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.

Mars One: Round Two

On December 30th, 2013 Mars One announced they had sent letters to the 1058 candidates that had moved on to Round 2 of their selection process. Since it was the holidays I had been ignoring my email to a large extent and learned the letters had been sent from the news. I have been chosen to move on to Round 2. I keep checking the email everytime I tell someone to make sure I read it correctly. I’ve made the shortlist of Martian Candidates.

I’ve been following Martian missions for years. I’ve been watching the aerospace industry with eager eyes and bookmarking US company job boards. Now, I feel like I have my foot in the door. I’ve got some momentum. It’s a good feeling. December 30th also happens to be my birthday; probably the best present I’ve ever gotten. 2014 is off to a great start.

In Red Mars, a novel by Kim Stanley Robinson, the first person on Mars and main character in the novel is born in 1982. While reading the novel, I remember tripping over that year, since that’s the year I was born. Human innovation is in the process of continually changing science fiction into science fact. The first person on Mars may well have been born in 1982.

Mars One Application: Zac Trolley from Meghan Westelmajer on Vimeo.



This morning as I was getting ready for work, I did a double take while passing Sunshine’s enclosure. She hadn’t been eating properly, and was acting odd the last few months. As soon as I saw her, I knew she as dead. I was expecting it to happen, she was an old girl. You wouldn’t think a snake would have an emotional impact on a person’s life like other, more cuddly animals would, but she was a constant in my life for a long time. She will be missed.

I was trying to remember exactly when I picked her up. I had just gotten back from Japan and we had moved to a new city. I wanted a cool pet that I could nonchalantly mention in conversation. “That’s cool… I guess. I’ve got a snake” Thinking back to who I was then; it was a life time ago. Sunshine was the same. She just ate smaller mice back then.


Sunshine, enjoying her name sake in a flower pot.

For a good part of her life, Sunshine lived in a closet. In the space under hanging clothes where most people would keep shoes or boxes, I had a snake tank. A heating pad, lamp and she was set. When I went to college she came with me. We lived in a basement apartment and  money was tight. It wasn’t so bad, because the house had mice and she got fresh from the mouse trap. We lived in a few other basements, her and I. We we on our second mortgage together.

I never really considered what it would be like without her. Best roommate I ever had; didn’t make any noise and never complained when I did. She was always calm and I never had any issues with her. I would never hesitate to let anyone handle her. I don’t even know how many people she served for the first time they ever held a snake. She had a funny temperament. She never moved quick, and would sneak around given the chance. She escaped a dozen times, always to be found in a sock drawer or behind some DVDs. She got into someone’s coat liner one time, I thought it was hilarious. She preferred live food, and made a big fuss when I switched to frozen food. She wouldn’t bother striking at thawed food; she would calmly take the mouse, and eat it slowly with attitude. As if to say “I’m much to dignified to eat this non-fresh garbage”


Sunshine executing a perfect shed.

She wasn’t a special bread, or colorful morph. She was a perfectly normal snake, textbook corn snake. She was my perfectly normal corn snake. After more than 13 years together, she’s not with me anymore. I miss her a lot more than I though I would. I hope she enjoyed her time with me, getting fat on mice and laying under her heat lamp. She made my life better, just by being there.

Spartan Sprint

Yesterday I ran my first Spartan Race. I have done adventure races before, but this one was pretty amazing. (If you aren’t sure what a Spartan Race is, watch this video.) It’s a short race, only 5km. But it had some really challenging obstacles. Ropes, balance beams, climbing walls, barbed wire and spear throwing. Every time you mess up an obstacle, you have to do 30 burpees. I didn’t miss a single one, so zero burpes for me. I beat my buddy who has was better cardio then I do just because I didn’t have any penalties.

That’s the great thing about these races; they equalize the playing field. You may be a great runner, but can to keep it up it knee deep mud? What about crawling, jumping or climbing? Can you focus your self when breathing heavy and make it across a balance beam? These races really challenge you in multiple ways. You have to be able to adapt quickly because you don’t know what the course will be like until you are on it.

A big thanks to Curtis and the guys at 2110 for pre-race training. I clocked in around the 37 minute mark. I’m very proud of that.

My race number after running the Spartan Race

My race number after running the Spartan Race

Cookies Part 1

I love cookies. I want to eat cookies all the time. That course of action would turn me into a diabetic fat guy and no one wants that. I tried to make my own cookies with healthy stuff in them, so I could snack and maintain my girlish figure. They didn’t turn out that great. Here’s what I did.

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup flour
  • 3 cups oats
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 2 cups chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1 scoop of Vega One
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 4 tsp flax seed – 2 tsp oil – 6 tsp water (egg substitute)
  • 2 tsp hemp hearts

I wanted oats and flax and all sorts of fiber protein goodness. There are no eggs because I didn’t have any. The internet said I could use flax, and I was putting that in anyway. Maybe the lack of egg was my problem… The cookies are way too crumbly. They taste great, but I made a baked trail mix, not cookies. It will still make a good at-work snack, but I’ll have to refine it to get it just right.

Trail mix

It was suppose to be cookies… It tastes great.

April was Abs month

In March I went to Vegas for the first time and had a blast. Vegas was everything I thought it was going to be, with a sprinkling of adventure for good measure. However, endless pancakes, cheap street booze and all types of entertainment can take a toll on the body. I wanted to reboot myself and get this old war horse I call a body into some sort of shape other than soft. I decided to name April Abs Month.

The state of my abs early April

The state of my abs early April

During my thirty years, I’ve never really paid attention to what I eat. My parents use to buy me blocks of chocolate for Christmas and I’ve been known to eat family size portions of pasta in one sitting. Not that I really ate poorly, I just didn’t eat that well. The first thing I looked at was my diet. I tried to cut out bread and wheat as much as possible. Lots of veggies and lean meats and no cream sauces. I picked up energy bars, almonds and walnuts for snacks at work instead of eating two lunches. I eat a standalone salad almost every day. On top of that, I’ve been making a breakfast shake. The main ingredient is Vega One, a meal replacement / protein shake. The Vega products in general have been really good at keeping my energy up and helping my push through my workouts.

Abs early May

Abs early May

I get up at 5am to do Insanity, and do a workout at lunch time. No every day, but I’m getting my heart rate up close to 10 times a week. I dropped about 10 lb in a month doing this. My abs still need some work, but I’m pretty happy with their progress. Yesterday I went for a run, something that I haven’t done in a while. I had a huge improvement in time and there was a very noticeable change in my cardio. My goal during my runs has been to keep my pace under 6 min/km. Looks like I can lower that to 5:30 min/km.

  • Feb 18 – 8.0 km Pace 6:10 min/km
  • Mar 29 – 7.01 km Pace 5:45 min/km
  • May 2 – 8.02 km Pace 5:23 min/km

Now the real training begins. I’ve got another month of Insanity, then it’s full on training for the Spartan Race. I’m going to murder that course.