Hiatus, or something.

Hey there! It’s been a while… Since March, to be exact.

It’s taken me a lot to finally be interested in blogging again. I’ve been incredibly busy and honestly just incredibly tired. In my last post, I did a recap of the experiences of my robotics team during “Destination: Deep Space”. I suppose I should give a quick summary of what I’ve done since then.

April – April was a quiet month, with the Spring 2019 semester still continuing. However, there was one incredibly notable thing that happened in April. On April 17th, the Cygnus NG-11 mission was launched from the NASA Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

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A friend and I took my car and went on a road trip to watch the launch. But, what’s so special about it? Remember Seeker, the CubeSat I worked on? It was launching on Cygnus. My first ever rocket launch, and a project I worked on went to space with it. It was truly a breathtaking experience. The sound… I can’t even begin to describe the feeling. It was truly amazing.

May – May closed out the Spring semester, and I did pretty well. Encampment planning as Cadet Commander was in full swing. I started working two jobs, and honestly it’s been pretty good. Training was really fun. I also celebrated two years with my amazing boyfriend. ❤

June – June was something else… it was beyond busy. Two jobs, hanging out with a friend from high school that I hadn’t seen in forever, conference calls for encampment and IACE, the NBA (yay Raptors), Night at the Railroad Museum, and of course, encampment.

The 2019 Ohio Wing Encampment flew by… and I truly had an amazing time. It was a huge honor to serve as Cadet Commander, and an honor to work alongside all the cadre and staff. From hanging out with the command chief and the a capella camp that was also going on and taking selfies with the sleeping cadre to trying the aardvark sauce and driving the Safety Corolla…

I made some great memories and ate some great paninis.

July – In July, I had the honor of attending the International Air Cadet Exchange as an ambassador to the United Kingdom. This phenomenal three week exchange is going to get its own page on my blog to document my experiences. Watch for pictures and stories, coming soon!

August Screenshot_20190827-193829IACE concluded in August, and when I got home I got to spend time with my family here in the states. We hung out, went on a train ride, went to band nights, and of course: D-Day Ohio. The 2019 D-Day Ohio was my last large-scale cadet activity in the Civil Air Patrol… and I definitely got a little emotional (I can neither confirm nor deny that I was standing on a Higgins Boat crying). I also started my Junior year of college. Two in person classes and the rest online. Two jobs, coaching robotics, Civil Air Patrol (and Spaatz), Vice President of Alpha Lambda Delta, and President of the Digital Scientists. I can definitely confirm that I am crazy busy and probably not sleeping enough. Also, what’s a social life? Asking for a friend. I don’t have one either, but…

September –  It’s September 23rd, and I am writing this from one of my classes. I’ve worked a lot, slept a little, made my first paycheck that was over $300, took my first attempt at the Spaatz exam, and spent time with my boyfriend. He completed AFROTC Field Training this summer, and did really well. I’m so proud of him. ❤

Well, I suppose I’m going to go now. I’ll publish this now, but I’ll also update my IACE page soon and probably post a bit more in the near future.

Thanks for being patient with me, readers. Really.

-E.💕

 

Rookie Recap: Destination Deep Space

img_20190117_165011.jpgThe FIRST Robotics Competition is an incredible experience. I’ve mentioned it before on this blog in little anecdotes or goals, but never to the extent I am about to go.

This year, myself and a fellow FIRST volunteer named Dave decided we were going to bring the FIRST Robotics Competition a little closer to home, and started a team at a local high school with the help of science teacher Mr.F.  

It all started on the first Saturday of January, known as “Kickoff”. January 5th, a group of students got on a bus to Girard, Ohio to analyze this year’s game, and pick up the kit of parts.

This group of students had, for the most part, never worked together before. They also had very little clue on what this “FIRST” thing even was.

Throughout the six week build season, this group of students became smaller and smaller, eventually steadying out at 13. Six weeks to build a robot? How’s that possible? Well, these students accomplished it. The picture above was from January 17th, two of the six weeks into build season. And that’s not a robot.

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Four and a half weeks into build season, we had a driving robot, strictly from the kit of parts.

February 5th was the date of this milestone, and it gave the students some renewed hope. Maybe they’d get something they can put on the field, after all.

Of course, there were so many obstacles we had to overcome, and we could not have overcome them without outside help. The teams in our area, specifically team 2010, really stepped up to help us and mentor our students in ways myself, Dave, and Mr.F could not.

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February 15th. Four days until Stop Build Day, and the day we have to put the robot in a giant bag.

We had a structure on top of our robot! It was starting to look like something. Again, major shout-out to the designer from FRC Team 2010.

It was simple. We had pneumatics at the front to push out a platform to “grab” the hatch panels, and were going to add a box on top for cargo.

A sturdy robot that promised consistency, team members were starting to realize the time commitment that the FIRST Robotics Competition called for. Two days a week for two hours was simply not enough, and there were several days leading up to Stop Build Day where the students would stay until late at night to finish what they were working on.

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Stop Build Day finally came on February 19th, and we put this guy in a bag. I was going to say “little guy”, but at 80 pounds and a perimeter of a little under 120 inches, this was no “little guy”.

Stop Build Day didn’t come without its own challenges, however. Finishing the robot, and then driving it for about an hour were our goals. Both of those were met- and then a problem met us. Our robot stopped driving. Lights were flashing red, and errors were coming up left and right.

After extensive troubleshooting and messages exchanged on community FIRST platforms, we got our robot driving again. We put it in the bag right away.

Two weeks of waiting, and our team would be attending the Miami Valley Regional in Dayton, Ohio, as its first ever regional event.

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A little over three hours away, our group of nine students got on a school bus at 4 o’clock in the morning on Thursday and headed to the Nutter Center.

I wish it went as smoothly as that paragraph made it sound. Our robot and tool cart didn’t fit on the school bus, and Dave had to drive down with those. After taking the wheels off the cart, laying the robot on its side, stuffing the robot cart into my car, and putting Dave’s spare tire on the bus, we were set for a crazy 4am drive.

The drive itself was incredibly uneventful, other than simply just being exhausted and following a school but that was going… quite fast.

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We got to the Nutter Center, and unloaded the pit and robot stuff from the three vehicles. Students were speechless at the size of the event… It was unlike anything they’d imagined.

A drive team meeting kicked off the day, and practice matches would soon follow.

We only made two of our practice matches, as we had a lot of stuff to do on our robot. We added the box (which turned into a triangle) for the cargo on top, and we finalized the bumpers. There was also lots of fun troubleshooting and coding that came along with being at our first ever competition.

But, after only one formal practice match, the students did it. On Friday, we were in the first qualification match of the day, and we won. It was a rush of excitement for everyone. img_20190308_133359.jpg

Several hours spent on the practice field in half hour increments, adapting the code to fit the needs of the drivers, and learning how to manage stress while still driving effectively were the key parts of Friday, and these students absolutely nailed it.

For the majority of Friday, we were seated in the number one position, of 60 teams. That’s… incredible for a rookie team.

On Saturday, we made it into alliance selections, and eventually were the Captain of the #5 Alliance. Selecting teams 3484 and 4027, we went into the playoffs.

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While we lost 0-2 to the #4 Alliance, I saw our students display enthusiasm and leadership like I had never seen before.

The quiet students really broke out of their shell, and while stressful, the drive team made several tough decisions with the team and alliance.  

It was a crazy experience of ups and downs, but the students absolutely had the time of their lives. We ended up being awarded Highest Rookie Seed, as well as the Rookie Inspiration Award at the 2019 Miami Valley Regional.

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I’m so incredibly proud of all the students on the team. It was a crazy weekend, and I learned so much as well. Patience, stress management, communication… being a mentor is no easy thing, but it is one of the most rewarding feelings in the world.

Seeing the drive team work together and communicate, and witnessing the students break out of their shells were the highlights of my weekend, perhaps even more so than any award meant to me.

I can’t wait to see where the next few years bring us.

-E.🤖❤️

can february MARCH?

No, but april may.

I’m sure you’re all thinking it: “Can this lion girl stop with the puns already? No, sorry.

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February has been a crazy month, full of weekends busier than the weekdays and restless nights. Jumping head-first back into the school thing after being away for a semester is a lot harder than I thought it would be. And I’m still not a morning person.

It’s midterm week and somehow I’m still surviving; I got an A on my aeronautics midterm and I didn’t fail psychology so that’s pretty neat. I still wonder why I actually took psych this semester. Chemistry sounds way more fun. Oh well, we’ll get there.

School is super stressful. And then here I am, adding harder classes into my roadmap. Am I ever content? Probably not. I just want to learn everything about everything.

So, before I ramble on any longer about literally everything I’m attempting to balance right now, let’s check in on February’s goals.

February 2k19 – Goals

  1. Organize my apartment and make everything look nice
    • It’s going well! There’s still some laundry and stuff in places, but I finally carried all the recycling down and it’s starting to feel like mine. I’ve had a couple people over and may even be hosting a group of friends soon, and it’s just so nice to be able to do that. I should possibly finally get a living room rug and some more seating though. If anyone wants to buy me a bean bag chair, I won’t argue.
  2. Run and walk more
    • I went to the rec center like.. once? I do walk way more, though. This goal is going to stick around, most likely. I need to find motivation, and time.
  3. Do dishes immediately after using them
    • This has been going crazy well. My sink is always clean and I wash all my dishes regularly. It’s such a great feeling, and I’d 110% recommend trying this at home.
  4. Cook at home for every meal feasible
    • This has been decent. I haven’t gone out as much as I did earlier in the year (sorry Arby’s, I’m no longer single-handedly funding you). At some point in life I’m getting groceries, and I’m starting the clean eating diet. Whole grains! Non-processed foods! Fresh fruits and vegetables! I’ll let y’all know how that goes.
  5. Sleep routinely
    • HahahahHAHA oops
  6. Apply for scholarships
    • Check. (was that a pun? maybe? idk someone give me a check)
  7. Clean my car
    • It was clean, UNTIL IT SNOWED AGAIN.
  8. Be the best coach I can be for the robotics students
    • The Miami Valley Regional is next week, and it slowly feels like everything is creeping up on me. Am I forgetting something? Is everything going to go wrong? I need to read the game manual like six more times. At least I finally know the students’ names. I need to really know what every part of the robot does. I need to be there for the team. This is fine (please see meme above).

February has been quite the ride, in case that wasn’t already clear through my goals. Stop Build Day for robotics came and went, I attended the Ohio Celebration of Women in Computing, and we held encampment staff selections. It’s been a crazy whirlwind of driving robots into walls, a resort from the 70s, and a lot of conference calls.

I also officially transferred to my new squadron in CAP, and it’s been an absolutely wonderful time working with the members. Attendance was the highest I’ve seen it last night; with five cadets and myself attending. Yes, it’s a small squadron. But it’s already been great for me. A 15 minute drive to meetings is lovely.

Alright, let’s set some goals for March. March has always been one of my favorite months. I’m not really sure why. It’s just got such a happy feeling. Hopefully this year is the same way.

MARCH GOALS

  1. Eat clean, as much as I can.
  2. Drink more water! Lots of water!
  3. Learn more about FRC and robotics in general.
  4. Study more for psychology, programming, and database management.
  5. Exercise. (Walk. Run. Lift. etc.)
  6. Refresh on CAP regulations.
  7. Organize my Google Drive(s) and other external storage.
  8. Take good notes and use my new planner often.
  9. Go to sleep and wake up at a regular time each day.
  10. Finalize shelves and hanging decor in my apartment.

Let’s do great things this month. Thanks for a great February… Here’s to March!

-E.🦁

New Year, Same Me: Hello, February.

It’s been two whole months since I’ve actually published anything, and my goodness have those two months gone by fast. Perhaps I should start where I left off.

My last post was December 14th, from the lovely Houston, Texas. It was the day before I turned in my NASA badge. No, this is not going to be my long NASA post, but that will come, eventually. It’s slowly growing in my drafts, and I want to make sure it’s perfect.

December 19th. The day I got back to my apartment after the three day road trip with M. What a long, fun drive filled with country music, migrating birds, and stupid hotel laws (I’m looking at you, Arkansas). Sven (the trusty ’04 Jetta) made it home safe and sound, as did his driver (yes, that’s me).

M left the next day, I drove her to the airport at an ungodly hour in the morning. I spent the next few days unpacking and spending time in my apartment. I bought a desk, and M had bought me a microwave and some other various kitchen supplies as a housewarming gift. I miss her, she was a great friend and person to hang out with.

It didn’t really feel like Christmas this year, mainly because I’d just left Houston- where it was a beautiful minimum of 50 degrees every day (and no snow!). I spent Christmas with my boyfriend, his family, and his grandparents. It was lovely.

Two days later, I flew to The Netherlands to spend New Year’s with my family.

It was so nice to see my mom and brother again- and my bun. George is still a lazy floof, but he’s happy and healthy and turned two on January 21st!

We had our own Christmas; and all my gifts were absolutely NASA themed.

And suddenly, it was 2019.

We went ice skating, ate lots of great food, visited my great grandma, saw the Joker statue up close that we’ve always driven by,  pet Ophelia the cat lots, gave a presentation at my brother’s school on NASA, and well- then I went back home. It was a nice trip and I’m so glad I got to see everyone.

When I got back to the United States, I spent another day with my boyfriend, and then headed home. Of course I had to stop at IKEA to get some furniture for my place… I now have a queen sized bed (and it’s lovely).

Since then, school has started again. It’s a strange semester. Getting back into the swing of classes has been hard. It’s also snowed, a lot. We had this fun “Polar Vortex” come through and cancel classes for two days. I’ve gone back to work at OCDE, and that’s been nice as well. I was selected as Cadet Commander of the 2019 Ohio Wing Encampment, and planning for that has been in full swing.

Of course, FIRST Robotics Competition’s build season began in January (and ends next week!). I’m super excited about this year’s game (Destination: Deep Space), and even more excited about the rookie team a fellow mentor and I started.

I’m so proud of the dedicated kids who have been putting time into this program. We may not have a big team, but those who are involved are awesome.

Life has been pretty quiet around here. Very busy, but quiet. Work, school, homework, robotics, extra stuff for my major (like attending the Ohio Celebration of Women in Computing Conference next week), Civil Air Patrol, exercising, cleaning, getting groceries… Yeah, I’m somehow balancing this. Being an adult is overwhelming sometimes, but honestly, it’s nice. Also, so is living alone. 10/10 would recommend.

So, obviously last year’s writing prompts did not go very well (if I tagged everything correctly, I only actually did 4 months out of the 12… yikes). I’m going to go back to doing goals, like I did in 2017. I set a few goals in January on my lovely Trello board (Trello is my life lately), so let’s move them here and possibly add a few.

2k19 – Goals

  1. Achieve the Carl A. Spaatz Award in the Civil Air Patrol
  2. Obtain my CCW
  3. Get a computer certification (CCNA, CompTIA, etc.)
  4. Obtain a General Class HAM Radio License
  5. Go scuba diving
  6. Save $1,000
  7. Stop apologizing all the time
  8. Read at least one book per month
  9. Stop looking down on myself and gain some confidence
  10. Don’t blame myself for everything

These goals seem pretty achievable. I age out of CAP in October, and I really want to have at least attempted the Spaatz exam before then. My goal right now is May, but I’m extremely nervous and I know I still need to work very hard to get there. The other ones are all pretty self explanatory. Certifications, licenses, yeah! Let’s get this bread (is that still a meme?).

Alright, let’s set some goals for the month now. I missed January due to my lack of blogging, but that’s alright. February: let’s go.

February 2k19 – Goals

  1. Organize my apartment and make everything look nice
  2. Run and walk more
  3. Do dishes immediately after using them
  4. Cook at home for every meal feasible
  5. Sleep routinely
  6. Apply for scholarships
  7. Clean my car
  8. Be the best coach I can be for the robotics students

These are good goals. Hopefully doing this again will encourage me to blog at least once a month. I honestly cannot believe I’ve been blogging for almost three years now; it’s so crazy to read back on some old posts and see how far I’ve come.

So, with that, I will end this post. I will finalize my NASA post soon, because I’m sure some of my followers are just here for NASA. That’s alright.

As always, thanks to my followers and readers. Y’all are awesome.

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Last, thanks for everything, Opportunity.

“My battery is low and it’s getting dark…”

You were a good rover. The best. What started as 90 days became an amazingly long mission that allowed us to learn so much. Thanks, Oppy.

Maybe we’ll see you on Mars one day.

“Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal.” -Henry Ford

~E.💕

Ad Astra

I wouldn’t wish this feeling upon anyone.

I feel like I’m leaving part of my life.

Today was my last day at Johnson Space Center, and I turn in my badge tomorrow. It’s been so amazing. I’ve had such a wonderful time.

I’ve grown to be much more confident. I’ve met so many amazing people. I’ve had opportunities to work on amazing projects.

There will be a longer post later. I just needed to ramble for a moment.

But I promise, NASA, you haven’t seen the last of me. I will be back.

~E.

Intern Space Program

We just so happen to all be interns in Houston, Texas.

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Yesterday, five of us made our way to Paige, Texas to launch a beautiful rocket that interns had been working on since the Summer tour. The orange tube with a glider on top of it was our Monday evening for almost the entire time we have been here so far.

From avionics work, to soldering, and even coding on the three hour drive there: the ever-dwindling group of interns I worked with on this was in love with this rocket.

On the day of the launch, it was pretty cold but we were excited. We wanted to test our fins, because we thought those were our weakest point on this rocket.

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Approximately two seconds into launch, the glider slipped off the top of the rocket, and the shock cord zippered the airframe.

The glider’s tail ripped off, and we recovered it in two large pieces on the ground near the launch pad.

The rocket kept going up, and we lost it in the sky for several breathtaking seconds.

Someone spotted the rocket, but no parachute had deployed. People screamed “heads up!”, while others scrambled to find the rocket. It landed about three feet away from four cars, and came down with a whistle and a loud thud. When we turned around, we saw the state of our beautiful orange rocket…

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Crushed and broken into two pieces, the parachute never deployed. However, by some miracle, our fins stayed in tact. The indentation in the ground was rather large, and we had to pull about six inches of dirt out of the rocket once we dug it out of the ground.

We weren’t going to let one unsuccessful launch deter us from another launch- we still had avionics sensors to test!

Using one of our interns’ level 2 certification rocket, we strapped in some avionics equipment and hoped for a successful launch. On our launch card, we named the rocket “Shame”.

Perhaps “Lawn Dart” would have been a better name.

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The ejection charge never happened, and the rocket came right back down in a beautiful parabola.

While the rocket most definitely did not survive (it was dug at least 8 inches into the ground), every electronic component that cost more than a dollar did. _EKB0695

We were actually able to recover data, so for our purposes… that was a successful launch.

That poor rocket, though.

We all had such a fun time though, and went to dinner at Bastop Roadhouse after. I’ll have to say, their Sourdough Bun was phenomenal.

All in all, we all learned so much… learned so much. I’d always been interested in rocketry since completing Civil Air Patrol’s model rocketry program, and this was definitely a HUGE step up from that.

I’m so excited I was able to be a part of the Intern Space Program. 

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Allons-y…

Here we go, a blog post written at 4 o’clock in the morning. I just need to talk. To write. Every normal person’s asleep, so I figured I’d turn here.

My high school robotics team was called The Sonic Screwdrivers. Based on, you guessed it, Doctor Who. I got the references for the most part then, but I’d never watched it. I always brushed it aside.

I started watching Season 1 on Amazon Prime Wednesday night, and continued Thursday night. I finished Season 1 early this morning- well, maybe yesterday. Saturday. Words aren’t my strong suit right now, yet I can’t seem to shut up.

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I fell madly in love with the idea of Rose and the Ninth Doctor, portrayed by Christopher Eccleston. It took me a while to warm up to David Tennant… But I did. Moving along, I grew just as fond of Rose and the Tenth as I did before with the Ninth.

I watched all of Season 2 today. In one day. well, rather, one span of 24 hours… I don’t think it was really a “day”. Your concept of time kind of goes away in the TARDIS… Ha. Haha…

So anyway, where was I? Oh yeah. I sobbed. I sobbed like there is no tomorrow. I was not ready for the ending of Season 2. Oh hell no. I’m honestly still lightheaded and it’s been half an hour since I finished watching. Perhaps that’s from staring at a screen all day. Perhaps I cried too much. Maybe I should eat something. Oh well.

Image result for rose tyler doctor whoI’m not sure yet if I’ll move on to Season 3. I don’t think I’m ready yet. I need to do something productive this weekend. I guess it kept me from spending money on stuff I don’t really need, so there’s a plus.

I am still in awe. Still in shock.

My high school robotics team was named after this show?! Why did no one grab my by the arm and force me to watch it? I could have had such a better appreciation.

I’ll watch Season 3 eventually, but I honestly don’t think I’m mentally stable enough to start again any time soon.

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So, lion girl, is this a fandom blog now? No. Not at all. I just needed a place to capture these dumb emotions posed on me by a fictional television show.

I started writing this at 4:15, how is it already 4:45? This is crazy. why does time move so fast- yet so slow?

I need to get some sleep. I should get some sleep. Oh yeah, and I guess my birthday’s in 12 days. That’s kind of neat I suppose.

If you read this, thanks. Thanks for reading my dumb ramblings from crazy hours. I promise, this blog is occasionally fun to read and actually relevant. I’m going to make an attempt to go to sleep (and maybe ditch this onsetting headache…)

Time Lord science… It’s bigger on the inside.

~E. 

Tomatos, Tomatoes, and NASA.

For a large part of my life, I rejected the letter “e”. Words like the plural of potato, the plural of tornado, the plural of tomato.

Tornados. Tomatos. Potatos.

Adding the “e” was heathenish. It was an injustice to the word. It degraded its value.

For the longest time, I would do this. I’m not quite sure why. My science teacher asked me one year why I deliberately spelled “tornado-e-s” wrong, when the rest of my spelling was impeccable. I never did quite have an answer.

I still don’t have an answer, and I still have my judgement against adding the letter e into those words. It’s simply unnatural.

I did finally learn how to spell necessary, though. A shirt has two Sleeves, and one Collar. And exercise. I still struggle, a little. but, it’s not a size. Exer-cise.

Spelling is weird and the English language is crazier.

On a whole other note, NASA is going great. I’m still drinking from a fire hose, but it’s getting so much better. My mentor and coworkers are phenomenally brilliant people. I’ve made some great friends and I’ve eaten a lot of great food… and some borderline terrible cafeteria Indian food.

I’ve also checked two goals off my goal list. I met an astronaut, and I attended a lecture. I was able to attend the Expedition 58/59 News Conference with NASA Astronaut Anne McClain, Roscosmos Cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko, and Canadian Space Agency Astronaut David Saint-Jaques. The news conference was broadcast on NASA TV and you can replay it on YouTube. I really liked the introduction video music. I was able to get a selfie with Anne McClain, and we were also able to take an intern group photo with her. It was phenomenal!!! The lecture I attended was given by Ginger Kerrick, the first Hispanic female flight director and non-astronaut CapCom. She was amazing.

Today, I competed in the JSC Hackathon. My team was posed with the Integrated Flight Scheduling Application challenge, to create a process or system to manage the Aircraft Operation Division’s resources and flight assets, which can be anywhere on the globe at a given time. It was absolutely amazing and I learned so much!

We ended up coming in first place out of the 10 teams competing.

It’s been such a crazy and amazing ride so far. I’m the POC of the intern Professional Development committee, I’m Co-Chair of the Social Media committee, and I’m the PAO of the Intern Space Program. I told myself in the beginning that I wasn’t going to run for anything and I was going to chill, but you know, life happens.

I cannot believe tomorrow closes out my third week as an intern at NASA’s Johnson Space Center. Only 13 more weeks to go, and I know it’s going to FLY by. I’m still learning something new every day. I’m still journaling.

I’m currently in a debate with myself whether to upgrade to the iPhone 8 or the Google Pixel 2. NASA bought my project two Google Pixels… and I fell in love. Accidentally. My current phone’s battery life is terrible and Snapchat hates me, so hey. What could go wrong. I feel guilty because I feel like I -just- bought an Apple watch… but we’ll see. Maybe it’s time for me to go back to the Android side.

Classes are going well, my weekly journal for my internship credit is a breeze. Philosophy is rough because it’s online-discussion-based, and ew. But I’ll survive. Countering opinions with people is a fun pastime.

I have yet to take Leo the Lion on site with me, but maybe he can tag along tomorrow. We’ll see.

OH. I got a massage on Sunday, and it was the most AMAZING thing I’ve ever done for myself. If you’re in the Houston area, I HIGHLY recommend checking out Tippy at Sabai Massage and Health. Wow.

I’ll leave you with a quote said by David Saint-Jaques in the news conference.

The only way you can achieve something is by doing something you love”

~E.🚀

drinking from a fire hose

All my life, I’ve been told things that most people struggle with are like “drinking from a fire hose”. What a beautiful analogy for trying to process a lot of new information at once. Things like starting college, filing taxes, and getting a job. Things I did not struggle with.

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Working for NASA as an intern is no small feat, I’ve known that from the start. I did, however, finally experience what drinking from a fire hose tastes like. I’m still finding out. I just completed my first week at NASA, and almost everything feels over my head. It truly is an incredibly humbling experience, though. It really took one of my co-workers to sit me down and tell me that if I learn nothing else from him, let it be that no one is going to care if I ask questions. That no one will think I’m not smart. I really had to break out of my shell, and swallow whatever pride I thought I had.

I’m surrounded by a wonderful group of peers and mentors that absolutely love what they do, and I am so fortunate to be able to learn from them. All the other interns are incredibly friendly, too. There’s about four others from Ohio, which is really cool. I guess in my mind I pictured that everyone would be from Texas, but that’s actually not the case at all! One girl I befriended at orientation had spent a lot of time at Kennedy Space Center, and another guy had just finished working for Lockheed Martin.

nasa goals

I also decided it was time for me to finally try out the bullet journal thing, which I’ve absolutely fallen in love with. I’ve set a few internship-long goals, such as obtaining my amateur radio license and a scuba certification. One of my favorite goals, however, is to learn a new thing every day. At the bottom of every day’s page, I’ve written what I’ve learned. It’s such a beautiful, creative, and fun way to keep track of things.

Some things are not quantitative goals, like being more confident, making new friends, or being less picky. I love the challenge though, and I’m having a blast.

When it comes to food and my picky-ness, Texas is a wonderful place to attempt to overcome this. As long as I can continue to stay away from seafood, life is good. I’ve been packing my lunch most days for work, which is really good for my attempts to avoid getting a lot of fast food (and blowing my entire paycheck at the Chick Fil A across NASA Parkway).

My mentor and his wife took me out for lunch at Noon Mirch on Thursday. Noon Mirch is an Indian buffet-style restaurant about five minutes down the road from NASA. I ate a lot of new foods that I never would have tried before. I had a variety of lentil-based dishes, and I even had a breaded jalapeno.

noon mirchMy favorite, by far, was the creamed spinach (known as Saag). The Naan (a flatbread-like bread) was good, too. There were chicken meatballs, and rice, and more breaded veggies.

For dessert, I tried some rice pudding with a cookie. It was an interesting dish.

On Friday, I went out to eat with a different group of co-workers to Ritter’s, a burger and hot dog place that serves frozen custard. I got a burger there, and it was pretty good. I mention this since I mentioned trying to not be picky- the burger had “Ritter’s Sauce” on it, and I have no idea what it was.  Five points for me. Yay.

rocket park

Here’s a view of Rocket Park, where I ended up because I needed to use the restroom while waiting for my badging appointment (and their restroom didn’t work). It was super cool to see. I’ll definitely have to go again and take the time to look around inside the giant hangar- there’s a Saturn V rocket in there.

On Friday evening, I participated in Critical Mass with the family I’m staying with. Critical Mass Houston is a GIANT bike ride through Houston. Like, there were probably around 2,000 people there. It was super cool. The event began as a social protest to bring awareness to how un-bike friendly cities are, and I think that’s a great point.

critical mass

We ended up riding almost 25 miles, which was an incredible feat for me since I haven’t really rode a bike since being in the Netherlands in May. I felt incredibly accomplished when I finished all 25 miles. I met a bunch of really nice people (almost everyone in Texas is super nice) and I had a blast. My legs didn’t even hurt that bad the next day. I should do this more often. It was also a phenomenal way to see Houston. It’s such a beautiful city- especially in the dark. It also has a lot of one-way streets… And I thought Ohio was bad! 

saltgrass steakhouse

Yesterday, M and I drove down to Galveston for dinner. We went to Saltgrass Steakhouse, and yes, I got double potatoes. YOLO, right? (Please never let me say that again)

The fries were phenomenal. AND I WAS, AT ONE POINT, PROBABLY 30 FEET FROM THE GULF OF MEXICO. That was incredibly epic. It’s nothing like Lake Erie (whoa, who would have guessed).

Texas is super cool, and NASA is amazing. It’s a little weird to not be in classes right now (*glances at the two online classes I’m taking*), but it’s such an amazing experience. I’m so happy I took the internship. I’m so happy I got this opportunity. Right now, it’s like drinking from a fire hose- but soon, I’ll learn. One co-worker I met that I got lunch with Friday said that it’s still like drinking from a fire hose, but she just found a way to redirect it to a pool first. Maybe I’ll find my own pool soon, too.

Last, everything is genuinely bigger in Texas. I always thought it was a joke, but it definitely is not a joke. A movie theater we went to to see “Crazy Rich Asians” had over 25 theaters. It was crazy huge. Oh, and I said y’all. Once.

Alright, I think it’s time for me to keep convincing myself I’m being productive by staring at my philosophy class and not actually doing anything. Wish me luck!

I looked up “space quotes” to be cute and end this in a NASA-esque fashion but this is what I got and I thought it was cute anyway… so here goes.

“There is always space for improvement, no matter how long you’ve been in the business.”

~E.🌎

How to Survive a Drive with a Lion

Buckle up and hold on for the ride, because I didn’t even know driving 7 hours and only stopping once was something this girl is capable of. The drive from NE Ohio to Houston, Texas was WILD. To be completely honest, I was pretty sure that my 2004 Volkswagen Jetta would die on the way. Spoiler alert: we made it!

But like.. how?tx1

Well, none of it would have been possible without the help of a phenomenal family friend. He drove the rest of the time, which… 20 hours minus 7 is a whopping 13 hours. He started in Ohio, and drove all the way to Jackson, Tennessee. Tennessee was probably the most boring part of the drive in my opinion. It felt like we were in Tennessee for EVER. Leo and I shared the Chips Ahoy cookies in the backseat next to him in Tennessee, and probably ate a few too many, but that’s okay.

I drove from Jackson to Marshall, Texas. I drove through Memphis, and all the way through Arkansas. The sunset was gorgeous. Driving through Little Rock was an interesting experience. Lots of bends, lots of cars, and lots of lights all at once. Gas prices started going down the farther south we got though, which is something I’m super thankful for. Also, why does Arkansas smash city names with the word “Arkansas”? Like… Is Arkadelphia really necessary? Even auto-correct wants to change that to Philadelphia. Also, why not “Philansas”?

Driving into Texas was crazy. By this time, it was dark. I had my first experience driving on a road with a speed limit of 75 miles per hour. Legally going that fast is pretty cool. I’ve been told there’s a road somewhere in this state (which is unnecessarily large, by the way) where the speed limit is 85. I may have to go find that road.

We made it to Marshall, Texas where we stopped at a Whataburger. I will admit, that was a phenomenal hamburger. Especially at 1 o’clock in the morning (two o’clock to my body, yay central time!). After eating, my friend drove the rest of the way.

tx3

We got to the place I’ll be staying right around 5 o’clock in the morning and met my host. Leo was extremely excited to stretch his paws after such a long drive. The bed was super comfortable. I finally fell asleep around 6 o’clock in the morning.

Somehow, I woke up at noon. I took a shower, organized a bit, and met the family. They’re wonderful people, and I’m so excited. The house is gorgeous. My room is so nice. The daughter is a year older than I am, and she’s super cool. We’ll call her “M”. M and I got Chick Fil A today, after she showed me around the area. There’s a Chick Fil A right across from NASA, and I think self control may be the biggest thing I learn during this internship. I also saw a real palm tree for the first time today!

tx4

Orientation for the internship is on Monday, and I’m so excited. I’m also nervous, though. It’s going to be crazy. I don’t think it’s truly sank in that I’m in Texas, and I’m about to work for NASA.

tx2I’ve jokingly told a few people now that if the Space Force Academy becomes a thing, I’ll be one of the first females to graduate (super relevant, I know). But you know what, you never know where life takes you. Leave your options open.

I just hope next time I leave my options open and go where life leads me, the bugs are a tad smaller. When they say everything is bigger in Texas, they mean it.

So, how do you survive a long drive with a lion?

  1. Lots of Chips Ahoy Chewy cookies
  2. 1 cold Gatorade for every 2 hours of driving
  3. A cool family friend (knowing lots about cars and playing cool music is a bonus)
  4. The ability to admit when you’re tired
  5. The ability to sleep in the passenger seat of your own car (yes, it’s super weird)
  6. Lots and lots of adrenaline. Arkansas was boring, but once we got into Texas…
  7. Clean your windshield every chance you get at gas stations. Dead things leave streaks if you use the wipers.
  8. There’s no shame in going the speed limit, even if cars in Kentucky decide they want to attempt to take off next to you.
  9. Don’t merge too close in front of drivers from Arkansas. They need at least two semi truck-lengths to feel secure.
  10. Have fun!

So, there you go. Enjoy your next road trip. Or don’t, that’s all up to you.

I’ll be back to ramble to you from NASA’s Johnson Space Center next time, right here on my blog! Hopefully maybe my nerves will settle down. That would be cool.

Until then, don’t be afraid to try new things!

~E.💫