February 28, 2015

Dad's Eagle

Dad's Eagle
When Dad passed away, the South Valley Middle School staff adopted an eagle at the National Zoo in his name.  Dad loved bald eagles.  Him and mom used to drive up to Smithville Lake to look at the eagles.  Bryce even got a stuffed eagle that he loves.  Today was cold, but I went out to the zoo to see Dad’s eagle.  I can’t begin to tell you how special that eagle is.

February 27, 2015

Things That Make Me Smile

This is mainly a photo blog.  If you are reading this through Facebook, be sure to click on the link to see the pictures.

Here are a few random things that make me smile.

Batman Artwork on the escalator from the Metro.
Seeing the flag each morning framed by the awning over the Metro.
Cousins that teach your kids things.
See the previous caption
Co-Workers who go along with goofy stuff.
This face.
Random space helmet selfies.
This smile and her first two teeth that I got to feel when I was home.
A my screen at work.  Live spacewalk on the right, Snoopy cartoon on the left, and I wasn't even goofing around.  This was WORK!
My son playing with rockets.
Then putting the bucket on his head as his "astronaut helmet."

February 24, 2015

Space Junk

The Space Junk show I hosted last week has been archived.  You can watch the show at the link below.  This show has two curators, one a geographer, the other in charge of international space programs and space suits.  It also has an interview with a space junk expert, and the lesson I taught with astronaut, Don Thomas.  

STEM in 30 - Space Junk: http://airandspace.si.edu/explore-and-learn/stem-in-30/archive/?id=15290

Making "Tater-Nauts" with Astronaut Don Thomas

February 23, 2015

16 Years

1999 Hall of Fame Induction
The day George Brett retired from baseball my dad said, “when he gets inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame we should go.”  My brother and I waited five years and the day he was elected to the Hall of Fame, we reminded him of this.  He kept his word and we drove to Cooperstown for the 1999 Hall of Fame induction.  It was an amazing weekend.  We couldn't get a hotel in Cooperstown so we stayed over an hour away.  We got up each morning and drove into town.  My parents paid for a parking spot near Doubleday Field and that became our base camp for the weekend.  My brother and I roamed the town and museum and were amazed when someone told us we should go put our lawn chairs out for the induction.  We drove out to the field and staked our claim.  We stood in awe as the Hall of Famers were announced, the names we had read about growing up, Willie Mays, Stan Musial, and Yogi Berra to name a few.  We stood and cheered when George Brett gave his speech.  It was the trip of a lifetime.  

A couple of months after returning home, we got a Hall of Fame magazine in the mail.  In it was an add for the Hall of Fame photo department and it had a picture of all the Hall of Famers that were back that day.  I ordered an 11X14 inch print and in November of that year Bob Feller and Warren Spahn were signing autographs in Kansas City.  I got both of them to sign that picture and started a quest to get all of the Hall of Famers to sign it.  Sixteen years later I was down to needing only one autograph to complete the picture, Nolan Ryan.  It was announced that he was signing autographs in Houston in February.  I ordered my tickets and booked my flight.  Then two weeks before the signing, my Dad lost his long battle with alzheimer’s disease.  He was there at the induction, and for several of the autograph signings, but wouldn't be able to see the completed picture.  
Nolan Ryan
Thinking of him, I got in line to get the picture signed.  Everyone in line loved the picture and was asking me about the different autographs.  Nolan was quiet but nice when I told him that he was the last autograph I needed.  As I walked away a very nice couple in line in front of me wanted to look at it and I told them that dad had passed away the week before.  She gave me a big hug and I shed a tear and thought about all the memories I had getting that picture signed.  I thought of my dad and the trip to Cooperstown, I wiped my tear away and I smiled.

Completed Picture (31 signatures)

February 11, 2015

Coolest Lesson Ever!

It has been a while since I've posted.  A lot has been going on.  As many of you know, my Dad passed away last week.  I can’t tell you how amazing all the Facebook messages, cards, flowers, texts, and phone calls were.  I truly appreciate all of them, they really helped get my family through a difficult time.  

I know my Dad was proud of me.  He hadn't talked too much for the last several months.  The day I told him I was taking a job at the Smithsonian, he got a huge grin on his face and said, “congratulation.”  There have been so many times, just in the last week that I wish I could call my Dad and tell him about something I've done, or something the kids have done (Like Bryce dancing through Wal-Mart with a stuffed animal fox singing “What Does the Fox Say.”)

Today is one of those days that I wish I could call and tell my Dad about.  I went to a local middle school today to teach a lesson on space suits to a class of 6th grade students.  We started the lesson with me going over what we were doing, then the kids built space suits that we were going to test to see how they held up against debris impacts.  As we got ready to test I stopped and told them that I had a special guest with me today (he had been in the back of the room the entire time with a jacket on over his flight suit), Astronaut Dr. Don Thomas a veteran of 4 space shuttle flights.  He came out and told the kids a story about debris cracking the window on not one but two of his shuttle flights.  He then helped test our space suits.  He was amazing with the kids.  He even brought along a space suit that had flown in space. This lesson will be a part of our next show which airs on Wednesday, February 18th.  I've got a lot of lessons that I really enjoy teaching (testing heat shields with flame throwers, heating marshmallows to show conduction, convection and radiation, micro-gravity, and how to go to the bathroom in space to name a few) but today’s lesson might have been the coolest lesson I've ever taught.  

Yup, those are potatoes.
They also posted the link to our last show.  You can watch it by going to: http://airandspace.si.edu/explore-and-learn/stem-in-30/archive/?id=15044