My Very Own Tesla

I’ve been a Tesla fan since the Roadster was unveiled in 2006. I’ve been an electric car fan since before that, but no one made a good electric car, or one that was easily accessible. I think with Tesla’s current success, the bit automakers are seeing that was a mistake on their part.

Electric is sexy. I should know, I’m an electrical engineer.

Many people push electric because it doesn’t produce exhaust, it’s quieter, it’s better for the environment… But not me. Those are all nice, but I want an electric car because they are better. An AC motor beats a gasoline engine hands down, every time. You know when you press the gas, and your car has to “rev up”? Electric doesn’t do that. You get 100% of the torque as soon as you need it.

No waiting until you are at 3,000 RPM, no turbos, no transmission to shift the torque… Electric gives you the full power of the car when you need it. And Tesla isn’t shy about showing this capability off. Their fastest Model S can go from 0-100km/h in 3 seconds, putting it in super-car territory. It’s that sort of engineering that tickles me where I love to be ticketed. Damn good engineering.

To that end, I got up early on March 31st and headed to the mall at 4:30 AM to line up to buy a car. I was 9th in line as some people had camped overnight to secure their spot. I estimate about 80 people were lined up behind me when the doors opened at 9:30 AM. As it turns out, a few hundred thousand people around the world also lined up to buy a car they had never seen and will have to wait 1.5 years to get.

Doors are open and pre sales for the #model3 are being sold. 80 in line #yyc #model3yyc

A photo posted by Zac Trolley (@zactrolley) on

So, now I play the waiting game. It’s been 8 years waiting for a Tesla model that I could afford, I think I can wait a little more. This time when I play with the online configurations, I won’t be dreaming, I’ll be choosing colors on my dream car.

Mars One Round 3

Today the Mars One Round 3 candidates were selected, and I was not among them.

It was nearly 14 months ago when I was first chosen to be a Mars One candidate; part of the 1058 in Round 1. Since that time my life has changed quite a bit. I’m a much more capable person now, I’ve had experiences that I otherwise would have not done. The past 14 months has been an adventure for me and I’m going to take what I’ve learned and continue that adventure.

Since learning that I was a candidate for the Mars One mission, I’ve spoken to hundreds of adults and thousands of kids about Mars and space exploration. I spent 9 weeks at the International Space University increasing my knowledge about everything space. I’ve gained new skills I’m not about to stop now. While the decision is disappointing, it’s reassuring to have an answer. Now I can fully commit to other endeavours that I was unsure about.

I’ve signed up with the Alberta Science Network and I will continue to talk to people about Mars and space exploration. I have a new job and I will be honing my project engineering skills. I will continue to physically train myself and set ever higher goals.  I will continue to support Mars One and any mission that brings people closer to the surface of Mars and exploring our solar system. 2015 is going to be a busy year and I’m absolutely looking forward to it.

Eating Crickets

I’m a fussy eater. I’ve heard about humans consuming crickets, and I imagine the bug scene from Indiana Jones.. ew… bugs….

But they are really nutritious, high in protein, and have a low ecological footprint. Bugs have also been suggested as a source of protein for space settlements, because getting a cow into a rocketship would be hard.  But the idea of biting into a bug creeps me out. Then I heard about cricket flour, a substitute for flour in regular recipes and I was curious. I’m always looking for ways to get more nutrition into my body, and making my cookies better for me sounds like a fantastic plan. I got a bag of flour as a gift, and I tried it out in a recipe.

IMG_20150118_150032

Nutrition info on cricket flour

My usual recipe calls for 2 cups of flour, so I did one cup crickets, one cup whole wheat flour. Everything went just like making normal cookies.

They turned out really well!

They turned out really well!

They are really good. This first experiment went well, and I’m looking forward to trying more. Getting the most nutrition into each bite is important when you have limited space, like on Mars. I might as well get use to it here on Earth. Getting healthy on the way doesn’t hurt either.

De-Orbiting from Space Camp

It’s been a month since I finished the 9 week course in Montreal with the ISU. Since then it has been a bit of a struggle getting back to my “normal” life. The school calls it de-orbiting and is a common occurrence with participants. Because the schedule, pace and tone of your life for those 9 weeks is so different than what you are use to, coming back to your life can feel very alien. That’s been true for me.

My summer was amazing. I spent it with some of the most amazing and positive people I’ve ever met. Everywhere you turned there was a group of people discussing interesting things, having a drink, laughing and making plans to change the world. We would be up at all hours, trading stories from our countries, comparing experiences, asking questions and literally doing rocket science on napkins. It was immensely inspiring.

Back home in Calgary, things are much the same as when I left. My task now is to take the enthusiasm that I’ve gain over the summer and apply it in my everyday. Take the momentum of the summer and use that to, well, change the world.

Talking about Mars – Coast to Coast

My 32ed year on the planet earth has been very eventful to say the least. On my birthday, Dec 30th, I found out that I had been shortlisted for the Mars One mission to colonize Mars. Since then, I’ve been very busy assimilating that into my day to day on top of everything else that goes on during a normal life. Very early on, I started talking to people about Mars. Mars has been an interest of mine for many years so it wasn’t that difficult. I would much rather tell a story than recite facts and figures and for the first time I got to tell my story about Mars.

I was on twitter talking about going to schools and talking about Mars when the Engineers of New Brunswick invited me to their AGM. Their keynote speaker was talking about Life on Mars and they were kind enough to extend an invitation so I could hear him speak. Being the lead scientist for the Curiosity mission, he had some great information to provide. As well as all the normal questions I had for him, Dr Meyer and myself closed the hospitality bar the last night talking about Mars, science and other stories. It was amazing. I was also able to talk to other engineers about the mission. There were two other Mars One candidates in attendance, so there were many questions between sessions. It was great speaking to my peers about the mission and really solidified my resolve that this was the right course of action. It’s a real litmus test to be able to convey your ideas and convictions to experts and I had a very warm reception on the east coast.

A few weeks later, I was on a plane flying to Vancouver to do a mini speaking tour there. I have some friends there that were able to set up talks at a half dozen elementary schools and two universities. I usually talk for 20 minutes and answer questions for another 20. One day I did this 8 times, and by the end I was exhausted. At the same time I was truly amazed at the enthusiasm for exploration that kids have. Their questions are always more fun to answer. An adult question are usually framed around “what if something goes wrong?” where kids ask questions that sound more like “is it possible?”

In addition to speaking to some 300 people about Mars I was able to catch up with some friends, have a fantastic few nights out and get on a west coast radio station. Being able to spend your day talking about the things you love is the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done.

The week after that I was off to Manitoba to present to a university audience. I had my own timeslot and everything. The Dream Big week had a wide talent of speakers of Professors, students, professionals and myself. Other attendees included the current and past president of the Canadian Space Association, CEOs of aerospace companies and of course the keynote speaker, Neil deGrasse Tyson. This experience was surreal. For the first time I wasn’t going to a place to talk to people, they were coming to me. I had people in the audience with decades more experience and a collection of PhDs asking me about Mars. You can listen to the audio below.

I could not have imagined in 2012 this is what I would be doing in 2014. I love talking about Mars and space exploration. It’s been exhausting and stressful on my mind, body and wallet to travel and organize these events. It’s also been rewarding in ways that makes it all worth it. I can only hope my 33ed turn around the sun will be filled with as much excitement.

Space Studies Program

I’ve been accepted into the International Space University Space Studies Program! I am incredibly excited about it. It’s a 9 week crash course into everything space related. The program aims to solve the ever present problem of “you don’t know what you don’t know”

I get all smiles just thinking about it. The concentration of space geek is going to be amazing! I just have to come up with the funding… space school is not cheap.

Victory Dance

I was reminded last night with in conversation at a restaurant about my Victory Dance. Not that I ever forgot about it, but I was reminded that not many people know about it. I want to work in the Space Sector in some capacity, that’s my dream. For a dream to become a reality, it needs a plan, goals and rewards. A year ago, I bought a bottle of scotch as my victory dance. It’s a bottle of Blue Label.

Blue Lable

The plan is, once I feel that I’m where I want to be, I open this puppy up and share it with those around me. Victory doesn’t happen solo, it takes support from those around you to get where you want to go. It’s a constant reminder that I am not an island, I am capable of great things and my friends and family can help me do great things.

The inscription says “MOVE ZIG!” a reference to the video below. Watch it, FOR GREAT JUSTICE!

Doughnut Rock

No, it’s not a new type of fast food, it’s a rock that mysteriously appeared on the Martian surface right in front of Opportunity. Lucky for me, I have a team of people looking our for me. The folks on the X92.9 morning show left me this voice mail.


This is what the rock looks like.

Mystery Rock

 

No one knows what it is, or what’s it’s doing there. The current theory is that it was kicked up, and we are seeing the side that’s not been exposed to the Martian atmosphere. That tells me that Mars it much more interesting that what the pictures show us. We won’t know for sure unless we go there and check. Even if it is deadly alien bacteria, it’s still really cool.

Mars Interviews Part 2

The interviews keep coming, and I’m more then happy to keep answering questions. I think I’m getting better. Hopefully there are people out there that hear what I have to say and become interested in science, engineering and planetary exploration.

Here’s a link to my x92.9 interview. It was recorded at 6AM and played back during people’s normal commute time.

Here’s the CBC interview I did in the studio! It was the first time I went somewhere to do the interview. I was in the booth, with the microphones and traffic lady and program directors and all sorts of things. It was a lot of fun, but very nerve racking. I’m sure I’ll get the hang of it by the time I make it to Mars.

After the interview, Doug gave away two copies of Mission:Mars that I brought in; hopefully two future Mars colonists are reading up on it now.

Mars Interviews Part 1

I spent a lovely weekend in Banff to celebrate my good friend Meghan‘s birthday. We had some laughs, some drinks and some skull pancakes. Everything you would want in a birthday. I was pretty tired on the drive home, and I had to work on Monday. I was looking forward to some serious downtime before I buttoned up my shirt for work. While I was bringing bags into my place, I got a call from CBC. They wanted to talk about Mars.

I love talking about Mars! Perfect! We had a chat, and he said he would call me back. I jumped in the shower because I was ski bum dirty. We spoke some more, and he said he was going to send a TV crew over to do an interview. I told him that I would put some pants on and clean my dished. My place really was a disaster; Christmas presents, dirty dishes, chocolates and laundry were everywhere. They gave in 30 mins to tidy up.

They were of course professionals. My mess was politely ignored and they cut the footage to make my stammering and wandering conversation less noticeable.

The news report went on TV well after my bed time. The website was up in the AM, and my office was quite excited find out they worked with a celebrity. Well, I emailed them all telling them how lucky they were to work with a celebrity. Same thing. Then I got a tweet from Global News, and they wanted to get some footage as well. The more coverage Mars gets, the better!

The really fun part was bringing the film crew into my office. Had to play it cool, of course. As if I get film crews all the time.

The crazy part, is that I’m news. I know that sounds obvious, but it’s not to me. I mean, I’m aware of all of this, it’s not news to me. I know what’s going on with Mars. When my name came up on my Google news feed, that was a strange feeling. I’m even a searchable tag on the Huffington Post now… all very surreal.