Archive for March, 2001

Weekend Distress – 03.31.01

Saturday, March 31st, 2001

Quote of the Day:
“You could chateau yourself silly if you’re not careful.”
Rick Steves, “Travels in Europe”

I am watching an old episode of “Saturday Night Live” and Val Kilmer is playing Jeb Bush in a soap opera skit called “Palm Beach” dealing with the presidential election. Katherine Harris is playing every man in sight. Sometimes I think you are only really famous when you are depicted in an SNL sketch. It’s as if you are only important enough to be taken seriously if you are important enough to be made fun of. It’s a sign of the times that there is at least one parody concerning a major political figure in every week’s show. Since the election last year was such a strange situation I think the SNL jokes that were made about it were only necessary to break the tension. I admit that I always get a laugh out of the mindless George Bush and womanizing Bill Clinton.

This week I realized how little time I have before I have to leave for California. I scheduled my drug test with the infirmary for next Friday so that’s one thing out of the way. Here are a few other things I need to take care of before I leave:

1) Decide which universities to visit on the way out there and plan the route accordingly
2) Rent a storage space for all of my stuff I won’t be taking to Tallahassee at the end of the semester
3) Arrange to shut off my phone (I have had my phone number for two years now and I hate to let it go!)
4) Get my fall enrollment status straight with the university
5) Get my fall sister status straight with the sorority

Those are the important things, anyway. I have a “to do” list about a mile long that is making me nervous. When am I going to have enough time to check everything off? Making a list usually calms my nerves and lets me realize that, no matter how overwhelmed I am, there is a finite number of things on the list. Usually that makes me feel better. Usually. Maybe I just need a good night’s sleep to sort this all out.

This weekend has been a drag. I’d better not get into all of the things that have made it that way because it would only be boring and depressing. I am just glad that tomorrow isn’t Monday already. That makes me feel better even though my listing making didn’t.

Sister of the Week – 03.26.01

Monday, March 26th, 2001

Quote of the Day:
“They put a tiny bit of movie in a box and just filled the rest with foam peanuts.”
“MST 3K”, “The Screaming Skull” – aired 03.24.01 on the Sci-Fi Channel

Guess who is the Alpha Chi Omega “sister of the week”? I was going to be rather upset if I wasn’t picked because it is traditionally the warden’s honor the week after initiation. Well, I wasn’t disappointed!

I am watching “Meet Me in St. Louis” right now and the Smith family is horrified to learn that they are moving to New York. It’s not unlike what my family has gone through before. When I was in high school my dad was in the running for a job in Orlando but in the end my mom, brother, and I said we wouldn’t leave Tallahassee. Now that this whole Board of Regents fiasco has occurred we wonder if that was the right decision. However, even after the second option to leave appeared in our lives we turned it down again. It’s funny how things work sometimes.

Our IPPD group has reached a major snag. The flow meter NASA sent us for the fluid tests was calibrated for a full-scale range of much greater than the largest leak we were planning to monitor. This means that the voltage output of the equipment at the leak rates we can produce are not significant enough to generate meaningful data. What a mess. Our final presentation is next week so that doesn’t give us much time to find an alternative for our experiment. In the end we are either going to have to raise the leak rate requirement or just prove our mechanical concept for the leak detection. I know I promised not to mention IPPD much this semester and I think I have been true to my word so far. For the next two weeks, however, it may me ruling my life and it may be the only thing I have to write about. I’ll keep you posted.

I have to get back to my stability and control of spacecraft homework that is due tomorrow. I am not going to have much free time between now and the end of the semester so I had better get used to the idea. This time of year is always busy and I will issue an enormous sigh of relief when it is over.

Freedom? – 03.24.01

Saturday, March 24th, 2001

Quote of the Day:
“MST 3K”, “The Phantom Planet” – aired 03.17.01 on the Sci-Fi Channel
1) “Today the moon narrowly missed hitting a man’s eye like a big pizza pie.” – Crow
“Scientists believe that’s amore.” -Servo
2) This is almost as good as 2001 – nails driven into your eyes!
3) Collecting for the March of Dimes is complicated in space.

Today I have been reveling in my newfound freedom. Since my last dairy entry came ten days ago you may be asking what has been keeping me so restricted. Besides the usual schoolwork, that is. I have a few hints for the few people who haven’t had to listen to me rant and rave about it before now.

Three things made my day yesterday:
1) I found the impossibly lost “St. Elmo’s Fire” tape just before we really needed it and about ten minutes before having it would have been useless
2) We had real cheesecake for dessert (I don’t even like cheesecake and this stuff is delicious)
3) Initiation ended at 11:15 PM

If you haven’t guessed what has been keeping me busy yet then you didn’t read hint number three because it is stated there outright. Initiation. I am the Alpha Chi Omega warden or ritual chair and that means that almost every aspect of initiation falls under my jurisdiction. Let’s just say that this is a very big job for one person to tackle by herself. The only real problem I encountered during the planning and execution was that I the binder of written information that is supposed to be passed down between wardens got lost a few semesters ago. I forgot a few details since I only had my memory to rely on in the absence of the binder. Fortunately our president remembered the things I didn’t and everything went just fine. Better than fine – probably as close to perfect as a house with more than one hundred sisters can get with the amount of practice we can schedule.

I read my diary entry from after last semester’s initiation and I remembered that I hadn’t gone to bed afterwards until 3:30 AM. The improvement from fall to spring initiation was about three hours considering that I went to bed last night at 12:30 AM. As soon as the ceremony was over and everything was put away I ran into the dining room to make sure it was ready for our post-initiation party. I was a little frantic when I didn’t see the pizza that was supposed to be delivered at 11:30 PM but then someone told me it was only 11:15 PM! My response was a triumphant “YES!” and a little dance to celebrate. I was so pleased and the other sisters were extremely grateful for the ordeal to be over before midnight. Initiation was a giant success and a feather in my cap because, no matter how unorganized our president thought it was last night, I pulled it off without losing my cool. Several girls congratulated me last night after it was over and that made me feel good. Probably none of the other sisters will think of this again but I know I will and the thought will make me proud.

In a deviation from my usual musical preferences I purchased the newest Bon Jovi album today during my weekly shopping trip. I heard “It’s My Life” the other day and it has been running through my head ever since. So since I would like to know more lyrics than the first couple of lines in the chorus. What a great song. How many times have I written about the impact of music on moods? I don’t need to repeat myself, I guess, but I will say that I feel very energized after hearing the song.

There are many ways I can use this energy. I have a couple of homework assignments and a report due next week as well as an IPPD peer review on Monday. I regret that I haven’t been able to spend much time on IPPD since initiation preparations started last week. I am really out of the loop now. As the end of the semester approaches (we only have four and a half weeks of classes left) things are going to pile up fast. The actual initiation ceremony is over now but that doesn’t mean that my job is. I have to compile the absentee list to see who gets fined for missing last night and assemble a new binder for the warden position. Another sister has been elected to take over my position in the fall since I am not going to be here and there is no way I am going to leave her without all of my wisdom on paper. Maybe this sounds conceited but I think that after four years here I can presume that “wisdom” is the correct word to describe what I know about initiation. Since the new warden joined only last semester she is going to have quite a job handling it by herself. She helped me out last night and was indispensable so I am certain of her ability to run the show but there’s no way she knows everything since last night was her first time through on the sister side. I am determined to have everything see needs in a binder for her by the end of the semester. When will I have time to do that, you ask? Beats me. I guess this freedom I thought I had come into is just an illusion.

It’s Maddening – 03.14.01

Wednesday, March 14th, 2001

It’s maddening. I have been dying to see the new Harry Potter movie trailer that is showing with “See Spot Run” (a movie that I would never see on purpose) and online (my viewing method of choice). My computer, however, has a 266 MHz processor and a very slow modem. So when I was at home for spring break I tried to watch the preview on my brother’s computer. The only problem was that the sound didn’t come through somehow. My dad said he was satisfied with just seeing the video stream but I wasn’t pleased that after waiting five minutes for the file to download that there was no sound. I vowed to try again on another computer, preferably with a faster internet connection. So tonight I used my laptop for the second viewing of the Harry Potter trailer. The problem this time wasn’t from the audio track but from the video – I could hear perfectly but I couldn’t see anything! I guess you can’t have everything. I’ll make one more try on a computer on campus; maybe the third time’s the charm.

It’s maddening. Have you ever seen something on TV that you thought would be too cheesy to tape but fall in love with it before the end? This happened to me on Sunday. The Magical World of Disney was showing a made-for-TV movie called “Princess of Thieves” about Robin Hood’s daughter. I was sure it would be horribly childish but started taping it fifteen minutes after it started anyway. I am sure anyone who knows me and reads this entry will tease me but no matter how dumb the movie sounds I really loved it and I have watched the part that I taped twice already. Even though my movie collection has been growing at an abnormal rate lately I am determined to own “Princess of Thieves”. I searched the web today but the only thing I can find is the Disney webpage promoting the movie. Maybe sometime in the future it will be released on video. I also found out that the actress that played the lead, Keira Knightley, was Queen Amidala’s handmaiden and decoy in “The Phantom Menace.” Pretty cool.

It’s maddening. I just can’t finish books fast enough. Since I finished the first four Harry Potter books for the second time I have been buying books faster than I can read them. JK Rowling’s newest Harry Potter offering, two Hogwarts textbooks she wrote for charity, were published on Monday and my copies should be delivered to me within the next day or two. That’s great news except I am still in the middle of another book and there are three other books I have bought and not had a chance to read yet. My wish list at amazon.com has about fifteen items on it. When will I learn to control my literary spending? Also when I was home for spring break I gathered my Chronicles of Narnia books and brought it back to Gainesville. Maybe I am a little ambitious in imagining that I will have time to read the seven volumes in the set by the end of the semester but I’d rather have more books than I need than too few.

It’s maddening. I have almost run out of quotes for my “quote of the day”! The only one I have left is one from the X-Files that I haven’t been able to find out which episode it was from or who said it. I’ll post it when I get this information. Until then I will try and scrounge up some new quotes because I like to have them accompany my diary entries. Maybe I am the only one who enjoys them but I’m the one who matters!

Post-Spring Break Reflections – 03.12.01

Monday, March 12th, 2001

Quote of the Day:
“Mystery Science Theater 3000″, “Pumaman” – aired 02.24.01 on the Sci-Fi Channel
“At all times he has the look of a man who’s been hit with a fish!”

I have always taken the position that north Florida is part of the South. If you have ever doubted this I only have one thing to tell you: when I was driving from Tallahassee to Gainesville on I-10 and I-75 yesterday I saw cows (no surprise), sheep, goats, and donkeys. And this was along the major highways of Florida! I laughed when I saw the donkeys because their presence really exposed the redneck nature of the area. To support my claim I have another little story. When my dad and I were driving home from getting new tires on my car last week we passed a field with an ostrich! This was only about ten minutes from my house but in a direction that I never go because it is away from town. Of course I saw lots of other livestock on that road because it is lined with farms and old plantation land but I never expected ostriches to be among them. Anyway, I just wanted to let everyone know about the city where I was born. My family lives on the northern edge of Tallahassee – about thirty minutes from the Georgia border. Actually I have gotten lost and ended up in Georgia before. At least you know you made a wrong turn when you see a sign welcoming you to another state.

Well I’m back from spring break. The second half of the semester is going to be a nightmare. Maybe I should just leave it at that rather than elaborating on all of my miseries and boring everyone to death. I also come off as a whiny little girl and that’s the last thing I want. So I’ll just leave you with the above anecdotes and the fact that I am going to work on the homework that is already piling up.

Spring Break #2 – 03.09.01

Friday, March 9th, 2001

Quote of the Day:
“I try to have a heart attack every day whether I need one or not.”
Kit, So You Want to be a Wizard

The shuttle Columbia flew over Tallahassee on Monday on its way back to KSC. The 747 always flies low as a NASA publicity stunt and it never fails to capture the attention of every school child and news channel in the state. So in keeping with the spread of these pictures, which could be seen all over the Tallahassee Democrat and the local news, I am posting one here for anyone who has escaped them so far.

I think I am going to add “Lost in Space” to my movie collection. It was on TV twice last week but I only managed to see the first hour each time, so I rented it last night. It is pretty good and would easily fit into my movie collection.

Boredom did finally rear its ugly head since both of my parents were working this week and the only thing I had to keep me company was my homework. The funny thing is that I didn’t actually turn to my books until Wednesday and I didn’t get much done until late last night when a feeling of panic set in. I stayed up until 2:30 AM working on my finite elements homework because I was getting anxious about getting everything done. This always happens when I am at home.

My dad and I started planning our trip to California for May. We looked at the US News and World Reports list of the top twenty aerospace engineering graduate schools to see which ones we can visit on the way. We are going to take a more northern route across the country this year and end up in San Francisco on the Pacific coast. After that we can go to several schools on the way into Los Angeles. The problem is deciding which universities are close enough to our planned course between Tallahassee and the California border. I’ll post our intended itinerary as soon as it is drawn up.

I have been sitting in front of the TV for two episodes of “The Andy Griffith Show” trying to figure out how to finish this entry. It is 11 PM, I need to take a shower, and I have a lot of homework still untouched. So I am going to end here by thanking Meghan, Danny, and Pete for going to lunch with me yesterday. Oh, now “Charlie’s Angels” is on. I’m outta here.

Spring Break #1 – 03.05.01

Monday, March 5th, 2001

Quote of the Day:
Believe something and the Universe is on its way to being changed. Because you’ve changed by believing.”
Fred, So You Want to be a Wizard

Thinking about the first few days of spring break as I sit here watching “Little Women” for the second time since I have been home I realize that I may not have spent my time in such exciting ways as others have. That’s OK by me. My mom often ask me why I am so reclusive and I can’t give her much of an answer except to say that is the way I prefer it. I love the two-hour drive from Gainesville to Tallahassee. I love weekends with only my favorite movies and homework to keep me company. And I love reading and daydreaming where nothing can interrupt my thoughts. That doesn’t mean I would like to live on a deserted island or anything – I just like quiet solitude most of the time. Isn’t variety what makes life interesting?

I haven’t been bored in Tallahassee yet. I got here on Friday night after a rather amusing episode on the interstate. Two guys in a green truck were trying to annoy me by cutting me off and waving furiously at me, so I thought, and that thoroughly ticked me off. I decided to ignore them completely no matter how much they tried to irritate me – until I realized it was Allen and Robert also driving back to Tallahassee for the break! What strange circumstances. Anyway, on Saturday and Sunday I had many activities to keep me busy. These ranged from the usual shopping trips with my mom to agonizing over replacement windshield wiper blades with my dad. I am glad to report that my little car now has decent wiper blades but my wardrobe isn’t much larger with the efforts of the weekend.

(The part of “Little Women” where Beth dies always makes me cry.)

Why haven’t I started my homework yet? Good question. At heart I am just a procrastinator wearing the mask of a diligent student. No matter how nice a feeling will come when I have the work behind me it’s like pulling teeth to get started. It has taken me four years of college to realize that the beginning is the hardest part of anything but that awareness has not made starting things any easier. I promise to try harder at following my own advice concerning this matter. Would it sound horrible if I said I couldn’t wait for the semester to be over?

There are so many things I would like to do while I am here and three days have already passed. Time goes so quickly when you want it to last awhile. “Little Women” is almost over so I should stop my ramblings. I suppose I just wanted everyone to know that I am enjoying my spring break even if it doesn’t involve a cruise, or a bikini, or anything else exotic. Speaking of bathing suits, the weather has turned cold in Tallahassee, just as it did the last time I was here. How on earth did I bring cold weather when I came here from farther south? It’s a good thing I decided to bring some winter clothes home for storage or else I wouldn’t have had anything to wear. I guess the sunbathers in Panama City had an awful time on the beach today when it was in the sixties! The good thing about growing up in a state where people vacation is that you know all the facets of the weather – like when not to go to the beach and the best time of the year to go to Disney World. In any case, I am enjoying wearing my corduroy pants again, for probably the last time until next fall. For now, however, I am going to turn on my electric blanket in preparation of a cold night (perhaps below freezing) and try not to have bad dreams again.

Pre-Spring Break Woes – 03.01.01

Thursday, March 1st, 2001

Quote of the Day:
“When the candy reaches escape velocity it’s time to leave.”
Daria, “I Loathe a Parade”

In less than twenty-four hours I am hoping to be somewhere other than here. This day has made me more eager than ever for spring break to arrive. I got back from my experimental methods exam about two hours ago and I have been vegging/napping in front of the TV since then. I figure I deserve that much for making it through the week. Today Dr. Fitz-Coy decided that he wants each of our IPPD team members to submit a report on what we have been doing for the entire semester so I have to do that before I leave tomorrow. Doesn’t that sound like fun? My chin practically hit the floor when I read his email this afternoon. It seems like everyone is doing their best to make my life more stressful these last few days before spring break.

When I got to my spacecraft control class this morning at 8:30 AM Dr. Kurdila just told us to take the day off. There are two sides to this situation. The good side is that I didn’t have to sit through the usual two hours of class and that gave me extra time to study for my experimental methods exam that I hadn’t counted on. The bad side is that I hauled myself out of bed and to the aerospace engineering building and then I had to just turn around and walk right back home. So I studied for my exam from 9 AM until about 2 PM. Sometimes the volume of studying doesn’t make any difference when it comes to the test, though. It was awful. The only positive thing is that it’s over.

I have forgotten what brought these to my mind but here are some high school memories that made me laugh today. Funny enough they are all musical recollections and they all stem from Stu singing the chorus of the ninth grade favorite “The Sign.”

1) I saw the cosine… (Brianne wrote this on my sixteenth birthday card. We were math nerds in the truest sense of the phrase but we loved it.)
2) River of dreams (James Ponder’s favorite song in ninth grade. He even made up a math version for a Mu Alpha Theta competition.)
3) AP scores dance (I first remember this from Bob Outlaw. It consists of pretending to open your AP scores report while dance to some mix song. You can either be happy with the scores and celebrate to the music or rip them up and party anyway. It always got big laughs.)

There’s only a few things I need to do before I leave tomorrow. First of all I have to pack. I am trying to take a lot of my stuff home now so that I won’t have to cram it all in my car at the end of the semester. My only obligation tomorrow is to go to class so that’s not very demanding. The perfect way to begin spring break. My dad has accepted his job offer at FSU so that means my family isn’t going to move this summer. That also means that I get to help my dad buy a car with the money they are going to save by staying in Tallahassee. He is convinced that I had some part in the purchase of his last car, even though I was only ten years old at the time, so I am going with him again to look for a new one. Too bad I have homework and studying obligations over the break. The week we get back I have two homework assignments and a report due plus an exam. No rest for the weary, I suppose. I am going to take advantage of every relaxing moment I can get between now and then.