Tag Archives: NASA

Crazy, huh?

Transition BagSunday, I completed an Ironman 70.3 in Augusta, Georgia.  Some would say it was crazy to swim, 1.2 miles, bike another 56 miles and after that run a half marathon (13.1 miles).  For me someone who hated the track in high school, yes it was a crazy idea.  But just crazy enough to do it.  It wasn’t some half brain, last minute idea I am known for concocting. It was an adventure started two or so years ago.

I arrived in Augusta, Georgia in the early afternoon Friday.  I passed a giant wall of green trees and bushes. Then I realized it was golfing holy ground, Augusta National Golf Club, home to the Masters.  Shortly after this golfing discovery I arrived at packet pick up.  This whole process was quite overwhelming.  My heart pounded as the volunteers walked me through the process of health forms, giving me a t-shirt, and putting on my wrist band. Strangely enough it seemed a lot like Space Camp.  Never-mind that, it was scary to think in less than 48 hours I would have to go for 70.3 miles.

After this process, I did what any good southern girl does.  I went to meet the locals!  I met Harvey and his wife at TGI Fridays. Harvey is a bonifided, card carrying space geek and his wife was a sports fanatic. Obviously, we hit it off.  The topics of Homer Hickam, Werner von Braun, Apollo 13, Norte Dame football and triathlons wove together in a way that would make ESPN Sport Center and NASA TV proud.  Ok… that is exaggerated.  Chatting with this couple put me at ease and reset my spirits.

Saturday flew by like Superman on speed! Sunday morning came. The crazy thought of doing a half Ironman was here!  I was one of the first runners in transition on Saturday morning.  Everything had been planned for and packed away in my transition bag.  It was dark and early morning, and seemingly crazy to think in less than three hours I would be in the water swimming in a half Ironman.

At 8:36am the horn sounded and we were off.  Swimming was something that came easy to me.  But swimming in a river, under bridges and around boat docks seemed extreme.   I swam stroke for stroke with two other participants for what seemed like a mile, but I was only at the half-way point when I passed them.  Out of the water I looked at my watch, 29 minutes.  Off to the bike, but first there were strippers at the race!  Yes, strippers! There were volunteers at T1 (Transition 1) to help participants take off their wet suits.

I started the bike very tentatively and unsure.  I had less than 50 miles of experience on my new Quintana Roo TT bike.  The day before, Karen Hall and I drove the course.  It seemed fun and it was fun!  The further into the ride I got, the more confident on the bike I became.  I was having FUN!  The climbs were not severe and the straight aways were fast!  I followed the plan I had in my head.  Things were going well as I dropped the hammer down on the bike.

70.3 Finish LineI ended the crazy 56 miles on the bike my butt seemed to be the only part of my body that was tired and fatigued.  I rolled into T2 with a great deal of confidence and pride.  I finished my bike in 3:07!  I thought, I can do this.  I gave myself a 7 hours goal. It was just at 3:40 race time when I started my run.  There I was running at less than a 9 minute pace.  I knew that wouldn’t last.  I slowed my pace at the 1.5 mile mark and tried to settle into the run ahead.  I was strong and felt good until a giant grizzly bear jumped on to my shoulders and started to wrestle me.  My confidence welted.  The bear was heavy.  I started to walk and frustration and doubt set in.  The bear was winning.  My first thought was Marcia would walk and run.  I can do this!  But the bear was still winning.  There were church steeples and bell towers along the route.  I thought of the verse in Philippians, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”!  Just recover, fight the bear!  So I did! I walked though the aid stations and then got my legs back to finish this crazy race!

The first crazy idea I had was joining a master swim class at the YMCA in early January 2012. Later that week it seemed like a crazy idea when Amazon, Speedo, Snapper and myself decided to go camping on the coldest day in 2012.  However, on that camping trip in the freezing cold we agreed to go on a crazy adventure.  We made a pact to run Warrior Dash in Georgia May of 2012.  Swimming, running and obstacles made doing a triathlon seem tangible, and with my training buddy Snapper it was not crazy! Over the last two years, I have imagined doing lots of things.  Some have seemed crazy and some have seemed reasonable.  However the crazy ideas have been the ones that have pushed my limits and made me dare to dream new dreams for myself. Crazy or not, the last two, nah, the last three years have been remarkable.

God Speed Corned Beef

A few months back the Rocket City Grill here at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center changed their menu to include some yummy sandwiches.  The sandwiches were named after a few early American astronaut heroes and all were original Mercury Seven astronauts.  The glaring absence to the list of sandwich was a corned beef sandwich.  On Gemini 3 Gus Grissom and John Young smuggled a corned beef sandwich in to their capsule with help from Wally Schirra.  This was the first U.S. sandwich to travel into space and it was not honored in the naming of The Grissom, which I might add is very tasty.

The Grissom is a ham and swiss on a toasted waffle with powdered sugar served with a side of raspberry syrup.  This is a yummy sandwich but doesn’t have anything to do with space flight.  I stood in shock feeling that something was not right in the space time continuum!  We need a corned beef sandwich!  Since Grissom was already honored with a sandwich I feel like John Young should be honored in the naming of the Rocket City Grill’s corned beef sandwich.  I know what you are thinking; John Young was not a Mercury Seven astronaut!  But for the love of Max Peck, we need to honor the corned beef sandwich’s sacrifice in low earth orbit by giving it a place on the menu of the Rocket City Grill.

Therefore, I have started a movement to put the corned beef sandwich on the menu at the Rocket City Grill as the Young Sandwich!  I have started a Facebook group “We Want the Young Sandwich” to help bring this injustice to the hearts and minds of the American people.  True, NASA was not happy with its mischievous astronauts.  And yes, Gus Grissom became ill upon re-entry and vomited in the spacecraft.  But this story is a part of our history.  The U.S. Space & Rocket Center is a beacon of light in a dark world. This place teaches generations about the early days of space.  It is our duty to have a corned beef sandwich and to teach about this heroic feat of sandwich goodness!

Please stand with me in this sandwich protest!  Join the movement.  Tell your friends about this injustice and ask them to join us on Facebook.  Email your space geek friends, mothers, daughters, and any lover of corned beef.  I plan to organize a “Occupy the Rocket City Grill” rally at some point in the future.  I really hope it doesn’t come to that; however I will stand firm in my belief that we should have a John Young Sandwich!  Thank you for your time and God Speed Corned Beef!

Fueling the Dream

On Friday night, Space Camp held its fourth annual Space Camp Hall of Fame celebration to induct four new members into the HOF family. After months of preparation, and in my opinion with three previous HOF events as practice, we had the best ever HOF event. While it took us a few years to get the full vision of the event worked out; sometimes it takes a little time to get the recipe right. If I can continue with the cooking analogy, the HOF Executive Chef was Mike Flachbart, he was the sole reason the event was such a success.

I arrived at work just after six o’clock. It was like Christmas morning, I could not sleep the night before and I was just ready for the biggest event ever for Space Camp. Not the largest for the USSRC or the largest in number of attendees for Space Camp, but Space Camp Hall of Fame 2010 was years in the making. It had finally arrived and was a mix of huge wedding and giant family reunion. Even the previous day was filled with buzz and anticipation as guests and friends arrived in Huntsville.  These feelings carried on to Friday morning.

Friday morning at graduation we had special guests Don Thomas and Dottie Metcalf-Lindenberger. Dottie is Space Camp’s first astronaut, a teacher and a really nice person. She graduated from Space Academy in April of 1990 and twenty years later flew onboard STS 131 in April of 2010. On STS 131 she carried with her two pair of camp wings. I was greatly honored to be there when they were presented back to Space Camp. Helping get the wings into space has been one of my proudest endeavors as a Space Camp staffer. I was shocked that she took photos of the wings while on the ISS. It was very kind of Dottie to fly the wings and even more thoughtful to take pictures of them on orbit.

The inductees this year were Francis French, David Hnyda, Andrea Hanson, and Danny Jaques. Each inductee is very accomplished in their field and has made Space Camp very proud. Francis was a camper and now is the director of the San Diego Air & Space Museum. David Hnyda and Andrea Hanson were both Space Camp counselors. David is currently at the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School in Maryland. Andrea is a post-doctoral research scientist and engineer continuing her passion of Space Life Sciences. Danny Jaques is a middle school teacher in Colorado and has shared the dream of Space Camp by bringing dozens of his students to camp each spring.

There to help celebrate these worthy inductees where a large number of other Space Camp Hall of Famers. Staff, community leaders, friends, and families were in attendance. Also there was Max Q, the all astronaut band. Having Max Q there was an accomplishment that was two years in the making. We asked the band several times but schedules and shuttle launches prevented the group from attending. Sitting in with the band was one of the founding members, Hoot Gibson. Hoot is definitely a friend to Space Camp. And if you didn’t see the Weather Channel on Friday morning, Stephanie Abrams was at camp doing the weather and to be emcee of the Hall of Fame event.

Needless to say, it was an amazing night. But amazing nights require hard work and preparation. I think the best part of the preparation was during the sound check for Max Q. A dozen counselors were setting up tables and center pieces under the mighty Saturn V as a band played in the background. It wasn’t just any band.  It was the all astronaut band. Moments like that, I realize how truly lucky I am to work at such an awesome place. Honestly, I felt that way most all of Friday.

So looking back at it all and reflecting on an amazing day. I am so proud to be a part of Space Camp! I love the place. It is a camp and educational facility where kids gain self confidence as they learn what it takes to explore the world of space and aviation. Don Thomas talked at graduation about the sign above the doors at Space Camp – Through these doors enter the next generation of Astronauts, Scientists, and Engineers. But it really wasn’t completely true until Dottie visited the ISS this spring. The dream of von Braun is still alive and well in Huntsville, Alabama. Not even a dull politician can extinguish that flame. I am just thankful to be part of this great place… even if I am mean! Thanks Danny!

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!

Wild Pig on the Right

On the left you will see the Space Shuttle, and on the right there is a wild pig, wild pig on the right! As we were driving parallel to the crawler-way our tour guide Doug Wheelock (aka Wheels) exclaimed “Wild pig on the right.” In all its glory the Space Shuttle could not top the male pig we saw running through the Florida swamp land. Merritt Island is a wildlife refuge known for eagles and alligators, but you would not think of a wild pig.

This morning started with the Shuttle Launch Experience at KSC with the whole gang! We then ventured out to the OPF, the shuttle landing facility with four T-38s and a few STAs, and the mate-demate facility, oh there was the VAB and oh my… pad 39A. Yes, that was one really long run-on sentence, but even Marcia geeked out. All of this on top of the fact that Space Camp’s first alumni will be onboard Discovery for STS-131. I am so excited! I need to go to bed, but I just don’t think that will be possible!

We had a wonderful meal at Grills near Port Canaveral. Rock shrimp with our friend Jack as cruse ships passed by was wonderful! LeRoy was there dancing with Marcia, Kerby, and me as we prepared for our launch experience. Right now we are at the two hour hold and tanking will start soon. I guess I should ready for bed and watch NASA TV. Good Luck and God Speed!

Oh, I hope Haney is ok; she was stuck with a stiletto at work.

Asexual Sea Grass

Long a go, in a land not so far from here, I saw asexual sea grass for the very first time. This spotting was during my first trip to the Space Coast! It was also my first and only trip to Space Camp Florida. I was in my second season of camp as a teacher counselor when I begged my way onto the first Advanced Academy for Educator’s trip to KSC. This would be the trip I would make friends with some of my best friends, Rhonda Cox, Tony Fleury, Wes McCammon, and others of the Alpha 19 group. I have so many wonderful memories from that trip, but my favorite is sitting on the deck of Paul’s Steakhouse sharing our favorite Space Camp moment stories! Other than the asexual sea grass, that group bonding was my favorite Space Camp moment.

Today, I sit miles from the U. S. Astronaut Hall of Fame – formerly owned and operated by Space Camp. I am with Chris (aka Pumkin) and Kerby (aka Kerby). We drove straight through the night just so we could be the first members of the Space Camp delegation to arrive for the launch of STS – 131. In 2007, Chris and I drove down with Rhonda, Ed, and Charity for the launch of STS – 118. Since my husband and I are space geeks, we nicknamed our Toyota 4Runner the TEV – Travel/Excursion Vehicle. I have so many wonderful memories from my first trip to this area and my most recent in 2007. This trip will not be any different. Even last night at four o’clock in the morning when I was chatting with Kat, Lead of Alpha 19, I remembered the asexual sea grass or the time I got carded at a Walgreen’s liquor store when I was buying ice. I also remember missing every thing by just ten to fifteen minutes.

We didn’t get to see the orbiter delivered to KSC on the Boeing 747 or Barbara Manatee, but we enjoyed great rock shrimp at Dixie Crossroads and learning lots about space. I wish I could organize a reunion of our team. Monday as we watch Discovery lift off the pad I will be thinking of all my wonderful Space Camp and Aviation Challenge friends! Good Luck and God Speed Discovery!

Dreams in Space

At the very top of the cork-board in my office are my wings that I received at Space Academy graduation in 1990. Wow, it has been twenty years since I was a camper here in Rocket City. My graduation wings are very dear to me. My wings are symbolic of the experience here in Huntsville that changed the way I saw education. To all who have them, the Space Camp wings should represent a spirit of exploration and a commitment to advance our knowledge of the world around us. With a set of wings, you can dream big dreams and those Space Camp wings will encourage you to follow your dreams.

Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger is also a 1990 graduate of the Space Camp programs and the first Space Camp alumni to be selected for the astronaut corps. She has described her camp experience as life changing. In 2007, Dottie was inducted into the Space Camp Hall of Fame. On Monday, April 5th, her and the crew of STS – 131 are scheduled to launch on a mission to the International Space Station. This will make her the first Space Camp graduate to travel into space.

Everyone at Space Camp is excited about this launch. There is a large delegation of Space Camp staff and USSRC board members that will be watching the launch at the cape. In January, Dottie agreed to fly Space Camp wings on board Discovery. I am one of the lucky ones that will be present for the launch. I am excited to be there for the launch but I am also excited that something so symbolic of Space Camp will be flying as cargo when our first Space Camp astronaut ventures into space.

I love space flight! I hope that everyone watches on Monday morning and then writes a letter to our Congressional leaders to support manned spaceflight or sends a kid to Space Camp. I hope everyone is encouraged by this mission just as I am each time I see my Space Academy wings on my cork-board. We can do anything, we should dream big dreams!

Other Media on Dottie’s Mission:

USA Today: ‘Perfect job’ thrills teacher-astronaut

Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger prepares for Space Shuttle Discovery launch

Wow, What a Year So Far

I haven’t posted much recently on my blog. I think it is because I have been trying to hold on with all I have! It has been busy, crazy, and rewarding. True, I have been mourning the Super Bowl loss. My boyfriend and the Colts where beaten from the inside out, sadness. To try and catch up with my life and my blog I am going to post the top five things I have been occupied with recently, the good, the bad, and the ugly (i.e. the fourth quarter interception by Porter for a touchdown).

1.  Counselor training has been the majority of my life thus far in 2010. I love training. It is amazing seeing a group of staff walk through the same doors I walked through almost twenty years ago as a camper. I am responsible for helping train the staff that inspires the geeky redheads, the nerdy kids, and all other who venture to Space Camp each year. It is an awesome responsibility that comes with so many wonderful rewards. The best reward is getting to know the staff!

2.  My first teaching job in the state of Alabama was at Discovery Middle School. The first Friday of February 2010 was a dark day at Discovery. There was a school shooting. The very next Friday there was another shooting in our community. A professor at University of Alabama Huntsville shot a group of her fellow educators. I only want to talk about this because I don’t understand the complete disregard to human life our culture has. A young man and a grown woman chose to kill others for what reason, life, liberty, protection of their own life? We must teach respect for life!

3.  Chris, after ten months working and living here in Huntsville, is heading back to his old job! At the end of this week he will return to PricewaterhouseCoopers. A few days after accepting the offer that might constitute a move for one or both of us, we watched Oceans Eleven. There is a quote in the movie we both love. Basher proclaims after being rescued from an unfortunate incarceration, “It will be nice working with proper villains again.” Chris has enjoyed living in Huntsville, but he loved working for PwC. It is great that he can get back to the organization he loves!

4.  All I can say about this next part is NASA poop! Really it isn’t NASA’s fault, but it is poop! It is hard to believe that the agenda of one group of people can change the exploration dreams of a whole country. The cancellation of the Constellation program is discouraging to someone who has always followed the space program as far back as I can remember. To see the shuttle retire is sad, the only thing sadder is knowing that we don’t have a plan to replace the greatest flying machine ever! President Obama, get your head out of Pelosi’s ass and give us back Constellation.

5.  This past weekend Chris and I joined one of my best buds, Anderson, in Nashville. I have never really gone out the way we did last night. We went from one establishment to the next. It was almost like we were hopping around from bar to bar. We listened to many different bands and even a dueling piano bar. The piano bar made me miss Jelly Rolls at Walt Disney World! The most important thing was visiting with a great friend. Doesn’t matter how many days, weeks, or months since we last visited. It was wonderful to visit with my friend!

Life is busy! I am looking forward to a trip to Indianapolis and maybe to Orlando and Titusville. I am very excited about the Winter Olympics in Vancouver! In just a few weeks we will have the Honeywell Leadership Academy at camp! It should be the greatest Space Camp event ever for high schools from all around the world! I have a lot to look forward to. Thanks for reading; I am sure there will be some great posts in the next few weeks and months.

P.S. I didn’t include the Super Bowl lost because it is still too painful. I haven’t watched ESPN since last Sunday morning.  Thanks you NBC for your coverage of the Vancouver Olympics!

Blogging for Blog Sake

Lots of GraphiteLast year on November 27th I posted my first blog on Blogger, and I have enjoyed every minute of the adventure. I am not blogging to make money, market a product, give cooking tips, or improve your golf game. I am not a mommy blogger or topical blogger. I am blogging to improve my writing skills. Yes, you read that correctly, I am blogging just for the heck of it. I am not hoping to get a book deal or have fifty-two minutes of fame. I am simply doing it to grow as a person and as a writer.

Growing up I struggled with the English language, and yes, being from the south there is a wise crack there somewhere. I couldn’t spell, didn’t know how to diagram a sentence, nor could I tell you the difference between a preposition and a participle. Despite my struggles I graduated high school and college. In fifth grade I was evaluated for a learning disability. My parents and I learned that I don’t decode words the same way most people do. I see the shape and my brain breaks words down like it would art or a geometry problem. I see shapes not sounds. The examiner told me that a typewriter was in my future. Wow, he couldn’t tell the future but was close, because I got a laptop!

My freshman year at Delta State I had one of the toughest English composition professors, Dr. Sarcone. I was scared to death of her. She kicked my butt, however I didn’t give up. She would tear my papers to shreds and then stomp on them. If only she had used a Dixon Ticonderoga correction pencil I could have found some positive in the class. There was one paper I wrote about living in a small town that she liked. As shocking as that was, I still couldn’t spell and I didn’t read so well, but this small bit of encouragement fueled me not to give up on school.

I sometimes feel like my blog is very “me” centered, like I want to draw attention to myself. This is not my intention, but I do want feedback. I want people to tell me if I have typos or misspelled words in a blog. I would like to know if I make sense to the general public. Looking back on my year of blogging I asked people on Facebook what their favorite blogs were. Facebook is where most people read my digital ramblings. There was no clear cut best blog and it seemed like all I was doing was drawing more attention to myself and butchering the English language. I have narrowed the list down to ten of my favorite blogs. Before I give you my top ten blogs, here are a few fast facts about my year in blogging…

  • I have written 83 blogs. Combine them all together, they account for more writing than I did in all four years of college at Delta State.  Sad, but true.
  • I started blogging on Google’s Blogger, but recently I have switched to WordPress.org using a personal server. I have some regrets to the switch, but the editing flexibility is worth it.
  • I have divided my blogs into seven categories and my favorite category to write about is the Barn. I get to use more creative license with Barn blogs than any other.
  • Facebook pushed more people to my site than any other referral site, almost as much as direct links to graphitefree.com. If you are considering blogging, make sure you have a great network of friends on Facebook.

After those few facts, I am sure you will not be interested in my best blogs to date; however, I will tell you anyhow. You can stop reading; we do still live in a free country! In no particular order here is a few of my favorite ramblings.

Boo in Sleeping BagHouse Guest: I loved writing this sentimental blog, but I knew that I was hooked on my new hobby of blogging when in the middle of the night Salem the cat used me as a pillow. I thought to myself, “This would make a great blog”. I was addicted and I didn’t even know it at the time.

Plumber App: Plumber App was a great way for me to poke fun at my awkwardly ironic life. It was short and to the point, but funny. And it was fun to write.

Barn Gone Wild: I enjoy writing Barn blogs more than any other topic. I started writing my twist on my retail experience in June. I have to be creative with my Barn banter to help protect the identity of those who shop and work at the Barn. And those who know what I am talking about seem to think it is funny stuff.

Dead Bird: This blog give a great description of why my job is one of the coolest jobs on earth. I can walk down a sidewalk, get distracted and meet a moonwalker. Or I can hang out with space shuttle commanders at Otters giving a new meaning to ATO!

Raptor (1997)Piggly Wiggly Flu: A very deep topic, I almost didn’t post it because it may be too heavy for readers, especially on Facebook. I was wrong. A lot of people enjoyed it and was pleased that I wrote it. Keep washing those hands and taking vitamin C!

Ode to the Raptor: I write about camp, a lot! Since I was young all I ever wanted to do was work at a summer camp. From Camp Garaywa, to CRS, and now at Aviation Challenge I love the dynamic educational environment around camps. This blog represents the best in the camp spirit. I love my AC family and that includes the Raptor.

A Jack Daniels Still Bourbon Trail Blogs: I love my adventure blogs, because my first journal was a travel journal. Lookin’ for Adventure, Joe and Jim, Who is Elmer T. Lee? and White Dog were the blogs I wrote while on my Kentucky adventure. I can’t just pick one because I like them all. While I was gone I realize that if I don’t make it with my real job or working at the Barn, I could write for travel magazine.

Benefits to Jack Daniels: Chris made a contact with his current employer while sharing a meal with strangers at Miss Mary Bobo’s in Lynchburg, Tennessee. His move from PwC to Booz Allen Hamilton has forced us to be married… first time in five year of marriage.

Good Okra Hunting: I love my college. Sharing my love for Delta State and the Mississippi Delta is so enjoyable to me. I wrote this blog after a recruiting trip to DSU with Amazon. I got to find new places to eat and catch up with a few professors and friends.

I Think I May Lose My Job: My blog is about my random rambling about my life. When Bill Belichick went for it on fourth down against the Colts I knew I wouldn’t get much done at work the next day. I love Peyton Manning and I love went Boston teams loose!

Space Geeks Unite

Since I was a little girl each time I traveled I didn’t get homesick or eager to get home until I began the trip home. There is something about repacking my suit case that makes want to be home right away. Once on a trip to New Mexico my father asked me on the last days of our journey what I wanted to do next. In a Denny’s in El Paso, Texas I said I wanted to go home. So we crossed Texas in thirteen hours hitting Dallas at three in the morning to end our vacation early. Call me a sucker for home.

Don’t get me wrong, I love to travel. I would not sacrifice travel just to be at home everyday. Maybe it is just being away from home that makes me appreciate home more. When I have traveled to other countries I have cherished my home country and yearned to see the stars and stripes flying over head again. I am very blessed to have traveled so much in my life. I am lucky to have had parents that instilled in me a desire to investigate the world around me. With that travel and investigation I have grown and learned about myself, my country, and about my world.

My trip to Houston is almost over and I am at the airport anxious to be back in Huntsville. The SEEC conference in Houston is a time for me to be a space geek, relax with friends, and to get way from work and everyday life. I have been to six out of the last seven conferences. And will visit again, but now it is time to reflect just a little bit. On this trip I have visited with former AC staff, old friends, and astronauts. I visited the historic mission control, JSC’s Saturn V rocket, and Ellington Field. I have listened to really great speakers and not learned the difference between yaw, pitch, and roll.

The first year I visited this conference was just after Columbia was lost during re-entry. Lots of the Space Camp gang made the trip. Kramer, Chuck, Dan, Sharon, Anderson, Kat, Rhonda, and Tony are the names that come to mind right now. We visited with friends and tried to get the word out about camp programs at the same time. I remember the huge group that crowded around Barbara Morgan. This year the only ones from that first group who attended are Rhonda and me.

In 2006, the conference organizers added a tour of Ellington Field and the flight operations for NASA aircraft. At the time JSC operated the T-38, the C-9 or Weightless Wonder, the Shuttle Training Aircraft, modified Gulfstream 2, a pair of WB-57s, and the Super Guppy. Each aircraft at Ellington serves a specific purpose to NASA. All of the aircraft had roles in the military or civilian world before NASA took them into service. I love aircraft. There is nothing like the smell of an airplane hanger, especially one that has a high performance jet in it.

During my last visit to Houston, Rhonda, Makins and I visited Boondoggles for dinner and a drink or two. This watering hole is known to many as the hangout for many NASA employees and astronauts. Since that visit in 2007 I have made a friend who told me of the Outpost Tavern. It was once known as the astronaut’s bar. If you are familiar with the movie Space Cowboys, with Tommy Lee Jones and Clint Eastwood, this is the bar where scenes were filmed. So if I visited Boondoggles, I had to visit the Outpost. Rhonda and I walked into the sparsely populated bar. It looked and smelled like a dive, but on the wall were photographs of countless astronauts and other Outpost patrons. There were photos of pilots and astronauts, mission patches and NASA signage. The place looked like it could tell stores of all sorts. There was even a tail hook on the wall. I even left something for the wall from Space Camp there. I gave them a 2009 calendar to hang on the wall.

The highlight of all my trips to Houston and the SEEC conference is the Friday night banquet. To a space geek it is a party like no other. It is a dinner with dancing. Not being a dancer I enjoyed the music of Max Q. Max Q is the band made up of astronauts. During the time they play you can socialize with teachers and other astronauts. It is a laid back event which is enjoyable for the geeks and non-geeks. Makins sister said it best a few years back, the world is in harmony that all the geeks are in one place together. I guess you could call it, Geekstock 2009.

Now I am in Dallas, on my final leg and even more anxious to be at home. I love travel, but it does get old. I miss Chris, Boo and the rabbit. Plus, I left my travel buddy at her gate, B10 headed for Moline, Illinois. Now it is just me. I am sitting on the floor near the gate typing on my laptop. For those who know about my iPhone, I am wearing it and my Dixon is tucked behind my ear. I am eager to get home to my pencil sharpener. Wherever I am and whatever I do, I will enjoy the adventure.

War Eagle

The best travel advice I can give anyone is to make lots of friends. This statement was very true for me today as I flew from Huntsville to Houston, Texas. I have been helped by friends along the way today. From the drive into work up until now, I have been blessed with gracious friends and travel buddies.

Let’s start from the beginning… This morning Boo accompanied me on my drive into work. The plan was to take him to Snapper so she could watch him until Chris returned from New Jersey. Boo being the spoiled dog didn’t want to drive all the way to Madison. He wanted to stop at the half way point to stay at Tater’s with Eco. Boo was lucky and Eco took him in for the day. Thanks Eco!!!

Time warp forward to this afternoon, I was about to wrap up for the day and head to the airport. I was visiting Boo and Snapper at the AC office when American Airlines called me with the great news that my flight out of Huntsville had been cancelled. I was lucky; they had already booked me on another flight, shitake mushrooms! Yes, rather than flying out this afternoon I was booked on an early morning flight and would arrive in Houston Thursday afternoon. As I scurried to call American and arrange for a flight to Houston tonight Snapper helped me call Charity and Chris. Thanks Snapper!!!

I was able to get some satisfaction from Kelly, the American Airlines phone associate. He told me that I might be able to get on a Continental flight that would be flying to George Bush in Houston rather than Hobby. For those not familiar with Houston George Bush airport is on the north end of Houston and Hobby is on the south end near Johnson Space Center. As Ed and Charity chauffeured me to the airport I was confirmed on the Continental flight. Thanks Ed and Charity!!!

Now, how would I get from Bush to Hobby? Hum… Mare! I called Mare who was already in Houston and had the flight schedules for all Space Camp staff coming to the conference. She is like the social coordinator of a sorority house or small southern town. With help from Mare she hooked me up with Nicole who was on my new flight from HSV to IAH. Nicole was being picked up by Leigh and someone else who I can’t remember at the moment, sorry! They would drive me to Hobby where I could pick up my rental car from Hertz and most importantly Rhonda! Thanks Mare, Nicole, Leigh and lady whose name I can’t remember at the moment, but she worked at camp long time ago!!!

The final part of this story is the most fascinating part. As I was pulling my rental car into the parking garage I was behind an Auburn fan from the great state of Alabama. We parked just a few stalls away from each other. He followed me in to the terminal. Hobby has changed so much since the last time I visited that my fellow Alabamian could see my confused look on my face. I was looking for the gates, security, or something that would lead to Rhonda. Mr. Auburn helped me out and pointed me in the right direction. For his kindness, and our connection to the second greatest state in the south, I said thank you and War Eagle! (I am sorry Punkin’ it was just the right thing to do.)

So the next time you get fractious about a flight being cancelled, stop, breathe, and look for your nearest friend. Traveling, just like so many other things, is all about the adventure and the people you meet along the way. Life introduces us to so many wonderful people along the way. Take the time to make lots of friends along the way! Oh, and most importantly take the time to learn college greetings!