Archive for space

The Apollo Exerciser

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on August 7, 2012 by Mike Rankin

Now that we have curbside pickup of recyclables, I don’t make it to the Take It or Leave It room at the town recycling center any more. On the upside, the house is less cluttered with worthless old junk. On the downside, well, I like worthless old junk.

Anyway, on a recent trek to the RC, I picked up a box containing some Space Age exercise equipment, the Apollo Exerciser. I picked it up because I’m a sucker for 70s stuff, space stuff, and cheesy stuff. So, there was no way in hell I could resist cheesy 70s space stuff.

The exerciser came in a kit that consisted of an 8-inch metal cylinder housing some springs that you attached ropes and pulleys to.

According to the instruction booklet, the metal cylinder (dramatically referred to only as “The Apollo”), was “a superbly engineered exercise instrument that had over two and one half years of research before its completion.”

It was also trumpeted as “the most efficient piece of equipment to carry out the total isokinetic principle of exercise in the world today!”

So efficient, in fact, you could get a great workout while wearing your white leather dress shoes. While tied to a door.

And the Apollo worked just as well for the ladies too. Keep running, sweetie. Eventually that door frame will give way.

And of course, the kids could get in on the fun too. It sure is fun, right kids? Kids?

It makes me think that in the late 60s early 70s, every American company would slap a red, white, and blue rocket on any product to help sales. I’m surprised they didn’t tie the family dog to the thing so it could walk itself.

Anyway, I’ve already tossed the Apollo itself, but the brochure was pretty hilarious, so here it is in full for your enjoyment (PDF).



One Small Step…

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on July 15, 2009 by Mike Rankin

UPDATE: It has come to my attention via comments below that copies of Armstrong’s autograph I posted are being used to create fake autographs. I feel horrible that anyone might get ripped off, so I’m removing the image.

If you’re a space geek like me you know that the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing is coming up next week.

July 20, 1969. Neil Armstrong steps off the ladder and into history. The whole world is watching, except me. I was probably taking a nap. Hey, what do you want, I was 7 months old.

OK, flash forward to spring 1985. I’m a junior in high school and I write a report on the moon landing for US history class. It’s a decent paper, and I still have it.


Oh, how the labored teen handwriting cracks me up. Either I didn’t have a typewriter or we weren’t allowed to use them.

Kids, do you realize how much better you have it? We were writing 12-page reports in cursive. In pen. If we made a mistake at the bottom of the page, we had to re-write the whole damn page! Wite-out was for chumps.

And you gotta love those 100% manual footnotes. Forget about InDesign’s paragraph composer, this is organic copyfitting. I can still remember trying to figure out the number of lines to leave for the footnotes and using the stupid ruler to underline stuff.


Anyway, the best part about the paper was that my teacher, Dr. William Hanna, included a surprise when he returned it to me. Neil Armstrong’s autograph. Yes, that Neil Armstrong. Click for a close-up.



Dr. Hanna gave it to me just because he thought I wrote a good paper and would like to have a memento. He was an autograph collector, and I’m sure he had an amazing number of figures from American politics and popular culture. But this was beyond generous. It was a truly amazing gesture by a remarkable teacher (and published author) who instilled a love of history in me that I will have forever. Thanks again, Dr. H.

Yup, that autograph is my favorite space geek collectible, narrowly beating out my lunar module pencil sharpener. 😉