Thursday, December 1, 2011


Hello All!

Sorry I've been completely MIA lately - I've had a bunch going on what with finishing up the second round of midterms and then Thanksgiving break!  This Thanksgiving I spent my break in Baton Rogue, LA with my family being presented as a debutante by the Baton Rouge assembly!  Of course, most of my readers are my family and were therefore attendants at the ball thus making this statement redundant, but, since this is in fact a blog about my life, I suppose I should say it anyway.

Well, the real point of this blog post was for me to say that I'm currently in the midst of finals week (and should be studying right now since I procrastinated most of the morning).  I already had my hard final, physics, and since I'm not worried about any of my other classes I'm finding it difficult to get motivated to study like I did for physics.  And let me tell you, I studied A LOT for physics.  It paid off though!  My score was 10 points above the average putting me in B+/A- range!  Normally, I wouldn't be excited about anything other than a solid A, but, 1) this is college (and I have gotten two B+s since starting college :( ...) and 2) this is Advanced Physics 2: Electricity and Magnetism (someone please remind me why I chose to be in the honors track??).  Since I did fairly poorly on the midterms (ugh) this grade is really going to help!  This class has been my nemesis all semester and I have put more effort into it than all my other classes combined..and I still haven't done that well.  Part of the problem is that I have a really hard time understanding the material and another part of the problem is that the class is half physics majors and electrical engineers to whom "imaginary currents" actually mean something.  I mean honestly, what's the point of solving for the "imaginary current" if it isn't real?!  The mechanical engineer in me just wants to say: "Screw this! Give me an gosh multimeter and I'll tell you what the current is."  This class has been so theoretical and abstract it makes me want to scream.  Sorry dad - if you still harbored any hopes of me "seeing the light" and switching to electrical engineering, they have been ruthlessly dashed against the rocks by this class.

But, enough complaining about physics.  The rest of my classes have been going fairly well in spite of having horrible professors.  My statics professor was truly the worst professor I have ever had in my life.  He was a new part-time lecturer that the department brought on since the number of students has increased greatly over the past 10 years but the number of faculty members has remained fairly constant and there aren't enough professors to teach classes.  Not only did he speak so softly in a lecture hall filled with 70 people (ha! you mean the 20 who were stupid enough to show up) that not even the people in the front could hear him, he also never prepared lectures so he would consistently make mistakes on sample problems during class.  Furthermore, he changed the syllabus SEVEN times.  I have the emails he sent with "new syllabus attached" to prove it.  He never gave warning during class that he was planning on changing the syllabus nor did he ever explain why.  He changed the grading scale so that the in-class quizzes count for more than both midterms combined.  Normally, this wouldn't be a problem except for the fact that the quizzes he gave were insanely random.  They were either ridiculously easy or impossibly hard.  Once, he changed a homework assignment that was due to be turned in on Tuesday the Monday night before it was due.  And, as if that wasn't enough, he clearly did not enjoy teaching and openly expressed dislike for his students.  One day he accused all of the students of "cheating" because many people were using Cramster (a website that posts solutions to various textbooks, mostly engineering and technical sciences) to do the homework problems.  Clearly he didn't realize the answers to both the even and odd problems were in the back of the book anyway.  Statics has honestly been the worst learning experience I have ever had in my life including second grade when I had a horrible teacher.  The professor even tried to get away with not giving course evaluations at the end of the semester but one of my friends went and complained to the department adviser who organized for course evaluations to be administered after the end of classes.  I was honestly surprised (and pleased) at how many students showed up to express their anger since it was a Friday afternoon and not during class time.  Thankfully though, my sources in the department have told me that the chair, Dr. Spedding, has been dealing with the situation personally (he had a meeting with the professor midway through the semester after receiving several emails from students) and that this particular professor will no longer be teaching at USC.  Good riddance to you sir!

So, now that I have successfully ranted about my statics professor, I would rant about my math professor, but I think that would be too much anger for one post.  So, instead I will say that I did actually have a really good professor for Thermodynamics and because of him found the class very interesting.  Anywho, I have a ton of pictures and stuff that I should post up here so next time I need a study break I'll start updating this here bloggeroo!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Weekend Update - Big Bear

Finally another weekend update!  This time it's Big Bear!  So, one of my friend's family owns a cabin in Big Bear.  Big Bear is home to a ski resort in the winter and all sorts of water sports on Big Bear Lake during the summer.  We went fairly late in the season but we still decided to brave the water and go out in the boat.  Anyway, we had a really fun and relaxing weekend just hanging out, joking around and watching movies.  And of course, I took a bunch of pictures.

We spent some time playing darts - clearly we weren't that good...

Oops... haha

Thankfully there were already plenty of holes in the wall before we got there so I didn't feel too bad.

And of course, some pictures from inner tubing!  I can't believe they actually got in the water! The air wasn't too cold, just a little chilly around 60 degrees, but the water was FREEZING!  I can't imagine how cold it must have been getting out of the freezing water into the chilly air!  And then, riding in the boat with all the wind from the boat!  Seriously cray cray.  Here's a few highlights:

It was so beautiful out there!  And the air was nice and clear and free of smog.

Overall it was a great weekend!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Design Tweaks

Hey Everyone!  I've been messing around with the design a little bit.  Let me know what you think in the comments!  Also - see over to the right how you can "follow" my blog?  Please do that!  Motivate me to keep posting by showing me that you're still reading!  Do you have any questions?  Anything that I don't talk about that you want to know more about?  Write me comments and I will answer them in my next post!  I promise!

Weekend Update - Kim's Wedding

Hello All!  Here's another weekend update for you - this time about my trip to Pennsylvania for Kim's Wedding!

The weekend of September 24 I had the pleasure of getting to attend my longtime friend, Kimmerly's wedding!  Kim and I first became friends back in the good 'ole days when we were ice skating in Dallas together (crazy right?)  It's crazy how it seems like skating happened in some weird previous life I had because my life is so different now (cue trip-like experience just thinking about it).

Kim's family graciously invited us to stay at their house for the weekend which turned out to be so much fun!  I got to spend a lot of time catching up (it's amazing how much you miss in ohh, 6 years?) and getting to know some of Kim's friends.  The day of the wedding Mom and I got our hair done with the rest of the wedding party which was quite fun!

I had an awesome bun-look while mom had a vintage forties look going.  They both looked great!

Anywho, their wedding took place outdoors at an idyllic campground near Fombell, PA with a beautiful view of the expansive countryside.  They did an amazing job selecting the decorations to fit the season and to match the wedding to their personality.  Since photos say a thousand words, I'll stop trying to describe everything and just post some pictures.

Mother of the bride walked down the aisle by her two sons:

Groom.  Maybe a little nervous?  Happy?

Adorable flower girls and ring bearer!

Beautiful bride walking down the aisle with her father:

Saying bye to daddy (cue tears)

The groomsmen wore hunting boots!  They also had on camouflage vests on underneath their tuxes!  It really made the wedding fit the outdoorsy side of the bride and groom.

The flowergirl's camo converses sneaking out under her dress!

And I did a reading!  Funny story actually - I put my reading under the podium thinking I'd be reading there. Then I realized that's where the presider was and uhm, I would be reading from the music stand.  Oops.  Right before my reading, I did a sneak attack up to the podium behind the bride/groom/presider and super sneakily made it to where I was actually supposed to read from.  No one noticed right? (ha!)

First kiss as husband and wife!

Look at how happy my parents are!  They must be remembering their wedding!

The cake:

The groom's cake (appropriately hunting themed)

First dance!

Cutting the cake:

And finally some reception fun!  Mom, dad and I with the bride and her parents.

Mom and dad have been taking ballroom dancing lessons!  They got out on the dance floor and really rocked the reception! (and looked super presh)

Daddy and I danced together too!  Apparently he wasn't ready for this picture haha

The dollar dance!

Father of the bride and the groom?  Alright, I'm not going to judge! haha

And a nice family shot!

As you can see, it was a really great wedding!  The ceremony itself was beautiful and the reception was so much fun!  Now it won't be long till I'm getting married!  HA, JK, I'm going to grad school!  It'll be at least 10 years till my parents have to worry about marrying me off.  Anywho, that's it for Kim's wedding.  Next up - Balls!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Weekend Update - BALLS! (the rocket launch)

Hello All!  As promised, I'm chugging along at uploading photos!  So - here's my post about Balls!

Unfortunately, we didn't get to launch Traveler since we didn't get the necessary FAA waiver.  However, we did get some valuable avionics testing done.  And, best of all, Daddy was there to help out!  In a super last-minute decision, dad decided to forgo LSU homecoming (the game time-change really threw a lot of plans out of whack), fly to Reno, and drive out to the desert to see Traveler!  It turned out to be awesome having dad there because he helped us with all of our set up since he has so much more experience with radios and antennas than we do.  We also exposed some shortcomings in our system which was definitely good to know.  For instance, one of our commercial systems that we are using for avionics we had connected to the battery pack without a voltage regulator unintentionally frying the electronics (oops).  Thankfully though, this was a mistake we made turning a testing weekend instead of a launch weekend.  We also learned how to properly set up all the antennas and gained experience communicating via radio.  Since there is no cell phone service on the playa, this is one situation in which ham radio is really the only way you can communicate (and I'm not just saying this to make dad happy!).

Another unique thing about this year's Balls was the number of parents who attended!  Dad definitely wasn't the only one who wanted to see Traveler!  In total, we had one mom and four dads in attendance.  Normally, Saturday night we would go into Gerlach to get dinner at Bruno's (pretty much the only restaurant within 50 miles of the launch site) but instead this year Matt's parents (super pro-USC tailgaters) brought out their tailgating gear and cooked us dinner on the playa!

As always, Balls was so much fun and watching all the other launches was as exciting as ever.  In case you're wondering what kind of high power rocket launches happen at balls, check out this video of the Qu8k rocket which was launching for the Carmack prize.

So yeah, there's some pretty serious stuff happening at Balls!  Unfortunately, this launch happened on Friday and we didn't get there until late Friday night so we missed the launch.  We got to see some other awesome launches though.  Most notably, MIT's pathetic Carmack attempt.  It was seriously hilarious.  They decided to make a 3 stage rocket (I mean seriously, who does that?  Oh right, people trying to put satellites into orbit.  3 stage is completely ridiculous for reaching 100,000 ft).  Anyway, their first stage fired nicely, then their second stage fired horizontally, then their third stage fired itself back into the ground (hahaha).  We were all pissed off though because the reason we didn't get the FAA waiver is because our dispersion pattern covered too large of an area (we're expecting our rocket to land somewhere within a 50 mile radius from where we launch it) but a 3 stage rocket like MIT's has a crazy huge dispersion area.  The only reason MIT didn't have to apply for a waiver is because they were under the standard 150,000ft Balls waiver.  It's okay though, Rocket Lab definitely learned a lot about how to work through the bureaucracy and when we are ready to apply for our next wavier the process should go much more smoothly.

Getting ready to drive Traveler out to the desert:

Our set up!

The desert view.  I wish I had a nice camera and tripod set up so I could get a good shot of the night sky.  It's one of the most beautiful views of the sky in the world.  It would be amazing to get a time-lapse photo of the moon traveling across the sky - it's one of those things that you just don't really get to see when you live in the city!

We put a Traveler golf cover on Traveler! haha

The avionics team!  Left to right, me, Martin, Miles, Quincy, and Aaron.

Standing with the 900MHz receiver.

Getting Traveler set up in the launch tower.  That was another one of the useful things we got practice with - setting up the launch tower.  After welding over a ton (the literal ton - 2000lbs!) of steel in the lab - this was our first actual set up of the launch tower.

The avionics test team.  We went up to one of the hills to try and get a better location for receiving signals.  I'm inside the car working the laptop for receiving packets while Megan, Matt and Vivian are outside with the antenna.

Unfortunately, a huge dust storm hit right as we were heading out to do the avionics testing.  As we were driving out to the hills, we ended up having to drive straight through it and spent about half an hour at a complete loss of all radio contact.  On top of that, it was near white-out condition and we could hardly see 10 feet ahead of us!  It was definitely scary conditions to be driving in.  I was glad dad was at the wheel!  Once we finally got out of the storm and up on a hill, we snapped this shot of the launch site.

When we finally got back to the campsite, the effects of the dust storm were clearly visible.

That didn't stop us from getting the traditional group shot though! (For scaling - remember that I am 6ft tall!)

Dad and I with the launch tower

One of the best parts of Balls is burning off extra propellant!  Here I am holding a piece about to toss it into the fire.

It looks so pretty when it burns!

Great shot of Daddy and I out on the playa before heading home!

Anywho, that's it for Balls!  Next up - Big Bear!