With my second 5K of the year this coming Saturday, seeing this article was pretty good timing — a nice reasonable lists of foods for fueling those short races.
As for doing another 5K on the heels of the Kidney Kare 5K last month, I’m really trying to stick to running at least 1 a month for the remainder of 2013, maybe even mix in larger distances as my fitness continues to improve. A couple of us are already consistently able to hit 5+ miles on our lunch runs at a reasonable pace.
Let it be known though — despite recent trends, I’m still a cyclist first and foremost. Running is just a way to squeeze some workouts in on days I wouldn’t get a bike ride in on. I’ve definitely found though that my running helps my cycling, and vice versa.
Meant to post this last night after we got situated, but the Carolina Hurricanes game left me ready for bed and no more screen time.
Anyway, a group of us have been running at lunch. Yesterday, Ben and I just happened to be running by the WRAL camera when Elizabeth Gardner was talking about how chilly it was. That’s me in the bright yellowish green long sleeves and long pants she’s referring to.
So I got an interesting email and call a week before Christmas. I’m quite the lucky dog — it seems a contest I enter via Twitter a couple weeks back netted me a 3D printer from Make Magazine.
I was quite skeptical, but after a few emails and calls back and forth, it turned out to be legit. They wanted to get my details and get it to me before Christmas. Tracking number and Make Magazine confirmed it’d arrive via FedEx on Christmas Eve. Well that Saturday morning prior to the holidays beginning, my brother in-law and I were assembling one of my son’s Christmas presents when the FedEx truck dropped it off a whole two days early.
Immediately after completing the Christmas present, we unpacked and setup the Replicator. It wasn’t too difficult at all to get up and running, but quite more challenging to get it dialed in.
Sadly, by mid-day Christmas Eve, it’s become a doorstop, not able to be powered up. With the holidays, I haven’t heard anything back from Make Magazine, but have gone back and forth with tech support over at MakerBot. They’re shipping out two new parts, though its board which I need to replace is a constrained part, and could be awhile till I actually get it. Bummer. The two days I had it were fun, but I’m dreading having to repair a unit that was only two days old when it failed.
I almost wanted to wait to post after that was all resolved, but figured I’d share the experience thus far.
The unit looks nice, with laser-cut wood. It makes cool robotic-like sounds as it prints layers. Getting the extruders just the right height and printing out the ABS is quite tedious. I’m looking forward to eventually printing with the PLA material. It sounds like it may be a bit better experience than the ABS, though all the PLA is backordered. Before I order, I want my machine reliably working and printing. After that point, it’ll be at least a month after till I can play around with PLA.
Regardless, looking forward to having it back up and running, but not looking forward to having to wait or get it back up and running. Look here and on Twitter (@ryankeefer) for updates. Hoping they’re sooner, rather than later.
The site’s back. Well, actually I guess the site never went away. It just hasn’t had any posts in a month. I’ve been having a lot of issues with 1and1 hosting and just finished the transition over to Dreamhost. Their support alone made it worth the switch.
Bringing over the site to Dreamhost posed a bit of a challenge as well, with a database of 12 years. I culled a bit in the move — dropping it back to 8 years worth of posts. I may do some even deeper cuts yet.
Regardless, expect posts to be more frequent once again. 1and1 left a bad taste in my mouth, but that’s cancelled and looks like site’s completely functional here at Dreamhost, along with Keefr.com, TylerKeefer.com and AmandaKeefer.com. Those last two are in need of some serious updating themselves!
Regular posting here at Keefer Madness begins… now!
Two sayings I find myself saying a lot are “One character can ruin your entire day” and “It’s such a fine line between clever and stupid.” The former is one that as far as I know, original. The latter is from Spinal Tap.
So what’s better than saying them? Wearing them. So I found out about Zazzle from a co-worker and whipped up a set of text-only t-shirts. Thought others might be interested, so put them up on Zazzle for sale. There’s nothing ground breaking about ‘em, but thought other developers, code monkeys, etc. might appreciate ‘em.
I’ll eventually get some more variety, and some with some art, instead of just typography. But for now, these’ll do.
BTW, they’re not anywhere as cool as another co-worker and friend’s site, Nice Stache
Haven’t posted in awhile, and definitely haven’t posted much about the family lately.
Everything’s going great, but it’s pretty much always go go go. Both Amanda and I pretty much are always busy with work. Tyler’s growing like a weed.
So today, we both decided to unplug and take Tyler down to Wrightsville Beach for a few hours of beach fun. We all had a blast, and it was a great way to unwind. After leaving the house at 7am this morning, I didn’t touch my phone, email, etc. till we were back at home over 12 hours later. Felt good, and need to do it more often.
Today was also a further emphasis on how much both my son and wife like the beach. Gotta do another beach trip later this summer — and for more than a quick down and back trip.
This is the third and final of three posts about my NASA Tweetup experience surrounding the GRAIL Delta II Heavy launch. It’s been just over a month since I got to see the launch, but wanted to close out my trilogy of posts on the GRAIL Tweetup experience.
If you haven’t read part one or part two already, you may want to. If you’re tired of all my GRAIL-related posts, tweets and pictures, sorry. It was just a cool and unique experience.
As cool as the first day on the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station were, the second day was the climax — getting to see the Delta II Heavy rocket carrying the near identical twin GRAIL spacecraft lift off.
It was an early morning, as we had to be in the parking lot by 6am to catch our tour bus headed for the causeway — our vantage point for the launch. I headed out a little before 5am in the darkness of the Florida morning from my in-laws’ home in Winter Park (outside of Orlando). I pulled in prior to 6am in the NASA-owned parking lot just adjacent to the Astronaut Hall of Fame building, and a few miles west of the Kennedy Space Center. It was still pitch black, and it was obvious everyone was up a little too early.
Our final guest speaker from the day prior, Neil deGrasse Tyson was present and soon had a bunch of the tweeps surrounding him. With the daylight still a good half hour to hour away, Neil deGrasse Tyson gave an impromptu astronomy lesson, pointing his surprisingly effective green laser skyward. He’s an interesting, intelligent, verbose and dynamic guy. Check out a sample interview.
Soon we were boarding the busses, and headed East in a set of busses to our causeway vantage point, somewhere right along here. We had two launch windows — each of a whopping second: 8:37:06 am and 9:16:12 am. If anything went awry with the first, the second launch attempt roughly 39 minutes later could be used. The Delta II rockets obviously didn’t have the complex navigation systems of the space shuttle, making the launch windows each extremely short.
The time before launches and obviously our time on the NASA causeway was all about waiting. While the GRAIL launch facility the day before was sweltering, the early morning on the causeway was nice, with a pleasant breeze. Those pleasant breezes though translated into even stronger winds higher up. Along the causeway, speakers were setup on poles that piped in commentary of what was going on. Sadly, we soon learned from this voice that high altitude winds had scrubbed the first attempt.
Then it was time for more waiting for the second launch opportunity. As the second second-long launch window approached, we again found out that the weather balloons were reporting too high winds for launch. Early morning dejections meant I was back in Orlando by lunch. Patience is definitely a must for launches of spacebound vehicles. We had another set of opportunities the next morning, just slightly earlier.
When I awoke the next morning at again a way-too-early time, I checked email on my iPhone and found the day’s pair of launch opportunities were scrubbed, as the GRAIL launch team had found a possible problem while draining the fuel from the rocket. Back to bed.
Throughout the day, we got email updates, and while we were only promised two days of launch opportunities, we ended up having a pair for Saturday morning as well. Sadly, a lot of the tweetup members had missed their window, and were headed back to their parts of the world. But those of us who could make it, did.
Again meeting in the same parking lot just west of the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, it was another early early start. It turned out our launch vantage point was different for Saturday’s launch. Instead of the causeway, we were bussed to the KARS park, which is a recreational area setup for the Cape’s employees, and I believe a slightly closer and less obstructed vantage point for the launch.
After arriving, we all set up along the edge of the water, a damp wooden fence our new perch. Now it was time for waiting again. The wind was calmer — at least at sea level, so we were all hopeful.
At KARS, some of our entertainment came in the form of some Mantees surfacing near us throughout the waiting time. As the first launch window approached, we again got dejected by those damn upper level winds. Boo! One more chance to see the launch window, and we were out of opportunities.
Everyone was hopeful though. As that second launch window of the Saturday morning approached, mixed reports came in — was it scrubbed? Was it a green light?
In the end, it all worked out. Our last chance to see the GRAIL launch up close and personal, and it was a go. NASA helicopters that had earlier flown around, patrolling, now hovered in place as the Delta II rocket’s launch was imminent.
As the clock reached zero, a ton of smoke engulfed the rocket. Unlike my TV and NASA TV online views of shuttle launches, the smoke didn’t billow out in all directions. Instead, for a few seemingly long seconds, smoke and flame clouded the view of the white and blue rocket. I wasn’t sure at the time if it was normal or not, but then quickly, the rocket accelerated up and away from Earth in silence from our vantage point.
Eventually, the sound of the launch reached us, with the rocket already high in the sky, a beautiful smoke trail etching across the sky and cutting through the clouds.
I’m so thankful that I was able to finally see a launch from such a close and relatively unique vantage point. If you have the opportunity to see a launch via NASA’s various Tweetup events, do it. They treat you well and fill you up with information.
You can find more information on the official NASA Tweetup site. They’ve since expanded the tweetups to other NASA locations besides Florida, making it more convenient and a possibility for more people. Thanks again to everyone involved. See my launch video below I took with my Flip camera. While there are plenty of better ones, this is the one I was able to record.
This is the second of three posts about my NASA Tweetup experience surrounding the GRAIL Delta II Heavy launch. If you haven’t read part one already, you may want to.
After our bus tour of the morning that took us all over both the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) and the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, we broke for a late lunch. A few fellow Tweeps and myself hit the visitor center’s main cafeteria-style lunch.
After lunch, we spent the remainder of the afternoon in the Kennedy Space Center conference center next to the vistor center’s rocket garden. While prior to my trip to the Florida coast, I had done some research on the GRAIL mission and technology, the guest speakers lined up for our afternoon filled in any gaps in knowledge, and then some.
Sadly, we had a couple of technical snafus. There were 150 GRAIL Tweetup participants, all with a least one Internet connected device, as we’re all tweeting away throughout the events. Well, word was that the conference center IT staff didn’t foresee the demand for IP addresses, and only around 50 people were able to get connections. Luckily, I had good enough 3G access on my iPhone to still tweet with the app on there. I kind of made it a dumb move to bring my laptop for the afternoon session.
So before I give you all a rundown of all the speakers and information we got, I need to explain a little about what the GRAIL mission is all about. I can’t really do it much better than NASA’s web site does, so here’s their quick description (from science.nasa.gov/missions/grail/):
The Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) mission was competitively selected through the Discovery Program. GRAIL will launch on a Delta II launch vehicle and use high-quality gravity field mapping of the moon to determine the moon’s interior structure.
GRAILâ€™s primary science objectives will be to determine the structure of the lunar interior, from crust to core and to advance understanding of the thermal evolution of the Moon. As a secondary objective, GRAIL will extend knowledge gained from the Moon to the other terrestrial planets.
Science investigations will include:
â€¢ Map the structure of the crust and lithosphere
â€¢ Understand the Moonâ€™s asymmetric thermal evolution
â€¢ Determine the subsurface structure of impact basins and the origin of mascons
â€¢ Ascertain the temporal evolution of crustal brecciation and magmatism
â€¢ Constrain deep interior structure from tides
â€¢ Place limits on the size of a possible solid inner core
So basically, the GRAIL is a pair of nearly identical craft destined for the moon’s orbit that are going to garner more info about what lies beneath its surface. The two craft know with great precision the location of the other craft, with the discrepancies and variations allowing the two to calculate gravity variations.
When we all sat down in the conference room (the same room we had started at in the morning doing introductions), we had all had folded programs with a big cartoon-like Twitter birdie beneath a bubbled-helmet. Inside, it had all of our Twitter usernames on the lefthand page, with a list of the speakers and overall agenda on the righthand page.
First on the afternoon’s agenda was Charlie Bolden, the current Administrator of NASA, a retired United States Marine Corps major general, and former NASA astronaut. He was very personable, interesting, and took a bunch of questions from all the Tweeps, answering some good ones regarding the future of NASA.
Bolden then handed the stage over to Jim Adams (@nasaJim), deputy director, planetary science, another dynamic and interesting guy, whom I started following on Twitter after his stage time.
The third speaker wasn’t on the program, and instead was a nice surprise — Nichelle Nichols of the original Star Trek fame (Lt. Uhura). The now fairly elderly woman spoke candidly on her long relationship with NASA, and her unique position to recruit and motivate women and minorities to get involved with space program. Very interesting stuff.
The next two speakers swapped order and were both fountains of information specific to the GRAIL program, which made total sense.
Maria Zuber, #GRAIL principal investigator. She was introduced with a nice and fitting description — “If GRAIL had a CEO, sheâ€™d be it.” While all of the speakers of the afternoon were obvious giants in the intelligence deparment, Zuber from MIT was in a league all of her own. Her intelligence and enthusiasm for GRAIL and its mission were obvious and infectious. Her explanation of everything GRAIL was involved and very technical, yet very enjoyable and interesting.
Some of the stuff that was most interesting are things people asked and Zuber expanded on regarding the cost savings that were rolled into the mission — things like the actual trip to the moon. While the Apollo astronauts made it to the moon in a short period of time, the GRAIL spacecraft won’t make it into Moon until the first days of 2012. Zuber explained it as a simple fuel saving method. It takes a lot of fuel to move fast, and then more to slow it down when it gets there. Instead, GRAIL is taking a slow and steady course that is more efficient getting there, and then less fuel is used to brake the GRAIL pair of craft.
Proceeding Zuber was a man that worked under her, Sami Asmar, GRAIL deputy project scientist from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL). He originally was supposed to be before Zuber, introducing the technology and concepts behind GRAIL. His presentation was obviously geared with that in mind, and while most ended up being already setup by Zuber, Asmar really helped fill in the holes and explain the technology and concepts of the GRAIL mission. Unfortunately, with the lighting being utilized to broadcast the sessions on NASA TV, we couldn’t see a lot of the slides he had up on the screen.
After Asmar’s conclusion, we then got two cool demonstrations of NASA-related web sites: Eyes on the Solar System – a 3-D realtime datastream visualization of all active craft in space. I’ll be interested to revisit it in Janurary as GRAIL starts orbiting the moon.
GRAIL MoonKAM – A secondary and educational mission of GRAIL is the MoonKAM, allowing middle school classes to request and receive pictures from the moon from the twin spacecraft’s onboard cameras. Pretty cool.T
The next two speakers focused on the pair of spacecraft. Vern Thorpe, manager, NASA Programs, of United Launch Alliance and Stu Spath, chief spacecraft engineer from Lockheed Margin did a great job explaining the twin GRAIL craft, their relative size, power, etc. For example, they’re both the size of washing machines and their onboard batteries give them less juice than your car’s battery.
While we were running a bit behind, we had one last speaker — the amusing and dynamic Neil deGrasse Tyson, astrophysicist, Frederick P. Rose director at the Hayden Planetarium and has been on TV a bunch of times, including on The Daily Show, NOVA and Jeopardy. It’s hard to summarize his amusing talk, but if it’s available on NASA TV, it’s definitely worth perusing. One of my favorite comments he made was about kids. You spend the first two years of a kid’s life teaching them how to walk and talk, and the next 18 telling them to sit down and shut up.
We concluded the long but interesting, informational and exciting day with a group shot (below) in the conference center’s lobby by NASA’s official photographer. We then parted ways in pouring rain, hopeful the rain would clear up and we’d be seeing the GRAIL launch bright and early the next day.
This may end up being one of the longest, if not the longest blog posted I’ve ever composed here on Keefer Madness — partially because the events took place over multiple days, but also because of the unique access, and honestly, the pure thrill I got out of it all.
I’ve been a fan of technology, NASA and space as long as I can remember. I grew up in the era where in elementary school, we still paused, and rolled a television in to watch the space shuttle launches.
I’ve loved going to the Smithsonian Air & Space museum in Washington D.C., watching television documentaries, along with a more recent trip to the Kennedy Space Center prior to getting married.
Technology has been a part of my life as well— BBSes in middle school, and an Internet user since near its earliest inception (Mosaic and HTML in its near earliest forms. Remember SLIP and PPP connections?), along with a gadget freak.
I’ve been a user of Twitter since the early days of the service, but it wasn’t until the last month or so that I really benefitted greatly from it. Sure, there have been great moments of crowd-sourcing, and stumbling across great links I’d have otherwise missed. But nothing like my recent experience.
NASA, as a public relations move started doing Tweetups, giving a group of Twitter-using people unprecedented access to a launch, and an insider’s VIP treatment before and during. NASA describes it as:
…an informal meeting of people who use the social messaging medium Twitter. NASA Tweetups provide @NASA followers with the opportunity to go behind-the-scenes at NASA facilities and events and speak with scientists, engineers, astronauts and managers. NASA Tweetups range from two hours to two days in length and include a “meet and greet” session to allow participants to mingle with fellow Tweeps and the people behind NASA’s Twitter feeds.
To me though, that barely scratches the surface of how cool, how awesome and how unique the NASA tweetup program is.
I first heard about the events from a co-worker at Centerline, and applied for multiple of the final space shuttle launches. Sadly, I never was selected, and while I attempted to see a few earlier launches, they got scrubbed every time I had an opportunity to view it from Florida. Such is the nature of launching vehicles into space, as I’d experience multiple times.
With the 30-year space shuttle come to a close, NASA is still far from a dead organization, just yesterday announcing their new heavy lift vehicle. Sure, its exact future, and the future of manned flight are in question, but they’re far from gone with the remaining three shuttles now being processed to be museum exhibit pieces.
The NASA Tweetup series are far from mothballed though. I applied for one of the post-shuttle era launches — this one for an unmanned rocket launch to send two craft to the moon — The Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory, or GRAIL for short.
Fewer people applied to this Tweetup, with not as much interest as the manned shuttle launches before. This obviously helped me in the selection process. I didn’t consider this when applying, but I’m OK with it regardless.
I got the email August 3rd that I had been selected to attend the events surrounding the GRAIL launch on September 7th and 8th. As it turned out, these dates were almost perfect. We had already booked a flight for the following week to be in Orlando, Florida to celebrate Tyler’s second birthday.
Attending the Tweetup for GRAIL was only going to necessitate going down a few days early. Both Amanda and my work were both completely understanding and gracious to allow us those few extra days, and it literally cost less than $7 to change our tickets.
Fast forward about a month later. After a hectic final day of working from home, last minute packing, and prepping to be away from work for a week and half, we were on our way to Florida, packed with enough Apple tech that would make any Apple Store employee grin.
The Tweetup events included two days of events and activities: the first being an inside look at Florida’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station through a morning tour, and then an afternoon of guest speakers at the Kennedy Space Center Vistors Complex’s on-site conference center. The second day was a closer vantage point to see the rocket launch than most of the public gets.
The first day started out early, me getting into my inlaws’ car in Winter Park Florida (outside of Orlando), and heading about an hour east to the KSC Vistors Center complex. I had to show my identification and register to get my badge.
A few hours later, all 150 Tweetup members are filed into the KSC Visitors Center conference center, where we all get introduced to NASA, JPL (Jet Propulsion Lab) and others related to social media within the organization. We then pass around a microphone, and all 150 introduce ourselves, where we live, an interesting fact about ourselves and our Twitter handle. That took a bit of time, and put us slightly behind schedule for the morning tour.
We piled onto four of the old-school Kennedy Space Center buses, all hitting several tour destinations in a different order, and the whole tour agenda was freaking awesome. I had done the KSC standard bus tour in the past, and was thoroughly impressed with that. This one was head and shoulders above the standard tour — a true V.I.P. treatment.
Our bus’ first destination was on the the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Launch Pad 41, the current United Launch Alliance location for Atlas V launches. Previously, it had been used by the Air Force for Titan III and Titan IV launches.
The bus ride up to the Launch Pad 41 complex required a bumpy and fairly lengthy bus ride — a common theme for the whole morning’s tour destinations. This first destination sent the bus nort down a road, straddling two set of train tracks. These tracks are what take the assembled rockets from the Vertical Integration Facility all the way down to the launch pad — quite a distance. This is an a near exact parallel to the huge tracked vehicle called the Crawler-Transporter that took the stacked shuttle (orbiter, solid rocket booster and external tank) to its launch pad, though these ones are train based transport.
Two guys from the United Launch Alliance (ULA) met us at the fence line of the 41 complex, their Hummer parked to the side, complete with a bummer sticker that read, “My other truck is an Atlas V.” Too funny.
They did a quick rundown of the complex, explaining the lightning towers around the launchpad, along with the various fuel tanks, buildings and equipment surrounding the launch pad that was used historically for the Titan rockets, and for the last nearly 10 years, the behemoth Atlas V.
On the ride back from Launch Pad 41, and onto our next destination, we got a rare treat, driving by the beach house the astronauts typically spend time at with their families prior to launches.
It’s a very Florida/beach looking building — the only structure around, nestled in the foliage and sand, close to the waves of the beach.
Then, we got a slow roll by on our bus of the historic Launch complex 39A, one of the two pads that supported the space shuttle program throughout, along with
We next got another rare opportunity — one that the normal tours don’t get. We got to walk through the massive Vehicle Assembly Building (or VAB). It’s hard to describe absolutely how huge the building is, both deep, but also the huge height of it. They have special systems in place to keep clouds from forming in the upper levels of the building.
This building has a huge amount of history, from 1968 through 2011, it housed the Saturn V rocket for the Apollo program, and subsequently every single shuttle before they’re rolled out to the launch pad.
While our launch and the events leading up to it focused around a Delta II Heavy rocket, the VAB was the highlight for me of the first day.
Walking from the entrance to the back left hand corner, we had another surprise — the Endeavor space shuttle orbiter in all its glory, recently brought over from one of the orbiter processing facilities in preparation for becoming a museum exhibit. The Endeavor is soon destined to go to the west coast at the California Science Center in Los Angeles.
We ended up taking a bunch of time in the VAB, getting closer to the orbiter than I would have ever dreamed. There was literally a chain link fence and a few feet of equipment between us and the decommissioned orbiter. The VAB and getting see see an orbiter up, close and personal was so awesome — a one time deal.
Sadly, our extended walk around the VAB and visit with Endeavor, shooting tons of pictures put us fairly far behind schedule, meaning our next stop had to get dropped. Originally, we were going to get a photo opportunity with the large countdown clock — disappointing, but I’d trade some time with Endeavor over the press-area countdown clock any day. Plus, Endeavor is getting ready to no longer be at KSC, while that countdown clock will continue to stay put, though I’m not sure I’ll ever have another opportunity to check that out either.
We all got herded onto the bus, straggling as much as we could in the depths of the VAB, and headed to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s SLC-37B, where GRAIL was sitting atop a Delta II Heavy rocket. The “heavy” part means it has extra power, which the GRAIL mission needed to send it hurtling toward the moon. It has a total of 9 GEM-46 boosters, originally designed for the Delta III.
Pulling up in the bus, we got a good view of both pads, the unused 37A, and 37B, where the Delta II rocket sat. While it was hidden behind its service structure, the blue and white rocket was clearly visible. They setup a flatbed truck at the fence line so we could get a better vantage point to see the soon-to-be launched rocket.
Again, we had two gentlemen to describe the preparation and launch of the rocket.
SLC-37B was our last stop of the packed morning. I haven’t described too much about what the GRAIL mission is all about, but will go more into that in the next post. Stay tuned for that in a few days.
Stay tuned for the post of the first day’s afternoon activities post and then the launch-day post shortly. This already ended up way too long for a single blog post.
View my entire photo gallery of the multi-day GRAIL events below.