Day 108 February 13, 2023 – War Games

The title for today is a slight throwback to my elementary days but it is worth the story. In 1999 long before 9/11 changed how the government and secure sites handled things, I got to attend a 4-day workshop. The workshop was sponsored by NASA and held at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. Nasa was transitioning to more seminars for teachers who would reach more kids. We had everything from elementary teachers to high school teachers. They had sessions spread out over four days. My favorite session was the one called Sex in Space. The leader of the session was a NASA biologist and said that he hooked us in with the title but it was about biology in space including human biology. He did spend some time on the title topic but as an elementary teacher at the time I couldn’t share anything with my students. The one piece that stands out was that there is a patent for a harness for the above-mentioned sex in space. Another fun story from the days was that NASA had spent millions of dollars on developing a pen to work in space. When they started cooperating with the Russians they asked how they use a pen in space. Russian practicality came out when they said, “We just use pencils” and there you have the perfect description of a government project.

On the penultimate day, we had a chance for some tours. I picked one that required an advanced amount of information several weeks before the event. I chose to go into the Cheyenne Mountain Complex housing NORAD. I have always been interested in history and security. Little did I know that this would be a forerunner to my years teaching cybersecurity. As we got into the visitor’s center we had to look for a visitor’s pass in our names. I looked over them extensively but I could not find one with my name. The sergeant came over and asked the two of us that were in that boat and he told us we had different passes. Our s were different colors and we were told we had a higher clearance than the others. I never look a gift horse in the mouth. When we went in we learned about everything from how it was constructed to the water filtration system which is simply percolating through the limestone of the mountain. The best was when we got to see the room with all of the giant screens. In the movie, War Games, it is shown as huge. In reality, the room is just a little larger than my classroom but it does go up several feet to accommodate stacked screens. There is a room off to the side for bigshots to sit but it looks like a normal conference room. It did have an ominous phone and some buttons built into the table. They made sure we didn’t touch them. They were inactive because the President wasn’t there but no sense in making a mistake.