Thanks & Shares

Dear readers, the gringa would like to share the news that my dear reader, Xena, of the blog “We Hold These Truths To Be Self Evident” has nominated the gringa for a peer award known as the Versatile Blogger Award. The gringa is very honored by this touching acknowledgement of my blogging efforts. Thank you so much, Xena, you have no idea what this means to me and the incredible timeliness of your generosity.

As a peer award it is designed to inspire reciprocal support among bloggers. Sometimes writing for the sheer joy of writing or to promote a worthy cause is a labor of love that goes financially uncompensated. However, the gringa feels that the compensation of recognition to be of greater value and significance. I am incredibly grateful. Such a thing couldn’t have come at a more critical moment in my life as a blogger.

The gringa’s dear caveman has been recovering from surgery. It will be some time before he can go back to work and even then it will be light duty only. This has meant the gringa has had to devote more time to earning dollars with words. In moments of weakness the demands on my time have made me consider the possibility of skipping a post from time to time. I would stiffen my spine and stay the course. Now I know I made the right decision.

When the gringa checked her notifications and saw the message from Xena, the caveman and I were at a family function after a particularly difficult 2-3 days during his recovery. We were both terribly drained. The gringa burst into tears, too exhausted to care about composure, when I read the message. Glasses of wine and beer were raised all round when everyone realized they were tears of joy!

The conditions of the award require that I share some personal things about myself as well as nominate 15 other bloggers. So, although the gringa’s dear readers know plenty of personal stuff about me because I am quite the blabber mouth, here are 7 more gems:

  1. While camping with my grandparents when I was 5 years old, I caught my face on fire  with a flaming marshmallow, an omen of the mishaps and mayhem which would be my personal trademark in life.
  2. 5 years later I broke my arm, my nose and my chin (yes, my chin) when I escaped solitary confinement at my grandparent’s house one summer by stealing a bike and going off on adventures, not knowing the bike had no brakes and getting back home to grandma’s house was all downhill.
  3. I had a boulder the size of an old Selectric II typewriter kicked off a cliff that landed on my head & knocked me unconscious when I was rock-climbing with friends. Luckily I had adhered to other safety measures & was lowered to safety by my trusty harness (too bad about the helmet I opted out of because of my ponytail). I was lucky to survive the resulting concussion as I threw up on and off for the 3 days it took to hike back to civilization.
  4. I broke my breastbone playing paintball when I fell in a 3-4’ deep ditch hidden by tall prairie grasses, landing with the butt of my gun’s air bottle rammed into my chest. I lay there for about an hour thinking I was going to die until my teammates finally found me.
  5. I got a black eye flipping the mattress when it bounced up and the corner caught me in the eye. No one at work believed me and thought the caveman had socked me one.
  6. I decided to give my oldest son a lesson in responsibility by teaching him to change the oil in his car despite the fact that I had never done it (we were trusting YouTube). I had a claustrophobic freak-out under his truck and he had to drag me out by my heels. Who knew staring at the undercarriage of a vehicle could be so scary? Mechanics are freakin’ superheroes!
  7. Twice I traveled outside the country on a whim when invited by people I hardly knew. Contrary to popular opinion formed by popular crime shows about such a thing, the gringa didn’t end up murdered. Instead I had life-changing experiences that changed me for the better through the amazing people I met and the incredible things I learned. So, despite traditional wisdom, I have always talked to strangers and sometimes travel to strange places with them. And if there are such things as Guardian Angels, mine should get an award as well for all the demands my shenanigans must create.

The nominees I have selected have all been dear to the gringa in one way or another. Although all the gringa’s dear readers are loyal and supportive, there are those who offer curious comments that amuse me or pique my interest. Some I admire for their own unique talents. Then there are those whose words tend to describe something I feel or have experienced, creating a strong personal connection. I especially find joy in bloggers who have a passion for a cause that touches my heart. The gringa hates to leave anyone out and wishes it were allowed to nominate every blogger I appreciate. So, I am so sorry if your name is not on the list. Please don’t feel bad. You are still appreciated. Anyone who gives the gringa the time of day by perusing my words is a person I am truly grateful for.

  1. Writings From My 14th Country
  2. Barsetshire Diaries
  3. Flying Solo: Confessions of a self-published author
  4. Opher’s World
  5. Random Life Thoughts
  6. Susan on the Soapbox
  7. Philatelie et Collections du Jacquemard
  8. Leonard Durso
  9. First Night Design
  10. Croatia, the War, and the Future
  11. Believe in Yourself
  12. Paul Militaru
  13. Send Sunshine
  14. Read Between the Minds
  15. I didn’t have my glasses on

Click on the link for more info on the VBA


NASA Needs You!

Do you love anything that flies? Are you also a person who can organize and plan just about anything that, to others, seems a chaotic mess? Then NASA needs you.

Perhaps you like robots. Perhaps you like robots so much you’ve even stepped up your game and have built a few. Maybe you’ve got some big ideas and spectacular dreams but don’t know what to do with them. Well, NASA needs you.

Do you enjoy go-carts? Ever driven them? Worked on them? Built one? Did you enjoy all that tinkering? NASA needs you!

Are you a computer geek? Do you fantasize about putting all that keyboard pecking to use for the future of all humanity? I’m tellin’ you, NASA needs you!

Do you stargaze, with or without a telescope? NASA needs you!

NASA has all sorts of active challenges. These are opportunities for the general public to show the space agency just what they’ve got! Here’s your chance! You’re big break! If you have a crazy lab or workshop that you escape to where you invent all sorts of weird gadgets, you simply must read on because the gringa has got a treat prepared just for you! (Or a friend of yours, you can always pass the info along!)

Listed below are just a few of the current active challenges NASA has extended to the general public. Click on the links and explore NASA’s website if any of these challenges appeal to you!

  • “Sky For All: Air Mobility for 2035 and Beyond”. Develop ideas and technologies for the airspace of the future. Solve problems of air traffic management that will be dealing with crowded skies way beyond what we have today. Consider in your designs autonomous operations and cyber security. As a design for the future, twenty years from now it will not just be commercial airlines in the air. There will also be personal air vehicles, unmanned aircraft (drones), spacecraft and even stationary objects (such as wind turbines).

Future expectations is that air traffic management systems will be managing more than ten million aircraft in the skies. More than anything, this project is about public safety and also plans for poor weather conditions.

This challenge has a payout of $15,000 for the winning design. It is administered by HeroX and sponsored by NASA’s Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate (ARMD). Registration officially opens December 21 and submission deadline is February 26, 2016.

  • “Swarmathon” Challenge is a robotics competition scheduled for April 18-22, 2016, at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. There are openings for 35 on-site teams and 23 virtual teams. The goal is to create cooperative robots that can operate autonomously on Mars.
  • “Human Exploration Rover” Challenge is open for student teams. It is organized by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. International team deadline is January 11, 2016. U.S. team registration deadline is February 8, 2016. The competition will take place April 7-9, 2016 at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Alabama. High school age and college age students are eligible to compete. They are to design, build and drive a human-powered rover that will navigate an obstacle course that will simulate the terrain of Mars. Interested U.S. students should contact Diedra Williams, (256) 544-5721, or send her an email at International students that are interested should contact Amy McDowell, (256) 544-8411, or send her an email at For more information, visit
  • “Sample Return Robot” Challenge wants innovators to build robots that can operate independently to locate, identify and collect samples, and return them to a location without the need of GPS or other navigation aids, within a specific time. This challenge is sponsored by Centennial Challenges Program. It awards $1.39 million dollars to the winning design. This is an ongoing annual challenge. Registration closes every January until this challenge is won. Level 1 Competition is scheduled for June, 2016 and Level 2 for September, 2016. For more info visit and also visit
  • “Enterprise Search Engine” Challenge seeks to improve search capabilities of its new search engine. The challenge awards $50,200 to the winning design. This specific search engine targets the day to day data gathering requirements of NASA employees. The challenge wants the design to enhance filtering, geolocation, content and imagery, among other things. This challenge closes February 10, 2016. For more information, visit
  • “” Challenge is for stargazers who enjoy the challenge of finding the aurora and helping others to see it, too. This challenge is sponsored by the National Science Foundation INSPIRE program. Awards are available and monthly badges can be earned. This is an ongoing challenge that is scheduled to be open indefinitely. There is no limit to participation. For more information, visit

These are not the only challenges that are going on right now. NASA is always updating their website with new challenges. Visit to see what is currently happening. If any of this kind of stuff interests you, get involved. Some of these challenges, like the Aurorasaurus challenge, are great family projects. All you need is time and a willingness to sit out under the stars with your loved ones. And that is a challenge the gringa can most certainly win!


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