Tag Archives: Brett Favre

STS-131: A Space Camp Field Trip

Twenty years ago when Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger graduated from Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama she dreamed of one day working for NASA. In 2004, she entered the NASA training program for Astronaut Candidates. Yesterday, she launched into space onboard Discovery. When the crew of STS-131 launched there was nearly twenty Space Camp employees and board members at Kennedy Space Center. It was a field trip of sorts. We all felt so proud of our first Space Camp alumni astronaut we had to make the trip down.

Chris, Kerby, and I left on Friday night at eight o’clock. We felt like we were in college again driving to Florida. We drove through the night and only stopped twice before arriving in Titusville at breakfast time Saturday morning. Our plan was to rest and then go to a few pre-launch receptions to mingle with other space geeks. A shuttle launch is like a spring break trip for geeks. Rather thank going to Panama City, drinking copious amounts of Natty Light, partying until day break, and wearing next to nothing. Space geeks assemble around Kennedy Space Center, drink a respectable about of Jack and Coke, wake up in the middle of the night to see a shuttle launch at day break while wearing business casual.

We connected with space geek and Tennessee Squire Leesa and her friend Julie to venture around the pre-launch celebrations. While at the Hilton Cocoa Beach we bumped into astronaut Stephen Robinson. Hanging out with an astronaut is always fun, but he was talking with three other Space Camp alumni, all of whom are huge supports of space flight. We need more events like this to build the Space Camp alumni base. Meeting these ladies during a pre-launch party when the first Space Camp graduate was prepping for her adventure in space was special to me. The whole trip was special, it was a once in a life time experience.

Sunday morning we toured KSC focusing on the area around launch pad 39A. Discovery was prepped and ready. Our group got to go beyond the tour gates. Our tour guide and astronaut guest urged us to stay in the roped area. I love to venture off from tour groups, but this was one time I wasn’t going to disobey. I was so committed to the rule of staying in the roped off area that when the command came to reload the bus, I reminded our guide that she told us to “stay in the roped off area.” To be 300 yards from the Space Shuttle on the pad is like seeing your favorite baseball player hit a grand slam. Or since the Space Shuttle is so old, it is like seeing Brett Favre pass for the winning touchdown.

We woke up Monday at midnight. I wasn’t sleepy; I was wired like I had just finished 10 Red Bulls. I was about to see a shuttle launch. And not just any launch, the launch of Space Camp’s first astronaut and with some of my favorite people! It took us about an hour to drive to the Operations Support Building II (OSBII). We entered a big conference room with large projection screens and televisions on the walls. Astronauts, Senators, Congressmen, and members of the President’s Cabinet filed into the room. I was more interested in watching the live telecast of the white room. I heard a collective cheer on Facebook and Twitter from Space Camp graduates around the world when Dottie appeared on camera.

When Charlie Bolden entered the room, Marcia and I made our move for an STS-61C sandwich and to present the NASA Administrator with a Space Camp coin. Hoot Gibson, friend of Space Camp and astronaut extraordinaire, had flown with Charlie Bolden on STS-61C. When I spoke to Hoot on Saturday night, he encouraged me to ask Bolden for a sandwich. An STS-61C sandwich is defined as an embrace from one of the male members of STS-61C with a lady between him and another male. Unfortunately, Hoot was not at the launch to complete the sandwich. I know it might be a stretch, but at that moment I felt like I was a Space Camp Ambassador spreading world peace from our little camp program.

The time came to assemble on the balcony of the OSBII. The countdown clock was still in the nine minute hold. The OSBII is right beside the VAB and just behind the press viewing area. We were three miles from the launch pad. We could see the shuttle’s ET and some of the orbiter. The servicing structure just blocked the shuttle from view. There had been some concern with a fuel cell, fog around the Cape, and the eastern range but everything was clear and the mission was go coming out of the hold. As the clock moved toward launch everyone listened and watch like little kids waiting on Santa. When the shuttle main engines ignited it appeared like New Years sparklers on the pad, there was a flash, but we didn’t hear anything. The SRBs ignited with a bright flash but it wasn’t until the shuttle left the pad that the light from the SRBs flooded the night sky. It was so bright that you wanted to turn away, but I didn’t dare even blink. I was watching the second to last launch of Discovery and the last night launch.

As the shuttle rocketed toward space, we could see the reflection of the exhaust on the water surrounding the pad. When the sound of the shuttle made it to our ears, it roared louder than any sporting event or race car. It shook the whole building, my body, my heart. It was amazing! Tears were welling in my eyes as I flashed back to every shuttle launch I saw on TV and the one I saw a few years back. So much was connected to the launch: Dottie’s connection to Space Camp, the fourth to last launch of the only American manned spacecraft that has flown in my life time, I was their with punkin, my boss and friends, and so on.

Dreams are important things. If we don’t dream then we won’t have direction. We will amble around this world looking for something to give us happiness. Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger is a teacher and astronaut. Her mission to the ISS will inspire many to dream. In being part of Space Camp, my mission is similar: to inspire the next generation of dreamers. Our Space Camp field trip to the launch of STS-131 has inspired me more than I could have imagined. It was a magnificent sight with powerful sounds and emotions. I am thankful, lucky, and blessed to work at Space Camp!

2009 Year In Review

Last year I had a lot of fun with my year in review blog. Therefore, I made an executive decision to continue the tradition this year. The year 2009 was a great year for me and my hubby Chris. We spent most of the time sleeping under the same roof which was a drastic change from the previous four years in our marriage. During the year I took an exploratory outlook on life. I returned to the Barn after a ten month break and began blogging about the misadventures of the Barn. It was a year of great highs and a few lows, but overall it was a wonderful year! Here are my top ten moments of 2009!!!

Green Bay Pre-Game10. Trip to Wisconsin: Visiting Lambeau Field would have been great if I had seen just any game. However, our visit to Lambeau field was for the Packers vs. Vikings game; the game where Brett Favre returned to the Frozen Tundra, his former home. The best part of the road trip was sharing the adventure with my mom, dad, and Chris. The part that sucked was throwing up in the back seat of my mom’s Lincoln Navigator. All is well in the world, and Brett Favre was victorious!

9. Arizona Traffic School: This doesn’t sound like it should be a highlight of my year’s adventures. However, the recruiting trip to Prescott, Arizona is one of my favorite work assignments. During the fall, Snapper and I made our way back to Embry Riddle for the third time. On the trip into Prescott, a traffic camera caught me speeding. I am well versed in what to say to an officer when they pull me over. I was left speechless when I received a speeding ticket in the mail. One Saturday morning in December I played Mariah Carey music while I completed my online traffic school. The only thing that would have made Arizona traffic school better would have been a PBC Wedge from the Prescott Brewing Company.

8. The Plumber App: With a Twisted Taco cup in one hand and a crescent wrench in the other hand I attempted to fix my tub’s broken facet. I am not a plumber nor should I ever become one. In this attempt I broke my Motorola Razor and made way for my darling husband to purchase me, at long last, an iPhone with Plumber App. Looking back at this mini adventure and all the laughs it was well worth the mess I made in my bathroom.

7. Flaming Hookers: I am not going to tell the whole story, but the night of the Space Camp Hall of Fame a few friends and I continued the party at a local watering hole (ATO). This is where I was introduced to a Flaming Hooker. No, it isn’t a lady of the night who is being cremated. It is a drink made popular to space geeks in the book Riding Rockets. This story really isn’t the highlight but gives a great example of the fun I have had socializing with friends, astronauts, and space geeks. The top memory for me wasn’t the night of the hall of fame, but happened a few weeks later when I visited with a few members of STS-125 and Hoot Gibson. It was great sharing Story stories with Michael Massimino. Now I know how the bolt on Hubble was over torqued.

Jack Daniels (Dec 2009)6. Becoming a Squire: Last year while standing in line at Jack Daniel’s, waiting in the bitter cold to have bottles signed, Divot and I made a commitment to visit Lynchburg on a regular basis until one or both of us were Squires. In April of 2009, I received my deed to land at Jack Daniel’s making me a Tennessee Squire. Divot and I continued to visit the distillery and go to bottle signings. Visiting Lynchburg is fun, and being a Squire is a big deal to me!

5. Houston in February: Right after training dozens of new Space Camp counselors, I get away from my job by flying to Houston Texas to attended SEEC. Yes, it is a vacation to me! Learning more about space may make me a space geek, but hanging out with teachers from all over the U.S. is fun to me. Hanging out with my friend Rhonda is a plus! Last year we took a break from the conference to watch Pat Summitt win her 1,000th game as a head coach. I think Urban Meyer can learn a few things from Pat Summitt. She has 8 NCAA Championships over 35 years of coaching. Meyer has two BCS Titles in his young career. Coach Summitt, Rhonda, and NASA are all pretty dang cool!

4. Bourbon Trail: In late August I took a road trip to Kentucky. I was all by myself on this excursion. I visited Mammoth Cave and five bourbon distilleries. Along the way I learned a lot about Kentucky’s history, how to make bourbon, and why Jack Daniel’s is the best whiskey. True, you may think I am a traitor for visiting Jack competitors, but I wanted to see for myself what the difference was between Kentucky Straight Bourbon and Tennessee Whiskey. If you decide to visit the Bourbon Trail, make sure you visit Maker’s Mark and Woodford Reserve. By far, those two distilleries have the best tours and a better product than the other bourbons.

Lucy's First Egg Bowl3. Lucy’s Bell: What do you get when you mix family with Mississippi State tailgating? The answer is, the best Egg Bowl ever! It was Lucy’s first Egg Bowl so she got a brand new pink bell from the Barns & Noble at State. Mississippi State gave Lucy and all their adoring fans lots of reasons to ring their cowbells this year in Starkville. Once State took the lead in the third quarter they didn’t give it up again as they pounced on Ole Miss 41-24! I know there have been bigger wins in MSU history, but for me this was the best one ever! My whole family was there for the game as we joined my aunts and uncles for pre and post game refreshments. Days and games like the Egg Bowl can show everyone outside of the South why SEC football is so near and dear to its followers!

2. Epic Return to the Barn: I left work at the Barn in the spring of 2008 just shy of five years with the store. I didn’t think I would return, but in March of this year I did. I was surprised after returning that I love working at the Barn more now than ever before! There is something about it. It is like when I left I was simply a Barnyard Hand in Training. Now, I feel like a Barn Ninja. And on top of all the fun I have working at the Barn, when I get home I can write about working at the Barn. It is truly the gift that keeps on giving. Working with characters (boy, are they characters) such as Hudson, Manhattan, Josephine Bedding and all the others is fun and enjoyable. Isn’t that what we should want in any job?

Red Bull stew1. Chief Reunion: In late July Chris and I visited Camp of the Rising Son for its 30 year reunion. Wow, CRS has been around for 30 years! I enjoyed visiting the camp that gave me my start as a camper and my first job as a camp counselor. It was wonderful visiting with old friends, I mean Chiefs. The whole process was a blessing as I reconnected with so many people. One of the highlights for me was my team winning the Camp Stew Cook Off! The secret is in the bacon! Unfortunately for me, some stories of the past did surface. I would like to tell everyone reading, I am truly sorry for tossing a bucket of water on a past Chief. And yes, the bucket had a few frogs in it. As a camp manager, I have learned that pranks are bad for camp.

Camp is my life! It has molded me into who I am today. I am a rambunctious, redhead who isn’t afraid of adventure. I love my family more than camp, but it is good going to a job you love every single day. My job has given me a lot of the experience listed above. I am lucky to have a great life surrounded by people I love, and who I think love me, or at least they don’t dislike me. So I am looking forward to the adventures of next year, and the next decade. I wish you all a very Happy New Year!

Titletown

Chris and Me at Green Bay (2009)Green Bay, Wisconsin is a wonderfully neat town. It is home to the last truly small town professional sports team. What makes the Packers special is the community that surrounds it and supports it. It is not owned by a George Steinbrenner or Jerry Jones type. The Packers are owned by its community and fans. What made Brett Favre their hero was his down to earth, blue collar, working man’s personality. He brought Green Bay back to the title games it had grown accustom to during the early years.

This weekend the legendary QB returned to play against his old team, this time clad in purple and gold. I was lucky enough to witness the tussle on the tundra. Much was made about his multiple efforts to retire only to return late in the summer. I would describe his behavior as that of a drama queen; however, the Packers organization did choose to trade their favored son. Packer management wanted to move on without number 4 leading the team to a younger quarterback. It was a nasty divorce with lots of crying, some kicking, and lots of media coverage. It was ugly on both sides.

Unlike the ESPN and Fox coverage of the jeering crowds, yesterday I noticed a lot of truly classy people in the stands. As Favre took the field for his pregame warm up there were hundreds standing and clapping. There were signs displayed thanking Brett for many years of good memories. As the boos drowned out the warm greetings there were also T-shirts and signs calling Favre a traitor and even calling him Judas. It was a hostile environment, but I am sure Alabama or Florida State was a little more hostile when he was in college at Southern Miss. The Golden Eagles being lead by Favre commonly upset ranked opponents. College fans in the south are much more vicious than pro football fans. Trust me on this one. The only true difference in a pro fan’s wrath and a college fan’s passion is that alcohol can be sold in pro stadiums (notice I didn’t say “consumed”).

Everyone we met seemed to have something nice to say about the aging diva. One lady we met in our hotel said she slept better on Saturday night just knowing that Brett was in Wisconsin again. Another man remarked as he was pumping gas that he was a die hard Green and Gold man, but he wanted to see Favre do well on Sunday. There were more number 4 jerseys in the stands than any other player, true there were some green and some purple. Heck, there were also a few number 4 Atlanta Falcons jerseys and I saw one Southern Miss jersey as well. Overwhelmingly, people still support him. The gift shop in Lambeau still sells Favre jerseys. One clerk told me they sell more 4s than 12s even after the divorce.

Overall the game was great. The Packers have an up and coming team. Pretty boy Aaron Rodgers will one day take the pack to the playoffs, maybe even bring home the title. Brett Favre can also still play for the love of the game. The Vikings gave the aging player a chance to make one more run to the title! As we left I was sad. The environment that surrounds Lambeau is strictly for the enjoyment of football. The stadium is like a stadium should be, even with the addition of luxury boxes. The memories of Bart Starr and Vince Lombardi can still be felt in this simple but classic structure.

Brett Favre Pass

This morning we woke up in Rockford, Illinois one time home of the Rockford Peaches of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. Growing up, one of my favorite movies was A League of Their Own. This morning we took our time driving up the Wisconsin country side, lots of crops, barns, and livestock. We also stopped at a hunting and sporting goods store to buy warmer clothes, all in preparation for a football game.

The origin of this trip was way back last year. My buddy, Charity and I wanted to make a road trip to a Packers game. Life and the trip changed and Safety was added to the mix. We picked our trip date early in April, just after the schedule was released to the public. I think Brett Favre was drinkin’ beer in Mississippi and filming Wrangler commercials in April. There wasn’t any talk of Brett being a Viking. During the summer ESPN started reporting the possibility of Favre’s return to the NFL. Then one day, in a frenzy, a jet left Hattiesburg, Mississippi and when it landed Brett Favre was a traitor.

Now it is Halloween and I am here with my parents. We have had a great trip and we are anticipating a great game. I am sure it would be more enjoyable to see the Packers beat up on a lesser team. Or see Brett Favre in his younger days. But that is not going to happen on this trip. There is a battle brewing tomorrow and it will not be pretty.

Many articles and blogs have described Favre’s defection to Minnesota as a nasty divorce. There was talk of making the world’s largest waffle to honor Favre’s indecisive nature. Maybe he is dragging his feet as he heads to retirement, but let’s look at the Packers for a moment. They wanted to go in a different direction. Green Bay wanted a divorce as much as, or more than, Brett wanted to play another season. They wanted to chase another younger woman, Aaron Rodgers. No matter what, Brett is better off with a more complete team to finish his career with and Green Bay is building a team for the future.

Brett Favre Ass

The only thing missing in this whole saga is class! There have been passive aggressive comments made by both sides. I have seen lots of angry fans and nasty comments. But I leave with a photo taken just outside Brett Favre’s restaurant located on Brett Favre Pass. I will let the photo speak for itself. No matter what, this has been a great adventure so far.

Back Seat Blogger

This morning with a quick stop to drop of the Boo-ster, we drove from Huntsville to Memphis, Tennessee to meet up with my parents, Big Mama and Big Daddy. Our final destination will be Green Bay, Wisconsin and the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field. I am merely a passenger on this trip. A trip that I almost canceled days before, because I wasn’t sure I could juggle all my commitments. Marcia, you were correct! I am glad I am here now.

So far today, I have taken a nap, passed out mid-flight refreshments, and spotted a camel on the side of the road. Heck, a camel on the side of the road is an every day sighting in Missouri! Our road companion and GPS guide for this trip is Le-a (pronounced Le-dash-ah and is a real name). We call her Le-a because she is on the dash-ah board of my parent’s vehicle! Le-a reminds us to drive straight on I-55 north. When we exit the interstate for snacks or gas she gently reminds us to make a “legal U-turn” or “turn right to I-55.” Really what Le-a wants to say is “Fool, I didn’t tell you to turn back there. Get back on the dang road!”

Big Daddy likes to drive yelling at all the crummy drivers while Big Mama knits. I am aft of the driver’s seat trying not to get sick as I type on my laptop and Daddy curses the mini-van drivers. You know, mini-van drivers are the world’s worst drivers! And yes Amazon, I am blogging!!! However, Chris has had his lap top out longer than I have. I think he is doing work or looking at porn.  (That was added to see if the former-editor was paying attention. He is really doing work.)

We stopped in Sikeston, Missouri at the “Home of Throwed Rolls,” Lambert’s Café. It was quite an enjoyable meal. The waiter that was the designated roll thrower wore an Alabama ball cap. He caught my eye and I nudged Chris, hey isn’t there some customary greeting you Alabama people give in passing? Chris being the shy guy, didn’t belt out Roll Tide and the President of the university is considering revoking his diploma.  I digress.

Alabama ball cap boy got me to thinking. Do you think that they have relief pitchers in the bull pin just in case the lead thrower misses the plates and hands of hungry customers? Do you think they scout minor league waiters to see if they have what it takes? Do the managers talk to each other asking who the star hurler is in the organization? “Hey, we got a great prospect here in Foley, want us to send him up to Sikeston?” Or the manager that has the difficult conversation with a struggling waiter, “Son, you lost something on your delivery. We are going to send you to Branson for a few rehab starts and see how you progress.” Really, if you think about it, if you are the home of the throwed rolls, your talent has to be good.

All in all we have had a great day. The trip has reminded me of all the long family vacations we took. Growing up we visited Chicago and St. Louis for baseball games. Once we even took the train to New Orleans for a football game. There was another time we drove to Dallas in Johnny Stahls’ van to see Brett Favre and the Packers face the Cowboys in the NFC Championship game. Favre lost that game. We will see how he does on Sunday facing his old team. Wow, there will be some conflicted souls in Green Bay.

The Babe Ruth Method

Babe Ruth was a legend in his lifetime. He played in the major leagues from 1914 with the Boston Red Sox until he retired with the Boston Braves in 1935. His glory years were spent in New York where he helped to win four World Series wearing the navy pinstripes. He is known as a great all around baseball player. He started with the Red Sox as a pitcher and then became one of the most dominating hitters of all time. The record he is most known for is his 1927 home run record of sixty home runs. It wasn’t broken until 1960.

Me at old Yankee Stadium (Sept 2009)George Herman Ruth was a larger than life player. He was known as “The Great Bambino” and “The Sultan of Swat.” He lived large and swung a big bat. But when his stats started to decline and he had to have other people run the bases for him he should have left the game. The fans attending his games would see him hit homers every once in a while, but not as often as during Ruth’s prime. Ruth has a measly .181 during his last season which was shortened due to his retirement. Ruth’s status in the baseball world was only slightly tarnished.

I think Ruth’s staying at the party too long laid the ground work for all the current greats to stay too long as well. Look at our most recent case of partying too long. Brett Farve, after signing his $100 million contract in 2001, said he was a “Packer for life” and he couldn’t “envision” himself playing for another team. He did retire as a Packer, but came back, and then retired as a Jet, and now has come back again.

Farve is not the first, look at Michael Jordon. He retired in his prime with three NBA titles. Jordon tried playing baseball… what was he thinking? He did return to the Bulls to win three more titles. Phil Jackson’s contract expired and the possible departure of Scottie Pippen created a perfect time for Jordon to retire. He went out on top with the epic shot with ten seconds remaining to take the lead. The Bulls built a monument to number 23. This time it would be for good, right? No, the 1998 NBA finals was not his last game in the NBA. We would be forced to see a great looking uncomfortable on a court in purple of all colors.

Another great who took Ruth’s method to retirement was Jerry Rice. Rice won three Super Bowl rings while playing in San Francisco. He left the 49ers at the end of the 2000 season for the Raiders. He didn’t do awful, but did bounce around to the Seahawks and the Broncos until he signed a one-day contract with San Francisco for ceremonial cash so that he could retire a 49er. The good thing about Rice was even though his fans had to endure seeing him in black, then green, then orange; he, unlike some, had the good sense to come back home to retire as 49er, the team and organization that first gave him the opportunity play in the National Football League.

Emmett Smith left the Cowboys to add more yards to his rushing title. He found a spot to play with the Arizona Cardinals. He too signed a one-day deal to retire as a Cowboy in 2005. Unfortunately for some of us, we had to watch him on dancing with the stars.

Roger Clemens won seven Cy Young awards but still managed to tarnish his career not by bouncing around to other teams, but by extending his career beyond his prime by using performance enhancing drugs. Why? He was an icon when he played for the Red Sox. He could have retired in 1996 and been in Cooperstown by now. But no! Stupid self absorbed multimillion dollar sports stars don’t know when to quit. Clemens also worked an angle similar to Farve. He skipped out on training camp and signed a contract late in the preseason or early in the season. What does this say to the team? Some players can get away without all the preseason work.

I have come to two conclusions. First, we, the fan base, allow it. We would rather see our favorite geezer pass for one more incredible touchdown, throw one more no-hitter, or win one more game at the buzzer, than honor in retirement when they are in their prime. We, as fans, want to keep living the 1927 season. I am sure the players themselves want that as well. But life is all about seasons. Fall, winter, spring, and summer they come and they go. They bring us good times and bad times. That is the point of life. Athletes are young, strong and agile. They play during the spring and summers of their lives. Once fall arrives there are only one or two more great moments before winter comes.

Finally, they are all over indulged. They get fat checks, lots of attention from the media, and have thousands of adoring fans. I have never been as disgusted at the professional sports establishment as I was during the 1994 strike shortened MLB season and recently with Farve’s return (again). The Packers didn’t want Brett Farve so he took his ball and played on another playground. Three weeks ago we heard Farve say he wasn’t coming back. This week he said he does want to play. He is just as childish and immature as those kids on the playground that get mad and run away. PLEASE RETIRE!

I love Brett Favre! I am a Mississippi kid who remembers him leading Southern Miss to upsets over Alabama and Florida State. I saw him play in an NFC Championship game. I cheered when he and Green Bay won the Super Bowl. But I really wasn’t cheering on Tuesday. He is so full of Brett. Whatever happens this year I will watch number four, but with one eye closed. My fear is that it won’t be pretty. Just like Ruth’s last year. I love you man, just retire!