Thursday, December 18, 2008

Fun in the Sun, Warmth and NASA

Group Shot - Can you find me?

Space shuttle returning to Kennedy Space Center after Mission to ISS

Sorry I haven't posted in a while. Not much has been new with me for a while. I've just been working both jobs and keeping busy on Sunday's being the Asst. Sunday School Superintendent (acting as Superintendent for the month of November and half of December & January 09) at my church.

Not too many of you knew that I went to Florida the week of December 8-13 for a meeting at Kennedy Space Center (KSC). It was 65-85 degrees everyday and very humid/windy. Palm trees everywhere. Alligators and armadillos everywhere. I didn’t really enjoy the weather. It was way too humid and windy for my liking. I was happy to get back to Huntsville on Saturday the 13th, where the temperature was 43 degrees and rainy.

This was our once a year meeting of the Aerospace Education Services Project (AESP); which is the project I work for. I was happy to go to FL since I have never been there before, but I didn’t like that it was in December and that I was flying back on my 30th Birthday.

While in FL, we got to go on tours of KSC. We got to be up close and personal with one of space shuttles (I don’t know which one). There is a building that is the “shop” for the space shuttle. It is where they do routine maintenance and repairs. They were repairing the landing gear at the time we were touring and we got to walk under the shuttle. It was very neat to finally understand what they mean when talking about tiles on the space shuttle. I never had a clue where the tiles were, but they are the black part you see on the bottom of the shuttle. They are about 8x6 tiles, placed in a staggered brick pattern, that are serial numbered and once they have been through one trip they get a small sprayer place inside to spray the liquid heat shield. It was very cool! We also got to get very close to the launch pad, go on the Air Force side and see where they launched the Gemini rockets and capsules, and go to the “warehouse” where they construct and store the pieces that still need to be attached the International Space Station (ISS).

It was great to get out of the office, but I glad to be home. I now have to scramble to get my Christmas shopping done and cards in the mail. I hope I can shop and write fast enough to get everything where they need to go before the 24th.

I forgot to take the digital camera, so I will post pictures as I get them from my co-workers. I’m sure they will be good ones once I get them.

Have a merry Christmas and a great New Year’s day.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Morgan’s 1st Birthday

On Friday, I ended an exhausting week at both of my jobs with a drive to Minnesota/Wisconsin for Morgan’s 1st Birthday Party. I was glad that my Dad was joining me for the drive so that I could take a nap on the way. The stress of driving from Alabama to Minnesota was definitely worth it to see Morgan have so much fun with all her new stuff. That girl is growing so fast I wish I could come back once a month to watch her grow.

Morgan had a great 1st birthday party. Her 3 cousins, Anthony, Zach & Whittney came and made the party fun. I had the honors of getting her ready for the party. Getting 2 onesies, tights, a tight fitting dress, and shoes on a 1-year-old is not as easy as it sounds (for a girl out of practice.) :) Watching her eat her piece of cake was very uneventful. She had more fun mushing the cake in her hands and then eating bits of cake off of them. Once the cake was just a gray mush, she then smeared it all over her face. No cake in her hair, diaper or on the floor.

Here are a few of my favorite pictures of Morgan before, during and after the party.

Chewing on her favorite keys

Hanging out with Grandpa Hayden

Checking out all the fabulous gifts from Auntie Katie

Walking around with her new baby

Not too happy to be wearing Mommy's witch headband

Friday, October 3, 2008

Sonny the Kitten

Meet Sonny the kitten.

Last Saturday, as my friends Paula and Andrew were leaving my house, a little kitten came running up the driveway. There are a few cats in my neighborhood that are owned by my neighbors, but this was a new one. I’ve never seen him before. As I was saying goodbye to my friends, I picked him up and as I was petting him noticed that he was very skinny. So I after they left I went in the house and got some water and some of Pepper’s food. After I fed him, it was all over. That little kitten didn’t want to leave. I spent a little bit of time outside hoping that someone would walk by looking for their little kitten, but no one ever did. I checked him over for any sign of being in a cat fight or anything else that may be wrong. He was a little dirty and had leaves in his fur, but that was all I could find. So I went and grabbed Pepper’s brush and brushed the kitten to get the leaves out and as much dirt as possible. Pepper seemed curious about him so I brought him in the house with some hesitancy because I didn’t know if this kitten had some sort of disease. The kitten wouldn’t stop purring as he sat in my lap and on the couch next to me as we watched Cops. I put him outside once it got dark and hoped that he would find his way back to his house. When I woke up Sunday morning, that little kitten had stayed all night and was crying for some more food, so of course I had to feed him again.

This little kitten had figured out how to weasel his way into my soft spot for kittens. I now had to take care of this kitten until I either decided to keep him or turn him over to the pound. On Monday, I called around to a couple animal shelters and got no response, so I tried again on Tuesday. The Humane Society didn’t seem too interested in taking him. Tuesday, I named him Sonny. And according to the news, the over night temps were going to be in the middle 40s, so I decided to bring the kitten in the house for the night. He did well in the house and even used the little box. Wednesday afternoon, I decided I would keep him and said on Thursday morning I would call and make an appointment for him to get his shots. Well, between Saturday and Wednesday when I would allow Sonny in the house with Pepper, Pepper increasingly started trying to find ways to run up behind and pounce, pounce from the side, and try to get him from above. There was never any down time for Pepper. I was starting to get annoyed with the hissing and all the running. Yesterday before I went to work pepper and Sonny were still at it and I decided that I wanted my Pepper back to the way he was before and decided to bring Sonny to Huntsville Animal Services.

I left work around 3:30 yesterday to scoop up Sonny, give him his last good cat food meal and take his picture. I was really worried about if I was doing to right thing, but once I got there the workers put me at ease. They were all very sincere and truly cared about animals. And of course Sonny won over the lady that took him from me. As soon as she took him out of the pet taxi she set him on her lap and he started purring and just sat there. I felt really good leaving him there because he had already made a human friend and I know he would be well taken care of. When I got home from dropping Sonny off, Pepper was looking around the house for him and couldn’t find him. He eventually gave up and went back to sitting in his favorite window. When I got home from my second job, he looking for Sonny again then gave up. This morning, Pepper appeared to be about 95% back to his usual self and I was happy to be back down to one animal.

It was fun to have a kitten outside keeping me company while I did some gardening last Sunday; but I now know how Pepper would react to having another cat in the house. I have decided that for my own sanity I don’t need to have 2 cats. One is just fine for me.

I hope everyone has a great weekend.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Awards Day

Me and Tereasa Washington, Director of OHC

Yesterday, at my NASA job, my office attended the department’s annual award banquet. The theme this year was Mardi Gras. The location was all decked out in gold, green, yellow and purple table clothes, beads, masks and streamers. I received an OHC (Office of Human Capital) Achiever Award for (to quote the award) “For communicating and coordinating with customers on what Academic Affairs is and does to support the Center’s Human Capital strategy and the Agency mission.” Only one person gets this award each year. So all my helping beyond my contract boundaries, the tasks that fall under “other duties as assigned” such as helping with tours, answering the main phone line, supporting student events, running errands, and anything that they ask for volunteers has been recognized. I usually get in trouble for helping the other contractors (not on my contract) too much, but yesterday I got rewarded for it. So my years of helping out – despite being told not to – have paid off.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

My Visitors Have Left

My Mom and her husband Charlie came to visit me this past weekend. I was a little nervous about them coming because I wasn’t sure if I would get my house clean to my liking and what they really wanted to do while they were here. I got all the cleaning I wanted to do done by Saturday morning and decided to make the plans once they arrived. I finally got a second bed in my guest bedroom, so I didn’t have to give up my bed or have my guests sleep on an air mattress or the couch. So anyone that wants to visit, I actually have a guest bed now. Hint, hint. ;)

Saturday, Sept 13
Weather: around 90 degrees, sunny and humid. Mom and Charlie showed up around 1:30 on Saturday afternoon. They got settled and we decided to go for a walk in the neighborhood. I haven’t really gone walking in the neighborhood yet so I was up for the walk. We then went out for dinner at a Bar-B-Que place that I heard was the best in town. I would not agree, but it was still good. After dinner took a little drive around the historic part of down town then went to the grocery store.

Sunday, Sept 14
Weather: Around 85, rainy and humid. I took them to church with me and we got a treat with a baptism, which I haven’t seen yet at the church. They both really liked the service. We went to my favorite Mexican restaurant for lunch then went home. There was a break in the rain and we decided to go for another walk in a different direction, but we weren’t so luck to stay dry for the entire walk. Good thing we brought our umbrellas. Mom made her famous home made spaghetti sauce for dinner and I loved it. I had forgotten how much I love her home made spaghetti sauce.

Monday, Sept 15
Weather: 75, rainy and cool. Charlie wanted to go to the US Space and Rocket Center. So I took them over there for a couple hours. They have a new entrance and I haven’t been to the new part. The new part was nice, but they just took displays from the museum and moved them to the new part. So I had seen pretty much everything there before they were just in a new spot. But the outing was for me, it was for Mom and Charlie. We ate a quick dinner of pizza and salad and played a couple rounds of the card game kings in the corners. By about 8 pm we were all getting tired and decided to stop and watch a little TV, One Tree Hill and CSI: Miami.

Tuesday, Sept 16
Weather: 78, sunny and a cool breeze. Mom and Charlie left this morning after breakfast around 8:45am. It was nice to have them visit.

Pepper did really well with them and only hissed once. Most of the time he acted like he usually does when it is just me in the house. I was really expecting him to be all upset and cranky. I really didn’t want to come to work after they left, but I had to go back eventually so way not this morning.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Not So Exciting Labor Day Weekend

Saturday morning I got up early to join my Uncle John, Aunt Kandy, Grandma Hayden and Uncle Jim on a historic trolley tour of downtown Huntsville. It was very informative, but I don’t remember any of it so don’t ask. Even my Uncle John learned some new things. He usually knows tons of history on the downtown area and the adjacent wealthy neighborhood called Twickingham. After that we all headed back to John & Kandy’s house for lunch and a weekend filled with watching DVDs, eating out at my least favorite Mexican restaurant, Univ of Alabama football, watching 2 hours of Mystery Diagnosis on TLC, and eating way more food than any one person should eat. Kandy always makes twice as much food as there are people. So there were only 5 of us there, but she easily had enough food for 8-10 people. Grandma and Jim left for home around 9am on Monday morning, so I didn’t bother going to John & Kandy’s. I got to stay home and catch up on chores around the house.

Monday I got up and waited until around 9:30am to go out and mow the grass. Tropical Storm Faye’s winds had dropped some branches in my yard so I had to pick them up before I started. I had such high hopes to get tons of things done around the house: mow the grass, laundry, dishes, watch the 2 movies I rented, and clean the bathrooms. Around 1:30 or 2:00, as I was watching the movie Georgia Rule, my sinuses started hurting, so I took a nap until around 6:00pm. There goes my super productive day. I could have slept longer, but I wanted to catch the season premiere of One Tree Hill which I thought started at 7:00pm but was really at 8:00pm. I am so glad I stayed up long enough to watch One Tree Hill. That would not have been as good to see recorded. I then went to bed in hopes that my sinuses would clear out in time to go to work in the morning. No such luck. My sinuses were not as bad, but they still hurt and now my eyes did too. So I stayed home yesterday. In the afternoon, I got a good dose of really clean hospital air at my second job and it helped clear them out. So today I am back at work with just a sinus headache that is a little worse than my everyday sinus headache.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Dixie Derby Girls

Sunday, I went to my very first Dixie Derby Girls roller derby bout (game). I’ve wanted to go to a bout for awhile now, but never had anyone who wanted to go with me. I mentioned to my co-worker Miranda that I wanted to go see a bout and she said that she goes and watches them all the time. Miranda was the best person to go with because she knows the ins-and-outs of the sport and explained things about the bout before and as it was being played.

If you are unsure about how roller derby is played, here you go. Each team consists of a Jammer (who wears a helmet with a star on it), a Pivot (that has a stripe on their helmet), and Blockers (3 others each team). Each bout lasts 2 minutes and there are two-30 minute periods with a half time in between. Each team has one Jammer and they are the only person who can score points. They also have just one Pivot, they set the pace for the Blockers. The Bout starts with the Blockers starting on the first whistle and the Jammers starting on the second whistle. The way the Jammers score points is to catch up to the Blockers and pass them without falling or going out of bounds. It moves very quickly and sometime it is hard to count how many times they pass the Blockers during the bout. They have a commentator that acts as the cheerleader and gave a play by play during the bouts.

During half time they had a raffle. You could win tattoos, piercings, and gift certificates. One of Miranda’s friends won a $100 tattoo. They also had a live band to play during half time.

I’m definitely going to their next bout in October. They only have a home bout once a month, so there is not much opportunity to see them in action. I really didn’t know what to expect to find, but I figured it would be fun. It was tons of fun!

Friday, August 22, 2008

I’m so tired….

Since the NASA workshop ended in the middle of July, the weeks have been really low key and nothing new both at home and at work. The last 2 weeks have been, I don’t want to say exciting, but I’ll say interesting. I’m going to chunk it out to help explain better.

I didn’t expect to get so caught up in the Olympics, but I did. So I’ve been taping and trying to watch as much as I can at home between the time I get home from my second job and the time I go to bed; which usually is 9:15pm – 10:15pm or 10:30pm. I missed out on seeing most of the individual gymnastics events. :( They were the events I wanted to see the most. The last few days I’ve been trying to catch the BMX bike events, but I can’t figure out what time they are on. I think they were on late last night, after I went to bed. I’ve been struggling with sleepiness since I’ve been staying up later to watch the events.

The lady that I work with at my second job car broke down 2 Sundays ago. Her car breaking down is not what she needed and sent her finances in a downward spiral. To help her out I have been doing (what my friend Paula calls) missionary work; bring her back and forth to work for about 5 days out of the past 2 weeks. Thank God she is getting her car back this morning. She claims she is going to pay me gas money, but I’ll find out tonight if it is going to be like pulling teeth to get it out of her. I’ve been bring her back and forth because I can’t clean what we both clean in one night by myself, so I needed her to be there.

Last Sunday night, as I was in my bathroom brushing my teeth, I hear out the window “Stop, don’t run!” and police radios. I quickly looked out the window to see 2 police officers chasing my neighbor in between our houses into his back yard and on to the deck. They asked why he was running and he said he wasn’t and that this was his house. They said prove it, so he yelled in the house for the other guy that lives there to come out and ID him. They then sat on the deck taking to him and I couldn’t hear their conversation too well over the teeth brushing and water running. When I was finished, I went to the front of the house to see if there was a group of squad cars, because I didn’t see any lights flashing outside. I found one squad car parked in front of the neighbor 2 houses down with just the parking lights on. I think the police was following him from out on the main street. That sort of creeped me out for a couple days and got me thinking about his weird behavior in the past. Since the spring he has been parking his mother’s car (that also lives there) in the back yard. He never uses the front door to go in or out of the house, he goes through the back sliding door. Even though there is a car in the back yard, he always seems to be waiting at the end of the driveway for someone to come pick him up and always stares at me when I leave for my second job (like he is noticing when I come and go). On Saturday, he came outside while I was mowing my grass and sat on the deck to watch me. As soon as I went behind my gigantic bushes he went back in the house. If I can swing it, it may be time for either an alarm system or a big dog.

My NASA job has even been lively this week. Tuesday we were going to have a Crew Visit. A Crew Visit is NASA’s way of getting the crew of each Shuttle flight out to each NASA Center to thank them for their hard work and getting them safely to and from space. We often invite schools to participate in the crew visits. My boss had put me in charge of making sure the logistics for the school that was invited this time was all set. Tuesday morning rolls around and I get a call at 8:30am saying the crew visit is cancelled because of weather in Houston, TX. So I had to call the school to tell them the crew visit was cancelled, but the bus had already left. So I thought I would catch them when they got to the US Space & Rocket Center, where I was going to meet them. I then remembered that we had activities for them after the crew visit, so we were going to just do those activities. After I was waiting for about 30 minutes for the bus to arrive, I called the school and they said they caught the bus and had them turn back around. So that whole morning was pretty much thrown out the window.

So far that is it. Here's a sneak peek of what I'm doing on Sunday - watching the Dixie Derby Girls bout (Roller Derby).

Monday, August 11, 2008

Lazy Weekend

It’s a rare occasion here in August that it temperature is below 90 and there is a cool breeze. That was the wonderful weather I have been experiencing since Friday and is suppose to continue through today. I turned off the A/C and opened up all the windows and let the cool breeze run through the house. The nice weather made me kind of lazy and all I did was sit on the couch and watch the 2 movies I rented (Serial Mom and The Heartbreak Kid) and the Olympics. I can officially say that I am addicted to the Olympics. I didn’t really care what sport I was watching I just watched it. Since I don’t have cable, I am stuck watching just NBC. I got to watch men’s water polo, men’s & women’s beach volleyball, gymnastics, cycling, and swimming. Last night I had had pry myself away from the Russian woman’s gymnastics team at 10:00pm to go to bed.

Yard/Garden Update

Wednesday I got the Aerify Plus in the mail, so yesterday I manage to get off the couch and spray the front yard and flower beds. The solution is all natural so I didn’t have to worry about the spray drifting because it won’t harm anything. I was surprised by the color, very dark brown almost black. I guess since it has molasses in it that’s why it’s so dark. It must be sweet because the hornets really liked it and were flying around while I was spraying the yard. It was very nerve racking. It will take a couple of month to notice any improvement in the quality of dirt in my yard. I have to spray the yard again next weekend, then once every 3 weeks.

The Round Up sort of worked. It at least killed the weed grass, ragweed and half of the sassafras trees. It didn’t kill, but did wound, the ivy, wild trumpet vine and unknown bushes in the back yard. It didn’t touch the nandina bush or the other vine that likes to crawl underneath my siding. I guess I will have to go get some more and concentrate more on those stubborn plants.

Side of the garage dead weed grass
Wider view of weeds on side of the garage

Dead weeds around the HVAC (heating & A/C) system

Nandina bush with dead wagweed in front Front of the house on the left side - mostly dead except for the crawling vine
Another view of the left side of the front - bush on the far left won't die!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Where did the Weekend go?

I know everyone has had a weekend where it went by so quickly you said to yourself “Where did the weekend go?” I had so many plans for this past weekend: mowing the front yard, spraying Round Up on the back yard, grocery shopping, taking advantage of Alabama’s state tax holiday and buying some new shoes and pants, get the oil changed in the Equinox, and on top of all of that go to Nashville to gather some of my Dad’s stuff to bring back to store at my house. I only got 3 things done – spraying Round Up, getting the oil changed, and going to Nashville. Going to Nashville usually wipes me out lately. It isn’t the drive, it’s the constant movement at Dad’s house that tires me out. No one stops and just sits. Now I need to take the afternoon off tomorrow to get at least the grocery shopping done. I already was taking time off to get my hair cut, now I’ll just take the whole afternoon off. I probably won’t go shoes and pants shopping. The Alabama state tax holiday has come and gone and now everything is fully taxed again until next August.

Here is the big plan for my back yard makeover

Since my back yard is so over grown with Sassafras tree seedlings, over-grown bushes and crab grass, I thought the best way to get rid of it all is to spray Round Up on the trees and bushes. Hopefully everything will die so that I can cut it down and start over. I also bought some liquid aerator called Aerify Plus to help break up the heavy clay in my yard. Once I get the dirt in pretty good shape, then I can plant some manageable bushes like azaleas or peonies and some grass.

I also sprayed in the front garden along the house. It is totally over taken by weeds almost as tall as I am. There is one nandina bush that is supposed to be a cute little 1-1.5 feet tall bush, but now it is a 5.5-6 foot tall bush. That bush is going, but I have a new nandina bush waiting in the other garden that is tiny right now and should be perfect to transplant next spring.

Hopefully the Round Up will have worked and I will have pictures tomorrow. I will have periodic updates on the gardening. I hope with my backyard makeover I can create a spot for a vegetable garden.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Woman's Day

I got up early (6:30 am) on Saturday morning to attend a Woman’s Day event at my friend Paula’s church, Union Hill Primitive Baptist Church, a primarily black church. The day was focused around serving the community. It got started with a continental breakfast and then a pep rally with a drum line and the dance team doing some cheerleading. We then split up into groups and went to about 8 or 9 different places around Huntsville that mainly serve women. Then we all came back to the church for lunch.

I chose to go to with Paula to the Downtown Rescue Mission, Women and Children’s building. I was very nervous about choosing that place to go because I am afraid of homeless people and don’t have much experience helping the homeless. The majority of my experience with them is seeing them walking up and down the main busy streets by my house because there is a different rescue mission just about 2 blocks from my house.

I’ve never been to the Downtown Rescue Mission, so I had some preconceived ideas of what it was suppose to look like from what I see on TV; but I was wrong. Here is the account of what I found when we got there. The buildings are located in the rundown part of town and are actually not downtown at all. The buildings looked well taken care of from the outside. As we approached the front door, I noticed luggage lined up along front wall leading towards the door. There were 3 women sitting on the benches talking right outside the front door. We went inside to first deliver our donations, then to serve lunch. Once inside to serve lunch, we got to see the common areas. They are actually very nice. They have TV w/cable, exercise equipment, a piano, couches, and many nice dining room tables. I was expecting to serve food in a big cafeteria with all of us in a big assembly line, but that’s not how they do it there. I found out there are 3 different groups of women: 2 of the groups (women with children and single women) are residents going through a program to get back on their feet, and the 3rd group they called transients. The women that are residents actually work at the rescue mission as part of their program. We traveled around with a cart of food stopping at each common area. The 2 resident groups had kitchenette areas with plates, cups and utensils, and the transients didn’t have a kitchen area so they where fed off of trays. Every group got the same lunch: bologna sandwiches, french fries, pie, and sweet tea.

I was a little disappointed and thankful for the trip to the Rescue Mission. There wasn’t enough work for all 13 of us to do something, so the majority of us just stood around talking to each other and the women and watching one very entertaining 3 year-old boy. The best part was that I got to see how the Rescue Mission was and that it wasn’t scary at all. The resident women weren’t scary either, but some of the transient women were a little scary.

From my obervations, the Rescue Mission doesn’t necessarily need volunteers to be physically there, they need volunteers to donate things. Since all the residents have to work at the Rescue Mission, we actually took away someone’s job of delivering the food. But when we donated all the cleaning supplies, they were so thankful and apperceive. After I got home and had time to reflect on the morning, I thought that they may like a variety of donations either monthly or quarterly. I thought about one collection could be clothes
of what ever size you wear, one be personal products, one be a bra drive of what ever size you wear (I saw many women without), one be food – collect money to give as a grocery store gift card or actual food, etc.

Friday, July 18, 2008

The NASA Explorer School (NES) Workshop

If you’ve been so luck in the past to talk to me either the week before, week of, or week after either our annual week-long NES orientation workshop or content workshop, you know how I feel about workshops and how worked up I get. If you haven’t, consider yourself lucky! We do workshops every summer on various topics, and every summer I dread workshop week.

This week my team hosted a 4-day content workshop on NASA Mathematics. This has been my 3rd summer of workshops and I think it was our best. I have figured out that I like preparing for the workshop, I just don’t like the week of the workshop. I like ordering the supplies, reserving meeting rooms, requesting the photographer and buses, making the many corrections to the agenda, putting together the binder, etc.

We had 21 participants from NES schools all over the US. All of them were teachers that teach math in 7-12 grades. I discovered a new feature in Google Maps that allows you to mark points of interest on a map; so I decided to create a
map with the location of our participant’s schools. There are so many fun things you can do with Google Maps, I’m sure I haven’t found all of them yet. If their stock wasn’t in the $200 range, I would buy a lot of it.

All I can say about today is….. Thank God it’s Friday and the workshop is OVER!


On the subject of work; some of you might be thinking “what does Katie do all day at NASA?” I really work for Penn State University for the Aerospace Education Services Project. There are 3 of us in my office of 46 that work for Penn State. Here is the quick and dirty description of what I do.

1) Manager the 2 Aerospace Education Specialists’ calendar. This really means I am the person that reviews requests and recommends we accept or reject the request.

2) I enter Aerospace Education Specialists’ travel reimbursements into the system for my 2 Specialists and all the Specialists at Kennedy Space Center, Goddard Space Flight Center and Stennis Space Center.

3) I enter calendar information into our NASA wide reporting system.

4) I am the backup for the main phone in our office.

5) I am one of two people that have training on how to deal with the very temperamental multi-function copy machine.

6) I order supplies

This sounds like a lot for one day’s worth of work, but most of this is sporadic and depends on calendar requests and travel forms. I have a lot of down time right now, which gives me plenty of time to write entries for my blog.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Six Flags Over Georgia

At work last Wednesday, I was given the opportunity to go to Six Flags Over Georgia, in Atlanta, GA, and be a second chaperone for a group of 23 NASA high school interns. I had about 15 minutes to decide whether or not I wanted to go because the chaperone needed to purchase my ticket or find someone else to go with her. I thought about it and decided that since I have never been to a Six Flags before it would be a good opportunity to experience one. Since Six Flags is in Atlanta, it is about a 3.5 hours drive from Huntsville. We left Huntsville around 5:30 am and, with the time change and gas station stop, got to Six Flags at about 10:15am. I was happy to hear that the other chaperone didn’t want to go on any of the big roller coasters, so I walked around with her all day.

Here are my comparisons:

  • Valley Fair has better roller coasters, but Six Flags has well know ones such as Superman & Batman
  • They both have a train that gives a nice tour of the park
  • They both have the same water rides
  • Water park is not part of the ticket at Six Flags
  • Six Flags has a ride called “Monster Plantation” that is a water ride (very fun ride when your feet are tired). Technically it is a kids ride (animated monsters in a haunted plantation), it was relaxing.
  • Some of the rides have air conditioning while you wait in line at Six Flags
  • Food was ok at Six Flags, but I think you are paying for the name brands – Papa John’s, Cold Stone Creamery, Starburst, etc.
  • Valley Fair is definitely bigger than Six Flags!

We ended up leaving at around 9:00 pm. We got back to Huntsville around 12:30 pm.

Six Flags Over Georgia, not as good as Valley Fair!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Dad’s Got a Brand New House

Since I had no plans for the 4th here in Huntsville, I decided to go to Nashville, TN, to visit my Dad. My Dad’s fiancĂ© Mel and her two kids (Robyn & Zak) moved to Nashville from Lakeville, MN, last week. They bought a brand new house. Since I haven’t been to the new house before, I called Dad and got directions, gave Pepper extra food, and I was off. In my estimation the trip to their new house should have taken 1.5 hours to drive, but it ended up being a 3.5 hour drive (including getting lost). He told me that one of the exits was marked with the street name, but it only had the county road numbers. So I got all turned around and it didn’t help that I thought they lived in a different city than what they actually do.

Once I got there, Dad and Zak gave me a quick tour of the house, and the 3 of us got in my car and headed to my Dad’s house. At his house we packed up pots & pans, can and box food, and kitchen/bathroom supplies. My Dad also feed the ferrets and the both of them took a shower. The water heater in the new house is broken, so they have been all going to Dad’s house to take showers. I was brave and took a cold shower on Sunday at their new house and it really want to bad.

We didn’t know where the city was shooting off fireworks so we sat on their deck and watched the neighborhood fireworks. There was one neighbor that had what seemed to be professional quality fireworks – or at least the most expensive ameture ones- and their show lasted for at least 45 minutes. We were out on the deck watching the various shows for about 3 hours.

The rest of the weekend was just helping Mel unpack the kitchen while Dad installed 3 ceiling fans. I got a bonus from all the ceiling fans going up. The question of the day was, What are we going to do with the lights the fans replaced? I gladly offered to take them since they were the style I like and the type of metal I’m trying to convert my house over to. We also did some gardening and grocery shopping.

My trip to Nashville ended on Sunday with a beautiful drive through the mountains taking the scenic highway 231. Unlike MN and WI, when you go through small towns in TN you only have to drop your speed down to 40 and the rest of the trip was mainly traveled at 65 (except for the curvy parts). It took a little extra time, but I saved on gas and it is a straight shot south to Huntsville.

It turned out to be a good weekend. I hope everyone’s was good also.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Let the Fur Grow

My kitty Pepper has had quite a spring this year. I have been taking him to the vet every 3 weeks since I got back from MN at the end of March. The poor baby has had to deal with first allergies and then fleas. I would’ve never imagined that fleas could jump through the window, but they can and did. Curses on all the outside cats that like to taunt Pepper! As a result of these two ailments, he has pulled half his fur out and scratched little sores all over. And on top of that he’s had to endure me giving him several different medications for the allergies and fleas. Mostly they been pill antibiotics, but the liquid one he really liked and it smelled like bubble gum. Despite everything, he is still the same old Pepper just minus a lot of fur. He still runs around the house as if he’s being chased by something invisible and continues to find new ways to wake me up 15 minutes before my alarm is supposed to go off. I was hoping that the vet appointment he had on Tuesday would have been his last, but they had me make one more appointment to make sure his fur is still growing in good and he hasn’t started up again.

Here are pictures of him back in March. It was very mild then. He just had his allergies then and most of the fur pulling was on his back and tummy.

This is what he looks like yesterday. Now there is more missing. It’s starting to grow back, but you can see the difference in the color of the original fur from the new fur – new fur is really light grey and patchy. His back legs and the base of his tail look the worse, they look like they have been shaved.

I hope everyone has a great 4th of July!

Monday, June 30, 2008

Welcome to my new blog

I’m so excited to have my first activity to post.

This weekend my Grandma H. came to town to go to the Huntsville Air Show 2008 featuring the Blue Angels. I was not planning on attending the air show when I first heard about it. About 3 weeks ago my Aunt Kandy called and asked if I wanted to go. She said they had VIP tickets. I quickly thought about it and said “Yes”. I’ve never had real VIP treatment before, so I thought this would be a good place to find out what it’s like. Kandy told me that they wanted to go to the Saturday show. So for 2.5 weeks I thought we were going on Saturday, until last Thursday morning when my Uncle John emailed me and told me that he was given Sunday VIP tickets. I thought, no big deal, Sunday is just as good as Saturday. All the weather people were forecasting 50% - 60% chance of rain for the whole weekend and I was a little worried about being caught in the rain. On Saturday, it didn’t rain until about 5:30pm and that only lasted for about 10 minutes. I thought, if they were all wrong about the rain on Saturday, they are probably going to wrong about the weather on Sunday.

Sunday morning I woke up to a cloudy sky. I looked up at the clouds and said, “Those are white puffy clouds. It’s not going to rain today.” I met up with John, Kandy and Grandma at John & Kandy’s house around 10:15 and we were at the air show around 12 noon. We checked in at our tent and immediately got in line for lunch. We ate lunch in the tent then headed out in front of the tent to get a better view of the show. The sun was beating down on us with a nice cool breeze, perfect day for an air show. Of course I got burnt to a crisp. A couple passing clouds decided to spit rain at us, but nothing threatening. At about 1:45 John said, “It’s raining over there (While pointing to the dark ominous cloud in front of us.).” We didn’t really think much about it since there was no lightning or thunder. At around 2:00 the announcer announced that they were going to postpone the next act until the rain blew over and suggested everyone head into the tents to avoid the rain. So the 4 of us got up and went into the tent. About 3 minutes after we got in the tent, the picket fencing that surrounded the seating area started falling over and the clear plastic tent side started blowing in from the strong winds. I got a little worried that wind would blow so hard that chairs outside would fly around or the tables inside the tent would start moving. What I didn’t know was the worst was yet to come. As soon as I started thinking about the tables, the tent took flight and smashed on the ground about 10 feet behind us. The wind was blowing so hard I couldn’t breathe when I faced the storm. In a matter of 10 seconds we were totally drenched. My Grandma and I started heading immediately for the exit. I looked back to make sure my Aunt & Uncle were behind us, and found them trying to hold down the table cloth on the table where we were sitting. I then thought, I am heading straight for the car and I’m taking Grandma with me. They can find us there. No table, chair, fencing or tent is going to take me out today. The rain stopped about 5 minutes after that, but damage had already been done. The rest of the air show was cancelled and we headed for home. Click
here to view some footage (first 2 videos) of the last act before the storm and during from one of the local new stations WHNT. This is a good look at what I got to see. The tent the camera person was in is not the same type of tent I was in. I was in the Huntsville Air Port’s tent which was bigger, better and had air conditioning. They didn’t have the clear plastic side on the smaller tents. All tents did have the chairs outside and the white picket fencing.

After we left, the rest of the evening was uneventful. We all took a quick shower to warm up, ate dinner and watched City Slickers on TV Land.