We got up early to drive out to Monterey and spend the day hanging around there. Some of us tried to work on final papers and presentations in the car.
First was the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Kamara dropped off Jennifer, Ashley, and Kyle, while the car Stephanie was driving parked in a parking garage. Jennifer and Ashley got to the aquarium first, but Jennifer had to go to the bathroom, so Ashley said she’d wait by the main aquarium sign. There was a hefty guy with a moustache wearing a seat turtle costume outside the main door, with an aquarium employee who went around with him carrying a basket of plastic “turtle food” for kids to feed to the moustached guy.
Kyle arrived and Ashley climbed a tree to wait for everyone else. The people from Stephanie’s car arrived and everyone went into the aquarium, forgetting completely about Jennifer. Fortunately, she got back from the bathroom right when everyone was walking through the gates, since she would’ve gotten lost without a cell phone to call and see where everyone went. Ashley felt bad and avoided Jennifer’s gaze for awhile.
The first event at the aquarium was at the otter tank, where the otters were fed and trained to retrieve red plastic dog toy-like things from the bottom of the tank. A guy on headset narrated the event, and then came out into the crowd with a piece of otter fur for people to feel if they wanted.
Next, the group headed to the famous Big Tank (it’s not actually called that), which takes up the entire wall of one high-ceilinged room. The tank had tuna the size of Ashley’s dad, who weighs over 300 pounds, as well as mahi mahi and a 500 lb and a 1,000 lb sunfish. We got there right at feeding time, so a lady on a microphone narrated, first telling everyone to sit down to give the people behind a better view, then talking about the fish and their special qualities, like tuna swimming 40mph or sunfish gaining weight as a defense mechanism. The mahi mahi’s fins got bright yellow-green when the food appeared—they do that when they’re excited.
At a tank at the other end of the aquarium, a diver was swimming with the fish, but it was impossible to see with all the people crowded around. In a cylindrical anchovy tank nearby, the fish were slowly dying. Bernard noticed three lying at the bottom, but he and Kyle thought maybe they were just sleeping. Then a couple minutes later, more than half of the anchovies were at the bottom of the tank.
Almost everyone had joined Bernard and Kyle at this point, and they looked around for an explanation—was it just some weird anchovy ritual? The aquarium staff finally came and opened up the top of the tank to find that the water flow had stopped. They tried to correct the problem, and dropped a bubbler into the tank to try to revive the fish, but most of the incapacitated fish just blew around the tank with the current and the bubbles. Another employee came with a net and some big, white buckets to scoop out the dead ones.
After the anchovy incident, people were starting to get hungry, so they stopped by a café in the aquarium, where Ashley and Becca got juice and coffee. Then it was off to the aquarium movie theater to see what was supposed to be a movie about the current effects of global warming: The One Degree Factor. Instead, it was a movie about how sharks were misunderstood.
It was almost time to meet Kamara to leave, so we headed over to see the octopi as one last stop. It turns out that octopi can recognize individual people by feeling/tasting them with their suckers. We got kind of lost back at that end of the building, but found our way out and stood outside the aquarium to meet Kamara.
In search of the car, we wandered down the Cannery Row in the opposite direction from where Kamara was still waiting, thinking we were walking toward her. We eventually decided to stop at a restaurant called Larry Linguini’s for lunch which was fantastic. We decided to skip the beach and drive toward Big Sur, stopping wherever we wanted along the coast as we went and then turning around for the pool party wherever we were at 6:30.
We never got to Big Sur, but stopped to climb on rocks and take pictures along the coast. We also stopped at Pebble Beach, where Bernard bought some golf balls. The jewelry store there had one of those water-supported marble balls, too—it was pink.
We turned around not long after Pebble Beach and headed to Doug O’Handley’s house for the pool party. Since we thought it’d be more cost effective to each buy our own dinners rather than buy general food for the group, we stopped at Subway and the ice cream place next door before going to the party. We brought the subs with us.
We ate on the porch out back with the Ames kids, next to the warm, flaming lampposts, the (somewhat) warmed pool, and the very hot hot tub. When we were done eating, we went into the pool, where Ashley (sitting on Adam’s shoulders) and an Ames girl sitting on an Ames guy’s folder had a chicken fight.
Ashley won, but half her toes were sort of stuck in Adam’s pocket the whole time. It was a little painful. Finally, we set the record for the number of people in the hot tub at once, but Bernard and two Ames guys didn’t bring swimsuits. Bernard put his hand in. The hot tub was pretty much out of water after that, and it kept boiling off.
We weren’t sure if we were going to San Francisco or the Santa Cruz beach the next day, so we guessed we’d just let the Ames people know when we decided. The Ames people preferred the beach, since they’d already seen the city. We drove home and didn’t talk any more about it until morning.
- Woke up, realized we needed to pack.
- Struggled to get it all into the trunks as Ames van arrived
- Kyle, Bernard, Ashley, Kamara heads to San Francisco
- Ames and the rest go to beaches to surf, etc. Ames has already seen San Francisco.
- Beach kids go to a beach in Santa Cruz, but it’s full and mostly volleyball. An Ames kid
- from the area directs them to Panther Beach, which was like their own private beach.
- Stopped at visitor center on non-city side of Golden Gate to take pictures. Drove up the mountain for a better angle, but it was too foggy, plus cold. Kyle had no jacket and wanted to shop for one.
- Drove across Golden Gate Bridge and up a really steep road, then down the most winding road in the world.
- Got out to walk around, shop
- Kyle and Ashley bought hoodies at a street vendor
- Everybody took pictures hanging off the side of a stationary San Fran trolly
- Ate—basically nothing but seafood available, but Ashley got a garden salad and fettuccini alfredo from one semi-pricey restaurant
- Went to the Hyde St. pier to see the historical boats and take pictures of Alcatraz
- Looked at small boats in a workshop, a knot-tying exhibit and a block-and-tackle exhibit—Kyle, Ashley, and Bernard raced pulling up the barrels with the ropes
- Stopped at a place that sold black and white photos of great, classic moments in history and film. The lady was impressed by us being NASA RAs and talked endlessly about how her pictures sparked conversation, etc.
- Debated whether to see the Victorian houses or walk across the bridge.
- Walked almost halfway across the bridge—Kamara and Bernard turned back first, then Kyle and Ashley had to jog to get back to the car in time to get to the airport
- Went straight to the rental car place without filling the tank—had to pay $6 per gallon not filled.
- Rode the bus to the airport
- Some of our luggage was in the other car and already checked. Stephanie put some lotion in her bag before it got checked with the stuff from our car.
- Ashley wanted to use wireless to access Columbia for her individual project, but the wireless at the airport cost money.
- Kyle saw the “get in the car” video
- Flew to Las Vegas
- Saw an iPod vending machine
- Failed to get out through security for pictures
- Failed to connect to internet until about to board
- Flew home, no in-flight movie
- 6am, drive home in a daze
- Sleep, breakfast, shower until 10:30am
Noon was the Ballistics Lab Tour, so we got to see the big guns where they shoot turbine blades and random junk at bits of spacecraft and aircraft. The birdstrike projectiles were in the freezer—like perfectly cylindrical, meatless sausages. They had gelatin in them, though, so they weren’t completely vegetarian. It turns out that the guy giving us the tour also drew the comic book-style posters of shuttle launches that you see on the walls around NASA facilities (and on the fridge of our hosts in California).
He offered us autographed copies of the posters, which he would send to Michael. After the tour, we were pretty hungry. Some of us hadn’t eaten since lunch on Sunday, since we’d been flying/sleeping since then. So we all went to the cafeteria, then dispersed to work until 5:30pm to make up for the work time lost that morning due to sleep.
We wanted time to work on our presentations and papers, especially the group one, so we requested the rap session to be moved to 6pm. And so it was. Then we worked until like 3am finishing the group PowerPoint for the dry run the next day.
- dry runs
- most people left from cafeteria after runs
- Kyle and Ashley worked with PI, go to lunch with Meng
- Marc Millis, lunatic fringe
- Kyle and Ashley found Siam Café to buy gift certificate for PI
- Others tried to get Arabica and Barnes&Noble gift certificates for Kamara and Michael, but only managed to go to Malley’s for ice cream
Business formal yet again for the video telecon with Dr. Elachi, the director of JPL. We managed to get some work in before the telecon at 1:30. It was in building 500—actually outside the gates of Glenn and across the street. The other two Academies in the telecon were Marshall and Goddard—Marshall was wearing polo shirts and the rest of us had power suits. I bet they felt silly. Dr. Elachi gave us a PowerPoint presentation about his life and then answered three questions from each Academy.
There was another limited chunk of work time between the telecon and a meeting with Dr. Kankam to sort out Ames travel reimbursement details. Kyle left the meeting early because of physical therapy, but Ashley had left her backpack in his car. When he got back to the hotel, he gave her his keys to go down and get her stuff. He still hasn’t gotten them back, nor has he noticed. Ashley will see how long it takes for him to say something that is until everyone’s leaving Saturday.
Not long after we got home, we met to work on the group project, namely the paper. Kamara met with the Kyle, Bernard, and Ashley to talk about the additional charges for their car in California because they didn’t have time to fill up the gas, plus some unwarranted late fees. All squared away. Great! After that, it was group project work until the wee hours again.
It was the last day of work before our final presentations. Everyone wore jeans, with maybe two exceptions.
We all scrambled to finish everything off and have our presentations and papers ready by 5pm Friday. Kyle and Ashley took sort of a break at 4pm to go over to building 49 and drop off the money for the California rental cars with Dr. Kankam or Lisa, but Kyle hadn’t driven, so they had to walk. It started pouring as they approached the cafeteria, so they had to stop there and try to call someone to drive them. One person they called was Michael, who said Kankam wasn’t in that day and Lisa had gone home fifteen minutes earlier. Everyone with a car was too busy to drive Ashley and Kyle back to building 5, except Jess, who rode to the rescue.
- Work some more. Jennifer stayed until six, and Kyle and Ashley stayed until like 6:30, making Jennifer and Michael wait in the car while they finished a few things up at the last minute.
- Speaker: Omar Mireles, the Academy ’02 alum (who we meet in Florida after we skydived). Does nuclear space stuff and really a great guy.
- Worked on everything that still wasn’t done until really late again.
Stephanie and Adam came to Glenn even earlier than necessary to run through their presentations. After that, we headed straight from breakfast to building 3. The audience was small for the first few presentations, but grew as people’s PIs showed up to watch and help with the audience’s questions. Kyle had sent invitations to several people in his and Ashley’s office, as well as some people who talked to them at the poster session, and those people showed up partway through the group presentation, which ran really. Really. Long. Like 50 minutes, and it was supposed to be half an hour.
But it worked. Kyle and then Ashley presented after that—they’d been moved back so that the people Kyle had emailed would still see them, since the presentations as a whole were getting done early. During the breaks, everyone worked on their individual final reports.
After the presentations, Dr. Kankam, Michael, and Kamara said a few words, then presented the RAs with Academy lapel pins to represent their induction into the NASA Academy Alumni Association (NAAA). Kamara started a video about Plum Brooke in background, since we never got to tour it —everyone was busy talking, congratulating each other, and trying to figure out what they were going to do about the group project final report.
Adam and Jennifer wanted to stay at Glenn and work until 5, so we’d meet at 5:30 and then go out for dinner around 7—not running too late since Bernard would need to leave. Adam also needed to write his section of the weekly summary at some point.
–Ashley Micks and Adam Pfendt