backing plans to build a spaceport for commercial spaceflight, hoping to eventually offer cosmic flights from Newquay or Glasgow that will be faster than HS2. Glasgow to Sydney is 10514 miles.  It is hoped that the new ports will become hubs for commercial flights into space, offering trips into the cosmos as well as super-fast round the world flights. Companies involved in developing such technology hope that space planes will eventually be able to fly to Australia in two hours. That could mean a journey from the new port to Sydney would be quicker than a trip to Manchester. Even under the High Speed 2 railway — the Government’s other big transport plan — journey times while travelling around the UK on the train will be comparable with those travelling into space and other places in the world through the spaceport.

“Launching satellites and operating commercial space flights from our shores was once only confined to the depths of science fiction,” said Vince Cable, the business secretary. “But with the results of this consultation we are one step closer to making this a very real ability in the near future.” The new spaceport, built like an airport but accommodating planes meant for jetting into space, is part of the Government’s plans to become a world-leader in commercial space travel. The UK hopes that it will be able to attract companies like Virgin Galactic and competitor XCOR Aerospace to eventually fly from the site.

The Government also narrowed the list of potential locations. The shortlisted locations are Campbeltown, Glasgow and Stornoway in Scotland, Newquay in England and Llanbedr in Wales. The plan could use an RAF base near Fife as a temporary facility.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
4th Mar 2015.

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