As a quick aside before I get to today's post, I wanted to say that I am now a "regular employee" at my current job rather than just a temporary one.  The biggest thing that changes is my benefits package, so that's a good thing.  Now I just have to get my commute shorter.  Also in household news: my oldest started 7th grade this week and the twins are about to turn FOUR YEARS OLD.  Um, for as long as each day can be, those years really are flying by quickly.  And now onto today's post...

Today was the day that NASA announced the 150 people who won the lottery to attend the November 1st launch of STS-133.  Sadly, I was in the majority of the 2,700 entrants to not get a pass to witness this event in VIP style.  I had another blog topic chosen for posting today, but couldn't bring myself to finish it today - it seemed like I kept thinking about how large of a role NASA has played in my life considering I've never worked for them.  I was almost 2-1/2 years old when STS-1 launched in 1981, so I've never known a life without space shuttles.  I certainly remember the day of the Challenger explosion, if not the exact moment it happened.  I loved the movie "Space Camp" growing up because it was so cool and the character Tish always made me laugh (good old Kelly Preston!).  Even "Flight of the Navigator" was awesome in my book.  I grew up near Vandenberg Air Force Base where they launch rockets from time to time.  I wanted to be the first woman on the moon!  By the time Columbia didn't make it home in 2003 I was already resigned to the fact that I would never get a ride.

Even through college I typically had one wall of my room dedicated to NASA posters and my collection of mission patches is embarrassingly large.  So why did I go into structural engineering instead of astronautics?  I'm not sure, really.  Maybe it was my high school physics teacher being an idiot and my drafting teacher guiding me more towards structures.  Maybe it was my lack of desire to get a master's degree.  Maybe it was my husband voicing his nervousness over ever seeing me out on the launch platform and having to watch.  Either way, I realized a while ago that even if I had taken the proper track to become an astronaut, the shuttle program was going to end before I would have a chance to ride it.  I used to joke that I could still get into the space program as a structural engineer because someone needed to build the structures on the moon, but the moon seems to be out of reach as well.

My last hope?  The entry on my bucket list to watch a space shuttle launch from Kennedy Space Center.  I got to go there in the summer of 1986, but due to the tragedy in January of that year, the possibility of seeing a launch wasn't even on the radar.  There are only two launches left on the schedule before the shuttles are retired and the next generation of American space travel isn't ready yet.  I didn't make the #NASATweetUp list for STS-133 in November, but I still have one last hope to be in a position to watch STS-134 in February of 2011.  A girl can dream.
 
 
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I'm not sure who had more fun last night - the crowd or the performers!

Either way, w00tstock 2.0 in Seattle last night was oh, so very awesome!  I had taken Marty to a Mythbusters night last year which he enjoyed, so I coaxed him into going with the promise that Adam Savage (@donttrythis) would at least be someone he would enjoy.  Turns out, he enjoyed a lot more than that.  AND Adam showed Marty's favorite video clip of all time - a drunken Adam running on (and falling off) a treadmill in super slow motion.

Wil Wheaton's (@wilw) reading was awesome - I always enjoy hearing authors read their own stuff, you get so much more of the depth of the writing.  All of his other various appearances throughout the night were very fun as well.  Trolololo, anyone?

Stephen Toulouse (@stepto) - HILARIOUS!  The only thing missing was them hitting themselves in the head with tablets as they left the stage a la Holy Grail.  That's all I'm going to say - the rest you'll have to watch on YouTube.

Adam was great and the behind the scenes Mythbusters stuff was priceless! - video

Paul and Storm (@paulandstorm) did a great set to end the night.  After having performed "Opening Band" to start the show, they did "Mother's Day Song", "Frogger! The Frogger the Musical", "Nugget Man", "Nun Fight", and (of course!) "The Captain's Wife's Lament" with Wil and Adam joining them on stage.  Arr!

Their reactionary tweets have been fun to read - I need to go back and compile them before they start getting all excited about doing Portland tonight and I get too jealous.
 
 
Now that geek culture is more mainstream, does that mean that geeks growing up are more mainstream?  Having grown up amongst geeks as "fringe" kids, it doesn't make sense to me now that just because it's cooler to be a geek as an adult, it's any easier to be one as a kid.  Socially awkward doesn't change just because people are more aware of it now.

One example: shows like Big Bang Theory make it cool to understand geek references (like D&D or Magic: The Gathering).  But back to my question - does having a sense of humor about what makes geeks so endearing hold true in the middle school set?  Not sure how to ask my 6th grade daughter that without it being an overly loaded question.  Maybe people laugh with geeks more than at them now?

If there had been w00tstock back in 1987, would it have been as popular as it is now?  ComicCon (San Diego) has exploded in recent years as Hollywood realizes there is money to be made from the geek tribe.  Does having a larger circle of acceptance via the internet help give confidence and hope to geeks everywhere?  And if geeks are more mainstream growing up through the truly awkward times of life, then who is in the fringe group now?  I want to make sure I put my money on them for being cool in 15 years.

And then I realize that geeks being cool is probably a matter of perspective and it's just me thinking it's that way rather than any sort of cultural fact.  *facepalm*