And again...
Wednesday, March 31, 2004 ~ 10:05 p.m.
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Happy Birthday, Jen!

And also, even though I've already said it, happy birthday again to my father and grandfather. Hope you all enjoyed your days!

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Picture Time
Sunday, March 28, 2004 ~ 09:20 p.m.
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Yay, pictures!



The exterior inlay pattern was a last-minute idea of mine that worked out suprisingly well. We'd planned on using different colors, but I'm glad we were forced to use the red and orange.



The interior of our boat included some of the most difficult inlay we've done to date. We're talking hours of painstaking work.



Here's the boat on display for final product judging. The stands were a combined effort of Todd, me, and Andrea and they turned out very well. It was Todd's idea to go with the concrete bases and I think pointing those out really helped sell the judges on our product as a whole.



Amber and I in the sprint.



Team UAH with our hard-earned awards.

My first day at the hospital in Amory, Mississippi, I was laying out borings when I heard a pitiful meow. Lying in the bushes nearby was a horribly thin, tiny tabby cat. She had a large open wound on her right side and was having trouble walking. Being a cat-lover, I brought her lunch later and after talking to a couple of the nurses, decided to bring her home. I turned her over to Todd before I went back to Amory and he took her to the vet for me. Long story short, she's doing much better and is already a LOT healthier. She's the sweetest cat ever, already litter-trained, and very well-behaved. Because I'd been calling her "Little Bit" for so long, the only name that's stuck so far is "Lilo."

She's pretty much the only good thing to come out of Mississippi.

Friggin' Mississippi.

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Friggin' Tupelo
Sunday, March 28, 2004 ~ 10:15 a.m.
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Okay, so I've been gone a lot longer than I expected.

First off:

Happy (Very) Belated Birthday, Pat!

Secondly:

WE WON in Tampa!!!!

And we didn't just win, we swept the technical side of the competition. We took first in the design paper, the presentation, and the final product.

The races didn't go so well, but I'd already resigned myself to the fact that I couldn't correct the damage Amber did to that part of the team. Parts of race day were downright awful, particularly when our men's sprint team got disqualified for a stupid mistake, but we pulled through okay. We took third in the women's distance, second in the men's distance, second in the women's sprint, and second in the coed.

For the most part, the competition was very well run - the judges followed the rules and were almost as thorough as I remember the national judges being. Race day had a whole mess of problems, but that was pretty much the only hitch the whole weekend. Congrats go to USF for hosting the first real competition in three years.

I was definitely looking forward to a week of rest and relaxation following regionals. My boss, however, had other plans. He told me Monday afternoon, while we were driving back from Tampa, that I was going to leave for Tupelo, Mississippi at 6 AM the next morning and that I'd probably be staying there all week.

......Friggin' Tupelo.

Well, he was right. Nothing has gone right at this job. I got home at 10 PM Friday night, and I'm going back again at 5 AM tomorrow morning to finish it up and start on another. I have to be back by 7 PM on Wednesday for the Huntsville Times interview, but there's no telling how long this new job will take.

Maybe one day I'll actually get to go home and stay there. We'll see.

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We just might survive
Thursday, March 11, 2004 ~ 09:01 a.m.
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Everything is starting to come together. Our design paper is one of the best ones to go out in the last couple of years. Yeah, it has a few small errors, but it's still good. Our presentation is coming along and I think we can pull it off effectively. It's a unique format, I think.

And the boat...well, that I'm proud of. Jackie, Mo, Todd, and several other people have worked so hard on it and it is honestly one of the best boats ever built. The gunwales are arrow-straight, the thickness is uniform, and it flexes like you wouldn't believe. My design for the inlaid graphics, which looked kind of iffy at first, has turned out to be really good and I don't think anyone down there will be able to match it. All in all, I'm pretty confident.

Our only weakness is our paddlers. Our paddling "coach" didn't bother to actually push them (or make them paddle in anything more difficult than 60-degree sunny weather), so they're the slowest team I've seen in my entire time with the club. It's kind of painful because I KNOW how much better they should be. I keep telling myself that all we have to do is make it past Regionals. Once we do that, I'll take over the preparation for Nationals and make sure we aren't embarassed in DC.

Only 7 more days...

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Just a good day
Friday, March 5, 2004 ~ 03:37 p.m.
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Today has been so amazingly productive. I love feeling like I'm actually making headway! I also enjoy getting tasks off my shoulders, especially if they've been hanging over my head for a while.

There's a lot to be done tonight for the canoe and we have a river trip tomorrow morning (6 miles starting at 7 AM), but it's all fun. To makes things even better, we're cooking out at Johnson tonight.

And now it's thundering. I love storms.

Happy Friday everyone!!!

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Boredom
Thursday, March 4, 2004 ~ 02:36 p.m.
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Well, I was supposed to be off in Henderson, TN today running a resistivity test, but it just didn't work out that way. A pity, really, because it's the perfect day to be out in the field.

Busy again tonight. These days it feels like I'm being pulled in ten thousand directions between ASCE, ESC, work, and my personal life. As soon as I leave work, I'm on the run from one obligation to another. I really look forward to the day when I actually have free time again.

In other news, I was somewhat gratified to read this response to one of the more disgusting things the Bush administration has done:

"Harold Schaitberger, president of the International Association of Fire Fighters Union, called the ads disgraceful and said they should be pulled. 'We're not going to stand for him to put his arm around one of our members on top of a pile of rubble at Ground Zero during a tragedy and then stand by and watch him cut money for first responders,' Schaitberger said."

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It's like an alternate dimension
Thursday, March 4, 2004 ~ 08:52 a.m.
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Last night at the ASCE meeting, one of my troublemakers made a statement that was just so blatantly WRONG that I still have trouble believing that I heard it come out of her mouth:

"If someone brings us their work, we'll tell them good job - even if it's not good enough - because it's all that they can do. And if they fail because it wasn't good enough, we'll still tell them they did a good job." She went on to elaborate that she accepts failure over success, as long as that person put in some effort.

Of course, this is the same girl who thinks professionalism means refusing to compromise. Yeah, explain that one to me again?

In engineering, if you accept failure over success...well, that's a very bad thing for a lot of people. If that's really her philosophy, would you want to drive over the bridge that she designs? Or work in the building whose plans she reviewed? Not me. Failure is never an option in this field because the stakes are just too high. Since part of ASCE is to teach professional skills, I think that it's important that people realize that NOW. Sometimes their best just isn't good enough and that's why we have people to review what we do. I've never gotten offended when my boss bleeds all over my geotech reports - I thank him for helping me to be better. Constructive criticism is a fact of life and failure is never an option...unless you're just looking for a lawsuit.

Granted, this is only a silly competition, but it's part of the students' development into engineers that are actually worth something. If they can't accept NOW that they have to do their best in everything they do, then the rest of us might want to start avoiding any new bridges in the next few years or so.

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Random
Wednesday, March 3, 2004 ~ 11:13 a.m.
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Today just feels like a happy day. I'm not sure why, but it does. Maybe my fear of March 3rd is unjustified?

The FE review went very well last night, even though attendance was low. I have another ASCE meeting tonight - it should be interesting, if nothing else.

Tomorrow night I have an ESC meeting at 6 and another FE Review from 7 to 10 for Circuits. But then again, I might be out on a job from 2 to 5 and since it's 3 hours away, I'm looking at not even getting home until 8 or so. So much for those plans, right?

I'm really looking forward to Friday - my first free night of the week. I don't think I'll know what to do with myself, getting home before 10. Maybe I'll just have to stay at Johnson and work.

Two weeks left....!

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Just in case I wasn't having enough fun already...
Tuesday, March 2, 2004 ~ 09:53 a.m.
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It just keeps getting better.

While the officer's meeting went suprsingly well thanks to a sudden upsurge of LOGIC, the SGA meeting was nothing short of pure torture. Already we'd showed up for a meeting, only to find that they weren't dicussing our funding request. Last night we were assured that we'd have our chance to speak. At 10:40, they asked all non-voting members to leave so they could vote on something stupid and Robert and I still hadn't gotten to speak. I asked, as a matter of courtesy, if they thought they were going to get around to funding requests. They said no. So we left. You know, common courtesy would dictate that if you're not going to be able to dicuss something, let the people who showed up for it know so they don't waste two hours of their valuable time.

So I got home, crawled into bed, definitely not looking forward to practice at 6:30 this morning. At 3:30 I was awakened by an intense desire to eat crackers. I'm not sure why, but I obliged. Fifteen minutes later I was violently ill, my stomach having decided that no, it didn't really want crackers after all. All I could think was "what a perfect capstone for the day."

And at 6:30, I was on the duckpond, in the rain, doing my best to practice like I meant it.

Suprisingly, though, I've been pretty laid back today. I'm not sure if it's just that I lack the energy to deal with all of this or if things really are looking up. I guess we'll see.

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16 days and counting...
Monday, March 1, 2004 ~ 04:58 p.m.
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Holy crap, it's already March.

It's going to be a long night. I'm meeting Gilbert and Toutanji at 6, the ASCE officers at 7, and going to SGA at 8:45 to beg for our money.

Aieeeeeeee.

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2003 slyflame. Header image Stephanie Pui-Mun Law.