There wasn’t anything scheduled except karaoke in the evening, so people slept in and did things on their own, ideally writing event summaries and thank-you notes. I don’t think Jennifer realized that Karaoke was still going on, since she ran off on her bike somewhere. Or else she just really didn’t want to sing.
Karaoke was at the Upper Deck sports bar, over in one corner where everyone could still see and hear you but it wasn’t as bad as being center stage. The nine of us who went spent a while paging through the thick binders of song choices and then ordered meals, drinks, appetizers, or desserts depending on what people ate before they came.
The binders said there were thousands of songs not listed, but of the list of songs Ashley wanted to sing, only one was actually available. That’s probably because the songs she likes come from obscure a cappella concerts. Adam, Kyle, and Jess prepared lists of songs for themselves, but it took at least half an hour for anyone in our group to sing anything. The Upper Deck’s regulars-a balding forty-something with a scratchy voice, a baby-faced Phil Collins wanna-be, and a short, cheery young woman who liked singing country-went up repeatedly in the meantime.
The first song the RAs sang was Avril Lavigne’s “Girlfriend”-Becca, Jess, Stephanie and Ashley. The song was mostly shouting and didn’t take much skill, so it was a good place to start. Jess and Stephanie sang “Picture” by Kid Rock and Sheryl Crow. It sounded shakier to them than it did to the audience. The regulars went up for a few more songs while Ashley went to the bathroom to make sure she could still sing before going up herself. She sang “Angels Would Fall” by Melissa Ethridge, which she thinks is about a girl who can’t let anyone know she likes a guy who’s too perfect for her.
Everyone told her she did a good job, but it didn’t sound as good to her as it had in the bathroom. Jess sang Janis Joplin’s “Mercedes Benz” and Kyle sang Phil Collins’ “Can’t Stop Loving You.” The guy running the karaoke machine took Kyle’s song up a couple keys as revenge for Kyle calling him “sir” and making him feel old. About two thirds of the way through the song, Kyle got him to bring it back down, even though he managed the high notes beautifully.
The Academy girls all went up to sing the Pussycat Dolls’ “Buttons,” but couldn’t get any of the guys to go up and do the Snoop Dogg part. Nobody knew the Snoop Dogg part anyway, so the girls just danced during it. Finally, the entire Academy-except Jennifer, who we couldn’t call to see where she was because she has no cell phone-went up to sing “Lean on Me.” It was touching, but there was no one left to take a picture from the audience.
Later that night, Kamara appointed Ashley transportation crew captain via email, since we apparently take to long to get out the door in the morning because of the who’s-driving-today debate.
Kyle, Ashley, and Bernard went to the church Kyle usually goes to during school, since it was the pastor’s last day. There were also four baptisms-a cute baby and three approximately high-school-age girls. Afterward, there were pastries and lemonade on the porch.
The three churchgoers barely got back to the hotel in time to leave again for Jekyll and Hyde, a musical showing at the Beck Center for the Arts. Everyone went except Bernard and Jennifer. Jennifer said later that she didn’t think anything called Jekyll and Hyde would be all that great, but it was. Ashley had made a down payment for the tickets-$17 each except Michaels at $22, since his was the only “adult” ticket-and everyone except Adam, Michael, and Kamara has yet to pay her back.
The actual show was very well done. At first, it was hard to tell whether it was Jekyll or the actor who had that annoying nervous tic, but as it went on, we saw more of his obsessive-compulsiveness as he folded and unfolded his handkerchief and had to touch every pointed thing on the set as he passed it.
This portrayal of Jekyll as an extremely socially awkward nerd made the transformation into Hyde even more dramatic. As Hyde, the actor was no longer hunched over, but walked with a Jack-Sparrow-like swagger as he strolled around, making sarcastic comments about the people he was about to kill.
That night, we tried to pull things together for the group project, meeting in our subgroups to lay out the rubrics for our qualitative trade analysis. Progress differed between subgroups.
It was a normal day at work, with no speakers or tours for once. The plan had been to go to Trader Joe’s after work with Kamara, but then Becca and Jennifer decided they wanted to go get half-priced sushi instead. They took Adam with them.
That left Ashley, who really needed groceries, so she went with Kamara to Trader Joe’s. On the way, they had a long and interesting conversation about the social situations faced by past academies and Kamara in other parts of her career. Trader Joe’s doesn’t have the same things as Giant Eagle, so it was hard for Ashley to find what she wanted.
As they scoured the place for cottage cheese, Stephanie called Ashley to ask about going to get sushi. Ashley couldn’t help her and hung up. Kamara asked if that was Ashley’s boyfriend calling. Ashley said, no, it was Stephanie. Kamara said oh-it sounded like a guy. Ashley said no, she didn’t have a boyfriend. Kamara said she should get on that with a smile. Ashley said okay. The discussion of social situations continued to Marc’s and back to the hotel, where they arrived just a couple minutes late for the rap session.
At the rap session, there was some discussion of going to DC and Goddard instead of Niagara Falls, but we’d have to pay for it either way. Jess was sick, but she had bought pink-icinged cake with sprinkles for us anyway. Well done.
Then we had to decide whether to work on the group project or go see Harry Potter. Well, the group project was never really considered, but we had to decide whether to see Harry Potter Tuesday for $4 with free popcorn, or to see it RIGHT NOW. The majority wanted it RIGHT NOW, so we went, even Kyle, the champion of saving money any way he can. There wasn’t really a choice. I mean, Harry Potter.
Kyle went to Kinkos to print out some Campus Crusade for Christ posters for freshmen at CWRU, and brought Kamara along to help him haggle. Everyone else went straight to the movie.
Stephanie needed some ginger ale, so she asked Adam (who was driving) to stop by Giant Eagle after the show. Adam had a very tight “shedule” — as he put it — but he decided to stop anyway. All the aisles were blocked off so they could wax the floor, but there was one marked-off path through the store that worked. Ashley got her cottage cheese.
- “I’m not going to see your man!” -Michael, after Kamara explained why driving 6 hours to DC didn’t matter that much to her.
- “People need to see Harry Potter when I see Harry Potter.” -Ashley, when people were discussing going tonight instead of tomorrow for the $4 Tuesday movie with free popcorn.
Breakfast at Bfifteenies consisted of some scrumdidliumption food from the cafeteria. We didn’t have our beloved little meeting room though. We discussed the idea of meeting with Dr. Kankam later in the week or early next week. Kyle and Ashley opened their posters; it was great… just like opening presents on Christmas day!
During lunch break, Steph, Kyle, and Adam all went to the bank to cash some checks and get some bling. Kyle drove Steph’s car back to work while Steph and Adam met up with Jess at the mall for lunch. They ended up going to fatburger… which wasn’t all that impressive.
Work officially ended at 5pm, as it will for the rest of the internship. After dinner, the propulsion and power groups met to discuss their QTA scale definitions. Quite a bit of progress was made. At 7pm we headed to the conference room to listen to Dr. Ralph Harvey, from Case Western Friggin Awesome Reserve University (CWFARU), talk about what Mars is like. His interesting subject matter and humor made for a very delightful time. Apparently, he also has a very large CV.
After Dr. Harvey’s presentation, Adam, Steph, Becca, and Ashley, decided to spend 4 hard earned dollars watching some fictitious robots try and take over the world unsuccessfully. They loved it.
- “This is nasty, I should just eat it.” -Ashley, about the Easy Mac that was in the bottom of her backpack for three weeks.
Thanks to Ashley’s email telling people to just drive their own cars rather than talk about who was driving, we left the hotel at 7:20pm with five cars for ten people. Bernard, Jess, Kyle, Michael, and Kamara drove. At breakfast, they told us we couldn’t eat in our usual VIP dining room even though it was empty. Catering or something.
We worked until 5pm to help Dr. Kankam feel a little safer from the wrath of the PIs, many of whom were actually away on business and didn’t notice.
Our evening speaker was Anthony Colozza, who talked about planetary flight on Mars as well as Venus and Titan. He had no shortage of 3D animations, and we got to watch solar-powered plastic seagulls flap through the Venusian clouds and mechanical insects buzz around a Martian rover.
Thursday was a busy day. Bernard drove to work separately… rumor has it he was busy fixing his hair?? The cafeteria was decked out with catering hot plates and a projector screen in the cafeteria, so something important was happening.
After working for only half an hour, the Academy dudes and dudettes waltzed over to Ohio Aerospace Institute (OAI) where we set up our posters. We attended a few presentations from 10 to noon. There were some interesting talks on hypersonics and the new Orion program. Most of the presentations had malfunctioning videos, which was kinda funny.
Break for an hour while people grab lunch and wait for the their parents. Jennifer, Adam, Ashley, Bernard, and Becca went to the lunch at the picnic area next to the fitness center. They managed to eat, after some debate about whether they were supposed to be allowed to. The picnic had lots of meat, some corn on the cob, and potato salad. It started raining, and all the tables under the roof were full, but there was one section of one bench that was sort of dry.
1:00 marks the beginning of our poster presentations. Slowly, people trickled in, until two busloads of students poured out and flooded the OAI lobby. We quickly became familiar with presenting our projects. Mr. and Mrs. Gaiser were also very impressed with everyone’s work and told Kyle, more than once, how great all the interns are.
There were also professors from universities across the nation and other NASA Glenn employees perusing our posters. We had great opportunities to “Interface” (props to Kamara for such a professional word) with people and exchange business cards. Furthermore, the job fair was a stupendous way to network with other important Glenn employees interested in meeting and developing future NASA leaders. Several of us chose to be interviewed during this time.
We were all tired from talking and standing on our feet for several hours. We went back to the Academy house, where Ashley’s parents are apparently staying for the weekend as well!! Some people went to Wild Mangos, while others went out to eat with their parents. Still, others just plopped down on the bed and slept.
Mischievousness was rampant Thursday night. Steph invited a friend to crash at the hotel… she was a math education major… very suspicious. They walked to Applebees at 11pm… AND back. A few stuffed animals (an elephant, moose, and penguin) decided to beat up Jessica.
Consequences included time-out on the outside window ledge, being sat upon, and hanging from a co-ax cable. At about this time, Steph and her friend returned and they joined Kyle in watching an all-star soccer game. Kyle was watching for the soccer; Steph was watching for David Beckham.
We got kicked out of the empty dining room at breakfast, again because of catering. After that, we had about an hour and a half to try and get some work done before meeting for a tour of the Research Combustion Lab, a tiny building with no apparent roads leading to it on the map. The lab was home to Bill Paxson, a man somewhat reminiscent of Bill Nye the Science Guy.
His project was to incorporate pulse detonation into a get engine to increase efficiency through unsteady flow phenomena. He had a Frankenstein engine to that effect in his back room, and told us how it worked like that car from the ‘70s that you give a name and have to say the right thing to in order for it to work.
He also showed us his control room, which had a lot of what looked like those beeping hear monitors in a hospital, except they were all flat-lining. He flipped a switch and something sort of buzzed. That meant the engine was working, but the door had some amazing sound-proofing on it so you couldn’t hear the rest of the noise.
We were supposed to meet at noon to work on the group project, but no. People had other things to do. They had work, and their parents were meeting them at three, and there was so little time before the Research and Technology Directorate Forum at 1:30 p.m. Darn it all, and here I thought I was going to get something done today.
As stated, the forum was at 1:30 p.m. There were three speakers: a mind-numbingly monotone one, a better one who gave us the abstract first (which would make Kyle’s summary a lot easier to write), and another good one who used a tablet PC to scribble notes and drawings on the screen. It was Friday after lunch, and no one wanted to ask questions afterward, except the grumpy old man who picked on the second speaker, bugging him about specific heats of materials and stuff.
At 3pm, everyone scattered to go places with their parents. Everyone except Ashley had gotten temporary badges so that their parents could go places other than the visitor’s center. How did that happen? She totally checks her email.
The parents and RAs all somehow found their way to Dr. Kankam’s house, a clean, modern house on a green suburban hill. It was full of African artwork. As we waited for everyone to show up and for the food to be ready, we sat out on the patio and ate peanuts and banana chips.
Bored, the RAs started the telephone game. The first message was that we were officially going to California. Then the message was that Bernard was wearing paisley socks. This time, we tried to include Dr, Kankam in the game, but he wanted to make sure we knew that he couldn’t stay sitting there forever-if the door rang, he’d get up to answer it. We said that was okay, and he passed the message.
Kyle went inside to see if there was a Frisbee anywhere, and he came out with a pink plastic ball that bounced… a little. Kyle, Ashley, and then Stephanie’s brother James started out shooting hoops with it in the driveway, then when the other Kyle (Jess’ boyfriend) arrived, they played a foursquare game that lasted until dinner.
There was a lot of food, and Dr. Kankam’s wife walked around to our tables while we were eating to try to get rid of the rest of it. Kyle told the story of the Star Wars movie he’d worked on from second grade until just recently, using his parents and then some summer camp kids as actors.
Becca joined the foursquare game after dinner, as did her younger brother, who loved listening to the squeaks she made when she got out. The game ended for dessert, which again was way more than we could eat, so Dr. Kankam’s wife made her rounds with again with the dessert plate.
There was talk of another game of foursquare after the parents left, but it’s not clear whether that happened. Everyone went home and slept.
- “I’m very aware of the size of my hips right now.” -Jennifer, one of four people in the back seat of Michael’s Prius on the way to the Research Combustion Lab.
–Kyle Gaiser and Ashley Micks