Friday, May 27, 2011

Degree Petitions

I really hate paperwork. I don't mean writing reports on your work sort of paperwork, even though that's unpleasant. I mean the kind of pointless paperwork that can make our break your life despite all the work you've done. The perfect example of this is a degree petition.

Basically you've been working hard for years--years!!--and suddenly all your hard work comes down to this one little piece of paper. (Ok it's more like three, but whatever). You've done everything you need to do. Taken all the required classes, slaved doing research for your professor, but your entire life plan can be thwarted by this one little piece of paper.

Forget the deadline and you're doomed.

But even if you remember the deadline, even if you fill everything out appropriately, that's no guarantee that nothing will go wrong with this little piece of paper that holds future. Take my undergrad degree petition. I filled it out perfectly, turned it in to the right people in ADVANCE of the deadline, and thought I would be fine.

Then one day, I thought "Even though I did all that perfectly, I should check online for the checkmark to see it did go perfectly." (Because its too difficult for them to send you an email to say everything is fine or something is wrong, you actually have to find the random place online to check for it). So I go to the website, finally find the right path to the place where you check these things and it says "ADVISER SIGNATURE MISSING."

What the crap???? I did everything right! We were told directly by our undergrad adviser that all you do is turn it into her and she'll sign them all in one stack. All of my other friends did the exact same thing and their degree petitions are fine. Somehow its just mine that's messed up. So I had to call the office, find out what happened, and low and behold, it wasn't my fault at all. Somehow the adviser had skipped my petition in the stack. She fixed it, but still, that was a couple of days of sweating on my part. Because of her one little mistake, I might not have graduated on time.

So now that I'm not only trying to graduate, but trying to do it via distance learning, my paperwork stress level has gone up tenfold. I'm worried that somehow instead of being switched to distance learning, they'll accidentally drop my out of school. I'm trying to get a hold of the person in charge of degree petitions to see how being distance learning changes everything, but I can't find her. And of course, on top of all this, I somehow have to actually move to Albuquerque.


I really want to graduate. I know I've fulfilled all the requirements with the exception of my last semester, which will be in the fall. I just want everything to be approved and it all to work well so I can graduate. Is that too much to ask?

Apparently, yes. Stupid paperwork.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Born to Move

I was born while my family was moving.

That's not an exaggeration or some sort of made up mythical story. For realz, dead serious, I was born while my family was moving.

My dad was in the Navy, and the Navy doctor approved us to move in mid February because he thought I was due in March. He refused to believe my mother that I would be coming in February because I was "too small". My mom is 5'4" and barely weights 100 lbs. She tried to explain to him that small people sometimes have small babies. Well, the doctor didn't believe her and thus my family found themselves moving from Corpus Christi, TX to Sunnyvale, CA in mid-February.

My mom went into labor on Valentine's Day (Feb. 14th), and they stopped in El Paso, TX and I was born.

To make matters even better, my older sister and brother had the chicken pox, so I was isolated from all the other newborns because they thought I might be carrying it. I wasn't, so after three days they let us go on in our move.

So yes, I was literally born while my family was moving. Since then I have moved over a dozen times, and that's just counting the moves between cities, not the moves within cities.

My family one time decided to move on a Friday and moved on the following Thursday. We packed up a family of six and moved to a new state in less than a week.

So you might say I'm an expert mover.

Therefore, when my friends who have maybe moved once counting their "move" to college try to give me moving advice, you might imagine that I want to laugh in their face. Or slap them. One or other.

This has happened multiple times since I've announced to my friends that I'm moving.

One of my friends and I were discussing that I'm moving, he mentioned that moving is difficult, that it's going to be more difficult than I'm foreseeing. I looked at him a little surprised and was like, "Dude, I've moved before."

His response was, "This is different. You're moving without your family." My immediate thought was "How on earth do you know? You've never moved in your life until you moved after college." I know why he's having a hard time adapting. He's never moved before.

My actual response was "I moved without my family when I came to college."

Boy: "That was different. College is different."

Ok, I recognize this is true. I know this is true. College is a unique atmosphere where everyone is the same age. But it's hard for me to take him seriously when he says this, because when he "moved to college" he moved thirty minutes away from home. When I "moved to college", I moved 5 hours away to a city where I knew no one. I didn't treat it differently from any other move.

It is harder to make friends when not in school. I know this because I faced this at my co-op. But I did make friends, not with fellow co-ops like you may think, but with the full time employees near my age. I went to the occasional dinner with them, barbecue, and movie. Even though I was single and they were married, I was their friend.

I know this is not going to be easy, but I'm not scared. For some reason this guy thought I should be.

Another one of my friends tried to give me advice on moving the other day. I was joking with his fiancee, that they should send their kids to me in the summers (one day, far from now, when they have kids). I then commented that they should send me their kids so I wouldn't feel so lonely. Now, I didn't mean the kind of loneliness that comes without having friends. I meant the kind of loneliness that comes from all your friends getting married this year, therefore, they'll most definitely have kids before you do, therefore, you're going to be single when they have entire families.

My friend thought I meant not having friends and he was like, "You'll make friends. It's all part of moving." I wanted to slap him. I don't think this boy has ever really moved. College was two hours away from his parents, so maybe we'll let that count. If he's moved before that, he was very young. I've moved over once every two years my entire life (when averaged). I have never had a problem making friends outside of elementary school (those were dark times). I know how to make friends. I know what moving is like.

Which is not to say I don't want comfort and support from my friends, it's just that when people, who have no idea what they're talking about, try to advise you, it's just sort of amusing and a little bit insulting.

And really, my friends who have tried to be supportive by "giving me advice", have really come across in the opposite way--because I'm incredibly optimistic, so it almost seems like they're trying to bring me down.

So moral of the story, I'm excited and not worried at all. My worries are more of a mundane, filling out paperwork in a timely manner type worries.

Monday, May 23, 2011


First and foremost, I apologize for not posting regularly as I promised, but you see my life has been thrown into chaos. This Saturday, I am starting the process of moving to Albuquerque, NM. My dad and I are packing up the U-Haul and heading out.

Part of this process was that I canceled the cable in my apartment, which includes the internet. Hence, the lack of posting. And next week I'll spend most of the time on the road, so there will be another lack of posting. And I can't guarantee when I'll get internet at my apartment, so it'll probably be another week after that until I post again.

I'm not sure I've ever gone three weeks without a steady internet connection (well, since my family got internet 11 years ago). This very well may kill me. We'll see.

I'm going to try to write as many posts as I can today and schedule them to post over the next three weeks. I don't know how many that'll end up being, but at the very least I'm hoping for two a week.

More fruitful posts are too come; this one is really to just let you know what's going on with the blog. Wish me luck!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

A nerd by any other name...

People of my sort are often called names like "nerd", "geek", or "dork". I feel like my sort of people have long ago owned these words and made them a part of our identity. I am a nerd. To say otherwise is to insult me. Most people don't get that, because they don't understand what I mean by nerd.

My friends and I had a discussion about the meaning of these words the other day. As students at one of the most nerdy, geeky, and dorky schools in the nation, we feel we have a pretty good grasp of the sort of people who would use these words. So now, you're definitive guide.

Nerd: To be a nerd requires one thing and one thing only: intelligence. Generally, people think of nerds in terms of mathy subjects, but that's not entirely necessary. My little sister is a nerd and she is an archaeology student. A nerd is simply someone who is very smart. Thus, telling me I'm not a nerd is an insult.

Geek: I am a nerd, but I'm also a Star Wars geek. What do I mean by that? Well think about the phrase "geek out", as in "I discovered Jean-Francios has read most of the books in the Star Wars Extended Universe, and we geeked out over Star Wars for an hour." So by geek out I mean we discussed Star Wars as experts, as people who are obsessed with it. And to many that's what a geek is, someone who is obsessed with something. So though people generally think of Science Fiction and Fantasy as geeky things, a person can actually be a football geek. Granted, to be a football geek isn't enough to know team names and paint your chest. You've got to be an expert. You've got to know the stats and the like.

Dork: This is the word you use to describe someone who is on the socially awkward side of things. Someone sort of like Screech in Saved By the Bell or like the guys in the Big Bang Theory. So even though I'm a nerd and a geek, I'm not a dork. However, many nerds and geeks are dorks. Such is the way of things.

So those are my definitions. Do you guys disagree? Is there a type of person I'm missing that should be added on to this list? What do you think?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

There is no sound in space

Sometimes people complain that science fiction is hard to write or create because engineers and scientists are too critical.

This is of course balderdash.

If I wrote a book or made a movie that was set in 1605, and a character appeared wearing a watch, people would think I was an idiot. They would probably mock me and criticize me for not doing my research into the time period. And yet, when some people (clearly not all) write science fiction books and movies, they think they have a free pass to ignore some of the most basic obvious facts--facts that anyone who has a slight interest in that area of science would be able to tell you.

Like the fact that there is absolutely no sound in space. So all those loud explosions you here? Not possible. Any first year physics student, heck anyone who has taken physics 1, should be able to tell a writer this. Sound waves can only travel through a medium because they are longitudinal waves of varying pressure. Since space is practically* a vacuum, there is no pressure to vary. Thus, no sound.

I feel like this should be common knowledge, and yet it's not. Or at least, writers continually ignore it--among other obvious engineering/scientific principles. Watching science fiction movies is sometimes painful. And often hilarious.

For example, in Tron Legacy "genetic algorithms" are mentioned. And yet they're mentioned in such a ridiculous way that when I went to see it in theaters, I burst into laughter in the middle of the movie. The people in the movie theater thought I was insane. Possibly I am insane, and yet when I watched the movie with my engineering friends, they burst into laughter at the exact same point.

I was reminded of how ridiculous science fiction could be when I was watching Armageddon. On many levels, Armageddon is a good movie, but from an engineering (especially an aerospace engineering) aspect, there are just so many things wrong with that movie. Things that could have been fixed if they had simply asked an engineer.

So my thought on these Engineering Tuesdays is that I could go over common movie errors or even dissect particular movies, so that future movies/books don't make the same error. What do you guys think? Any movies you would like to see discussed? Any movie scenes that you're unsure of the veracity? Let me know and I'll be sure to look into them. :)

*There are, of course, particles in space and space's pressure is not exactly zero. However, it is incredibly close, so for most purposes its treated as thus.

Monday, May 9, 2011


Summertime! Summertime! It's finally summertime! Woo!

And with summertime means daily postings (minus Sunday) here on my blog!

So I've been thinking a lot about what sort of schedule I want to have and the sort of things I want to talk about. This is the blog of a Christian, writer, and engineer, and I want my blog to cover all of those topics. But this is also going to be a summer of big change and I want to talk about that too.

Anyway, no need to continue babbling. My schedule is going to be like the following:

Writer Mondays: On Monday I will discuss things that relate to my writing or to this blog or odd things I think of about writing. So similar to Monday's last year.

Engineering Tuesdays: Like last summer as well, I will spend Tuesdays discussing engineering topics, whether it be past engineering feats, modern marvels, or future discoveries.

Western Wednesday: This has to do with the "big change" coming this summer. Let's just say I'm moving out west. Since my friends who read this blog will want to follow my exploits, this day will take care of that.

Faith Thursdays: As a writer and engineer, I sometimes have a somewhat interesting belief system, when compared to other believers. So this is the day where I'll continue our Evolution discussion as well as discuss any other aspects of my faith.

Geek out Fridays: I feel like I haven't used this blog to express my inner geek enough. Sure I get nerdy* with all my engineering talk, but I haven't used this blog to discuss all those wonderfully geeky things I love. If you read this blog you would think I'm a Wheel of Time geek and nothing else. That's simply not true. My heart will also belong to Star Wars and we can't forget Terminator, Stargate, and all the other wonders of my geekiness.

Book Review Saturday: When I have reviews to post, I'll post them on Saturday. This may mean seven posts might be posted on Saturday, but that's the way of life.

And there will be no post on Sunday so I can take a breath and use that time for whatever.

I think this summer is going to be an exciting time for this blog, and I hope you guys enjoy it!

*The first post this Friday will discuss what the difference is between "geek", "nerd", and "dork" (at least in my mind) so everyone is on the same page.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Finals! AHHH!

There will be no posts this week due to that horrible thing called final exams. I just can't handle studying, having a life crisis, and writing a post.

But don't worry. I'll be back next week with book reviews, finish my discussion on evolution, as well as some BIG life changing (for me) news (that relate to above crisis. Though it's a good crisis, so don't worry).

If I could have all your prayers as I study and try to pass Statistics (which would be a miracle) I would greatly appreciate it.

Who knew that passing classes called things like "rocket propulsion" and "orbital mechanics" would be easier than passing an Introduction to Statistics class!