Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Day Two

This is my first official update from the NASA Academy at Glenn Research Center. I stepped out of the airport into a blistering heat wave (90 plus degrees) and immediately traveled to Glenn (Sleep? Clean clothes? Settling in to my home? Those can all wait…). The area around the Cleveland airport isn't the most scenic sight I've seen in my life (admittedly I am rather spoiled coming from the Pacific Northwest), but I swear the grass was greener as soon as I got to the Glenn Research Center. However the buildings-
all monotonous sterile military type recta-cubicles except for the giant silver dome in the center-are arranged in what has been repeatedly been described to me as a “giant D”, prompting the question what exactly does the “D” stand for? Development? Delirium? Duct tape? Whichever one you choose, GRC isn't the most spectacular sight from the outside; tomorrow I'll be getting a grand tour (it's scheduled to take nearly four hours, so it had better be grand) where I'm sure I'll get to see all the magic happens on the inside of the Dubiously Dull shell.

All right, moving past aesthetic matters onto logistical ones, I'll be working on developing and testing dust mitigation techniques for lunar and Martian missions. The first thing I'll be doing is corrosion testing on a mildly conductive coating designed to bleed charge off dust so that it doesn't stick to the surface. I get to design and order the experimental set-up, which is daunting and exciting. The past two days of work have been largely uneventful, so hopefully things will begin to pick up soon.

A few differences between working at NASA and working at MIT:
-People actually seem to work regular hours. As I was leaving at 5 pm, so was just about everyone else. Astonishing! I guess things are different when you aren't working with grad students but with people who have real lives and families.
-Most of the equipment here looks like it was ordered from an outside manufacturer instead of being improvised and constructed by people within the lab. I'm still not sure which I like better…
-There's a microwave in nearly every room. It's quite eccentric. I was in the Glenn library today and there was a microwave and a toaster oven in the microfiche room.
-Copy machines are easy to use and free.

I'm sure I'll have more revelations as I begin to explore more.

Hmmm…what else? I sustained an injury immediately upon arriving at the hotel. Ok, so it's not quite an injury. I gouged my foot on a metal protrusion and it's been oozing ever since. But if Prefontaine can win a 5K with stitches on his foot, I'll survive.

Which brings me to…running this morning! It was actually the best part of my day. When my alarm went off at 5:30 I really didn't want to get up. So I didn't. Forty-five minutes later, I convinced myself that un-zombifying myself was better than waiting until the afternoon and running in 90 degree weather, so I was off and running. The Rocky River Reservation is very close (less than a 10 minute run away) and it has lots of shade, lots of trees, and lots of trails. It's no Forest Park (but really, what is? Ok,..my Portland snobbery stops here…or not…), but I think it should be enough to keep me occupied and stimulated for 10 weeks.

Except for the park, I am stuck in suburban hell. There's a Wal-Mart directly across the street from where I'm staying, a mall down the road, and every sit-down chain restaurant you can imagine (Olive Garden, Red Robin, Bennegan's, etc.). If anything, this summer should thoroughly convince me to never live in the suburbs of Ohio (or any suburbs, for that matter).

All right, it's getting late and tomorrow will be another early start. I'm still running on empty in terms of sleep, so going to bed early tonight will be most excellent.

Oh, but before I leave…for NASA Academy we have to organize a group project to be completed over the next 10 weeks. I suggested that we should produce a radio or TV show or documentary, and people seemed very interested in that idea. I think that would be rad! Now we just have to see if it is feasible.

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