Speaking of March 2004

Lauren’s email:
“Is it just me or is this stuff harder to understand the more you study it?”
Sevan’s reply:
“1) ‘this stuff’, n., of or pertaining to crap, particularly in the field of fluid mechanics, especially taught in course 250B at UCLA. –Sevster Dictionary 2004
2) ‘exam’, n., comes from Latin word for fail –Sevster Dictionary 2004”

3/23/04 webpage post

Twelve years ago

“Can you remember what it feels like to hear your favorite song when you least expect it? It’s like at that moment there’s no where else you’d rather be and nothing else you want to do than stand there, close your eyes, and listen to every word. So imagine a poorly dressed college student in the grocery store, holding a basket filled with yogurt and orange juice, and blissfully smiling like she had no troubles in the world. That is what you probably would have seen if you had been in the candy aisle of Albertsons at the same time that I was. Somehow hearing your favorite song is even more enchanting when it hasn’t been popular in four years and you can count on one hand the number of times you have heard it randomly on the radio since then. So as I recognized the telltale chords that announce the beginning of this song I couldn’t help but grin. Every time I hear it I suddenly forget all of the bad things that are happening in my life and assume it is a sign of the good are to come. It’s amazing how little things like that can completely change your outlook. It makes me glad to know that it is possible.”
11/3/00 webpage post

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!”

Thirteen years ago

“Things change so fast sometimes. One moment you could be convinced that you will never achieve your dreams and the next you can see the path leading straight to it. I know how it feels to experience a change like that. Life is a crazy ride that keeps you guessing until the end. Since I haven’t reached the end of my life yet I can’t claim to really know anything magical about it, but I can sure live the way I think is right. At this point I am convinced I am following the right path. Maybe someday the path will change, as things in life have a tendency to do, so I am keeping my eyes open.”
9/4/99 webpage post

Ten years ago

“Feminine is not always the way to go. While I liked some of the fancy quilts with embroidered flowers, that wasn’t what I was looking for. Maybe it is unrealistic, but I am hoping that the things I buy for my apartment will be transferred into a house someday. And since I am hoping to get married someday, I don’t want home furnishings that will offend a male occupant. Perhaps my objections to the quilts I saw on Saturday are a bit silly, but I do have control over how I spend my money, even if I don’t have control over the bedding produced for the American public.”
8/12/02 webpage post

Cleaning up

“My biggest project for the break is to clean out my room in case my parents have to move at some point in the future. Yesterday I went through two shelves on my bookcase full of old high school math notebooks, prom issues of Seventeen, and declarations of love to several different sets of initials that I have long-since forgotten. I was able to eliminate three-fourths of what was on these shelves but not without a few smiles, a happy memory or two, and more than one blush of embarrassment.”
12/22/00 webpage post

I found this quote over the holidays while re-reading some old posts. My favorite part is “in case my parents have to move.” My parents are still living in the house they bought in August 1979 when I was about seven months old. It’s the house where Kenneth and I grew up and it has a lot of memories. There have been a couple of times in the past where my parents seriously considered moving, but nothing ever came to fruition. Now that my mom and dad are both retired they are still living in that house and they have no plans to sell it anytime soon. When I was ten years old my parents redecorated the whole house. My bedroom was stripped of its yellow floral wallpaper (which was originally put up to keep me from coloring on the walls) and pink floral wallpaper was put up in its place. Hey, I was ten, of course I wanted pink! Twenty-two years later that wallpaper was still there, and not looking too bad actually, when I visited Tallahassee last month. I slept in my old bedroom when I was there, but I had to share the new king-sized bed with my cat Bob. The days of that pink wallpaper were numbered, though. Over the holidays is was finally painted over in an effort to make the guest rooms in my parent’s house less girly. I haven’t seen the end result yet, but I hear it looks good.

Regarding my own house, I’ve been doing a lot of housecleaning over the last month. Over the holidays Dan and filled up the trunk of my CR-V and made a major drop off at Goodwill. And then today I delivered all of the books I don’t want anymore to the library. That felt good. I’m trying to avoid filling up all the rooms and closets in our house with stuff this early into our home ownership. There will be plenty of time to acquire a boatload of stuff after we have kids!

Tsunami false alarm

June 14, 2005 was a night seemingly like any other. It was a Tuesday so I was getting ready for bed fairly early because I had to go to work the next morning. In the bedroom of my Seal Beach apartment, my little 19″ television was blaring some dumb show that I wasn’t really watching as I put on my pajamas and made my final preparations for sleep. Suddenly the TV show was silenced and the easily recognizable strident tone of the Emergency Broadcast System filled the room. I was startled because the only time I’d ever heard it before was during tests, which were always announced ahead of time and usually took place during the day. Since it was 9 PM I figured this wasn’t a regularly scheduled test. I was right. In short order I was informed that a massive earthquake off the coast of Northern California had potentially triggered a tsunami and that coastal residents were being encouraged to move inland. At the time I was living three blocks from the beach so I figured this meant me. I had no idea whether or not I was really in any danger, but I didn’t take any chances. I quickly got dressed, grabbed my purse, and started driving towards Dan’s house. He lived in Bellflower at the time, much farther inland than me, so I was headed in the right direction. However, I couldn’t get in touch with Dan. Finally his grandmother answered their home phone and I told her I was on my way over, out of the path of the theoretical tsunami. The first thing I noticed as I was leaving my apartment was that none of my neighbors were making a similar exodus. I figured they hadn’t heard the emergency broadcast or they knew our current location was perfectly safe. Either way, I didn’t stick around to ask them which one it was. The next thing I noticed was that there wasn’t a lot of traffic on the roads. Surely I wasn’t the only one who’d heard the emergency broadcast? Wasn’t the point to get the message out to as much of the population as possible? Once again, I didn’t stop to ask. I got to Dan’s house without incident and he had just arrived himself. Evidently his grandmother’s explanation of my impending arrival sparked some confusion. I actually documented the exchange on my webpage on June 18, 2005. From what I heard, it went something like this:

Mitzi: “The tsu-tsumi is coming!” (“Tsu-tsumi” is pronounced “soo-soo-mi”)
Dan: “The what?”
Mitzi: “The tsu-tsumi!”
Dan: “Do you mean tsunami?
Mitzi: “Yes that’s it.”

This conversation still makes me laugh. Now that I was sufficiently inland at Dan’s house, we turned on the news to figure out what was going on with the tsunami. Turns out there wasn’t one. Luckily for the California coast, the warning was rescinded about twenty minutes after the alarm was first sounded. Since the danger had passed, I kissed Dan goodbye and drove back to my apartment, chuckling to myself about the absurdity of what I’d done in the last hour. I didn’t get as much sleep that night as I would have liked, but at least I got a funny story about fleeing a tsunami out of it. Heaven forbid a real tsunami hits Los Angeles and it’s not funny anymore!

September 11th

This is a re-post of my diary entry from September 12, 2002 looking back on the events of one year earlier. It’s funny, but I remember things somewhat differently now that ten years have passed. I should write another account of September 11th as I experienced from my point of view today, but I’ll save that for later this week.

Quote of the day:
“The terrorists thought that they could strike fear in America’s heartland, but, through you, the heartland strikes back.”
-Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense (to airmen)

This time last year every channel on television had 24-hour coverage of the aftermath of the September 11th terrorist attacks. Even MTV was broadcasting their news affiliate instead of the usual music videos. Of course these events were of interest to the nation, but watching smoke pour out of the World Trade Center towers became tiresome after awhile. At the time I couldn’t wait for things to get back to normal.

Yesterday was the one-year anniversary of the terrorist attacks. Even though a year had passed, September 11, 2001 and September 11, 2002 had one thing in common – comprehensive television news coverage. Even though it was confined to the major networks and a few cable stations this time around, I still had the same reaction. I wanted everything back to normal. (At 1 PM yesterday that meant that I wanted my regularly scheduled programming back because “Days of Our Lives” was supposed to be on.)

There were two things that I did like about yesterday, though. 1) “Little House on the Prairie” marathon in the morning, and 2) “Star Trek: The Next Generation” marathon at night. OK, so I’ve been watching too much TV recently.

For me, September 11, 2001 started like any other day. I was living in Seal Beach during my seven-month internship. I was in the middle of my morning workday routine and I turned on the TV to watch “Little House on the Prairie.” (I love that show.) It was about 6:15 AM Pacific Time and, as it happened, the news was on before I could change the channel. My first impulse was to immediately switch channels but something kept me from doing so and what I saw on the screen made me catch my breath.

It was the World Trade Center billowing smoke. Both towers. It took me a second to figure out what was happening from the unscripted explanation of the news anchors, but I finally discovered that passenger planes had done the damage I was looking at. The phone rang. This was a strange occurrence considering I was the only one awake at that time of the morning (and no one ever calls me then). It was my roommate Sarah’s mom asking me to wake up her daughter. I went back to watching the news. A few minutes later Sarah stumbled out of her bedroom and sat down in front of the TV with me. As we stared in amazement a new story broke – another plane had crashed into the Pentagon.

I left for work at 7 AM, a little later than usual. My favorite radio station was following the crisis as well so I heard dumbfounded updates instead of the witty banter that I was used to. As I turned the corner onto Westminster I heard, “Oh my God, one of the towers just collapsed.” A shudder went down my spine. Several people were crowded around a computer at work trying to load news websites like CNN and MSNBC but getting nothing due to heavy web traffic. This meant that we relied on the people just coming into the office for the latest details. One tower of the World Trade Center had already collapsed. The other followed a short time later. A fourth plane crashed in rural Pennsylvania while, evidently, on route to another target. Terrorism was blamed.

I remember thinking, in the weeks following the attacks, how fiercely patriotic Americans are as a whole. You couldn’t go anywhere without seeing the Stars and Stripes at least a dozen places, from bumper stickers to billboards to baseball caps. Now, one year later, our attention to the tragedy has waned. Things have gotten pretty much back to normal, if you don’t count how difficult air travel has become. And isn’t “getting back to normal” exactly what I wanted in the first place?

January 29th

The subject of this year’s January 29th post was “Just too tired” so it obviously didn’t contain much substance. That disappointed me so I looked back and discovered that I actually had more interesting stuff to say on this particular date in years past. OK, so maybe last year’s post doesn’t exactly qualify as “interesting,” but it sure does prove that very little has changed (work-wise) in my life since then. Business trip then, business trip now. Busy at work then, busy at work now. Missing Los Angeles then, missing Los Angeles now (both my husband and the weather!). I don’t claim to be neglecting my webpage this year, though. Today’s post makes 35 days straight!

January 29, 2010
“I know I’ve been neglecting my webpage (again), but I’m in DC on a business trip (again)…The bad news is that I have a very busy two weeks of work ahead of me and then, surprise surprise, another trip to DC. I knew the beginning of this year was going to be crazy work-wise. So here’s hoping for a quiet weekend at home where I can find some time to write something more substantial. Until then I’m going to hole up in my hotel before I have to leave for the airport ion the morning. It’s COLD here (19 deg when I went to work this morning and 25 deg when I left the evening) and I can’t wait for the relative warmth of the Los Angeles winter again.”

Then I look back at what I wrote eleven years ago and see that my life now couldn’t be much more different than it was then. In January 2000 I had my very first Boeing interview and at the time I didn’t realize what a pivotal moment that was going to turn out to be. It pretty much set the stage for my current career path. It also put me on the path to meeting Dan in 2001. Where would I be now without that interview?

January 29, 2000
“My Boeing interview took place at 1 PM last Friday…Since I had come directly from class I hadn’t had time to practice answering questions like we had been told to do during the “Meet the Recruiter” presentation a couple of days earlier. When I think back on it the interview went pretty well except for two of the questions. I didn’t have a good answer for “what do you think is your greatest accomplishment?” and I didn’t have an answer for the “what was your greatest disappointment?” one at all! I am only twenty-one years old from crying out loud! I haven’t had enough time for any of that yet. I am sure there are those who have great answers for both of those questions, but I had led a pretty sheltered life so far and nothing exceptionally wonderful or tragic has happened. Give me a few more years and I will be able to give you an answer that’s better.”

Oh younger Lauren, you had no idea how right you were.

Previous October 7th posts

I’ve got a couple of posts in progress, but until one of those is ready for publication, here are two blog flashbacks from past October 7ths. The first one is from the summer Dan and I started dating. We went to see “The Lion King” at the Pantages Theater that fall, which led to us listening to the soundtrack anytime we were in the car. That was fun. The second one is from my grad school days when I was convinced that political scandal followed me from Florida to California. For the record, I voted AGAINST the recall. And my vote was so effective that we’ve been governed by the Terminator ever since. At least we’ve got an election coming up next month.

10/7/2001 – What I’ve learned from Dan: “Hakuna Potato. It means no potatoes for the rest of your days!” (This motto emerged as we were listening to the Lion King Broadway soundtrack yesterday and “Hakuna Matata” just wasn’t good enough. By the way, I am making a list of other things I have learned from Dan so be on the lookout for more pearls of wisdom.)

10/7/2003 – On my way to campus this morning I cast my vote in the infamous California recall election. I had the opportunity to use one of the notorious punch card ballots too. And my polling place happened to be an empty fraternity house. The many facets of political scandal. If the actual results agree with the current predictions the next Terminator movie may be Arnold-free.