Tag Archives: Space

Orange Bib

BlingI think it was during the crazy snopocalypse during the winter of when I signed up for the Dopey Challenge at Walt Disney World in Florida. I must have been thinking, “I can have a runcation in early January in Florida… Bonus”! Little did I know what I was getting into. Since I signed up for this adventure, much has happened, especially shifting career fields. Undiscouraged by change, I am here and have successfully completed two races or 19.1% of the total challenge miles. Here are a few things I have learned about the Dopey Challenge.

It is an exercise in sleep not a running competition. A good friend gave me this advice before I left for the Land of Mickey Mouse. It is true. Sleep is your best friend! Don’t go out bar hopping or watching the fireworks over EPCOT or The Magic Kingdom. Put your pajamas on and sleep as much as you can. I feel like Ragnar Relay has been a valuable training excersice for this endeavor. I told someone that the Dopey Challenge is like Ragnar with a hotel room involved. It will be bed time soon!

If you don’t like Disney, don’t waste your time! You have to understand the magic of Disney and the wonder in the hearts of its fans to be able to bear the grumpy nature of the novice runner/walker. I mean no disrespect by saying this. However, etiquette is not high on the participant’s list. I have only seen 3 participants who have raised their hands before making an abrupt change from run/jog to walk/dead stop to take a photo of Elsa! I just let it go! There was one lady that I tapped on the shoulder because it was dark and I was about to buldoze her. She turned and spoke words that are not in Disney movies. Mickey would not have been happy! However, it is enjoyable seeing all the costumes, lines to have your photo made with characters and the volunteers out in their oversized four finger white gloves directing the race participants. I have to remind myself to”HAVE FUN”! It is really difficult for me to just let go and enjoy myself.

You will encounter some interesting characters. And I am not talking about Mickey & Donald! On the bus trip to the 5K on Thursday, we sat behind the grown version of the redheaded “appearently”. You know the kid I am talking about. The cute kid who had appearently never been on live television before and his grampa makes him watch the Powerball! This individual talked about everything at Disney in a span of 40 minutes in the exact same speech pattern as the kids. Apparently they are related! The next human to catch my eye was the middle school girl who shuffled the entire race while texting on her Samsung Galaxy. I passed her at the 3 mile mark and then again after I made a pit stop. She was shuffling both times. I saw her finish… She was still shuffling and texting. Maybe she was reading from her Kindle app. The event makes for great people watching.

Go see Atlantis at Kennedy Space Center! This has nothing to do with the Dopey Challenge but everyone should see her! They should visit, see Atlantis and then write a letter to their congress person to fund human space flight more robustly! I think if Walt Disney could visit us in 2016, he would be frustrated with the level of progress we have made since the 1960s. I think he would want The Walt Disney Company to help fund human space flight. Can you imagine the push to Mars if space flight was as popular as Walt Disney World! The Disney magic is fueled by innovation.

To conclude, just remember to have fun if you find yourself running the Dopey Challenge, enjoy the ride! You will meet many interesting and creative people who may or may not have ever run before. But more important, it is our job as adults to inspire the next Walt Disney or Werner Von Braun so we can get the heck off this rock and go to Mars in the not so distant future.

Keep Moving Forward

IMG_5121In the past on New Year’s Eve, I have posted a blog entry about the previous adventures and accomplishments of that given year. Not this year, well not last year! It is January 1, 2016 and I have chosen to write about the future. The year wasn’t bad, 2015 gave me lots and I feel like I learned and grew as a human tremendously. But I only posted twice to GraphiteFree in 2015. I didn’t even have a reflection post when I left the USSRC after 12 years of service. In the words of Walt Disney, “keep moving forward”.

So lets talk about goals. Many leadership and management gurus set parameters for goals. But most everyone can agree that goals need to be specific, measurable, timely and specific to the person or organization. Dave Ramsey adds they must be in writing. This is true! If a goal is in writing it is more permanent, even if written in graphite by your trusty Dixon Ticonderoga. So I am writing down a rough sketch of my goals for 2016, for all see.

I have set lofty goals for myself in 2016. For one reason, I turn 40 this year. But most importantly, I want to focus more in 2016.  The year 2015, brought lots of change for me. I seemed distracted through most of the year. I need focus! Setting goals will help me be a better human.

Focus more on my individual and professional growth in 2016.  I would like to attend three trainings or conferences which will give me better understanding and professional knowledge of being a camp professional. I have said for year, I want to own or build my own camp. It is time to starting making that dream a reality. Goals can make dreams more than empty wishes. I have always wanted to get my wilderness first aid certification or attend a class at the National Outdoor Leadership School in Wyoming. May not go to NOLS in 2016, but I want to do more than simply push things off until next year.

Volunteer more in the community around me. I have always wanted more time to volunteer. After leaving the USSRC, I had more time, but volunteering didn’t increase. I learned really quickly, I have to schedule volunteering just like I schedule all my adventures. I simply have to schedule them with the same level of priority as I schedule running races or spending time with friends and family. In 2016, I will be volunteering as a race director. I am well on my way to doing more.

One of my favorite races is the Huntsville Half Marathon. In 2016, the half marathon will be on my birthday. I am convinced, I can get faster if I just work harder. In the process of training for an Ironman in 2016, I want to PR the half marathon on my birthday. That would be a great way to turn 40. I will run more trails, train for an Ironman, hopefully do a relay in Kentucky and many other goals.  But I won’t bore you with it at the moment.

This morning CK shared a quote Facebook with me.  Rather than wishing everyone a Happy New Year; a dude on Space Hipsters proclaimed, Happy Arbitrary Solar Orbit Completion Day. A new way of looking at the start to the new year. I want to look forward rather than backwards. I want to make goals not resolutions. I want to be a great human and not a mediocre human. What will you do in 2016?

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!

Limited Interest

Growing up, my parents made sure we were exposed to the world beyond Carroll County, Mississippi. It was very important for us to be interested in culture, science, politics, art, and other things of the sort. While here in New York I am reminded of their efforts. However, I am here to say I have limited interests. I am interested in baseball, space/flight, and climbing tall things.

In the sea of humanity that is New York City, I seem to be drawn to the same everyday things that I am at home. Chris and I took the train to Queens for a Mets game on Saturday. It was amazing how when we got off the train we managed to find two rockets at the New York Hall of Science. We didn’t even know they existed and we were drawn to them like a moths to a flame. We walked like a mile out of our way to see what these Gemini-Titan and Mercury-Atlas were doing in Flushing Meadows.

On Sunday, we visited the USS Intrepid. Yes, you are thinking that it is a Navy vessel, I am branching out. Nope, the USS Intrepid is a sea, air, and space museum. They had some fantastically awesome aircraft. My favorite thing on board was an exhibit called 27 Seconds, dedicated to the Apollo 1 astronauts. It gave an outline of what happened the day Grissom, Chaffee, and White were killed in a capsule fire during the plugs out test. At the end of the exhibit there was a long numbered line, 1 – 27. From the time the fire started until the astronaut lives were claimed by the fire it was only 27 seconds.  As the seconds ticked away on the number, I tried to read the events of the accident, but the 27 seconds flew by.

Baseball, we are going to visit the new Yankee Stadium today. We went to a Mets game on Saturday. That is surely something my parents succeeded in teaching me about, baseball. We went on many summer vacations that included ballgames. Our first ballgame as a family was in Cincinnati to see Johnny Bench play the Phillies. That year the Phillies had picked up a guy called Pete Rose. I was four and more into the game than the grown ups. I think I have loved baseball since!

So far, my favorite activity this vacation has been the Top of the Rock, the observation deck at Rockefeller Plaza. I was amazed! At Rockefeller you get a great view of the Empire State Building and Central Park. I didn’t have my camera with me to snap hundreds of photos, so I just soaked it all in. Looking to the south, I thought wow there is seemingly a hole in the sky line, which we all know there is something missing. Especially with the recent political news of a mosque being built at Ground Zero, it is like the whole thing was just erased. My eyes drifted to the New Jersey shoreline to see the Statue of Liberty. She is still standing, and I am sure what is good will prevail in the end.

Chris and I are making memories while we are here in New York. I could have stood at the top of Rockefeller Plaza for hours. It was amazing! We ran into a kid at M&M World near Times Square. He was running from candy bin to toy bin begging his parents to buy him stuff. He proudly proclaimed, “I want MEMORIES!” I think the young chap had it mixed up. Memories are the things you don’t have to pay for in New York City. What he was begging for was souvenirs. Just like the souvenirs I brought home from my childhood vacations, his souvenirs will be gone sooner than the memories of him running through M&M World like a banshee! One of my most cherished baseball memories is when the whole family, including Will went to a baseball game at Busch Stadium in St. Louis.

Thanks mom and dad for creating in me an adventurous spirit. However, I am sorry I have limited interests.

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.