Tuesday, April 25, 2006

too much school

you know you've spent too long studying in the ME lab when

a) you're listening in on other people's meetings because you can't do your homework and you don't want to leave because that would be giving in to the fact that you're not being productive,

b) the other meetings have slowly turned their discussion from cylindrical pressure vessels to nipple tassels,

c) you laugh, in spite of yourself, and

d) this encourages them to take their jokes a few steps further. indeed, they were waiting for someone outside the meeting to approve of their own not-being-productive, and soon the whole room is laughing at the idea of a stripper jumping out of a cardboard mock-up of a heliostat and sitting on your professor's lap singing breathily, "happy birthday, dr. ostegren" at the final design presentations.

i need a break.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

the Fundamentals of Engineering

i remember hearing about the FE exam several years ago, probably from nathan, and thinking, "i could never do that." a test that tests you on everything you've ever learned? where anything that's been taught in your entire college career is fair game? i probably asked, "do i have to take that test, too?" and nathan probably laughed at my innocence.

but now, some four years later, it is done. well, hopefully it's done, if i didn't pass i'll have to take it again. but i'm fairly confident that i passed, because, despite my freshmen nightmares, the test wasn't that bad. the morning section was especially breezy, and i found that two minutes per problem wasn't a bad restriction, and actually that i had a lot of time at the end to look up the problems i couldn't figure out in that 200-page cheat sheet they gave us, which is pretty ridiculous. but all the time in the world wouldn't have helped me on a couple of those problems. if i had stayed awake in majumdar's class (or even his study session last week) maybe i would have know the atomic structure of pure iron. and the thermo problems were really obscure.

the hardest part was just the sheer endurance you need to finish the thing. four hours in the morning, four hours in the afternoon... it's hard to stay motivated that long. it doesn't help that the afternoon problems are a lot harder than the morning ones, and then you get that afternoon i-want-a-nap feeling, and you just don't know how the thermal deflection of a column translates into critical failure, and what's that noise? and it's a gorgeous day outside, and look, most of the people have left already, and you wonder if you've answered enough questions to pass without trying the rest, and then you suddenly realize that you haven't done any work for five minutes and start over with renewed determination that this was the last time you space out. but it's not.

but i'm proud of myself. i stayed until the end and tried to find all the right answers and now i feel like having a night of hard-earned slacking off to make up for that mental battering. even if i didn't pass, i got a new mechanical pencil out of the deal. nice, huh? only cost me $65. and it's red, everybody likes red.

Monday, April 17, 2006

the news

jack will be okay. i called my dad this morning, and he told me that the dog is all sewn up and limping and mopey, but he'll be fine, besides a big scar. poor doggie. my test will probably be okay, too, but i messed up a few parts in my sleep deprivation and coffee rush. and i'm still being pulled down a mountain by my caffine horse. i need to shoot that thing.

this week i'm supposed to be working my butt off on all my projects and tests and studying for the FE on saturday, but there are so many things i want to write about! the birds are back at their nest on the porch, the FE is freaking me out, josh is lame (mostly), my several study groups are filled with subtle hilarities, i already told you a bit about the (jerk) ref... but here's the big news.

kc moved out.


many things are wonderful about kc moving out. if i may... a-hem.

1.) she took her boring, ugly pictures off the wall in the living room. you know those ones with the big ol frames that just have a tiny picture of a half-mutilated dead flower or an acorn or something? i don't get it. anyway, i replaced those and the picture of the butterfly that she painted in like eigth grade with stuff that actually looks cool, and carmelita and i are really excited about how the new awesomeness of our living room. i hung up some more of carmen's collages of pictures of our friends, and then put up some pictures from a beatles calendar around my abbey road poster. that's the "shrine" carmen was talking about, but really, it's not bad, i promise. it's tasteful. it's sweet. we were so excited that we took some of my big french food posters and hung them up in the kitchen, and now our whole house is down.

2.) now, if there is something gross in the bathroom, it's not as scary because i know it's my fault.

3.) all the stuff in the shower is mine.

4.) the dishes will actually get done now. yay!

5.) now when i hear the door open, instead of freezing and and straining my ears for clues as to who's out there, i can yell, "hi!" because i know it's someone that i like.

6.) i don't have to stay in my room until kc leaves for work anymore... i can get up early! yay! i know, i'm crazy, but i love getting up early, and avoiding her morning routine really sucked.

7.) now mike will have to pick her up somewhere else, so i won't know about every bloody date they have.

8.) no more walking home praying, "please don't let kc be home, please don't let kc be home" or thinking of excuses to stay at school or josh's house a little longer so i can avoid being in the house for a while.

9.) and of course, the obvious reason... i finally have a place to relax, where the bad guys can't get me, where my beatles pictures are on the wall and my music is playing and i don't have to be miserable evey time i hear a person in the next room.

i'm so glad she's gone. my rent is going to go up, but i would have gladly payed my part and hers if she had moved out earlier. if i did something that made her move... i wish i had known about that trick in september. heartless? maybe. i think carmen is a little bugged that i don't feel bad about it, but she should have moved out a long, long time ago. that's okay, because she's gone now, and all i'll have to do is see mike for an hour or so every morning for a few weeks, four hours on fridays, and then i'll be done.

really, the living room looks fabulous. i forgot to mention the bookshelf that she took, too. it only had her stuff on it, and it was weird junk like horseshoes and painted rocks and little pots of potpouri that said "truth" or something on them (truth.... ha!). just like the pictures, it was boring and ugly and weird and we totally rock without it. her house is going to be so lame.

coffee, the beatles, and not doing my homework

scott: have you fallen off the caffine horse yet?
me: no, i think i got thrown from the horse and now he's dragging me behind him.
scott: ouch...

me: look what you have done! i have done nothing but look at beatles pictures for the last forty minutes!
carmen: it's not my fault!
me: is too
me: i just found the most gorgeous paul mccartney wallpaper ever.... and now i want to delete all my icons because they're messing it up
me: i love paul
me: i need a shrine
carmen: ROFL...what's that we have in the living room then?
me: that's not a shrine and you know it!
me: i want to live in 1966!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
carmen: I swear, you were born in the wrong time period and in the wrong generation
me: yeah i was :(

Sunday, April 16, 2006

poor jack

i was going to write up the last spring break chapter about the beach and the drive home, or maybe complain bitterly about the new ref for the under14 league that yelled at me yesterday on top of his ridiculous claims that the first shot off of a rebound goal counts as an assist. what the.... ?

but i can't even get started because my dad and my brother and i just took jack to the emergency vet clinic because he had a big gash on his chest, and i'm so worried about him that i can't even rant on a know-it-all ref. jack came in acting hurt, and then i heard my mom and dad yelling and telling us all to call the vet. the dog had a huge slice on his chest, all the way around his front leg that was about twelve inches long. his skin and some flesh was hanging off of his body and flapping against his leg. nick and i held him down while my dad called the vet, and i held his hurt leg and his collar in the same hand so he couldn't rip it open any further. the cut was incredibly clean and straight. i thought he'd been hit by some very sharp protruding edge of a car.

then the neighbors came over and said that jack got in a fight with their pit bull over the other dog's food. the first thing i thought was, "wow. pit bulls are really impressive animals."

then i thought about how jack is afraid of his own shadow and rarely approaches other dogs, even small ones, and about how he has a huge dish full of food at home and, stupid as he can be, the incredible unlikelihood that he would pick a fight with a pit bull over food. then i thought again about how surprisingly clean the cut was... this was a slice, not a tear, and there were no teeth marks on him. even then, all i thought was, "this is so weird..."

it wasn't until my dad said something in the car that i thought maybe the neighbors, who throw stuff at our dog when he's in our yard, maybe hurt him themselves, especially since none of us heard dog fight sounds.

but anyway, we took him to the vet, and the two ladies there were very nice and patient with the three worried family members that kept acting like they knew the best way to do things. i tried not to give them advice and be an annoying concerned dog owner... but they had my doggie! i couldn't help it.

i'm sure they were right and that they know lots more about dogs than me and that he'll be fine, but leaving him in a cage with no sedative and no pain killer and letting him freak out because he knew we were leaving and making me let go of his leg so that his skin just hung off of him... all that made me worried. and now i can't stop thinking about my poor dog, all alone and freaked out in that cage in that cold room with his skin all off of him and blood all in his fur. poor jack! but you would be proud of me, i didn't get upset or demand better or anything, i let the vets do their thing and told myself to be quiet.

but i just can't re-cap or rant right now. my poor jacky! i'll be lucky if i can finish studying for the test i have at 9am tomorrow, for which i need to drive back at six. so, sorry for the bummer post. i'll be back to normal later, when i know that my dog is okay. until then... :(

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

student of the year

school... ug.

dr. lyons is an interesting fellow. instead of having us work on our own or with our usual study buddies on our air compressor design projects for fluid and thermal systems, he put us into groups himself. in alphabetical order, no less. so i find myself in a group with colska, colman, and dawson. dawson is smart, and i really like saying his last name for some reason. "dawson." nice. colska is a grad student from turkey, i think, and i believe he knows what he's talking about... and if we knew what he was talking about also, that would be great. colman is the engineering student of the year, and her picture hangs in the hall in the mechanical department. she and i are usually the only girls in most of our classes. she's the president of ASME and the student-faculty liaison and a tau beta pi member and about a million other things that look great on a resume.

so imagine my surprise (and dawson's surprise, as it turns out) when colman doesn't have a clue what's going on in this project. she is all over the place. the questions she asks are incredible. she keeps saying, "well, can't we just assume this?" and dawson and i look at each other and say, "nooooo....." she also curses like a sailor, which is funny because she's really a very pretty girl and the f-bomb doesn't suit her well.

last night the four of us worked on our project for four hours, and we really didn't make any significant progress. colman doesn't get the concepts, but give her an equation and she's gone, plugging and chugging like the best of them. i tend to take my sweet time on equations, double-checking the values (because that bites me in the butt all the time) and meticulously watching my unit conversions. colman was much faster, so i generally let her do the calculations and trust her results because i want to get out of there. dawson tries to double-check her, but she's so speedy that he gets behind fast. colska keeps talking about molecular weight, and we keep saying that we're sure he's right but we're mechanical engineers and therefore afraid of chemistry and that we're going to use the reynold's number, thank you very much.

then colman says, "oh, f***! up here when we did this calculation, we converted to minutes, not seconds! @$&*! we forgot to divide by sixty!"

and i'm thinking, "what is this 'we', white man? you forgot to divide by sixty!"

and dawson says, "do we have to start all over?" he hasn't eaten since breakfast, poor kid.

and colska says, "wait! i have it!" and starts talking about chemistry again.

and colman says, "okay, i fixed our last calculations!" and her paper looks like the spawn of a greek roadmap and my little brother's math homework. lines, stuff crossed out, unidentifiable letters, jumbles of numbers, and lots and lots of circles. and before you tell me that a messy paper is the mark of a true genius, let me remind you that i know jon pretty well and he's one of the tidiest people in the world, as well as the best student in our department.

so anyway, i say, "won't that change affect our nussalt number and our final pipe length?"

and dawson says, gloomily, "yes, it will..."

and colman says, "F***!!!"

and then we start over. several times.

how is this girl the new mexico tech engineering student of the year? how is she in tau beta pi? i don't get it. okay, so everybody makes calculations mistakes, i myself am the chief of punching in the numbers backwards, but that's why i take my time! unit errors? gimme a break! and she really doesn't understand the concepts, it's weird. if i could tell you the amount of "is she serious" glances that i exchanged with dawson... wow.

let that go to show you, employers, that impressive resumes do not mean impressive people. apparently you can't even trust GPA any more.

i can't believe she's in tau beta pi.

bad student

so here's the breakdown yesterday's classes:

8:30 am- slept right through class. sure, i was a little sick, but i hate missing class, and ghosh was the teacher so i know i'm going to hear about it. i actually take notes in finite, too.

2:00 pm- josh would not shut up in fluids, and dr. lyons actually yelled at us for talking. that hasn't happened since high school! i gave him the generic, "i'm sorry, it won't happen again" line that i have so much good luck with, but he was really mad. he went on, "are you BORED?!? are you just so smart that you KNOW THIS ALREADY?!?" i said no, very apologetically like a good kid, but josh said yes and started arguing under his breath. he doesn't like lyons. so this is how it works, josh gets me in trouble and i get him out of trouble. hm.

3:15 pm- ghosh's class again. i have no idea what he talks about, so i wrote nicki a letter. at first, i remembered to look up every once in a while so it looked like i was actually taking notes, but after the first hour or so i forgot to do that, and ghosh gave me a really weird look. but at least he didn't yell at me. then i got really tired and went on a walk for like ten minutes to keep myself awake.

6:00 pm- majumdar was holding a mechanics of materials study session for the kids taking the fe next weekend. he didn't have to be there at all, but to help us out was answering questions and going examples. i fell asleep, right in the second row. i tried to hide it by shading my eyes and acting like i was looking at my notes, but when i opened my eyes again my hand was just in my face and my mouth was hanging open and my glasses were all over the place and stevie wonder could have seen that i was fast asleep. at this point, i left early.

could i have done anything else to insult my teachers yesterday, short of blatantly arguing or shooting spitwads? i promise, i'm usually a good kid. really.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

spring break, the novel (pt 2)

where were we, day five?

day five- MGM studios, disneyworld
curtis absolutely insisted that we sprint straight to the tower of terror, to "get there while the line is short". ha. apparently everyone else had the same idea, which meant that just moving to that side of the park was sort of like standing in line. the wait was long, but it was worth it. entering "the twilight zone," as it were, was so much fun. the ride is really interesting, because they try to creep you out with that spooky guy, and then all of a sudden they just drop you. it's scary. i actually grabbed scuba's hand, which was a little awkward.

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after that was the rockin' rollercoaster, which, well.... rocked. seriously. it was my favorite. meeting steven tyler in real life would have been better, but it was a good runner-up. nick and i went on that one twice.

of course there was star tours (nick was freakin out, i can't believe how much lucas stuff he bought). next came the great movie ride, which was pretty boring really, but dumping me in the middle of munchkinland covers a multitude of sins, so i approved in spite of the bad tourguide. nick and i split from the other two to watch the beauty and the beast show. yeah, my idea. i don't think he was too wild about it until the barbershop quartet opened the show, cleverly disguised as technicians. neat.

and then we get around to the interesting thing about MGM... it sort of exists to say, "hey kids, this is how you make a movie, isn't it neat?"

we went on the backlot tour, which showed us how natural-disaster special effects were done. we toured the star wars and narnia and indiana jones props. we watched the extreme stunt show, you know, with the guys falling off of buildings and cars jumping semis and jet skis and fire and stunt driving... the cool thing about that show was that they were pretending to shoot a movie the whole time. our host was the "director's assistant". there were actors and stuntmen and "action!" and "cut!" and it was sweet. the indiana jones show was the same. they were "shooting a scene" and "harrison ford's stunt double" talked to the audience about what he does and how you shouldn't do it at home. they went through several parts of raiders of the lost ark. it was really cool. not as nostalgic, but a lot more fun than the magic kingdom. and do you think that my big little brother who wants to make movies had fun?

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but of course the nostalgia came in the form of fantasmic, which we all met up for at the end of the day. that was awesome. i don't want to ruin anything, okay, but mickey wins. he slays the dragon. the dragon.

day six- universal studios
on day six, curtis and scuba were a little theme-parked out. they thought, let's not go to universal but hang out with gabe instead. nick, who does not even know gabe, gave me several significant looks during these conversations, which clearly said "nooooooooooooooooo!" i articulated his thoughts for him, and told the guys that he couldn't help it, he was an artist. this is how it happened that nick and i ended up going to universal studios by ourselves. nice.

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first of all.... the inevitable comparison of parks. i was paying attention all day so i could tell gabe what it was like, because he's never been there (which he may have been a little bitter about, and understandably so, since he lives there). here's what i came up with:

universal gets a plus for being much, much less crowded. our longest universal line was way shorter than our shortest disneyworld line, fastpass or not. we walked right on to most of the rides and did everything we wanted to do... a few times. and universal was... cooler. a little less princess and little more jaws. it was just as fun, but not as happy. you don't get the feeling that every member of staff exists for the sole purpose of making your day better. you do, however, get the feeling that sometimes you might actually be in danger. there was lots of fire, and the explosions were much bigger and closer. all in all... i liked it better. but i'd still rather work at disney.

jaws rocked, and our tour guide girl was adorable. "oh my gosh, sharks!" she was cute.
men in black was so much fun... they give you a little ray gun and have you shoot the aliens as you're riding a long. it's great. i thought i was going good with 62,000 kills, until nick told me he got 128,000. well.
the mummy was AWESOME. as a mechanical engineer, it's hard for me to get a real thrill on a roller coaster. i have complete faith that there's a safety factor of like five at all times and i am in no danger whatsoever. but when the mummy gets pissed at you and engulfs the entire room in flames... we're talking floor, ceiling, walls... and you think, "this ride could go so wrong..." i love it.
the hulk was awesome.
the dueling dragons was really, really cool.
jurassic park was so much better than splash mountain.
dr. seuss land was the cutest thing ever, and i made nick go on the carousel filled with seussian animals. it was SO FUN. and i made him take a picture of me and what was probably my ziffer-zuit-zang, or something... i'll put that picture at the end.
spider man kinda sucked, i think it broke while we were on it, because we went sort of sideways and sat there for a while and the screen went dark. according to the other passengers we were supposed to free fall for a while, but that sure didn't happen. so it was bad, but not nearly as bad as...
back to the future. talk about a ruined day. i recovered from the motion sickness after a few hours, but nick looked "blah" for the rest of the day and refused to go on the dueling dragons with me. i think this star tours-style ride actually was made in 1985 and has not been updated since. the motions of the car don't quite match the screen, and if you're in the back seat of the eight-passenger delorean you get to smack your head against the fake flux capacitor the entire time. seriously, do not go on this ride. no one likes it. cool props though.

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not quite rides, not quite shows, these attractions pretend to stick you in a natural disaster... like the MGM backlot tour, only much, much cooler. the twister experience puts you at that drive-in theater that's in the movie. the tornado comes and throws cars and stuff at you. it's pretty cool. the earthquake, however, totally rocked.

so they put you in this windowless "subway" that's really one of those parking lot trams and pull you into a stop. i'm thinking, okay, the room will shake, the floor will crack, no big deal. look, you can even see where the floor is going to split. the earthquake starts. again, the engineer in me is thinking, "whee... i'm bored." but then we really started shaking. hmm. AND THEN! the ceiling caves in. but when you're on a subway, the ceiling is the street above, and up there you can see skyscrapers falling down and a semi is sliding down sideways RIGHT TOWARD YOU! it hits a pole and explodes in your face! and by this time you're shaking with many more degrees of freedom than you expected of this simple tram. AND THEN! hundreds and hundreds of gallons of water come rushing at you from the hallway on your right, and never mind why the street above is flooding, the point is, you're going to drown! but somehow, this really very impressive body of water rushing towards you goes down a drain beneath the tram that you didn't notice before, is that thing shaking, too? and then there's fire, just... everywhere. everything explodes. just when i'm thinking, "in real life, no one survives this..." the lady comes out and congratulates you for surviving.

yeah, that one was really cool.

shrek 3d was great, especially since the characters are all voiced by the original actors. people suck at imitating eddie murphy.
the terminator show may have been the best part of the entire trip. no, the late-night ferry ride was better... or was it? hmm.
but the real shocker was beetlejuice's monster rock show. we went at three, right after the disgusting back to the future, because we thought that sitting down for a bit would be best. unfortunately, everybody thinks the same thing at about that time, making three o'clock the absolute worst crowd for the poor live action monsters that sing rock and roll songs. so everybody was sitting there thinking, "i'm tired," "my feet hurt," "i'm motion sick from that blasted back to the future ride," or "i wish the kids would stop crying." except me.
i was jammin out. beetlejuice i could have done without, he was sort of lame, but when the wolfman, frankenstien and his bride, and dracula came out wearing metallic clothes and rockstar makeup... oh man. friends, you do not know humor until you hear the bride of frankenstien singing "i will survive." it was SO HILARIOUS! not to be outdone, dracula has to sing "livin la vida loca." oh my god. it was awesome. check out frankenstien:

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come on. that's funny.

when the park closed we went to the hard rock cafe, orlando, which nick says is the biggest one in the world. we had to wait like an hour for a table, but it was worth it because we got our food in like three minutes (no joke) and billy idol was our server. he even let me take his picture.

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stay tuned for the exciting conclusion of spring break...

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Tuesday, April 04, 2006

chronology is the winner

at 1:02 and three seconds on wednesday morning it will be:


i love stuff like that. of course it was bound to happen eventually, but it still feels like a milestone.

i have not forgotten about spring break, the novel (pt 2). for some reason finishing it seems almost as hard as finishing my real novel, even though the spring break "novel" was just supposed to be a joke. perhaps i jinxed myself. again.

the real reason is because i've had a take-home brit lit midterm that has been kicking my butt... or rather, i have been kicking its butt, and it has taken a long time because i am thorough in my essay butt-kicking method. i have a black belt in rhetoric-fu. at this point, i would do well to shut up, lest i jinx myself again and find out that i printed my paper before i saved my final proofreading changes or something, and mott gives me the oh-so-abrasive B+ with which dr. o loves to torment me. yes, i really am that superstitious.

so i'm done with the midterm, but now good ol' ghosh has about eighty pages for me to proofread, so tonight will not be the night, either. it's coming. i promise.