Thinking About the Future of This Blog

It took me a few days of those unavoidable ‘woe-is-me-I’m-not-qualified-for-space-travel-research‘ blues, but I’m back in the pilot’s seat and already engrossed with finding my next potential 2013 adventure. Something has to distract me from writing my thesis, right?

I’d like to first extend a hearty ‘Best of Luck’ to the 30 finalists in the HI-SEAS program. I will be following along from wherever I end up and possibly providing updates to my readers from my position on the outside. I am also considering applying for the 2014 crew, so any advice for making it to the finalists would be greatly appreciated.

One last tidbit to carry with you to the Red Planet:

On To The Future

My main focus with this blog is still sharing an interest and passion for science. However, I am going to be focusing less on the space and astronomy aspects and more on general science topics. Are you ready to get your biology on? I hope to incorporate aspects of travel and food blogging and I’ll have a lot of time to focus on these topics once I graduate. Until that point, get ready for some grad school/thesis writing ‘How to…’ posts.

Do you have requests for blog topics? Please allow your voice to be heard in this week’s poll. The poll is located on top left side bar, and you may choose as many answers as your heart desires. Thanks for your support and advice! If you would like to request topics not on the poll, by all means include them as a comment here!

Be patient with me in the short-term. I’ll be playing around with different visual themes and layouts. A new outfit helps when starting something new! I also need to brainstorm for a new name. One that will apply to my blog over the long-term. Again, suggestions are appreciated.


A Challenge for Creative Minds

Scientific research is very rewarding. You are on a quest for that little bit of knowledge that has, to date, evaded others. Your hard work and investigations could potentially lead to advancements in your field. Notoriety. Articles in Science AND Nature! Fame. Nobel Peace Prize!

Even so, there is only so long that you can count algae cells under a microscope before needing a break.

Crew-members of the Hi-SEAS study need to be prepared to provide their own fun and frivolity during their time spent in the habitat. Space and resource limitations could put a damper on options, but once more we’ll just have to accept the challenge and get creative!

Here are just a few of my favorite games:

Liars Dice
A great bonding game that requires only dice and a piece of paper. Since this was a pirate game, it’s not surprising that the objective is to out sneak, lie, and trick the other players to be the last one standing. Each player starts with 5 dice and a cup, after an initial roll, they takes turns ‘bidding’ on the number of a certain die value that exists in all hands. (e.g. “I believe there are six 2’s”) The next player can either change the bid (“I believe there are seven 2’s/I believe there are six [other value]”) or CHALLENGE. Then all dice are uncovered and the true liar is revealed. The game becomes trickier when “1’s” are considered wild. More rules and explanations can be found here.

Paper Rock Scissors
Perhaps the greatest of all games. Ever. You never know when a challenger may approach. I am a firm believe in the skill involved in PRS. Play often enough with an opponent and you start to pick up on some of their tricks and patterns. Watch out though, I can play with my left OR right hand! I challenge you! Best 2 outta 3, 2 outta 3, one-two-three-SHOOT!

Photo Booth Music Videos
Perhaps one of the sillier of my creative fun and frivolity suggestions, Photo Booth Music Videos may also be one of the more hilarious things you will ever do. All you need is an Apple computer or iPad with Photo Booth and danceable music. I recommend turning on the mirror effect. Then put your dance hats on and record an extra special home video to your favorite songs.

I’ll add a video later, so come back for my own ridiculous example!

Popcorn Reading
With the rise of the e-reader, it’s never been easier to cart around a small library of good reads. I don’t know if you were the type to be overjoyed to be chosen to read aloud to the class as a youngster, but I’ve found that it has gotten more and more amusing as I age. Road trips with my friends often includes at least a few chapters read by all.

I’ve been saving a few books on my e-reader apps for a time when I can read without worrying about what grad student responsibilities I’m supposed to be focusing on. Any strike your fancy?

The Time Machine – H.G. Wells
You are NOT so Smart – David McRaney
Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved
     the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time – Dave Sobel
A More Perfect Heaven: How Copernicus Revolutionized the Cosmos – Dava Sobel

Young Adult Sci-Fi books would also be perfect. Who else enjoys creating lots of different voices for the characters?

This may not be the most mind-blowing activity, but it certainly can relax and sooth. I picked up this craft in college and have phased in and out since then. Currently I’m in. I even have a special treat planned to create for all fellow crew-members and associated people should I be selected to participate. I could also teach others how to knit and follow a pattern, or create their own. 

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This game may require a bit more room than available, but I’m sure we can create a similar game for when we are space suited up and traveling out of the habitat. Any ideas for the rules for ‘Astronauts’?

It could be anything.

Card Games
With the vast number of games possible with simply a deck of cards, this section could probably fill its own blog post! In fact, I think I’ll just make this our…

Question of the Day:
What is your favorite card game? (And if it’s unique, how do you play?)
Any other game suggestions that meet our space and resource limitations?

Challenge Accepted

Starting a blog is a big undertaking. But, then again, so is living in an isolated research station designed to simulate the living and working experience of six astronauts on a real Mars mission. So, why does this blog feel like the more challenging pursuit?

Last week, with a mere 7 minutes to spare, I submitted my 19 page application to the Cornell/University of Hawaii Hi-SEAS mission. I allowed myself a brief moment to savor my achievement and enjoy that pleasant calmness that follows the anxiety of anticipating a deadline. Graduate School does not allow you much time to rejoice before it throws a new obstacle your way, so I grabbed my thinking helmet and was off to tackle more challenges.

But, instead of studying for my statistics exam, I wanted to be searching the Hi-SEAS facebook page for news of other successful applicants. Instead of finishing my SAS homework, I wanted to be reading and commenting on blogs that have already started to chronicle the application process. It was becoming increasingly clear that waiting quietly and patiently for semi-finalists to be announced in late-March was not an option.

When I first discovered the call for applicants in early February, something took hold of me and inspired my decision to spend the limited spare time I had available on compiling a competitive application. Once inspiration, motivation, and excitement take hold, it’s quite difficult to tell everything bubbling up inside of you to hush up! With good reason, that is my voice aching to be heard!  I have more to say and I shouldn’t think I have to wait to do so. I spoke often about passion and optimism in my application. It seems only fitting to demonstrate them now.

I hope to spend the next year sharing my opinions, insight, and knowledge with the followers of the blog. I encourage everyone to add their own voice to the mix through comments, questions, suggestions, jokes, etc. I will attempt to maintain a wide assortment of discussions, while remaining ever-mindful of the big picture objective: instilling an interest in all for space exploration (and other scientific endeavors). The challenge of maintaining a blog pales when compared to the potential impacts of inspiring others.

I will leave you with a few words from friends that have inspired me.

“Your words are your best weapons, adversity is your toughest battlefield, but your armor of determination will shield your way.” C. L.

“just tiny people
in the middle of space
in a tiny amount of time
completely irrelevant
except to each other” D. C.