Tuesday, August 14, 2007
One of the many happy side effects of spending so much time with Jose is that I'm now familiar with all sorts of indie music. He really loves music, and on top of that, he loves spending time finding good music. This is very convenient, since all I have to do is just listen to his stuff, say "oh, I like that" and then he burns me a copy. Why bother trying to find it on my own when he is so good at it?
Now that I know the bands and the songs, I recognize them in commercials. (Yes, despite owning a Tivo, I still watch a lot of commercials because I still watch live TV. Also, I actually sort of like commercials.) The following examples come to mind:
+ Morningwood's "Nth Degree" playing in the background of a Mercury(?) car ad
+ The Outback Steakhouse commercial that not only licensed Of Montreal's "Wraith Pinned To The Mist And Other Games" but rewrote the lyrics: "Let's go Outback tonight, life will still be there tomorrow..."
+ The Friskies cat food commercial that I saw last night with a very familiar soundtrack that turned out to be Lemon Jelly's "Spacewalk"
Those are only five of many examples, and I guess you could argue that indie bands are "selling out." After all, aren't they indie because they're not supposed to care about the mainstream, or the corporate, or the popular?
But I don't know if I agree with that idea. It doesn't really bother me to hear their songs in a commercial. I figure it means that more people will be exposed to their music and if they like it, well, they probably would've liked it regardless. They don't like it just because it's in a commercial; they just discovered it that way. Not to mention that I'm sure the bands are willing to sell their songs because it earns them quite a bit of money. One online article quoted Of Montreal as saying that selling their song to Outback gave them the money to go on tour.
Jose, on the other hand, still thinks it's a little bit of a sell out. Mainstream music, he says, is like fast food: it's tasty enough, but overall it's bad for you.
I probably don't have enough "indie cred" to be entitled to an opinion anyway. Heh.
Monday, August 06, 2007
After ignoring the initial hype and the first month of its release, I bought an iPhone. I've had it for a week now, and thought I'd share my impressions. I feel like it will take at least a month or more before I'm ready to give a truly thorough review, and by that point, it probably won't be worth it, as so many other people have already written in-depth reviews. So I'll give you my one-week impressions. It's a long blog post, so read it at your whim.
It's interesting to note that this phone has gotten more backlash (as in "I think the iPhone sucks" reviews) than most phones or even most electronic devices in general. This is not because it is a poor product; this is because it was heavily hyped and as such, open to heavy criticism along with the accolades. Apple is one of those companies that garners strong opinions. People either love their products, or hate them. There aren't a lot of people out there who feel indifferent about Apple, at least not within the tech community.
I, however, am someone who falls in the middle. I'm not a fanatic, but I like Apple. I like their products. I like their attention to design, and to making something both useful and pretty. I have an iPod, an iPod Shuffle, and now an iPhone. I do not, however, have a Mac laptop or desktop. I've used their computers (mainly in college working for the newspaper) and liked them, but it hasn't been practical for me to switch. I have thought about switching before, but I have quite a bit of imaging and design software that was not cheap the first time around, and would not be cheap to replace with Mac versions. So I use a PC at home by choice, and I use a PC at work because that's what they gave me.
I read more reviews about the iPhone than about any product I've ever bought. Because of that, I knew what I was buying. I knew about a lot of its shortcomings, and I knew which would affect me the most. Knowing that, I still bought one, and I still think it is a very cool device.
My officemate just got a new phone that runs Windows Mobile, and he ragged on the iPhone a lot, listing the typical major faults: non-replaceable battery, fixed 4GB or 8GB capacity, no cut-and-paste. He also showed me all the things he could do with his phone, and all the things you can add to it via third party applications. I have to admit that it was very impressive. I have never had a smartphone until now, and I was very tempted to get the same thing he has because wow -- look at all the features and all the potential!
And yet potential is nothing if you're not going to use it. Or, to put it more accurately: my phone needs to do what I need it to do. Not what every other person out there might need their phone to do.
Take email, for example. His phone pulls his work email from JSC's Exchange server. My iPhone cannot do that, since I don't have adminstrative privileges on the server. Seems like a major issue, until you realize that I don't need to get my work emails on my phone. I've never needed that capability in the past, and I don't need it now. In fact, I don't even want it. I don't want to check my work email while I'm away from work. So what might be a problem for a lot of users is not a problem for me. The iPhone has no problem pulling my personal email from Gmail and my own domain, which I did want. If I do decide to check work email away from the office once in a blue moon, I can use the webmail interface.
All that said, here are the top issues I have with the iPhone. None of these are new; they are simply the issues that affect me.
(I should state that none of these caught me by surprise.)
+ It is overpriced. Probably by at least $200. This was the single biggest factor that kept me from buying one for the first month. Though I could (and eventually did) afford the $599 cost for an 8GB model, I wasn't sure that I wanted to. I looked on eBay, which could have saved me up to $75 if I was patient and bought a used-for-a-month model, but decided that $75 wasn't enough of a savings to justify me taking the chance of not buying directly from Apple (and thus having them behind me if I had problems.) I also thought long and hard about waiting for version 2, which undoubtedly be both cheaper and better if the evolution of the iPod is any indication. I didn't wait, so I'll probably just upgrade.
+ Inability to send a text message to more than one recipient. It is a feature that I rarely need, but when I do, it's very annoying not to have it. Makes it hard to send, say, a single text message to 5 people suggesting "Simpsons movie, 4:00 at the Cinemark." I hope this can also be fixed via software update, and soon.
+ Lack of cut-and-paste. As expected, it does bug me. Not a lot, but occasionally. I hope that Apple can fix it in a software update.
+ Necessity of iTunes. This is a more minor complaint, but I do wish there was a way to sync my Outlook calendar and contacts without having to start iTunes, or even without having to have iTunes installed on my computer (talking about my work computer here; I like iTunes as an application). My PDA used HotSync software that was activated by simply pressing a button on the cord, and that was nice.
+ Non-replaceable battery. Yep, it's bad that I can't replace the battery myself, since everyone knows that rechargable batteries will eventually start to go bad and lose their ability to hold a charge. Yes, I wish I could replace it. In buying the phone, I decided to simply cross that bridge when I get to it.
+ Required two-year AT&T contract. Nobody likes to be tied down.
+ Lack of Flash and some Java in the Safari browser. Actually, this doesn't bother me as much as I thought it would, however, I do wish I could see weather radar animations.
Issues That Bother Other People That Haven't Bothered Me So Far
+ Difficulties with Microsoft Exchange email servers. See above. I can easily sync my calendar and contacts via a physical cord connection when I am in the office, and that is all I wanted.
+ AT&T's EDGE network. For the first few hours that I was exploring the phone, I was using the wrong password protocol in trying to log on to Jose's wireless network. As a result, the phone defaulted on EDGE. I've also used it while out-and-about and not under the cover of any WiFi. EDGE is slow, yes, but reviews had led me to believe that it was practically unusable. I have not found that to be true. Sure, it could be faster, but it's very usable.
+ Camera shutter button. Reviews complained that it was hard to take a self-portrait, and that they wished the whole screen became the shutter button, or that there was a dedicated shutter button. Those are good ideas, but the current implementation seems ok to me.
+ Virtual keyboard. Maybe this doesn't bug me because I've never used a physical phone keyboard and thus don't know what I'm missing. In the web browser, when turned on its side for landscape mode, the keyboard is very easy to use. In email and other applications, when squished into a smaller space, the keyboard is more difficult to use, and I'm still practicing. The built-in spelling/word correction algorithm seems good though, and overcomes most of my mis-types.
+ Hard limit of 4GB or 8GB. I could be wrong, but most other smartphones take some kind of micro SD card, which are available in comparable capacity -- but not more. (My officemate mentioned getting a 2GB card for his new phone. That's 6GB less than my iPhone.) I'm sure micro SD cards will improve in capacity in the future so at some point I'm sure a Blackberry will be able to handle more than my iPhone, but at the moment, 8GB storage seems extremely competitive against other products on the market. And it's plenty for me.
+ Activation. The phone was a snap to activate. It was fully functional and capable of making outgoing calls within 10 minutes of plugging it into my computer. I activated on a Saturday night. I did have to carry around my old phone for a couple more days until it was able to receive calls, since my number wasn't fully ported until Monday, but I'm guessing they need a business day to do the transition.
+ It is just plain cool. Many people will scoff and say that "coolness" is not a legitimate thing to list as a positive, but I disagree. Good design is important, and to me, having something that is functional and beautiful is worth more than something that is functional but ugly. The iPhone is just a cool device. It is comfortable to hold. It is pretty to look at. It is fun to use and I enjoy having it. These intangibles are just as important to me as the technical specs.
+ It consolidates the amount of stuff in my purse. Again, people will scoff as this not being a legitimate positive, and I know that any smartphone could accomplish this. Regardless, Razr + PDA + 30 GB iPod has now become iPhone. I will still carry my iPod on occasion, as I cannot fit my entire music collection onto the 8GB iPhone. However, 8GB is more than enough room to carry around the music I happen to be listening to this month.
+ Google Maps. The application and implementation here is great. I don't know if other smartphones have the same interface or not but even if they do, I doubt it looks as nice. When Jose's car battery died, I just went to Google Maps, zoomed in to League City, and did a search for "auto." It popped up the nearest NTB store. I tapped on that, which gave me its website and phone number. I tapped on the phone number, and it dialed the store. Awesome.
+ The Internet looks like The Internet. Not a stripped down mobile version of the internet.
+ Screen. It's big. It's bright. It's awesome.
+ Battery life. I have already listed the fact that it's non-replaceable as a negative, but on the flip side, battery life is good. Better than expected, granted that it's only been a week. I do expect it to deteriorate; what remains to be seen is over what timeframe. On a full charge, the iPhone lasted 48 hours before dying (I let it run all the way down). This was with moderate to heavy use, including making and receiving calls, surfing the web, sending text messages, taking pictures, and checking email -- and remaining in standby (i.e. not powered off) when not in use. I was impressed.
+ It can use the same cord as the iPod. The supplied iPhone cord has a slightly smaller connector in terms of the amount of plastic on it, but the connector itself is the same. This means I don't have to buy any additional cords, since the extra iPod cord I already have at work will also connect to my iPhone. Apple doesn't have the best history of keeping stuff like that consistent between products and models, so I was excited.
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
I Touched an iPhone
On Sunday, I made a fatal mistake. (Fatal to my bank account, anyway.) After taking care of pre-trip necessities like getting Jose a suitcase that doesn't have a giant gash in the side, we had lunch in the food court. The path from the food court to the car passed directly in front of the Apple store. The Apple store had a table front and center full of iPhones.
"Jose, let's go play with an iPhone," I said.
This was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad idea. Because, you see, the iPhone is incredibly cool. It looks great. The screen is so bright and clear. Things zoom around the screen at the flick of a finger. I know there are other devices out there with the same capability, but none of them are as elegant or as pretty. And I am a sucker for good design.
I want one.
And now it's only a matter of when.
Monday, July 16, 2007
For the past couple weeks, I have been feeling very restless. This happens from time to time, when a lot of small things manage to build up until I feel like my whole life is off-kilter. At that point, I'm mentally susceptible to getting bummed out about pretty much anything, like:
I had a bad sim.
Someone made extensive jokes about how dumb running is, and that got on my nerves.
I can't decide whether to buy a house or not.
I "wussed out" on the triathlon yesterday, skipping it entirely.
I saw the new flight assignments this morning and my first flight in the front room is still two years away.
I panic at the thought of having to train for another two years.
None of my photos got selected for the Houstonist gallery show.
I wallowed in self-pity for a bit about the fact that I never got an email on Friday from Houstonist, which thus meant that none of my photos were selected. I know that photography is an incredibly subjective field and that what one person loves, another person detests. But I felt like one of my photos was a shoo-in. Even that one didn't get picked!
This morning, I got an email.
Sarah, I just left you a voice mail about this -- for some reason, when we sent the e-mails out to all the photographers whose work was selected for the show Friday, yours didn't go out. It was the only one, and I'm still not sure why it happened, but I apologize for that.
At any rate, better late than never, right? Congratulations!
Two of my photos were selected.
And suddenly I feel like such an idiot.
Even if I hadn't received that email, I'm still an idiot. I let myself get so bummed out by little things, and forget that my life is actually pretty awesome. I have a good job, even if it's boring sometimes and it seems like I'll never get through this training flow. I make enough money that I have the option of buying a house, which is more than most people have. I'm getting a raise. I have awesome friends. I'm in love. I have a great family. I'm less than 48 hours from a 5-day vacation.
Life is really good, and I'm really lucky.
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Reason number 3,297 why I love my boyfriend: he's living his dreams and I get a front row seat.
Friday, June 29, 2007
Ever since I got my laptop two years ago, I've had a weird problem with Internet Explorer: images are pixellated and somewhat garbled. I've messed around with the IE settings but have been unable to fix it. It's only a problem in Internet Explorer. Firefox, as well as all other non-internet applications, look fine.
Does anyone have any idea how to fix this??
(Internet Explorer on the left, Firefox on the right. Actual size -- IE displays larger than Firefox. Note the "TAY" text and the bird's wingtip if you really want to see the pixellation.)
Update: Well obviously I hadn't tried an internet search in a while. I googled for a bit and found this solution. Hallelujah, IE doesn't look like doodoo anymore!
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
My good friend Chris got married on June 9 in Denver, and I couldn't be there because of the shuttle launch. I was pretty bummed. Chris and I have been friends since we met as co-ops in 1999 (I think) and while I was sad to see him leave Houston last year, at least it was to a lovely place like Denver, and to be with a lovely girl like his new wife Lisa.
He sent me a link to his photo album tonight so I could see all the pictures since I wasn't there in person. Everything looked beautiful, but there was one photo that stood out.
That is officially the coolest cake I have ever seen. I wish I'd gotten to taste it!
Monday, May 28, 2007
Carina Faye Mendeck was born yesterday at 12:45 p.m! Congratulations Gavin and Jen!
For those keeping track, that's more than 12 hours after Jen's water broke while we were all over at Becca's house for fish night, foosball, and Guitar Hero. They didn't get much sleep, so we finally got to go visit today after they all got some well-deserved rest. Everyone seemed incredulous when I said I'd never been in a hospital before, but I really haven't (at least that I remember). I didn't know what to do or where to go, so I just went straight to the room and found Carina sleeping while Gavin rocked her. Awwww.
Now, I have not seen a lot of babies, but I still feel confident in saying that Carina is one incredibly cute baby. I got to hold her for a little while and though she kept on flailing her arms, she didn't open her eyes. She finally woke up and looked around when Gavin changed her diaper and she, of course, has very pretty eyes. She also has crazily large feet, which just means that when she's a teenager and is cursing that fact that she wears size 11 shoes, Cari and I can comisserate.
I'm so excited that she's a girl. Little girls are so cute.
Thursday, April 26, 2007
It's been one of those days. I have nothing to do but reading. As important as the Ku-band system is to the space shuttle and to rendezvous, it's not exactly holding my attention this afternoon.
Friday, April 20, 2007
I have had enough this week. Enough already. I don't want to hear any more stories about crazy gunmen here, there, or anywhere. I don't want to hear about people ending up in the emergency room. I don't want to hear that my email came through in Chinese. If anything goes wrong at the 5K tomorrow, I'm not quite sure I can take it. I don't want any more "final straws" on the already very large haystack.
Sarah is signing out for the weekend. Sayonara.
Friday, April 20, 2007
There's apparently a guy with a gun somewhere onsite at JSC. I'm not even at work right now -- I left to go do 5K packet pickup. So nobody worry.
Thursday, April 12, 2007
Really, really interesting article that I came across today: Pearls Before Breakfast.
Take a world-renowned violinist. Have him pick up his multi million dollar Stradivari violin. Have him choose some of the world's greatest music.
Then have him stand in a DC subway station in jeans and a baseball cap, playing that fabulous music on that very expensive violin.
How many people do you think would stop? How much money would they put in his case?
Saturday, March 31, 2007
I walked over from the hotel to the race site (about a half mile away) to check out the transition area and the swim-to-bike path. I wanted to see it with people using it so that I know what to expect tomorrow. Everything looks good! The swim-to-bike path isn't as long as I though (maybe a tenth of a mile) and the wetsuit strippers were cracking me up.
I walked back to the hotel with the race still going on, and ate some breakfast. I was sitting in my hotel room when the storm finally hit -- heavy rain and ferocious wind. I can see the bike course from my window, and I felt so, so bad for the people I could still see battling through the rain. It made me cringe to see their shadows through the sheets of water. Ugh. Ugh ugh ugh. That sucks so much. I hope they make it in. It's always the slower people (like me) that suffer the most. :(
Thankfully, the weather is looking great for tomorrow.
Thursday, March 29, 2007
Yesterday at the sim, during debrief for our last run, John knocked Nikki's water all over her keyboard and onto the console. We all pitched in to clean it up and remarked "well, thankfully it's only water, not coke."
I just spilled Coke Zero all over my keyboard.
Monday, March 05, 2007
It's going to be a long week. I made the mistake of looking at my calendar, only to find that my "must be at work by" times for the rest of the week are 7:30, 7:30, 7:30 and 6:30.
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
I just rescued 5 comments from the junk folder from Carter, Mrs. G, Steeeve, Christy, and Barbara. For the benefit of all, I thought I'd reiterate: when you leave a comment now, you must enter the word HELLO in the box below the comment field. You can write hello, Hello, HELLO, heLLo, or any other combination -- case doesn't matter -- but you have to enter that word or your comment gets scored negatively and sent straight to the junk folder, which I rarely check.
Wednesday, January 31, 2007
Worlds collide: Lance Berkman and Roy Oswalt enjoyed rides in the shuttle simulator last week when they (along with Jason Lane and Chris Sampson) visited JSC. I didn't go to see them, but I think it's cool that they were here! And now I can say that I've sat in the same chair as Lance Berkman. Heh.
Monday, January 22, 2007
I'm always indifferent about these blog tag games, but this one seems interesting enough that I'll do as June says and answer this little quiz.
So: I have to list 6 weird things about me or my personality and then tag 6 people to do the same. Except I'm not going to tag anyone at the end; you can just do it if you want.
1) I'm an excellent swimmer and have been swimming since before I can remember -- but I'm scared of deep water. Something about knowing that a huge volume of water is below me, filled with who-knows-what kind of weird alien sea creatures, freaks me out. When we went to Lake Tahoe last year for skiing and had dinner on the shore of the lake, I couldn't help but think about how that lake is something like 1000 feet deep, and how I'd be freaked out to be on a boat in the middle of it. I'd go into space, but I would definitely not go in one of those submersible thingys with the big bubble window. Scary.
2) Along a similar vein, I have an irrational fear of drains, especially pool drains. Don't know why; I must've read a story when I was a kid about somebody getting sucked in or something. The Clear Lake rec center pool (that I've just joined) makes me a little anxious because one end of the pool is 13 feet deep (see weird thing #1), and there are two big drains. Surrounded by dirt and stuff. And the concrete is all discolored. And they freak me out!! I know this fear is irrational, so I deal with it, but I'd be lying to say that it's not bubbling under the surface.
3) I think Jello is disgusting -- the pudding is fine, but not the day-glo colored, slightly transparent, jiggly stuff. Something about all the jiggling makes me want to hurl, and the slimy texture doesn't help matters. The few times I've eaten Jello, I've had to consciously suppress my gag reflex to get it down.
4) You know that machine at the eye doctor that blows a puff of air into your eye? I don't know what it's checking for, but I like it that machine. Yes, I said I like it.
5) Every time I get on a plane, especially if I'm sitting near the engine, I imagine a turbine blade coming off and slicing through the cabin. Never any other kind of disaster -- just that one. I know those things are shielded pretty well, and that the chances of a blade coming off, and coming off such that it goes back towards the fuselage, are minimal. But I still wonder about it. Did you know that on that Aloha Airlines flight in 1988 where the top half of the fuselage ripped off in-flight, some of the passengers actually saw cracks in the metal when they boarded the plane, and just didn't mention it because they assumed it was ok? If I ever see cracks on an airplane or engine cowling, I am SO telling someone.
6) When I get out of the shower, I always dry off in the same way. Even before I get the towel, I squeeze as much water as I can out of my hair, then wipe the extra dribbles of water off my arms and chest. Then I get the towel, dry my hair and face, then upper body, then I dry the bottom of each foot as I step out of the shower and onto the bathmat. I know there's a mat, but I still dry my feet first. Then legs. Then hair again, and finally I'm done.
p.s. One more!
7) I am totally, absurdly, beyond a reasonable level anal-retentive about grammar, spelling, typography, and handwriting. If you have messy handwriting, don't fill out invitations by hand -- get them printed! If you know you can't spell -- get a proofreader (and not an automated spell checker). Blogs are one thing, and I can hold my tongue for informal communications (and I make mistakes myself, I admit), but overall I am absurdly picky about that stuff.
Saturday, October 21, 2006
I'm alternating between watching the
I'm alternating between watching the first game of the World Series and watching the Georgia Tech game. I was just on the ballgame when the Cardinals took a 4-1 lead. I'll give you one guess who put the Cards ahead.
Since the Tigers play in the American League, maybe they missed the memo. Hey Tigers, listen up: DON'T PITCH TO PUJOLS!
Saturday, October 21, 2006
Ironic: the adjective form of
Ironic: the adjective form of irony, meaning an incongruity between the actual result of a sequence of events and the normal or expected result.
Ironic: I got my worst sunburn of the year deep in the Texas countryside shooting a marching band competition on a day in late October that was supposed to be full of thunderstorms.
Monday, October 16, 2006
If I don't get washed
If I don't get washed away on my way home, I plan to sit in my pajamas and drink hot chocolate all night. It's not actually cold outside, but it's dark and dreary and gray and I want to curl up. My class was cancelled because of all the rain! It's like a tropical storm without a cool name. Without class to think of, I considered going to the HARRA board meeting, until I realized that would mean driving 30 miles in torrential rains when some of the roads are flooded and there are a million other people trying to get home from work. So no-go on that idea.
Here is the bayou out my window on a normal day:
Here it is today:
I'm not sure I've ever seen it so full!
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
I offered to be a
I offered to be a human test subject for a study they're doing at work on a new exercise (weight-lifting) device that Chris has worked on. I was denied for not being "height/weight proportionate." Their height/weight chart says that the maximum weight for my height (5'8") is 164 pounds. I'm over that by about 20 pounds. At my lightest in the past decade, I was still over that by 5 pounds. And I thought I looked pretty damn good at 169. I'd love to get back there.
I'm annoyed. I know that I'm on the heavy side, and I could definitely afford to lose 20 pounds -- and I'm trying to as I speak. But I don't feel like I'm unhealthy. I run, swim, bike, play soccer, softball, etc. I do more physical activity that the majority of people I know.
Mostly, I'm just annoyed that the height/weight tables can still make me feel bad about myself.
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
Adding insult to injury: yesterday
Adding insult to injury: yesterday I got a UPS Express envelope. Inside was $2150 worth of Astros postseason tickets. Three tickets each to every Division Series, League Championship Series and World Series game.
Monday, September 25, 2006
You know how sometimes one
You know how sometimes one of the bumps (tastebuds?) on your tongue gets all inflamed and swollen? And it's really tender and sends a jolt of sensitivity through your mouth when it scrapes against your teeth? But somehow you just can't stop scraping it against your teeth??
It's bugging me to no end. Plus, I'm sniffly. Plus, my throat is prickly and I'm starting to feel very fuzzy-headed.
I predict a cold. And working 12 hours today (I was in early to meet with astronauts ;) and am staying late for a sim) is not going to help.
I need to run 6-7 miles on Sunday to convince myself that I can handle the USA 10-Miler. (Note that my goal for the 10-Miler is just to cover the distance.) Please harass me if I don't do my long run!
Thursday, September 21, 2006
I was just balancing my
I was just balancing my virtual checkbook and recording the fact that I bought a plane ticket to Atlanta for Rachel's wedding, and, feeling masochistic I guess, I decided to look up how much I've paid Continental over the years.
In the past 4 years, Continental Airlines has gotten almost $7,000 from me.
And that doesn't include work trips -- this is just personal travel. And that also doesn't include a few trips here and there where I went with the cheaper airline. And it doesn't include two $500 trips to Europe. When all is said and done, I've probably spent close to $10,000 in the last 4 years on plane tickets.
That might not be a lot for some people, but it seems like a lot for me. It's a good thing I have a job that pays for my travel habit!
Saturday, August 26, 2006
I was just channel flipping
I was just channel flipping and stopped on the Discovery Channel, where they are doing a marathon of a show called "Dirty Jobs." Literally -- dirty jobs, where people get all sorts of messy.
The current show is about the KC-135 tanker, how they refuel other planes in-air, and how they're cleaned by "tank rats." They cleaned out the fuel tank in one of the KC-135s, replaced one of the fuel bladders that had been leaking, and then took it on a test run over Kansas.
I couldn't help but think of Becca when I noticed that the tank cleaner, the KC-135 pilot, and the fuel boom operator were all women. Becca, though I know you're not big on the military, I thought you'd appreciate that. :)
Tuesday, August 01, 2006
For my more computer-saavy friends:
For my more computer-saavy friends: I need an easy way to import an Excel table into a SQL database. I know this is possible. I just don't know how. Help!
Update: Ok, hopefully this is more accurate. What I really need is some sort of SQL database management software. This is my first time working with databases. I understand the concept -- tables and stuff. Is there something that will let me manage the tables similar to Excel? Like a database-connected version of Excel? Am I sounding crazy? If that doesn't exist, I just want a way to upload an Excel table and merge it into the database.
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
Last night Jose and I
Last night Jose and I watched Control Room, a documentary on al-Jazeera (the Arab news network) made in 2004. The topic, of course, is how the war in Iraq was covered, with emphasis on the journalists stationed at U.S. Central Command outside Doha, Qatar.
Al-Jazeera was constantly criticized during the conflict by Bush, Rumsfeld and others (and continues to be criticized today) because 1) they were perceived to report with a pro-Iraqi bias, 2) they showed graphic images of civilian casualties, and 3) they showed footage of American POWs (you probably remember Rumsfeld complaining that this was a violation of the Geneva Convention). But this documentary shows a different side of the news network -- it shows how they try to be objective, while recognizing that they are sympathetic to the Arab people. But how, they wonder, is that any different from outlets like Fox News being sympathetic to the American point of view?
There were two characters that were particularly interesting -- and actually, I guess I shouldn't call them characters, since they are real people -- Hassan Ibrahim, an al-Jazeera journalist, and Lieutenant Josh Rushing, a U.S. military press officer. (Interestingly, Lt. Rushing resigned from the Marine Corps and has now joined Al-Jazeera International as a correspondant and military analyst.)
Journalist: "Who can defeat the Americans? They are so strong."
Hassan Ibrahim: "The Americans will defeat the Americans. I have ultimate faith in the American Constitution."
He didn't meant that in a bad way -- he didn't meant that we'd be our own downfall. I believe he meant that he had ultimate faith that the American public would realize that bombing the crap out of Iraq was (and is) crazy.
Joshua Rushing: "The night they showed the American POWs and dead soldiers... it was powerful, because Americans won't show those kinds of images. It made me sick to my stomach."
[the previous night Al Jazeera had shown similar images of Arab casualties, "equally if not more horrifying", but they hadn't affected Rushing as much; now he compares his reaction to the two...]
Joshua Rushing: "I just saw people on the other side, and those people in the Al Jazeera offices must have felt the way I was feeling that night, and it upset me on a profound level that I wasn't bothered as much the night before. It makes me hate war. It makes me hate war, but it doesn't make me believe that we're in a world that can live without war yet."
That's what made Rushing a great player in this documentary. He didn't endlessly preach the military's "party line." He spoke more openly and honestly than I had expected from a miliary media liaison, and as a viewer, I felt like I was watching him ask the same questions of himself that many of us were asking here at home. Why were we bombing? Is it really "liberating" Iraq if we leave them with piles of rubble where their cities used to be?
Did you know that the U.S. bombed journalists? I don't remember hearing much about that story in 2003. The official story is that we were fired upon, but regardless -- we bombed journalists. Al-Jazeera has footage of an A-10 dropping bombs on them, and their correspondant was killed. We bombed the Palestine Hotel, where many members of the media were staying. The media let us know where they were; we knew they were there; we bombed them. It's a scary thought to think that we might have done that because they weren't sending the message we wanted to hear.
Anyway, I don't really want to write a whole blog entry about my feelings on the war in Iraq and our continued presence there, mainly because it would take me a very long time to put my scattered thoughts into some kind of cohesive format. From the little I've written, I'm sure you can draw some conclusions about my personal views anyway. (Heck, you can probably figure that out from the fact that I watched the documentary in the first place.)
It was, however, a very interesting documentary that I'd recommend if you are interested in a different take on the media, especially the Arab media, and how they covered the war.
Monday, July 10, 2006
Vic and others -- you
Vic and others -- you should be able to comment again. I either need a better comment spam filter, or just a better comment spam filter user. (That would be me, who made a mistake again and blocked anything that had "blogspot" in it, which would be your URLs. Sigh.)
I also forgot to mention earlier today that Jose and I saw the shuttle/station complex fly over Houston on Friday night. We had to stop on the side of the road, since we were on our way from dinner to the movies, but it was worth it -- very bright, and a max elevation of 80+ degrees! I wish I'd thought to mention it sooner, since there was another great pass last night.
There is one more pass tonight. Max elevation is only 20 degrees, so if you look you will need a clear view of the horizon. But it's worth a shot. Get the times and directions here. I can't believe NASA doesn't do a better job of advertising this stuff. Sigh.
Monday, June 26, 2006
Apparently this is the "Week
Apparently this is the "Week of Babies" on my blog. Catherine and Christopher, two good family friends, had their twins yesterday! Whitney and Mary. Two girls.
Thursday, June 22, 2006
Cayce had the baby today!
Cayce had the baby today! Henry was born at 9:13 a.m. Aw, so cute. Congratulations Cayce and Dave!
Tuesday, June 06, 2006
I'm only about 90% certain,
I'm only about 90% certain, but I think I graduated high school on June 6, 1996. Which means that I am officially 10 years out of high school. So much, and yet so little, has happened in those ten years.
In honor of the big anniversary, my shoe fell apart.
I've been a little stressed lately, which, interestingly and annoyingly, has manifested itself in upper back pain. Well, maybe not pain as much as just general discomfort. Boo.
Tuesday, May 30, 2006
The project that I spend
The project that I spend 50% of my time on makes me feel like an idiot.
This afternoon, with Gavin back at JPL, I was summoned into action to explain a design process to our new summer co-op. I stumbled over half my words, couldn't answer half his questions, and looked like an idiot as I couldn't get half of the programs to work correctly the first time.
This is my constant problem with this project, and it's plagued me for two years. See, feeling stupid makes me procrastinate, because I'd rather work on things that don't make me feel stupid. Then I get behind and forget how to do even the simple things that I'd managed to understand. Then I want to quit the project entirely because I feel like I am making zero contribution, and hate feeling like an idiot all the time. So I tell myself that I'm thinking irrationally, and promise myself to try harder. I come to work feeling reinspired, only to inevitably hit some roadblock within approximately 15 minutes. I feel like an idiot all over again.
Wash, rinse, repeat.
This is why I don't think I'm meant to be an engineer for much longer.
On a less depressing note, my brother continues his travels in Europe with this amusing tale (and apparently his typing sucks):
"Dublin was miserably cold, rainy, and sort of depressing; but the Guiness ,useu, was cool and included free fresh Guiness in a bar overlooking the city. I stayed up there a while since the weather was bad, and found some other Americans to talk to. From Dublin I flew yesterday to Eindhove. I took the train from there to Maastrict and then to Belgium. I had poorly planned and aound up at a train station at 2 in the morning, surrounded by unsavory characters and no other trains for over two hours. Luckily a guy who turned out to be Irish and from Kilkenny spotted me and realized I was in a bad situation. He let me stay the night on his couch to catch a few hours sleep before heading out in the morning. He told me how he could tell I wasnt sure what to do and wanted to help because a lot of people there and in the rest of Europe wouldnt in a similar situation. Thankfully Irish people are very friendly and he tunred out to be in the right place at the right time for me. I wont make the mistake of being in a train station witout somewhere to go again."
Friday, May 12, 2006
While I was busy flying
While I was busy flying on the Vomit Comet yesterday, my brother was busy graduating from Carolina with his Masters of Accounting! Congratulations Brian! (Photos courtesy of muh sustah Katie.)
Tuesday, May 09, 2006
Jose took me to the
Jose took me to the symphony last Friday night to hear them perform Holst's "The Planets" while they showed imagery from Voyager and the Hubble on two big screens above the orchestra. It was very cool to hear "Mars" while flying through Valles Marineris, and "Jupiter" while watching the Great Red Spot whirl and swirl.
It was also very cool to get dressed up and go out on the town, even if my Vomit Comet physiological training and the fact that I wasn't done until after 5:30 meant that our "romantic dinner" consisted of stopping at Whataburger on the way home and eating it on my coffee table. ;)
This was the first time I've seen the Houston Symphony and they did not disappoint. What did disappoint me, however, was the imagery used in the slideshow. It didn't appear to be something the Symphony itself put together, and so perhaps the responsibility doesn't lie with them, but the photos were quite out of date. Stunning, yes, but dated -- I estimate that it must have been made about 10 years ago. There were a few photos from Mars Pathfinder (1996), but the images of the outer planets were all from Voyager and Pioneer. There were none of Galileo's amazing images of Jupiter and its moons (or Venus, which it flew by) from the late 1990s. There were none of Cassini's stunning photos of Saturn and Titan from its past two years in orbit there. And there were none of Spirit and Opportunity's awesome pictures of the surface of Mars.
I doubt most of the audience even noticed. But that, combined with Space Day on Saturday, has had me thinking about NASA's public image lately.
Space Day was held Saturday at the George Observatory, a small observatory about an hour away from Clear Lake in Brazos Bend State Park. I went to take photos, but I listened to a lot of the presentations as well. First up was "Mad Science" from the Houston Museum of Natural Science, with an hour-long session led by the very engaging Dr. Molecule. He lit things on fire! He made fog! He sucked an egg into a flask! It was fun, it was entertaining, and the kids loved it.
A little later, an astronaut spoke. He stood at the front of the room and showed some Powerpoint slides with neat photos of training and his mission. He used big words and long sentences. He called it a "manipulator" instead of a robot arm. He said the shuttle has "very poor aerodynamic performance" on entry instead of saying it drops like a brick. He didn't invite interaction from the kids.
Everything he said was entirely precise and technically accurate. And everything he said sounded boring.
The kids looked around. They poked their friend next to them. The shifted in the chairs and shuffled their feet on the floor. The adults asked some questions, but the kids were gone. Their attention was elsewhere. They wanted to know when they could get out of that stuffy classroom and go pet the snake outside in the lobby, or make a balloon rocket.
Why is it that astronauts are selected based solely on their technical merit? Is it because we think that the space shuttle can only be flown by the country's smartest people? (News flash: any of you reading this could probably fly it too with the proper training.) I do not by any means intend to slight or belittle the astronauts here; they are incredibly intelligent people and have done amazing things. But fact is, astronauts are the public face of NASA, and sometimes I think they could be doing a better job.
NASA gets applications from thousands of technically qualified people who want to be astronauts. Instead of choosing one over the other because one has a Ph.D. versus a "mere" Bachelor's degree, can you imagine what things might be like if a happy and outgoing personality was just as big a factor in selection? If public speaking skills were required? If educational outreach experience was a consideration?
Just imagine what could happen if the most public faces of NASA were never boring!
Saturday, May 06, 2006
When we flew on the
When we flew on the Vomit Comet in 1999, my pre-flight training ride in the hypobaric chamber was interesting -- after a couple minutes of breathing air at a simulated 25,000 feet, I put down my pencil, looked up, and completely zoned out. I have a hazy memory of the test conductors helping me put my mask back on, and regaining my senses on the 100% oxygen it provided. I expected a similar reaction yesterday. So imagine my surprise when my hypoxia symptoms this time around were totally different!
After pre-breathing 100% oxygen for half an hour to rid our bodies of some nitrogen and lower the risk of getting the bends (yep, just like a scuba diver), we went from sea level to 25,000 feet in a mere five minutes. This is accomplished, of course, by sucking air out of the chamber with a big vacuum pump. The percentage of oxygen doesn't change, but the partial pressure does. Your body can't get as much oxygen and you start to feel, well, drunk. Yep, breathing the air at 25,000 feet has about the same effect as drinking a six pack!
The people on the other side of the chamber took off their masks first, so I got to laugh and point at Becca, who was sitting across from me and exhibits the classic symptom -- euphoria. It was fun egging her on in her hypoxic state. Mwa ha ha.
After that it was my turn to drop my mask and instantly go to the level of Mt. Everest. I expected to feel dizzy quickly, and then start to zone out. Instead, and surprisingly, I can honestly say that I never really lost track of where I was or what was going on. I was breathing more deeply, a little dizzy, a little happy, and a little slow, but I stayed coherant for the entire five minutes. I lost some awareness -- for instance, I didn't notice that the teacher next to me was totally cheating by looking at my worksheet (which has simple math problems and questions to test your reasoning as you get more and more hypoxic). And at three minutes, I wrote down that my symptom was "hot cheeks," which amused everyone later on as we descended back to sea level.
It took me a little while to realize that my difference in symptoms is probably due to the fact that between 1999 and 2006, I became a runner. I raised my level of fitness. I am in far better shape now than I was seven years ago, and I think it showed in the hypobaric chamber.
It's funny that it took a hypobaric chamber run to make me realize that even when I'm berating myself for having been a lazy bum over the past few months, I'm still so much farther ahead than I once was.
Tuesday, May 02, 2006
Letters to the Editor, Stanford
Letters to the Editor, Stanford Magazine, May/June 2006:
I am writing as a proud alumnus of Stanford and a proud faculty member at Georgia Tech. The article "Turning the Tide" (November/December) describes an Indonesian student who wanted to study industrial engineering at Georgia Tech. The student was urged "to raise his sights and think about Stanford." Raise his sights? The engineering programs at both Georgia Tech and Stanford are typically considered among the top five nationally. In fact, Georgia Tech's industrial engineering program has been ranked No. 1 in the nation every year for more than a decade. In the future, please refrain from publishing disparaging comments about peer institutions.
Mark Prausnitz, '88
And as a proud alumnus of both Georgia Tech and Stanford, I'd have to say: Right on, Mark. Hear, hear.
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
Congrats to Cassie, who finally
Congrats to Cassie, who finally posted about getting engaged last Friday! (She'd already graced us HRBers with the news.) Yay Cassie and Manny!
Wednesday, March 29, 2006
Do I really have to
Do I really have to come back to the real world? Vacation was so nice.
Tuesday, March 21, 2006
I just did my taxes.
I just did my taxes. It took about 15 minutes, and I get $82 back!
I couldn't resist calculating what I'd get back if I weren't an honest person, and didn't report the income I made from photography last year. $407.
I'm never buying a house. Taxes are way easier without a house.
Friday, March 17, 2006
After a long but busy
After a long but busy week, I had enough hours to leave work before 4:00 today and get a pedicure.
The last time I had a pedicure was Tuesday, October 18, 2005. I remember this date for one reason: it was the day after Game 5 of the NLCS. That was the game where all of us in the stadium thought the Astros were about to go to the World Series. Where they were one out away. Where Albert Pujols hit a monster home run to send it to Game 6 in heart-stopping fashion. I was so bummed the next day that I got a pedicure to cheer myself up.
I must be the only girl alive who remembers when she had her last pedicure based on a baseball game.
Tuesday, March 14, 2006
My desktop background randomizer just
My desktop background randomizer just switched to a gorgeous photo of the Cuernos Del Paine (in Torres Del Paine National Park in Chile, of course). And finally, finally, I was able to say to myself think: "Been there, done that."
Tuesday, March 07, 2006
One of my favorite things
One of my favorite things about vacation is that even when it's busy, there is downtime. We had a pretty tight schedule planned for the limited time we had in South America, and we accomplished it all -- did all the hikes we wanted to do, saw all the sights we wanted to see. Even with our hectic schedule, there was plenty of downtime while traveling from one place to another, or just taking an hour or two to relax and sit around.
With the downtime, I always read. I read all the time when I was a kid, but I realized that lately, all my reading is done while on vacation. The sad part is that I have a very specific process of vacation reading.
First, of course, is the guidebook. Usually something from Lonely Planet, but this time it was Moon. I always read the guidebook obsessively. I read about the history of where we're going. I read about the attractions. I read about how to get there, how to get around, and where to do laundry (and we don't even do laundry on vacation). I study the maps in great detail, which has the added bonus of giving me a good sense of direction once we arrive. I even read about places we're not going, and places I'll probably never go. I read the language section in the back, where it tells you how to say necessary phrases such as "hello," "where is the bathroom," and "My friend twisted her ankle on a glacier, do you have an ace bandage?" (The last one, of course, also involves a lot of hand-waving.)
I also can't keep myself from reading the parts that I find most interesting out loud. This bothers Karen and Becca to no end, I might add, which just makes me want to do it even more. :)
So I love to read the guidebooks, and learn all the nitty gritty information. I suppose this shouldn't be much of a surprise to certain people like Kent, who once saw me pass the time driving from Atlanta to Jefferson City by studying each and every page -- in detail -- of the Rand McNally Road Atlas. I love guidebooks, and I love maps.
After I've devoured the guidebook like a good little tourist, I have time to read whatever else I brought along, or, in the case of this trip, whatever someone else brought along. Over the last few days of the trip I got halfway through Becca's book. It's a novel by some famous Latin American author and takes place in a fictional country modeled on Chile. It was interesting enough to get me reading quickly while we were still in South America, but in the week since I've been back, the book -- still only halfway finished -- has been lying on my couch.
I used to read all the time, and now I never do. I've even fallen behind on my magazines. I've got at least two issues of Outside and four of Backpacker sitting around that I haven't read. And the thing is, I miss reading. I don't know what I do with that time these days; I suppose I probably spend it on the computer, working on a website or some kind of graphic design now that I've been taking a class.
I want to find more time to read. Reading is fun.
I finished my second web design project. It's stupid. The assignment was to create a family album, but he said we could interpret "family" in whatever way we wanted. After enduring endless comments about the camera store in my backpack (and along with my humble opinion that most online family albums are cheesy), I decided to be a little silly and make a "family album" of my camera equipment. Here it is. It's full of rollovers and navbars, which is very uncharacteristic of my sites. I tend to dislike the flashy stuff more than I like it, merely because it's usually done badly. But such was the assignment. Sigh.
Monday, March 06, 2006
Today my brother is 26.
Today my brother is 26. Happy Birthday David!
Thursday, February 16, 2006
Gavin commented at lunch today
Gavin commented at lunch today that he's never seen me play with my hair until this week, saying "you must really be nervous." This was interesting to me since I recently told someone that it was not a nervous habit, but rather just a habit. It's one of the reasons I always consider cutting my hair back to shoulder length -- so that I stop playing with it so much, and picking at my split ends. But maybe I was wrong. In that case, I've been nervous for like three weeks running.
Sunday, February 12, 2006
I heart the Olympics. If
I heart the Olympics. If I could win an Olympic medal in one of the Olympics sports, I know which sports I'd choose. Summer? Soccer or swimming. Winter? Speed skating or cross country skiing.
What sport would you choose?
Monday, February 06, 2006
I just got my invitation
I just got my invitation to Andrew and Sari's wedding. It's on April 9 in good ol' North Carolina. Yay!
Thursday, February 02, 2006
On tonight's premiere of Survivor:
On tonight's premiere of Survivor:
"We trust each other. In that case, I have a secret to tell you. I retired from NASA, but while I was working for NASA, I did more than just work on the space shuttle. I flew on the space shuttle."
I can't decide if the astronaut is getting voted off as soon as possible, or if he's there until the end. Seems like it's an either/or proposition. It can't possibly remain a secret for long, and then? Either they like having an astronaut on their team...or they don't.
Thursday, February 02, 2006
My desktop computer has been
My desktop computer has been crawling under the strain of Adobe CS2. Sigh. Memory hog. When I ordered the computer almost a year and a half ago, I only got 512MB of RAM. What was I thinking? Tonight, in under an hour, I:
Voila. Despite the recent wireless issues (which appear to have been solved momentarily by changing the channel on the router), I'm feeling all computer-saavy again, and for less than $100! Now what do I do with the old memory??
Yes, I know how incredibly easy it is to add RAM. Don't burst my bubble.
Though I am wondering what to do when the day comes that my laptop needs more...
Wednesday, February 01, 2006
Today's word of the day
Today's word of the day is awesome.
abulia • \ay-BOO-lee-uh\ • noun
: abnormal lack of ability to act or to make decisions
As in, "Sarah seems to be suffering from from abulia -- she just can't decide what to give up in order to, you know, get enough sleep to be at work at a reasonable hour."
Friday, January 27, 2006
In December, we all found
In December, we all found out that Houston was getting a Major League Soccer team. I was very excited at the prospect of getting to watch some good soccer on a regular basis. San Jose retained the "Earthquakes" name, so the Houston team would get something new. Something cool. Something great, right?
That's the name, er, the number, of the new soccer team.
In some backwards attempt to commemorate the history of the city by naming the team after the year in which it was founded (also the year of the Alamo -- which, as Doug pointed out, the Texans lost -- and the Battle of San Jacinto), I think Houston has just given itself the honor of having the team with the dumbest name in the entire freaking country. People in San Jose seem to agree: "We've all heard the legend of General Sam Houston crossing the ball to Davy Crockett, who removed the coonskin cap long enough to launch a header toward the far post." Yeah.
(Thanks Laurie for the link.)
Thursday, January 19, 2006
I was just thinking about
I was just thinking about that saying, the one that says "good things come in threes." I always thought it was a bunch of hooey. (Side note. Hooey. What a great word.) Anyway, I always thought it was a bunch of hooey...until this week. This week "good things come in threes" has been proven true in the most unexpected of ways.
And that's all I got to say 'bout that for now.
Thursday, January 19, 2006
The Daily Show had a
The Daily Show had a great bit last night: "The Most Recent NASA Project and its Implications for Scientific Research." Complete with majestic music. Jon Stewart spoke over photos of the Stardust recovery, calling it "the first night vision footage ever shot not featuring sex or something blowing up." Hee hee.
Sad part is, being on the Daily Show is better publicity is better than anything we can do...
Tuesday, January 17, 2006
I need to take a
I need to take a self-portrait. I need to do it by the end of Sunday. It may or may not have me with my camera. But most importantly, I need it to be a really kick-butt photo.
You got any ideas?
Tuesday, January 17, 2006
I should note: the Joel
I should note: the Joel and Katie Chalmers household -- established a mere 7 months ago -- will be divided this weekend as the Seahawks and Panthers meet in the NFC Championship game.
You'll be outnumbered there in NC, Joel. Sorry. ;)
Monday, January 09, 2006
Apparently our soccer game was
Apparently our soccer game was even more intense than I thought. I have been getting more and more sore all day -- by the minute! If it were just my legs, I could chalk it up to yesterday's race. But even my back and shoulders are aching! I hope that girl that took me down is as sore as I am. Geez! :)
Monday, January 09, 2006
It is going to be
It is going to be time for a new iPod very, very soon. Buttons that only work half the time are a problem. Songs that are halfway through and then randomly skip back to the beginning are a problem. Crappy battery life is a problem.
Any ideas about what to do with an old, oddly functioning 10GB iPod?
Wednesday, January 04, 2006
For 2006: + Lose 10
+ Lose 10 pounds*
+ Maintain a base level of fitness through the hot, hot summer
+ Train for the MS150 (instead of just gutting it out)
+ Do another triathlon (Olympic distance hopefully)
+ Shoot on the field at another professional sporting event**
+ Double my photography income over what it was in 2005
+ Read my camera's manual all the way through
+ Learn to effectively use my hot-shoe flash
+ Play my flute, for the first time since leaving Stanford
+ Continue graphic design classes at UHCL or elsewhere
+ Certify as an ARD (flight controller)
+ Write and publish my STS-107 paper
* I hate this resolution. It's so generic. However, I am 7-8 pounds heavier than I was at this time last year, and my clothes are a little tighter. Boo.
** Technically, tonight's Interliga games count. But to be more specific, I'm thinking MLB, NBA, or NFL.
Thursday, December 01, 2005
I'm trying to make up
I'm trying to make up my Christmas list to pass on to Mom, and I'm actually having trouble. What should I ask for?? Has anybody heard me mention wanting something lately that I didn't just go out and buy?
Saturday, November 19, 2005
It's a weekend of movies!
It's a weekend of movies! Last night we saw Serenity at the dollar theater. (The dollar theater is actually $1.50. False advertising!) Then this afternoon we braved the crowds of kiddies and tweens to see Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. A few short thoughts...
+ Snape is woefully underused. I love Snape. I love how Alan Rickman plays him. I want more Snape. The few moments where he has a role, however, are fabulous.
+ Rupert Grint (Ron) is starting to look older than his character. The other two are still ok, but Ron looked older than 14.
+ Fleur wasn't quite how I pictured her. She was smart and beautiful, but she didn't...flounce...enough. She needed more flounce. More ooh la la.
+ The movie also needed more CRAZY GARY OLDMAN! Poor Sirius Black, limited to just a scene in the fire. I know he's not in the book much. Still sad though. I love Sirius.
+ I'm going to start walking around sighing like the girls from Beauxbatons (when they enter the school). It looks like fun.
+ While the boys are all getting, well, uglier or at least more awkward-looking, Hermione is turning into a total babe.
+ I like how Hogwarts keeps on randomly growing, and having new buildings added. There was some sort of aqueduct now. And the owl house was different. And some waterfall. Wherever Hogwarts supposedly is, it's beautiful and I want to live there.
+ My biggest complaint about the movie is something that, sadly, probably won't improve in the remaining films -- it's that there is just too much story to cram into a 2.5 hour movie. Everything feels rushed. Everything happens so fast. The movie jumps from plot point to plot point with little time to think.
+ The exception to the rush, thankfully, is the final scene. Voldemort (and Ralph Fiennes) is suitably creepy, and the pace slows down enough that you truly get to enjoy (though "enjoy" is probably the wrong word) the graveyard showdown.
Tuesday, November 08, 2005
So I now have an
So I now have an old non-functioning DSL modem. Anyone know what I can do with it? Can I just toss it in the trash? Can it be recycled?
Tuesday, November 08, 2005
Most of the time I
Most of the time I am really, really bad at returning email. I procrastinate. I put it off. It's just something my friends accept, or at least learn to live with.
In the middle of the whole Hurricane Rita evacuation, I got an email from my old high school friend Amanda making sure I was ok. I wrote her back to assure her that I was fine and in a safe place. After the city repopulated, I got an email from my friend Cayce, who had talked to Amanda and was now jokingly jealous that I had -- gasp -- actually emailed someone.
I got lazy and never responded to Cayce's email, of course.
I just got home and had another email from her. Subject line: "I'm pregnant. NOW will you email me back??"
"Ha, ha," I thought. "Yeah right. Though that would would be a clever way to get me to respond..."
I opened the email.
Cayce is pregnant!
Cayce and Dave are gonna have a kid!
Thursday, November 03, 2005
"Until one is committed, there
"Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative and creation, there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, the Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way."
Tuesday, October 25, 2005
Three other things: 1) I
Three other things:
1) I am wearing my Astros jersey at work. I love how the Astros have provided us an excuse to dress casual.
2) It is totally not Bud Selig's call on whether the roof stays open or not. It's the Astros' stadium. The Astros' roof. If the Astros want the roof closed, the roof should be closed, dammit.
3) I have not run in a week. :( I've barely been getting enough sleep, much less finding time to run. And with the World Series going on the next three nights, it doesn't bode well. But Sunday I'm running the Marine Corps 8K if nothing else, so I'm looking forward to that! I also signed up for the Run Through the Brooks 5K down here in Clear Lake on November 5, if anyone's interested in joining me...
Friday, October 21, 2005
More: Chicago Sun-Times: "Oswalt personifies
Chicago Sun-Times: "Oswalt personifies the Astros. He's small, slight and nothing much to look at. But he assumes bigger and badder proportions whenever he takes the field."
Chronicle: "As the wheels lowered and the Astros' team charter approached home in the early-morning hours Thursday, an announcement came over the intercom. Please open the shades on the windows.
Lined along both sides of the taxiway at Bush Intercontinental Airport were airport police cars, emergency trucks, paramedic vehicles — lights flashing and horns blaring. And at the end of the taxiway were a pair of firetrucks, one on each side of the airplane, splashing water over the plane.
Myrtle Beach Online (huh?): "It's not enough that the Chicago Cubs haven't won a World Series since 1908.
Or that the other "cursed" team, the Boston Red Sox, snapped their jinx last year.
Now God, in his infinite wisdom and apparent disdain for Cubs fans, has put the Houston Astros and the Chicago White Sox, the two most hated franchises among lovers of the Lovable Losers, in the World Series."
New York Times: "Who knows what [Clemens and Pettitte] were actually saying to each other? Who cares? To fans in Houston and New York, and perhaps to a well-known and frustrated baseball owner in Tampa, Fla., all that mattered was that two pitchers who had starred for the Yankees and then taken divergent paths to reunite in Houston had made it back to the World Series. And they had done so while their old team in the Bronx, the one with the $200 million payroll, had again come up short...
...Clemens will be standing on the mound again Saturday night, naturally, in the World Series opener. Contreras will be there, too. Pettitte will follow in Game 2. The Houston homeboys believed they could get this far after leaving New York and helped make it happen. Steinbrenner may want to keep his television turned off for the rest of the month."
San Antonio Express-News: "No matter whom you're rooting for in the upcoming World Series, there's one thing you have in common with opposing fans — and anyone else who might be listening.
You're going to get aggravated at Fox analyst Tim McCarver. McCarver is the master of the annoyingly obvious observation."
(For the record, I totally agree. There's even a webpage: Shut Up Tim McCarver.)
Monday, October 10, 2005
How crazy is this --
How crazy is this -- both Lance Berkman's grand slam and Chris Burke's walk-off homer were caught by the SAME FAN.
Friday, October 07, 2005
"It's one of the great
"It's one of the great ironies of travel: You meet someone on a journey, come to know them intimately in just a few hours, then never see them again. You promise to keep in touch, but it seldom happens. When you return home, your own life takes over, and so does theirs. Inevitably, the connection begins to fade...
Sometimes you meet someone you know. You have spent nights together. You've campued together beneath the sky and sung songs together and drunk beer in each other's homes. You have hugged and cried and laughed together. And you've never met.
There are few such people in the world, but they are the ones you will always know and who will always know you. They are living in parts of the world where you haven't been. They are living lives you cannot know. They have kitchens with bright windows you can't imagine, where you had coffee. These are the people you meet, and know, before you speak...
...Even deep friendships are fragile. Someone you met on a journey years ago is out there. The friendship is not lost, only dormant, waiting for the spark of contact. Go. Find that person."
- Mark Jenkins, "Friends Forever," The Hard Way, Outside Magazine, October 2005
Thursday, October 06, 2005
It's been a while since
It's been a while since I've had something on my mind that I can't gripe about on my blog. Now I do. Two things, both appearing in my email box today, and read within minutes of each other.
Sigh. The worst part is that neither thing is my fault, and yet neither is something I know how to fix. I'm not sure if it's possible to fix them.
Monday, September 26, 2005
I've seen fire and I've seen rain / I've seen sunny days that I thought would never end
Yep, this was our experience (thanks for the link Becca):
Hurricane planners have a little ditty that goes, "run from the water, hide from the wind."
It means evacuate if you are in a coastal surge area, but hunker down if you are in an area that will get hurricane-force winds and rain only.
The biggest problem in Houston's painful evacuation last week was that perhaps a million people, almost half of those who left, ran from the wind.
In a Category 3 storm or higher, my apartment complex would very likely be underwater thanks to storm surge. That's why I left. We went to Conroe, where we would have had a scary night had Rita hit, but wouldn't have been flooded. Yet half of Conroe evacuated as well. Why? They ran from the wind. As a result, the roads became so clogged that many people from my suburb and south (Webster, League City, Texas City, and even Galveston -- all in the storm surge area) couldn't get out.
I don't fault people beyond the storm surge areas for wanting to leave, especially in the post-Katrina panic, but it was certainly an issue, and resulted in many people returning to Clear Lake and south to ride out the storm. If Rita had hit directly here, those who had to stay in the storm surge areas would not have been in a safe situation.
Sunday, September 25, 2005
I don't care / I'm still free / you can't take the sky from me
As Becca has already mentioned, we have spent the majority of our unplanned hurricane vacation watching all 14 episodes of the short-lived TV series Firefly. I had serious doubts about the show when I heard the concept -- part Star Wars, part Star Trek, and part Tombstone all rolled together. In other words, western sci-fi. I know, weird, right?
Well, not so weird. Or, rather, weird but in a really, really good way. The show is great, and I now join the legions of people upset that the show was broadcast out-of-order in an awful time slot and basically killed before it had a chance to get started. (Thanks, Fox.) I've now watched all 14 episodes and there are so many things I want explained, and so much more I want to learn about the characters.
You may have seen previews for the movie Serenity that comes out this weekend. Turns out that Firefly lives again in the form of a major motion picture! Woohoo! Maybe if it does well, the series will return...
Each of the characters (nine in all) has a backstory that I want to know more about. There's the captain, Malcolm Reynolds, who's very Han Solo-esque both in mannerism and hotness (woo). The second-in-command is Zoe, an old war buddy of Mal's. She's married to the pilot, Wash, who is extremely sarcastic and funny. The muscle-head of the group is a man named Jayne who cares about himself above everything else, and has some hilarious comments. The ship's mechanic is a country girl whiz named Kaylee, who has a not-yet-acted-upon but not-unrequited thing for the doctor, Simon. (I think Simon's my favorite character at the moment.) Simon ended up on the ship trying to outrun the Alliance (think Empire) with his sister, River, who he rescued from a school that was apparently a cover for bizarre medical experiments, so River's a bit psycho. Then there's the Shepherd, a kind of missionary who somehow has sway with the Alliance, but we never figure out why. Finally there's Inara, a Companion aka courtesan, which in the future has turned into a highly respected career, who has a not-yet-acted-upon but not-unrequired thing for Mal.
It totally sucks that I can't keep watching to find out what the Shepherd's past is, why a respectable woman like Inara decided to live on a smuggling ship, what's up with River, is Jayne really going to stay loyal to the crew, and why won't Simon and Kaylee just HOOK UP ALREADY??
If you ever end up with three days off work while you wait out a hurricane, I highly recommend the DVDs. Or, you know, even if you're not avoiding a hurricane. Oh, and go see the movie!
Thursday, September 22, 2005
It's nice that in the
It's nice that in the midst of the potential-hurricane chaos, some things stay the same: my blog is still getting hit by at least 50 comment spams per day.
Tuesday, September 20, 2005
run baby run
Ok, Hurricane Rita is starting to freak me out. Between 6:00 tomorrow night and 12:00 (noon) on Thursday, mandatory evacuations will be issued for all of Galveston County. I'm in Harris County, but am in the evacuation zone for Category 3 and above, so I'm planning on going as well.
Current plan is to head towards Gavin's parents' house, leaving late tomorrow night. Work is open tomorrow and I'll be here for at least the morning. Updates as things progress...
Monday, September 19, 2005
So Tropical Storm (soon to
So Tropical Storm (soon to be Hurricane) Rita appears to be taking direct aim at Houston. Of course it's still 5 days out, so hopefully it will turn, but in this post-Katrina world, everyone is a bit antsy. I've already started to think about what I'll pack up and take with me if I have to evacuate...
Sunday, September 18, 2005
There's something people should know
There's something people should know about me. I have this thing, a personality trait, if you will. I do not like to let something lie when I know I'm right. And the stupid part is that I'm not talking big issues. I'm talking little nitty-gritty issues that don't really matter.
Tonight after watching Crash over at Matt's, we somehow got into a quick debate about an actress in the movie Traffic. The room said "it's Julia Stiles." I said "no it's not, it's a girl who looks a lot like Julia Stiles." The room insisted, "no, it's Julia Stiles. Look, here's the box with a tiny picture of her. See? Julia Stiles."
"No," I said. "It's the girl that looks like her."
At this point everyone looked at me laughing, and became extremely insistent that they had seen something about it on TV and it was definitely Julia Stiles. "The girl who looks like Julia Stiles?" they asked laughingly. "Yes," I said. "Her name is Erika something. Erika Christian, or Christianson, something like that." But alas, I could not convince anyone of this.
At that point, since I haven't actually seen Traffic, I decided to just let the debate die, even thought I was 100% certain it was not, in fact, Julia Stiles.
So I came home. And I wasn't going to look it up, I really wasn't, but I just couldn't help it! See, I have this thing, as I said, that if I'm sure I'm right, I can't let it die! So I looked it up.
I was right. It's not Julia Stiles. It's Erika Christensen. Who looks a lot like Julia Stiles. Look it up.
God, I'm so neurotic and petty and an ex-Entertainment Editor.
Friday, September 16, 2005
Ok, as Nancy alluded to
Ok, as Nancy alluded to in the comments of the previous entry, I just loaded my blog and got a pop up ad. Not for poker, but for some other crap. Not in a separate window, but right there in the same window covering up my blog.
I must check into it. If anyone else is seeing this, let me know. Also, if anyone else knows what might be causing it, let me know.
Monday, September 12, 2005
I've been thinking of joining
I've been thinking of joining a running club. I'm already a member of HARRA, but as I get to know some other area runners (both online through the community of running blogs and in person), I've been thinking of joining one of their groups. The obvious choice seems to be the Houston Striders since I am helping them with a webpage and since their list of members already includes Jon, Cassie, Jen, Holden, Vic, and Jessica.
(I haven't met any of them in person but feel like I know them anyway. I have become one of those people with "online friends." A bit freaky and dorky. But I have a feeling I'll be meeting them all soon!)
Anyway, decisions, decisions. I am in desperate need of some motivation to get running regularly again, and a club might be the way to go. My concern with the Striders is that they all seem to be pretty far away from me down here in Clear Lake. This is the problem with living in the 'burbs a long way from Houston's best running locale -- Memorial Park. It'd take me at least half an hour just to get there to meet anybody for a run. :(
Friday, September 09, 2005
It never fails. I go
It never fails.
I go months without anything of major, un-reschedule-able importance on my calendar, and then two things are planned right on top of each other.
This SUCKS. Actually it more than sucks. I just can't come up with a better word.
Wednesday, September 07, 2005
I forgot to mention one
I forgot to mention one of the cooler moments of the trip. As we were all standing around on Sunday night starting to shiver but putting off going into the tents because it wasn't even 8:30, I interrupted conversation with "look, a satellite!" as I spotted a moving, unblinking point of light rising above the mountain top.
We watched as it grew brighter and brighter and it was soon apparent that this was no ordinary satellite. It was none other than the International Space Station, of course. There's nothing else that would have appeared as bright as it passed over.
"The ironic thing," Jen the FDO said, "is that this is the first time I've ever seen the station."
Monday, August 29, 2005
AWESOME. I want to be
AWESOME. I want to be there. And I want that camera lens.
Also, it's raining outside. Know how I can tell? Because I have a window now! Yippee!
Thursday, August 11, 2005
Don't worry Dr. G, I
Don't worry Dr. G, I didn't forget.
Happy Birthday Carter!
Tuesday, August 09, 2005
Monte Carlo sims finish really
Monte Carlo sims finish really fast when you can run them on 44 processors...
Thursday, August 04, 2005
I was just offered a
I was just offered a fantasy baseball trade of (from his team) Carlos Guillen, Odalis Perez, Doug Davis, and Greg Aquino for (from my team) Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte, Chris Carpenter, and Francisco Rodriguez.
I think he's just checking to see if I'm alive. I haven't exactly been active in the fantasy baseball world this season since both my teams SUCK.
On a related topic, check out the dumbest rules in sports.
Thursday, July 28, 2005
In answer to Becca's question...here,
In answer to Becca's question...here, in no particular order, are some things I'd consider doing if the shuttle program ended tomorrow, with a long hiatus before flying something new:
Wednesday, July 20, 2005
Last night I realized that
Last night I realized that I'm about to start another two-month stretch rather like the one I had back in April and May, when I was out of town or booked solid almost every weekend.
By then it'll be mid-September. Whew.
Tuesday, July 19, 2005
That stuff I said about
That stuff I said about feeling better about my current projects? Yeah, scratch that. I hate them all. They are making me feel manic depressive. Ugh.
One of Amazon's ways of celebrating 10 years, however is mega-cool. If I could choose, I think I'd have Lance Armstrong deliver me a copy of his book, or Orlando Bloom bring me the Lord of the Rings trilogy, or Adam Everett deliver me an Astros jersey, or Annie Liebowitz deliver me some camera equipment, or Tom Hanks deliver the Apollo 13 DVD, or Steve Jobs bring me a new iPod, or...
Sunday, July 17, 2005
A Story, by Katie. Aw.
A Story, by Katie. Aw. My sister is the best.
Thursday, July 14, 2005
So tonight after the Tour
So tonight after the Tour de France, I tuned in to the one and only show on television that consistently make me laugh out loud even when I'm alone in my empty living room: The Daily Show. And as I watch, hmm...strange...everything looks weird...aha! They've changed the set!
I love The Daily Show. I love Jon Stewart. I love the Internet.
But I'm not sure I like the new look. I miss the couch.
Wednesday, July 06, 2005
Oh my god there was
Oh my god there was just the hugest roach that ran across the doorway to my office and under my desk and I tried to smush him with a spare notebook but I missed and he ran back in the corner behind my desk and he's still back there and huge and nasty and EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEK.
Tuesday, July 05, 2005
I'm a bit sad that
I'm a bit sad that I missed the Peachtree yesterday. Next year...
Tuesday, June 28, 2005
I can't sleep. My head
I can't sleep. My head is too full, too many thoughts swirling around.
Today after meeting with 4 of the 5 bosses in my branch, I got the go-ahead to start training for a flight control position in September. It's what I've wanted for three years. I should be more excited.
The bosses are considering switches between ascent and descent people, to give each other an idea of what the other does. I said I might be interested, potentially, but didn't want to commit. I think all they heard was "interested." I listened to the possible ascent tasks, both of which were, until recently, being done by a friend. Who left because she hated her job. I don't want to take over the job she hated.
I want to get married. Not to just anyone, and I am in no rush. But watching my sister last week, and seeing how happy she was at her wedding, and how she couldn't stop smiling if she tried, made me realize that I want the same thing someday. I want someone who makes me that happy. And yet I don't date, and in fact, I tend to chase people away.
I come back from vacation feeling restless. An 8-5 office job is not what I want to do for the rest of my life, or even for the next decade. My dad left his engineering job after 7 years, when he was in his early 30s. Will that be me? I want the courage to live more freely; I dream about picking up and just travelling, and working odd jobs, but I am too scared to give up my security and my salary. And I don't know where I'd begin anyway.
I come back from vacation having been reminded of what an incredible family I have. I miss them. I miss the comfort of very close friends, the ones that expect nothing from me other than what I am. I never have to pull punches. Sometimes there is drama, but it passes. I never have to stop laughing.
I want to go back to Tech for grad school, and not AE. I promised myself I would apply last winter, and I didn't. I find it hard to think too seriously about moving back to Atlanta. It scares me. Often I feel that the city is a living creature that I left on bad terms, and that I do not belong there.
I want to get all these thoughts out of my head for tonight, so that I can sleep.
Saturday, June 25, 2005
Today my sister and my
Today my sister and my new brother-in-law got married. As expected, Katie was the most beautiful bride I've ever seen.
Saturday, June 18, 2005
I'm going to Charlotte today!
I'm going to Charlotte today! Yay!
Friday, June 10, 2005
Yesterday I skipped out of
Yesterday I skipped out of work early with Jen, Gavin, Becca and Cari to head to the Houston Museum of Natural Science to see Lord of the Rings Motion Picture Trilogy: The Exhibition. It's an exhibit full of props, scale models, costumes, weapons, jewelry, makeup, prosthetics, and other tidbits from the three movies, as well as lots of videotaped segments describing different aspects of the films (many of which can be found on the DVD extras). Despite being a bit overpriced, it was pretty darn cool. I am amazed at how much time must have gone into making everything -- from the costumes to the swords to the jewelry -- so exquisite, so intricate, and so authentic.
(Sadly, cameras were not allowed, except in the lobby where there were two statues of the Argonath.)
After seeing the exhibit, and listening to the soundtracks all day today, I was of course inspired to come home and put in the first disc of Return of the King on DVD. I haven't actually watched the extended version yet, so it's about time I got around to it. I'm about to watch a bit of the second disc before I have to head out to meet some people for Friday night activities, but I'm sure I'll finish the whole thing before I head to bed tonight.
Watching it again, for only the third time since the theater, I'm struck by what an absolutely incredible bit of movie-making this is; indeed, all three movies. I can't comprehend how much effort must have gone into making them. I wasn't even a huge Lord of the Rings fan a few years ago; I didn't even read the books until I heard the movies were coming out and figured I should know the story going in, you know, the books being classics and all. Of course I loved them.
I think Return of the King is maybe the best movie I have ever seen. Ever.
Tuesday, June 07, 2005
Some days I really wonder
Some days I really wonder why I became an engineer. Why did I think I could compete with other engineers when it comes to pure, engineering intelligence and capability to understand concepts? It's only now, as I try to learn about what I work on, that I realize that what got me through six years of engineering education was not an innate or intuitive understanding of the way things work; it was simply brute force, rote memorization, and the ability to regurgitate formulas on command.
Days like this make me think I might have been much better off in photography or writing or design. I decided in 9th grade that I would study engineering. I decided early enough that I don't even know what my backup plan would have been.
Monday, June 06, 2005
DAMMIT. I just had a
DAMMIT. I just had a whole entry written and lost it. Stupid backspace serving as "back" button.
I mentioned last week that I have started getting a fair amount of comment spam, to the tune of maybe a dozen a day. More on my photoblog than here, but still. Last night I finally got around to correctly installing MT-Blackist. (I say "correctly installing" because I tried once before but used the old installation instructions with the new version and it didn't work. Oops.) MT-Blacklist is a Movable Type plugin that blocks comment spam and it is awesome. In little more than 12 hours, it has already blocked 8 comment spams! Hooray.
On to the weekend recap. Friday night was the "Management Shuffle" party after work. There was a smaller crowd that left earlier, a departure from the usual work party modus operandi, though it probably has something to do with the fact that the party wasn't announced until like Wednesday or something. We all left around 7:30 for dinner (Mexican) at Anita's. I hadn't been there in at least a year. It was pretty good; I had shrimp enchiladas and a margarita and both were ok. Not fantastic, but not bad.
Saturday morning was the hot and humid 5K, and Saturday evening a bunch of us celebrated Paul's birthday at Putt-Putt. Imagine our amusement when Sonia, who had told Paul they were going out to a nice restaurant, walked up with Paul, dressed in a nice shirt and tie and blindfolded. Needless to say, he was not expecting Putt-Putt. We all played a round and then decided that it was absolutely necessary that all 14 of us play a round of bumper boats. It turns out that you get a lot wetter doing bumper boats than one would think, probably because we're heavier than little kids and thus displace more water. By the time I got out of my boat I was soaked and dripping water everywhere. I dried out a little while hitting a few balls at the batting cages with Debbie and Cari while the rest played Laser Tag, then stopped by the apartment to change into drier clothes before dinner at Angelo's.
I came home and started the US-Costa Rica World Cup qualifier that I'd Tivoed. I love Tivo! Landon Donovan scored two goals, Kasey Keller made at least three amazing saves, and Brian McBride nabbed a rebound at the end of the game to make it a 3-0 win for the USA. I celebrated by going to bed immediately and sleeping for 12 hours. I don't know what's with my insane sleeping habits lately, but I must be catching up for something.
Yesterday went by quickly, which usually happens when I sleep until noon. I went geocaching with Debbie and we found six caches in 2.5 hours -- talk about efficiency! I don't think we spent more than 30 seconds looking for any of them, though one was quite tricky and I likely never would have found it without Debbie. She knows all the tricks though, and spotted it immediately. It was hot out, but not too bad.
I followed geocaching with a trip to get a pedicure with Becca. This pedicure place is not so good at keeping people who walk in together next to each other, or even on the same schedule, so I didn't really get to talk to Becca since that would have involved shouting across the room. Instead, I read Elle Girl, a version of Elle aimed at teenagers. It was very entertaining, both in subject matter (such as: "Name Your iPOD. Instead of 'Where's my iPod?' doesn't 'Mom, have you seen Bob?' sound better?") and in writing style ("for reals" and "We don't mention basics like jeans and Converse because, well, obviously."). There was even an interview with Captain Oats (Seth's toy horse on the O.C.) and a featured t-shirt emblazoned with "If Found, Please Return Me To Orlando Bloom".
It was very amusing.
Thursday, June 02, 2005
My new Canon 20D came
My new Canon 20D came yesterday. I am so excited! I haven't had time to do my own tests yet, but I dug up these two graphs from Digital Photography Review (DPReview) to illustrate the primary reason I decided to go ahead and upgrade:
Here is a chart of the performance of my 10D while shooting for 30 seconds in continuous mode:
See how it will do a lovely 3 frames-per-second for 3 seconds, and then slows down to only a frame per second and then slows down even more? That type of behavior is bad for race photography! I can get 34 shots in the first 30 seconds, but in the 30 seconds following that I'd be lucky to get 15-20 shots.
Now here is the chart for my 20D, again shooting for 30 seconds in continuous mode:
Five frames-per-second for 36 shots! Then 1.7 fps! Then about 1 fps after that. 76 shots in 30 seconds, that's more than twice as many as the 10D! I can get 76 shots in the first 30 seconds, and at least 30 more in the next 30 seconds. (Not to mention that I will probably not actually shoot 5 fps because shooting that fast isn't necessary for a race; not using the 5 fps means that the buffer will not get bogged down as quickly and I can probably average 60-80 shots per minute indefinitely.) Beautiful. And the 20D has a faster write speed, which means the buffer will clear faster. That means the camera will be quicker to "recharge" each time I have even a 2-3 second break between runners.
I can't wait to shoot my first race with my 20D!
Monday, May 30, 2005
My mom sent me this
My mom sent me this back in January. For some reason, I thought about it this weekend and dug it out.
Friends of the Road
Paula Spencer in Aspire
Why do friendships come and go? How does a once-bosom buddy wind up erased from your address book? Is a friendship that fades away necessarily a bad thing?
My first inkling that some friendships are meant to be fleeting came in the spring of my senior year in college. My friendships there had been especially intense. We'd bonded instantly and tightly, with meandering all-hours conversations about everything from the meaning of life to "What will we wear tonight?" Once I came across a line that seemed to express perfectly my 21-year-old angst. It was from the novel Centennial: "God, he wished he could ride forever with these men. ...But it could not be. Trails end, and companies of men fall apart."
Of course! Some friendships are meant to be transitory. Like cowboys who had ridden herd together for miles, sharing dusty perils and round-the-campfire coffee, my college friends and I had come to the natural end of our path together. It was time to move on.
Absurdly obvious, the idea was nevertheless enormously comforting. It had once seemed like failure to me, to build a friendship only to have it squelched by sudden distance, either physical or emotional. You move across the country and struggle to replicate daily long walks with phone calls or letters. Or one of you has a baby, and the minutiae of chaging diapers transform the bicycle-built-for-two that was your friendship into a lopsided three-legged stool.
And that's okay. Because in addition to our friend of the heart -- the traditional, everlasting ideal -- life is rich with friends of the road who, like James Michener's cowpokes, herd with you for a particular stretch and no farther. These brief friendship are equally intense, equally necessary, equally worth treasuring as any other, and for the duration of that ride you can't survive without them.
Friday, May 27, 2005
I've never been called for
I've never been called for jury duty in my 27+ years of life, so Murphy's Law says that I should be called for the week that I'm going to be in Charlotte for Katie's wedding, right?
Stupid Harris County. I doubt I'd be good for a jury anyway; I have little patience for people doing stupid things that they shouldn't do. At least they let you reschedule.
Tuesday, May 24, 2005
Two things: I am SO
I am SO SORE from soccer on Sunday night. It is amazing how quickly a person falls out of being in shape. A week of being lazy followed by a week of being sick will do that.
Since doing more photography myself, I've turned into a photo snob. I was just looking through the online gallery of photos taken by the professional photographer at a coworker's wedding on Saturday and I have to say, they're not great. If it were my wedding, I would be disappointed in the picture quality. A majority are underexposed, and some are actually blurry. Hopefully the photographer is a wiz with Photoshop.
Saturday, May 21, 2005
Summer has arrived. It is
Summer has arrived. It is sweltering outside. Time to hide out inside where the air conditioning is cool.
I took Leo back to the Humane Society today. I am writing it here only so people know my decision and don't have to ask. I am sad and I feel bad. I don't really want to talk about it, at least not right now.
Wednesday, May 18, 2005
I like my new branch
I like my new branch chief. He just gave us a slide show of his family and airplanes and brought us ice cream.
Wednesday, May 18, 2005
Bear with me through this
Bear with me through this entry. I feel worried and guilty and anxious already, so please keep that in mind if you choose to comment.
I woke up this morning feeling better, so after sleeping in, I came to work. I am still a little ill-feeling, and shaky from dehydration, but I decided to come to work because I wanted to listen in on a telecon, needed to help Jake finish up his exit pitch, and because I was wary of spending another day at home with Leo.
I am having buyer's remorse about getting Leo. I know it has only been a week, and on top of that, a week where I had to go out of town and then returned to a bout of food poisoning (or some 24-hour bug). But I am having a lot of second thoughts about having a dog.
I've only mentioned it to Nick so far, who when I said "buyer's remorse" asked if it was the money. It's not. I understood that getting a dog would mean spending money, and I am ok with that.
He then asked if I don't like the dog. It's not that either. Leo is a great little guy. He is fairly well-behaved, almost housebroken (he peed on my trash can this morning but I think it was because I didn't take him out immediately), and getting better. He's very cute and cuddly. He has so much energy, so much that it is a little exhausting.
It's not the money. It's not Leo himself. It's a dog, period. And I'm worrying that maybe I am not meant to be a dog owner after all.
I have thought a lot about whether maybe I felt "pressured" into this because I have so many friends with dogs who love them, and who were/are very excited about me having one of my own. But I don't think that's it either, because I am not the type of person that would be pressured all the way into actually getting a dog, bringing him home, buying supplies and food, and taking him to the vet if I didn't think that I would like having this dog.
And yet I find myself thinking of taking him back.
Why? It seems so wrong -- to return a dog, as if he were a piece of merchandise. I feel so guilty for even thinking it. And I would be disappointing so many people who were so excited for me last week when I brought Leo home.
He doesn't feel like my dog yet, and I know that is because I haven't had him for very long. But it feels like I am babysitting someone else's dog. And when I realize that I will have him for foreseeable future and beyond, I start to fidget, and feel very anxious.
Is 27 years without a dog too much to overcome? I wonder if I made a rash decision. When I first started thinking about getting a dog, I had two other options on my plate, a new job or going to ISU. I thought "well if I don't get either, I can get a dog," but I thought I'd get one of them, and when I didn't, maybe I jumped to something else before I thought it through.
I imagine taking him back to the Humane Society, and that makes me want to cry, because he is so cute and because there is absolutely nothing wrong with him. But the thought of coming back home to the way things were before makes me feel calmer. Maybe he is not for me; maybe he is meant for someone else. I just don't know.
So please bear with me, because right now I don't know what to do.
Tuesday, May 17, 2005
I will never be eating
I will never be eating beef stir fry in the cafeteria again after spending the past three hours, and probably the next few, suffering through what I suspect is food poisoning. NOT FUN.
Tuesday, May 17, 2005
First casualty of the dog:
First casualty of the dog: a pair of jeans.
I left work at 1:30 today, sick. I felt bad this morning, but was ok at lunch, where I ate cafeteria stir fry. Maybe it was the stir fry, maybe it was just a matter of time, but from noon until 1:30 I slowly got worse. When I found myself having passed 5 minutes with my elbows on my desk, head resting in my hands, I figured it was time to leave.
I zonked out on the couch for a half hour, not asleep but just out of it. Suddenly wondered where Leo was. Answer: gnawing on a pair of jeans I'd left on the floor (and that I last wore to the shelter, and they haven't been washed). I got to them in time, with only two small frayed bits. Guess they'll be "lounging" jeans now.
Monday, May 16, 2005
My dad said over the
My dad said over the weekend as I was fretting about whether I'd made the right choice in getting a dog that he remembered when he and mom brought me home from the hospital. The first night he wasn't sure if he should go to sleep. "You were a helpless baby, even more helpless than a dog, and we were about to go to sleep for 6-8 hours," said Dad. "What if you needed us?? I wasn't sure if I should go to bed!"
I feel very similar with this dog. What if he needs me? What if I am not playing with him enough? What if he is not getting enough attention? I didn't really believe it when people said having a dog is practically like having a kid, but now I do.
I laughed when Dad mentioned sleep for 6-8 hours with a new baby in the house. "Didn't I wake you up crying?" I wondered. Dad sheepishly smiled and said "Well yeah, but your Mom took care of that."
Friday, May 13, 2005
Those who know her might
Those who know her might be interested to hear that Anit is now Dr. Anit. She graduated from med school! She'll be doing her residency at Georgetown. We don't keep in touch, who knows why, but it's nice to know she's doing really well. :)
Tuesday, May 10, 2005
Uchenna and Joyce won The
Uchenna and Joyce won The Amazing Race! Yayyyy!
Thursday, May 05, 2005
After watching another recent Daily
After watching another recent Daily Show episode, I have decided to add Jon Stewart to my list of future husbands. His role would be simply to sit around saying sarcastic things and making funny faces. And I would laugh, and laugh, and laugh.
Thursday, May 05, 2005
I'm a person who is
I'm a person who is very good at remembering dates and anniversaries. (My car, for instance, turned a year old last Saturday.) But I never remember that we graduated on Cinco de Mayo until Becca reminds me each year. Probably because while she couldn't wait to graduate, I was more like her brother, trying to figure out ways to stay.
(This year, I did realize it's been four years, but only because Katie is graduating, and she started the year after I left.)
Thursday, May 05, 2005
no more 3x5s?
I don't understand this New York Times article, "Stop Them Before They Shoot Again," at all. Apparently some people think that digital cameras have resulted in too many photos and they're suffering from image overload. Is too many photos even possible??
"Some critics warn that a great photograph's singular power to trigger memory may be at risk. For many people a photograph they have seen a thousand times itself becomes the memory. With digital pictures it is rare for a single photograph to achieve that kind of status."
I don't agree. A great photo is still a great photo, digital or not.
"AMERICA'S amateur photographers produced 28 billion digital pictures last year, 6 billion more than they shot on film, even though only half as many own a digital camera, according to the market research firm InfoTrends. That does not count pictures deleted before being printed or transferred for storage."
And I would argue that more photos are being taken because more people have cameras. Digital cameras have made photography more accessible, because all you have to buy is the camera itself. There's no constant additional expense of buying film, developing film, and making prints. If I couldn't shoot digital, I could afford to do photography as a hobby, and I probably would never have gotten close to taking race photos and earning a little side cash, as I'm doing now.
It sounds to me that the real complaint these people have is their non-computer-saavy and non-discerning-photographic-eye friends who send them tons of photos via email instead of 1) weeding out the bad ones or 2) sending a nice link to a gallery. I do both. (Even if "weeding out" only reduces the number from 500 to 250!) And hey, I know I take tons of photos, and I know that I might not look at a bunch of them ever again. But I like having them.
(There may be more discussion going on over at the Photoblogs.org blog.)
Monday, April 25, 2005
"It's their loss." Why do
"It's their loss."
Why do people always say that? When you tell someone that you didn't get what you were hoping for, is that just the default response? Is it supposed to make you feel better? It doesn't, really. Sure, it might be their loss not to have you, but they don't know that, and they probably don't care. But if you wanted it, even just a little bit, well... It's your loss not to have gotten it. Hearing the equivalent of "it's not you, it's me" doesn't really lessen the disappointment.
It is raining tonight, and the rain always makes me mellow. It makes me feel quiet, and if there are things on my mind, it makes me feel sad.
A month ago, I applied for a new job. I was really excited about the possibility of it, even moreso after my final interview. But I didn't get an offer because my ability to recall equations and technical details doesn't rival that of someone who is still in school and graduating this May. I was very disappointed, as I'd already begun picturing making the move. A friend got an internship with the same company this summer, and she got in touch with them via me, before I interviewed. I'm happy for her, but it stings that she gets to be there this summer doing what I wanted to be doing as well.
Five weeks ago, I applied for the JSC Fellowship in hopes of going to France next year to study for another Master's degree. I didn't get the fellowship because of timing and bureaucracy that was totally out of my control. I was most qualified, and was told that. What I wasn't told was that despite being most qualified, I would not be ranked first because there was no known threat of losing me in the office head count. My application was fine, but it went nowhere because of bureaucratic decisions. Knowing that I was helpless to do anything is comforting, and also extremely frustrating. I hadn't mentally moved to France yet, but I had thought about the possibilities.
I had two great options, and two weeks ago my fear was that I would have to choose between them. Today, neither is available to me. And it's disappointing to have crashed and burned, and ego-bruising to have been told I'm not smart enough for one of them. I feel embarassed, because it was impossible to go for either opportunity without at least some friends knowing, and impossible to hope that they'll just forget the things I was applying for and hoping for. I now have to face them and admit that I failed.
Most of all, I feel lost, not knowing where to go next, and stuck, not having a third road to aim for.
Friday, April 22, 2005
So I've been thinking of
So I've been thinking of getting a dog.
Specifically, a chihuahua, or a chihuahua mix. A girl on my soccer team has one, and it is so adorable. They're small, and so one could easily live in my apartment. They don't like lots of people so they're good for people who live alone. They're very loyal and attached to their owners.
However, I don't commit to things easily. I worry about getting something, especially a living something, that will be with me for 15+ years. I worry that this "I want a dog" thing is too impulsive. And of course the largest potential problems is that I have a very active life outside of work, and go out of town fairly regularly. However, this doesn't seem to be a problem for any of my other active friends with dogs.
Comments welcome. Perhaps this weekend I'll check out the local shelters.
Thursday, April 21, 2005
I should preface this by
I should preface this by saying that in no way am I intending to offend any Catholics.
I'm wondering how much the conclave resembles junior high student council elections. I mean, becoming pope is sort of like becoming president. You know, rising to the top of whatever group you're involved in. The pope is to Catholics what the president is to US citizens or the class president to the school, that kind of thing.
Do you think the cardinals were jockeying for position in the conclave? Do the "popular" cardinals form cliques? Are there "nerd" cardinals that suddenly do something unexpected and thus get some votes? Do they vote for the guy who's their buddy? And I wonder if the guy who gets elected, while outwardly looking all magnanimous and holy and peaceful and serene while being introduced on the balcony, is inwardly doing a little jig and going "I'M THE POPE! OH YEAH!!"
'Cause that's totally what I would be thinking.
Wednesday, April 20, 2005
I am participating, via telephone
I am participating, via telephone and in a rather peripheral way, in a meeting at Langley today and tomorrow. It's hard to pay attention to a speaker phone when I am at my desk surrounded by other things to do and the computer calling to me.
Tuesday, April 19, 2005
So I just remembered that
So I just remembered that last night I dreamt that Carter was getting married, and half an hour before the ceremony I realized that I had forgotten to find white sandals with a 1-2 inch heel that I needed for my dress. (Which, I don't really know why I needed this, because I wasn't the bride. Nor was I a bridesmaid. But the white sandal with 1-2 inch heel is totally thanks to my sister's impending wedding. Katie, your specifications are showing up in my dreams now. Heh!)
So Kent and I jumped in the car, and Carter came too, despite the fact that, you know, he was getting married in a half hour. And we drove to Payless, only it was closed. And I was freaking out, and Kent was just laughing hysterically as he is prone to do. And then Carter missed his wedding, and didn't seem too upset about it.
It was weird.
Friday, April 15, 2005
I only had one materials
I only had one materials science class in all my years of engineering education, so I don't really understand all the mumbo-jumbo that Christina has been working on in grad school, but I think it's very cool that she's filed for a patent. Neat.
Wednesday, April 13, 2005
This survey, about homosexuality and
This survey, about homosexuality and sports, is a bit disturbing:
We (as in, the public) are mostly ok with the fact that Barry Bonds may be on steroids, but we're not ok with the fact that there might be a power hitter out there who is -- gasp -- gay? Pardon me while I gag.
Friday, March 25, 2005
Becca wrote a great little
Becca wrote a great little paragraph yesterday summarizing the answers to questions she's received about the BP plant explosion in Texas City, about 10 miles southeast of us. "No, we didn't hear or feel the explosion. Yes, it's tragic. Yes, chemical plants explode/catch fire/spill things on a fairly regular basis. No, they normally don't kill people." That kind of thing.
Should I be worried that no one in my family called to ask me about it? I'm thinking probably not, but it amused me. Becca's family is amusing. :)
Thursday, March 24, 2005
how much is that doggie in the window?
Jo and I just saved a turtle! We think. We found a very tiny (make a circle with your thumb and index finger -- that tiny) turtle over by the parking lot, so we took him the 300 feet back to the pond. There are a zillion turtles in the pond, as well as ducks and ducklings and some ginormous (gigantic + enormous) fish. We put him in the water and watched him swim around a bit and then hide in some leaves. He came up for air again, and was approached by one of the ginormous fish. Jo and I both went "eek!" and stepped back in fear. Fortunately, Tiny swam away and the fish didn't eat him. Here's hoping he survives to be a big turtle.
I've also been toying with the idea of getting a dog lately. Specifically, a chihuahua. I went through a cat phase a while back but decided against it because 1) people are allergic and 2) cats are sort of boring. Lately I have been in love with the idea of a chihuahua after playing a few times with the one a girl on my soccer team has, and seeing lots of cute chihuahua pictures. I think I could have a lot of fun with a chihuahua. I do tend to be drawn to funny looking (in a cute way) animals...
Comments welcome. :)
Friday, March 18, 2005
won't you let me go down in my dreams / and rock-a-bye sweet baby James
Jen mentioned on our way to lunch that she needs something like in Harry Potter, that you can touch to your head and all your conflicted, confused, muddled thoughts can just be put away for a little while.
I need one too.
I feel like I'm being squeezed between, pardon the cliche, a rock and a hard place. On one hand is what I want if it were as simple as just knowing what I want. On the other hand is what I want, but churned around with issues of who I have to compete with, what that means for those above me, and what that means for my work now and any potential work in the future.
The only thing I know how to do is just nervously, uncomfortably press on with what I want. Leave the politics up to the powers that be. And see what happens.
On top of that, I'm stressing about work, about possible work, and about my weekend. My schedule is too hectic: bike clinic, dinner, and St. Patty's party tonight; race photography, soccer game, and rodeo tomorrow; marathon relay, race photography, seeing the play that my friends are in, soccer game, and fantasy baseball draft on Sunday. And Becca loaned me a book that is engrossing enough to keep me up too late at night reading.
If something were to give, it'd be skipping the party tonight and not playing fantasy baseball this season.
I don't have a free weekend until late April and it makes me feel like I'm back in college.
Thursday, March 17, 2005
friendship / friendship / just the perfect blendship
Karen is coming to visit tomorrow for a weekend of Houston fun, including attendance at the preeminent March event in this city: the rodeo. We'll be there on Saturday night for the rodeo finals and Clint Black.
Jo, Melanie and I were supposed to go for Maroon 5 last night but we were all either really tired or sick so we ended up skipping it and staying home. I can never decide if doing that kind of thing make me old (for bailing on a social engagement) or just comfortable with doing what I feel like doing (in this case, sleeping).
Yesterday we were talking about Karen's visit and Jen M remarked on how it's nice that after reading everyone's blogs, she's finally meeting all of Becca's and my GT friends. Irwin visits regularly, Carter came with us to Longs Peak, Karen to Peru, and Jen O to Whistler. She knows them via the internet and now in person, and is looking forward to seeing Karen as much as Becca and I are.
I just think I'm lucky to have groups of friends that get along so well when mixed. Makes me happy.
Tuesday, March 08, 2005
Mawwiage is wot bwings us togevver today...
Becca wrote an entry about our Sex-and-the-City-ish Saturday night and I thought I'd share my two cents. We all went out to surprise Fred for his 30th birthday in a group of probably 25 people that included two pregnant women and exactly four people who aren't married: Becca, Debbie, Cari and me.
I find myself in a lot more situations these days where I am one of the few, if not the only single person person in attendance. I recently realized that over time my friends have become divided into two groups -- the ones who are married, and the ones who are single. I don't have many friends that are in dating relationships, even. It's married or single.
Having so many friends who are married couples doesn't make me want to rush out and get married. It doesn't make me pine away for some guy to make moony eyes at. I definitely want to get married, but I'm ok with it just happening when it happens. I just haven't met, or haven't realized that I've met, the right guy yet.
But having so many married friends does occasionally leave me feeling...not excluded, but maybe...left out? Like I'm missing out on something cool because I don't happen to have a ring on my finger. Like I'm the third wheel. That type of thing.
I wasn't sitting at the larger table that the other three were, or I might have more to say about the conversation that apparently went on about the joys of marriage. I was thankfully sitting with Edgar and Betsy, Ron and Buzz, Nick and Stephanie, Gavin and Jen, and Sean (whose pregnant wife didn't come, she would've made three) -- a table full of couples who are refreshingly fun and independent (not to imply that no one at the other table was as well).
Anyway, at Becca's table, one women made a comment about how nice it is that everyone was in happy, stable marriages, and how proud she was that they were all still married. Becca has a great point about the fact that it might not be the smartest idea to pat yourself on the back for a room of couples where the longest marriage running so far is less than five years, and most are less than three.
But my issue isn't so much about what she was saying as about the fact that it's a bit insensitive to start a long conversation about marriage and how great it is and how nice it is to have a man and how awful it was to live alone...in front of three single people! I find myself wishing that Becca hadn't held her tongue for once. ;)
Being a single woman is not a death sentence!
Tuesday, March 08, 2005
the winds of change are starting to blow
I just wrote this entry and then lost it. Should I take that as a sign? An anti-change sign? Uh oh. Anyway, on to the retyped, rehashed entry:
I've been listening to Jack Johnson's new album pretty much non-stop since it came out last week. I love how mellow his songs are; they just make me feel calm. And calmness is what I need these days.
I feel like I'm on the verge of something new, that the time is right for me to make a move. A career move. That doesn't necessarily mean leaving the aerospace industry, but it does mean making a change. There are four options available to me at the moment, not including the default option of simply staying in my current job. Each, of course, has its own set of positives and negatives. Three would involve aerospace; one wouldn't. Two would involve engineering; two wouldn't. One means staying in Houston, but moving to a different job; one is going to the International Space University and spending a year in France before returning to Houston and my current job for three years; the other two mean moving elsewhere.
Of course none of these options are a given. There are applications to fill out and people to talk to and recommendations to get and interviews to do, and that process will almost certainly whittle down the list.
But the time seems right for a change. And if I'm going to make one, I want to make the right choice.
The problem is that I am scared of big changes.
Wednesday, February 16, 2005
those wheels, they keep on turning...
Friday, February 04, 2005
when all your love is gone / who will save me / from all I'm up against out in this world
So Melanie has started a blog. I love blogs!
Melanie sits in my office a lot using the FADS terminal next to my desk. We rarely use it, and there isn't a free terminal in her office because...well, because the computer setup over there is dumb and the terminals are at individual desks, which makes them, you know, hard to share. ANYWAY, that's not the point. She was sitting there this morning as Becca was talking excitedly about her flight controller certificate that she just received and its frame, as she put it up on the top of her desk/hutch thingy, leaning against some notebooks.
I guess the certificate and frame is pretty cool, and so maybe I'm just jealous. After all, I've been here going on three years and I'm not even close to getting a flight control position; I mean, no, I didn't apply for FDO like she did, but I've told my management I want a backroom position, and nothing is really happening, and maybe I should be more aggressive, but I also feel like if they don't realize by now, it's hopeless. ANYWAY, I'm still not to the point.
So I made some snide comment about how it's just a cheap frame, and a couple minutes later when it fell off the desk because it wasn't really that stable, I said something like "oh, I totally knew that was going to fall when you put it up there, blah blah blah."
And then Melanie said something about how our office was really mean. And how we say mean things. And while I made light of it at the time, and said "oh, that's just the way Becca and I are," her comment sort of made me think.
I tend to be very sarcastic, and I think that in the past six months or so, many of my sarcastic comments have gone beyond teasing and turned into thinly veiled criticism. I can't quite put it into words...but the best I can come up with is that I just feel like I've lost patience with people, that I'm not as understanding and accomodating with them as I used to be. And they're my friends. I hear myself saying snippy things, and I don't like it, but can't stop myself.
I need to work on that. I need to figure out why I've lost patience with people, and get over it. It's not their fault, it's my fault.
Now that I wrote all that, I feel like I should clarify -- there is nothing big going on in my life, I'm not trying to start some grand discussion, or any sort of "waaaah, I'm sorry, I'm a horrible person, why do you even like me" conversations. And it's not about Becca, or Melanie, or any person in particular; they're just the two who put me on this train of thought.
So. The end.
Wednesday, February 02, 2005
money makes the world go round
In the middle of my "stock crisis" yesterday, as I freaked out over what to do with my small, small sum of money, George came into my office and tried to drag me back into his office to show me what to do. I wouldn't let him. Apparently, after that, he went back to his desk and told Rich: "Sarah's kind of strong!"
Anyway. I do appreciate all the comments about investment strategies. A couple things, in response...
Cari, I'll help you with website work in return for no investment advice. Nothing personal, but I think I've decided what I want to do for the time being, and I don't want to second guess myself again. :)
Jen, it'd be nice if I could access something through my parents, but as far as I know, they don't have significant investments thanks to raising four kids on two middle class salaries; this is one of the reasons I want to start saving now, while I can.
Brian, yeah, I've been using fool.com; I like how they explain things in a basic way. I can dig that. I've considered going to a financial advisor, but haven't yet. I hesitate to pay someone, because like I said, I feel like I should be smart enough to figure it out. But maybe it's not a bad idea.
Suzy, hi! Thanks for reading my blog! Index funds are mainly what I'm looking at. They seem to be the best for long-term investing, which is all I want to do. I'm obviously not cut out to be anything like a day trader. :)
Rachel, thanks for the pep talk. ;)
Karen, I know I could pay someone to do this stuff for me but that's the thing -- with the relatively small amounts of money I'm talking about, I feel like I should be able to figure it out myself. I don't own a home, so I don't itemize my taxes; I still fill out the form every year by myself, takes about 10 minutes and I'm done. Yup, my work retirement (TSP) account is invested in either government bonds or any of four other funds that follow various indicies (including one that tracks the S&P500, and the thing I like about that plan is I tell it how to divide itself among the funds, the money automatically goes in each paycheck, and that's all I have to think about. I'm basically looking to set up something similar. I know I could just bump up my contribution to my TSP account, but I'd rather put the extra money in a different location.
Becca, agreed. I don't want to pay someone to manage my teeny amount of money. For the amount I'm going to be investing for the time being, I just don't think it's worth it.
Anyway, point being, I think I've decided what I want to do, and so I'm gonna do it.
Tuesday, February 01, 2005
money money money money / MO-ney
I recently started a Roth IRA, after hearing that it's "the thing to do." Ok, so I didn't open one only because someone told me to; I opened one because I know saving money now is better than saving money later, and hell, if I can afford to buy all the tech gadgets that I do, I can certainly afford to put some money in some kind of savings.
HOWEVER -- dot dot dot -- I don't really like the stock market, probably because I don't really understand the stock market, therefore I am greatly intimidated by it, convinced that any money I put in it will immediately disappear forever, and generally would prefer to just find someone trustworthy and say "here's my money, make it grow."
But you have to pay someone for that service, and, being an engineer, I feel like it should be within my capability to understand the damn stock market. I mean, not everything, but at least to the point where I can take the money I would have to pay someone else, plus some, and just invest it myself!
So anyway, I opened this Roth IRA. Put some money in it, just as a start. Now...I can't figure out how to actually invest the money. And...I don't know what to invest it in. So...I asked Rich and George and they started telling me all the things that were bad about the broker through whom I opened the account until I couldn't take anymore and told them to go away.
This is why I haven't invested before now.
Thursday, October 21, 2004
updated Jan 2007
My name is Sarah, I'm 28 years old, and I currently live and work deep in the heart of Texas (aka Houston). This is my meant-to-be-temporary-but-actually-somewhat-permanent "about me" page...
A reverse chronology of my life
(idea borrowed from kottke.org)
2007: Currently happening. Read the blog to see how it's going...
2006: This year was arguably the best of my life thus far. In January I started dating someone that will hopefully be around for a long, long time; in August I got a full-time job in Mission Control, one that at this point in my career could be called my dream job. The year's fabulous trip abroad was a week and a half in the Patagonia region in southern Argentina and Chile, and I later learned to ski while spending my 28th birthday at Tahoe.
2005: I blinked and it was gone. It was the first year since college that I didn't leave the country. The year that my sister got married in the most beautiful wedding ever (yes, ever, of course). The year I got "serious" about photography. The year I got to be on the field for the World Series.
2004: The year of the Best. Trip. Ever. I tend to say that about whatever my most recent trip was, but this time I mean it. I went to Peru with 7 friends, hiked the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, and loved every minute of it.
2003: I started the year with a week in France. A few days after I came back, we lost Columbia as it was coming back to Earth. For me, the event was more terrible and hit with more force than 9/11. Also the year that my five-years-younger-than-me sister got engaged. And I went to Greece.
2002: Decided that grad school was scary and making money sounded nice. I decided to leave Stanford with a Master's instead of a Ph.D. and moved to Houston. I went to Europe for the second time, a week of driving around Scotland.
2001: I graduated from Georgia Tech and finally escaped the country! For a month. We did a whirlwind 28-day European tour, hitting London, Paris, Munich, Fussen (Germany), Montreaux (Switzerland), Venice, Florence, Rome, the Riviera, Barcelona, back through Paris, and Amsterdam. I drank beer in Germany. I did not smoke pot in Amsterdam. In September, I began what I thought would be 4-5 years of grad school. My dad flew from Atlanta to Houston 3 days after 9/11 to drive to California with me. Because of 9/11, we didn't get to go inside the Hoover Dam or tour Dryden Flight Research Center. Freaking terrorists.
2000: I rang in the new millenium overlooking the LA basin from the Palos Verdes peninsula. I love California. I also went to New York for the second time. I love New York.
1999: The year of best living arrangement ever. I moved into Harris with Courtney, and shared a suite with Leila. People could just knock on the back door to be let in. On Sundays we'd go across the hall to Josh's room and watch The Simpsons while sitting on the futon cushion on the floor. During commercials, we'd wrestle.
1998: Fell in love for the first time. It didn't work out.
1997: Spent my last summer at home before starting my coop job with NASA. In September, a group of almost 30 of us drove from Houston to Florida and that's when I saw my first space shuttle launch. It was a night launch. The light was so bright, and the noise was so loud. It cracked and popped and rumbled and was extremely cool.
1996: Graduated high school and moved to Atlanta to study aerospace engineering at Georgia Tech. My brother moved into my bedroom as soon as I moved out, which I'm still bitter about even though I know it only made sense because he'd been sharing a room with my other brother blah blah blah. He stole my room. I didn't know anyone in Georgia and was extremely homesick for the first few months.
1995: The Braves won the World Series while my family and I were at my last-ever marching band competition at UNC in Chapel Hill. Katie heard Marquis Grissom make the last out on a walkman in the parking lot after the competition as we were loading everything back onto the bus. We screamed with joy, and went to my grandmother's condo to watch all the post-game celebrations. My marching band had won that night as well. One of the best nights of my life; I just remember feeling totally and completely content.
1994: Baseball went on strike right as I was transitioning from casual fan to serious fan. It didn't really affect much. I'm still a serious fan.
1993: I spent a week in the summer riding my bike from the North Carolina mountains to the coast. I don't remember much about the trip except for three things: seeing Jurassic Park in Raleigh, climbing the Cape Hatteras lighthouse, and going sailing on Pamlico Sound.
1992: My 9th grade physics teacher offered extra credit to anyone who wrote a paper for a science contest about Mars missions. I was a sucker for extra credit and wrote the paper. As it turned out, it was good enough to win a trip to Kennedy Space Center. I saw Endeavor on the launch pad and for the first time realized that one day I could do space stuff, as, like, my job. Whoa.
1991: In 8th grade I was on my school's varsity soccer team. I played defense. In one game I got a really good foot on a fast moving ball and sent it flying way down the field and way up in the air. I heard a classmate, watching from the sideline, say "WHOA" and it made me feel really good.
1989: Hurricane Hugo blows through Charlotte in the fall of my 6th grade year, with 80 mph winds even after having traveled a few hundred miles inland. We were out of school for a week. Our house was on a small string of power lines that wasn't high on the repair priority list. The houses across the street had power within 48 hours, but we waited two weeks.
1988: The Hornets start their first season in Charlotte. One night I was cheering loudly and got so excited that I was pumping my arms up and down. I was holding a blanket, and it got caught on my braces, ripping one of the brackets off my tooth. I was leaving town on a church trip the next day, so my mom and I had to go to the orthodontist's office at like 11:00 at night. He actually came out and fixed my braces. He was nice, except for the whole braces thing. Braces suck.
1986: I watched the Challenger explosion live on TV in Ms. Hackney's 2nd grade class.
1984: I think this was the year I brought home chicken pox from school. And gave it to all three of my siblings. This is probably also the year that my dad caught me on video tape throwing alphabet blocks at my sister, who was helpless in her high chair. She still hasn't forgiven me for that one.
1983: My brother and sister are born. Twins. With two parents and four kids, the family is now complete.
1980: After two lovely years (not that I remember them, but I assume they were lovely) as an only child, my brother is born.
1979: My first hazy memory is of Christmas 1979. In a pre-school classroom, we were making handprint art to go with a little poem: "Sometimes you get discouraged / Because I am so small / And always leave my fingerprints / On furniture and walls. // But everyday I'm growing / I'll be grown up someday / And all those tiny handprints / Will surely fade away. // So here's a final handprint / Just so you can recall / Exactly how my fingers looked / When I was very small." I distinctly remember some adult taking my wrist, picking up my hand, dipping it in paint, and flattening my palm on a piece of paper. The paint was cold.
1978: I was born at 7:56 in the evening on Easter Sunday. The cherry trees were blooming outside the hospital window, or so I've been told.