Tuesday, July 31, 2012


Two years ago today, the External Thermal Control System's Loop A pump failed.

Yes, that's a mouthful, so let me break it down for you:
My group, SPARTAN, controls the External cooling loops. We have 2 of them, and they flow pure ammonia through their lines. Each loop cools half of each module (which each have 2 internal cooling loops) and half of the electrical power boxes. Our electrical converters put off a lot of heat (the price of converting power from one voltage to another) and without this cooling, they would overheat and need to be powered off. There is no cross-over capability externally, so those boxes cooled by one loop cannot be cooled by the other loop.

 So, on July 31st, 2010, the power feed to the Loop A pump failed, causing that ammonia to go stagnant. As a result, we had to turn off the power converters on the loop. It leaves you in a terrible place- there's no spare power for payloads and you have to turn off most of your redundant computers, so its putting all your eggs in one basket. Another coolant loop or power failure could break all your eggs!


The pump is the size of a washing machine , full of pressurized, dangerous ammonia, and, oh yeah, outside. So to fix it, we needed to do several spacewalks. Usually for spacewalks, the actual crewmembers who are doing the walk practice the actual tasks they will do many times in the Neutral Buoyancy Lab pool. By the time they are on-orbit, in a space suit, they have practiced the exact motions, almost like a choreographed dance. However, for a contingency EVA, they are already on the ISS and have not practiced the task in many many months, if at all. Each EVA was run through several times on the ground by a different pair of astronauts, and then the detailed instructions were delivered to the crew... the best we could do on short notice!

It ended up taking 3 spacewalks to complete the removal of the old pump, and complete install of the new pump. A little over 2 weeks after the pump went down, we had a new pump! It was a very busy time for several members of our team who worked on the EVA plans. I was new, only been certified for a few months, so I spent most of the time watching and learning. Hopefully it'll be a long time before I have to put those skills to use again!

This video is from the whole increment, but if you go to 4 minutes (until about 6:30), you can hear actual warning tones (the sound the station makes when something bad happens), space to ground communication, and see some EVA pics/video.

Here's some links to read more about it:
Wikipedia Expedition 24

NASA Spaceflight Failure overview

NASA's press release about our new pump

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Disneyland Half Week 10 Training

Wednesday: 5:45am wakeup call, 4 mile run
Not such a pretty run. Dan had ankle pain around 2 miles, so we stopped to walk. Then I had tummy troubles around mile 3 and decided to swing by the house before continuing. Then a bug flew into Dan's eye when we were getting near the house, so we walked more and quit when we got home. 3.25 miles. Meh.

Thursday: 6am wakeup call, 4 mile Speedwork
Skipped it. When the alarm goes off early, I can usually convince myself to get out of bed by telling myself that going back to bed for another hour won't really help. ( I've found it to generally be true that you feel no better after snoozing a little longer compared to getting up) But, this day I was super tired and thought the extra sleep would help so I cancelled the run and went back to bed. And an hour later woke up feeling 10 times better. Sometimes, you do need the break.

Saturday: 5am wakeup call, 9 mile long run
Whew. 9 miles is long. We did 4 miles run, 0.5 walk, 2.5 run, 0.5 walk, 1.5 run and were sweaty, wobbly legged messes at the end. At our first walk break we stopped for bathroom and snacks.

Snack report: On our weekday runs we generally don't eat anything before we go out. It isn't really that hard to run 4 miles on an empty stomach. However, anything longer than that and I definitely feel hungry and slower without food. For our long runs we eat a whole grain Eggo with some kind of nut butter about 30 minutes before the run. Then at our first walk break we have a snack. So far we've tried Shot blocks, sport beans, and today I had a chocolate Gu. Dan thinks the Gu sounds gross and wouldn't taste it, but it really was just like eating delicious, delicious frosting. Also I felt a little crampy with the sport beans the first time around (probably not enough water) but no ill effects from the other two.

Sunday Set-up
Last week was an absolutely terrible week for discipline and diet. Due to various happy hours and going away parties, I ended up having bar snacks and beer for dinner on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday,  then unhealthy BBQ for dinner Friday night. I didn't cook any of those nights, so I didn't have leftovers for lunch. So basically an entire week of eating out for lunch and dinner. No wonder I was too drowsy to skip Thursday's run!
Therefore this week's mealplan is the reusing some of last week's unused mealplan:
Monday: Roasted beet pizza
Tuesday: Some kind of Peas and Crayons Quiche
Wednesday: Risotto
... and that's where it falls off. I'm working until 8:30 on Thursday and my bff Ali is coming to visit for the weekend so it's back to eating out.

Tuesday: 4 miles
Thursday: 4 miles Speedwork
Sunday: 10 miles (eep! the most important run of our half marathon training... survive this and we can survive our race!)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Disneyland Half Week 9 Training

Tuesday: 6am wakeup, 4 miles
Thursday: 6am wakeup, 4 miles tempo
Sunday: 5am wakeup, 8 miles long run

Nothing too remarkable about our runs this week. We did them. It was hot and sweaty, but overall I think those 4 mile runs are becoming normal. Not easy, but not too difficult either. We were still out of breath at the end of the tempo run, but I think I see improvement.

After the run on Sunday, we stopped for bagels on the way home. We got home and changed into non sweaty clothes. And this is how I fed my fiancé to the ants...
A trail of evil red ants had worked their way in and were creeping along the wall in my bedroom. Dan had put his shirt on the floor in their path and when he put it on, he got bites all over! Poor guy :-( So I spent our nap time spraying the whole outside of the house with Ortho Home Defense. I had used it in the past- you spray it around the base of your house outside and it's supposed to stop them from getting in. It did a pretty good job, but it only lasts for a year. Whoops. And this is my way of telling you that I didn't take a picture of our magnificent lox and bagel sandwiches, because I was too busy freaking out of my ant infestation. Living in the swamp is the opposite of fun.

Finally, the ant crisis was over so we ate breakfast and then headed off to the bridal showcase. It was really overwhelming. People swarming all over who knew what to do, and me and Dan were feeling kinda lost and overwhelmed. The majority of people were venues, which we already had, but there were some other vendors too. I grabbed flyers for some florists, bus rentals, and hair people, so maybe some good will come out of it.

Sunday Set-up
Wednesday: 4 miles
Thursday: Speedwork 2x1600s with 800 rest
Saturday: 9 miles

Tuesday: Takeout, maybe Pizza
Wednesday: Happy hour with some peeps, so probably eat there.
Thursday: Risotto
Friday: Greek casserole- plenty of leftovers for console over the weekend.

Today is very exciting for me. I'm in my first sim in a very long time, getting ready to get a higher level of certification. Plus, I love to sim!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Three Things Wednesday (x3)

Because I have some things to say, but it is not alliterative.

I feel like I barely have time to write my weekly training log posts, let alone post any other content these days. I have a few space station posts brewing, but I haven't had a chance to give them the attention they deserve so I haven't posted any of those. And I have a few wedding-ish musings, but I haven't finished those either.
Fun fact, I wrote the outline of my week 8 training post before I left for Chicago and finished it up on the Blogger app on my cell phone. Technology is the coolest.
Since I still don't have time for a real post, here's some random things.

Three things that are awesome:
  1. Surprise Reunions
    We went to Chicago to see my fiancé's family, but squeezed in a surprise reunion with Meg!
    You may remember we went to visit her in April and run a race in Champaign, IL where she goes to grad school. I didn't tell her we were coming because she lives 3 hours away and we were going to be hanging with his relatives; I didn't think she should make the trip for me since I wouldn't have much time to see her. Well, as luck would have it, she was planning to be in Chicago that weekend to visit some friends anyways, so we managed to meet up Sunday morning. She suggested brunch, but we were going to church with Dan's parents so she came with us. Then we went for a little jaunt in the Lincoln Park/Oldtown area and grabbed some lunch before she had to head off to her next adventure and we had to head to the airport.
  2. This popcorn:
    This is Salt and Pepper flavor Orville Redenbacher's Natural. It comes in a single serving small-ish bag. I was eating them on console and it was the perfect size for the perfect snack!
  3. Cookies.
    I know I posted about these Blueberry, Lemon and White Chocolate chip cookies already but you really REALLY should make them. Perfect combo of sweet and fruity and crumbly and yummy and summery. Yes, they're that good.
Three things that are NOT awesome:
  1. Delayed flights
    Friday our flight was supposed to leave at 4:20, so we left work around noon, grabbed some lunch, and headed to the airport. There was no traffic and we got there early. After wandering the airport for snack options (grabbed turkey sandwiches on bagels from Einsteins) we settled in for some drinks at the Mexican restaurant near our gate. Below, some pics with the giant former president (It's George H. W. Bush Intercontinental Airport after all)... I grabbed his butt!

    We got an email that our flight was delayed until 4:45. Then 5. Then 5:30. We finally pushed back around 6:15. And waited, and waited. Turns out there was bad weather in Chicago and we were on a ground hold. Eventually it cleared and off we went, around 7pm. We landed at 10. And waited. See, because of the bad weather, there was also no open gates in Chicago, so we sat on the runway again for an hour until something opened up. On the way back we were delayed an hour, though I'm not sure why. Certainly not our lucky weekend, but at least we were flying direct so didn't have to worry about missed connections!
  2. Weird shin pain
    Sunday morning I woke up with weird shin pain all up the front of both shins. We didn't run, so I'm blaming these shoes. They are oh-so-cute but not really good for standing around for 8 hours at a garden party!
    I didn't even feel it during the run, but I do feel it while walking. I spent the evening in my snazzy compression socks hoping it would help.
  3. Laundry
    The two worst parts of going on vacation: the empty fridge and the full laundry hamper. I remedied the fridge yesterday afternoon, but the hamper is still overflowing! Sigh.
 Three things I'm doing this weekend:
  1. An 8 mile run... this'll be another new distance record. Eek!
  2. A pile of laundry (see the second #3 above)
  3. Going to a wedding show downtown.  I need hairdresser, florist, transportation, and an officiant (still)... maybe we'll find some good ones there!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Disneyland Half Week 8 Training

Tuesday: 6:15 am wakeup, 3 mile run

Thursday: 6 am wakeup, 3.5 ish mile run
I decided to swap the 3 and 4 mile runs so that in the very likely event that we don't go on Saturday while on vacation, we would miss less miles. But it was not to be. First, my Garmin died less than a mile in. Whoops. Then it started raining. Oh well, we thought, it's refreshing. It started raining harder around 2.5 miles, so I figured we could quit after 3. But then it lightened up, so we kept going. Around 3.3, it started just POURING. (Of course all distances are estimates since the garmin was dead!) We sprinted back to my house, but were already soaking wet. All I could think was that we had to pack our running shoes tonight (you know, just in case we actually do go running this weekend) and they wouldn't be dry.
Luckily the linen closet is by the front door so I grabbed a few towels before we soaked the house. We stripped our soaking clothes off and left them in a heap by the front door.

When I got home from work I tossed the clothes and towels in the washer and the shoes in the dryer on low. Then they temporarily broke the dryer! It stopped spinning and wouldn't start again. Of course I panicked because I had clothes in the washer! But I pulled the shoes out, left it alone for a few minutes and when I went back to test it was working fine. No more shoes in the dryer!!

Saturday: 6 am wakeup call, 3.5 mile run
Did this happen? No. I was doubtful anyways, but when our nice early evening flight (supposed to land at 7:15) turned into a several hour ordeal (landed at 10, but didnt get off the plane until after 11), we decided to sleep in and enjoy our weekend. Oh well.

Meal of the week:
Can it be cookies? Because I basically nibbled so much cookie dough and muffin batter that I didn't really eat dinner on Thursday night. Yum!

The cookies were: Blueberry, Lemon, and white chocolate chip
The muffins were: Oat mini muffins with chocolate mini-chips and peanut butter chips that I coarsely chopped because they didn't have minis. I love mini-muffins and find they're much better for sharing.

Goodies for the birthday girl (Dan's aunt), the office, our hosts for the weekend (Dan's cousin and her hsuband), and Dan's parents (for their road trip). Yummy!

Sunday Setup:
Tuesday: 4 miles
Thursday: 4 miles tempo
Saturday: 8 miles

Coming back from vacation, I don't have a really good plan for when, but here's a couple recipes I'd like to make:
Grilled Chicken Sliders
Brown Rice Walnut Burgers (hoping this tastes like my favorite veggie burger, the Beaver Nut Burger)
Scallops and mashed beans

Shitake and pea risotto

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Wedding Planning Troubles

As indicated in the title, this will not be a happy post. Sorry. It could alternately be titled "That time I cried my eyes out over wedding planning. No, that other time. No, that other time. Forget it. One of those times that I cried my eyes out over wedding planning."

Yeah, it's like that. Of course, I'm sure a lot of people cry their eyes out over wedding planning, some for silly reasons and some for serious ones. Heck, I've cried over silly ones too. But that's for a different story.

So it all started a few weeks ago when Dan hatched the idea to have a rabbi at our wedding. Yes, my Catholic fiancé suggested that it would be nice to have a rabbi perform our marriage. I had kinda written the idea off before we discussed it, for a few reasons:
(1) Actually it doesn't say anywhere that you need a rabbi to make it a Jewish wedding. All you need are witnesses to sign a document called a ketubah (like the Jewish version of a marriage license). Well, a couple other things, but it's not encased in canon law the way Catholic weddings are.
(2) I can't have a really Jewish wedding per the strictest of guidelines because Dan isn't Jewish, anyways. And because I scheduled the wedding before sundown on Saturday, on the sabbath, and that's not allowed for a true Jewish wedding. But I don't keep shabbat so it seemed hypocritical to suddenly pretend to care for the sake of my wedding.
(3) My own rabbis, who I know and have a relationship with, are very religious and will not perform an interfaith ceremony. So rather than find a random rabbi who would do it, I let it go.

Anyways, Dan thought that since the deacon could attend but not perform the ceremony, it would be nice to have a rabbi do the rest of it. Equal representation. So I went to interfaithfamily.com,which is a Jewish interfaith support website and filled out their rabbi request form.  I'm sure that would have worked wonderfully in many places (like South Florida), but it returned 5 recommendations to me... only one in the Houston area (the others were in Dallas). I emailed that one, who unfortunately already had a wedding planned that night. He recommended another rabbi in the area, who is out of town that weekend. And she recommended a synagogue that doesn't do ceremonies for non-members. I emailed a couple others. The last one I emailed replied with this:
"I am not comfortable with the scenario you have described for your wedding.  If you would like to meet with me and dig a little deeper about why the deacon's blessing is a must at your Jewish wedding ceremony, I would be happy to help."

Yikes.  She has the right to be uncomfortable with it, but the accusation there was too much for me. That I shouldn't allow a deacon at "my Jewish wedding?" No. "Our Interfaith wedding." This really upsets me about the Jews. Their numbers are dwindling. They all talk about how sad it is that people intermarry and don't raise their kids Jewish and we're breeding ourselves out. (I could link to 20 articles talking about this topic with a 2 second Google search, but I don't want to support them in any way.) I do understand why my ultra-religious rabbis are not able to. They do everything by the book, and I respect that. But the conservative movement follows the midline between very religious and very permissive and in it's official literature it claims to welcome interfaith families and the non-Jewish partner to be involved in the synagogue.
Yet here we are, trying to incorporate Judaism into our wedding and our future... and they won't let us. They're pushing us away. They're insulting my wonderful fiancé who is willing to help me raise Jewish children, saying that's not good enough, we need more. We need you to give up your own faith.

Of course it's not all rabbis or all Jews that feel this way. After all there were those rabbis who would have officiated if they weren't busy, or if we attended their synagogue. But too many are flat against it.

So after I cried on Dan's shoulder for awhile (he's wonderful, and always says the right things even when I'm soaking his shirt in tears), we decided not to look for rabbis anymore. I'm sure if I kept trying I could find one. Another smaller congregation where the rabbi would be willing to do a wedding for nonmembers or a rabbi without a congregation. But after how many more rejections? How much more judgment? Forget it. We can do this without their help.

So we have solved part of the problem. But that still leaves the question... who will officiate? This also makes me wonder if we will find a congregation to belong to. The more religious congregations where I am most comfortable from a religious standpoint are not welcoming to our family. So what do we trade? Observance or belonging, if we can't have both?

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Disneyland Half Week 7 Training

Halfway through our training, but summer is just getting started. I shouldn't complain, I guess, because it's been 100 degrees the last week everywhere BUT Houston. Lucky us.

Tuesday: 5:45am wakeup call, 4 mile run

Thursday: 6am wakeup call, 4 mile Tempo run
Oof. Honestly, I was not the least bit interested in getting up. The alarm went off and Dan asked "do you want to run?" "No!!!" screamed my mind. "Yes," I mumbled. Then I rationalized, while the clock ticked down. "What's the harm in skipping one run?" said the devil on my left. "You already skipped runs last week," said the angel on my right. "But I'm TIRED!" "But you won't really get anything out of 40 more minutes in bed." And so, up we got. To say that my whole attitude changed by the end of the run would be a lie. But I was not regretting that I got up and did it. So that's a start.  It was a pretty decent run too, 2 tempo miles in 11:38. Zoom! (Or something like that.)

Thursday night: Random stretching and leg exercises to work out some stiff leg kinks. Also did a few girly pushups... maybe one day I'll be able to do a real one. I hate that I have no upper body strength.

Sunday: 5:15 am 5:40am wakeup call, 6 mile run
I had one of those Saturdays where things didn't go right, so Sunday had to be awesome to make up for it. But Sunday started out just as crappy as Saturday! Alarm was set for 5:15. Fiancé thought he snoozed it but actually dismissed it. Luckily he woke up 25 minutes later and we got up. We got ready for our run and went to make breakfast- we usually have a freezer waffle with almond butter before long runs. But there were no waffles.  I found a smushed Larabar in my purse so we shared that on the drive to the park.
Ew. Lemon Larabar is a huge no-no. I like lemony things and bought it to try awhile back. The lemon flavor was fine (sometimes it can be fake and overpowering), but there was another weird flavor underneath it that was just wrong. Definitely prefer some of the other flavors I've tried.
From there the day got better. No pain in my knees this time, and the run went pretty smoothly despite the humidity. Thankfully we had overcast skies so it didn't get too hot after our late start. And we finished it off with a delicious breakfast at a nearby Jewish deli. Dan ordered Bagel Eggs Benedict- on a bagel and with smoked salmon on top. I ordered the corned beef hash.

We shared, but the portions were HUGE.  We decided to finish the eggs Benedict, since it wouldn't keep, and take a lot of hash home. Hello lunch tomorrow. For both of us!

Meal of the Week:
Actually I picked a bunch of really delicious meals this week.  I tried tempeh for the first time, and while the tempeh itself wasn't very remarkable (maybe that's the point?) the recipe was excellent. It would also probably be great with chicken- cut chicken into pieces, marinate in lemon juice, skip the water.
The Thai basil chicken was also great- spicy but not too much. So delicious! Fitnessista sangria, amazing (but really strong!). On fourth of July we slept in, had a big breakfast so had a snacky lunch:
Veggie dip (with bread, cucumber, and celery for dipping) and smoked chicken wings made by Dan, accompanied by his homemade blueberry beer!
But the winner was dinner that night: we made steak and potato salad. Amazing potato salad! She's right that its pretty tedious to grill all those potato slices, but it sure was delicious!

Sunday Set-up
Workouts: step back week
Tuesday: 3 miles
Thursday: 3 miles
Saturday: 4 miles
We're heading to Chicago for the weekend to visit some of Dan's family. It's been hotter there than Houston this past week, hopefully it'll cool down in time for our visit!

Monday: Fancy burgers on the grill. Perhaps these?
Tuesday: Leftovers, grocery store sushi, or frozen something. And packing for the weekend!
Wednesday: Taco night!
Thursday: Pasta
Friday: Something from the airport, to eat on the plane. We're flying during dinner.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Wedding Planning Update- 7 months to go!

Today, July 2nd, is exactly 7 months from our wedding. Eep!

So what did I do in Month 8? Not much.
  • I found my maid of honor (my sister) a dress. Doesn't she look beautiful!?
    Not it's actual color.
  • And we started planning my bachelorette party. Come October, we are taking Las Vegas by storm!
  • The last of the save the dates went out- after being so quick to get 80+ addressed and sent to our out-of-town guests, the last 20 or so for the local people just sat there for weeks... until I finally buckled on the "addressing by hand" thing and bought some printer labels. Way easier!
  • Update on the officiant saga: We met with the other deacon at Dan's church. He is a lot more accepting and helpful. He helped us find the right forms needed to get the dispensation to have both a church officiant (him) attend the wedding to say a blessing over the marriage AND for us to have it not at the church and it can still count.  Also we're working on pre-marital counseling with him and he's been really nice and helpful so far! Now we're working on finding another officiant (maybe a reform rabbi, but that is complicated too) to perform the ceremony. We're not out of the woods, but we are definitely headed in the right direction!

Wedding related nightmares?
  • Well there was the one where suddenly it was the wedding (and even in the dream I felt like it was earlier than planned and I should have more time) and I hadn't ever called the cake baker so there was no cake. This apparently upset a lot of dream-people who in real life probably don't give a damn about cake, including Dan, and I just kept saying "Do we really NEED cake?" and "What's the cake for anyways? It's not my birthday."
Major to-do-list items for July:
  • Find an officiant (still)
  • Look for a Florist, bus for the family from hotel to wedding and back, and hairdresser
  • Honeymoon planning!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Disneyland Half Week 6 Training

Monday- last week's 6 mile run. Skipped this week's easy run.

Wednesday night/Thursday morning I went to bed around 12:30 after getting off work at midnight, but did set the alarm for 6am thinking I might be able to get up, do some speedwork, and then go back to bed, like I did Monday.
Nope, when the alarm went off I couldn't even open my eyes. I did do some yoga that day when I did get up. But no running. That's my 2 skipped runs for the month of June right there.

Sunday- 5am wakeup call, 7 mile run
Back to running at the park, because it has shade and water fountains and bathrooms along the trail, so we got up at 5, ate a little breakfast, and drove to the park. We actually got lucky with an overcast day, 78 degrees or so.  Humid, but not our worst weather to date. Our long run/walk pattern has been pretty consistent- today was 3.5 miles run, 0.5 miles walk, 3 miles run. If we can do 3 miles/0.5miles on half marathon day, I'll be happy.

Meal of the week:
No pictures because I basically ate cereal and out of tupperware for a week straight while on console. However, the best meal was hands-down a Jimmy Johns sub with my fiancé. I had a meeting from 1-2, then console at 3, so in the middle Dan met me at JJs near work for a late lunch. Good sub, better company!

Sunday Set-up
Tuesday: 5 miles
Thursday: Tempo, 4 miles
Sunday: 6 miles

Monday-Spicy Basil Chicken and stir fry veggies
Tuesday- Going away party for my friend. Someone's bringing burgers and hotdogs, I'm bringing chips, dip, and Fitnessista's Sangria.
Wednesday- July 4th, so probably steaks on the grill!
Thursday- Tempeh Greek wrap
Friday- I demand that I get to go out for sushi!