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!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Weekend Updates - RA Retreat

Hello All!  So I know I've been posting a lot of "I've been out of town so I'll give you a quick update and post pictures later" lately, so I'm going to remedy that situation by doing a few "Weekend Updates" with pictures galore!  So, here's the first one about a weekend that seems like it happened eons ago - the EDCO Retreat!  I'm sure you're all wondering what "EDCO" is, so here's a quick overview.

EDCO stands for "Education Counseling" and the course title is "The Process of Paraprofessional Counseling for Young Adults."  This class is required in order to become an RA.  Since I thought I might someday want to become an RA, I decided to take the class and see how it went.  Going into the class, I actually had very little idea about what we would cover in EDCO so I kind of just assumed it would be things useful to an RA like conflict management.  Honestly, the class has turned out to be so much more than just job training for the RA position and has covered so many great life skills.  We've talked about everything from interview skills to general conflict management.  We've also covered crisis counseling and a bunch of different student development theories.  In addition to the class itself, we also attended a 3-day retreat at a campsite in Malibu.  In case you're wondering why all the celebrities go to Malibu, one girl in my class snapped this a few amazing photographs on the way:

It's so beautiful! Unfortunately our camp didn't have a view of the water since we inland in the hills, but we still got to breathe some beautiful ocean air (quite different from the smog called LA air).

We were assigned the color "yellow" and we came up with the theme the "aMAIZEing" yellow team.  It was really quite corny, but it's okay, because we were poppin'! (haha!  okay, so maybe crickets are chirping - we thought it was super clever!)  Here we are acting out our "corny" ways:

And a slightly more normal group picture:

Over the course of the weekend we did tons of diversity and team-building activities and our class really bonded.  Most of the weekend was devoted towards understanding the identities of others and self-discovery.  I've always been interested in getting to know more about other people and understanding where they come from so I really enjoyed the weekend.

On the topic of EDCO, we had our last class this Tuesday (*sniffle*).  I also already had my final for that class (although the finals are continuing this week, I just so happened to have mine on the first day).  Since the class is officially about paraprofessional counseling, our final is a 12 minute counseling session then a 15 minute discussion where we get back our final response logs and discuss how the class was in general.  In addition, our instructor also tells us their opinion of how they've seen us do in the class and the recommendation they will be sending in with our RA application.  For the counseling portion, an "actor" (just a current RA) comes to us with a situation and we are supposed to use our skills to find out more about the situation and help the student work towards a solution.  I was SO nervous going in because counseling someone is such a big responsibility and I had no idea what the scenario was going to be about.  In class we've talked about how to respond to all different kinds of scenarios from trivial roommate conflicts to more serious issues at home and even suicide.  Of course, in my mind I was imagining the worst possible scenario and thinking that I would have no idea how to respond.  It ended up being a more common scenario then the types I was fearing and it actually went really well!

Furthermore, my instructor really encouraged me to apply for the RA position and said she was strongly recommending me.  (yah!)  It was funny when she asked me where I was considering being an RA I mentioned Southside, then she asked me more specifically, "have you considered an academic community?"  I answered, "Yes, I've been considering the WiSE [women in science and engineering] floor" and my instructor responded "oh good!  On your recommendation I wrote 'WiSE' with three exclamation points!"  It made me really happy so see that she also thought that would be a good fit for me and that she was so supportive of my application!

Anywho, we've already started to plan our EDCO reunions.  Mostly though since it's so difficult to get a whole class of 21 people together, we just send each other facebook messages about events and hang out with whoever can show up.  Our first "mini-reunion" was this weekend going to the women's volleyball game.  Surprisingly, I've never actually been to a volleyball game even though I love volleyball and wish that I had played in high school.  But to be quite honest, I've only ever gone to football games and just a couple basketball games.  It's truly sad, I know, given that USC has such amazing sports teams!  Anywho, they were giving out free Shady Peeps at the game Friday night so I had to go!  Shady Peeps are the "Official Sun Glasses of the USC Trojans" and are pretty much all the rage on campus right now.  Check them out by clicking here!  For all my LSU fans out there, you'll be happy to see that Shady Peeps also offers some sick LSU sunglasses (I can't say if they are as popular on LSU's campus as they are at USC though)!  Check them out here!  I was hoping they would have the red frames with yellow lenses, but apparently those are for basketball season so they were passing out the yellow frames with red lenses.  Here's a pic of me looking super fly in my peeps:

The game was really exciting too!  I was so impressed by how well our team worked together and they really set the pace the whole game.  Oregon was constantly scrambling to save points while USC was consistently setting up spikes and getting some pretty awesome kills.

Anywho, that's it for EDCO.  Look forward to more coming up about my weekend at Kim's wedding next!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Big Bear

Hello All!

So, as you know, I spent three weekends in a row off campus (RA Retreat, Wedding, Balls).  Well, I figured I might as well spend a fourth weekend off campus.  I'm already so far behind on homework it can't possibly get any worse right? (ha!)  Well anyway, when my friend invited me and a bunch of other peeps from Rocket Lab to come stay at his cabin in Big Bear for the weekend, I was all for it!  Big Bear Lake, for those of you who don't know, is in the mountains about 100 miles east of L.A.  The elevation is about 7000ft and I can definitely feel the decrease in oxygen (partly because my nasal passages are clogged and partly because being an engineer leaves no time to work out).  We left campus yesterday morning and got to Big Bear around 11am.  We went out on the lake for a while and a bunch of people inner tubed behind the boat (it's like water skiing only in an inner tube).  I personally didn't because not only was the water freezing, but the air temp was also only in the mid-60s!  The people who did go in got out of the water shivering so badly I felt terrible for them.  Anywho, I've taken a bazillion pictures but I'm on a terrible 3g cell data internet connection so I don't want to upload them for fear of destroying the internet.  Whenever I get back to L.A. I'll be sure to upload tons for pictures for you all!