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Still alive.

So for the maybe 4 people who will see this I'm still alive.

I've been reassessing how I live 'online' a little. Looking at what I post and what I do and how it helped and hurt me over the years. I was surprised to see a bunch of people that I used to know still using LJ. I thought it was all but pronounced dead a couple of years ago.

Since the last time I posted something meaningful was in 2011 here is a quick update.

Still going through college. I've upgraded out of my basic classes and am back into my core stuff (Physics and Engineering) I've also switched schools out of my local community college to a large university. I actually have an associates degree in.... well I have an AA which means I can go onto my BA. I have really lost a lot of steps since I last took this stuff in the mid 90s and have been climbing back up to a more respectable skill level. But I've been doing it slowly. RL activities keep creeping up and keep forcing me to take reduced class loads or miss semesters altogether. On the other hand my kinda part time job does pay really well so I guess there is tradeoff.

I finished another 'trip' this summer which was much quieter than the last one.

Things at the cape human launch wise are still slow, but the rockets have picked up a lot. SpaceX finally started living up to the manifest they've been promising for years. So good for them.

Hope everyone else is doing well, and from what I've quickly read over you all seem to be.

I'll try to think of something more substantial to put in later.
Meme listed from Ankhorite's journal, and filled out because....why not.

1) Is there a singer or musician whose complete works you absolutely enjoy, no exceptions?
2) Of all the vehicles you’ve owned, which was your favorite?
3) Who is your least favorite celebrity?
4) What are the last books you got from the library?
5) What’s was the first thing you saw when you looked out of your window this morning?
6) What was the highlight of your high school experience?
7) Would you rather drink with a friend or triumph over an enemy?

1) It's a pretty close tie between Weird Al Yankovitch, and Billy Joel.
2) The Nissan Pick-up truck that I own now only slightly edges out my other Pick-up.
3) Least favorite? MOST of them. Hmmm. Any celebrity that has the mindset that being a celebrity in and of itself is something of value.
4) Stealing God's Thunder, Ben Franklin America's original Entrepreneur, Franklin the essential founding father, Ben Franklin, and The American Heritage book of the American Revolution. Because I have a report due for my history class.
5) My backyard, and how nice and sunny everything is out there.
6) The highlight of my high school experience? Leaving.
7) I would drink with my comrades while standing over the corpses of my vanquished enemies.

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Staying alive

Just a quick post to let anyone know I'm still around.

We just recently got access to the internet again on what is apparently the worlds largest single wireless network. Heh, go figure it's out in one of the most technologically undeveloped parts of the world.

I'm about half way through this tour now, and it's had it's moments. We are way more busy than my last time over here.

I was fortunate enough to watch the final launch of the shuttle on TV. It was really bittersweet to hear the way the announcers talked about everything and knowing that will be the last time that it ever launches. I wish the weather was better. All of those people deserved a better show.

I'm still on track to return to the world in early October. There won't be to much to post about until then.

Humanities...ugh.

I've just completed this semesters classes and I'm feeling a little dumbstruck. All I have left to get my degree at this community college so I can move on to UCF is five humanities classes. Psyche, Com II, public speaking, and two more misc. ones. On the surface when I read the course curriculum they seem almost embarrassingly easy, but when I actually take them boy, they sure defeat me.

Part of it is the writing. I think I approach a lot of writing the same way. It's either as a blog like this where I feel free to ramble in whatever direction I choose, or it's like a lab writeup where I have a formal question I'm trying to answer, body of work to support it, and then a conclusion to tie it all together. Neither of those methods seem to work for these classes. Partially I think I'm over-thinking everything, but partially it is the material.

All of the classes have these writing assignments that are very loosely directed, and those really seem to be a problem for me. When I get a 'write on anything that you want to but keep it 800-900 words' my mind goes absolutely blank. I know that I'm supposed to keep it on topic to the class, but a lot of these classes are about something that I never really gave a second thought too. However, when they do get specific it's even worse because then I don't know anything about what's going on. For some reason this process idea--> structure --> formated paper I fail at when trying to formulate how to write a paper, which dictates how I research for it. So I just get into this frustrating loop of reading stuff and not knowing how to turn it into something useful.

I finally had some success with my last paper on Frank Lloyd Wright. I read two books on him, and I don't know how many internet articles to try to figure out what the heck he was about, and then was able to back up enough to decide how the paper could be ordered. I filled a lot of it out and then found out I was doing some of it wrong. I did a little restructuring and brought it into the writing office at school, the one that helps out loosers like me, and let someone look it over. Other than some horrid misuse of commas she said it was pretty good and it didn't take much editing to turn it in. I would say that was the only successful paper I had this semester and it really took a lot out of me. I felt emotionally drained when it was done.

I'm going to buy a writing college papers for dummies book because I really think that I am missing some basic level of skill that most everyone else learned in high school or early college that I probably missed because I just did all the fun science and math stuff and bombed everything else.

The other dimension to my dilemma is the material itself. I really have such a low frame of reference for the humanities that I am absolutely lost when professors talk about it.

I'm teaching myself how to draw, but other than the mechanics of it I don't understand art. Maybe I should better say I don't understand other artists. I'm just trying to better draw all of the stuff that's in my head, I don't care if it's socially relevant, challenging, or engaging.

For writing, unless it's Sci-fi I usually don't get it. Maybe not quite that narrow but fantasy, sci-fi, cartoons, or comic books makes up the bulk of my interaction with culture. Those rarely end up as the topics in most literature. My analysis of novels or short stories are usually very simple and direct. Whatever the story is about, is what it's about. I thought Kafka wrote a story about a guy turning into a bug, and that all of the people around the main character just acted very bizarrely. I didn't get that he was trying to say some other story about life in general. Dr. Frankenstein? He was the flakiest mad genius ever to build a monster. That's how I analyze a book. I could care less what the writer was about. I usually don't put more into a story when I read it, but it seems that it's common for there to be all kinds of extra insight (baloney) that is to be discussed in class.

Music falls into two categories. Stuff that I like, and stuff that I don't. I like pieces of old time orchestral music, 60s rock, 80s rock, more recent country, movie soundtracks, and a category I'd call silly stuff. I've got CDs of Tchaikovsky, and Wagner along side of my Forrest Gump CD, and a whole large section of Weird Al Yankovich. I'd have Garth Books, next to a song from Abba, then Kung Fu Fighting, Barbie Girl, and followed up by Steppenwolf on my ipod. One thing I have discovered is that I don't have a good ear for lyrics in a song. What I mean by that if someone is singing, and they aren't enunciating well then I can't hear them and the music at the same time. I can either focus on one or the other, but not both. It's like trying to hear two conversations simultaneously. I can't do it. Mostly I try to tune out the singer, and it annoys me when they keep getting in the way of me enjoying the rest of the music. I think that is one of the things that turned me off music when I was growing up. In the 80s it seemed like everyone was just yelling into the mike, and not making any effort to be understood.

And then there is poetry.

The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
Petals on a wet, black bough.
--Ezra Pound

Huh...what?

First I have to decode whatever it is they're trying to talk about. That means I can't just read poetry I have to actively decipher it, and that becomes really tedious when the thing is bigger than a page. Then, after I finish that, I have to find out the meaning of the thing which always seems to be vector dependent on whatever experience the poet has been through. That's just so god not interesting I don't even know what to do.

I would add that I have two personal issues as well.

One, I tune people out as well. I don't remember faces or names easily, I kind of don't like gossip, and I really don't like to read into people's motives. My hermitage has grown worse over the years and it doesn't make this stuff any easier.

Two, I have a really hard time focusing on stuff that I really don't care about. I mean my mind really wanders in every direction when I'm trying to do research or study this stuff. I've learned to discipline it for science, math, mechanics, history, and a number of other subjects, but not these topics. Here my ADHD really kicks into high gear. Internet style research doesn't help any. After an hour researching one of my psych papers I found myself studying the types of engines that were mounted in the P38 lightning.

*Sigh.* I so miss math.

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They got him!

I just heard that Bin-Laden is confirmed dead by a U.S. bomb and that's just peachy keen.

[Update] I was wrong. It wasn't by a bomb. It was by a SEAL team that went in and eventually plugged him in the face. Even better.

We will probably never know which SEAL did it because his family would be immediate target for any cells that are already in the U.S., but if he ever is found out he'll never have to pay for a meal in NYC again.

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What a difference a few days make.







Ugh.

And that first photo was a few hours after they had started clearing.

Took these from my little observation stand that was leftover from a swing set in the backyard. I was thinking of replacing the deck planks on it because they were getting a little soft and saggy. No need for it now, so I guess I'll just take it down.

Progress must.....progress

DAMMIT! Dammit, dammit, dammit!

When I bought my house one of the selling points was the backyard. Instead of being a sterile field of grass it had already established trees, a drainage easement right behind it, and an undeveloped lot that was a weird shape right behind the easement. That meant a pseudo wooded view deep inside what is essentially a housing development. No backyard neighbors, and a nice view. Years ago one neighbor next to it tore down a lot of his blocking trees and erected a fence which the vines quickly overgrew so a fear that a view I was going to loose didn't materialize.

All this morning I've been hearing construction equipment rumbling and I thought it was somewhere down the road. When I went outside to load the bird feeder It was right outside in that vacant lot. Someone is doing something there and it looks like a complete clearing of the plot. This big front end loader with fangs is tearing out the brush and small trees. I even saw a raccoon fleeing the destruction.

I don't want to begrudge anyone from doing anything on their own land, but I'm just all.....dammit. Especially when I've learned last week that there are four vacant houses on my street. We really don't need another one.

I was hoping with the housing collapse at least the fevered pace of construction here would stop.

Guess not.

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School days.

I've started my fourth (fifth? sixth?) attempt at college this week. Due to a combination of quirks in student aid, a major commitment this summer until October, and my desire not to get in to deep right away I'm only taking two classes this semester. I only need five classes at the local community college before I can get into UCF's engineering program, but none of them are the fun math, physics, and engineering classes that I enjoy. Both of them have a little writing which will get me back in the groove of college level writing that I'm going to need when I hit my Communications II class next year.

All I have this semester is Psychology, and a humanities course called human survey from the enlightenment to modern times. I've got two 'interesting' teachers for them. My Psych class is led by a professor that is actually called Dr. Psycho. That's not how it's spelled, but it is how it's pronounced. It must have been very odd for her when she was doing clinical work. She doesn't seem super into being hard so even though I've got some writing there this should be a very doable class. The humanities one I'm not so sure about. Looking through the book I was hoping that it would be a good, encompassing social studies/history for the world from about the mid 1600s on. The instructor has already chopped off the first section of the book which removes the entire scientific revolution and all of the stuff that went on with the Dutch. In addition the way that she was talking this is more going to be much more focused on the art and philosophies instead of the nuts and bolts of what was going on. That's a little disappointing. However she's not into reading at all, and is encouraging all of our papers to be group papers. She's also said if we wanted to we could do some of the assignments as drawing interpretations so maybe I'll be able to put my nascent art skills to some use. It's a little hard to get a bead on the prof because she had a traumatic personal event happen this week, and was a total spaz on the first day. She kept wigging out, apologizing for it, then wigged out again. I think things will be fine next week after she's been able to settle down some.

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And that's a wrap for 2010

This was a pretty active year with lots of changes for me. I don't know if it quite counts as a transformative year, but it definitely started a lot of changes.

This was a year of traveling, and wow, was I going everywhere. Three trips to Atlanta (one for Dragon*Con, one for FWA, and one to support an airshow), Pittsburgh for Anthrocon, two trips to Maine to help my Mom with my stepfather's passing, Little Rock Arkansas for some training, Tampa for my A&P license, the Florida panhandle for Christmas and the Keys for Thanksgiving, and my epic Hawaii trip.

My stepfather passed away in the summer. He has been hanging on for many years, and always managed to pull off an 11th hour recovery after every incident that he had. There was a period in 97 where I really thought he was in his final hours. He had another episode and passed away in the ambulance on the way to the hospital. My mother took it very hard, but she is recovering quickly now. The scattering of the ashes and saying goodbye helped her a lot.

This was an emotional roller coaster year at work. We have successful launches all through the spring and early summer until a mass spectrometer issue with the European payload put us on hold and we haven't been able to launch much since. A lot of stress came in the first few months when the President started changing what it was we were going to do, then congress started weighing in, then other groups, and it was an ugly period even when the President visited here. We started with a plan, not a great plan but it was one, and now we were meandering along with a fuzzy goal and the desire to get the last few shuttle launches off safely. I worked at refurbishment for the booster rockets until we finished and shipped all of our components. Then my manager comes to me and asks if I want to work at the Launch Controll Center for a while which I jump on. It's a different world over at the LCC but it opened up some opportunities and gave me a chance to see some new stuff. That all came to an end when my manager informed me that I was on this round of layoffs, and come October 1 I was finished there. I witnessed SpaceX's maiden voyage, and possibly Atlantis' last. I left the week before they filmed Transformers at the cape, but considering my opinion of Micheal Bay's work and his two previous Transformers movies that's probably for the best.

At home I had house issues. Honeybees in my wall that had to be removed. Fixing appliances that had broke. I changed my services to AT&T's Uverse and have started to get addicted to the DVR service they have. We had a lot of freezes at the beginning of the year (and at the end too) which landed the final blows on my big ficus tree. I bought a very underpowered chainsaw, and spent about two weeks on and off chopping it up. Now I have a gigantic hole in the ground I need to fill with an orange tree. At least I've managed to clean it up some. Now the latest issue is part of my fence has fallen over.

We had a cold long winter, a dry summer with no hurricane scares, and a pretty cold December which makes me think we've got some more chilly months ahead.

I've restarted the trek to obtain my college degree, and I've gotten my Airframe and Powerplant license on the first try. So I am, even now, far more hire-able than I was.

My computer's operating system crashed, and while I lost some stuff I've now got two systems with the newer operating system.

I've been getting a little more checked up medically, and I'm now eight months into adjusting my teeth.

My drawing has improved somewhat, and I'm getting better spurts of creativity.

So in this year I sat at the controls of a real spacecraft, stood where WWII ended and where it began, said goodbye to some family where the first light touches the U.S., helped my sister move to new opportunities, had two teeth pulled, excavated a giant tree, got a new license to work on airplanes, and was layed off for the first time. Some things still look the same as they did one year ago, while other things are very, very different.

In 2011 I hope to finish at least two classes for the spring, and one compressed class in the fall. I'm going to take more effort to better use the free time I've been griping for over the past few years. I'm going to try to upgrade two closets, finally paint the main room, install some shelving in the garage and maybe even get my workbench done. I'm gonna pull all of the old bushes out from in front of the house and try to plant a lot of better looking things along with getting that darn orange tree in place. I'm going to build a new PC from scratch. From late May until early October I'll be out of the area again, and my goal there is to come back with all of my fingers and toes.

Everyone have a happy new year.

Graduated!

Whooooooooooooo. Today was a long day, but I pulled it off. I started my exam around ten in the morning and finished up sometime after six. No lunch break. It's about an hour of question-answer with the evaluator, then a bunch of projects. Blending a propeller, riveting, fabricating some hose fittings, and yes I did end up doing a bunch of inspections and measurements on a Cessna 172. The last few projects were some paperwork drills, and I was beginning to wonder when this thing would ever end. I think the evaluator was tired too. He marks something in his clipboard before looking up and asking me if I wanted any more questions. No thank you. I'm ready to come up for air now.

I'm getting this mostly to get past the first round resume dump, but it's also an alternate career path in case things at the space center never pick up. I may do some volunteer work at some aeroclubs, or the local warbird museum to get some maintenance time. I'm so happy that I can tick this off of the big list.

These past two weeks I've realized my studying habits could be a lot better. Even relatively sequestered I could have had more focus. I'd always get started way to late, and yesterday I didn't get all that much done at all. My oral questions could probably have gone better if I had brushed up on a lot of things. However, I should only have to do this once. Now to start getting ready for my two college classes in January.

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