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

 

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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. :)

 

The Final Stretch of Spring Semester

Hello hello!

I left my last entry on a “will Lynsey get a summer internship?” cliffhanger, so I think I’ll address that first… I will officially be spending my summer in Mountain View, California (AKA the most awesome city in the country – look it up) with an REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates – the science version of an internship) at The SETI Institute! (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) I’ll be working with one of their scientists to study the formation of planets around different types of stars, and investigate how these planets could form to support life. I’m very excited for this opportunity, and pleased to announce that I will be blogging again this summer, so you’ll get to hear all about it!

The beach near Ft. Lauderdale. Beautiful, turquoise waters.

The beach near Ft. Lauderdale. Beautiful, turquoise waters.

Spring break came and went, and it was really awesome. Being at Riddle is great, because all of the major spring break destinations are really just a few hours away by car. I cruised down to Ft. Lauderdale at 90 mph down I-95 and spent the week there, where my boyfriend is doing an internship with Spirit Airlines this semester. He spent the days at work, and I spent them swimming, sleeping, relaxing… oh, and gambling. Ft. Lauderdale is on the Seminole Indian Reservation, so there are lots of casinos! One of my guilty pleasures is blackjack; in Minnesota the gambling age is 18, so I used to go down to the casino every couple weeks, and I usually had a pretty good turn out. Over the break I went to a couple different casinos (mostly in search of a good $5 blackjack table, which are not as common here as they are back home), and over four trips I ended up winning twice, losing once, and breaking even the last time. It’s dangerous to my finances that the casino was only 20 minutes from where I was staying – probably a good thing we don’t have any up here in Daytona.

Ville Valo of HIM at their concert in Ft. Lauderdale - we had a great view of the stage, this is an iPhone picture!

Ville Valo of HIM at their concert in Ft. Lauderdale – we had a great view of the stage, this is an iPhone picture!

While in Ft Lauderdale, one of my favorite bands, HIM, had a concert at a club downtown (a great coincidence!), so we got to see them. They’re the first band I’ve seen three times, and in three different states for each tour, and they put on a really great show – a very long set, and a good mix of some of their really old music and their newest album. This was also my first concert as a 21-year-old, and let me tell you, it ain’t cheap.

On another music-related note, The Pretty Reckless launched their new album a couple weeks ago and it’s great. That is all.

Picture of some reef fishes taken with my underwater camera in Key Largo!

Picture of some reef fishes taken with my underwater camera in Key Largo!

One of the highlights of the break was snorkeling down in Key Largo. They take you out into the ocean about 30 min by boat – to the point that you really can’t see any land – and toss you in the water, equipped with a wet suit, mask, snorkel, and fins. And the water was so nice. There is a shallow reef of the coast of Key Largo, so you swim out to the reef and get to see all sorts of really cool corals, fish, and even some jelly fish and stuff. It was an awesome experience, and I highly recommend it if you ever have the opportunity. The coolest part was having an underwater camera – pictures below! I’m doing everything I can to do “Florida things” while I’m living in Florida. Overall, this was definitely the best spring break in my three years of college. It was a great escape, and just what I needed to get back into the swing of the whole school thing, after feeling pretty burnt out the last few weeks.

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There’s less than a month left of Spring semester, and frankly I can’t wait for it to be over. I mentioned a couple times that this semester had earned the title “semester of death,” and I think I have to agree. So I wanted to pass along a lesson that I’ve learned to any and all of you reading this, especially those of you sitting in high school having never gotten anything below a B+: college will test you. You, most likely, won’t get out of an engineering degree with a 4.0; not to discourage you from trying of course, because I certainly have been, and I’m, of course, not giving up. But I’ve had a bit of a mid-life crisis (well, quarter-life, I suppose) about my grades this semester, and I’m finally starting to learn some things:

  1. Always give your best, and realize that you can’t give more than that.
  2. It’s not the end of the world if you can’t get the A.

I’m a huge perfectionist/over-achiever/etc., and I focus so much on grades. I remember when I got my first few B’s in high school, and it felt like the end of the world – I was convinced that I wouldn’t get into the colleges I wanted to. Well, I love my college, and now I don’t even remember what my GPA was in high school. So my words of wisdom are: grades aren’t everything. Put in your best effort, learn as much as your brain can hold, and that is what makes you successful, regardless of the number on your transcript. Don’t have a mental breakdown over a poor exam grade – take that as a lesson, and improve on it in the future. Stress never helps.

Speaking of the future, I’m beginning to figure out mine. Every EP student has to complete a senior design capstone project, which you start planning during the second semester of junior year and then work on throughout your senior year. Well, I was asked to be the Guinea pig for a “senior thesis” option, aimed at students looking to go to grad school, in lieu of a group design project. I’m really excited about it, and I even have a topic, as of last week. I’ll be developing a one-dimensional atmospheric acoustics model in FORTRAN and MATLAB with flexible atmospheric parameters, which means that the model will be able to run for any planet. Then for my master’s thesis, I’ll use this model to do some scientific investigation into the propagation of atmospheric acoustic waves in the atmospheres of Venus, Earth, and Mars – three very different planets. This project will be a good mixture of planetary science, atmospheric physics, and development of a scientific tool.

Doing some homework with Sally the Space Hamster

Doing some homework with Sally the Space Hamster

That’s about it for this entry. Lots of cool stuff on the horizon, and still a lot to do before this semester comes to a close. I have three final projects and a thesis proposal to do, as well as third midterms, final exams, and standard weekly homework assignments before I’m free to go hunt aliens all summer. I’m also looking forward to having a nice long visit home before I start at SETI mid-June. And because I only needed a one-way ticket between here and home (since I’ll fly right from Minneapolis to San Francisco on SETI’s dime), and because the tickets were surprisingly cheap, I get to fly first class! That’s one to cross off the bucket list.

Oh, one more thing. ERAU does some really cool events, especially with all the different student organizations on campus. The week before spring break one of the fraternities hosted a fundraiser where you could pay $5 to sit in a pen full of puppies for 30 minutes. Who doesn’t like being climbed on by adorable puppies?

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Excuse the extreme Florida-ness of my hair in this picture.

Puppy selfie! Excuse the extreme Florida-ness of my hair in this picture.

From Snow to Sunshine

Hey everyone!

I wish I knew a better way to start my first entry than with the obligatory words “my name is…” oh wait, there we go.

My favorite cow and signed Halestorm album.

I’m Lynsey, and I think “quirky” is a good word to describe myself. My interests are all across the board: I’m an avid musician, a lover of math and science, a gaming nerd, and I have a strange obsession with collecting cows (plastic and stuffed – not real cows.) The walls of my apartment have space shuttle posters, vinyls, and signed photographs from the cast of Star Trek (why yes, I have met George Takei), people who have actually been to space, and rock bands like Evanescence and Halestorm (bragging rights: Lzzy Hale has given me a hug.)

I was born and raised in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. The state where we drink pop (not soda!), shop at the Mall of America (I even worked there for a while), and sometimes have snowstorms in May (you think I’m kidding, but I’m really not.) You’re probably wondering what got me to move 1,500 miles south, where there are palm trees instead of pine trees and it’s way too hot outside. I’ve just finished my second year at Riddle, but before I get into that I want to tell you the story of why I chose to come here in the first place.

In order to explain why I came to Riddle, I have to start a bit farther back. It was a cold, snowy evening in 1993… just kidding! Anyways… Throughout my whole life I knew where I wanted to go to college. I talked about it since at least fifth grade; I always said that someday I would go to –nope, not Embry-Riddle! But that’s what makes the story all the more interesting. If you asked anybody who knew me at any point in my childhood, they would tell you I wanted to go to MIT. All through high school whenever I did something I had a constant voice in the back of my head asking, “how will this help my chances of getting in?” I had a goal, and everybody knew it. I should mention that, if you’re reading this and thinking I’m just at Riddle because I didn’t get in, keep reading, that’s not the story.

Senior year of high school always seems so far away, and then somehow it sneaks up on you. Before you know it, it’s time to actually apply to the colleges you’ve been looking at and dreaming of attending. I worked effortlessly on my applications, applying to several big name schools. Embry-Riddle first caught my eye because I saw it listed number one for Aerospace Engineering, which was my original major. So I did a bit more research, and I thought it seemed awesome – a great backup (do you think they’ll let me say that word in an admissions blog?) After taking the ACT twice, the SAT three times, and buffing my resume to glistening status, I submitted my college applications and waited. And waited. And waited. One day I got my acceptance letter from Embry-Riddle. It was definitely an exciting moment, but I was still hanging onto hope for my dream school, and didn’t think much of the acceptance at the time. Time passed, and my early action application to MIT got deferred to regular action. It was a set-back no doubt, but I held onto hope. Later I got my financial aid letter from Embry-Riddle, and found out that I had been awarded some pretty generous scholarships, as well as admission into the honors program. Things were suddenly falling into place in a way I hadn’t expected.

My obligatory picture in front of the Wright Brothers statue from when I visited campus in March 2011.

When February rolled around I was presented with the question: which school do I want to go tour? I applied to five schools – four of which were over a thousand miles away, so naturally it was a “pick one trip” kind of deal. I had this gut feeling that I would be going to Embry-Riddle. It wasn’t an abandonment of my dream in any way, it was just a feeling that I can’t really describe; I’ve felt it a couple times in my life, and they’ve all been massive, defining moments. After a lot of thought, I decided on a trip to Daytona Beach to tour the campus. Long story short, that’s all it took. I fell in love with the campus. I stayed overnight with one of the RAs and sat in class with her the next morning. Then my parents picked me up, and we went over to the cashier’s office, where I put down my tuition deposit. I was a Riddle student.

You’re probably wondering if I missed a point in the story. What about MIT? Did I get in? You know what, I didn’t know yet. I wouldn’t hear back for another two weeks. But I was so sure I was at the right place and making the right decision that the word backup immediately vanished from my mind. I was so excited to start in the fall, because I had found my dream school in a place I didn’t even think to look. I learned a major lesson from this decision: sometimes life has a way of working out the way it’s supposed to, and all you have to do is follow it. I know that sounds cheesy, but it’s so true. I love Embry-Riddle, and I don’t regret my choice for a second.

I’m really looking forward to sharing my Daytona Beach shenanigans with you. This summer, apart from taking a couple classes, I’m spending my days in the Space Physics Research Lab as an undergraduate research assistant. My current project involves developing a model of the Martian atmosphere in order to simulate acoustic and gravity waves – I’ll talk more about that in the next entry, but for the meantime, if you’re interested, you can read my conference abstract here.

Part of the living room of my new apartment, which I absolutely love!

This is my first summer here in Daytona Beach, and I’m enjoying it so far (apart from the temperature, that is.) I just moved into my first apartment off-campus after two years of dorm life, and I absolutely love it. Aside from working days in the lab and taking a math class, it’s been nice to have some free time, as I keep pretty busy during the school year. My evenings have been essentially empty, so I’ve had a chance to play some video games and get back in touch with my acoustic guitar.

Even if I may seem crazy, I’m pretty friendly, so feel free to hit me up with questions, comments, fan letters, etc. Especially if there is something you’d like me to talk about in my next entry!

That’s all I have for now. I’m still trying to think of a cool catch phrase to close with, so stay tuned for that. In the meantime, I think I’ll go with “Live long and prosper.”

Until next time…

-Lynsey

August 2012

Summer online classes are officially over for me! What does this mean? I have completed my degree at Embry-Riddle! Once all the paper work goes in and is completed I hope to receive my diploma in a few weeks! It’s hard to believe how fast these four years have gone by. Four years ago around this time I was loading up the truck about to head down to move into the dorm rooms for my freshman year. In fact many of the freshman that year remembers that move in! We got to experience a tropical storm first thing!

Well, since I have finally completed my degree I have been applying for various flying jobs in the Atlanta area. I currently do not have my CFI yet and if I don’t get selected for this Fall’s panel for Air Traffic Control I plan on getting my CFI so I can instruct. So basically now I am playing the waiting game that many Air Traffic Major/Minor graduates know about!

The end of July I took a road trip to Woodruff, SC, where the 2012 Youth Masters took place.

I competed in this event back in 2005 and 2006 and since then I have helped out supporting our youth in aviation. This year was one of our biggest years having close to 30 pilots show up! These kids knew how to fly R/C very well for their age. The youngest pilot was just 8 years old and he finished 2nd in the Advanced class that was offered. We had a great time and I even let the kids fly my own competition plane during the contest. We provide the planes and everyone flies the same plane per round. To see the smiles on the kids faces flying these aircraft are priceless! Several of the older kids came up to express their interest in Embry-Riddle and hope to one day go there. Luckily I still had a few more brochures about the University and I handed them out to the future students.

After the Youth Masters I went straight to the lake with my grandparents. We are apart of a boat club at Lake Jackson in Georgia where we can bring our motor home there and camp for as long as we want. We also have a ski boat we bring down and a jet ski. It was nice to relax for a week at the lake! It’s something I have not done in a long time!

This is about it for this month! I plan on going to a few more R/C competitions in my region the next few months but other than that it’s basically time for me to settle down and get a big boy job! Again if anyone has any questions feel free to email me!

BTW! I use to be the kicker for my high school football team and one of my former teammates is now playing for the Baltimore Ravens! The coolest thing about it is his first game is against the Atlanta Falcons. Good luck Bobby Rainey for this year’s season!

August 4, 2009

Hello! It’s the last week of my internship and I can’t believe how fast the summer has gone.

Last week, four astronauts from STS-125 came to Ball to thank everyone for their work on the Hubble. In May they came out to Colorado to learn how about the hardware to be installed during the May final Hubble servicing mission. There was a lunch for the employees and then the crew talked about their experiences and showed up some cool video footage from the EVA (space walks) and their time in space. Then they presented the Ball Corporation and Ball Aerospace and Technology Corporation’s presidents with a plaque of gratitude for everyone’s help. Another intern and I were talking about how awesome the job of an astronaut would be. You get to go into space, experience zero gravity, and perform all sorts of cool experiments. Sign me up!

Today was the final banquet for all the interns and co-ops. They showed up a really cool video about the launch day of the BIRST Project I talked about last time. I’m hoping they publish it on YouTube so I can share it with you guys. Sometimes pictures are proprietary information so anything that you want to distribute outside of the company has to go through an approval process. At the banquet my payload team presented our mentor with a trophy we made. One of the interns had a trophy from when he was younger and we wrapped the little topper man in duct tape (symbolic of the duct tape on the payload) attached an alien paratrooper to one outstretched hand and a mini Ball flag to the other hand. Then to represent all the epoxy we used on our project we dripped some over the trophy which had a final appearance a little like gloopy icicles. Overall the present was quite ugly but it wasn’t our goal to make something attractive, just something to signify the summer fun.

Last weekend I drove to a town in the south east/central part of Colorado to visit a friend doing an internship in New Mexico (we met halfway). One of my favorite things about doing an internship is getting to explore a different area then I’m used to. The town we went to was pretty small, and my GPS got us really lost while looking for some fun hiking, but eventually we ended up at a lake and some of the views were breathtaking. Colorado is definitely one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. We found a restaurant which had singing waiters! They would randomly break out into opera-like songs! Crazy, that’s all I have to say about it. Next week I’m going back to my hometown in Minnesota for a quick visit before driving back across the country for the fall semester. I can’t believe how quickly the summer has gone. But I can certainly say that I didn’t just sit around and do nothing!

April 30

Just like that, my freshman year is over! It sure has been a fun year, and it couldn’t have ended any better. On Monday April 20, I was elected as the new President for Delta Upsilon at Embry-Riddle. I was honored to be nominated and elected to this position. I know it will be a ton of hard work, but I am prepared to do anything necessary to make this colony succeed. I believe whole-heartedly in Delta Upsilon’s founding principles and their overall goal to “Build Better Men”. I take great pride in knowing my fraternity brothers have faith in me, and I am looking forward to doing a great job while creating a lot of amazing memories with them.

Along with taking finals this past week, I was also packing up and getting ready to head home. I had to do some major cleaning but I got it all done and was officially checked out of my dorm. It was a little sad to leave my room that I considered home since August. I left Daytona Beach early Tuesday and stopped in Nashville to spend the evening with my friend Brent and my cousin Susanna (in the picture in front of her dorm at Vanderbilt) who go to school there. Wednesday I made it back to Missouri where my family was excited to see me. The drive was long, but I truly love living in Florida and going to school at ERAU which makes the long travels worth it.

This past weekend my friends and I (and my car) made it to the beach one last time before we headed home for the summer. The weather in Daytona has been absolutely perfect (80’s and sunny). We spent all day under the warm sun and boogie boarding (because we aren’t skilled enough for real surfboards). I never get tired of the beach, and I already miss it being back in the land-locked state of Missouri. It has been in the 60’s and rainy since I have been home and I already miss Florida’s weather.

Yesterday I got more good news about the end of the semester: I received a 4.0 GPA for the spring of 2009. It’s so great to see all of your hard work paying off, and it was the perfect ending to the best semester ever. My classes and professors were a lot of fun this year, and it really showed. I truly believe if you are having fun in class you perform better, and my professors certainly made these last four months a lot of fun. From goofy stories about Malaysian tree shrews to dogs visiting class, it undoubtedly has been a wild spring.

I am looking forward to having a great summer. I have a lot planned including the Europe Study Abroad, my sister’s wedding, and a national Delta Upsilon conference in Albany, NY. I will also be working while at home to get some money for all of these activities. At the beginning of July I will begin writing a journal about my experience with Embry-Riddle abroad this summer, so check back in and see what I am up to on the other side of the pond. I hope you have an amazing May and June, and I will be back in July. Until then, please email me (meansm@erau.edu) with any questions about ERAU or college life in general and I would be more than happy to talk with you.

Until Next Time,
Mack