One Big Update

I haven’t updated this blog in quite some time now;  I think it’s been about three weeks. This is because of various reasons, but mainly because I have been busy with work and going on amazing adventures, which I will describe in this post.

As far as work goes, I have been working to modify the timing codes and perfect our method of finding the off-nadir angle that I discussed in a prior post. I’ve made a lot of progress with timing, and a little bit of progress with my new project, spectral survey. I am attempting to do a stray light covariance analysis on the CCD (charge coupled device), but it’s going pretty slowly because I am not very good with IDL yet. But I’m learning! This upcoming week is my last full week at NASA, and it feels so odd how quickly the time has gone by. I should have expected this would happen, but I feel like I have been doing a good job making the most of my experiences and soaking up all the wisdom of the people around me.

Apart from work I have of course been exploring Virginia and having a good time. On the Fourth of July my friend Joie came to visit me, and we had a lovely lunch by the water overlooking a bunch of cool boats. We also had a good time at the beach I’ve been going to almost every weekend since I’ve been in Hampton. Then for fireworks and live music we took a trip to Fort Monroe and watched an Air Force band perform some covers of popular songs. It was a successful Fourth.

The next week my intern friends and I heard that the NASA library was giving away a bunch of books for free, so we ventured over to the other side of the campus to check out the library. It was a neat place, and we indeed found some interesting books to take back with us. Since we were so close to headquarters, we decided to check out that building and even go hang out on the roof! NASA is a cool place. They were growing plants on the top of the building, and it reminded me of being in Europe. 🙂

That weekend a few of my friends from the University of Richmond paid me a visit. I took them to my favorite spot at Grandview Beach, and then we explored around Norfolk. Two years ago when I visited Norfolk, my friends Eric, Bardia, and I went to this amazing chocolate shop every day we were there. We promised the shop owners that we would come back some day, and we did this weekend! They didn’t remember us unfortunately, but we still felt good going back there to support their business. Then on Sunday my friend Katie and I went to Virginia Beach to see Art Garfunkel perform! He mostly played Simon & Garfunkel songs, which was much appreciated, but also threw in some cover songs and his original works. In between songs he read some of his beautiful poetry (he is publishing a new book of his poems in September). It was an all around magical evening, and I’m so happy I had an opportunity to see him live.

Later on during the next week, my intern friends and I decided we were bored of eating lunch at our desks every day, so we decided to take a quick break from work to check out NASA Langley’s official visitor center, the Virginia Air & Space Center. We quickly realized we picked a bad day and time to go because it just so happened to be some kind of day care field trip day. I don’t think I have seen more children in one building since I was in elementary school myself. But it was really cool to see all the kids so excited about science and space! The center showed an IMAX film about national parks, and that was quite beautiful to watch. It made me want to travel and hike and climb more.

The following weekend I went back to Richmond to visit my friends for a night, and we had a good time just talking and baking brownies together. The next day I visited Joie in Quantico on the Marine Corps Base. She took me to the building where she works (where the Fife & Drum Corps rehearse), and showed me the stables where the horses used for military funerals are kept. Then we drove up to Maryland and walked along the Potomac River searching for ancient shark teeth. Joie does this often, so she was a pro and found over 100 little teeth. I only found 45, but I was still very satisfied with my finds. That night we went to an Air Force band concert in DC. They played a bunch of children’s music, including Disney movie music, so that was really exciting. We then went back to Joie’s awesome house that is right next to the river and watched Moana while eating ice cream. We had a great time. The next morning I returned to Hampton and took a harbor tour with my intern friends, on which we learned all about the history of the Hampton Roads area and the naval base. We saw plenty of dolphins (!!!) and pelicans, so I was pretty happy about the tour.

Finally, this past weekend Joie and I made an adventure to Chincoteague Island. This was probably the best weekend I’ve had in Virginia so far! We saw the wild ponies, ate a lot of amazing food, got to explore the beautiful beach and nature reserve, and met the most incredible person ever. The first day we arrived we decided to go check out the Blueberry Festival since we didn’t have an actual plan of what we wanted to do on the island. The festival was quaint; there was live music and several food trucks and small art booths set up. We decided to wander around for a bit and found ourselves in the tent of this wonderful 60-something man who started a conversation with us. I told him I was working at NASA doing atmospheric science for the summer, and he immediately started talking about climate change and physics. And this man knew what he was talking about, too. So we talked for a while, and then Joie and I went to walk around a little more. We were so interested in this kind man, though, that we walked back over to his booth to talk more and purchase something from him in exchange for being so awesome. We asked if we could buy two rings from him, but he insisted on giving them to us as a gift on one condition: we continue to follow our dreams. At this point we were thinking this man was an angel or something, and then he offered me a Tibetan singing bowl and a book of selected essays he has written over the years – free of charge. I graciously took the gifts and we said our goodbyes, his was “Namaste.”

For the rest of the day Joie and I were talking about how amazing this man was – he was incredibly knowledgeable in atmospheric science, climate change, physics, and psychology; he was a painter, a poet, and he writes folk and classical music; and he just had this aura of pure wisdom about him. Later in the day we wanted to grab some ice cream before dinner at one of the most talked-about ice cream places on the island, and as we were leaving this place, we saw the same man waiting in line with his family! He introduced us to his wife, who is from Tibet, and his two lovely children. This encounter felt too good to be true. What are the odds we would run into this guy twice in one day?

Today we explored Chincoteague even more. We spent most of the day at the beach soaking up the sun and playing in the waves, and we also went to the museum on the island about Chincoteague’s history. Little did I know that the real Misty of Chincoteague was housed in that museum! Well she died many years ago unfortunately, but her legacy lives on in a stuffed form. This was very exciting for me, as my mom read the book Misty of Chincoteague to me and my sister when we were little. The nostalgia factor made this trip a memorable one.

What I am trying to convey is that I am having a wonderful time here. Work can be a bit bland sometimes, but I enjoy having a routine of going to sleep early, waking up at 5:30AM, doing yoga twice a day, eating very healthy, and generally just taking good care of my mental and physical health. These are all things I strived for at school for years and was never able to achieve all the time. I am hoping that when I get back to school I will feel as motivated as I do now to keep up with the routine I have made for myself this summer while working at NASA. Now to make the most out of my last couple of weeks here!

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