I work at the Ames Research Center, a NASA base co-located with the Moffett Federal Airfield (up until 1993 it was the Moffett Naval Air Station, but what with the end of the Cold War <1>, shrinking military budgets, base closures & whatnot, the Navy left). There's still a token military presence here, with elements representing all five branches; although the place is administratively under NASA control, their territory is to the west where the big wind tunnels are, gradually shading as one moves east into military territory where the big airstrip and hangers butt up against the buildings mostly occupied now by the Naval Reserve. (These include a base exchange I as civilian can't use.) Lucky for me there's two gyms available; early on I just used the NASA gym (located under the biggest wind tunnel) which is only open weekdays and requires a doctor's note to use (how hinckey). Its dinky locker room has no sauna. Later I discovered the military gym which occupies a huge cubic building next to the largest airship hanger; my guess is it was once used to store or repair large balloons. But most of that space is now taken up with a regulation basketball court replete with those collapsed wooden bleachers (exactly like my high school's). Other areas off to the sides house weight & aerobic equipment rooms up a flight of stairs, a cramped Nautilus/Universal space on the ground floor and the spacious locker rooms, (the mens, anyway) with a good sauna! They let in anyone with a badge, now.
This morning after running on one of the treadmills up in the aerobics room (my usual two miles) I went down to the corner of the B-ball court where there's a few other machines and a mat, for my dips, pullups & situps. Some mornings one finds the court full of some co-ed military unit doing their PT; since I was a little late this action was in full swing. There's some inherent comedy observable here the likes of which I've not seen since high school or Boy Scouts - picture a group of people being led through push-ups, jumping jacks, etc; there's always some characters on the fringes going through the motions with zero enthusiasm, and if the leader isn't watching they may come to a full stop. Well almost everybody has that attitude in these groups, and it's laughable unless you're concerned about the readiness of our American men (and women) in uniform. Today's leader was a real "Officer And A Gentleman" style DI, too. "I love pushups!" he exclaimed. For a minute or two there, on my way to my post-workout sauna reward, I joined in with the calisthenics (calf exercises, where you're standing and you go up on tippy-toe, then back down, to his count).
At lunch in the cafeteria I spotted the kind of person that I've always fantasized would be an ideal match for me - a non-ugly girl eating alone, reading a science-fiction paperback (Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson). I wonder who she is. I was there an hour later than my usual, perhaps she's there regularly, like me. I sat at the adjacent table and did same - unfortunately I forgot the Winston Churchill I'm currently reading (The Gathering Storm) so I had my backup selection, what I read those rare days (since it's now winter) when I ride my bike to work: Needle In A Timestack, short stories by Robert Silverberg. I tried to stick around, in order to arrange some chance small talk while exiting together, but the vibe I sensed was ignoring me, so I split. I suppose a true Romeo would've done something outlandish, like drop his tray on her whilst standing up or rudely interrupting with a "How's that book you're reading?", but that's just too intrusive & uncool for my taste. Also I could've just waited her out... but this has been a real fun day on the job, updating the web site & using PhotoShop to create the requisite pictures, so I was impatient to return. As I walked back I felt physically righteous from the salady vegetables I just ate - this has been my workday luncheon since the year began and it's definitely "the right thing to do". Perhaps I'll see her again - must come in later more often.
PT - Physical Training
DI - Drill Instructor
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<1>...about which I believe it's incorrect to say the USA "won", rather the other side fragmented & called off the whole thing. When one team doesn't show up, the athletic sticklers among us will claim the other team wins by default, but it's nevertheless a shallow victory, and I don't think the Cold War could really be called a game. But the simple-minded uptight right-wing/fascist/Republican element among us do love to beat that drum & say "We Won!" Yeah, right. Back