Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Set Your Alarms!!! It's a NASA launch!

Nov. 24, 2014 – With access doors at Space Launch Complex 37 opened, the Orion and Delta IV Heavy stack is visible in its entirety inside the Mobile Service Tower where the vehicle is undergoing launch preparations. NASA's Orion spacecraft is designed to take astronauts to deep-space destination such as an asteroid and Mars.

Tomorrow morning, Thursday, December 4, 2014 at 7:05 am EST, NASA will be launching the first test flight of the Orion from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station down here in Florida.  This is the first mission since Apollo that will carry a spacecraft built for humans out of low earth orbit.  This spacecraft could potentially take us (actual people, not rovers) to asteroids or Mars.  If everything goes as they've planned, tomorrow's launch will have Orion orbiting the Earth twice and reaching an altitude of 3,600 miles before it re-enters the Earth's atmosphere and splashes down in the Pacific southwest of San Diego.  

As a point of reference, the International Space Station orbits at an elevation of 211.3 miles, in the range called Low Earth Orbit.  Low Earth Orbit begins at 0 km / 0 mi and extends to 2000 km / 1244 mi.  GPS satellites orbit midway through Medium Earth Orbit - around 20,350 km / 12,645 mi.  Geosynchronous (GEO) and Geostationary (GSO) satellites orbit at 35,786 km / 22,236 mi.  The moon is WAY up there, at 384,000 km / 238,607 mi.  I found this cool graphic on Wikipedia (  that demonstrates the distances we're talking about.  (Note: you can click on the image to make it bigger and easier to see).

By Rrakanishu (Own work) [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Doesn't that demonstrate just how amazing it was that we put men on the moon way back in the 1960s and 70s?  Look at how far it is, compared to the ISS, for instance.

Yay!  I love a launch.  I try to watch most of the SpaceX launches live on the internet, if I'm not where I can see them outside.  Tomorrow morning, I'm going to see if I can see it from my front driveway, which faces south.  Not sure if it'll be visible because I live about 15 miles from the coast, and about 120 miles from Cape Canaveral.  On the other hand, this is a big-daddy rocket.  I'll have my tablet outside with me, though, so I can still watch online.  And I'm determined to get at least some of my kids up early enough that they can step outside and see it.  They're usually in the midst of getting ready for school at that time - we just need to make sure we all have enough time for a 10 minute break for a launch-viewing!

I hope it goes well!!!

In other exciting news (joke, I'm joking!), after a week or so of excessive food and wine consumption (Happy Thanksgiving!), I'm really proud of myself for climbing back on the horse yesterday with the health thing.  I stuck to the clean eating and finished the day at a really great 1064 calories AND Connor and I did Week 3 Day 1 of the C25K.  We hadn't run for over a week and I really wasn't in the mood to go, but as usual, I felt so much better afterward for forcing myself out the door. 

So yesterday went well.  And I'm on-track to be good again today.  Packed a fabulous lunch salad (as I generally do), but today's looks particularly pretty - lots of color.  Lettuce, spinach, chicken breast, edamame, red and orange bell pepper, tomato.  Breakfast was a whey protein smoothie with blackberries.  Snacks I could eat today include an apple, almonds, v. low calorie semi-homemade veggie soup, boiled eggs (will try to stick with the whites (less calories), but boy I love the yolks too!  


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

My Buddy Orion

You know, I often feel grumpy about having the responsibility of walking our dog.  It was supposed to be my kids' dog, but, surprise, surprise, turns out she's my dog.  One of the things I hate/love is the last walk of the night.  I almost always am grumpy, not in the mood to suit up and go back out into the chill.  But when I get out there, its almost always fabulous.  Tonight was a good example.  Once I got my grumpy butt outside, I looked up and my mood reversed. 

Most people who know me well know also know that I am a space freak.  I can't even explain how awed I am by the night sky.  Tonight was awesome. Sky was clear. My bestie Orion was just rising in the south, Cassiopeia was up in the north.  Orion makes me happy, every time I see him.  Wish I knew where Mars was tonight.  Mars is my main obsession.  I so want to go there, I can't even put it in words.

I had my 6 year old with me, and I pointed out Orion and the Pleiades.  He fell behind, so I looked back, and he was playing "Clash of Clans" on my phone while walking along the sidewalk.  Guess obsessions aren't genetic  :-).

So now I'm back inside, but still happy I reconnected with my buddy Orion, same as I do all nights that are clear, and even better yet, in the mornings when its still dark, and crisp.  That's the best time to see him, at least here in Florida. 

Till tomorrow, Orion . . .

Friday, November 21, 2014

One week

Seven days was all she wrote.  A kind of ultimatum note she gave to me.  She gave to me.  (Sorry, I wrote my post title and the Sting lyrics just popped into my brain).  

The running has been FAB.  My plan is to run the Couch-2-5K (C25K) program with my oldest, Connor, who is also interested in getting in shape and running a 5K.  I picked a race out already - the Healthy Start 5K, in Jacksonville, Florida on January 10th.  We started the C25K program last Saturday, but with Week 2.  We're both in reasonable shape, and I knew we could hack it.  We ran Saturday morning, Monday afternoon, and last night.  A perfect 3x per week.  I wouldn't have minded adding a 4th day in there, but really, three is fine and works well with our work/school schedules.  

The diet hasn't gone according to plan.  Let's just say some pizza and wine were consumed this week.  I've still dropped a couple of pounds, but if I'm honest with myself, that's probably water loss.  It's cool, though.  Small steps.  I'm just happy to be running again.  

I'm also happy its almost Thanksgiving, though I've given almost zero thought to what I'm cooking, other than the obvious (turkey!!!).  Need to do that today so I can start picking up my food items.  I'm also looking forward to the time off work.  While I ADORE my job (really, no lie), it's still nice to have some time off.

Plus, and here's the bummer, I appear to be getting sick.  I noticed the first stages on Wednesday afternoon.  Yesterday I had the scratchy hot eyes and thick sleepy head.  Today I'm feeling so-so, but it hasn't developed into a full-blown thing yet.  Fingers crossed!

In other news, TOTALLY excited about the launch of NASA's Orion spacecraft next Thursday morning.  This will just be a flight test - and while I'm skeptical NASA will be the one getting us to Mars (hello - SPACEX!!!), a launch is always cool in my book.  I'm curious to see if we'll be able to see it from our driveway.  We live a couple of hours north of Kennedy Space Center, and a wee bit inland (we're about 15 miles from the beach), but I've seen launches before from as far north as Jacksonville.  I'm planning to be outside at 7:05 am next Thursday morning to see what I can see!  And I'll probably drag the kids out, too - educational, ya'll!!!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Here I am . . .

Yes, I'm still alive.  It's been forever since I blogged.  Guess I should introduce myself since I'll probably have millions of new followers shortly (ha ha).  I imagine this blog will talk about things I'm doing, things I'm interested in, and things I want to accomplish.  But first an intro and the main thing on my mind today (my birthday!).

My name is Amy.  I'm a Civil Engineer, I live in Florida, and I have an awesome job working as a design engineer at the St. Johns River Water Management District (  We are one of five water management districts in the State of Florida created by the State back in the 1970s to manage Florida's water resources.

I have three awesome kids:  Connor (10), Cailyn (9 - just had a birthday!) and Colin (6 - going to be 7 in a few weeks).  They're great.  Our lives are insanely busy sometimes, but we seem to be successfully chugging along as a team.  We've made it through the tough early years, and haven't yet reached the tough teen years, so it's all good at home.

My kids before the school Halloween party - two Harry Potters and a child sailor.  The school required literary costumes so the pirate zombie (my daughter) and bloody skeleton (my youngest) had to pick something else!  And, no, my youngest  isn't freakishly short - he's on his knees :-).
Since the last time I blogged, things have changed in my life - new job, minor move across the state of Florida, new home, kids have gotten older, and so have I.  Things are just fine for me work-wise, kid-wise, and with life in general.  But health-wise I could use some work!  The thing is, I have always read about nutrition and fitness and am TOTALLY educated on what I ought to be doing - it's the follow-through that's tanked during the last 10 years.  And after I hit 40, the metabolism totally tanked, too.  I currently weigh WAY too much (number shall not be revealed until I've lost some).   I drink too much wine.  And milk. I don’t exercise enough (though I have been doing a bit more lately).  I've even been eating junk food on occasion (Yo Quiero Taco Bell!), and that was NEVER one of my issues.  All in all, I’m setting a TERRIBLE example for my kids of how a person should live their life.

Today is my birthday and I'm 44 years old.  My lifestyle must change.

My ultimate goal is just to eat cleaner.  But in the short term, I have some specific strategies I'm going to implement to kick-start the old fat burner.

1.  Get back on CR - Caloric Restriction.  Shoot for net 1200 calories per day.  Not going to explain CR here.  Another post for another day.

2.  Get my butt running again!  Going to re-start the Couch-2-5K program.  Easy beginner program.  I used to be a runner.  I loved it.  I will again.  I just need to get out the door!

3.  Yoga!!!  Some mornings and some evenings. My hamstrings are as tight as a drum and I'd always prided myself on my flexibility.    

4.  Strength training.  Haven’t done anything for so long that I’m going to ease into it.  Gonna do some free-weight style strength training 2x per week.  I have some 5 and 10 lb weights, and there’s no reason I can’t be squatting and lunging.  Doing bent over rows.  Tricep kick-backs.  Push-ups.  Basics.

5.  For my kick-start diet:  low carb.  No wine - this is a biggie for me :-).  No breads or starchy carbs.  Minimal dairy.  I have specific goals for protein, carbs, fiber, fats, etc. but I don't want this first post to be the "War and Peace" of blog posts, so I'll save that for another day.

So there you have it.  Clean living!  And blogging once again.  Hello accountability!