September 22, 2005

A big hello and welcome to Junior’s Jiving Journals, everybody! Join me as I take you through life here at Embry Riddle – and hopefully the ride won’t be too bumpy!

So let me introduce myself, take my bows. My name is Veda, aka VJ, and to those unfortunate people who feel like making a ‘Darth Vader’ joke (you know who you are), do yourselves a favor and don’t. That said, I am originally from Torrance, California, though I have lived for several years in India, near Bangalore, so I guess you could say I’m from either place. I’m in aerospace engineering (if you haven’t already gathered that). So far my activities include Air Force ROTC, the Honors Society and Student Association, the Indian Students Association, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, working at the Annual Fund, learning to swim, skate and keep ahead of the workload here at Riddle.

Now, onto the main event…

Well, where to begin? I feel overwhelmed just thinking about it. That first week of college rates as one of the most disorienting yet exciting times of my life. It’s all about how many roads you travel down before you admit that you are lost! It was especially so for me, cause I couldn’t attend most of the preliminary introductory stuff that happens over orientation, which began on the 24th for US citizens. I had a problem with my exit permit while leaving India, so I couldn’t fly on the 21st as planned and I missed Orientation ( Maybe that’s why they call airports Terminals). But I managed to get a flight to Chicago a week later, and landed up in Daytona Beach on the 27th local time, jet lagged to hell and back, but very excited at my first real taste of American life all on my own.

Well, because I arrived late I found I was behind on quite a few things, most of all on ROTC. So that meant running around…then running around some more…

Anyway, I got my Eagle card, checked into housing, met my roommate Cameron (who’s from Canada), and ran around campus like a headless chicken chasing down one thing or the other. But the fun began on my very first night at ERAU – we went to a show by a hypnotist, Tom DeLuca. I didn’t think I’d really see much that would impress me, cause I knew and I still know that it’s all one big trick, but what I saw there was so good it made me wonder just how much the hypnotist had paid his volunteers to make them do the crazy stuff that they did. It was the best hoax I have ever seen in my life – and if you weren’t as cynical as I am you’d have believed it, it was that good.

He sort of hummed to them (with a lot of flamboyant hand gestures for theatric effect), then for almost 75 minutes made them do and say and act out the nuttiest stuff.

He made one girl unable to say her name, another believe she was the ‘Chief of the Fun Police’ (she screamed obscenities at the crowd for laughing) and another to forget the number six. She knew she had ten fingers, and kept counting them, but got eleven, because she skipped from five to seven -and if it was an act, her perplexed face was pretty well rehearsed. Loads of other hilarious stuff too…in any case, trick or not, I laughed pretty hard, which made it an entertaining evening for me.

Well, the next big event was AFROTC. The others had started training and drill and gotten uniforms – there were loads of rules and protocols to be learnt. But I guess I was lucky – we’re all divided into groups called flights; my Flight Commander called me up and gave me a rundown of all the rules, and helped me out with the drill.

There’s still a lot I don’t know and a hell of a lot to remember or you get your hair yelled off (whatever’s left of it after the regulation haircut), but I think I’ve gotten the hang of it. And I donno about you, but I find a weird pleasure in yelling GOODMORNING, SIR! at the top of my lungs. And when you watch us practice, all the flights together, it does look impressively military.

Okay. So the first week, I was exhausted. I mean bone tired. I had been getting up at 4 AM to be at drill by 5:15, and going to bed at midnight so I could catch up on all my homework and studies. I had been going on all cylinders. I had put my head together only to find the rest of me had fallen apart. Monday was Labor Day, so I was looking forward to the extended weekend. But on Saturday I got an email saying that the Detachment was organizing relief for the victims of Hurricane Katrina. They would be filling up a 53 foot tractor trailer with supplies – mostly water – for the victims, and they needed Cadet Volunteers to drive around town from 1100 on Sunday and request local businesses to contribute money or supplies to help those poor people.

I got up at 10:00 AM (after my first eight hour straight sleep in a week) and read the email at 10:30. I gotta tell ya, I felt like ignoring it. What the heck, I might never have read it. Besides, it’s voluntary, right? And I’m weary, I haven’t eaten, and I just don’t feel like trudging around town in the stifling humid weather and asking people for money. But then I thought of all those people in New Orleans – I think we all have – and who knows – some day a hurricane could strike Florida and I may be stranded without help. So with a few others I drove around a part of town, and solicited local businesses help. There’s a lot of community spirit, and I think people really are helping the best they can.

A quick word about my classes – I’m taking Honors Humanities, which is good because Prof Kain’s classes are discussion based and really stimulating. Also I don’t have to take COM, a basic writing course – instead I’ll be focusing on Transhumanism and humanism with reference to Frankenstein, Goethe, Bacon and Sophocles. I’m also taking Calc I with Spradlin, Intro to Engineering (EGR 101), Intro to Computing (EGR 115) with Kindy, ROTC, Physics 150 and UNIV 101 – which is a class about making it through college, attending classes, that kind of stuff. I don’t think I really need to be told that – I’ll be spending almost a quarter of a million for that unique ERAU education, and since I’m not made of money (like some lucky folks), I don’t think attendance will be an issue with me!

Embry also has some awesome equipment in the Lehman Building and I can’t wait to get in there and try it out. I also learnt to swim! Yeah, I know it’s unbelievable that I didn’t know before, but Cameron’s a champ swimmer, he competed at the Junior National Level in Canada, so I learnt pretty quick. I also intend to learn skating, cause it’s just such a pain walking across campus from class to class.

I also went to the Student Activities Fair last week. All the clubs and sororities and fraternities set up booths along a long walkway, and you can walk down, see what you’re interested in and sign up! They have clubs for everything – from flying to Japanese sword fighting, from space payload design teams to a model UN…and everything in between.

I joined the AIAA, the Indian Students Association, the Motorcycle Club, Arnold Air Society…and…the radio station! That’s right – if my application is accepted I will be on the Eagles Radio waves as VJ the DJ! Everyone here at Riddle is so busy, but if enough people call in I’m thinking of doing a request show or something. So you all better tune in and jive to my music and tell me if I suck or not (Statutory Warning: If you think I suck I reserve the right to tell you to stuff it in a possibly graphic manner).

Recently I went with the Honors guys to the beach – we had some fun, swam in the waves, surfed, played beach volleyball, pigged out and stuff like that. I wanted to go along with some pals to watch LORD OF WAR but couldn’t…because I had to take the AFOQT the next day. That’s the Air Force Officer Qualifying Test, which you have to take if you wanna be a fighter jockey or wizzo…or graduate as an officer, for that matter.

Despite the crazy schedule, the humidity, the lack of sleep and the irregular meals – I’m enjoying myself, I’m happy, and hey, what more can you ask for!

Well, that’s it from me for now – I’ll be back in two weeks with more! You can catch me by email at vedajr@gmail.com or nayak48c@erau.edu. My AIM is vedanayakjr, although I’m not on AIM very often. So if you have any questions, comments or insane ravings to share, do feel free to get in touch, and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can!

Till next time, keep jiving, dudes!

MOTTO FOR THE FORTNIGHT: Beware of the toes you step on today…they may be attached to butt you’ll have to kiss tomorrow.

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Veda

About Veda

Age: 18
Hometown: Torrance, CA
Favorite Movie: Lord of the Rings, Matrix, Forrest Gump
Favorite Band: Eminem (yeah!)
Career Goal: To become a successful aero engineer for the Air Force and later perhaps pursue into NASA's astronaut program.
Interests: Listening to my kind of music, reading fiction (can't get enough), trying new and often nutty things.

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