Friday, February 25, 2011

Had a Blast at ERAU

I've been teaching a class at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Yesterday I was pleased to be able to watch Space Shuttle Discovery launch from campus. Why? Because two ERAU alumni were on board. The excitement around campus was palpable. Except for one young man I met.

Waiting for my class to start, I struck up a conversation with an engineering major from California. He was about 20 years old.

"Are you going out to see the shuttle launch?" I asked him.

"No I don't like being around crowds" he said.

Hmmm. I was a little confused by this. Then I realized he thought I meant going to the Cape.

"You know you can see the shuttle go up from here, right?"

Not only did he not know the shuttle was going up (in less than 2 hours), he had never seen a launch and yet he didn't seem real interested.

What self respecting ERAU engineering student doesn't want to see the shuttle go up. That's OK, my students and I - and the rest of the school's faculty and students - were excited enough to make up for him. Especially since I let my classroom of students out early to see it. Any excuse to cut class . .  .

*Photo credit to The Orlando Sentinel

Friday, February 18, 2011

Remembering Dale Earnhardt

This Sunday is the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway. I can hear the cars on the track from my house. Which I don't mind cause it's the sound of money coming into our area.

10 years ago, Dale Earnhardt died in a crash on the last lap of the Daytona 500. I was the Senior Manager of Publicity for Daytona International Speedway and ran all the press rooms at that time. Although I'd worked at the Speedway for 4 years, I had not had much interaction with Earnhardt before that year. Getting an audience with him was akin to getting an audience with the King of NASCAR. But that particular year I had spent quite a bit of time with him because the track had named a grandstand after him and he was running in the Rolex 24 at Daytona for the first time that year (that's me with my back to the camera with Dale and a TV crew in the photo above.)  I won't say he "knew" me because of this. Basically he just recognized me and because he couldn't remember my name he just called me "girly."

I enjoyed working with him that year because he tried to make me feel comfortable when he knew I was obviously nervous being around him. They didn't call him The Intimidator for nothing. It was a privilege working with him and I can honestly say it was one of the most rewarding (and enjoyable) moments in my career.