Hello world

From time to time, I will post about things I find interesting, or perhaps an exciting trip or event in my life. Based on a detailed analysis of my previous posts, there is a 57% chance the topic will be about exercise, a 43% chance it will be about food, and there is a 100% chance that those figures are not accurate.

I started this blog back in 2009 when I was working at Kennedy Space Center. At the time, I wanted to record and share the exciting *space* stuff I was experiencing on a daily basis. I also was preparing for a marathon, and started a “training” blog to keep track of that and other athletic pursuits. When I transitioned to wordpress, the two kind of merged into one, and a lot of the pictures were dropped. As time allows, the pictures will be re-posted and the posts will be tagged accordingly. In the meantime, peruse the jumble of posts that I’m leaving up for posterity.

Enjoy.

Astronaut Candidate Program application received!

You might know I submitted my application back in January to NASA’s Astronaut candidate program.  Well, I can now confirm that they have received it at the Selection Office!  One (tiny) step closer for me (and the thousands of other applicants)!

Application received

 

Update: Unfortunately, I wasn’t one of the 8 selected out of 6000+ applicants 😉 but I will try again!

Atlantic to Pacific in 3 days… paddling!

This post comes a bit late, but I have had a lot going on!  At the end of March, I went to Panama to compete in the Ocean to Ocean Cayuco Race, which took me through almost the full length of the Panama Canal (minus the locks).  The history of the Panama in general and the Canal Zone in particular is very interesting and complex, and I won't try to gloss over that here… rather I'd refer you to other sources.  However, I will tell you about the race, which was a unique and exciting experience. 

At Miraflores LocksAfter arriving, our team was able to get in a practice run in our boat (Perserverence).  It was my first visit to Panama, so they took me to do a bit of sight-seeing (here I am at the Miraflores locks, below at the Bridge of the Americas). P1000874

 Day 1 started on the North side (Atlantic side) with a 45+ minute "sprint" up to the first set of locks (Gatun).  Day 2 was an approximately three hour "jaunt" through Gatun lake amidst the wake of enormous cargo ships, including the Panamx-type.  Day 3 was kicked off with a 10 minute sprint, then a paddle back to the starting point to begin the second-longest portion of the race (about 1:20) through "the cut" and up to the Pedro Miguel locks.  The grand finale was a 15-minute sprint from the Miraflores locks to (almost) the Pacific Ocean.

622px-Panama_Canal_Rough_Diagram

Being at "sea level" (and the fact that sea level is entirely different on one side of Panama and the other!) through the canal was really amazing.  The locks are HUGE and entirely impressive – especially considering when they were built! 2014 will be the 100 year anniversary, and work is underway to create new locks which will allow even larger vessels to pass through. 

As far as the race went, our team was solid – we started out and ended in 9th place in the open, co-ed class (out of 21 boats).  We placed 11th out of all 50 boats in the open (adult) division.  The race started as a boy scout event, and so the "trophy boats" are those of the youth teams.  They have no rudder on their boats and must have a certain portion of the hull which is made from a dugout log in the traditional fashion. 

Here are a few pictures of us from the race.  You can see a ton more from Trois (photographers). Questions or comments?  Let me know! 

Team1
Darrel, Blair, Me, and Scott

Team2Feeling good… ?

P1000768Before the "fun" began

P1000823Perserverance!

P1000834At the final buoy of the lake – Ugh!

Perseverance Results
First stretch: 49:36  Lake:  3:09:49
sprint before cut: 10:32  cut:  1:20:30  final sprint: 15:19
Total time: 5:45:30  Place in class (Open-Coed) 9th out of 21.

And coming soon…. Tough Mudder!

I really wish it had been a Physical Education exam…

Update: What really matters is… I passed! But, you might still find my thoughts on the test useful.

____________________________________________________________________________

Well…after winding down somewhat from yesterday’s PE exam (in order to get licensed as a Professional Engineer in Florida), I’m still not sure how I feel about it.  To anyone thinking of taking it, my advice is…do more problems!  I don’t care how many you’ve done, it’s crunch time in the test when you only have about 6 minutes per problem. So, just to let it all out here (because my poor family is tired of hearing me whine…): After a couple months of studying and becoming a pseudo-hermit, I dragged myself out of bed at 5 and managed to report to the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando at 7 am.  I’m not exaggerating when I say that place is ENORMOUS, and we really had to walk at least half a mile to get to the exam room (and I was foolishly lugging my books without a rolling device to assist.  I think I strained a bicep.) The test started promptly at 8 am, and the morning session was not that awful.  For those taking the Mechanical Engineering exam, the “breadth” test in the morning covers “the basics,” most of which you will recall and probably not have too much difficulty with as long as you have refreshed your memory.  After a slight interruption by a fire alarm, I finished and felt somewhat OK about that portion. For the afternoon session I had chosen Thermal Fluids.  During my review process I REALLY wished I had selected HVAC, because Thermal Fluids covered a lot of applications which were only touched on briefly during school.  Hydraulic horsepower, water hardness, combustion…  studying for these areas was somewhat “new material” for me.  I realized that the classes I was best at in school were Thermo and Heat Transfer – and not so much Fluids.  Although I had most of the fundamentals stored somewhere in my brain, I found it challenging to apply them quickly in the limited time of the exam.  By the end of the afternoon session, I was out of time with quite a few questions unanswered and on the verge of tears.  Yep.  Fingers crossed that a few of those “C’s” I bubbled in were correct… After decompressing, I would say the test is by no means impossible, and the problems themselves would not be exceeding difficult… if you had 15-20 minutes for each one.  What is challenging is being able to immediately know what the problem is asking and either recall or know where to find the formula in your reference material (and then solve it with proper unit conversions and no table- or graph-reading errors in 6 minutes).  I covered nearly all of the material in the Mechanical Engineering Reference Manual and was familiar with that, but did not spend enough time doing problems.  My takeaway advice for those doing the ME PE…

  • For the morning session, if you have to allocate your time resources, don’t spend an inordinate amount of time cover the Machine Design material.  Although this area is about a third of the morning session, it is only 1/6 of the test overall (assuming you are taking HVAC or Thermal Fluids concentration area).  I found the problems to be mostly pretty simple and the time I spent reviewing that area of MERM was almost not necessary.  Maybe I lucked out with some simple tangential velocity problems and weld symbols, but I think if you have basic physics knowledge and good problem solving abilities, you could almost get through those questions with little preparation.  Obviously if you are doing this as your depth exam, disregard this advice.
  • Spend waaaaaaaay more time doing problems in your focus area!  I know this sounds obvious, but I did not do it and really wish I had.  All the questions on the exam count the same, so if you are well-versed in your focus area you should have a good shot at two thirds of the problems.
  • Follow general test-taking strategies – skip the problems that are going to take you too long and try to get the “easier” ones correct.  Again, obvious but I got caught up in a mindset of, “Oh, I KNOW how to do this one,” and then spent far too much time on some of the problems at the beginning of the second session.

All said and done, the PE seems “doable”, but you have to put in the time.  If you have been out of school a while, and particularly if your job doesn’t actually involve doing any work in the subject area of your test (as mine did not), then you really, really, really need to study and do a LOT of problems. Unless you happen to be a genius.  Which I am not. Well, I will be waiting and wondering if I passed for the next several weeks.  I honestly do not know what to expect when I get my results… but am trying to be optimistic so as not to torture myself over the mistakes I already know I made during the exam.  Everyone told me the PE Exam is NOT something you want to take twice, and I very much hope I don’t have to validate that statement. Thanks to everyone who gave me advice on the exam and/or put up with me during this process!  Let’s all keep our fingers crossed that I don’t have to do it again…

I have applied for astronaut candidacy!

I have officially applied to be an astronaut!  Me and thousands of other people, but still exciting! 

Y… esto es mi primero POST en espanol!  He solicitado la posicion de astronauta por NASA!  Yo y miles de otras personas, pero todavia emocionante!

Ever since I first saw "Space Camp" when I was about 5, I have dreamed of becoming an astronaut.  Over the years, I have developed a more legitimate interest in space and an understanding that befriending a robot probably isn't going to get me there.  But I digress…

If you are one of the approximately 4000 people who applied during the last application cycle, or those who are applying this time, you are familiar with the requirements.  This is the first year I'm eligible to apply based on my education and years work experience.  Typically there has been an opportunity to apply every 2 years, so I will be applying biannually until I have the right skill set … even if that's 15-20 more times!!!  Hopefully I will be successful sooner than that! 

This video will pump up fellow space nerds =-)

For those of you reading this, I hope you will go take a chance on something you don't think is possible!  Find the people who believe in you and your dreams, and surround yourselves with their energy.  My husband, family, and friends encourage me when I doubt myself, and that pushes me to keep moving toward my goals.  Things may not go exactly as planned, but as Woody Allen has said, "Eighty percent of success is showing up" … and showing up is something that is possible!

"The journey is the reward." – Chinese proverb

He solicitado candidatura de astronautas!

Desde la primera vez que ví la pelicula "Space Camp", cuando tenía cinco años mas o menos, he sonado con hacerme astronauta.  A tavés de los anos, mi interés en el espacio ha crecido y he aprendido que hacerme amigo de un robot no me va a llevar allí.  Pero estoy divagando (tuve que buscar la traduccion de esta frase … se usa asi?) …

Si ud. es una de las 4000 personas, aproximadamente, que solicitó el trabajo durante el ciclo de solicitud anterior, o una de las que lo están solicitando esta vez, seguro que concoce bien los requisitos.  Este es el primer año que he satisfecho estos requisitos, los cuales incluyen experiencia de trabajo y de educación.  Normalmente, hay una oportunidad para solicitar el trabajo de astronauta cada dos años, asi que yo voy a estar solicitando cada dos anos hasta que tenga las competencias para obtener la posicion… si tengo que solicitar 15-20 veces mas, lo voy a hacer!!!  Espero tener éxito mas pronto, pero … vamos a ver!

Este video les va a interesar los nerds como yo =-)

Para ustedes que están leyendo este articulo – primero, gracias por ignorar todos los errores de gramática, y segundo, espero que ud. intente conseguir su meta, la que le parece imposible.  Pase tiempo con la gente que cree en ud. y sus sueños, y rodéese con su energía.  Mi marido, familia, y amigos me animan cuando tengo dudas sobre mi misma, y eso me hace seguir trabajando para conseguir mis metas.  Las cosas no siempre pasan como esperamos, pero como dijo Woody Allen, "Ochenta por ciento del éxito es aparentar" (lo siento por la traducion…enviame un email y dime como debo escribirla!)… pero todos nosotoros si podemos aperecer…o estar donde nesecitamos estar…

"El viaje es la recompensa." -Proverbio chino

NASA Astronaut Selection Process Announced

Contrary to what my recent blog activity might suggest, I have been very busy with work (only ONE MONTH until the first launch attempt for Mars Science Laboratory), applying to take the Professional Engineering examination in Florida (April 2012), studying for the GRE (PhD starting in 2012 hopefully!), and also enjoyed some time with old friends from Florida Tech at our Women's Soccer Alumi Weekend.

But, the most exciting thing of the last few weeks is the announcement that NASA Astronaut Selection will open in November!  Although only a very, very, VERY small percentage of applicants are actually selected to be candidates, I now have at least the basic qualifications to apply. I am a U.S. Citizen (thanks Mom and Dad!), I have the undergrad degree in engineering (Mechanical, also a graduate one), I have >3 years of professional experience, and I should be able to pass NASA flight physical! 

I'm looking forward to giving it my best effort – this is some literal shooting for the stars!  The best case scenario is me on my way to the moon, and the worst case is framing my rejection letter for posterity.  Both would be pretty cool (if not quite equally so).

DSCF0072

 The closest I've been so far – Endeavour.

"Shoot for the moon.  Even if you miss it you will land among the stars."
-  Les Brown