February 28, 2011

So here we are, almost halfway through the semester. We will all be headed home for summer break in less than two months, although many of us are going home for spring break (which is less than 20 days away!!)

It seems like so much has happened over the past two weeks. From our astronauts making Riddle history to parents visiting, I have had some of the best days since I’ve been here at Riddle.

Last weekend, the Women’s Center—yes, once again—sponsored a trip to the Kennedy Space Center. The FIRST Mentor program was lucky enough to go on a backstage tour of the facilities. Since the tour bus was filled with future engineers/potential NASA employees, our tour guide made sure we had the best trip possible. And what better way then being able to get an up-close view of Discovery on the launch pad one week before it made its final trip into space? That’s right; we got to see the space shuttle a measly one mile from where it stood! That’s about the equivalent of the length of our campus! The trip was bittersweet however—knowing this was the end of an era (not to sound cheesy or anything), but also seeing as the second launch pad was being torn down by two giant red cranes. It really made me wonder what’s next for us. Riddle is already focusing on sending a satellite into orbit…what’s next, a major in “astronaut training”? That would be amazing…

Because it was a beautiful long weekend, and the weather finally heated up to a very hot 85 degrees, our friends decided to have an outdoor BBQ. We have a few pits right by McKay (a freshman dorm/”Paradise Hotel”), so we just all got together and had a great time eating and playing volleyball. Much to my dislike, they decided to take an impromptu trip to the beach. At first, I didn’t want to go, considering I had a paper due on Wednesday, but they convinced me to go. Thank goodness my skin is dark, because almost everybody had bad sunburns!!

That Monday was homework day, which was mostly dedicated to studying for the two tests I had that week (tech report writing and computer-aided drafting). I must say I did fairly well on those, along with math and physics [from the week prior]. After Wednesday, for the first time in a very long time, I had absolutely nothing due. I didn’t even know what to do with myself, so I started researching for a potential project with a few friends. We are planning on designing an attraction to submit to Disney’s ImagiNATIONS competition, even though we can’t enter until our junior year.

Thursday was the next big day! Right after class, my roommate and I started getting ready to drive down to Titusville to watch Discovery launch from Cape Canaveral. Many, many people I know skipped their last classes to drive down (and many, many professors cancelled classes/office hours for it). I mean, come on, you must support the 1/3 of the crew from Riddle! Plus the flight director?? I think we win. Anywho, we made our way down at around 3 o’clock (which we aptly nicknamed the “Great Riddle Migration”), and decided a viewing site that would let us have a clear view while avoiding the huge crowds that gather at Space Park. We decided to drive down Kennedy Parkway, and got a pretty nice spot less than 10 miles away from the pad. Everybody held their breaths as NASA announced a computer problem in Houston. With only a 10-minute launch window, we couldn’t believe they couldn’t fix it in time. T-5 minutes and counting. 16:48. Countdown resumed. T-1 minute. Get your cameras ready! 10…9…8…7…Go for main engine start. It’s now or never…5…4…3…*puff of smoke seen at a distance*, 2…1…silence. A distant light shoots across the sky. A few minutes later, the boosters separate. A roaring is finally heard approaching. Everybody can finally breathe. Truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It is so sad that we will only see two more…

And just like that, this past weekend arrived. Embry-Riddle hosted its annual Parent Weekend, where parents (of course) and family members can come visit us and take part in activities hosted by the University. My parents couldn’t come, but Jim’s parents and brother did, and we had an amazing weekend together. The highlight of the weekend was probably Saturday night, when we went to Disney Quest, a five-story arcade in the heart of Downtown Disney. Jim’s brother, David, is a video game designer, so he had a blast going through all the interactive areas. After that, we had dinner at Bongo’s Cuban Café, and came home at around 1 in the morning.

Sunday was a very bittersweet day, as we said our goodbyes. On the bright side, I bought my ticket home for summer break for really cheap through American Airlines! It was almost half as much as it would have been flying out of Daytona….so I say when you’re looking to come here, fly into Orlando and rent a car (these can be so cheap sometimes!)

Well, I suppose that’s it for me! Nothing too interesting coming up in these next few weeks, although I’m really looking forward to tomorrow! Touch N Go is announcing the lineup for the Big Show in April. I have my bets on Reel Big Fish and Less than Jake…so we’ll see if I’m right! Tonight, the honors program center is hosting a speaker, Michael Foy, who will speak on “the search for absolute silence”…should be interesting, I suppose. Also remember to sign up for the sneak preview coming up in April!

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