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An Intern’s Story:

When emails went out for students to write reflection stories for the Researcher News, I jumped at the opportunity and just realized I haven’t posted my published story anywhere. So here it is:

2010 intern Brittany Green

An Intern’s Story: A Veteran After Three Summers at Langley

As my third summer as a NASA intern draws to a close, I reflect upon my experiences here.

I think about the lessons I’ve learned, both personal and professional, and a few I haven’t — every summer, as the heat index surpasses 100 and I sweat indelicately, I swear I’ll never return to Virginia and its suffocating humidity.

But the memories of past summers at Langley overrule my desire for dry Utah air (and an even more desperate dream of getting out of the freezing Utah winters is a motivator when I write my application in January).

I remember my first internship, way back in summer 2004 as a high school senior. I was elated to be selected as an intern at NASA, and as I got off the plane in Norfolk (pronounced incorrectly back then), I was incredibly nervous but excited.

That summer marked the beginning of my desire to get out of Utah and do something great. To reach higher, work harder, dream bigger.

Five years and four majors later, I applied on a whim for last summer’s Langley Aerospace Resdearch Summer Scholars program, hoping but not expecting to be selected for another great NASA experience.

To my surprise and excitement, having been hired on for another summer, I dropped down in Norfolk (properly spoken this time) last June, not knowing how much the summer would change me.

Instead of feeling like the NASA employees were much greater than me, with life experiences and college behind them, I met with interns and regular staff who are in the same position as me: ready to graduate and enter the “real world.”

Working a job at NASA wasn’t a “sometime in the future” situation. It is happening now. I got real tasks, gained actual work experience and met all kinds of amazing people.

The other interns taught me about their lives and, by extension, more about myself and my life.

By now, I feel like an old pro. I know that Wednesday is chicken day in the cafeteria. I’m no longer surprised by the planes flying overhead. I speak with authority about local landmarks and center procedures.

I’m heading back home to prepare for my last semester as an undergraduate student at the University of Utah.

Who knows if I’ll be at Langley again?

But the life experiences will be with me for years to come. Just like in past summers, the other interns and mentors I’ve met have influenced me and made me think more about the world and made me want to work harder to achieve as much as I can.

No one is surprised by my desire to go to graduate school or want a career; it’s expected of me and of all of us. These internships are just the beginning of a great future for me. I look forward to taking what I’ve learned at Langley into my life and work.

I’ve become vehement NASA defender to any critic. NASA’s influence has improved society and made me a better person.

And it has made me more appreciative of the glory that is air conditioning.

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Well, it looks as if the second half of my summer internship was spent not blogging.
I have two excuses for this.
1. I started getting more work-related work done (writing technical papers, etc).
2. I got engaged and began spending all my time blogging/planning for the wedding. The blog for that site can be seen here.

Tonight, however, I’ve added copies of my technical paper in both pdf and html form! I’ve also updated my resumes and portfolio on my main site if you want to check them out. I’m also returning to my regular blog for occasional general-interest rants/updates.

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Ups and Downs

Long time no post, eh?

Let’s start with last Monday, where I started but failed to finish my blog post:

This has been a very eventful yet uneventful weekend.

On Wednesday afternoon, I got a call from my mom informing me that my sister’s best friend Liz was in the ICU. She had been diagnosed with (I think) stage 4 melanoma in 2006. After undergoing chemo and other procedures, her cancer returned late last year and tumors had spread throughout her body, including her brain and spinal cord.
Anyway, she’d been admitted to the ICU, which was a surprise to us since we’d been under the impression that she was actually improving. I spent most of Wednesday evening and Thursday worrying about Stephanie and Liz. Friday afternoon, I got a message from my sister that they were going to the hospital to say goodbye. We were told that Liz would probably fall asleep that night and not wake up. After a very tense evening with not-frequent-enough updates from my mom, I got a call from Stephanie that Liz had passed away on Saturday morning. Stephanie is surviving. She has her ups and downs.

Spent most of the weekend lazing about and discovering that sometimes “cards” and “board games” is code for “beer pong” and “drunken debauchery”. Bad night.

This past week was quite eventful!

Tuesday was Amanda’s lecture for all of LARSS and the Center. I was very nervous for her (sympathy nerves) but she ended up doing very well on the performance.
Thursday night, Brandon flew in to Norfolk and I rented a brand new Chevy something and drove up to get him. yay!
Friday I gave him a brief tour of the Center and we sat around bored for awhile until mandatory fun night. We had fun from 4pm to 7pm then went home and prepared for actual fun night at Ryan, Trevor, and Jake’s house. Watched Bill and Ted then danced and learned how to play beer pong.

Saturday was the beginning of the DC trip for Brandon and I. We slept in the drove up around 1pm to arrive at our hotel (the Hyatt in Arlington) to rest for a bit.
While resting, Brandon said, “I’m not very good at all this romantic stuff” and I was, like, “huh?” Then he said “will you marry me?” And I said “whaaa?” The we hugged and I said no in a joking manner so that it was clear that I actually said yes! Then we hugged and I was in shock.  Doves flew and a chorus of angels with trumpets sounded.
Sent text messages and Facebook status messages out before heading to the Hard Rock Cafe. Had some drunken German men almost run into me. Then got lost on the Metro and city then eventually got to the Nat’l Mall and looked at the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial. Got home exhausted then slept poorly until the next morning at 11.15 where I got ready to go right before check out time.
Our last activity before heading home (it was a very relaxed weekend) was a trip to the International Spy Museum. Fun! We got lost several times but had fun. Got home at around 6.30 then rested and went to Anna’s Restaurant no2.

Tonight will hopefully be poker for a happy send off for Brandon, who leaves tomorrow afternoon. :-(

I’ve had lots of people ask all kinds of questions about the wedding and I have no answers except “next  summer.”

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Busch Gardens

I was exhausted on Monday night so I decided to stick with swing instead of going to belly dance. This way I’ll be encouraged to attend every week.

Yesterday was lecture day. We had a speaker who is somehow associated with TEDx NASA. She spoke about the future of aviation, which was actually very interesting. A great speaker. I then spent the afternoon impatiently awaiting getting off work for the trip to Busch Gardens.

We arrived and got our tickets (which was much easier than anticipated) then rode roller coasters for most of the night. Well…my companions rode roller coasters. I spent most of the night sitting while they waited in line and rode, but managed to have fun for most of the night. I got home, showered, and slept like a log.

This morning, I decided to wear my long jeans and Vera Wang heels, which was an unwise decision since my feet hurt today after the evening of amusement park walking.
I had to go get my press release photo taken at 10.15, which was frustrating because I hate getting my picture taken, but ended up not too bad.
Spent the morning doing very little then headed to the Nav Center after lunch where we discussed focus groups and brainstorming sessions. The Nav Center is the creativity building for the Center. It’s actually very cool and surprising considering the nerdiness of NASA.
At lunch, Amanda and Courtney were at a fancy luncheon with a bigwig from the whole NASA organization so we missed out on eating with them. And Jake and Trevor had their awkward luncheon with Debbie Murray but came over to say hello briefly and mentioned having dates, which was very exciting for me because it’s gossip and I LOVE gossip. I then spent an hour trying to get the scoop before they claimed that they had no idea what was going on. Anger!

Now I’m wasting time until work gets over and I go sit outside while others play volleyball. Pretty boring. But I have two pictures from Busch Gardens:

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This past weekend was my glorious weekend of solitude. Roommates left late in the afternoon for DC and I proceeded to spend the next several days (until 8.45 Sunday night) lazing. I slept, webcam chatted with Brandon, laid on the floor (in various positions) either listening to music or silence, watched some television, and pretty much enjoyed doing nothing. Saturday afternoon, Trevor and Jake came over and sort of entertained me for a couple hours, which was a nice break from the solitude. Watched the US lose soccer to Ghana. I kept thinking the announcer was saying “gonads”, but it turns out he was saying “Ghanaians”. lol British accents.

Roommates got home on Sunday night, so we went to have a welcome back dinner thing for them and Ryan, who has been on vacation for a week. Trevor made coconut shrimp curry (which Ryan said smells like Engineering since all the Indian engineers always smell like curry. lolracism) that I didn’t try because I dislike coconut and shrimp and spicy foods make me sick. Courtney brought Trevor her keyboard from home and he ‘regaled’ us with various songs, including Elton John. woot. [enthusiasm level of woot: 4 of 10].

Today, we still have nothing to do, but we’re supposed to be getting a new intern in our office next week named Alexis. She’s a high school student. Very exciting. Tonight is belly dancing (I’ve officially decided to switch from swing) and tomorrow is possibly Busch Gardens (I haven’t decided whether to go or not).

Over the weekend, Brandon revealed that his dad is sponsoring a trip for him to Hampton to come visit me, so he’ll be over here sometime in the next couple weeks. YAY!

This is pretty much the most boring update yet.

I was planning on purchasing a camera, but have yet to send my checks home so I have to wait until I get money in my account to buy one. But! until then, I have a lovely image of a sculptural interpretation of the NASA Meatball found here on Center:

NASA Meatball Sculpture

NASA Meatball Sculpture

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We had swing dance lessons last night and I was once again painfully reminded of my serious aversion to physical contact with boys. I got so nervous about doing something wrong that I completely messed up and therefore did many things wrong. I know what I’m doing. It’s a really easy move. I just FREAK OUT!
The boy-girl ratio was disadvantageous for girls and I of course looked like I didn’t want to dance with anyone. The junior high pick a partner idea was awesome. I danced with the instructor first. Didn’t do too badly. Danced with someone whose name I don’t remember. Result awkward. Danced with a girl being the lead. Did very well. Danced with Trevor, who said “you can get closer you know.” Freaked.out. Did terribly. -.-

I should start where I left off last time, huh? Wednesday night started out with us going to the thrift store and trying on random stuff then buying some VHS tapes again. We then went to Chik-Fil-A where it turned out Trevor and Jake had a $5 bill between the two of them. We’d spent five to ten minutes deciding what we’re going to do so as Trevor was asking the poor employee what they can buy two of for five dollars, I gave her my card and told them to get whatever they want. I didn’t want to stand in line and I felt serious sympathy for the girl. After food, we eventually (no one wants to make a decision) decided that we’d go over and watch a movie. So we watched Aladdin. The best part was the argument about whether a tiger or monkey makes a better pet. Clearly a monkey since tigers will bite your head off. Disregard the Christian the lion story. He was only tame because of the Britishness and the bellbottoms of his owners. Clearly. During the “A Whole New World” scene, Trevor said “that carpet must have a really high coefficient of friction for them to be able to stay on it.” Epic. Like everything up to that point was totally believable.

Yesterday at around 3pm, the power went out. Seth (the co-op down the hall) came in and said that there was a fire in a substation and the people downstairs were freaking out (since we are the safety people). We waited around for ten minutes then decided to go home. Turns out power came back on at 3.30. Oh, well. I liked the break. Then came swing dancing followed by napping for me and Zombieland for the roomies.

My mentor is teleworking today so I’ve had a lot of time with very little to do for the last two days. Friday is apparently “duck out very early” day for the safety office because I’m the last person here after 3.30. I’m pretty sure Kat and I have been the only ones in here since 2. I ran out of ways to distract myself hours ago.
Today, roomies are going to  go to Washington, DC for the weekend while I will stay home and enjoy solitude for awhile and maybe bribe Trevor and Jake into letting me go to their house and entertain myself so I can enjoy the presence of people who are not girls. Not that I dislike girls, I just spend most of my time around boys.

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Facebook sarcasm

It has been (strongly) suggested that I refrain from posting messages on Facebook about things that can be seen as negative.
If I had Photoshop, I’d give a visual explanation of moving the statement filter in my brain from after I say something to before I say it. Or I can hire a publicist or assistant. That’d be awesome.

Monday, as previously noted, was spent teleworking, which is awesome. I get to work later in the day (and the early morning) instead of waking up early and coming to work. Plus I got to work in my pajamas!
In my break (between working afternoon and morning), I went to City Center at Oyster Point and enjoyed the fountain and a delicious bowl of Maggie Moos’ Better Batter ice cream. Delish!

Yesterday morning, we had the graduate seminar, which was actually pretty interesting for the most part. We had Cheryl Cleghorn teach us about proper dining protocol and had delicious cheesecake (I got 1.5 pieces because someone else didn’t want his). However, sitting in one position for a very long time made my butt numb and my leg tingly. But I enjoyed it (and enjoyed the company).
I then spent the afternoon and evening working myself into a funk with melancholy music over a meeting with Debbie Murray, Sarah Pauls, and my mentor this morning. I hardly slept last night because I was so nervous.

The meeting wasn’t too bad, all things considered. We then went to another meeting with the department where we discussed what everyone has done in the past month. We then got a thank you pizza party for helping at SHAW last week. yum! The US soccer game was on and we WON! Yay! Celebration! (read: meh. soccer is one of my least favorite sports). Then went to lunch and had fun harassing Trevor about “replacing” us.
Tonight, we have fun things planned. yay!

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The Bee’s Knees

That’s right. Telecommuting is the bee’s knees. Seriously the greatest thing ever. I don’t have to sit in an uncomfortable office trying to look busy if I have no work to do. I got to sleep in till 11.30 then woke up and put my computer together, a task that took far longer than the “one or two minutes” Brandon suggested. But it turned on and the Internet works and all is glorious. I also moved most of my laundry pile from next to my bed to my closet. It looks cleaner. *cough*

Toy Story 3 was the best movie ever. I had unreasonably high expectations for the flick (ten years in the making!) but the film managed to meet and exceed those expectations. I’ve said it before and I’ll no doubt be saying it again for years to come: Pixar is amazing. Every one of their movies is a classic. Great storytelling. Beautiful. Memorable. Touching.
The year is only half over, but I am comfortable saying that TS3 is a front-runner for Best Picture.  They deserve it.
After the movie, we went over to Jake and Trevor’s place and Jake played every song in his repertoire (he got desperate enough for Blink 182) for us until we were all half-asleep.

Saturday was spent sleeping and lazing until we decided to go “downtown” around 9. I was yet again reminded of my fear of dark/scary places and had a lovely panic attack. Crying girls totally freak out boys. It was a bad night. Especially since we were going to watch Lion King on VHS,  but the tape turned out to be All Dogs Go to Heaven instead. Bleh. What a waste of plastics. I used to know what kind of plastic it was. Alas…

Yesterday, we lazed more then went to the craft store. I bought an epic foam sword and felt gladiator hat. Totally awesome (best $9 spent ever?). I also bought the stuff needed to make my own painted shirt. It’ll probs end up being the zup-pi logo. glorious. We then went shopping and watched Amanda and Iseley wander aimlessly while getting everything on their lists. Then we went home where I’m fairly certain I slept some more. Iseley ruined our Cone of Silence (Operation: Freeze Out) by running on the freeway and eventually getting to the boys’ house.
Operation: Freeze Out is our plan to bore Trevor and Jake into being forced to hang out with us even though they dislike us (or so we suspect).
I then decided to be the second to break the Cone of Silence by apologizing for being an annoying brat and encouraging them to tell me what they dislike about me so I can improve my behavior. I was told that there was nothing wrong, so either we were worried for nothing or I need to find some more assertive friends.

Today, as mentioned before, was telecommuting day. I set up my computer (no problems) and have done all non-work work possible. I’m now forced to do my actual work. Damn.

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T-O-Y Toy!

Today is Toy Story 3! We’re (hopefully) going to be watching the awesome flick tonight, assuming we can all get tickets.

This has been a very busy week.
We’ve had SHAW (Safety and Health Awareness Week), which means lots of work for my department and lots of lectures for me. I spent many hours going to safety lectures (like “How to talk to your aging parents” and “Beyond Zero”) and worked at the annual SHAW picnic/expo for the morning yesterday. I also got a mediocre massage. We handed out safety surveys for people to take and I got stuck being asked many questions that I didn’t know the answer to.

Tuesday was lecture day, where we heard from someone (whose name I’ve forgotten) about the exploration of Mars. It was the exact same presentation we saw from last year, but I’d forgotten the info, so I was fairly interested.
I also learned about the summer competitions/random activities available to interns. There is an app writing competition and FRIES, which is basically extra work for people who are bored and have no work to do. I’m considering learning how to program either iPhone or Android apps, which should be a fun, difficult summer project since I know nothing about Java or Objective C. Fun fun.

Wednesday was the mandatory fun picnic (or, as I’ve dubbed it, the fun-nic. I’m clever. lolnot). It actually turned out to be sort of fun. We watched the intern volleyball teams fail at competing against the regular teams then went over to visit Jake and Trevor (since Ryan is on vacation for, like, two weeks). I finally got to talk to Brandon with video…yay!

Yesterday was also the Langley (three-hour) Tour. We went over to the Langley Air Force Base (since some of the NASA buildings are actually on the base) and did a three-part tour.
First, we learned about the DEVELOP program, which was actually pretty interesting to me (and no one else). I am considering checking it out for the future.
Next was the Transonic Dynamics Tunnel.  The first sign of trouble (or awesomeness) for that tour was the tour guide telling us about what to do in case of fire alarm several times. In great detail. I was worried. We watched a not-quite-retro video with old technology then headed out on the tour. The guide was apparently in a very large hurry because my group (in the back) got in trouble for socializing and walking slowly. We were told not to associate with one another while walking. We went into the tunnel, which turned out to be really cool, but hot. Jake asked if someone could be tethered and ride in the tunnel. The answer was no. Trevor went around a corner and never returned, so we thought he fell in a deep chasm, but he just went to the other side of the group. After we finished, our tour guide said, “well this is a very awkward moment because we have to wait for the next group to arrive.” We all laughed.
Finally, we went to the vertical spin tunnel, which was actually pretty awesome. We got to see the tunnel in action and the ‘high tech’ removal technique (one of those ‘Gopher’ clamps you see on tv with a really long arm). Jake asked if the net at the bottom of the tunnel was strong enough to hold a person who fell from “say, this height.” I’m pretty sure he’s an eight-year-old boy in an adult body.
And with that, the tour was over. We sat in our buses for awhile and had lots of fun chatting with our busmates. I suggested that my ID photo makes me look like a pedophile in an accidentally very loud voice and the whole bus heard me. >.>

Last night was nap night and I slept until this morning. Back to work. Movie tonight. Don’t know what the rest of the weekend has in store. I will be ‘telecommuting’ on Monday (so I get to sleep in) then Tuesday is the mandatory five-hour graduate seminar. Boring.

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Week 2 Commence!

I have officially survived Week 1 of LARSS 2010. I was super tired on Friday at work but woke up by the time the day ended so we headed out to the local beach for a few hours then chilled for awhile. Saturday, I slept until 7pm then my roommates and I spent four hours waiting for the boys to come over to our apartment before we gave up and went to theirs. We watched TED Talks and stand-up comedians then played games together. I sucked at the game so spent most of it trying to screw other people over. Fun fun.

Sunday was spent first at Virginia Beach. Everyone else swam and had fun and I wandered the cheesy gift shops and enjoyed the air conditioning. Bought a bag and a tee-shirt with beautiful typography. I got a henna tattoo of a pisces symbol and decided I totally want a real tattoo. But of a Greek letter (either pi or phi)–my plan was to get one in henna, but it turns out Greek letters aren’t in high demand there and they didn’t have any available. There was a very attractive large-chested (topless) mermaid available, though. Not exactly NASA-appropriate. Or classy.
We then went home and had some tacos while watching 500 Days of Summer, a very depressing flick. People then got tired and I suggested Trevor not get the boat he’s considering  purchasing.
Our apartment complex apparently has some sort of deal with a local (-ish. it’s in Yorktown, about half an hour away) towing company because they decided to tow Amanda’s car at about 10 last night because it was parked in another person’s spot. No warnings. No notification. Nothing. Just a tow. Fortunately, our neighbor came and let us know it had been towed so we wouldn’t freak out this morning. She and Ryan went to pick up the car today at lunch for a wonderful fee of $120.

Today was the beginning of Safety and Health Awareness Week, so we listened to a guy who’d been burned over 40% of his body tell a depressing story about wasting his life and seeing people who would have been better off dead in the burn unit. Depressing. Then I made a PowerPoint and went to a “protect the environment” lecture. Overall not too bad.

Tonight will probably be some lazing and tomorrow is more SHAW lecture-watching and basically wasting of time. Something smells like cookie dough and now I’m craving it.

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