By: Ephraim Chen & Kimberly Trent
Sunday, June 22nd
The last day the Glenn Academy would spend in Florida began quite early. By 4am, Jay was up to his usual antics, rousing everyone from sleep to catch a 7:45am flight at Orlando International Airport (MCO). Everyone was able to pick themselves up from the tiring past few days and gather their belongings. We stuffed ourselves with as much food as possible for breakfast, then dealt with the extras as appropriate. Juices were left for the owners to take possession. We said goodbye to the extremely pleasant, sweet smelling water that we were privileged to experience during our Florida stay. In the end, we left behind a neat house, a new and perfectly intact grill, and some extra food for the house owners.
The drive to the rental car center grew tense as we approached our designated car return time, which we almost missed. But we were able to avoid the extra half-day’s charge with some sharp U-turns. Our airport shuttle driver taunted us with warnings that we would be the last ones out as US Airways passengers, thinking that we would be amused at 6:00 in the morning. There was a bit of a hassle getting all of our boarding passes at MCO, but in the end we were able to wrestle jurisdiction of our tickets away from Delta’s clutches. Our plane seats were a bit scattered but not quite as badly as our flight to MCO from Cleveland. In any event, we promptly passed out as soon as we hit our seats, needing to augment the mere couple of hours of sleep obtained the night before.
Most of us awoke to the announcement of our arrival at Philadelphia. Ephraim nearly lost the Academy video-camera, but fortunately someone on the airport intercom reminded him of his blunder and he quickly stomped off with Jay to rectify his absent-mindedness. Kim and Tom chose to partake of a refined, agreeable Asian meal at the Sky Bistro in the airport, while the others went after greasy, heart-clogging Philly cheese steaks (which didn’t turn out to be so greasy) in homage to the city hosting our current airport. We all sat down to eat at Sky Bistro tables. Mehran, Kristin, Mary Beth, Tom, Kim and Sabrina then decided to do a bit of shopping and browsing around the airport shops, but Jay and Ephraim cracked open their personal reading books and kicked back at the Bistro, which was perfectly fine with the waitress who reminded us that garbage goes into garbage cans.
The second and final leg of travel for us that day went more quickly than the first, though many of us still managed to get some shut-eye in our completely scattered seating arrangement. To our joy, a hailstorm accompanied by rain and lightning welcomed us to Cleveland just after our plane’s landing gear touched down onto the airport tarmac and we taxied into our gate. Of course, Ephraim almost forgot the video-camera again, this time being reminded as soon as he stepped out of the gate. Our NASA shuttle driver picked us up from the airport to take us back to our cars at Glenn Research Center, and he was even more humorous than our first driver that day, cracking jokes to us every few minutes and uplifting our spirits with his exuberant attitude. On the way back to the hotel, Kim and Tom made a quick side trip to Target to pick up nail polish remover and rafting trip photos, respectively.
We arrived at the StudioPLUS with great sighs of relief, exhausted from a day’s worth of travel. Tom, Mehran and Ephraim took the opportunity to…relax. We then went on a Giant Eagle run to replenish our supplies in the wake of our absence from the hotel. That evening, Jay, Tom, Kristin and Ephraim watched the Discovery Channel’s "When We Left Earth" program on the NASA Shuttle missions in Jay’s room, while Kim watched it in her room as she got ready for the next day. Sabrina watched it in her room while doing her hair. Mehran had passed out, which is what happened to us all eventually.
And there was evening, and there was morning – the first day
Monday, June 23rd
After breakfast, everyone went to work for what seemed like two seconds. By the time any of us started to get into our work, it was time to go to our day talk. A lady named Maggie filled in for Elias Naffah to talk about the "Overview of the Crew Exploration Vehicle." The talk was very interesting, informative, and motivating. She showed us a number of promo videos with cool graphics for the Constellation project which helped to keep us awake. Unfortunately, these videos had really corny soundtracks (they should have had a young intern pick out the music for them). At the end of the talk, Maggie handed out Orion and Ares pins and patches as souvenirs to all the interns, and some of us got a chance to meet Elias Naffah.
A number of us went back to the stud for lunch. Then we had an afternoon of work fun. After work, we found out that Jay got into the AIR FORCE!! He was wearing his top gun hat and air force shirt. Mary Beth and Sabrina commented that his shirt looked a little rank. Not rank as in his rank in the Air Force, but rank as in it looked like it smelled bad. After Tom and Kristin enjoyed their after-work-run, they went to the store to buy Grapa so that they could surprise Jay with it. Unfortunately, they couldn’t find any and so they settled for champagne and sparkling white gape juice.
Tom and Kristin joined the rest of us at Panera for our evening talk by Mark Hyatt. Hyatt’s talk was on "Lunar Surface Architecture and Dust Mitigation." Again, it was a very interesting and informative talk. Thankfully, the meeting went to a decent hour. When we got back to the stud, it took the Academyites about 2 hours to decide how we would surprise Jay with the champagne. In the end, Mehran said that since we did not have an Air Force Poster we should just sing him "Happy Birthday"…everyone laughed and then added that we should just change "Happy Birthday" to "Happy Air Force," and that where one would insert a name we would say "Top Gun" instead of "Jay." We barged into Jay’s room while he was on the phone with his Mom singing our cleverly modified song. Jay really liked the choice of Champagne. Once the festivities started to simmer down, we decided to go to sleep instead of watching "The Right Stuff" since we were going to have a very busy week.
Tuesday, June 24th
When the Glenn crew entered the cafeteria for breakfast and saw that it was fully stocked, everyone started smiling and laughing from complete happiness. The overwhelming taste bud goodness dispensed from the cafeteria food was certainly contagious, with Kim commenting on the potent licks needed to conquer Tootsie Roll Pops and Mary Beth pondering the mysteries of the Wonderball. We proceeded to work as usual.
Instead of individual lunches or a trip back to the StudioPLUS, the RAs had a chance to have lunch with Major Kankam’s boss: Colonel Joe Shaw, Commander, 101st New Business and Partnership Brigade. Well, actually we arrived on time (despite the 300-block crew having to wait for Mary Beth, forcing Tom to fire off the Titan 4 rockets on his car to get to B49 on time) and ate half of our lunches by the time Dr. Shaw showed up from his 11am-12pm meeting with no food, but it was close enough to a "lunch with Joe". We were able to talk about how our Academy experiences were going so far, how we could perform real-time improvements during the summer, the visibility of NASA student programs, and the Generation Y problem of communications obstacles hindering the NASA workforce replenishment. A recurring comment was the lack of a choice presented to the RAs regarding which individual projects they could work on over the summer.
The usual round of car pickups ensued at the end of work, whisking us back to the StudioPLUS in sparkles, sparkles! Many of us immediately went to work to prepare for the Scavenger Hunt dinner while juggling with midterm presentation writing as well. Of course, Mehran provided superb touch-no-food oversight. Eventually we had a very well-made, warm and cozy meal…in the hotel conference room. Mary Beth, Kim, Sabrina and Mehran prepared a seasoned ground beef entree with dinner rolls and salad while Kristin, Tom and Ephraim prepared pineapple, strawberries, vanilla ice cream, and cream puffs for dessert, plus orange juice and iced tea for beverages. There may have been a phantom wine out there. Kim was christened Space Princess Cream Puff after consuming…all of the cream puffs. And of course, various jokes of lewd, crude and licentious varieties flew back and forth across the table – apparently, both breakfast and dinner had been declared open shooting grounds.
The weekly Rap session took place after we had cleaned up dinner in the conference room. As we were setting up, Mehran found an interesting picture within his modeling portfolio. The weekly summary from last week was written and read to us by Tom and Kristin, taking a record 53 minutes to read through. I repeat: fifty-three minutes. It seemed as if someone would at least cry out "bloody murder!" and shut off the lights towards the end, but we were able to get through it all right, and all in all it was a marvelously well written, great and very funny summary. The rest of the Rap session was business as usual: thank you cards for our great Florida tour guides and behind-the-sceners, midterm presentation scheduling, the West Virginia and Washington, D.C. trip, and various empty promises by Jay regarding the Academy website. By the end of the session, everyone was worn out, tired, and the warm, enticing grip of our beds beckoned.
Wednesday, June 25th
Breakfast was good again today, but we could see that we were already starting to run through their current stock. After breakfast, everyone was dropped off at work. Mary Beth, Ephraim, Jay, and Mehran went to the Technical Presenting Workshop. At 4pm, all of us made our way over to the Picnic Grounds for a second outdoors-afterwork gathering thrown by Dr. Kankam. The food was even better this time, and did not give Mary Beth and Kim stomach aches like it did the first time. At the end of the picnic when the Academyites were gathering to leave, Ephraim was christened "Mission Control."
After the picnic, we went back to the stud to work on our group presentation. Midway through the group project meeting, Jay came in with cake and fake beer for Tom’s B-day. We took a break from talking about the group project to celebrate the day Tom was born. Mehran kept saying that Mary Beth’s shirt was green, when it was really orange. The day before, when he had insisted that Mary Beth’s pink shirt was green, Kim just laughed and played along, but now we were all worried that the eye doctor who had examined Mehran’s eyes earlier in the week on Monday, did not do a thorough enough job when he told Mehran that his eyes were OK.
After eating cake, Tom and Ephraim remembered that they still had the cake from Ephraim’s Birthday in the fridge. This reminded everyone of a few days after Ephraim’s Birthday when Kim came by their room to see if she could have some more of the cake. Tom had answered the door, and when he found out that she had come by for some cake, he yelled for Ephraim. Unfortunately, Ephraim was in the bathroom, and did not come out when Tom called his name. Tom didn’t want to give away Ephraim’s cake without asking him, and so in the fridge it stayed until this day. When Tom and Ephraim took the cake out of the refrigerator, it was as hard as rock, and so no one wanted it anymore.
At one point, Jay and others were taunting Mehran regarding his actual identity: Ramon, solicitor of dark, sensual, seductive activities. Just as they were talking about the…agents under Ramon, Kim had the misfortune of walking into the room at that inopportune time and asking, "Are you guys talking about me?" The group project presentation was continued late into the night. Ephraim failed to help Kristin enjoy classical opera; she did not enjoy the Nessun Dorma aria from Puccini’s Turandot. Alas, the failure only compounded frustrations that night full of work, and we went to bed with the presentation dry-runs in mind.
Thursday, June 26th
Another morning may not have been well received by many of the Academy students, who were beginning to reel from the late nights endured during the week due to midterm and group presentation preparations on top of regular Academy work and activities. But the troops pushed on, determined to press forward with the attack, drive out the defenders, take the hill and finish the job. Group project matters were discussed over breakfast, and Jay noticed an interesting flyer on the wall.
The morning seemed to fly by as the RAs juggled their individual project work, individual presentations and the group project presentation. It was Kim’s, Tom’s, Kristin’s and Sabrina’s turn to go attend the Technical Presenting Workshop at OAI. After they had taken their seats, all of a sudden, to Sabrina and Kim’s surprise, a large amount of water splashed all over them. When they looked over they saw what had happened. Kristin had knocked her cup over, and all of her really, really hot tea had come gushing out on them. Afterwards, they realized that they were all expecting the workshop to be really boring because of what two individuals had said about it the day before. To their surprise, it was actually really interesting and informative for them, and they went up to talk to the speakers after their presentation. Sabrina told one of the speakers that he reminded her of Mase (the rapper). He said that no one had ever told him that before.
It was determined that everyone would go back to the hotel for lunch today, but Jay managed to get his pickup routine mixed up and picked up 300-block folks before the usually first-up B77 unit. Good news was passed along during lunch: we had obtained our requested budget from the Ohio Space Grant Consortium! Great work on the part of Tom in getting that proposal out to the OSGC and acquiring much needed funding to make our manned trip to Pluto and back by the end of this summer possible.
That afternoon was punctuated by our scheduled presentation dry-runs, capped off by our wonderfully organized group project presentation. Kim couldn’t make it to the group dry-run because she had to meet with her grad school mentor who was visiting Glenn with some of his current students to tour the labs in building 301. There was a bit of worry for Sabrina’s whereabouts, but thankfully Jay was able to find her after driving around her a couple of times on base.
The evening was spent on our individual project presentations, working to implement the feedback Jay had offered us in the afternoon. The final touches to the group project presentation took Kristin, Tom and Ephraim into the wee hours of the morning. Cries of despair and anguished straining through pain and sleepiness had to be overcome; only a few visits to xkcd.com and a fabled quest in search of a lost spoon kept them alive. Good job, everyone!
Friday, June 27th
At breakfast, there was a discussion about the best Mario game; also Sabrina argued with Jay and Kim regarding the factuality of the Mase-Tupac gang wars. Today was the day of the midterm presentations. Many were up late the night before to finish preparing. The presentations went really well, and you could tell that those who were really stressed beforehand, were completely relieved and light spirited afterwards. After the group project presentation, Dr. Landis gave us mixed signals…does he think we’re crazy ("So how big is this thing?") or does he think we have a shot and wants to help us ("I know of some rocket motors lying around…")? Dr. Kankam offered his advice to us regarding presentation skills, and Jay praised the quantum leap in quality that the group project presentation took.
After the presentations, the Glennterns gathered on the steps of Building 49, like they have done twice before, to take a group picture. This time, it was a very model-esque picture that came out really well. Once we got back to the stud, Tom and Mary Beth got ready for their evening plans, and Jay and Kristin got ready for their baseball game. Mary Beth was going on a night picnic with her ex-boyfriend.
When Jay and Kristin arrived at the stadium, they bought tickets off some random guy, and ended up with really good seats four rows back from right field, right behind Ken Griffey Jr. There was an hour delay to the start of the game due to a huge down pour. A guy sitting in front of them seemed really drunk, and kept trying to buy everyone cracker jacks and icecream. They saw C.C. Sabathia (one of the best pitchers in major leagues baseball right now who plays for the Indians) while he was pitching during the game, and they were really psyched about that. Kristin managed to loose her wallet again, and realized this when they went to get icecream, so Jay bought Kristin’s icecream for her.
Saturday, June 28th
Saturday would prove to be a blessed day of rest and recuperation from the past week’s hectic and harmfully tiring activities. Jay ended up getting a haircut at the JC Penny salon and dropped his car off at Conrad’s auto repair shop to address a problem from the night before. Kristin spent the day with her friend in Cleveland, navigating the RTA public transportation system along the way. Mary Beth was with a friend at Cedar Point. Although, we were beginning to wonder about her true whereabouts after she didn’t come back that night… Mehran spent the day in the room, while Ephraim also went to get his hair cut at the salon Jay recommended. Tom was with the lady Cassie, friends and family, making important wedding arrangements, getting tuxedo-fitted and enjoying the down-time. Sabrina and Kim also spent the day quietly. Conrad’s gave Jay a call and Mehran gave him a ride back to his car, where Jay learned that damaged engine mounts were present and about $800 stood between him and full repairs. Jay would have to ponder that for some other day – right now, the priority was for him to get the car ready to take people to the movies that night. When Kristin got back, she, Jay, Kim, Sabrina and Mehran went out to movie selections like Wanted, Get Smart, Mess with the Zohan, and Wall-E. In the meantime, Ephraim had opted out of the movies and was enjoying the peace and quiet back at the StudioPLUS, finding a few fabulous new classical music pieces to enjoy.