Monday, August 29, 2011

NASA GRAIL Tweetup Media Release



Lafayette, IN Resident is One of 150 Selected to Attend NASA Tweetup for Launch of Twin Lunar-Bound GRAIL Spacecraft Sept. 7 - 8, 2011

NASA Twitter Followers Will Tweet from Kennedy Space Center, Fla.

Lafayette, IN August 29, 2011 - NASA will bring together 150 Twitter followers to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center for a two-day Tweetup, Sept. 7 - 8, 2011, for the launch of twin lunar-bound Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) spacecraft aboard a Delta II rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

Lafayette, IN resident Jonathan Smith has been selected as one of 150 @NASA Twitter followers to attend and Tweet the event. The launch window opens at 8:37 a.m. EDT on Thursday, Sept. 8. The two GRAIL spacecraft will measure the moon’s gravity field from its crust to core and provide scientists with a better understanding of how Earth and other rocky planets in the solar system formed.

As a NASA Tweetup attendee, Smith and the other 149 Twitter users will interact with engineers and scientists from GRAIL and other upcoming NASA missions as well as tour the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. If all goes as scheduled, participants will view the spacecraft launch. In addition, the Tweetup will allow participants to meet other tweeps and members of NASA’s social media team. Attendees were selected through a lottery system in which more than 825 @NASA Twitter followers registered.

“NASA provides a tremendous opportunity to learn about our nation’s Space Program and see a rocket launch up close and personal.” Smith said, “Very few people are allowed this level of access to NASA facilities.”

Smith is the Director of Technology at Faith Ministries in Lafayette, IN and an avid space follower. He has attended several Tweetups including STS-132 and Pilot Day 2011 at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. As a result of attending the STS-132 launch tweetup Smith traveled to Florida and saw the final 3 launches of the shuttle program. Follow his tweets at

NASA Tweetup participants are traveling from across the United States and the globe to attend. View the list of list of registered attendees on the NASA Tweetup Twitter account:

NASA held its first Tweetup on Jan. 21, 2009, at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. NASA’s Tweetup Twitter account is and participants will be using #NASATweetup in their updates while tweeting. Information about NASA Tweetup can be viewed on .

About the GRAIL Mission
The two GRAIL spacecraft will fly in tandem orbits around the moon for several months to measure its gravity field from crust to core. The mission will answer longstanding questions about Earth’s moon and provide scientists with a better understanding of how Earth and other rocky planets in the solar system formed.

GRAIL's lift off is the third of four space missions launching this year under the management of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. Aquarius launched June 10 to study ocean salinity; Juno will launched Aug. 5 to study the origins and interior of Jupiter; and the Mars Science Laboratory/Curiosity rover heads to the Red Planet no earlier than Nov. 25. Visit for additional information about GRAIL.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Big Bang Theory Q&A

By far the most popular posts on my blog are the ones about attending a taping of The Big Bang Theory in March of 2010.  I’ve received many contacts and questions from folks all over the world but I think there are a few things I need to clear up as the 2011-2012 production season gets underway.
  1. The purpose of my blog was strictly for entertainment and information purposes. 
  2. I can’t get you tickets.  It doesn’t work that way.
  3. I can’t get you a job in the US Entertainment industry or in Hollywood. 
  4. If you are lucky enough to get tickets from then follow their instructions and get there as early as you can.  They provide very clear and specific instructions online.
  5. The Big Bang Theory tapes on Tuesdays at Warner Brothers in Burbank, CA.
  6. Don’t plan a trip just to see a TV show taped.  Plan to do other things in case you don’t get in or something happens and the taping schedule is changed.  Remember that guaranteed admission tickets, especially for popular shows are very difficult to get.
  7. I can’t get you tickets.
  8. I can’t get you a job in the US Entertainment industry or in Hollywood
  9. The taping lasts between 4 and 5 hours.  They do provide you with a bottle of water and at our taping each member of the 200 person studio audience got a single slice of pizza from Little Caesars. 
  10. There are no restrooms located at the sound stage so don’t drink a lot before you go as getting to a restroom will cause you to miss a lot of the production.
  11. Leave your cell phone, camera, and anything else in the car as that will dramatically speed up security.  Plan to be unplugged from the world for 4-5 hours.
  12. I can’t get you tickets.
  13. I can’t get you a job in the US Entertainment industry or in Hollywood.
  14. There is no promise that anyone will stick around to sign autographs.  The Big Bang Theory provided us with a program for the episode we saw taped and we did get a few autographs but that is by no means a sure thing.
  15. Have fun, enjoy the process, and remember to laugh.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Importance of Community

Folks in the IT community are often stereotyped as being pocket protector wearing nerds sitting day and night in front of their computer screens and rarely interacting with other human beings.  Unfortunately, this notion is often true and is more detrimental than many IT pros would care to admit.

Let’s face it, we are all busy and have enough job security to last us several lifetime’s so socializing with others who do what we do doesn’t often rise to the top of the priority list.  I personally would rather spend a quiet evening at home than spend time with “friends” out on the town.  That’s how I’m wired so I understand it isn’t easy to make gathering with others a priority.

Granted we are all great at being super independent and solving any problem with just our experience and a few Google searches but often times that is not efficient.  How long do you spend trying to solve a problem on your own before your just call one of your numerous support contracts?

There are 2 groups that I’m a part of from which I’ve reaped numerous benefits.  The first group is the CITRT, the Church Information Technology Round Table.  This is a national group of IT professionals that work for churches and non-profit ministries.  The second group is GLITS, the Greater Lafayette Information Technology Society.  This is a local group of IT professionals that work in and around the greater Lafayette area. 

These communities remind me that I’m not all alone in my struggles with technology but that there are others who are willing and able to help me.  The challenge is that I’m good at taking from these communities and learning from them but I need to get better at sharing with them and giving back.  That happens in person as well as electronically.

Not being a part of these groups also leads to missed opportunities.  I wouldn’t want to miss an opportunity to help those in the community around me because I didn’t want to spend time getting to know them so I could learn about their needs while at the same time they learn about mine.  I recently had the chance to help some local organizations in their use of social media because I was available to learn about the opportunity.  Synergy and not silos also applies to the Information Technology field.

So make a plan to get out and meet those around you who do what you do.  Plan to invest in them and allow them to invest in you.  And if you haven’t been out in the sun in a while then don’t forget the SPF 50.  Oh, leave your pocket protector on your desk.