Tuesday, December 16, 2014

On Being Flexible

Slowly but surely Mr. Blackwell and I are finding our Texas niche. 
Ok, he may have found it months ago, but it takes time for me to adapt to a new place (case in point, our previous home in Huntsville, AL). It is hard for me to build up friendships again and really put myself out there. And it doesn't help that several of our Texas friends have already moved away to support projects in other places. 

But at this point, I am focusing on my job and getting certified before I dive into too many extracurriculars. I want to see how I handle overnight shifts, sleep shifting, etc before I make a commitment to a group or activity. Compartmentalizing plans has worked for me in the past, I used this technique when planning for our wedding, finishing grad school, and now working towards a Mission Control certification. So, I will continue to organize plans and use spreadsheets, hurray! 

Lately, I've been a bit discouraged at work. I am in a holding pattern to get into the integrated sims I need to get certified and its a hard place to be. On one hand, I'm thankful for a few more sims to practice and gain experience, but on the other hand I am anxious to prove to my husband that we didn't move 1,000 miles for nothing. While I'm not actually responsible for the real International Space Station yet, the place I'm in mentally has a lot of pressure. It's a balancing act between simulation and the reality of sitting on console in the middle of the night. In general, I'm just frustrated that the timeline isn't working out exactly as planned (reference above: I *heart* plans), and consequently my certification date keeps moving further and further out. 

Everything I've been told about my performance has been good, I just have to wait for two other trainees to finish their integrated sim flow before I can start. And with a lot of division level management turn over, it's been hard to maintain consistency. 

Space is unforgiving, and plans must be flexible. I am still working on increasing my flexibility while maintaining vigilance and motivation. It has felt like a long training program, but I'm hopeful that I will be a certified ADCO spring 2015 ;-)

Goal: be more flexible than these ice sculptures of Sponge Bob 
(they probs are not real flexible, haha). 



Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Zuber's 30th Anniversary!

In other news...

This year my parents celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary! While 30 years is a long time, it seems like these two could go on at least another 30 without tiring of each other. 

To celebrate their milestone, my sister Heather and I threw them a surprise party the day after Thanksgiving in conjunction with their Christmas House Lighting party (yes, they have so many lights that the neighborhood throws a party just to light up their house, I suspect there are usually around 50 kids and adults there each year). Right before the big moment when the kids were about to yell for Santa to "light up that house" we marched around the corner carrying a banner and balloons (think marching band style), in a herd with some of their closest friends and family. It's safe to say they were shocked!

Later we showed a slide show that Heather and I put together and had them do some wedding traditions, like cutting the cake and smooching! 

Here they are: two sweet people circa 1984 and two even sweeter people circa 2014. 


Friday, December 5, 2014

Orion is GO!

Today, a man-rated spacecraft went farther than humans have traveled since the Apollo era. Orion circled Earth two times, traveled to an apogee of 3,630 miles, and reentered Earth's atmosphere at 20,000 mph all in preparation for it's future use to take humans deeper in space than they have ever been before.

Before you ask, yes, I woke up early two days in a row to pull open my laptop and watch launch coverage. And yes, I "forced" my sleepy husband to witness this special space moment with me! [Back in college I "forced" Liz to let me watch NASA TV in the middle of the night to see the solar eclipse, so...shush] And today, after various launch delays yesterday, Orion set sail on her maiden voyage.

I've written about the "Apollo moments" and feeling cheated as a generation without any. But today, my hope is restored. Who knows, the Orion program may get cancelled just like its Ares brethren before it, and the next administration may decide to deorbit ISS; but this little team of engineers and scientists and program managers and launch personnel who believe in space, support pushing boundaries, and stand up for programs they believe in, hit a milestone today.

We are closer than ever to our own "Apollo moment" and as I sat at my desk at the Johnson Space Center watching the mission and splashdown, I was struck with the passion that exists here. Even though our ADCO group doesn't have much to do with Orion, everyone was crowded around their computers with multiple live streams of telemetry and video.

We were all rooting for our Orion friends. Congrats on your first, impressive, mission.

Images from AP and NASA. 

Orion launched on a Delta IV Heavy today, but future flights will use the Space Launch System, designed in Huntsville, AL by many of my good friends!

The fragile limb of the Earth. I can't wait to hear astronaut's words as they experience this view!

Friday, November 14, 2014

World Diabetes Day 2014

I seem to be in a very different place each year when November 14th rolls around. Last year I talked about what brought me into the Diabetes Online Community, the year before that I wrote about "in sickness and in health", and in 2011 it was all about how Diabetes is such a big "thing" but you can't punch it in the face.

This year I'm here. I'm physically in Houston in the midst of my Flight Controller training to pilot the International Space Station. I worked hard Diabetes-wise and achieved my best A1C since being diagnosed 16 years ago. I worked through some insurance issues, and finally feel that I have a plan to keep organized with supplies and appointments. It may not be perfect, but I have legitimately exercised far more this year than I ever have before. I've never been afraid to talk about Diabetes, but this year I made a more conscious effort to insert myself when casual conversations about Diabetes were stirring up misinformation.

I'm not proud of this disease...but I am proud of the person I have become in spite of it.



Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Pumps on Pumps on Pumps

Diabetes is constant, incessant, and, at this moment, permanent. But the devices we rely on to make it easier, to give us some semblance of "normal" are not. As Diabetics we are kings and queens of the "backup plan" - always having some way to transfer the elixir of life (insulin) from vial to body.

Chris convinced me to up my original backup plan and order a vacation "loaner" pump just in case something happened while we were in Grenada. After a little prodding I obliged, grumble grumble. My entire Diabetes defense looked something like this:

Plan A: Original insulin pump
Plan B: Vacation loaner pump
Plan C: Fast-acting Insulin pen delivery
Plan D: Syringe delivery

If you count the plethora of extra insulin vials, batteries, infusion sets and reservoirs, and multiple "pens"...you could argue I had many more than just 4 backup plans.

Everything was going well at first. This type of pump is water proof to a certain depth, so while we lounged in the pool I clipped it to my bathing suit near my shoulder to avoid complete submersion. However, about halfway through the vacation (of course at 3:30 am), the pump began rebooting itself periodically as if I was putting in a brand new battery. After about 30 minutes of troubleshooting I determined this pump was a lost cause, and praised my husband for his nagging to get the loaner pump. But its not as easy as slapping on a new pump.

I had to use Plan C for a few hours until I could call in the morning via our friends voice over internet capabilities. I was upset when the nurse told me I could have broke out the loaner pump on my own without calling, even though their paperwork describes a $3,600 fine for doing so. At any rate, I programmed the backup pump, said a prayer of thanksgiving, and finished out the wonderful vacation!

Pumps on pumps on pumps. From left to right: new pump, loaner pump, crapped-out pump. 
After returning to the states I called the pump company to figure what I had to do now that I activated the loaner pump. They said they would send me another new one because their standard pump and loaner pump inventories are not cataloged the same. So there I was with three total pumps, 2 shipping boxes (hopefully I got them in the right ones), and a realization - the double edged sword of Diabetes management tools...we rely on these mindless little boxes of electronics an awful lot and we trust them with our lives.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Adventures in Grenada

Chris and I have an unwritten rule that each year we switch off who gets to pick the "big vacation". It started with our honeymoon when Chris picked Jamaica. The next year we went to Washington DC (my choice) and this year Chris choose Grenada (actually he coordinated with our Huntsville friends, so I guess it wasn't entirely his decision). When he mentioned "Grenada" I had to hurry over to Google Earth and figure out where in the heck that was. Turns out its a small island near South America.

St. George's Harbor, such a picturesque ocean town. 
This is our whole group during dinner at our resort. All engineers or engineers in progress, all SCUBA certified, and all friends!!
Concord Falls. 
Chris jumped right in!!
Nutmeg factory. Grenada is known as the "spice" island. 
Oldest functioning water-propelled distillery in the Caribbean. 
Gorgeous view of the ocean from the rain forest. 
Fresh water lake in the crater of the volcano. 

Diverbetes held steady. Everything was A-OK! I saw my first turtle in the wild, and we visited the underwater sculpture park!

Check back tomorrow for a special post about how my Diabetes and Diabetes-related equipment behaved (or not) abroad!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Forever and a Day

Oh blog, it's been too long. And I'm really not sure where to start.

I've been on nerdy adventures, reading some great books, learning more about piloting the space station, and generally neglecting to tell you about it. Shame on me.

Since I can't possibly dump all of the last month or so in one post, I will just entice you with this: it's Diabetes Awareness Month, which I'm thrilled about. Yes, actually thrilled this year. There has been some exciting news on the Diabetes front in the past few months and I can honestly say I am more hopeful than ever about a cure. But in the mean time, we are dealing day in and day out with this stressful, frustrating disease...no days off. It goes everywhere with us...including the cockpit.


I can't wait to tell you about all of my recent adventures!!