That’s a wrap, folks!

1470133_10152371397308719_2856600370498912047_nSo tomorrow is the penultimate (that means second to last in fancy talk) day of my internship at SETI.

It’s crazy how fast the time here went, and at the same time I managed to pack so many amazing things into ten short weeks. I’m pretty sure that I can say this has been the greatest experience of my life. But I’m getting ahead of myself a bit, I still have a couple weeks of adventures to write about!

Since my last entry there has been less fun stuff and much more work – not that we skimped on the fun stuff at all. Shortly after I last wrote, I had to give what’s called a Journal Club talk, where we were each assigned a published research paper and then expected to give a fifteen minute presentation to the other interns and a handful of scientists that found the time to attend. This allows for skill-building both in reading scientific journal articles and in presenting scientific work. The paper that I was assigned was titled “Time Evolution of Viscous Circumstellar Disks due to Photoevaporation by Far-Ultraviolet, Extreme-Ultraviolet, and X-ray Radiation from the Central Star”, and was written by my mentor. It provided a really good foundation for understanding my own project, because I was using a lot of the same methods/modeling techniques. All-in-all I would say it was a successful experience.

The dome of the Lick Observatory Great Refractor telescope at sunset.

The dome of the Lick Observatory Great Refractor telescope at sunset.

The next big event for us was a trip up to Lick Observatory for a tour and star party, which was way cool. We got to see the 3 meter telescope – and stood outside the dome at sunset as it rotated around… what a view! While waiting for the sun to set completely, we were given a really cool history lesson about James Lick and the observatory. He’s definitely a really fascinating dude, look him up sometime. Then once it was finally dark we went inside the dome of the Great Refractor, the original telescope built in the late nineteenth century, and each got a chance to look at a few really cool celestial objects through it. And telescope or not, the sky up there was gorgeous – we could see the Milky Way once the moon set!

Five of us were asked to participate in an interview for a documentary called Madame Mars.

Five of us were asked to participate in an interview for a documentary called Madame Mars.

After the Lick trip the rest of the week was spent by some of us frantically working to get abstracts written and submitted to AGU (The American Geophysical Union), in order to attend the Fall Meeting in December – which is one of, if not the, biggest conferences in the country. I am one of the two or three SETI interns that submitted an abstract, which is titled “An Investigation of the Streamline Geometry of Photoevaporative Winds from Planet-Forming Disks” and can be read here by anybody who is interested! Another cool thing that happened that week was that I got interviewed for a documentary called Madame Mars, which is about women scientists studying Mars… more about that project here.

Whoever thought to put an amusement park on the beach had the right idea!

Whoever thought to put an amusement park on the beach had the right idea!

A lot of work always gets done as the deadline approaches, but that doesn’t mean we didn’t find time to have fun. For our penultimate Saturday a few of us took the train/bus journey down to Santa Cruz to check out the campus of UCSC, which is gorgeous by the way. Most of us are getting to the point where we need to start picking grad schools, so it was definitely a good trip to take. Then we spent the evening at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk, which – get this – is an amusement park… on the beach! We had a blast. Sunday I slept until noon and didn’t change out of my pajamas all day – which was much needed as I hadn’t had a single day without something planned since arriving.

Taking a very expensive selfie with my fancy new camera!

Taking a very expensive selfie with my fancy new camera!

My next big piece of news is about my big purchase – I’ve acquired a Canon 60D DSLR camera that is totally awesome and with which I am in love. I wanted to treat myself to a big purchase with some of my internship money (I mean, paying off my credit card debt was fun, but who wants to just pay bills all summer? I needed a new toy!) and after throwing a few different ideas around I think I definitely made the right choice. The thing I’m most excited about is astrophotography. I’m sure you all heard about the “super moon” last week, well I got an awesome picture of it. Just from my camera on the ground, no telescope or anything. I also got a cool photo of the big dipper – you might need to click on it and view the full size photo in order to really see it.

My photo of the super moon. Gorgeous, ain't it?

My photo of the super moon. Gorgeous, ain’t it?

My first try at long-exposure astrophotography - the Big Dipper!

My first try at long-exposure astrophotography – the Big Dipper!

My dad sent me a hand-me-down telephoto lens, and it is awesome. I totally feel like a paparazzi.

My dad sent me a hand-me-down telephoto lens, and it is awesome. I totally feel like a paparazzi.

Project-wise, I spent a lot of time during my final few weeks just de-bugging my model. That thing did NOT want to cooperate. Luckily, I finally got it working last night at about 11 pm, just in time to get some results for this morning’s presentation. But I’ll talk about that later.

Took a selfie with Echosmith!

Took a selfie with Echosmith!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last weekend was the last one before I fly back out to Florida in a few days, so I sought to make it epic. First off, there was no way I was going a whole summer without a concert – and by a stroke of luck, Echosmith was playing a free show in San Jose last Saturday! How cool is that? The best part about a free show is that I could actually take photos with my camera – concert venues tend not to allow DSLRs, which is a bummer, because I love photographing concerts. Then Sunday I spent all day at the San Francisco Zoo! I love the zoo. And I love taking pictures of animals, which is exactly what I did. My final photo count for the day was 1063 RAW photos, at about 22 MB each – needless to say my memory card was plenty full. I got some AMAZING shots, which you can feel free to peruse here. I’m still working on processing most of them, but I have a good number of great shots done and online already, and I’ll be adding more to that album as I get around to it. And for those of you too lazy to click the link, here are a few below…

1471911_10152370181498719_8458714252087793851_n 10568906_10152370180948719_1664403270343568912_n 10626553_10152370182388719_4671954672780335049_n

A few of us at our last Indian Lunch Buffet outing... :'(

A few of us at our last Indian Lunch Buffet outing… :’(

As the weeks started to wind down there have been a lot of “lasts”. We had our last lunch outing to the awesome Indian lunch buffet that is five minutes from the Institute. Tonight I went to my last yoga class of the summer (oh yeah, I’ve been doing yoga. It’s neat.) And Friday is our last day. It’s very surreal, and also very bittersweet. This week the work is (in theory) done, and it’s been mostly presentations every day. Yesterday we had to do what are called “Lightning Talks”, in which each student has 3 minutes and 3 slides to get up and talk about their project. These talks were open to the public as part of SETI’s colloquium series, and also filmed and put on their YouTube channel here. Mine starts around 7:35, if you’re interested in watching.

Suited up and ready to give a talk!

Suited up and ready to give a talk!

In addition to the lightning talks, we each have to give a fifteen minute presentation of our project in much more detail. I gave mine this morning and I think it went pretty well, but I don’t have a video of that one for you (darn, right?) Giving talks like that is nerve-wracking, but there’s something I do enjoy about getting all dressed up in my snazzy suit and talking about smart sciencey junk.

I’m not going to talk much about the details of my project right now, I’ll save that for when I have it all done and ready to show at AGU – and I’ll have a poster to link as well! But to give a basic overview (this information is all in the lightning talk video linked above), I worked on modeling circumstellar disks, which are the regions around young stars that planets form. Basically, the gas in these disks gets heated by the star and blows outward due to pressure changes from the temperature increase – fluid mechanics knowledge came in handy. This causes the disk to disperse after a few million years, which is why you don’t hear about new planets forming in our solar system nowadays: the disk is gone. My project specifically dealt with modeling the flow of these winds and generating a lot of plots using different cases, in order to determine how the geometry of the wind affects the disk. Simple, right? ;)

Selfie with the one and only Dr. Jill Tarter, who is both an amazing scientist and an amazing person, and I'm so fortunate to have gotten to meet her.

Selfie with the one and only Dr. Jill Tarter, who I’m so fortunate to have gotten to meet.

All in all, I’d just like to wrap up this entry by saying again what an amazing summer I’ve had interning at the SETI Institute, and I’d give my left kidney if I could participate in the program a second time. I’ve learned so much about my field and my interests, I’ve gotten career guidance, seen some amazing sights, lived in a part of a country that’s as close to paradise as I’ve ever seen (I really hope to move back here one day!) and, most importantly, I’ve met some really awesome people, both in the scientists at SETI and the other students. So I just want to say, for anyone relevant who may be reading this, how truly grateful I am to have had this opportunity to have done everything I’ve done, learned everything I’ve learned, and met everyone I’ve met.

I want to close out this entry by directing you to Dr. Tarter’s TEDtalk here. I hope you all understand how awesome and important SETI really is as a scientific endeavor, and that it’s not a bunch of crazy people with foil hats looking for aliens. :)

P.S. No, we didn’t find any aliens during my internship. :(

#SDCC

Taco Tuesday was my favorite day this week. Although I normally hate Tuesdays, on this particular one I happened to find the best fish tacos in all of San Diego. I was delighted to eat lunch with my coworkers and network with some fascinating people before I leave for Florida. But anybody who really knows me, knows that my brain orders everything in a hierarchy. At the top of the list is food, next comes sleep, after that is Foo Fighters, which is followed by maintaining healthy social interactions with the people around me. If you’ve read any of my other posts, you’ve probably noticed that a large portion of them are dedicated to what I ate that week. So instead of talking to these incredibly intelligent co-workers at this lunch, I ignored them and stuffed my face with tacos and hot sauce.

I would like to mention another important accomplishment this week. I paid for my last semester of classes! Yes, I saved up some money from my internship and used it to pay off classes for the upcoming semester this fall. I am expecting to graduate this December, a whole semester early because taking this internship knocked off 6 credits I would normally have to take. I feel like an adult! I actually refrained from blowing all of my money, and used it toward something productive. Coming from me that is a huge deal. This also means I will not have to take out loans to cover what my scholarships and grants did not. That means lower payments in my future. I will use that money to buy a Corgi.

This week also had an exciting event from my internship. In order to keep the interns coming back, the people running the program arranged for all interns to get a ship tour. Since there are about 100 students interning this summer, we signed up to go on different days. I was supposed to go with my friends last week, but I had another meeting to attend at that time. So, I essentially knew nobody on this tour, but made friends with another intern who was a San Diego local! So not only was I not bored the entire time, but he told me all the best places to go in the area. Even if I had no one to talk to, the tour would have been just as enjoyable.

The ship we toured was called the USS Harpers Ferry and has an amphibious transport dock. This means that the back half of the ship can sink below the ocean surface, as the water moves to the back of the ship it picks up the vehicles or packages in the lower deck of the ship As the ship proceeds forward, the payload is carried out by the water. It was fascinating to see how it all worked. We went on the deck where they were doing some kind of test along the side and were told we needed to back up. We saw the room they use for planning missions, the equipment they work with, and where the crew eats. So we walked around all of the main areas of the ship and even up to the bridge. It was amazing to see how many people can work there to operate this ship. As the tour guide talked about all of the equipment and procedures, my only friend who happened to be a gear head asked if he could take us to the engine room. Normally, he would not run everyone to this part of the ship, but we were a lucky bunch of people.

I remember climbing through at least 8 portholes to get all the way down to the engine room. It was beautiful! I wish I had been able to take pictures of this giant engine. I know my fellow Riddle gear heads and I could stare at it for hours. This engine had 16 giant cylinders and was two stories high! One of the guys working down there opened up the cover so we could see inside the 4 stroke cylinder. AND THEY HAD 4 OF THEM!! The engines were not in use, but the room was still hot and so loud we had to wear ear plugs. I was so excited to see this ship, but was even more excited that I was on the same military base used to test the new Orion capsule. If I wasn’t on a bus with all of the other interns I would have stayed behind to see it. The good news is, I can get on the base using my cards from work, I just need to find a ride there!

Although I had a very exciting week, the weekend was the best part. On Friday my roommate, Sharelle, invited her friends over for a game night. We stayed up until 2 in the morning playing card games. The best part was the food we had out… of course. I tried a famous Hawaiian dish called musubis. Sharelle is a born and raised Hawaiian, so she is obsessed with Spam. I know, right? Spam? I had no idea people loved it so much. Well they basically cut Spam into slices, put it on a seaweed wrap, top with rice, seasoning, and soy sauce. And when you wrap it all together it’s like heaven in your tummy. Try it, you’re welcome.

This get-together was really meant to plan the big event this weekend. San Diego Comic Con is biggest event of the year! It is the most famous Comic Convention, and is held just 10 minutes down the road. It is incredibly hard to get tickets to go to the actual event itself (if you watch Big Bang Theory you know what I’m talking about), but there are plenty of things going on downtown. So I essentially spent all day, everyday in downtown San Diego people-watching. There were so many detailed, realistic costumes. People work on what they will wear all year long, and this work pays off! #SDCC

The crowds waiting to cross the street

The crowds waiting to cross the street

Assassin's Creed course, similar to Ninja Warrior

Assassin’s Creed course, similar to Ninja Warrior

The "playground" of Comic Con

The “playground” of Comic Con

Found him!

Found him!

Aside from the 100,000+ people visiting for the convention, there is a lot going on around town. There was an Assassin’s Creed obstacle course, free laser tag, and zombie displays all around town. There was even a section for food trucks, panels, and carnival rides. The entire city was a playground. There were people outside of hotels with pens and paper waiting for cast members to come out. When I was walking along the sidewalk in front of the convention center, I did notice a face I thought looked familiar. So, as soon as I realized who it was I ran back to find him. It was Jamie Hyneman from Mythbusters. Nobody else was noticing him, I guess because he wasn’t wearing a beret. I asked if I could take a picture, and he kindly said “of course!” It was so cool to meet someone I learned so much from as a kid. I told him, “Thank you for all you did. You taught me the scientific method. I’m a huge scientist now!” Jeez, what a doof I am! Oh well, I was happy to see him, and was even more happy to be in a great city at the perfect time of year! Stay tuned for more goofy stories next week!

Maleficent

Maleficent

I got them to pose with me!

I got them to pose with me!

Close enough

Close enough

Transformers.. They didn't want to take pictures with me because I made them look short.

Transformers.. They didn’t want to take pictures with me because I made them look short.

JAMIE HYNEMAN!!

JAMIE HYNEMAN!!

So Long, Sayonara!

Last week (almost sadly) was my last week working in the Special Olympics office. It was a bittersweet moment but I was happy not having to get up at 7:30 a.m. 3 days out of the week and being there from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. I got a lot of experience interning for SOKS and also got to learn a lot about myself. I definitely did something I would have never gotten to do otherwise and very much appreciate those experiences.

Right now, I’m still working on a few SOKS assignments from home, in addition to the final paper I’ll submit about my internship. It feels so much better to work on my own schedule, one of the very things I’ll miss in the real world.

As time is nearing until the fall semester starts, I’m also working a seasonal job at Under Armour Factory Store in Kansas City, KS. It’s a great job and I’m enjoying it so much. I think I love it more because I work evening shifts and I can sleep all day. Plus I get a really awesome employee discount! I’m pretty sure I’ll come back to school with as much Under Armour as I have Tri Sigma shirts. Also, Under Armour may be signing Kevin Durant (OKC) for a $30 million/year deal. Apparently his contract with Nike expired last week and he missed the meeting to renew.

Under Armour’s new UA Women campaign is something I’m really hyped about. They’ve teamed up with Misty Copeland, Lindsay Vonn, Sloane Stephens and a few other women and come up with the “I Will What I Want” campaign. I love it. It’s empowering women to break beyond the standards and the stereotypes. I personally love Misty Copeland because I wanted to be a ballerina when I was younger. Copeland surpassed all odds and was even rejected at a ballet school. She was told her body, posture, and feet were wrong and not up to par. Now she is a soloist for the American Ballet Theatre. In 2007 she became the first black female soloist for the American Ballet Theatre.

Go to YouTube and search for “I Will What I Want” video starring Copeland. I’ve watched it maybe half a million times and I follow her on Instagram.

With this being my last week in Kansas City, I’m doing quite a bit but just enough to keep me interested. I’ll be flying to Columbia, South Carolina next week to stay with my dad before school starts. That, I’m SUPER excited about!! And then… FALL SEMESTER STARTS!!!! I’m soo beyond excited to start my SENIOR year and see all my friends and classmates again. August 25th can’t come fast enough!!

Alien-Hunters Just Wanna Have Fun

Hello, and welcome to the next installment of “I’m having the best summer ever and you’re jealous!”

The third week of my internship at SETI was spent up north at Hat Creek Radio Observatory and Lassen National Park, about six hours away by van. That was quite the adventure. Of course one of the strangest things about being on a radio observatory is that you’re not allowed to turn on your cell phone! The wireless signal interferes with the collection of data from the telescopes (that means no WiFi either – luckily we had ethernet in the cabins) so it was airplane mode all week. Which, in this day and age, was a much bigger deal than it seems. Have you ever noticed that if you get into arguments, you just google and find the answer? Try having that taken away from you – it’s really a culture shock.

One of the coolest thing about being out in the middle of nowhere was the sky. You could see so many stars, satellites flying past, and even the Milky Way! We spent the whole first night just laying outside and looking up. It was breathtaking.

Some of the radio telescopes at the Allen Telescope Array at Hat Creek

Some of the radio telescopes at the Allen Telescope Array at Hat Creek

The first two days at Hat Creek were spent learning about the observatory and doing some neat experiments with the telescopes. It was very cool to be sitting in SETI’s radio observatory and listening to Dr. Jill Tarter and Dr. Gerry Harp talk about their search for extraterrestrial radio signals. Oh, and we got to watch Contact with Dr. Tarter, which, if you weren’t aware, is pretty much based on her. I get serious bragging rights for that in the science community. She told us neat things, like which characters were based on real people and where the scientific inaccuracies were.

The Cinder Cone at Lassen. WHICH I CLIMBED.

The Cinder Cone at Lassen. WHICH I CLIMBED.

Our third day was spent at Lassen Volcanic National Park where we hiked the cinder cone to learn some geology. And I should emphasize, I hiked to the top of the cinder cone! If you’ve never seen a cinder cone, it’s basically a steep mountain where the entire surface is made of loose gravel – for every step up you lose about half of it just sliding back down. It was a major accomplishment for me, and the view at the top was totally worth it.

Does this view make it more impressive that I climbed it?

Does this view make it more impressive that I climbed it?

Cave selfie

Cave selfie

We learned some neat things about volcanos, rocks, and how much water you should drink when hiking in 105 degree sunlight. Hiking really is rocket science: the more water you bring, the heavier your bag becomes, meaning it’s more work and you need to bring more water. Sound familiar, aerospace engineers? After the cinder cone we walked through Subway Cave, which is a big lava tube. It was amazing how quickly the temperature dropped about 50 degrees as we walked down into the cave. And man was it DARK without headlamps.

Gorgeous view from the top of the cinder cone - and check out the gravity waves in the sky!

Gorgeous view from the top of the cinder cone – and check out the gravity waves in the sky!

The sulfur pits at Lassen's Bumpass Hell

The sulfur pits at Lassen’s Bumpass Hell

Thursday we were back at Lassen where we hiked at Bumpass Hell – named after a guy who decided to stray from the trail, causing him to fall into the hot sulfur pits and lose his limbs, oops – which is a lot like Yellowstone, if you’ve ever been. We learned about bacteria that can survive in those harsh conditions, and how that relates to astrobiology. It was a very cool landscape, albeit kinda stinky.

Driving the boat on the lake. I'd never driven a boat before, but my inner-Minnesotan took over and knew what to do.

Driving the boat on the lake. I’d never driven a boat before, but my inner-Minnesotan took over and knew what to do.

Friday we went up to Burney Falls, where we spent most of the day out on the lake. We rented a kayak and a patio boat, and had a nice, relaxing day that didn’t involve much hiking or climbing of mountains. It was a good end to the trip before we all piled back into the vans Saturday morning.

This is the one photo we managed to get of our entire REU group (plus a few extras)

This is the one photo we managed to get of our entire REU group (plus a few extras)

We wanted to see how many people it took to fit around the largest tree in the park. It was like 9 or something.

We wanted to see how many people it took to fit around the largest tree in the park. It was like 9 or something.

But the fun didn’t end there! Since we couldn’t take the vans back until Monday anyway, we spent all day Sunday at a few destinations along the California coast. The morning was spent at a state park with some giant redwoods, and the afternoon on a few different beaches. The beaches here are a lot different than the ones in Daytona – it was July and I was in a jacket! Very brisk wind, and a lot more rock than sand. So if you’re looking for a nice tropical paradise to relax and get a tan, definitely stick to Florida. All in all, it was a really great trip, and we got to know each other really well. Definitely a good bonding experience for the beginning of an internship.

Most of the group

Most of the group hanging out on a giant tree.

Major League Soccer!

Major League Soccer!

The weekend after Lassen my boyfriend flew in to visit, so I had to be a good host and take him sightseeing. The thing I love most about California is that there’s so many different things to do! Friday night we went to see the San Jose Earthquakes soccer game (by the way, Orlando’s getting an MLS team next season!) after spending the evening checking out some neat little shops and restaurants in downtown Sunnyvale. Saturday we ate crepes in downtown Mountain View, watched the world cup third place game, and then took the train up to San Francisco for the rest of the day.

 

World famous ice cream sundae at Ghirardelli Square

World famous ice cream sundae at Ghirardeli Square

First stop in SF – Ghirardelli Square! Where you can sit on the bay and have a giant $10 ice cream sundae that is worth every penny. We then walked over to Fisherman’s Warf, where we took a boat tour around the bay at dusk. That was really cool – we got right up close to Alcatraz, but my phone died so I don’t have photos. :( The rest of the evening was spent walking around the Warf and popping into all the neat little shops – and then realizing we were late to catch the last train out of the city! Don’t worry, we made it.

 

 

Got a signed copy of Dr. Zubrin's book - The Case for Mars

Got a signed copy of Dr. Zubrin’s book – The Case for Mars

So as you can see, the fun never stops when you’re a professional alien hunter in California. We’ve also had a lot of awesome colloquium speakers both at SETI and at NASA Ames. My favorite has been Dr. Robert Zubrin’s presentation on colonizing Mars. As far as actually doing the internship part (it seems more like summer camp here than work!) my research project is coming along nicely, which has essentially just been writing a lot of Fortran code. I’ve made a lot of progress on the model, so with four weeks left I’m hoping to be able to produce some very cool results. I have the possibility of presenting my research at the AGU conference in December, and, depending on what we find, maybe even being a co-author on a publication! Really crossing my fingers for that.

These are my internship peeps. We have deemed ourselves "The Jaguars"

These are my internship peeps. We have deemed ourselves “The Jaguars”

It’s crazy to think that I’m already past the halfway point of my summer adventure. This has been one of the best experiences of my life, and I’m really going to be sad to leave. My advice to you: do internships! And really check out REU programs, there are a ton of them throughout the country. If you have any questions about applying to programs like that, especially anyone in or considering the Engineering/Space Physics program, do shoot me an email! I’d be happy to share my advice and experience with you. And I would definitely recommend applying here to SETI, if that is your cup of tea. They won’t let us come back for a second year (unfortunately!), so I can say that without having to worry about having you as competition. ;)

P.S. Happy belated Cow Appreciation Day!

P.S. Happy belated Cow Appreciation Day!

Until next time!
-Lynsey

Vegas Baby!

When I started this week, I was lost. Not the good, fun kind of lost; the confusing, I need to re-adapt to my surroundings kind of lost. For the past 3 months I had been sitting in the same office with the same set-up everyday. My office was on the second floor with a stunning view of San Diego bay! It always had a nice breeze coming through the window and I had plenty of room to take secret naps behind a closed door. Today, was not the same. I was ALL THE WAY on the other side of the hallway. No I don’t mean a full 15 second walk down the hallway, I mean take about 4 steps and you’re in my new office. Oh no! No more view of the bay! No more naps! No more loud chewing on food all day! I have a new office mate around. And folks, when that happens you need to act like a normal human being… apparently. This was not the case, though. I was moving in with the other intern from Embry-Riddle, Brittany. Ever since moving in I have been as happy as a hippo (not sure how that analogy works).

Everyday we get to chat back and forth and show each other funny pictures or videos. I love having her desk right behind mine. Aside from the awesome office mate, I get an even better breeze and kept my same comfy chair. Not to mention I don’t have to hear those pesky otters in the bay barking all day when I actually try to get work done. This new office is also a lot darker than my old one, so taking naps is easy and less obvious. Not that I’m promoting to interns that you should nap at work! Because, you know, that’s bad.

It is better getting work done when someone else is around you doing the same. Having an office mate is good to keeping me focused throughout the day. At least now, I want to seem like a professional that doesn’t get off track all day long looking up funny videos of baby polar bears or people running into trees. So, thanks to having someone around I finally got a lot of work done! Particularly on the website I have been designing at work. I had two meetings this week, one to discuss a few fixes, and the other to present my website to the project lead (umm.. which is terrifying). She liked it, though, and I was given a few more tasks to do during the next week.

This week went by fast. Although it was a 4 day work week for us, it was a shorter week than usual for me. My roommate, Sharelle, and I have been planning a weekend vacation for a while now. And this weekend, we were finally going to VEGAS!!! Yayyyyy!!!! I finally got a chance to act like a childish adult. I know, saying I am going on vacation when I work in the beautiful city of San Diego entitles me to have an angry mob. I can’t complain about where I work, but when I was this close to Las Vegas at a time where I could afford to go, I certainly wasn’t going to turn it down.

Trying to get a view from the Ferris wheel

Trying to get a view from the Ferris wheel

Fountains at Bellagio

Fountains at Bellagio

So, on Thursday I left work little earlier than usual. I know I seem like a slacker, but I had been working an extra hour everyday for weeks before this weekend. So it was excused. My roommate picked me up from work, we got our suitcases, and called a taxi for the airport. Airfare was extremely cheap! We flew out and I stayed at the airport a little longer because I was waiting for another friend’s flight to come in. My friend Antoine had just recently graduated from the ERAU Human Factors Masters program. He is now working at Honeywell in Phoenix. Since he was also so close, he decided to meet us for the weekend in Las Vegas, as well. It was so nice to have friends, new and old, together for a long weekend in a great city.

Gambling at penny slots

Gambling at penny slots

Both of my companions had been to Vegas previously, so I was the only newbie. I did not know what to expect, but boy was I surprised. What I had known about Vegas was what I had seen in movies like Ocean’s 11 or Vegas Vacation. And this was one of the few times, where I could honestly say it was much more incredible in person than what you see in movies or pictures. With the amount of money this city takes in, it actually has the ability to keep their attractions and hotels looking brand new. The night I got there, I was squinting at the intensity of lights. It was probably more bright at night than it was during the day, and that is saying a lot for the desert.

 

We walked around the strip, and stopped to get dinner in this playful restaurant that had the most extravagant deserts you would ever find. There was a sundae priced at $1,000!! Why? Because there was shavings of gold sprinkled on top! If you want to eat gold, this is the place to go. After that we saw a show at the fountains in front of the Bellagio hotel. This was the first of many times, because that was probably my favorite part of Las Vegas.

I love food, but not that much!

I love food, but not that much!

I also gambled for the first time, and successfully lost all of it. Over the next few days we saw everything! The Venetian hotel had a river inside with gondola rides. The ceiling was painted to look like the sky, and it even rained in one section of the aisle. There were shops, clubs, casinos, or buffets in every hotel. I saw a mock-up of the Eiffel Tower and a bar that was inside of a chandelier. I ate crepes, gelato, and the best macaroni and cheese in the world. There was so much to see and do I could have spent a week there.

The giant chandelier

The giant chandelier

The pool at our hotel

The pool at our hotel

Gondola rides at the Venetian

Gondola rides at the Venetian

To see the entire city was impossible, but I did just that. The world’s tallest Ferris Wheel was right across the street from my hotel. It took a little over 30 minutes to go all the way around. It was beautiful and terrifying at the same time. Since we did it at night, the lights looked spectacular. Since we were staying at The Mirage, we were able to see a show they did every night at the entrance. It had a “volcano,” so basically had water flowing from a mini-mountain surrounded by giant explosives. The giant balls of fire did not help the nearly 100 degree days. The pool downstairs did, though. It was a giant pool, and had an even bigger waterfall on the side. I actually sat in the water with a cool drink and soaked in the intense heat. So, let’s just say I was not ready to go back to work that week. This looks like a good place to stop writing as well, seeing as how I am sitting at work daydreaming about another vacation.

I met "overly attached girlfriend" if you have any idea what I'm talking about

I met “overly attached girlfriend” if you have any idea what I’m talking about

Hunting Aliens in California

Greetings, Earthlings!

First off, I apologize for being so tardy on this entry. I’ll try to be more timely for the rest of the summer. Anyways…

10460212_10152259266303719_86456628812285147_nI am writing to you from sunny Mountain View, California, home of the SETI Institute! For those of you who aren’t familiar, SETI is the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence, a.k.a. professional alien hunters. You may think that that sounds like science fiction, but they are a legitimate research institution doing real science, which covers topics including geology, astronomy, biology, and everything in between. And it’s the coolest place ever! Mountain View is basically paradise on Earth – sunny every day (we were told not to expect rain all summer), temperatures in the low-60s in the morning when I leave for work with daily highs in the mid-70s, and NO FLORIDA HUMIDITY.

California is a neat place, with a lot of differences that I’m still getting used to. One of the first things I learned about the Bay Area is that grocery bags cost money – you have to bring your reusable bags or specifically ask to buy paper bags. I was very confused on my first grocery run when the cashier just piled my $60 worth of groceries at the end of the counter and then asked me if I needed a bag. I certainly wasn’t going to carry them all in my arms!

Riding the CalTrain up to San Francisco!

Riding the CalTrain up to San Francisco!

The thing I like most about this area is just the environment and culture. You walk through downtown Mountain View, and it’s all family-owned restaurants (lots of different ethnic cuisines), used book shops, bike stores, and small cafes with people sitting outside on their laptops. It’s gorgeous and feels totally safe and welcoming. Plus being in Silicon Valley, I get to drive past places like Microsoft, Google, etc., which is way cool. Not only that, but there are like four or five performing arts centers in the area – hate to bash Daytona, but it is certainly lacking in that regard! Another great thing is that you can get anywhere via public transit – which is certainly comforting, considering my car is currently parked 3,000 miles away. I’d never ridden a train before, so it was a new adventure for me, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s also very bike friendly here; I bike to and from work every day: 2.5 miles each way. And the weather’s perfect for it – especially first thing in the morning. In California, bikes are considered cars, so I bike on the roads, stop at stop lights, and use turn signals (and here everybody thought learning those hand motions in drivers’ ed was a waste of time!) It’s kinda scary to be in the road with the cars, but it’s also really neat.

Oh, and I forgot to mention… I may not be working at NASA this year, but I do live at NASA. We are all provided housing in dorms on site at NASA Ames. So hey, that’s pretty cool. SETI and Ames work very closely, in fact most of the SETI scientists also work at NASA.

Some of the cubicles at SETI. Every wall and surface in the office has a poster about space on it.

Some of the cubicles at SETI. Every wall and surface in the office has a poster about space on it.

My first week as a SETI intern was filled with presentations and lectures on all topics of SETI science. It was very cool to hear about all the different things going on here, and to meet science celebrities like Dr. Jill Tarter and Dr. Frank Drake. If you don’t know who they are, you should. The office itself is a lot like a university, minus the classrooms and students. Lots of offices with research posters covering all the walls, scientists walking around in attire ranging from those dressed more professionally to the ones in shorts and sandals, and free coffee all day in the break room. The thing I like most about this program versus an internship at a big, corporate company is just how chill it is. We dictate our own work hours (to an extent; you still have to work them out with your research mentor), wear whatever we feel like (though I’ve been trying to be a bit above my usual t-shirt and jeans fashion), and everybody is just really cool and friendly. It’s a great environment.

This is a plot of 2D temperature distribution in a protoplanetary disk.

This is a plot of 2D temperature distribution in a protoplanetary disk.

The scientist I’m working with this summer is Dr. Uma Gorti, and my project involves modeling the dissipation of protoplanetary disks, which is the astronomical phenomenon that forms planets. Basically what we’re investigating is how fast these disks are going away, and whether or not planets will form before they do that. So not directly hunting aliens but definitely still applicable – the aliens need planets to live on, y’know. I’m very glad I was selected for this project because it’s actually really similar to my work back at ERAU. These disks act a lot like our atmosphere as far as the fluids physics is concerned, and it will be great to have had the modeling practice when I begin working on the model for my thesis in the fall!

I’m also really excited because there’s a good chance I’ll get to present my research at a conference this year, and maybe even get a paper published depending on what kind of results we get. So crossing my fingers for that…!

The beautiful Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco

The beautiful Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco

The first couple weeks here have been jam-packed with fun. In addition to the lectures and beginning our projects, we’ve had a lot of opportunities to explore the area. On our first Saturday, we all went up to San Francisco to see some of the big tourist attractions: Lombard Street, China Town, and the Golden Gate Bridge. San Francisco is a wonderful city, and I’m sure we’ll be up there again because there’s so much to see and do. And it doesn’t feel icky or scary like some big cities do. Plus it’s just a $7 train-ride away from Mountain View!

One of the views from the Stanford Dish Trail

One of the views from the Stanford Dish Trail.

On Sunday a large group of us went to the Stanford Dish Trail for a hike. Well, sort of a hike – it was a paved road, but very hilly nonetheless. That’s another neat thing about California: there’s so much elevation, not to mention the mountains! Mountain View is very aptly named, because you literally see them in every direction. Florida is flat as a pancake. Which is good in its own way, but the scenery here just can’t be beat. But I digress. Anyways, this trail was really cool because it went past some of Stanford’s radio dishes, and from the top you get a fantastic view of the whole Valley and could even see San Francisco in the distance. It was also really cool to hike because in the biography of Sally Ride that I’m reading there’s a picture of her running that same trail. There’s just something neat about having been to the same places as such awesome, famous people.

A few of us interns outside the SF Giants stadium before the game.

A few of us interns outside the SF Giants stadium before the game.

Our second week of work was split by a company outing on Wednesday to see the San Francisco Giants play the San Diego Padres. For those of you who aren’t very sports savvy (like me), that’s baseball. And we totally kicked their butts – it was a no-hitter! Which means that the other team never even made it to first base. Ha. It was a lot of fun to hang out together, get the day off of work, and spend it in downtown San Francisco. The stadium was right on the bay, so we could see huge ships out in the water, which was way cool.

IMG_7017

“Make your meanest Kahl Drogo face.”

For the second Saturday, a handful of us went up to Oakland to volunteer for the Evolution Expo: a SciFi/science convention in its first year. And boy was that cool. I spent the day working at the photo booth, where fans would pay to stand next to celebrities and have their picture taken. Well, let’s just say the expo wasn’t very well attended, so we ended up spending a lot of time just chatting with the actors and astronauts, and taking some silly photos of our own. Some of the big names I got to meet are Jason Momoa (Kahl Drogo from Game of Thrones), John Rhys-Davies (well-known for Gimli in Lord of the Rings, but I knew him as the professor from Sliders), Tim Russ and Garret Wang (both from Star Trek Voyager), and Amanda Tapping (from Stargate, which I’ve never watched, but I just want to note that she was such a cool person!) They were all really cool. It’s funny to see actors as people and not as their characters. Amidst the actors we also got to chat with astronauts Joe Edwards and Wendy Lawrence. All in all it was a really cool experience, and I’m very glad I woke up at 5 am to do it.

The Sunday after the expo we all packed up into two big vans and headed up to Hat Creek Observatory and Lassen National Park, but I’m going to save that adventure for my next entry… :)

Until next time!

-Lynsey

Road trip, Racing, and Rubbernecking

Road trip funTraveling with a race team across the country is nothing short of exciting, exhausting, and eye-opening all at the same time. The summer has been an adventure for me as I’ve been road trippin’ with the Larsen Motorsports teams in the U.S. and Canada. Right now we are on day three of our 1900 mile journey from Michigan to Edmonton, Alberta as we are getting ready to race at the IHRA Mopar Rocky Mountain Nationals. This is going to be our biggest race of the year so we are expecting an action packed weekend!

Backing up the Bays & Rupert Nitro Funny Car

Backing up the Bays & Rupert Nitro Funny Car

 

The last update I gave you was from Rockingham, North Carolina. I had an incredible 21st birthday at the racetrack and was lucky enough to be selected as an honorary crew member for the winning and record setting Bays & Rupert Nitro Funny car. Getting experience at the track, learning about the cars, and being a part of the setup/road crew has given me a whole new perspective on racing. I have learned that the attention to detail of the setup crew is what sets the stage for the entire weekend. We put in some long hours and hard work to ensure that everything is smooth sailing for the race and for the team.

Celebrating our birthday at the racetrack!

Celebrating our birthday at the racetrack!

Marisha Falk, in the Embry-Riddle jet dragster, also took her second win of the season and tied Elaine Larsen for the points lead in North Carolina. It still amazes me how I am living the dream as a college student at Embry-Riddle, as I am a part of a winning, professional race team at Larsen Motorsports. It sure does feel good to see that ERAU jet dragster in the Winner’s Circle. As Chris Larsen says, “not too bad for a couple rednecks and a bunch of college kids.”  Check out the video below that I made highlighting the ERAU jet dragster win!

Embry-Riddle’s Jet Dragster Road to Victory!
http://vimeo.com/96703597
Embry-Riddle Jet Dragster

Next stop – Budds Creek, Maryland.  After returning to Daytona for a few weeks, we began our month long roadtrip with our first stop being in Maryland. The plan for the month was to race in Maryland, drive to Grand Bend, Ontario for the IHRA Mopar Nitro Jam Nationals, stay in Michigan for the week in between our races, and make the trek to Edmonton, Alberta for the last race in Canada. As a Texas girl, I’ve never had the opportunity to explore anywhere in the north, so this trip would give me the opportunity to see the country.

The first night of racing in Maryland was rained out so the team was energized and ready to go for a great night of racing on Saturday. Elaine Larsen took the win in her Miller Welding jet dragster by 0.06 seconds against Dawn Perdue. Let me tell you, these ladies are about as competitive as you can get and battle to the very end week-in and week-out. That’s some good racing right there!

Celebrating Elaine's win in the Winner's Circle!

Celebrating Elaine’s win in the Winner’s Circle!

A Look In the Jet Technology Center Presented by ERAU
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=323680954451978&set=vb.145881218898620&type=2&theater

A look in the JTC

Sightseeing and enjoying the road trip has been some of the best times of my life! We’ve come away from this trip with a few good stories, to say the least. Not to mention Elaine driving seven miles through a construction zone with her rear trailer door open and dragging on the ground…Anyways, here are a few of the highlights from being on the road so far.

Visiting the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Air and Space museum in Virginia. I also like to call it airplane heaven.

Air and Space Museum

Team at the museum

Sightseeing in D.C. and checking out all of the National Monuments. It was quite an adventure driving all four trucks and trailers through the narrow D.C. streets…

National Mall

Going to Akron, Ohio – the birthplace of jet racing. This is where the shop of Art Arfons is located, also known as the Home of the Green Monster. Tim Arfons, Art’s son, gave us a tour of his shop and showed us the office that Art Arfons used to use. Traveling with the team has allowed me the chance to learn about the history of jet racing and drag racing in general. I’ve developed a whole new appreciation for drag racing after learning about its grassroots and about the pioneers in the sport.

Home of the Green Monster

 

IMG_2470 (2)

Next week I’ll update you on our Canadian adventures and the rest of our road trip fun! I sure do have some good stories to tell. :)

 

California’s Got Board Meetings.. Lots of Board Meetings

Hello Again! Thank you for coming back to listen to me ramble. This week I continued to work on the splash page for the military training website. At the beginning of this project, I was designing the website using very low fidelity mock-ups. And by low fidelity mock-ups, I mean drawing some pictures of a website on a sheet of paper or toilet paper or Kleenex. I did pretty well; my advisor said my drawings could pass for an advanced 8 year old, so I moved on to creating a more high fidelity mock-up. For people who claim to design websites, but don’t have the knowledge or talent to carry it out, there is a program called Axure RP (rapid prototyping). This is a very simple, intuitive program that allows people to show a website design without writing the code for it. You can also create links for other pages within the site and can “preview” how the entire website would work for the user. So, I’m very happy to have this skill because now I won’t get picked last for teams in my classes anymore!

My next project looked into designing a system for planning missions on aquatic vehicles. The systems used to do this are mostly paper-based. So, the branch I work for is giving the government an upgrade. It’s very deep work. HA! Get it? Deep, you know like deep water? Alright I’ll stop.

This Tuesday was my advisor’s last day at work for three weeks. She is taking time off to go on vacation in her hometown back in Colorado. So, she gave me a list of tasks to get done before she comes back. Oh! And she calls me a smurf, too. It’s probably because I’m shorter than the average 7th grader. I was also approached recently by a friend of a friend who said, “You are so cute! I just want to put you in my pocket!” Do you have any idea how scary it is for a stranger to tell you they want to take you and put you in a pocket? I’m getting off task, here.

On Tuesday, my boss invited me to participate in this event called CX SIG (Customer Experience Special Interest Group). There is an intern at my branch who is actually a graduate student in the Human Factors program at Embry-Riddle, so I invited her to come along. At this Customer Experience event, Human Factors specialists from all over San Diego come together for 1 night each month and evaluate an interface or product from a company. At this particular event, we evaluated the website for a company called “Personal Creations.” This is similar to the “Things Remembered” company, in that it allows customers to order products that can be personally customized before delivery. At this meeting I was instructed to act like someone who was trying to make an order and criticize any part of the website that needed fixing. At first, it is kind of weird to tell the programmers and representatives of the company how horrible their website looked, but as I continued, the arrogance in me began to bloom. Ha! Just kidding my arrogance was there all along.

After this event my boss and a few of my co-workers went to dinner at an Italian restaurant close-by. When we sat down, a friend of my boss and one of the participants of the CX SIG event decided to join us. I found out that he is actually an author of a very successful book used in the Human Factors world that I have been looking through over the past few weeks. He was also featured on NPR (National Public Radio)…a dream for most people! As we were heading out, he gave me and my co-workers his card and offered his help and advisement if we ever needed it. On the way back, I had to drive with my friend, Christian, because his apartment is across the street from mine. Since he brought his motorcycle, I had to hop on the back. Oh! And it was my FIRST TIME riding one!! We were about half an hour away from our apartments and took a highway almost the entire way home. I actually wasn’t scared for having the ground go below my feet at 70 mph. Now I have the itch to get a motorcycle, though. Which is a very expensive itch.

There were some other firsts this week in California. I also got my first Jack in the Box food. Oh boy Florida needs to get one of those. Although, I don’t know if my 5’2” frame can handle another 100 pounds. My other first happened on Saturday, when I attempted to paddleboard and surf. I met with some of the interns at SPAWAR who were trying to make friends while here for the next few months. We rented paddleboards and took them to this large bay where a lot of sailboats were kept. I didn’t fall! I can’t say the same for the people I went with. We also rented surfboards and took turns holding them in the water on the Pacific side of the peninsula. I say holding because that’s all we could do successfully (and unsuccessfully a few times). On the ocean, the water was choppy, and the waves were huge. I could not even stand without one side of the board sinking into the water. So the next time I go, I’ll start off in a puddle.

*Drools

*Drools

Boarding, Surfing, and Falling

Boarding, Surfing, and Falling

Paddleboarding on Mission Bay

Paddleboarding on Mission Bay

It was a really long day, and I had to get some food to wash down all of the seawater. I ate half a chicken at a restaurant called Phil’s BBQ. HALF A CHICKEN!! I’m well on my way to winning a food eating contest. On Saturday, I went with my co-workers and a few other friends to a fair by the closest shoreline called Ocean Beach. I got to ride a motorcycle again to get there! The main street had vendors of all kinds lined up and bands playing blues and rock. There were rides and carnival games at the end of the street set-up for children, but my friend decided they were there for everyone. It was fun watching him fall, but overall I enjoyed seeing the different things for sale. I brought a funnel cake.. and ate all of it! Stay tuned next week when I gain 14 pounds.

Eating Half a Chicken. Good thing I had a bib.

Eating Half a Chicken. Good thing I had a bib.

Cheap masquerade masks, shark fins you can buy for your dog, a shark (you know, like riding a bull), and some dancing fools

Cheap masquerade masks, shark fins you can buy for your dog, a shark (you know, like riding a bull), and some dancing fools

My co-worker trying to show up some kids

My co-worker trying to show up some kids

The Summer of Delta: Part 2

Delta 767-400 in Atlanta.My internship at Delta Air Lines this summer has been quite the adventurous one.  Besides a very busy work schedule, I have already touched the east and west coasts, mainland Europe including Belgium and The Netherlands, as well as many interior states.  My trip to Brussels was quite the ever-changing one as I had to take the train to Amsterdam and catch a Boeing 777 ride home to the United States.  Keeping up with the rest of the aviation geeks here, being able to spot some gorgeous airline heavy metal is a regular occurrence at the world’s busiest airport.  The cell phone lot at ATL gives you the opportunity to take some great pictures, like the one above of a company Boeing 767-400, when we are using a west departure operation. Working at an airline is NEVER a boring job!

A panorama of NYC on the approach into LaGuardia.

A panorama of NYC on the approach into LaGuardia.

 

Infamous Delta Biscoff cookies help power a lot of our 90,000 employees each day.

Infamous Delta Biscoff cookies help power a lot of our 90,000 employees each day.

Delta is a very dynamic place to be right now, especially since we seem to be the airline with the target on our backs.  Massive profits in recent times have set Delta apart from the rest of the industry, showing that massive growth and acquisition strategies have seemed to play out in the company’s favor. One of the biggest happenings at the company since I have been here was the recent opening of the Delta Flight Museum at the airline’s Atlanta General Offices location.  The event was well-covered on social media and news sites as well, so check it out for more information on how to see this great attraction.

There was quite a crowd of employees and distinguished guests at the grand opening of the renovated Delta Flight Museum on June 17th, the 85th anniversary of Delta.

There was quite a crowd of employees and distinguished guests at the grand opening of the renovated Delta Flight Museum on June 17th, the 85th anniversary of Delta.

The internship has really opened my eyes to how complex an airline is.  Thousands of people are needed to get a flight off the ground, not just the six to twelve crewmembers that are in each airplane getting the passenger from point A to point B.  The typical view of an airline is one that comes from what folks see at an airport but it is really much, much more in depth.

One of our flagship machines, a Boeing 777, took me back across the Atlantic from Amsterdam to Detroit.

One of our flagship machines, a Boeing 777, took me back across the Atlantic from Amsterdam to Detroit.

Departments like mine (Network Planning) touch each flight at some point and build a schedule that has integrity and will be profitable, Revenue Mangement, aka ticket pricing, prices many levels of tickets with limitations depending on what days you might be traveling or how far in advance you might be purchasing your fare, Operations Control handles each flight enroute and solves any problems that might arise, and Finance provides the money needed to get each flight off the ground by financing airplanes and projects as well as daily operations.  The picture to the right shows my ride back to the US from Amsterdam, one of our Boeing 777s.  Partnerships like our one with KLM in AMS make our international operations much easier by sharing gates and ground equipment plus personnel. Hundreds of other specific departments and sectors are needed as well, really showing the complexity of the world’s greatest mode of transportation: Flight.

 

One of the experiences that I have been able to take in at Delta has been the opportunity to fly a handful of their full-motion simulators.

One of the experiences that I have been able to take in at Delta has been the opportunity to fly a handful of their full-motion simulators, including this Boeing 767.

Not only am I a business major, I also have my FAA Commercial Pilot’s Certificate and keep current in both multi-engine and single-engine airplanes.  One perk of being at Delta has been access to the full-motion flight simulators that our pilots use to train on their specific aircraft type.  We have at least one simulator or more in-house for every type that we fly except the Boeing 717 (Boeing owns those simulators).  I have been fortunate enough to fly the Boeing 767-300ER and Boeing 777-200LR sims as well as the Airbus A330.  I hope to fly the other types, stay tuned for more pictures!

I am excited to see where else my non-revenue travels will take me this summer and I will be sure to share more pictures and stories as they happen!

Happy flying,

Kyle

 

 

When Life Hands You Lemons.. Ignore Them and Make Fried Chicken

This week began with a rough start. While I stopped at a store, my bicycle was stolen. I was actually getting a new pair of sneakers so I could be more comfortable on my ride in to work. What a happy coincidence! I contacted everyone I could, asked around the neighborhood, and filed a report. So, with my fingers crossed, I will keep on keeping on. On the bright side, I work with some incredibly kind and giving people. My roommate, Sharelle, and a co-worker, Christian, have offered to give me a ride whenever I need. I  have been treated so kindly by everyone that I work with, and although I was not feeling the best about having my primary mode of transportation taken away, I was awfully happy and appreciative of everyone around me for their help. I never thought I would get a chance to work with such kind people!

Although I may have started the week in the wrong gear, I certainly wasn’t going to continue on without changing it up. So the next morning I went on a 2-hour cruise with my roommate and our friends. Working for the military has its perks, and apparently one of them is getting on boat tours for $7. It was fun going around the bay and main island. There were all kinds of military ships at dock and fighter jets skipping along the main island’s airport. After that, we got delicious fish tacos and walked around the beach area. California has pretty beaches, but the water is not as clean or warm as it is in Daytona. So, I’m Embry-Riddle homesick, but I’m sure I will be missing San Diego when I head home in 10 weeks.

On the boat tour of San Diego

An actual ship from the Pirates of the Caribbean Film

Want this job!

USS Midway

What a Life!

Titanic has forever ruined the view of ship captains

Monday morning, I got to work and immediately started working on my project to create Human Factors professional classes and workshops. My mentor will be in charge of presenting and organizing these events for other professionals at our company. The goal is to teach professionals in other fields the proper user and usability test methods. I also worked on making a final report about the research I did last week on visually impaired people using a company-wide website. I am so incredibly sleepy from writing the 11 pages it took for me to get my points across to the designers and programmers. But boy do I love bossing around engineers and telling them that they’re wrong! I had it finished just in time for the weekly meeting. My boss said that I have good time management skills. That poor lady knows nothing about me, either that or I am very talented at making things seem more incredible than they really are.

I stepped up for another project at work. This time, I will be working on designing a website for a training group. I will be doing something called wire-framing. This is a process of sketching out design ideas and continually changing them until you reach the final design which will be coded by the programmers. You start this process by drawing out the design using a pen and paper (or towel or toilet paper). You will need a more high fidelity wire-frame to accurately test with people. This can be designed on PowerPoint or other design software. For now I am taking the list of activities someone can do using this website and grouping them into a logical pattern. In user-centered design, people call that designing the information architecture.

At my workplace there’s something called the New Professional Program that allows newly graduated students to try different projects going on with the different branches at our company. It’s a great program because it allows the student going through it to explore the options in order to find work that they enjoy doing. This week I was assigned writing up the projects at my branch to make us sound, “young, hip, and cool.” Which would be a somewhat accurate feel for my branch, aside from the whole young part. Most of the people I work with are 50 years old and up, so a majority of time they are worrying about their hips going out or complaining that they are too cold. No, I’m just kidding. But not really because they are very old. That gives me an advantage, though. If I can take in all of their advice and experiences, it will help me greatly in my career one day. Always take hand-me-down wisdom!

On Thursday, I learned how to shoot a gun… or 6. Since this week was only 4 days long for me, I went out with a few friends to a shooting range for my first time shooting a gun. I am not a huge fan, but I had to try it once just to say I tried it. It was very cool, but I had horrible aim and have the arm strength of a fetus. So, the shooting range was an unsuccessful success… if that makes any sense. And I realized it’s about time I start working out. So keeping to this thought, I went out with those same friends and ate half a pizza. The next few days were used catching up on a few Riddle-based projects.. and by Riddle-based projects, what I really mean is sleep. Sleep was greatly needed.

I think I look cool!

I ended this week at the Corvette Diner, a 50’s themed restaurant. I had a root beer milkshake with fried chicken (oh I miss the South) and watched the waitresses shamefully dance with their co-workers. I was appalled and felt slightly uncomfortable as our waitress came up to our table and started spinning my hair around in a twist. I began to growl at her little when she started putting straws in my hair to keep the twist in place. Thankfully, my roommate, Sharelle, who had joined me said that was part of the “act” at that restaurant. I ignored Sharelle the first few times she said it was ok, but she got my attention when she sprayed water in my face and yelled, “Bad Carolyn!” My hair did look pretty lovely. I will definitely be coming back so that she can style my hair with straws for my wedding.

Milkshakes

A bow-tie out of straws!

Keep coming by!