Weekend: Party at Gary's White House
Proof that everything is better if you try to have fun. I have to commend Gary for a startlingly good rendition of Roxanne by Sting while playing Rock Band (like Guitar Hero, but with drums and vocals). I also got to sing, since I recognized Creep by Radiohead. It wasn't nearly as amusing as Gary though. Of course this wasn't all we did. Gary also had some interesting Cajun dishes for us, though I can't quite remember the names of them. There was also a fun game of basketball, and lots of good conversation. However, I was really procrastinating the entire time. I had lots of work to do.
This week was highly comparable to finals week back at school. There was a lot of build up and worry about whether I was prepared or not. The first presentation I gave was one that I had finished on Sunday at about one o'clock. I presented it the next day, and for about 40 minutes I frantically scratched down improvements, omissions, and lots of corrections. This worried me, because it was only meant to be a 10 minute presentation. On finishing this presentation, I began making changes. I worked until 5 but I wasn't close to finished. Paul, Julia, and I really needed to blow off some steam, so we decided to get some Italian Ice. For future reference, Mango Gellato with frozen custard helps soothe the burn of humiliation from 40 minute critiques. We ended up working VERY late on our second draft, and had to get up early the next morning to present our trial run to our SPS advisors. I needed to get back to NASA to clear up some issues with my mentors, so I volunteered to go first. This also suited me because I really wanted to get it over with. It was over quickly, and I got much more positive feedback the second time. Afterwards I sat down and tuned out everyone (hey, I was in shock). Then we had lunch and headed back to NASA. I managed to find Jack and got him to explain what my data actually meant. With this information in hand, I spent a very long time revising my second draft to specification. Luckily, I had Julia to help me. With her help and attention to detail, I completely revised my presentation. I was worried that my presentation was too different and it would completely take everyone by surprise. Me and Paul finished making corrections and went home at about 9 on Tuesday.
Bright and early on Wednesday, I shuffled out of bed and into 100% Way Too Hot clothing. Really, a coat, shirt, tie, and undershirt was uncomfortable. When we left the apartment, I commented that Paul looked a little... underdressed. Lucky him, no coat. Still, no tie? I asked him about it and he handed me a box labeled "TIES". I tied it, got it off over my head, and watched in amusement as Paul pulled it on over his head while driving. Now both properly attired, we arrived at the American Center for Physics. We were informed that Paul would be presenting second and I would be presenting third. This was acceptable to me, as I would get it out of the way early on. There was a surprisingly good turn out from the NASA crowd, all of whom I must thank again. A lot of our mentors were there: Jack Trombka, Richard Starr, Larry Evans. In addition, Mona, Julia and Vik showed up to support us, which was very nice of them. Thanks guys.
Logan's presentation was first, and it was quick. Then Paul's presentation, which was over even faster. Then it was my turn. It went quite smoothly and I was relieved, right up until it was time for questions. I got some difficult ones, in particular: "What does the decrease of the ratio of Potassium to Thorium in the Mare region of the Moon mean?". I really had been worried someone might ask me what it all meant. Oh boy. Luckily for me, I gave it my best shot, then passed it on to my mentors to give a more accurate answer about the underlying processes and the really complicated stuff. The other hard question: "Why is it important for us to study the moon?" was a little easier, and I managed to give some pretty good answers. I also got some more help from Jack, Richard and Larry, and I thought it turned into a good discussion (which is what I was aiming for). After all the presentations were finished, I got to meet the guy in charge of the funding for this particular internship. That was nice, since I hadn't met him before and wanted the chance to thank him personally. His name is James Harrington, and he gave me some good advice about other directions I might take my research that were very interesting. I thanked everyone for coming (and in particular, saving me from embarrassing myself on the first question), and we got some lunch. I caught up with some friends I hadn't seen since the capitol hill tour. In particular, it was good to see Susannah again (the only person who identified my Harry Potter tie on sight, kudos). We talked for a long time, but everyone eventually filed out of the room. So, I headed back to work and tried to figure out what to do with the rest of my internship. The rest of the week has been a mixture of frantically busy and complete lack of purpose.
On Thursday, we went to lunch with everyone from our NASA department, then went to Vik's final presentation. It was good, and I asked a ton of stupid questions (because someone has to). Then we listened to the French intern, Anise's presentation. She outdid all of us by using apple pie at the end of the presentation. She was also leaving the very same day, so it was an excellent goodbye.
Today I haven't done much. Strange, the end of this internship is remarkably similar to the beginning. Funny how things work out like that isn't it?