Writing prompt – Blogiversary

NaBloPoMo writing prompt from March 10, 2014:
How has blogging changed your life? Tell us one thing that is different now than from before you started blogging.

On May 19, 1999 I started my first blog. (This was also the release date of “Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace.” Coincidence?) I can hardly believe it’s been fifteen years! To answer the question posed by this writing prompt – what’s NOT different now than it was back then? When I wrote my very first webpage post I was a twenty year old college student, attending summer classes at the University of Florida, with more free time than I knew what to do with. Even though my two classes were pretty intense, considering they each crammed a whole semester’s worth of information into just six weeks, I still had far fewer demands on my time without the rest of the college experience (my sorority, AIAA events, etc.) going on. University campuses are very quiet in the summer, and that was even more pronounced in an otherwise sleepy little town like Gainesville. There were things I liked about it (no crowds and plenty of parking), but I didn’t know what to do with myself in my time off. So I started writing. I’d kept a few paper diaries and journals when I was younger, but they were all short-lived and fairly satisfying. Scribbling away in a notebook that no one was ever going to read seemed like a futile pursuit to me. (But if I ever get ahold of those things again I’m sure I will bust a gut laughing.) Fortunately in the late 90’s the Internet came to my rescue! I’d been dabbling in simple webpage design since starting college, but when my best friend Käthe started an online diary to tell everyone about her exciting life, I had to follow suit (although my life wasn’t nearly as interesting). Publishing my ramblings on the web for anyone to read was exhilarating (although I could count my readers on one hand). I felt free to share my thoughts, uncensored, and let everyone know exactly how I felt about topics and situations I encountered. This is a familiar concept these days with the ever-present nature of Facebook and Twitter, but it was much less common back then. (Maybe I was ahead of my time? Why didn’t I invent a social network?) Fifteen years later, blogging is still my main form of self expression, and even thought I’ve taken breaks every now and then, I’ve really enjoyed it. I definitely won’t be stopping anytime soon.

“In the past I don’t think I have expressed my opinions as freely as I should have. Before now I have felt intimidated by opinionated people and rarely did I oppose them for that reason. Everyone should be able to say what they think, but in a way that does not degrade any particular person for their beliefs.”
5/19/99 diary entry

I have nothing better to write about

“It can be argued that individuals are defined by the people and things they surround themselves with so I think mentioning how I spend my time is important in describing my character. Anyway, I just thought I would justify the recent TV discussion so that you don’t think I have nothing better to write about.”
04/04/01 webpage post

Actually, I do have something better to write about, but I’ve been exceptionally lazy this weekend. Despite spending quality time on my couch catching up on a whole bunch of TV shows, I didn’t strain my brain trying to write anything. Instead I watched “Once Upon a Time” and it’s spinoff “Once Upon a Time in Wonderland” (which ended its single season run this week), “Agents of SHIELD,” “Big Bang Theory,” and “Elementary.” A veritable nerd’s paradise! However, it has come to my attention that I don’t get nearly enough accomplished on weekdays when I get home from work when I park myself in front of the TV so that has to change. Maybe it’s time for a new resolution? For now I’m going to go work on resolution #4 and read a little bit of Allegiant (the third Divergent book) before I go to sleep. Good night everyone!


During the summer of 2000 I worked on the Space Shuttle during my first Boeing internship. It wasn’t the most exciting job I’ve had, but at least I can say I was part of the Shuttle team, even for just a few months. The one assignment I remember the most during that summer was integrating the European Space Agency’s Columbus laboratory into the Shuttle payload bay for transport to the International Space Station. About eight years later, after many trials and tribulations the Columbus was ferried to the ISS as part of STS-122. I wrote about it in December 2007 when the STS-122 launch was postponed and again in February 2008 on the day it finally launched. So when I was at the Kennedy Space Center visitor’s center last month I bought a patch and pin of the STS-122 mission logo. Yep, I worked on that! I was also reminded that it was the Atlantis orbiter that flew that mission, the same one that’s on display at KSC these days (check out my photo). Pretty cool, huh?

When I was twenty

The night before my surgery I read the pamphlet my doctor had given me about all of the preparations I needed to make before I checked in at the hospital. One of the items was to remove all jewelry. I thought that would be no problem because I don’t normally wear that much to begin with, but then I remembered my belly button ring. I got my navel pierced almost fourteen years ago (7/10/99 – Kathe was there holding my hand!) when I was twenty years old, and most of the time I don’t even remember the ring is there. Until the night before my surgery I hadn’t removed it, not even once, in all that time. I didn’t even know how to take the little ring apart. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to! But that night I popped the thing apart, took it out, and threw it away. At this point I don’t know if I’ll replace my navel piercing, but for now I’m leaving it out. Maybe I’m finally growing up? We’ll see!


Back in 2001 when I was at intern at Boeing my roommate was tall, thin, and gorgeous. We didn’t get along at all, but I couldn’t deny that she was attractive. Fortunately we successfully co-existed, mostly because she spent a lot of weekends away at her parent’s house. This may have been the only thing that kept us from killing each other. One weekend when she was gone she had left a pair of jeans on her bed. As interns we lived in two-bedroom corporate apartments that housed four girls each so we had to share a bedroom with someone else. Very dorm-like with the twin beds. But anyway, back to the story. I remember being so jealous of my roommate’s thinness that I decided to try on her jeans and see how far away from fitting in to them I was. So I slipped them on. They were way too long for me because she was about 4 inches taller than me, but other than that I was shocked when they fit! I was sure I wouldn’t be able to button them, but I was wrong! I wore the same size jeans as my skinny roommate! Woohoo! So what did that say about me? I thought I was much larger than she was, but in reality we were about the same size. I had a completely warped mental picture of myself. (In my defense her jeans were a brand that used waist measurement as the size and all of my jeans were from Old Navy which had an almost meaningless even-numbered sizing convention.) Sadly I still have bad body image, even after all these years. It’s just so hard to unlearn after it’s been learned. But I’m working on it, and I probably always will be.

Years past

“When I got outside I wanted to dance and sing and basically make as much noise as possible. There was some kind of exhibition going on in the parking lot so shouting didn’t seem like a viable option with so many people to hear. The only celebrating I indulged in on the way back to my car was walking with my mouth open and a silly grin on my face. I had done it. I had conquered the GRE and I never had to worry about taking it again. For the moment I was free.”

“Will someone please invent software that will post my thoughts directly to my webpage? Well, maybe just a selective set of my thoughts.”

“My lab isn’t exactly the ideal place to hold office hours because the dry erase board is located on the wall behind a desk and is difficult to write notes. After a few minutes of trying to lean over the desk to scribble diagrams and equations I gave up and climbed onto it to get closer to the board. As I stood up on the desk I said to the students, ‘Those guys are probably going to walk in right now.’ The tour group didn’t show up just then, but about a minute later instead. So there I was, standing on a table when ten people arrive in the combustion lab for a tour. That’s just the impression I want to make on industry representatives and visiting academics.”

“I learned that if you wear workout shorts with ‘GATORS’ printed across the butt you will be defined by them. I guess it’s not the worst way to be described, but it’s still pretty weird. Instead of being ‘pretty’ or ‘smart,’ I’m a ‘troublemaker’ and ‘that girl with the words across her shorts.’ ”

“I’m starting to think that my watching the Gator football games is cursing them.”

“It was 38 degrees when I left work this morning and there was frost on my car. Brrr!”

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday 10/5/11

This is an old photo from May 2001 when my dad and I were on one of our famous cross-country road trips. If the location looks familiar you’ve probably seen it in on a poster somewhere. Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, which is along the northern California coast, is a very popular place to photograph. Especially the waterfall onto the beach. It was a cloudy, foggy day when my dad and I were there in 2001, but we still took some pictures. It’s such a gorgeous spot that I had to share. I’ve scanned a few more images from that road trip and uploaded them to a Summer 2001 set on Flickr.

Clip lamp

Yesterday I wrote about my recent trip to Ikea that was like a blast from the past. One item that really stirred up memories was a little desktop clip lamp that took me back to 1997. When I moved away from home to go to college I was very unprepared to live on my own. Pretty much the only new thing I took with me to UF was a honking huge desktop computer that was so heavy that I could barely carry it 50 feet by myself. Other than that and a set of extra-long sheets that only fit beds in state school dorm rooms, everything else was old. My quilt even belonged to my great-grandmother! One of these old items meant a lot to me, though. Before I left Tallahassee my dear friend Käthe gave me a black desktop clip lamp that I ended up using throughout my entire college career. You can see it clipped to the top of my desk, hanging over my bed (with the stuffed Simba and Lion King pillowcase) in the above photo of my freshman-year dorm room. I hated that room, but I loved that lamp. It was especially useful for reading in bed after my roommate went to sleep, which I did a lot. I think I even brought that lamp with me across the country for at least one of my internships. You had to be careful not to burn yourself when turning it off, but next to my computer it was quite possibly the most useful item in any of my college residences. So when I saw the new and improved version of a desktop clip lamp at Ikea last Sunday I immediately thought of Käthe. Her unselfish gift really meant a lot to me, especially when I was living away from home for the first time. I remembered her every time I used it. Thanks Ikea for that great memory!