Let’s Talk About Spaceships Tonight with SpaceUp Houston

SpaceUp HoustonEveryone here at Schipul loves hi-tech, geeky things like robots, iphones, and rockets.  That’s why we are super excited and honored to be helping SpaceUp Houston with tonight’s Commercial Spaceflight Panel where I will be helping as a volunteer in my usual tasmanian devil fashion, (imagine the whirling dust devil everywhere at once).

SpaceUp Houston  provides an engagement platform to nuture new and radical concepts, help develop partnerships, and wants to help you create a future worth living in.

Their next event is tonight, August 18th and features a Commercial Spaceflight Panel with representatives from several aerospace companies including Virgin Galactic, XCOR, Armadillo Aerospace, Boeing, Sierra Nevada Corporation, and United Launce Alliance.  These companies will be talking about their company’s objectives and where they currently stand timeline-wise for spaceflight projects, research and employment opportunities, commercial crew and their barriers to success, and other related topics.

The panel will be held from 7PM to 9PM tonight at the Lunar Planetary Institute in Clear Lake, TX near Johnson Space Center.  Tickets for the commercial spaceflight panel are sold out and luckily, SpaceUp Houston has arranged to live stream the evening’s discussion.

After the panel, the audience will be invited to meet the panel members and mingle in the main lobby until 9:45pm.

Come join us tonight on SpaceUp Houston’s uStream  and I’ll be the one behind the uStream chat so say Hi and let me know what questions to ask our panelists!

Tweets in Space – NASA Promotes the Final Shuttle Launch Online!

Final NASA shuttle launch

This Friday July 8th marks a historic moment in both U.S. History and the story of Humanity when the Space Shuttle Atlantis launches to carry supplies to the ISS-Station in orbit around Earth. NASA’s space shuttle program will conclude with mission STS-135.

I am super excited to have the opportunity to view the launch from Kennedy Space Center Friday morning. For those of you who cannot make the trip – there are a number of awesome online outlets including twitter, NASA TV, Facebook and more to hear updates, watch the countdown and launch, and hear directly from the astronauts as they prepare to launch into space.

Follow the launch on Twitter!

First, if you are relatively new to twitter or want a quick refresher course, check out Schipul’s Twitter Speak Help File.

Next, here are just a few of the official NASA twitter accounts to follow:
@NASA – official NASA twitter account
@NASAtweetup – official “tweetup” account for NASA
@NASA_Astronauts – NASA twitter account that retweets all of the astronauts tweets

The four Astronauts that will be flying Atlantis for STS-135 each have twitter accounts as well and have been tweeting actively about their mission preparations and thoughts. You can follow them in the “Twitter-verse” here:
Christopher Ferguson: @Astro_Ferg
Douglas Hurley: @Astro_Doug
Sandy Magnus: @Astro_Sandy
Rex J Walheim: @Astro_Rex

Hashtags to follow on twitter: #NASATweetup and #STS135

Other NASA-friendly social networks to follow

If you want more than just 140 character updates, you can head to NASA Connect to find dozens of other official NASA social networking sites including the official NASA Facebook Page, and NASA Headquarters Flickr account including a collection devoted to the Space Shuttle program as well as many other social sites.

Then, on Friday morning watch the shuttle launch live online on NASA TV. The launch is currently scheduled for 11:28 AM EST. That’s 10:28 AM CST for those of you in Houston and 8:28 AM PST for all of you in California.

Finally, I want to include a couple of great non-NASA organizations that will be tweeting and uploading photos and video from the launch site in Florida too. Both of these organizations are focused on sharing the excitement of space exploration and all things space with others and are extremely active on the web.

The Space Tweep Society is an organization whose mission is to connect those inside the space industry with those on the outside looking in and generate enthusiasm for all things space. You can find the Space Tweep’s on twitter, Facebook, and Flickr.

SpaceUp is a new organization that hosts “un-conferences” focused on space-related topics all over the country including Houston, Los Angeles, San Diego, Washington DC and Minneapolis. You will find a number of organizers and volunteers from the different SpaceUp cities in Florida this week for STS-135.

Want a play-by-play?   You can follow me on twitter: @SarahMWorthy as I tweet throughout the events leading up to the launch with all the other Space Geeks.

Before the launch, I urge you to go check out TEDxNASA in Silicon Valley and register for FREE if you can attend. This official TEDx event will be August 17th, 2011 in San Francisco, California. I was honored to attend the recent TEDx Houston event last month and definitely want to see all of you at TEDxNASA if you can make the trip to San Francisco next month!

Great launch photo up top thanks to Flickr user Stuck in Customs

Quack! Ducks race for non-profits

This past Sunday marked the 4th Annual Silicon Valley Duck Race. It’s a fun event held in Vasona Lake Park in Los Gatos, CA where attendees get to sponsor an iconic rubber ducky as it floats down the lake. Ducks are sponsored for $5 a piece, and sponsors can win great prizes if their duck is picked across the finish line – anything from a Tahoe vacation to a gardening gift basket. There’s even a chance to win a million dollars! Sadly, none of my ducks were the lucky millionaire ones. That’s why I’m still here to write you this blog post.

The Silicon Valley Duck Race is not just an opportunity to have fun, it’s also a chance to do good. The event is coordinated on by the JewishFamily Services of Silicon Valley, but benefits a total of seventeen different non-profits and charities in the area. Typically the race sells out and all 15,000 ducks in the race are sponsored before start, but this year sales were sluggish. Leading up to race day only about 11,000 had been sold – a strong showing but another example for non-profits how overall giving is down. Media attention surrounding the low sales plus a gorgeous Sunday led to a last-minute push for a total of 13,502 ducks sponsored.

This ducky is usually on top of the San Jose Children's Discovery Museum

It was my first time at the duck race, and I really enjoyed it! I was most surprised to see the giant duck that resides at the top of the San Jose Children’s Discovery Museum down at ground level. When I was first exploring downtown San Jose, I noticed this giant duck on top of a building and couldn’t imagine what for. Then it dawned on me – that had to be the Children’s Museum! It was really cool to see it up close. The duck race was such a fun event, and made all the better by the non-profit support. Plus a day in the California sunshine didn’t hurt either. I’m already looking forward to next year! Photos  from the Silicon Valley Duck Race are online at Schipul.com and you can watch the duck launch too!

Doing Good for March Madness

UPDATE: Congrats to JMO on reigning victorious over the March Madness magic.   We donated $500 to the American Red Cross for Japan relief efforts in his honor.

Today is the start of March Madness. In the world of Schipul, it’s my general duty to manage the office pool. As the Twittersphere started warming up for March Madness, I came across this tweet from a former Schipulite:

I pasted it, and sent it to Ed. The subject, Dear Ed, the body, Just sayin’ ;). He liked the idea, but not the reward. Instead, the Schipulites will be putting their brackets on the line for the opportunity to donate $500 to the relief effort in Japan. (and an Apple gift card, natch!)

The Final Four is kinda special for me this year, as my hometown is playing host. I’m excited that my picks this year may do more good than ever before. Good luck to all, wherever and however you play. However, if you do win a big office pool, do consider donating some, if not all, of it back to Japan.

Sports Stadium or Art Gallery?

When you hear the name Jerry Jones, owner of the Dallas Cowboys, the last person you’d associate with him is Dominique de Menil, founder of The Menil Collection in Houston, Texas. However, you will be surprised to find they are much closer than you think.

There is an article in this month’s Texas Monthly titled Paint by Numbers that takes an in depth look at one of the most ambitious contemporary arts collections recently brought together in the State of Texas. What makes this collection unique is this “gallery” just hosted the Super Bowl XLV. I am, of course, talking about the new Dallas Cowboys Stadium.

I found the entire article incredibly fascinating. While some will sniff at the idea of the art in the stadium being compared to the frescoes that adorned the vomitoria (click on the link, it’s not what you think) of the Roman  Colosseum, Mr. Jones has recreated the same thing in Arlington, and he’s done so with contemporary art.

For the record, I am not a big fan of Jerry Jones, but I greatly respect what he has done here. It’s a surprisingly forward thinking move from an organization drowning in sponsorship money  from beer and soft drink companies. An NFL franchise as an arts benefactor makes so much sense, it’s hard for me to believe it hasn’t been a higher priority, if not a legislative requirement of publicly funded sports stadiums.

The amount of money pumping through the professional sports leagues is mind boggling, and incredibly hard to swallow at times. The Dallas Cowboys stadium alone carried a price tag of $1.15 BILLION. To see some of this money directed into the arts makes me happy, and hopeful we can see more money pumped into the arts communities of all cities that are home to a professional sports franchise.

At a time when government funding of the arts is in danger of being cut on all levels, it is high time owners of all professional sports franchises try harder to keep up with the Joneses.