Wednesday, April 23, 2014

They Came, We NASA-ed!

Last time my parents came to visit the government decided to shutdown. And hence, giving them a true behind-the-scenes tour at NASA was out of the question. It sucked, and I was upset, but I knew there would be other times. 

So, the parental units made another trek to ye old Houston this past weekend, what an Easter treat! And I finally got to show them all of the cool stuff I get to do everyday at work. 

First, I took them to the historic Apollo mission control. It may look familiar in the pictures from Apollo 13, Ron Howard decided to exactly replicate this room in a studio, but when I watch the movie I can't tell the difference. My dad (a fellow space nut) was soaking up all of the nostalgia - the green consoles, prehistoric email systems, projection screens, cigarette stains, and those ancient screens where telemetry from Apollo 11 and Apollo 13 was viewed. Even my mom enjoyed sitting in Gene Kranz's chair and thinking about all of the young men who had the smarts to land men on the moon. 



After Apollo mission control I showed them the simulation room where I hope to get certified within the next year before we went downstairs to Flight Control Room - 1. Here they are in the viewing room. I like to say, "This is where the magic happens these days," when I give tours, but spaceflight is a lot more than magic. 


I am coming up on 10 months in this new job at NASA and its becoming more challenging. Not only am I still taking classes and studying for checkouts, but now I have the added stress of mini-sims once a week. Going into the sim we don't know what kind of malfunctions they will throw at us, so its a chance to review all of the material we have learned and prove that we can make the right decision, sometimes in a time crunch or with added constraints. I really like troubleshooting real-time, but I don't always feel 100% confident and often take extra time to come to a path forward. It's ok right now, and in fact many of the failures in our system are not time critical, but I hope I continue to improve as I get more sims under my belt. 

Keep Calm and ADCO On. 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

It's Easter!

"He is not here; He is risen!" - Luke 24:6

We were blessed to have my parents here this weekend. And amazing weather. 

Happy Easter!




Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Beautiful Life

Like most married couples, Chris and I have "agreements". You know, the usual...put down the toilet seat, sort the laundry into the appropriate basket, put the tools back where you found them, and if you are going to spend over $100, let's talk about it first.

As a back story, prior to our move to Texas we decided to sell our piano since it's not the easiest item to move. So, it was sort of understood that once we got settled we could start looking for a new piano. I'm by no means a professional, but I enjoy challenging myself to learn new music and use the ivories as a sort of therapy - focusing on music forces me to stop focusing on all of the other worries a 20-something adult has. 

Our new house has an "office" which I like to call the "music room" with tall ceilings, chunky crown molding and beautiful windows...this meant my dream of a baby grand piano might be justified ;-) We went to the "piano" store, but just weren't ready to pull the trigger yet. So, we continued to scour Craigslist and found a couple of pianos to look at. Piano #1 was beautiful but the touch was stiff and I wasn't sure about the quality of the piece. Piano #2 was a Yamaha (great brand), and looked to be in immaculate shape, but it was twice as much as Piano #1 and 30 years older (1970's). I liked the touch and knew the quality of most Yamahas. We decided to have a piano technician give it a good look over before we made a decision. Chris was coordinating with the tech and told me he wasn't available until later the week after we looked at the piano. 

Well, he lied. He coordinated with the tech that week and the tech told him the piano was in pristine condition. Yes, it needed to be tuned, but that is to be expected. He didn't tell me any of this. Instead he had the piano moved on Friday while I was at work and left the following note on the garage door. I walked into the office and had one of the most raw, gut-reactions. I absolutely broke down. All I could do was look at this impressive instrument sitting in MY house and just cry...tears of overwhelming joy.


I finally called Chris after about 10 minutes of blubber-fest 2014. He said it was one of the best calls of his life. I played for about 4 hours that night, until my out-of-shape fingers were sore and achy. But it was so good. Music is so good. I am completely blessed - a beautiful husband, a beautiful house, a beautiful piano, and most of all, a beautiful life. 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

[sitting on] Pins and Needles, mostly just needles

Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending two doctor's appointments. Yipee!

First, I had to get checked out for my job at NASA. I had no idea how involved these tests were going to be. After the ease of the FAA's medical appointments (not the process, just the appointment), I was shocked when NASA asked me to pee in a cup, take 3 tubes of blood, take an honest-to-God eye test, sit in a soundproof hearing booth, get stuck with a TB skin test and finally complete an EKG. Dang! Even though it sounds like a rough morning, everything went fine. I will go back tomorrow morning for them to check the TB test and then again in about a month for "Part 2"...dun dun dun.


After that fun, I also had an endo appointment in the afternoon. I went back to the first clinic I tried in Texas but asked to see a different doctor. She was, well, ok. I wasn't exactly impressed, but I also wasn't afraid of her doing what happened last time. I was happy with my A1c at 6.8 (this is one of my best so far), but she was a little scared that I was "taking too much insulin." I tried to explain how I use the CGM to avoid lows, so this A1c is not a consequence of too many low blood sugars. Not sure if she believed me, but we moved on. She also didn't say, "WOW!!! Great A1c!!!" like I was hoping for, but whatevs. She asked that I get some lab work done, so I marched out to the calming waiting room and waited for my pager to go off.

After nearly an hour it buzzed, so I trotted back to pee in a cup again and give more blood. I guess my veins weren't cooperating, so after bruising up my right arm the tech went back into my left (remember, I had already done bloodwork that morning). So, I have some colorful elbow areas, oh well.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Learning Curve

Yesterday was my second mini-sim, even though it was label "Mini Sim 3" ...go figure. I'm getting more comfortable setting up my console and getting organized, but it's still a new environment. It reminds me a lot of my first few helicopter flights at my old job. I was clumsy at putting in my ear plugs and pulling on the giant helmet. It was awkward the first few times I tried to climb in the jump seat, and it took several flights before my hand writing became legible. And mini sims are just the same. It takes me a few seconds to get my ear piece adjusted and several minutes to make sure I have all the right displays up. I have talked on the wrong loop more than once, and stumbled over my words on the Flight loop. But its all a learning curve, and I'm getting there. 

Yesterday I found a software bug that I wasn't familiar with, so I had to react to a system that was not performing the way I thought it should be performing. And when I figured all that out, my other, "good" GPS failed. So, I made a systematic approach for rectifying the situation, sent a detailed flight note to the Flight Director and started down the path I had laid out. It wasn't the most ideal situation, but I dealt with it, and eventually figured out where the bug was. I am still upset at myself for my first decision, but that's what these sims are for: to learn. 

Thought you guys might like to see what a Mini Sim console looks like, this was yesterday, prior to my sim. 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Paps

These last few weeks have sort of been a whirlwind. About two weeks ago we received word that Chris's grandfather had suffered a severe stroke, and the doctors weren't sure how long he had. So we made the decision to fly back to Huntsville and share a few precious moments with him. We are glad that we had this opportunity, because last Thursday he passed away and this weekend we found ourselves in Huntsville again, for his funeral.

"Pedro" or "Paps" was a tremendous person; his unwritten philosophy was to teach through actions instead of words and his kind heart was always willing to give with whatever means were necessary. And, although it may sound harsh, I have never been so relieved at a funeral before. Paps had struggled with so many health problems the entire 7 years I have known him, and even before that. I was so thankful that he was finally at peace!

I mentioned these thoughts to Chris as we drove back to Huntsville in his grandfather's truck (he was so proud of it!), and Chris concurred. No doubt, we will miss the crap out of him, his genuine care and witty humor, but we can rejoice knowing he is free of the body that caused so much pain.

We love you Paps.



Friday, March 28, 2014

Family Time

This week we had the greatest pleasure of hosting some very special family members! Chris's grandma and grandpa, aunt and cousin came to visit for their spring break!! Even though we still had to work it was super fun. Today we had fun visiting Mission Control and the beach in Galveston! 

Since we have moved to Texas family has become even more important to us, and we really cherish these special moments we have to share together. Sometimes it's lonely with just Chris and I and the dogs, so having all these voices fill up our house truly warms our hearts. Plus, granny makes incredible fudge ;-)

We can't wait until the next time! 

Grandpa, Grandma, Chris, Aunt T, and Cousin H in the Flight Control Room - 1 viewing room!

Cousin H by the famous Mission Control doors!

A sand doodle of our little family, Izzy, Me, Chris and Al. Note sure why Gus didn't make it!

Beach selfie! Love these girls!