Monday, June 15, 2009

No Place Like Home

Back in Texas! Having just spent time in northern California, where I grew up, I'm always reminded of just how much I miss it. However, it is also a relief to finally be back at my [newer] home in Georgetown for the first time in over a month.

I got plenty of exercise on the trip, mostly climbing around San Francisco, but seeing groups of family also meant many massive meals (unintended alliteration). So between bedrest, jet-lag and high-calorie menus, I'm feeling a bit sluggish. The first order of business was to get back to the gym! Yesterday and this morning, I exercised both outdoors and indoors on a climber, still working my way back up to 5-mile stretches, and also doing some interval training. I lifted weights for the first time since before the study, lighter and with fewer reps than normal, but I still expect some soreness over the next few days. Eeeeaaaaasing back in.

One thing I have not resumed, however, is caffeine consumption. Despite never going anywhere near coffee, I've been addicted to caffeine for many years. I've weaned myself off it prior to each trip to NASA. Last time, I couldn't wait to have a coca-cola. Devin and I headed for a soda machine within an hour of rising from bed (i.e. as soon as we could hobble to it with coins). This time, however, I wanted to see if I could cut tea and colas -- both from my body and my budget -- for as long as possible. So far, so good.

I drink plenty of water daily, but have increased that in lieu of soda... and I switched from my normal Green Tea to a decaffeinated brand. I know I still get a little bit in chocolate, but nothing like what I used to chug. I'll be interested to see if I genuinely feel any difference in energy. I am definitely already sleeping more deeply. Here's hoping I can last for the summer, at least.

Catching up on email? Not quite as relaxing. What an avalanche! It will be a few days before I wade through each account, but of course I want to thank everyone who has sent me great links and articles. There's no chance I could possibly miss anything going on in the NASA or Star Trek multiverses anymore! Exciting preparations are being made for launches, a new "Moon" movie is due to be released soon, and current missions appear to be getting more press than in past years, which is great to see.

Space Shuttle Atlantis
Special thanks to Mr. & Mrs. L, who forwarded a great link from ABC News: Atlantis Astronauts Share the Earthly Delights They Can't Live Without in Space. I loved this article for its accuracy, detail and astronaut pranks -- though probably the funniest bit was Mike Massimino casting his vote for the next Nobel Prize winner: whomever invents the technology to make pizza in space!

I guess we flight analogs are lucky, we get pizza on the ground -- but I don't know what they're complaining about; they get pudding and M&Ms! Definitely contraband at UTMB. However, despite the tiny differences and description of restrictions, I think this article clears up a few misconceptions about "food in space" ... namely that astronauts have no choice about their in-flight diets, that the food is barely palatable... or even that Tang and paste tubes are still staples. Those and other freeze-dried forms of torture from the early days are long, long gone.

More to come as I catch up! Thank you everyone for all your wonderful emails and support! :)