Loving. Learning. Engineering. Life.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Colorado Morning

I woke up feeling chilly this morning.  I know this must sound strange, and rest assured it's not Fall yet in the desert.  Actually, the reason I awoke wishing I was wearing socks and drinking a hot coffee is because I'm in the Mile-High City for my first business trip.  I was feeling a little nervous, but after days of reading and prepping, and a morning run through the Colorado foothills, I feel ready for my all-day meeting at Lockheed Martin.  As I've mentioned before, I'm a planner (recall the plan for our move).  So it should be no surprise that I put together a list of tips and tricks that I followed to make this first business trip a success.
  1.  To get through the airport as quickly and efficiently as possible:
    • Do carry-on only.  It saves time, there is no worry of "what if they lost my bag", and you wont have to pay extra fees.
    • Embrace the hotel samples (I'm a bit of a toothpaste snob and hotels sometimes don't provide it, so I brought my own, IN A QUART-SIZE BAG, OF COURSE).
    • Print out your boarding passes and do online check-in when available.
  2. To look your best at the jobsite:
    • Bring a business outfit that won't tend to wrinkle.   
    • Make sure your outfit meets the occassion of the business trip, but also pick something you are comfortable in.  (As an engineer in a male industry, I try to put a feminine flair on mensware--nice fitting slacks and a shirt that lets me roll up my sleeves and get down to business)
    • Bring comfortable shoes (My slacks required some height so I wore a pair of 1 1/2 inch heels)
  3. To impress your hosts at the jobsite:
    • Come prepared.  Read up on the topics of the meeting (take notes and write down questions ahead of time).
    • Smile and shake hands when you introduce yourself to everyone, no matter if its the big boss or the intern.  (This is my dad's #1 tip, and I bet it'd be your dad's #1 tip too)
    • Have an interesting, unrelated topic "on file" for lunch discussion.  (I read The Ten Faces of Innovation during the flight--it's one of my homework reads.  I figure that'll be a good conversation starter.) 
  4. If you plan to exercise on the trip:
    • Wear one or more of your workout items (clean, of course) on the plane to your business destination.  This will lighten your load.  (I wore my running tennys on the flight to Colorado)
    • Plot out your running destination ahead of time and make sure you give yourself ample time for exercise, shower, and breakfast if you plan to do your workout the morning of the meeting
  5. Don't forget essentials like your ID, cash, phone/computer charger, AND the contact information for someone at the business you are visiting (in case you get sick or lost).
Sounds like I haven't escaped the heat for too long...it's going to be in the 90's in the Mile-High City today.  Then it's back to the desert tonight. 

Pin It

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Zucchini Bars

Did you know that the speed of light is 2.99x10^8 meters per second?  Okay, now pretend like you still don't know what the speed of light is, so that I can make the following statement: this last week has gone faster than the speed of light.  I realize that isn't actually feasible, but for the sake of exaggeration, let's just go with it.  Within the last week I: started school, began the transition to a new position on the OSIRIS-REx, successfully completed a major team review at work, and joined my university's running club.       

In the midst of this faster-than-the-speed-of-light week, I found myself wondering how I could cook up the remaining loot from my hunnie's dad's garden.  Even after a wok of squash stir fry and a loaf of Better Homes and Gardens' zucchini bread, I still had 3 zucchini squash in the crisper.  After a quick brainstorming session with Georgia Mae lying at my feet, I decided to make an energy-packed zucchini treat to help get me through these busy days.  Roughly adapted from KentuckyLiving.com, these zucchini bars are a great snack for any time of day, including as a pre-run treat.  Their packed with oats, pecans, and lots of dried cranberries and raisins.  After one of these you'll feel satisfied and ready to take on life at any speed. 

Zucchini Bars 
1 to 1 1/2 cups shredded, drained zucchini
1/3 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup quick cooking oats
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup pecan pieces
1/2 cup raisins, dried cranberries (or mix of any dried fruit)

Grease an 8x8 baking pan.  Cream together butter and brown sugar.  Add egg until just combined.  Then add zucchini and vanilla to wet mixture.  Add in dry ingredients and mix until well combined.  Then fold in pecans and dried fruit.  Pour mixture into baking pan.  Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 20-25 minutes, until edges begin to brown.  Yields about 16-20 bars. Pin It

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Dog Days of Summer

These last few weeks have been going by so fast, and with classes starting next week, I don't see any sign of it slowing down.  I'm starting to realize how much time a dog requires, but it is all time well spent.  After a long and sometimes stressful day of work, I look forward to coming home for little Georgia Mae's "pet session": 10 minutes of belly, leg, and behind-the-ear rubs and verbal praise.  Despite the desert heat (and monsoon humidity) we've enjoyed many long evening walks and runs together.  A couple weeks ago I took her on her first real hike, and although she handled the terrain really well, I think the elevation gain was a challenge, as she tired after 2 miles (compared to our 3 to 4 mile evening run/walks).  With my hunnie working crazy hours, I'm so glad I have my little gal to motivate me to enjoy the outdoors every evening.  When my mom and sis made their trip out to the desert, the weekend was full of oogling over how sweet and adorable little Georgia was...well that was until she let out her wild side and tore apart her new tennis ball toy.  While they were here, my hunnie's family joined us for a BBQ, and lucky little Georgia got spoiled with a piece of corn on the cob, elk meat, and ice cold cantaloupe.  Today I started working with her on the "Stay" command.  I'm not sure if she's getting it yet, but maybe a weekend of reinforcing it with praise and treats will do the trick.  If Georgia could talk, I'm pretty sure she'd say "It's a good day to be a dog."     

Pin It

Monday, August 6, 2012

MSL Monday

Okay folks, time to take a break from those Olympics (as exciting as they are) to learn about the OTHER gold medal winner of the day.  Warning--If you aren't ready to completely geek-out right now, it's probably a good time for you to click back to the Track & Field events.

You may know it as Curiosity, but here in the industry it's known as the Mars Science Laboratory, or simply MSL.  MSL landed in the Gale Crater on Mars last night after what has become known as one of the most complicated space vehicle maneuvers EVER.  At a net weight of 1 ton (just a couple hundred pounds less than the weight of my hunnie's Toyota Corolla), travelling through the Martian atmosphere (which is less than 1% the density of Earth), MSL needed a variety of mechanisms to complete a safe landing Sunday night.  After passing through the thin atmosphere, MSL deployed its supersonic parachute (just like its rover predecessors).  As it descended, MSL separated from its heat shield.  The separation of the heat shield allowed the MSL instruments to begin taking readings (tracking speed, altitude...etc) which is imperative to the vehicle knowing when to start the next phase of the landing maneuver.  Remember what I said...the chute alone is not enough to slow down MSL in the Martian atmosphere.  So when the instruments detect MSL at an altitude of 1.1 miles, it ignites 8 thruster engines (imagine 8 high powered jet packs).  These thruster do just what they sound like they do--thrust the vehicle upwards (as well as left and right) to assist is slowing the vehicle further as it descends.  After the thrusters ignite, the parachute separates from MSL (because at this point it is just 100 pounds of dead weight).  Don't get too eager though, because MSL can't land yet.  The thrusters kick up so much dust as MSL descends that if it rode them all the way to the ground none of MSL's instruments would be able to function properly, as they could be fatally damaged by dust particles.  Que in the Sky Crane (I get chills just saying that out loud).  Doesn't that sound cool?  At approximately 65 feet above the ground, MSL ejected from the thruster deck and dropped towards the ground (still attached to the thruster deck by cables).  Its like the time in that one movie where that one guy hangs from they crane over the sky scraper with a conveniently located cable, waiting for the helicopter to fly by and pick him up.  Curiosity the new Tom Cruise...I think so!  As the MSL dropped down on the Sky Crane, its wheels were deployed, and after this series of maneuvers it slowed to a speed near zero and gently landed on its wheels on the surface of the Martian crater.  Pretty amazing, right?!  Engineers, scientists, astronomers, and plenty of other geeks spent the last 8 years planning this event (and thinking up preventative measures for every possible thing that could go wrong).  Please take a moment to process that you are looking at the result of all their hard work, knowledge and technological innovation...this is no movie set, it's Mars Baby! 
 I applaud you for making it through this super long post.  If your hip (hipper than me), log into that Tweeter account and look for #MSL.  So glad to be a part of this industry and that I was able to celebrate the real gold medal winner with my hunnie and co-workers at a NASA landing party last night.  It was a shining moment for America and the World. 

Pin It