Living in Space, Living on Earth

Living in Space, Living on Earth

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Pam Mandel in Space Helmet
(Pam Mandel Facebook Photo)

Seattle-based travel writer and blogger, Pam Mandel, has traveled to Hawaii and plays the ukulele.

Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield has traveled to the International Space Station and plays the guitar.

This past weekend they came to Earth with their string instruments at the legendary San Francisco Bay Area bookstore, Book Passage in Corte Madera. They played and sang Elton John’s  “Rocket Man”  and discussed the movie Gravity during their conversation about Hadfield’s new book about his travels in space, An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth: What Going to Space Taught Me About Ingenuity, Determination, and Being Prepared for Anything.

While I circled the store’s parking lot looking for a place to land my “shuttle,” my wife walked into the store to secure us seats for the Hadfield-Mandel event. A couple of minutes later, after finding neither nook nor cranny in which we could sit or stand, she called me on her “communicator” to say “It’s a zoo in there!” Much chagrined, we drove home at something less warp speed.

But although I missed their “Live!” performance, I was able to watch that dynamic literary and musical duo in action via this YouTube video filmed at Book Passage.

This wasn’t Pam Mandel’s first musical gig. If you’re in Seattle, you might be able to see her strum her “uke” as a member of “The Castaways Band.”

The Seattle Castaways Band
(Castaways Website Photo)

It wasn’t Chris Hadfield’s musical debut, either. Long before his book was released, he became famous when this video of him floating weightlessly through the International Space Station while performing a rendition of British singer/actor David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” went viral.

Here’s the description of An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth: What Going to Space Taught Me About Ingenuity, Determination, and Being Prepared for Anything on

Hadfield takes readers deep into his years of training and space exploration to show how to make the impossible possible. Through eye-opening, entertaining stories filled with the adrenaline of launch, the mesmerizing wonder of spacewalks, and the measured, calm responses mandated by crises, he explains how conventional wisdom can get in the way of achievement-and happiness. His own extraordinary education in space has taught him some counterintuitive lessons: don’t visualize success, do care what others think, and always sweat the small stuff.

“You might never be able to build a robot, pilot a spacecraft, make a music video or perform basic surgery in zero gravity like Col. Hadfield. But his vivid and refreshing insights will teach you how to think like an astronaut, and will change, completely, the way you view life on Earth-especially your own.”

Chris Hadfield, who like me dreamed about becoming an astronaut as a kid, had his dream realized years later when he responded to a classified ad seeking such space voyagers.

Space Suit Contest
(Col. Chris Hadfield Facebook Photo)

Since I couldn’t even get foot in the door at Book Passage on Saturday, I haven’t picked up a copy of Hadfield’s book as yet. But based the reviews I’ve seen, it should be a “good read” indeed, especially for Sputnik-era “space cadets” like me who have yet to go on their own space odysseys and reach the moon, and places in space where no earthling has ever gone before.


Col. Chris Hadfield was recently interviewed on NPR’s “Fresh Air”, as well as NPR’s “Science Friday” and PRI’s “The World” program. You can find more of his videos on YouTube. He’s on Facebook and Twitter, too.

Pam Mandel has been on the faculty of the annual Book Passage Travel Writers and Photographers Conference. She’s a technical writer as well as a travel writer. Read her blog, “Nerd’s Eye View.” You can follow her on Facebook and Twitter. Here’s how she ended up being invited to interview Hadfield at Book Passage.

(Nerd’s Eye View Website Photo)

You’ll frequently find Tales Told From The Road publisher, Dick Jordan, hanging out at Book Passage where he’s a member of the Left Coast Writers literary salon and a contributor to the Book Passage Blog. He filmed the short documentary, “Making Book: The Book Launch,” at the store earlier this year. It was broadcast in the store’s locale on MarinTV; you can watch the film’s trailer and the full movie on the Tales Told From The Road YouTube Channel.

You can purchase An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth from or through independent bookstores such as Book Passage.

Purchases made from through links on this page helps Tales Told From The Road continue to bring you a wide range of travel-related stories.

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