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NASA’s adult space camp; A haunted asylum in West Virginia

NASA’s adult space campIf you’re fascinated by space travel, attending camp at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center “will send you into orbit,” said Jane Engle in the Los Angeles Times. The three-day adult academy I attended doesn’t coddle guests: We slept in dorm-like bunk beds at the Huntsville, Ala., facility (spacecamp.com), and we worked almost 12 hours a day as if we were training for a space mission. But we spent much of each day inside mock-ups of a space-shuttle cockpit, NASA mission control, or the International Space Station, taking turns at the various tasks a real space-shuttle crew would have to master. “The physical training was a highlight.” Like real astronauts, we each had to strap ourselves into a strange chair, rigged to the ceiling, that conveys what it’s like to operate in the low-gravity conditions of the moon. I’m “terrible at moonwalking,” I learned, but “it was so much fun that I couldn’t stop laughing.”

A haunted asylum in West VirginiaI finally have a ghost story of my own to tell, said John Searles in The New York Times. The urge to fill that hole was what led me to the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum in Weston, W.Va., a shuttered Gothic structure said to be a “hotbed” of paranormal activity. Studying the facility’s history, “it’s easy to see why”: Built in the mid-19th century, the overcrowded asylum held over 2,000 inmates at a time, many mistreated and a few murdered over the years by peers. I requested a $100 overnight stay, which began with a tour and a guide’s attempt to converse with a ghost who communicates via blinking flashlight. But it was only later, when I’d set up a cot near the lobotomy recovery room, that I heard a sound I couldn’t explain—like something heavy being dragged across a floor. Eventually, our guide led me into an off-limits area where we found a pile of roofing material. The roofing answered all but one question: Who could have moved it?

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