Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Adventures in Minnesota

Well, it’s Tuesday night and I’m sitting here bored in my hotel room somewhere in northwestern Minnesota. Fergus Falls if any of you know where that is. For the rest of you, tis’ not far from the North Dakota border. My mom and I drove up here earlier today from the Twin Cities (Minneapolis/St. Paul for you non-Minnesotan people), making a stop along the way to try to sell the city of Sartell on Revtrak (near St. Cloud). We’re staying at a U-shaped Best Western, where the inside of the U is an enclosed pool area. What’s sad is that the pool itself is shaped like the state. Seriously. Look at a U.S. map, yeah, it looks like that. Sadly, I don’t have a camera with me, so I can’t post evidence (although that may be remedied by the end of summer, I’m hoping to be able to squeeze my budget enough to get a camera). No, wait… It’s not a great picture, but I managed to lift a shot off the hotel’s website:

As you can see: the shape of MN. The upper right corner that looks dark in the picture is the hot tub. Now do you believe me?

Moving on… (or rather: back, to cover the weekend).

Drove up to the Twin Cities Friday night, got in relatively late so pretty much just went to bed. Saturday I had to dress up in a suit and tie to get a portrait taken. The photographer was both skilled and funny (in a telling Scott-style bad jokes sort of way). If you want to torture yourself with those sorts of jokes, ask Scott what a polygon is, I’m sure he’d be more than willing to share the pain. Saturday afternoon/evening we had a small graduation party for Scott. Mainly people that I only sorta knew, but the Pedro family (old friends from White Bear Lake) came and brought almost the whole clan (8 of 10 kids, missing the two oldest). That was a lot of fun. I ended up spending a lot of time playing with them (playing pool with David/Timothy/Joshua, squishing 6-yr old Anna in the couch and using her as a pool cue, chasing around 3-yr old Jeremiah, and letting baby John grab at my goatee while I was holding him). BTW, Grandpa and Grandma, send me that picture of playing pool with Anna (I think the last one we took was the best). Just you watch: someone (likely Edgar or Dustin) is going to give me a hard time about all of that, but let me tell you, playing with little kids is a blast.

Sunday we went to Grace Church Roseville (our old church in MN). I managed to see a bunch of people I knew, but the majority of my good friends from there aren’t around anymore, so it wasn’t as much fun for me as it was for the rest of the family. Some, like Big Nick (who bears an uncanny resemblance in appearance and demeanor to Chris Rausch from Purdue), have just disappeared in the last 5 years and others, like Jordan Lorence aren’t coming home from school for the summer. Still, it was fun to go back and see the people I do know. For lunch we went out to Steak & Ale with my grandparents and my uncle and aunt. We then held a small graduation ceremony for Scott. That night, while Scott was off hanging around with friends, my parents and I drove back to White Bear Lake to drive by our old house and see what it was like. Looks ok, but they haven’t been keeping up with the yard work. We also drove through the Lakewood Church parking lot (where we went before Grace while my dad was an associate pastor) and walked around Festival Foods (my old place of employment).

Monday we had a late breakfast/brunch with some other family (my Mom’s uncle and aunt and one of the cousins and his wife). That afternoon Dad and Scott drove back to Chicago while my Mom and I stayed for this business stuff. Grandpa and I went out to a local field to fly his remote control airplanes for the afternoon. While I’ve been getting into the real thing, he’s getting into the models. It was fun because he let me do the flying, both to see what it was like and because he couldn’t due to recent eye surgery (cataract removal, the other one will be out in a few weeks and then he’ll really be able to fly well because he can see the plane!).

We had some harrowing moments during the afternoon, both with a plane called the Pushy-Cat. At one moment I brushed some leaves while flying it too close to a tree (didn’t realize it was that close, exact depth perception is hard at those distances). And at another moment I came within inches of scraping the top of a parked car with my wing, partially because of my inexperience (only my 3rd RC flight ever and the first in the last 6 months) and partially because of the depth perception problem. The car was an SUV and a guy (fellow RC pilot) was sitting in the back with the hatch open waiting for his turn to fly. He wasn’t watching us and couldn’t see the plane because of the hatch, so he never knew what was coming until this giant plane buzzes right over his head with no warning! I felt kind of bad about it and slightly embarrassed (the field was covered with people watching the whole thing, they even gave me a round of applause when I brushed the tree without crashing as mentioned earlier), but it was absolutely hilarious! Even now I’m having a hard time suppressing the laughter to keep from waking my Mom.

Here’s a quick shot my Grandpa took with me at the controls. I know the hat looks a little silly on me, but I forgot to pack one and it was the only one he had in the car (sunny enough that I really needed it).

After we got done with the Pushy-Cat flight, we had to wait about an hour before our next turn in the air, so we spend the time talking with other RC pilots (there are some interesting characters out there). The vast majority were RC helicopter pilots, which doesn’t interest me at all but the ones that are really skilled can do tricks like you wouldn’t believe.

Then we pulled out a second airplane, the Light Stick, and flew it around for a while. It’s so named because it is light weight and has a very simple stick-of-wood fuselage style construction. I liked it because it was relatively slow and docile (easier for fine control) and it had landing gear (so I could take off from the ground and try for a decent landing later, the Pushy-Cat was hand launched). I got much more confident while flying it, so I was able to bring it around for some close-up photo shoots with Grandpa manning the camera. Here’s the best one of the lot:

There’s a little bit of blur due to motion and that the camera didn’t focus perfectly, but this is good enough that you can see the basic construction of the plane. We later flew it again at another, smaller field and got some videos, but they weren’t really high-enough quality to be worth your download time (though fun to watch).

Then today my Mom and I packed up and left. We went to the RevTrak HQ office for a couple hours to get some work done, then to lunch at Steak & Ale with the HQ staff (tech guys and the Boss, aka David Thorson). Then, as I talked about earlier, we started driving.

In other news, I recently finished reading The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and absolutely loved it. I would highly recommend it to all of you who enjoy good science fiction and some somewhat sophisticated British style humor. Sometime soon I’ll have to post some of my favorite quotes from it (there are many really good ones), but I feel I should give you one quick one to give you a taste of the style of humor in the book. The book I’m reading is a single volume compellation of all five books in the “increasingly misnamed trilogy,” so they got Douglas Adams (the author, now dead) to write an introduction for the book. He goes on to explain how the book was originally a BBC radio series, then became a book, then a BBC TV mini-series, and just recently a movie and how every incarnation of it is quite different in story and continuity from all the others. So here are two brief selections from his introduction:

“The idea for the title first cropped up while I was lying drunk in a field in Innsbruck, Austria, in 1971. Not particularly drunk, just the sort of drunk you get when you have a couple of stiff Gössers after not having eaten for two days straight, on account of being a penniless hitchhiker. We are talking of a mild inability to stand up.”

Later on:

“In the fall of 1979, the first Hitchhiker book was published in England, called The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. It was a substantially expanded version of the first four episodes of the radio series, in which some of the characters behaved in entirely different ways and others behaved in exactly the same ways but for entirely different reasons, which amounts to the same thing but saves rewriting the dialogue.”

It should be obvious why I enjoy this book so much. Anyway, that’s enough for now. Considering how rarely I’ve been updating this lately, none of you should complain about how long it is. Might as well go for a few long posts to help fill up your dull summer months with some dull reading just to ensure you don’t forget how to read before fall semester.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Is it REALLY a VACATION if you have to WORK?

Current time: 5:15pm Thursday 5/26/05
Percentage progress packing for tomorrow’s trip: zip, nil, natta, nothin’
Procrastination Index: High
Forecast change over next six hours: Zero (+/- 6.1783% error)

So yeah, that about sums it up. The plan is for us to leave as early as possible Friday morning (which, based on history, is not all that early, probably ~9:30am) and drive up to Minnesota and spend the night with my grandparents. Saturday morning we will get some nice portraits taken (including my brother’s Senior Pictures) and then start preparations for a small graduation party for Scott Saturday night. Saturday we will pay a visit to our old church (Grace Church Roseville), have a nice lunch with the family, and then do a small graduation ceremony for Scott. This entails him putting on his cap and gown, walking into the room while my mom and aunt hum “Pomp and Circumstance,” and my dad giving a short speech; all while the grandparents continuously fire the camera as fast as the flash can recycle. Monday my dad and brother leave to return to Chicago and my mom and I relax. Then Tuesday we start driving all over the state visiting clients and making sales calls. Thursday night we’ll spend with our old friends the Pedro’s and then come back sometime Friday afternoon/evening/night.

I don’t know how often I’ll be able to get online during the trip, but I imagine I should be able to check my email once a day or so.

For those of you looking for a good book, I highly recommend Oxygen by John B. Olson and Randall Ingermanson. I realize if you’re anything like me, you probably have quite a stack of books you brought home from school that you want to read but haven’t yet had the time (virtually all non-fiction). I also have the problem of not really remembering how to read recreationally because I don’t do any such reading at school (time issues), but I picked this one up from my church library in hopes of an entertaining read. It’s Christian Science Fiction (a rare genre, I’m afraid to admit) that’s done very well. The theme surrounds a near-future (2012ish) NASA human Mars mission and gives a very realistic (at times) view of the modern space program. One can really tell the authors did their homework on the technical details of what they were doing (it’s based somewhat off Zubrin’s Mars Semi-Direct, NASA’s Mars Reference Mission Document, and the Caltech Mars Society proposed mission and focuses on utilizing realistic, modern technologies). It was a quick read and entertaining the whole way through. Here’s the Amazon.com listing for it: http://tinyurl.com/chs5q

Sadly, several of my most loyal readers will be leaving before I return from my trip. Edgar will be heading for somewhere-near the coast of Scotland to spend some time with his Navy brethren and Amy will be heading to Traverse City on Summer Project with Campus Crusade. I don’t know if there are any other regulars leaving mainly because I don’t know who most of you regulars are (but I know from the hit counts that people are visiting this thing). To Amy, Edgar, and any others leaving: You’ll have a blast and I’ll miss you. I expect a full report on your adventures when you get back (especially on how many times Edgar goes overboard ;) ).

I had my first foray into studio photography this morning. I set up a small studio complete with lighting and snapped a new picture to downsize for my Trillian buddy icon. My model let me get a couple of shots of him mid-stride from a few different angles and the picture downscaled nicely. Here is the final shot before downsizing to 48x48 pixels:

That’s all for now, if you want to know more about life around here you’ll have to give me a call. Most of you have my cell number or can get it off Facebook, so I won’t bother putting it here. If I can I’ll try to make a post while I’m gone, but I don’t know how things are going to go so don’t count on anything.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Wernher von Braun

In case you haven’t noticed, my posts on here have grown somewhat infrequent compared to during the semester. Why? There’s not that much going on. Work, reading, relaxing, hanging out with friends, that about sums up life around here. I’ll be leaving town on Friday to head up to Minnesota for Memorial Day, we’ll visit some family and then my Mom and I will drive around the state visiting RevTrak clients and potential clients for a few days. I should get back next Friday or Saturday.

Meanwhile, on to the quote that prompted this post:

I came across this as I was reading earlier today and enjoyed it so much I figured I’d pass it along to you guys. It comes from Dr. Wernher von Braun, one of the pioneers of rocketry in the last century:

“Man is the best computer we can put aboard a spacecraft...
and the only one that can be mass produced with unskilled labor.”


Friday, May 20, 2005

Revenge of the Sith

I've seen it.
Have you?
What did you think?
[Warning: this is a Spoiler-Free Zone: be careful what you say; any comments containing spoilers for those readers who haven't seen it will be deleted]
Spoiler-Free reviews are HIGHLY encouraged.
I haven't really decided my opinion on it yet. I might have to see it again before I make up my mind.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

You *Might* Be a Star Wars Geek If...

What's this, two posts in two days?

A friend of mine sent this to me a few weeks ago, but I've been saving it for today because tonight is the opening of Episode III (midnight showing!!). Ironically enough, I've known this guy for a couple of years and never would have guessed he was enough of a geek to write this list (even after eating lunch with him two or three days a week for the last 3 or 4 semesters). He's asked that his real name not be posted on the net (thus the fake name), but he did give me the ok to put his first name: Chris. For those of you who know a plethora of Chris's like I do, he's not C. Rausch, nor C. Lindsay (as should be self evident), thus he's that other Chris I hang around with.

Moving on, I present to you: The Top 27 Clues You Might Be A Star Wars Geek (by Brad "Chris" Juego):

27. While you were camping out, waiting to buy advance tickets for the first showing of The Phantom Menace, you and your buddies reenacted The Empire Strikes Back in its entirety.

26. Your reenactment of The Empire Strikes Back was delayed by a violent argument about whose turn it was to be Darth Vader.

25. The next day, the movie theater gave you and your buddies tickets at half price just to make you go away.

24. You named your dog “Jabba the Hutt”.

23. You know more Star Wars trivia than George Lucas does.

22. By the time your local movie theater stopped showing The Star Wars Trilogy: Special Edition, you knew everyone who worked there on a first-name basis.

21. By the time you’d returned to see The Phantom Menace, they still remembered you.

20. You own enough Star Wars toys to re-enact any battle from any movie.

19. Your Darth Vader impression puts James Earl Jones to shame.

18. You know more about Han Solo than you do about your parents.

17. When you look up Star Wars in the encyclopedia, your name is listed in there along with George Lucas’, Obi-wan Kenobi’s, Darth Vader’s, and Luke Skywalker’s.

16. While other people have dreams about flying, you have dreams about killing Jar Jar Binks.

15. Or Ewoks.

14. You work lines from Star Wars into conversations. In fact, you work lines from Star Wars into all your conversations.

13. Three years ago, when you tried to build a lightsaber, the US government confiscated it and the blueprints, the Secretary of Defense made you promise to never build one again, and two FBI agents have shadowed you ever since.

12. You can whistle R2-D2’s lines from memory.

11. Alec Guinness came to your house and told you to get a life.

10. Like C-3PO, you are fluent in Basic, Wookie, Huttese, Toydarian, Dug, Jawa, Ewok, Twi’lek, Ugnaught, Bachi, the language of Tusken Raiders, and the language of astromech droids.

9. You can name the languages that I failed to mention in that list.

8. You willed that your huge collection of Star Wars toys and merchandise be preserved in the official Star Wars museum in a wing named after you.

7. Talk like Yoda you do.

6. You know more about Tattooine than you do about Earth.

5. You intentionally avoid taking your asthma medicine so you can sound more like Darth Vader when you breathe.

4. You legally changed your name to Boba Fett.

3. Somewhere out there, there is a big book that contains every scrap of knowledge that can be known about the Star Wars universe: biographies of every character, history and geography of the Star Wars universe, info on weapons, droids, ships, everything. You wrote that book.

2. You wrote a very detailed list of signs that you may be a Star Wars Geek.

1. George Lucas sent you a “thank you” note.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

A Majestic ROAR

Disney today released the teaser trailer for The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. It’s going to be, quite literally, AWESOME!!!

Disney’s strategy for this, one of (if not the most) expensive movies’ they’ve ever made, is to be as true as possible to the original book by C.S. Lewis. They are not going to downplay nor enhance the Christian themes of the story and will market it much like The Passion, by letting faith groups self market to a large degree (hey, I’m doing it now). They are going all out on special effects, including an Aslan that’s completely CG and nothing like The Lion King. We’re not talking some wimpy, no teeth, claws pulled stuffed animal here; we’re talking a photo realistic, graceful, powerful, “not safe” (as C.S. Lewis made such a point of) LION!

I am quite literally trembling with excitement over this one. December 9th can’t come too soon. If there’s going to be a midnight showing; I’ll be there (forget finals). If the movie lives up to the book and this trailer, I think it has potential to equal LOTR (Lord Of The Rings). Not joking.

Now, you want to see the trailer? There are lower quality versions of it than I’m going to give you, but this one is completely worth the 54Mb download time. Apple Quicktime is required to watch it (it’s free, to get it without iTunes, download the one for Win 98/ME, it should still work on XP: http://www.apple.com/quicktime/download/win.html). To download it, right click on the link below and select “Save Target As” from the menu that pops up (“Save Link As” on Firefox). Choose a place to save it on your hard drive. Then wait forever as it downloads. Here’s the tricky part: For some idiotic reason, they made the downloadable video you just saved with a filename too long for Quicktime to play. So you have to rename the file. I named it “Narnia.mov,” it’s really not important what you call it as long as it’s reasonably short and still has the .mov extension. Then double click to open it up and enjoy!

Here’s the link:

If you absolutely, positively, must have one with a smaller file size, you are free to beg for one in the comments area and I will consider the request. This is just too awesome to not watch with the best possible quality. Rumor also has it that they might add this trailer to the lineup of trailers before Star Wars Episode III (which comes out Wednesday night/12:00am Thursday morning, at which time I'll be in the theater).

Tonight is the traditional end of the year bonfire for SCF/Elevate at Elgin Community College. Should be fun. If you're coming, make sure to bring a change of clothes and/or things you don't mind being wet in. There are usually random attacks with water balloons and the occasional person getting thrown into the pool.

If you're reading this and you still haven't added your two cents to the open thread (previous post), you still need to do that. There are no exceptions (even relatives)! If you have comments on the trailer, please put them on here. I want to know if others are as excited as I am about it.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

An Experiment

And now for something completely different...

Now that school’s out for the semester, I’ve decided to tack an assignment onto something I’ve been wanting to try on here for a while. I don’t know if any of you read Worldmagblog.com (the news blog of WORLD Magazine, a fantastic publication that I highly recommend), but it’s very popular for people to use the comments feature to converse about recent news items. Recently they’ve started having an “open thread” every day, where people use the comments to talk about pretty much anything they want rather than having to keep it related to a specific news post. I’ve thought for a while that it might be fun to try having an open thread on here, so now’s your lucky day.

Two more things before I let you loose:

First, for those of you (a majority) who haven’t tried it before, leaving a comment is easy! Simply click on the “_ Comments” link at the bottom of this post, click on the “Post a Comment” link on the following page, then type away in the text box on the right side of the screen. When you’re done, either log in with your Blogger account username (if you have a blog), or select Anonymous and then hit the Publish button. See? That wasn’t hard.

Second, I’m going to tell you what to say in your first comment (the assignment I mentioned). Some of you are shyer than others, so this will help you get started. All I want is three small bits of information from each of you. I want your name (kind of obvious why), what kind of internet connection you have (dialup/DSL/cable/satellite, or if you don’t know just say if it is fast or slow). That’ll help me decide what sort of content (aka file sizes) to have on my blog over the summer when I can’t rely on a majority of people having a nice high speed Purdue ResNet connection. Finally (and most helpful for starting the conversation), I want to know what you’re doing this summer (working, Project, etc). Just give us a little blurb on your plans.

See, that’s not hard. One last thing: this is a required assignment. I really do want to get all of you to make at least one post on here. No exceptions! Even if you just linked over here from Josh's or Tiller's blog and I don't know you, you still have to introduce yourself (don't worry, we're a friendly lot). If the open thread thing doesn’t work, that’s fine, it’s just an experiment, but you’ve still gotta say something. ;)

Wednesday, May 11, 2005


So now I’m sitting in my hotel room in South Bend trying to kill a little time. My mom’s sitting here watching Lost and I’m lucky enough to have a wireless (thanks Holiday Inn!), so I figure now’s a perfect time for my next update. I left off at the end of the checkride, so I guess I’ll pick things up from there.

As soon as I got done I headed over to Earhart for some lunch. Just as I was getting off the phone with my Aunt (I had been calling all the relatives to tell them the good news) to head inside, Natalie, Edgar, and Rebecca walk out (Dustin may have been there too, but my memory’s a little hazy). I spent the next couple hours hanging out with Edgar, which was really cool because we were able to get to know each other a lot better (and I got a nice little tour of the Armory out of it). Then I went up for my last flight of the semester, and introductory flight in a Cessna 182. The C182 has about 230 horsepower (the Arrow only has 200), so I was able to get my High Performance endorsement out of it (special training to fly an airplane with >200 horses). It was kind of cool because it’s a high-wing airplane, so you get a lot better view of the ground while flying (especially during 60º banked turns when you look out the window and you are staring straight down at the ground). Despite how cool that was, it bothers me more to not see the sky than to not see the ground, so I’ve decided I’m not a fan of the high wing experience. For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, here are a couple of pictures to illustrate my point (you can probably guess which one is the high wing or the low wing):

Then after the C182 flight I was able to meet up with some people (I remember Brent was one of them, but the rest of the roster has faded from memory). Then, after spending some time hanging out in his room, I headed back to my room to start preparations for the night’s events. We decided to put together a Fountain Run, one of the longstanding campus traditions that we hadn’t had a chance to participate in this semester (mainly because of the cold). So we put together plans to meet in the Windsor Circle at 9:30 and do our tour of the fountains.

Before I went to the circle, I met Chris in the entrance to Warren to take a look at a project of hers. She had been in some fancy metal-working art class thing this semester and had promised to show me the results of her big project in the class. It was a 3D rose (life size) made out of sheets of silver, complete with stem, leaves, and thorn (it was even sharp). It was, to say the least, impressive. Very, very realistic (except for the whole being made of silver part, naturally). I don’t know if she reads this thing or not, but if you do Chris, you’ll have to email me a picture so I can post it on here.

Then I walked over to the circle and met up with Dustin, Rebecca, Edgar, Natalie, and Amy. Sadly, we found the fountains were off that night, so we just walked around campus goofing off and having a good time. We captured a lot of the craziness with Natalie’s digital camera, but she’s sadly not posted any of the shots online yet. I know you’re busy Natalie, but as soon as you get around to downloading those I’d like you to throw them in a zip file and send them to me. I think several of those pictures would be perfect for the nice folks on here.

Edgar and Natalie had to split off after a while and the rest of us headed over to Slayter Hill to join the fun there. It is a new tradition for Cru people to gather on Slayter and hang out one night during finals week. A couple of guys brought guitars and we had an awesome time of worship for a couple of hours. It was cool because people would just suggest songs and if the guys knew them, they’d start playing, if they didn’t, we’d often just start singing and they were talented enough to figure it out as we went along. Grace really knew a lot of the songs and had some singing talent (unlike myself), so she kind of helped lead the rest of us who didn’t know the songs as well. Then other people would lead a little when they knew the songs. It was really cool. Kinda hard to say goodbye to some of the people that I had gotten to know this year when they decided to call it a night (or when I did around 1:30). People like Dustin, Chip, Rebecca, Amy, Mike, Albert (No.5), and others. Scott and Lucky Eddie decided to spend the night on Slayter and John had already left, so I was alone my last night in the room.

Got up in the morning and started packing to move out that afternoon. I hadn’t really had much of a chance to pack because of how crazy the week had been, so I had a lot to get done. Part of the problem is that I was suffering for a lack of places to put things (I only had a few boxes and they were small). I took a short break for lunch and met Amy, Scott, Eddie, and Jonathan (No.6) at Stadium. Then it was just a matter of continuing my packing and beginning to load the car when my Mom arrived. The good news is that after a while Brent showed up to say goodbye and stuck around to help load some of the larger things in the van and help with some of the last minute packing. Then Natalie and Edgar did the same. The three of them were a huge help in getting my stuff into the car. We had a little trouble getting some duct-tape residue off one of the walls before my RA would let me check out, but once one of the service workers lent us some stuff we were done and out the door.

We met my grandparents at Culvers when we got back into town (they were just arriving from Minnesota for Mother’s Day). After dinner I moved some of my stuff into the basement and spent some time hanging around with the family. After they decided to head to bed, I went to Natalie’s house to hang out with her, Toby, Jake, Pete, and Breinne. That was kind of rough; I was completely worn out and had a lot on my mind, so I wasn’t really in the mood for the usual videogames and Uno rounds.

Sunday I slept in a little and skipped Sunday School. Wheaton College had gotten out the week before (they make up most of the college class during the year) and most of my friends hadn’t returned from school yet, so I had a feeling there wouldn’t be anyone around to have the class (that and I needed the sleep). Sunday we had a nice lunch outside on the patio and I spent the afternoon hanging out with my Grandpa. We drove around and visited some of the local electronics stores (he too is a gadget freak, or, one could argue I got it from him). We watched a movie that night and my grandparents left the next morning.

Ok, that’s more than enough for now. The good news for you is that my posts will either get shorter or less frequent this summer because life will be relatively dull. One last note: the Perelandra situation is much the same as it was when I last mentioned it. There weren’t any new developments in my last attempt (I think the transmitter is still stuck on at the other end). Oh well, I’ll just have to wait until next semester to try again. Connections on other frequencies are nominal, it’s just this one that I’ve been having problems with (naturally, the one I have problems with is one of the more important ones). Figures, eh?

Now, I suppose I should get some sleep before the convention tomorrow. We’re trying to promote RevTrak at the Indiana Association of School Business Officials (IASBO) annual conference tomorrow (hence the trip to South Bend). Have a good night!

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Commercial Checkride (WARNING: LONG)

Well, I’m officially back in Chicago. Let’s see if I can give you the rundown on the last few days, starting with my checkride.

Thursday afternoon I got together with Josh Bright to study for the Commercial Oral. We spent the rest of the afternoon grilling each other on the study sheets, the details we couldn’t understand, pretty much anything and everything we could think of. Let me tell you, that study time was pure gold. I walked away with a better knowledge and better understanding of the material than I had before or that I would have been able to get by studying on my own. I got to bed around 1:30 that night hoping to get some decent sleep in the few short hours before I had to get up.

Got up about 5:30 in the morning hoping to take a long shower to wake up, get on my nice clothes, get some breakfast, print the weather briefing for my cross-country planning off in the computer lab, and bike out to the airport in time to get there about 7:30. That’s when things started going wrong. First the printer in the lab downstairs was broken, so I lost time trying to make it work and finally had to print my briefing in dark blue ink in my room (I was out of black). That’s bad because part of the goal of the checkride is looking professional and blue text is not professional. Then it got to be about 7:45 and I was about to get on my bike to head out to the airport when I discovered the cargo rack on the back of my bike had bent, losing one of the mounting pins and scraping against the tire. I clearly didn’t want to trust the bike in that condition, so I was left without a way to the airport in time to meet my instructor at 8:00 as planned. Thankfully, John’s dad was in town to move him out and was willing to give me a ride.

So I manage to get there right at 8, just in time to meet my instructor to finish the paperwork we had to get done, finish my cross-country planning, preflight the airplane, check the maintenance logs, and even get in some last minute cramming for the Oral before it started at 10:30.. At least, that was the general idea. What actually happened was that we started the paperwork and discovered a problem; I didn’t have enough flight time. Somehow, and nobody knows how, there was a mistake and I ended the semester 1.6 hours short of the required 200 hours for the Commercial license. There’s no bending the regs around it, so our only solution was to go flying right then. So we rushed out to the airplane and managed to squeeze the time we needed in. Then we had a half hour after we landed to finish the paperwork, finish my planning, check the maintenance logs, put oil in the plane, and do some last minute reviewing. Needless to say, we weren’t done in time. Thankfully, Larry knew of the situation and was somewhat understanding, so he let me start 15 minutes later than planned.

The checkride itself went much better than expected. I only missed a couple of questions on the oral (one minor point on stalls and a maintenance detail). Then the flight went equally well. I had to repeat the start of my Lazy-8’s maneuver, because I didn’t gain enough altitude the first time. Then when we returned to the airport at the end of the flight we came in from the north on a non-standard pattern (which threw me off a little) and he said to do a short-field landing. I came in right over my target point… and … floated in ground effect for a thousand feet (have to touch down within 100 feet of the point). So we had to try it again. I managed to get it the second time around and that was it.

The most interesting part of all that happened I left out above. This part of the story dates back to the previous Sunday at Prayer & Praise (see post of that title below). I was praying with Shane, Chip, and Scott and the biggest thing that we were praying about (especially for Chip and I) was that we would have the strength to give things over to God during our hectic finals week ahead. It was cool because we earnestly begged Him for help giving things to Him, then He reminded me of it periodically throughout the week. Then Thursday rolled around. I was getting stressed out over the checkride and started telling God that I wanted to give my preparations, the test itself, and the results over to Him, but I just didn’t know how and was feeling overloaded. That feeling only got worse when everything possible was going wrong Friday morning. Then, around 8:30, as I was grabbing my flight stuff out of my instructor’s office to head out to the plane for the flight we had to do, I prayed again, “God, I want to give this to You, but I don’t know how and I’m just going nuts!” As soon as I finished saying that, something happened to me that has never happened before (well, not so directly); God spoke. It wasn’t audible, but the words from the Spirit were as clear as day in my head: “My grace is sufficient for thee.” Let me tell you, that helped; that helped a lot. When I told my mom about it later, she referenced a Bible passage that I had heard many times “…for my power is made perfect in weakness. …” When I decided to look up that passage today on BibleGateway.com to see exactly how it was worded and the context, I discovered something. The entire verse my mom referenced: “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power my rest on me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9) Little did I know, but when my mom quoted that verse, she was quoting the exact reference as my revelation (it even uses the word ‘thee’ in the KJV). Wow, God is awesome!

With that, I’ll close. Much else has happened in the last few days since the checkride, both good and bad, but I’ll save that for another time (I’ve given you way too much to read already today). I hope your summer is off to a good start!

Friday, May 06, 2005

It's OVER!!!

Finally, it's all over! I passed the checkride! Now to spend some serious time hanging out with friends before I move home. If you are still around (at Purdue) and want to hang out tonight, let me know. Probably doing a fountain run later this evening (9ish maybe? not sure). I move back tomorrow, so I don't know when I'll be able to update this (probably early next week). If you want to hear the details before then, give me a call.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

#3 Finished

Today’s (Wednesday) final in Air Traffic Control went ok. I’m not too worried about my grade in the class, but I did try to study a good amount for it last night and this morning before the exam. About half the test was really easy and about half wasn’t, but I think I did pretty well. Wait, ahhhh, the grade just came online. I didn’t do as well as I thought, but I should be able to make up for it on the lab final for the class in the morning. I only have to get a 65% on that to keep my A in the class.

Things are not looking so good for my commercial checkride on Friday. I only have one flight left before it (tomorrow morning), but there’s just so much material to cover for the oral. Pray that I’ll be able to study like crazy without being distracted and that my recall will be good.

On another subject, the Cary/Windsor Study Break party was fun. Everyone seemed to be in a little bit of a haze from sheer exhaustion though. That’s one of those times where if something had really jumpstarted the party, it would have gone really late because everyone would have been crazy/giddy/tired, but there wasn’t that sort of catalyst so it died out after only a few hours. Don’t get me wrong, the party was still a lot of fun (especially some crazy moments in French Charades), I just wish we hadn’t been all so tired.

Finally, before I collapse from sheer exhaustion, I think I was wrong about my recent contact with Perelandra. I had thought there was a reasonably strong connection established, but now I’m beginning to think there was a transmitter malfunction on the other end and it was just transmitting when it shouldn’t have been. I should have one more chance to try to get it to work before I head home, but if a link isn’t established I’ll just have to wait until next semester to try again. Oh well, it’s a little frustrating, but such is life and it’s the least of my concerns with the checkride looming.

If anyone knows of any fun stuff going on Friday night, let me know. I’ll hopefully be done with the checkride and looking for a way to unwind. I’ll spend most of Saturday packing and should head home sometime late Saturday afternoon.
Goodnight all.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

The Deadly #2

Just finished my second final (which is also the second hardest). That prof is positively evil (Mitch Grundman). He asked questions on things he mentioned exactly once in class that none of us thought were even potentially test material. Based on that and the test last night, I think I’m looking at a mid-range B in the course, though there’s a slim possibility of that being a low A (very slim).
Now I have between now and 11am tomorrow to prepare for the final in 369 (my Air Traffic Control class), which shouldn’t be too hard, but I haven’t studied at all yet. I also need to figure out a snack of some sort because I didn’t get any dinner mixed in with my frantic preparations for my final this evening (and none of you smart-alecks better say nothin’ about being able to afford to miss a meal! jk).
I’m also missing out on the new Slayter Hill party tradition that was started last year by some Cru people. Basically it’s a hang-out time in the middle of finals week where they meet on the main stage at Slayter (outdoor amphitheater), hang out, then spread out in sleeping bags and stay the night (outside). I’d like to go, but I have to study for the above test and I’ve already sent my sleeping bag home for the semester.

Prayer and Praise

Figured I'd give you guys a couple of pictures from the last Prayer and Praise of the year. For those not from around here, P&P is a weekly gathering of believers at Purdue (not just limited to Cru, but still a lot of Cru) on Sunday nights to worship God and spend a lot of time in small group prayer. Usually goes for about 1-1.5 hour, with the first ~.5hr being worship lead by a couple of guys with acoustic guitars and mics and then transitions into prayer for the rest of the night. You can probably see why I'm no fan of cell phone cameras (and these pictures are with a little resizing and re-touching), but it's better than nothing.

Here's me with three awesome guys from the Quad (my dorm). From left to right, Shane Heater (graduated last fall), Scott Carrington (one of my roommates), myself, and Chip Pollock (graduating this spring). Odds are that if you've spent any time hanging around with me, you've probably heard their names more than a few times.

All four of these girls are from Windsor (the only all girls dorm on campus). On the left we have Keri Bias (I don't know her that well, but she's cool and she was walking by so we dragged her into the picture), Amy Schott and Kathy Roell (two of the original culprits for my starting this whole blog thing in the first place), myself (no, really?), and Chris Lindsay (who, as I've already mentioned on here, is the one who has helped my back so much over the last couple weeks).

And, just for kicks, I've decided to give you one more picture. This shot is of the six roommates. Technically only John Cobb (next to me and my roommate next year), Scott Carrington (who God is calling over to McCutcheon for ministry purposes next year instead of living with John and I), and "Lucky Eddie" Pierce (next to Scott and so nicknamed by me after Lucky Eddie of Hagar the Horrible comic strip fame) live here, but we've adopted the two Asians. Sprawled across us is Albert Tsai (nicknamed "Number 5" as he's the fifth roommate), who has been sleeping on our couch two or three nights a week most of the semester. He does have an apartment, but it's a ways away and we enjoy having him around anyway. Squeezed in between Scott and I is Jonathan Chen ("Number 6"), who hasn't ever actually slept here (to my knowledge), but for a couple of weeks earlier in the semester was here as much or more than I was playing Final Fantasy X on Eddie's PlayStation2 (hence, the controller), so we decided he counted as one of the roommates.

Monday, May 02, 2005

One Down

My first final of the week, the FAA Flight Instructor Written, is finished. I got an 87% on it, which is ok but not as good as I would like. That means I'm going to have to do all the better on the other final for the course tomorrow night. I should do ok on it as long as I get time to get my review sheet together, which could be a challenge as I get more and more stuff to do (including a flight in the morning).

For lack of a working mind to say anything else tonight, I'll leave you with a recent away message I made for Instant Messenger a couple of days ago. Why put it up here if most of you have seen it already? I found out Trillian has a 1000 character limit on away messages, so I had to cut its size almost in half, so here is the original one in all its ridiculously long glory:

Monday final: FAA Flight Instructor Written exam.
Given: Tuesday final: AT 352 Flight Instructor Ground final with grumpy old Prof Grundman.
Given: Wednesday final: AT 369 Air Traffic Control written
Given: Thursday final: AT 369 ARTCC Simulator practical exam
Given: Friday final: Commercial Pilot Checkride (The first half of the exam is basically an oral interrogation covering everything I’ve learned since I started the flight program two years ago. The second half is an exam in the air covering maneuvers I haven’t practiced since last fall and in a different airplane).
Given: I have three flights to fit into the next week before the checkride to re-learn commercial maneuvers.
Given: The probability of me being motivated to study is coincidentally (*precisely*) 6302345614:1 against (although only true Hitchhikers will know the significance of this figure or how to utilize it).
Given: I don’t have a POV Gun to convince my profs to skip the final and just pass me anyway.
Given: That I’d much rather dream up lengthy and elaborate away messages than study.
Given: With regards to my social life: the Cease and Desist order (recommended by committee, voted on by council members, discussed by the general public, on display in a Records Office cellar for 30 days, and signed in triplicate by the Vogon High Administrator) went into effect at 1:37pm today (with a small exception for the Cary/Windsor Study Break party on Wednesday night added only after a long appeals process and express special permission granted by Deep Thought).
Given: I’d much rather be playing with dolphins (with a Babel Fish present, of course) than studying
Given: The types of people I consider friends (aka, those on my buddy list) are also the types who would still be reading this away message after this long.
Given: That no single females of the species Homo sapiens who understand the FARs, the AIM, and Quantum Mechanics have yet volunteered to help me study.
==> Therefore ==>
We can conclude three things (all equally true):
1. With regard to finals performance as it pertains to my grades: I’m dead
2. I have no life
3. I’m studying

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Don't Panic

I just got back from seeing The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Excellent movie. Being a fan of the old BBC mini-series, I feel there are a few very important things that they left out or downplayed in the movie, but it was still pretty good overall. The four largest things missing or almost missing:
  1. They never explain the true significance of the Babel Fish. (if you've seen the movie but don't know anything more about it than what they said, I'd be more than willing to explain it to you. Easily the best part of the whole story in my mind.)
  2. They never give the actual Question (at the end of the mini-series we find out what the Question is).
  3. They never explain the "Restaurant at the End of the Universe."
  4. Needed to further explain and explore the Infinite Improbability Drive.

Other than that I was very pleased with the movie. The special effects were solid, the acting was decent (not fantastic, but not bad), and the music was excellent. They have a great song where the chorus starts out "So long and thanks for all the fish...," absolutely hilarious if you know the joke, confusing if you don't. The theme music is much improved over the mini-series, which is really the same music through a high-pitched synthesizer (literally painful to listen to). Here's a link to a sample of the theme as it is now (and, to my understanding, the way it was originally written by The Eagles before they wanted to use it for the mini-series):


Final verdict: Excellent movie. Truly quirky British humor at its finest and definitely worth seeing. If you like it, try to find a DVD of the old mini-series or read the book (I'd like to, but haven't for lack of time and too many other good books higher on my priority list).
Have you seen it? What did you think (*hint* comment here! *hint*)?

In other news, Edgar and Dustin are now Ernie and Bernie respectively. This primarily applies to when you desire to address them together. The reference is due to their striking resemblance to the Jamaican jellyfish with those names in the movie Shark Tale.