Thursday, March 26, 2015

Simmin'

You guyz.

I asked for your positive energy for my evaluation sim and you delivered!!! I passed!!!!!!!

Since NASA is confusing sometimes, I will try to explain exactly what this means. I have a simulation about once per week. These are called "Integrated Simulations" and include all of the major flight control disciplines plus a few of the Russian mission control positions. When you have shown consistently "good" performance in all of the Flight Controller Performance Criteria categories and when your mentor and instructors feel you are ready, they will schedule a Certification Qualification (Cert Qual for short). Basically, this is an intermediate evaluation to determine if you are ready to take a "Final" simulation. After only three integrated sims, everyone agreed to let me take a Cert Qual! And this is what I passed last week!

So, if you're keeping score, I still have one more big and "Final" evaluation sim before I can start my two weeks of console on-the-job-training, and then I can fly the ISS solo!! Keep the positive energy flowing!

On a related note, tomorrow NASA Astronaut Scott Kelly is scheduled to launch to the ISS to begin a historic YEAR in space! The launch is planned for 2:42pm CDT and will be shown on NASA TV! You can view a pretty neat "trailer" by Time Magazine here. And tune into the launch for me, I will be in another simulation!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Table Space

"I feel so adult," he said as he sat across the table from me, typing away on his work laptop.

"Here we are talking about our finances and planning out America's next spacecraft. You know, just normal, adult conversations." I had to chuckle.

Even though Chris works a lot, and I am heading into a future that includes overnight shift work, there is nothing we would rather do. Contributing to America's space program is in our blood. And just those few words, a few nods to our reality, made me realize how incredibly lucky we are.

I sometimes joke about "living in a zoo" at work. Space Center Houston tours bring trams full of tourists onto the Johnson Space Center everyday, and I feel a little exposed walking through hallways near Mission Control or even walking to my car in the parking lot. I'm sure I'm the photo-bomb in many a tourist picture as they click away hoping to catch a glimpse of an honest-to-goodness astronaut.

But being here, at NASA, sort of brings it full circle for me. I was once those eager eyes on the outside, clinging to the words of the recorded tram messages, yearning to take lots of pictures to somehow relive the feeling of being at Mission Control. I proudly displayed my rocket and rocket engine pictures on the front of my Junior High binder (wow, do kids even have those anymore?!), and I always included "being an astronaut" in any and all "about me" projects. When I landed an internship at Boeing during high school I felt like a rock star, and while other kids were lucky to work a job at Target, I was driving 10 miles to the Boeing plant to work on multi-million dollar helicopters. Even in college I had to pinch myself every time I added a dream internship to my resume...NASA Space Grant, Orbital Sciences, Marshall Spaceflight Center. It felt like the universe could read my heart and put opportunities out there to meet it's desires.

And here I am. Midway through my planned trajectory - so far, mission success. I'm lucky to have a husband who challenges me intellectually and works so hard to support not only our little family, but our nation's space goals as well.

I can think of worse things than personal finances and America's next spacecraft two people could talk about over dinner ;-)

Monday, March 9, 2015

Kind of like your 16th birthday...

...well, not really.

As a PWD (person-with-diabetes) I often find myself in situations where I wish I could pull out my "Licensed Diabetic" card. You know, something that shows I can take care of myself, that I understand how to interpret Blood Glucose readings, that I know what a carbohydrate is and how to count them, that I understand how to dose and administer insulin, that I'm generally aware of my condition and make a conscious effort to control it to the best of my ability. It would act as a "get-out-of-limiting-situations" free card. [Ahem...it would also be available in your favorite color...]

It's not like its "that bad" to get a letter from your doctor, but it is just so gosh darn frequent. Every time someone mentions those words, "Yeah, I'm going to need a letter from your doctor," I imagine the boss from Office Space smearing his words over the cubical walls, "Yeaaaaaah, I'm going to need you to come in on Saturday." I feel like jumping up and shouting, "Take my blood, take my urine, shoot puffs of air in my eyes, dilate the crap out of them, look in my ears, test those too, take an EKG while you're at it!!!! But can we just skip the Doctor's note this year?! Really, I'm still a Diabetic, but things haven't changed, I still know how to take care of myself."

Ok, fine, you caught me, I'm in another round of renewing my Flight Controller Physical at NASA. And as my doctor thoroughly pointed out, they follow the guidelines laid out by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for Air Traffic Controllers (if you're curious check out App. B for Insulin Treated Diabetes Mellitus). Pro: Hurray for the process being a tiny bit better than getting my Class III special issuance, Con: still need a letter from my doctors (endo and eye doc). 

Don't get me wrong, I understand the importance of being healthy in this job. I am, after all, piloting a multi-billion dollar space station with 6 people onboard. I just feel like I am constantly asking for doctor's notes, and my endo is constantly wondering, "What in the world is she doing to warrant so many letters?" [Going where no Type 1 Diabetic has gone before...duuuhhhh]

Oh well, life continues, doctor's note after doctor's note. Side note: I have a big evaluation-type sim next week, so keep all that positive energy flowing!! So far it's been working great!!

Friday, March 6, 2015

A Wiener Dog Haiku

Fridays are great days
To snuggle with a wiener
Derpy face and all.


Happy Friday ;-)

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

{skinny} Dexcom Sensor

The Dexcom sensor slimdown is definitely old news if you are a member of the Diabetes community, but after my old transmitter's battery died about 2 weeks ago I was pleasantly surprised to receive his skinnied-up brother in the mail yesterday.
The Continuous Glucose Monitoring technology I use has 3 parts: 1 sticky sensor pod with under-the-skin wire (package on the left), 1 CGM receiver which plots the blood sugar data points (blue ipod thing on the right), and 1 CGM transmitter which hooks into the sensor pod. New, slimmer transmitter on the left. Old, dead transmitter on the right. 

Let's be honest, neither of these Dexcom sensors are truly "nano" technology, but at least they are making their way towards the "less-bulgy" end of the spectrum. And the truth is, I was genuinely excited to place the sensor this morning and test out the slimmer profile with a plethora of wardrobe options. I was also excited to be less worried about those unpleasant sensor-rip-out sequences, read: too close to door jams, maneuvering in tight pants, or occupied pockets. So far, so good.

It may sound stupid to get excited over small advances like a slimmer transmitter, but for a Type 1 Diabetic who lives with sensors and devices literally strapped to my body at all times, even small changes can make a big difference. From an engineering perspective, a slimmer profile may mean less stress on the sensor pod's adhesive, which may decrease the skin abrasions they leave, which may work to keep my skin healthier, which ultimately may make me happier [note: this is an untested theory as of now ;-].

I applaud the efforts Dexcom and similar companies are making to improve the lives of people (this one included) living with Type 1 Diabetes. Diabetes devices aren't as sexy as cell phones or tablets, a fact their rate of technological improvement proves, but I am more likely to set aside money for them. To me, the return on investment is much greater than a "bigger touchscreen" or "upgraded camera" - investing in a Diabetes device may significantly improve my health (it has dropped my A1c over 1.0 point), help me make more informed decisions, alert me of a looming low blood sugar, or, at the very least, reduce the Diabetes related stress and anxiety.

So Dexcom, if you're out there, please continue to do all the things. I can't wait for the watch!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Simple Life

Isn't it funny how sometimes the simplest things can be the most interesting?

In January I mentioned my focus for this year: simplicity. 
I have the words "live simply" written on my bathroom mirror in the hopes that I remember to reflect an image of simplicity and in all my daily happenings focus on clearing clutter and rejoicing over even the simplest victories. 
[Side note: how many times can I use the root "simple" in a sentence, a lot apparently.]

To this end, Chris and I have made some changes in our lives. 
Instead of spending lots of money (and calories) eating out often, we now make a menu on Sunday afternoons and go to the grocery store once a week. Not only does this simplify our precious after-work time, but it lets us spend more stress free time together...cooking and eating! 
We also gave up our gym membership last year and instead use online workout videos in combination with the great outdoors to get our exercise in. 
We planted a garden and enjoy watching our efforts grow!
I've been playing my piano a lot more and working on the ukulele. 
Chris has found joy in working on his RX-7 and organizing the garage. 

Life can get so hectic with finances, work schedules, social pressure, meetings, bills, commitments, travelling, rocket science, what-ifs, and should-do's. 

I like making room for the simple. 

How are your New Year's Resolutions or Goals going?

The "Field of Light" in downtown Houston. It's funny how blobs of color changing lights can be so beautiful. 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Catching My Breath

Hi blog!

I have probably started this post 5 times now, but something always got in the way of me finishing it! Let's just make it easier on all of us with some bullets!

NASA Bullets:
  • BIG NASA news! BLUF (bottom line up front): I am now in the Integrated Sim!! Woot! I apologize for the delay in telling you, but I have now completed 2 integrated simulations, with 2 more scheduled for next week. Please, send me all of your powerful, nerdy, positive energy as I will definitely need it over the next few months! 
  • Also, also BIG NASA news: I have passed all of my technical knowledge and planning oral exams! Phhewwwwww, that's such a relief. Now I can do fun stuff like use a database to plan activities and put my awesome powerpoint skills to use! [sarcasm aside, there is a lot of fun stuff to do here!
Diabetes Bullets:
  • Dangit, shortly after my embarrassing Dexcom-in-the-washer story, my transmitter's battery died. So, here again I sit, Dexcom-less. 
  • My attempts to lose weight are working! Agonizingly slow, but working. More later?
Life Bullets: 
  • Chris and I used our tax refund to pay off the miata, hurray for no more car payments!
  • I guess this is the year of the weddings, we have 3 coming up, each in a different geographic location! But I think we finally figured out all of the logistics!
  • We have been busy with house projects and Chris has been working hard on the RX-7!

Hopefully my next posts will be less boring!!