STS-122

During the summer of 2000 I worked on the Space Shuttle during my first Boeing internship. It wasn’t the most exciting job I’ve had, but at least I can say I was part of the Shuttle team, even for just a few months. The one assignment I remember the most during that summer was integrating the European Space Agency’s Columbus laboratory into the Shuttle payload bay for transport to the International Space Station. About eight years later, after many trials and tribulations the Columbus was ferried to the ISS as part of STS-122. I wrote about it in December 2007 when the STS-122 launch was postponed and again in February 2008 on the day it finally launched. So when I was at the Kennedy Space Center visitor’s center last month I bought a patch and pin of the STS-122 mission logo. Yep, I worked on that! I was also reminded that it was the Atlantis orbiter that flew that mission, the same one that’s on display at KSC these days (check out my photo). Pretty cool, huh?

Running in Florida

I don’t know why I wasn’t inspired to write about my adventures in running while I was in Florida. It was an interesting experiment, to say the least! Full of ups and downs. My first few outings were pretty discouraging, but eventually I made it work. And I even made some progress while I was there! I flew to Orlando on Sunday, 9/8 and then had to pick up my rental car and drive from there to Cape Canaveral. The rest of my evening was spent getting dinner (McDonald’s – not very inspired), grocery shopping (Publix is awesome!), and settling into my hotel room. I was too tired to go running that night, but I got up early the next morning to run before it got too hot outside. I failed. Luckily that’s not the end of the story. Here it is in an abbreviated form.

Monday 9/9 – Morning run thwarted by heat and humidity. Decided not to try that again.
Tuesday, 9/10 – Evening run instead, but thwarted by heavy rain this time. Very frustrated.
Wednesday, 9/11 – Made it 8.2 miles during this evening run, but the humidity made it pretty miserable. Decided to take a few days off before trying something else.
Monday, 9/16 – Discovered the joy of indoor treadmill running! Watched “Star Trek Into Darkness” on my iPad while running 1.25 mile intervals (5 miles total) for the first time.
Tuesday, 9/17 – Watched “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2” while running on the treadmill.
Thursday, 9/19 – Started watching season 1 of “Torchwood” on Netflix while running on the treadmill.
Friday, 9/20 – Same
Sunday, 9/22 – Same
Monday, 9/23 – Same
Thursday, 9/26 – After taking an extra day off to let my blisters heal I started running 1.5 mile intervals (5.5 miles total) while watching “Torchwood.”
Friday, 9/27 – Same
Sunday, 9/29 – Same
Monday, 9/30 – Same
Wednesday, 10/2 – Same
Thursday, 10/3 – Same. Last run in Cape Canaveral.
Sunday, 10/6 – Made use of a treadmill at Homewood Suites Lake Buena Vista and watched “Once Upon A Time” while running. No wifi in the fitness center or I’d have continued watching “Torchwood.” I almost made it through season 2 by the time I got back to LA.

Not bad, huh? There’s more to this story, but I’ll get to that another time. And I’ve been running consistently since I got home last week so I’ll keep you posted on my progress!

Not Wordless Wednesday

Every day when I’m at work I think of something I want to write about, but by the time I get back to my hotel room (yes, I’m still in Florida) with my laptop my mind goes blank. I just don’t seem to have the energy at the end of the day. I’m sure this can be partially attributed to my crazy running regimen (5+ miles 5 times a week), but that’s not the whole story. This business trip has been really exhausting – both mentally and physically. But the last thing I wanted to do today was post another picture with absolutely no real content. Today was a short day at work for me for two reasons – 1) I only needed to attend a couple of meetings before lunch, and 2) my forty hours for the week were up around 11 AM. So I took off at noon and spent the rest of the day doing whatever I wanted. I ran some errands (got some boxes at the Post Office, returned something to Walmart, put gas in my rental car), ate lunch at Firehouse Subs (my favorite), and went back to my hotel to relax. Well, sort of. While watching the season 3 premiere of “Once Upon A Time” on my iPad I tore my hotel room apart trying to figure out how I’m going to get all of my stuff home with me. Yes, it won’t be long before my time in Florida is over. Hopefully my work obligations will be over by the end of the week so I’ll be back in Los Angeles not long after that. I really miss California, but now I’ve become acutely aware that I need to make the most of my last few days in Florida. So my plan for tomorrow is Disney World! I went running early this evening (5.5 miles on the treadmill while watching episodes of “Torchwood” on Netflix) so I could go to bed early in preparation for driving to Orlando tomorrow morning. I’m excited. So here’s to finishing up this business trip right. I’ll let you know how it goes!

Foodie Friday – Chili cook-off test recipe #2

I had to be at work really early this morning (4 AM – yikes!), but I threw together this turkey pumpkin chili before I went to bed and let it simmer in the Crockpot overnight. You wouldn’t think pumpkin puree is a good chili ingredient, but it’s really delicious and perfect for fall. This chili smelled amazing while it was cooking and I got a lot of good reviews from my co-workers (who were probably too hungry to say anything else), but as far as I’m concerned the recipe needs to be tweaked a bit. I think the chipotle chili powder is just too spicy for me (although it seemed perfect for everyone else – I know I have a wimpy palate) and the cinnamon seemed to conflict with the other spices a bit. I’m not sure if I should have reduced the amount or omitted it altogether. I took a few liberties with the original recipe so maybe something I added was the problem. I’m going to try another pumpkin chili recipe soon and make a few changes based on this experience. This is a delicious, healthy meal option that I want to perfect!

INGREDIENTS:
1 lb ground turkey
1 c diced sweet onion
1 c diced bell pepper
2 Tbsp chili powder
1/2 Tbsp chipotle chili powder
1 Tbsp ground cumin
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 can (29 oz) crushed tomatoes
2 cans (8 oz each) tomato sauce
1 can (15 oz) reduced sodium black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (15 oz) reduced sodium kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (15 oz) pumpkin puree

DIRECTIONS:
In a large nonstick skillet (I had to use a stock pot because the kitchenette in my hotel room is poorly stocked – no pun intended) cook the turkey, onion, and bell pepper until the meat is no longer pink. When the meat is fully cooked add the chili powders, cumin, garlic powder, cinnamon, salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper. Stir until the spices are well incorporated and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and add the beef mixture to the bottom of your Crockpot (I recommend using a liner to make clean up a breeze). Pour the crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, drained and rinsed beans, and pumpkin puree on top of the beef mixture and stir gently to combine. Put the lid on the Crockpot and cook on low for about 9 hours or high for 5-6 hours. Enjoy!

Based on The Skinny Fork’s Crockpot Pumpkin Turkey Chili.

Chili cook-off test recipe #1

Forgive me for another recipe, but the chili I made yesterday turned out so well that I had to share! My hotel room smelled so delicious when my alarm went off this morning to turn down the heat on the Crockpot. I let it cool for an hour or so before carrying it to my car and taking it to work to feed my co-workers. We usually have lunch brought in at work so I figured the chili would be a side dish, but today was an exception so chili was all we had! There wasn’t really enough to go around (I really should have thrown in an extra pound of meat), but I did get to try a small bowl. I have to admit that this chili is a little spicier than I would like (I blame the chipotle chili powder which I added in spite of the original recipe not calling for it), but the flavor was really good. I just had to eat slowly. And adding some shredded cheese would have helped if I’d had any. This recipe is definitely a keeper. Yes, I’m definitely well on my way to being ready for the Halloween chili cook-off!

INGREDIENTS:
1 lb ground beef
1 c diced sweet onion
2 Tbsp chili powder
1 Tbsp chipotle chili powder (or just another 1 Tbsp chili powder)
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp caynenne pepper
1 can (29 oz) dices tomatoes
2 cans (8 oz each) tomato sauce
1 can (15 oz) reduced sodium pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (15 oz) reduced sodium kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 whole jalapeno peppers

DIRECTIONS:
In a large nonstick skillet (I had to use a stock pot because the kitchenette in my hotel room is poorly stocked – no pun intended) cook the ground beef and onion until the meat is no longer pink. When the meat is fully cooked add the chili powders, cumin, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper. Stir until the spices are well incorporated and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and add the beef mixture to the bottom of your Crockpot (I recommend using a liner to make clean up a breeze). Pour the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, and drained and rinsed beans on top of the beef mixture and stir gently to combine. Place the whole jalapeno peppers on top of everything (use gloves!) and put the lid on the Crockpot. Cook on low for about 8 hours or high for 4-5 hours. Enjoy!

Based on A Year of Slow Cooking’s Basic Chili Crockpot Recipe.

Sports Authority

Since I can’t seem to find the motivation to write about what I’ve been up to for the last two weeks in Florida I figured I’d tell a little story instead. Today we got the day off after six straight days of work, and it was the first day since I’ve been here that I didn’t have anything planned. Time to drive around and explore the area! I went down south to Melbourne and visited the mall there. It was fairly disappointing, but I did get a pair of yoga pants and some socks for running. (Most of my recent purchases have been for running, now that I think about it! I’ll write another post about running soon.) I’ve been having a lot of trouble with blisters so I’m trying a bunch of new kinds of socks to see if that helps alleviate the problem. Band-aids and tape have helped, but it’s going to take more than that to keep me from getting blisters. The Melbourne mall has a Dick’s Sporting Goods and that’s where I bought the socks I got today, but I also checked out Sports Authority at the Merritt Island mall on my way back to my hotel (before the rain started!) to see if there were any other options available. There weren’t, but I remembered something about Sports Authority when I was a kid. My grandparents moved to the Tampa area in the early 90’s, and just about every year they lived there my family drove down from Tallahassee for Thanksgiving. They lived in Sun City Center, a large retirement community, which wasn’t very interesting for kids, but there were other things to look forward to. Like eating Thanksgiving dinner with family, driving my grandparent’s golf cart, and Black Friday shopping at the nearby outlet malls. Plus, there was one stop that we always made on our way back to Tallahassee. Sports Authority. It was a once-a-year visit that everyone looked forward to. I remember the store was warehouse-sized (although I might be remembering it from a kid’s perspective) and it had everything sports-related you could ever want. Going to Sports Authority was an opportunity to buy new sneakers from their huge selection, pick up some new Speedos for synchronized swimming or summer camp, and generally wander around and look at everything in the huge store. It was lots of fun. Now that I live somewhere that Sports Authority is much more accessible, going there isn’t quite the same magical experience, but I will always remember those childhood visits with my family that wrapped up the Thanksgiving weekend.