Sunday, June 27

“Anyone who sits on top of the largest hydrogen-oxygen fueled system in the world; knowing they're going to light the bottom—and doesn't get a little worried—does not fully understand the situation.” ~ John Young (after being asked if he was worried about making the first space shuttle flight)

So these first couple of weeks at NASA have mostly been to let us get used to our jobs and everything, but now they are going to start having lectures and activities for us to go to, so I should have some pretty cool stuff to write about.  

To kick it off, we did the COOLEST THING EVER! Adrienne (the other girl intern in the archives) is renting a room for the summer from the lady who runs the simulators that the astronauts train on, so we got to go tour them! Basically, this is a hard tour to get, and since they are ending the shuttle runs soon they are closing the whole thing down, so we were some of the last people to ever see it! (Us, and Steven Colbert, who apparently was here a couple weeks ago and they brought him through).

Anyways, there are 3 simulators. One that is of theHouston 2010 189 International Space Station (this one has no motion), one of a shuttle (with motion), and one . . . I don't remember what that one was. They were using it so we didn't get to see it. What we DID get to do was USE the shuttle simulator. We had this pilot who went with us, so we each got a turn to fly and LAND the space shuttle. It was WAY freaky. It is a VERY realistic simulator (obviously, since the astronauts actually train with it) and it was scary. I think that Astronauts are the bravest people in the world.

 Houston 2010 190 Anyways, here is a picture of me in the pilot's chair. This is shortly after I landed the shuttle. Take-off you're just sitting straight back and then you shoot up. It's very scary. And out the windows you see everything as if you were really flying up into space. It’s very scary and I did not enjoy the small tiny space that you are locked into. 

Because I did not enjoy the flying like everyone else, I didn’t stay for all the flights and I went into the flight control room where the mission control operators do their thing and that was pretty cool. When we were all done flying, we went in there and they printed out our statistics for us of our flights.

Houston 2010 193 They said if I had been landing an actual shuttle, I would have had a pretty good chance of survival. Haha . . .

Oh, by the way, this is what the simulator looks like from the outside:

Houston 2010 191 Okay, you can't actually see any of it . . . but you can see the stairs leading up to it! haha.

Anyways, that was the excitement for this week! Actually, there was more, but I haven’t put the pictures onto my computer yet, so you’ll get all that at a later date. 

Monday, June 21

"There's a snake in my boot!" - Woody

This weekend I went and saw


And it was so good! Everyone needs to go out and see it immediately! I'm so surprised that Disney/Pixar has managed to keep this up for 3 movies!

I went to see it with my cousins Beth, Jason, and Audrey. Here is Audrey so excited to see the movie:

She said it's her favorite movie ever! Well . . . she did say that before she actually saw the movie, but she said it again afterwards as well!


Wednesday, June 16

Zucchini Fritters!

I am really getting good at cooking zucchini now! Mostly because I want to find things to eat that don’t involve me needing to go to the grocery store. haha . . .

So I got this recipe for zucchini fritters from allrecipes.com. I made a few changes since I definitely didn’t want to make that many, but I’ll give you the original recipe first:

Ingredients
  • 1 large zucchini, finely chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Romano cheese
  • 1 cup 2% milk
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • garlic powder to taste
  • onion powder to taste
  • dried parsley (optional)
  • 1/4 cup vegetable shortening
Directions
  1. In a large bowl, mix together the zucchini, onion, eggs, Romano cheese, milk, and flour. Season with salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and parsley.
  2. Heat about 1 tablespoon of shortening in a large skillet over medium heat. Drop 1/4 cupfuls of the batter into the skillet, and flatten slightly with the back of a spatula. Turn fritters over when the center appears dry. Cook on the other side until golden brown. Set aside and keep warm. Add more shortening to skillet as needed, and continue with remaining batter.

So this is what I did differently:

  1. I grated the zucchini rather than chop it, so I didn’t use any milk because my zucchini was wet enough.
  2. Instead of garlic powder, I added minced garlic.
  3. Instead of Romano cheese I used mozzarella.
  4. Instead of all flour, I substituted in some bread crumbs.
  5. Instead of onion powder (there is already an onion!) and dried parsley, I used quite a bit of Italian seasoning.

Wow, looking at all those changed I might as well have written my own recipe!

They turned out pretty good! It’s recommended to serve with yogurt or sour cream, but I just ate mine with ketchup and I thought it was good.

Monday, June 14

Stuffed Zucchini

Today was so great. I got off of work early, and when I got home the first thing I saw was a recipe for stuffed zucchini! Luckily, I had everything (except the cheese, so I used mozzarella instead). This recipes comes from www.melskitchencafe.com. She’s got some lovely pictures if you want to check it out. It’s probably best served as a side dish, but Glenn and I had it for dinner and it was very filling! Speaking of filling, I found that the filling was a little too much, but that probably depends on how large your zucchini are, so try and eyeball it while you’re chopping. Or I guess you could save it to make another day!

Ingredients
4 medium zucchini (about 8 ounces each), washed
4 tablespoons olive oil
3 medium red potatoes (about 1 pound), cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 medium yellow or red onion, chopped fine
5 large cloves garlic, finely minced
3 medium tomatoes (about 1 1/4 pounds), seeded and chopped
1/3 cup shredded fresh basil leaves or 1 tablespoon dried
6 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, shredded (about 1 1/2 cups)

Adjust one oven rack to upper-middle position and second oven rack to lowest position, then place a rimmed baking sheet on each rack and heat oven to 400 degrees.

Meanwhile, halve each zucchini lengthwise. With a small spoon, scoop out the seeds and most of the flesh so that the walls of the zucchini are about 1/4-inch thick all the way around. Season the cut sides of the zucchini with salt and pepper and brush them lightly with 2 tablespoons of the oil. Set the zucchini halves cut-side down on the hot baking sheet that has been preheating on the lower rack. Meanwhile, toss the potatoes with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, salt, and pepper, to taste, in a small bowl and spread in a single layer on the hot baking sheet that has been preheating on the upper rack. Roast the zucchini until slightly softened and skins are slightly wrinkled, about 10 minutes while simultaneously roasting the potatoes until they are tender and lightly browned, 12 to 14 minutes. When the zucchini has finished baking, remove it from the oven and using tongs, flip the zucchini halves over on the baking sheet and set aside.

While the zucchini and potatoes are roasting, heat the remaining tablespoon oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat until shimmering, about 2 minutes. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes and cooked potatoes; cook, stirring occasionally, until heated through, about 3 minutes. Off the heat, stir in the basil, 1/2 cup cheese, and salt and pepper to taste.

Divide filling evenly among the zucchini halves on the baking sheet, spooning about 1/2 cup into each, and packing it lightly; sprinkle with remaining cheese. Return the baking sheet to the oven, this time to the upper rack, and bake the zucchini until heated through and cheese is spotty brown, about 6 minutes. Serve immediately.

By the way, this is my favorite way I’ve ever had zucchini (except in brownies . . . but that doesn’t count since you can’t taste them) so you should try it!

Sunday, June 13

“Blueberries as big as the end of your thumb, Real sky-blue, and heavy, and ready to drum, In the cavernous pail of the first one to come!”

Sometimes I wish that other people didn’t have private blogs so that I could just link to their blogs and not have to bother to write my own . . . especially since I always forget my camera. At least I will steal some pictures . . .

This weekend I went blueberry picking! I know you must all be in shock because it involved two things I hate: physical labor, and being outside when it’s hot. But actually, picking blueberries doesn’t require that much physical labor, and it wasn’t that hot. . . at least for the first hour. It did end up so hot that my cousin Chase couldn’t stop crying . . . which was lucky for me because then I didn’t have to start complaining. ;)

Here I am, hard at work . . . haha

And the final product!

Blueberries by Robert Frost

"You ought to have seen what I saw on my way
To the village, through Mortenson's pasture to-day:
Blueberries as big as the end of your thumb,
Real sky-blue, and heavy, and ready to drum
In the cavernous pail of the first one to come!
And all ripe together, not some of them green
And some of them ripe! You ought to have seen!"
"I don't know what part of the pasture you mean."
"You know where they cut off the woods--let me see--
It was two years ago--or no!--can it be
No longer than that?--and the following fall
The fire ran and burned it all up but the wall."
"Why, there hasn't been time for the bushes to grow.
That's always the way with the blueberries, though:
There may not have been the ghost of a sign
Of them anywhere under the shade of the pine,
But get the pine out of the way, you may burn
The pasture all over until not a fern
Or grass-blade is left, not to mention a stick,
And presto, they're up all around you as thick
And hard to explain as a conjuror's trick."
"It must be on charcoal they fatten their fruit.
I taste in them sometimes the flavour of soot.
And after all really they're ebony skinned:
The blue's but a mist from the breath of the wind,
A tarnish that goes at a touch of the hand,
And less than the tan with which pickers are tanned."
"Does Mortenson know what he has, do you think?"
"He may and not care and so leave the chewink
To gather them for him--you know what he is.
He won't make the fact that they're rightfully his
An excuse for keeping us other folk out."
"I wonder you didn't see Loren about."
"The best of it was that I did. Do you know,
I was just getting through what the field had to show
And over the wall and into the road,
When who should come by, with a democrat-load
Of all the young chattering Lorens alive,
But Loren, the fatherly, out for a drive."
"He saw you, then? What did he do? Did he frown?"
"He just kept nodding his head up and down.
You know how politely he always goes by.
But he thought a big thought--I could tell by his eye--
Which being expressed, might be this in effect:
'I have left those there berries, I shrewdly suspect,
To ripen too long. I am greatly to blame.'"
"He's a thriftier person than some I could name."
"He seems to be thrifty; and hasn't he need,
With the mouths of all those young Lorens to feed?
He has brought them all up on wild berries, they say,
Like birds. They store a great many away.
They eat them the year round, and those they don't eat
They sell in the store and buy shoes for their feet."
"Who cares what they say? It's a nice way to live,
Just taking what Nature is willing to give,
Not forcing her hand with harrow and plow."
"I wish you had seen his perpetual bow--
And the air of the youngsters! Not one of them turned,
And they looked so solemn-absurdly concerned."
"I wish I knew half what the flock of them know
Of where all the berries and other things grow,
Cranberries in bogs and raspberries on top
Of the boulder-strewn mountain, and when they will crop.
I met them one day and each had a flower
Stuck into his berries as fresh as a shower;
Some strange kind--they told me it hadn't a name."
"I've told you how once not long after we came,
I almost provoked poor Loren to mirth
By going to him of all people on earth
To ask if he knew any fruit to be had
For the picking. The rascal, he said he'd be glad
To tell if he knew. But the year had been bad.
There had been some berries--but those were all gone.
He didn't say where they had been. He went on:
'I'm sure--I'm sure'--as polite as could be.
He spoke to his wife in the door, 'Let me see,
Mame, we don't know any good berrying place?'
It was all he could do to keep a straight face.
"If he thinks all the fruit that grows wild is for him,
He'll find he's mistaken. See here, for a whim,
We'll pick in the Mortensons' pasture this year.
We'll go in the morning, that is, if it's clear,
And the sun shines out warm: the vines must be wet.
It's so long since I picked I almost forget
How we used to pick berries: we took one look round,
Then sank out of sight like trolls underground,
And saw nothing more of each other, or heard,
Unless when you said I was keeping a bird
Away from its nest, and I said it was you.
'Well, one of us is.' For complaining it flew
Around and around us. And then for a while
We picked, till I feared you had wandered a mile,
And I thought I had lost you. I lifted a shout
Too loud for the distance you were, it turned out,
For when you made answer, your voice was as low
As talking--you stood up beside me, you know."
"We sha'n't have the place to ourselves to enjoy--
Not likely, when all the young Lorens deploy.
They'll be there to-morrow, or even to-night.
They won't be too friendly--they may be polite--
To people they look on as having no right
To pick where they're picking. But we won't complain.
You ought to have seen how it looked in the rain,
The fruit mixed with water in layers of leaves,
Like two kinds of jewels, a vision for thieves."

Ratatouille

I have been wanting to make this ever since I saw the Disney movie in 2007. This summer I have access to a LOT of zucchini since my uncle is growing some in his garden, and while I was looking up zucchini recipes I discovered that ratatouille uses quite a bit of zucchini so I decided to make it today for our Sunday dinner.

This recipe is a crock-pot ratatouille recipe, so it is not going to look like what they eat in the movie. That type of ratatouille takes a LONG time to make. I am assuming that this tastes about the same:

Ingredients
  • 1 eggplant, peeled and sliced into 1/4 inch thick slices
  • 1 large onion. julienne
  • 2 large zucchini, sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large red pepper, julienne
  • 1 large green pepper, julienne
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 6 ounces tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon parsley
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
Instructions
  1. Starting with the onions, layer the vegetables into your crockpot only using half of the amount you have.
  2. Add the herbs, spices, and the tomato paste.
  3. Layer the remaining vegetables into your crockpot.
  4. Cover the vegetables with the olive oil.
  5. Cook on low for between 7 to 9 hours.

I will admit that I did not follow the recipe completely, and rather than layer I just mixed everything all together since I figured it would end up that way on the plate anyways. I also added mushrooms since I had some that I needed to use up. It turned out pretty good (needed a little salt). I just served it with some rolls, I’m not sure how the French traditionally serve it, but since they like bread maybe I got it right!

Friday, June 4

“Space is big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the road to the drug store, but that's just peanuts to space.”~ Douglas Adams

I finished my first week of work at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. I’m going to be working in the NASA Archives until August 6. So far, it’s pretty great! Orientation was a little boring . . . there was a LOT about security, and then a lot that didn’t really apply to me, just to the 100 other interns who are all doing science-y things.

However, the actual work I am doing is pretty fun! If a bit repetitive . . . this week we (myself and the two other interns) worked on processing some papers on the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project. Some of it was very boring (old memos) and some of it was cool. There were a lot of old biographies and pictures of astronauts. The reason it was cool was because I had actually heard of them! Neil Armstrong, Alan Shepard, John Glenn . . . and a whole lot more that I have never heard of.

The rest of the summer we’ll be working on a few other things, but a lot of the other Apollo missions, so that’s good since I have actually heard of them! haha . . .

Other than work, Houston is pretty good! I do have quite a long commute, but I’ve figured out the roads, so it takes me 40 minutes to get to work and 1 hour to get home. Not bad, considering one of the days it took me 2 1/2 hours because there were 4 accidents on the way home!