Thursday, October 30, 2008

My goal...

When I was little, after the explosion of the Challenger, I wanted to be a Mission Controller instead of being an astronaut (as I had wanted to be for the past two years.) I admit that I got scared of being blown up on the way to orbit. (A valid fear for a 7 year old.)

So, it was Aerospace Engineering and then Mission Control. At least that was the plan...(Yes, I had "life plans" already in elementary school. I really was an older child than my years even back then.)

Until Calculus.

So, I opted for the subject I was best at and had the most fun with, History. I decided to shelve my dream of becoming an engineer involved with the space program and planned on becoming a history professor. Well, the history job has evolved into a library job at a NASA Contractor so, I've moved kinda back towards my original career path. But still, I never thought I'd get to be in Mission Control.

Until this past Tuesday that is.

That's me at the Apollo Era Mission Control Flight Director's Console. That's right. THE Console in THE Room where it all happened. This was the room that, filled with smoke and nervous engineers and astronauts, monitored Armstrong and Aldrin's descent to the lunar surface, and radioed the instructions that helped save the crew of Apollo 13 from dying of carbon dioxide poisoning.

I tell ya, it was the best day of work in my life. Especially when, as this photo was being taken, our guide said my pose was "Kranz-ian."

(Update-10/31/08): Now that I'm reflecting about this picture today and not as excited, I wanted to thank some people for helping me get where I am. Seriously, I've wanted to be in that room for 23 years. First, my family for being really supportive, especially the home made astronaut costume my mom and dad and grandparents (who had bought a toy race car driver's helmet that wound up being covered in foil and becoming an astronaut's helmet) made for me in 3rd grade. It was cool. They never stopped supporting me, (trips to Air & Space, Florida to KSC for the family vacation to Disney World), even when I made that hare-brained decision to go for a history degree. (Yeah, I can get a job with history, no sweat!) I'm glad it's worked out in the end, even I got worried for a while. Next, at Kemptown Elementary, the principal and my teachers in 4th Grade let me be part of a special program for the 5th Graders when a NASA person came to visit. I thought it was the coolest thing ever and loved every minute of it. It really helped stoke the flames of my passion for working at NASA. Now, all of my teachers and professors, especially my math and science teachers. While I didn't go into the field, I still learned a lot, and in my job I actually do use it. And finally, my friends. Thanks for sticking with me and suffering through one of the most nerdy blog posts ever.

Prep for tonight...

(NASA Photo)

Okay, see that guy with the white vest and white shirt and buzz cut in the photo?

That's Gene Kranz, NASA Flight Director. (And played by Ed Harris in the movie Apollo 13.) The guy in charge. He can override the president if he feels the order/request will endanger the crew or mission he is directing. This shot was taken during the flight of Apollo 13 in the Mission Control Center in Houston, TX.

Why does this matter?

You will see shortly.

1 vs 6 Billion....

Or at least as many people are voting on this.

Astronaut Greg Chamitoff who has been on the Inernational Space Station and beating the ground stations, is now taking on the world.

Thanks to the US Chess Federation and the Stevenson Chess Team in Washington State, people can vote on the next move and play against Chamitoff.

There are three boards monitoring the progress of the game. The one on the station, the one on-line and the one I saw Tuesday at Mission Control Houston.

Click HERE to see where the match stands and vote for the next move!

Mike Singletary for President....

Apologies for catching this so late, but I had a good excuse, I was in Houston.

Mike Singletary took over as coach of the San Francisco 49er's in time for a bad loss to the Seattle Seahawks. After the loss he gave a great press conference, it was old school football and just the kind of attitude that some members of that team, cough cough Vernon Davis, needed to see.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008



Photos to come soon.

Signing off from Houston, TX.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Come fly with me...

Mercury Astronauts in the early "Vomit Comet" (NASA Image)

Come Monday I'll be off to Houston for a couple of days of meetings and training sessions at the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center. I'm also going on a tour. More photos to come. (Hint: The password is: Geek-out)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Friday, October 17, 2008

Geroge F. Will's Column on Gettysburg...

Read it. And if you have kids, PLEASE TAKE THEM TO GETTYSBURG! (once they can comprehend it.)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

On TV Tonight, something worth watching...

The Crew of STS-107. (NASA Photo)

Tonight NOVA on PBS will be airing a show on the loss of the Orbiter Columbia.

As NOVA is one of the best shows out there, I expect this episode will be up to its usual high standards of quality.

I highly recommend it to anyone who's looking for something good on TV tonight. It won't be a happy show, but it will be informative and riveting.

Details can be found here:

I sense something, something I've not felt since...

Does anyone else get this feeling from time to time? The feeling that something just isn't quite "right" but you can't put your finger on it.

I had that hit me last night during the Giants game and answering email and surfing the web. It's a bit like deja-vu but I don't feel like I've done something before, just that something isn't the way it should be. Something isn't fitting. It was weird.

On another note, we're into the last week of the three weeks of hell for me. This is what I euphemistically call "October." It's my busiest month from a railroad historical society perspective and this year has, like previous years, lived up to that title. First week was the Convention, last week was the train show, and this week is archives. Next week I'm off and then the last week of October I'm going to Houston for work. (Which reminds me, I need to get my airplane reading.)

A few belated congratulations need to go out:
KLETCO and Foxdeath for their Baltimore half and full marathon runs respectively.
My friends Shelby and Spiff for the birth of their son Alexander. (Welcome to Earth Alexander, enjoy the now, everything gets more complicated as you get older.)