Saturday, January 31, 2009

Just my luck

So, not only is smokin' hot captain an officer (obviously), he's also going to be one of my tech school instructors after I get out of basic! So, pretty much completely off limits even if he is single. Sigh! He did want to know where I'd "learned everything" already and told me I would already know pretty much everything in his class (apparently he teaches mostly the telemetry and ground control portion of flying the satellites) and shouldn't have any trouble, but if I had any questions, we could talk tomorrow...

Class today was even better. Apparently, we're all picking things up much more quickly than most of his classes, so we got done about an hour and a half early today and will probably get out early again tomorrow (heaven forbid we miss the Super Bowl, you know!).

Friday, January 30, 2009

Nerves, Revoked

ASCI 512 is quite a bit bigger than ASCI 604. I'm still the only girl, and still the true newbie, but there is at least one person who is just in his second term at ERAU, so that helps a little. I think I might actually be the youngest in this class, too, although I won't swear to that. Again, everyone was pretty friendly (and it doesn't hurt that there is a smokin' hot captain in the class, too. I'm pretty sure I cleaned up all the drool before anyone saw, though). The guy from OS gave me the number of their HR director, too, and recommended that I look into the possibility of internships there, which was really cool of him.

The instructor is a little scary (he does prefer to go by General, because "he's put in too much to be just a 'mister'" fair enough!) but it's hard to be really scared of someone who confesses that the 8.5 minutes it takes a shuttle to reach orbit are "the longest of his life, every time. So many things can go wrong. Worse than getting shot at," is honestly disappointed and a little sad that "his birds" (the shuttles) are getting retired, and who deems that "anyone who graduated from Purdue should have no problems with this class" as we all went around and introduced ourselves. (I did say that my degree was from the SLA, I just didn't specify in what.) And man, the guys weren't kidding. He KNOWS. This is the guy that Johnson (mission control), Kennedy (launch operations), Marshall (engine and technical control), and Stennis (engine testing) Space Centers all reported to. He oversaw 20 shuttle missions, 19 of them successful (given that he said he was assigned to NASA in 1994, I would assume that the lone unsuccessful mission would be the ill-fated Columbia, which was only mentioned once the entire night when we were talking about the heat shield, but none of us were about to ask about the discrepency!) He also isn't just stuck on old techology. We have several missileers in the class, and as they'd mention systems or rockets or missiles, he'd say "Oo, do your presentation (we have to do a 30 minute oral presentation instead of a term paper, because "if you're gonna be in this business, you'd better know how to give a briefing") on that, I want to learn about that!" And the pictures he has. Oh my lord, the pictures. They're just breathtaking. I could stare at them for hours.

The class itself is just plain cool. Tonight, at least, was a "language" class, using the shuttle as the model, and surprisingly enough, it was a lot of review for me. From where? From Space Camp! Once he started talking about SSMEs and SRBs and ETs, it all started coming back. Orbital velocity, thrusters, rolls, EVAs, EMUs....oh, good times! I'm sure the rest of the class isn't going to be quite so easy, and honestly, the idea of giving a 30 minute presentation on the Soyuz program to this class is more than a little intimidating, but it was REALLY nice to know that I'm not in WAY over my head for this one like I'd feared!

And it struck me tonight driving home from the base. No wonder I haven't found a guy who measured up. Most dads only say they'd give their little girls the moon and the stars. Mine actually did.


Getting ready to start my second ERAU class (Space Launch and Mission Operations) tonight. This one intimidates me a little bit, for two reasons. One, the prof is a retired Marine Corps general, test pilot, and was the administrator for NASA's Space Flight division for 19 successful missions. If this guy doesn't know what he's talking about, I don't know who will. I'm a little scared of him by reputation alone! I know he does have some sense of humor, though, from the stuff he's already shared on the class website, so maybe he won't be totally terrifying. Two, we're going to be going through an AWFUL lot of material AWFULLY quickly. Unlike regular classes that are spread out over an 8-week term, this class is broken into two weekends. Basically, we have 21 hours of class this weekend, then have a month to study for both the midterm and the final exams and prepare an oral presentation, which will also all happen in one weekend at the end of February. Plus, we get out of class tonight at 10:00p, probably will make it home around 10:45p (allowing time for questions afterwards and driving to SM) and then have to be back on base by 8:00a the next morning. I really hope we don't have any homework tonight due tomorrow! I keep reminding myself that it's an intro class, and the sheer number of topics we have to cover aren't going to allow us to go into too much depth in any one thing. I guess I'll know more after tonight. (And all this is on top of the slight nerves I have about my first drill weekend, which is next week!)

In other news, my job at the bookstore was supposed to end today, but they asked me to come in for a few mornings next week to "help things get settled back down" so I guess they kinda like me (even though I haven't been able to balance my drawer for three days in a row, ugh!). The sampler purse thing with the Philosopher's Wool woven Fair Isle technique is perfect for laundry quarters if you CO 1/2 the stitches. I had a mild case of both startitis and colorworkitis earlier this week and that little project seemed to satisfy both perfectly. I'll post a pic someday. I now have a vague inkling of knitting a diaper bag in the sampler purse FI pattern, with the colors that I'm using in the baby blanket. My concern is that I want the bag to be washable, and I don't know that that can happen and still maintain the squarish shape that I want. Pondering...

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Back to the Grind

Met with my ASCI 604 class (the human factors class) for the first time last night. As par for the course in my life, I'm the only girl. There're only five student in the class: me, three active duty AF guys, and one guy who works for Orbital Sciences, the civilian company I'm trying to get an interview with. I'm definitely the newbie to the system, but they were cool. The instructor for this class is not bad, a little softspoken (I had trouble hearing him a few times) and teaches almost directly from the textbook which has its good and bad points. I'm not insanely behind or out of my league in this class either, which is nice. The topic isn't insanely interesting to me (basically, it deals with how humans work with systems), but it's okay. A couple of the guys (one of the AF guys and the OS guy) are also going to be in my ASCI 512 class, and they said that the instructor for that class is really cool. "The real thing," is what they said, so now I'm intrigued. That class (Space and Launch Operations) is the one I'm most interested in and also the one that I think will be the hardest and the most out of my league in. It starts next Friday and goes through next weekend, and then the weekend after that I have my first drill with the ANG. I think I'll be doing a lot of PT, coffee runs, and taking out the trash for a while, being the lowest on the totem pole there. At any rate, I'll be spending plenty of time on a military base in the near future.

In the meantime, I'm actually kind of enjoying working at the bookstore. I'm just working a register for a few weeks to help with the start of semester rush, so it's pretty simple to pick up. I was supposed to be working the morning shift, but on Wednesday they asked me to move to the afternoons because they needed another "capable" person there and are willing to work around my schedule so I can get to the base on time for class. I started that shift today, and I never thought I'd say this, but I actually really prefer the morning shift. It was nice to get up, go to work, come home, do homework or nap, and then go to either ERAU or martial arts classes. It was nice. Plus, even though the shifts are the same time length and about the same busy-wise, the afternoon just DRAGS. And I'd rather open the store than close it. But the girls I work with are nice enough, and like I said the job doesn't take too much brain power. They close early on Fridays, so most of the temps aren't working tomorrow, but they asked me to do a 10:00a-3:00p shift, so no long weekend for me.

In knitting news, some the PCPA knitters have begun taking over the new Panera here in Santa Maria on Tuesday nights. This past week, we had over a dozen of us there, including two guys! It was fun to see everyone again and get caught up on all the gossip. My blanket is progressing slowly - it's already reached the every-row-is-interminably-long stage, but it's still pretty cute.

Anyway, have to work tomorrow and then sparring. I have big plans to spend the weekend doing homework, writing papers and reading textbooks. The joys of being back in school...

Thursday, January 15, 2009


Okay, so I haven't been around much lately. Some of that has been due to busy-ness, some of it has been because my arm hurt too much to type.

Let's see...

1.) I'm officially in the military now. I had to go to the LA MEPS on Friday for my medical exam (which, let me tell you, turned out to be a Very Long Day, but more on that later), had to go back down to LA on Monday to retrieve my driver's license and SS card which I didn't realize until Saturday had never gotten returned to me. Then yesterday all I had to do was sign my soul away and take the Oath. =) Enlisted Air National Guard, assigned to the 148th at VAFB. I start drilling with them next month, but I won't go to Basic until the end of May at the very earliest. (Really kind of hoping I don't get a summer flight - I hear summers in Texas suck.) I'll have probably a couple months of tech training at VAFB after that, and then it's back to real life. I'm really excited about it!

2.) Kelly's slippers are done, sort of. I've finished knitting them and felted them once and I'm pondering if I need to felt them again. They look pretty good, though.

I've also started Bec's baby blanket, and it looks pretty darn cute so far, if I do say so myself. The ends are going to be a pain to weave in, though.

3.) I'm registered for classes at Embry-Riddle (thanks again Christina!). I'm taking two classes, ASCI 604: Human Factors in the Aviation Industry, which is once a week on Wednesdays, and ASCI 512: Space Mission and Launch Operations, which is the last two weekends of January and February. My first class was supposed to start last night (Wednesday), but got delayed due to "conflicting travel arrangements" for the instructor, so now it won't start until next week. It's weird to have homework again, though! Five chapters and study questions for next week, woo hoo! (This on top of the general AF learning I want to do before Basic, gotta keep busy!)

4.) I have a part-time temp job as a cashier at the bookstore at AHC. I'm working the morning shift, which is a little strange to me, but I guess I'll have to get used to it. I've got a pretty solid line on a full-time job at VAFB with a company called Orbital Sciences, but it will be a couple weeks before I know anything more on that. I'm not sure they'll be willing to hire someone who is then going to take 4-6 months for military training, but we'll see, I guess.

5.) Getting back into the rhythm of martial arts classes again, which rocks. It's good to be back. My elbow was REALLY bothering me on Monday before class, which of course didn't stop me in the slightest, but it ended up pretty swollen that night afterwards. Gil caught me in a piston takedown Tuesday night which really hurt, but then by the time I got home, it was perfectly fine and has only twinged slightly since. I didn't go to class last night because I was on base, and I think the rest might have helped. I'm going to hit class tonight and see how that goes.

6.) Went to LA Thursday and Friday of last week and did another show with John, which was fun as always. Drove down to La Habra Thursday afternoon to load in, stayed there until 10:00p, drove back into Los Angeles to the MEPS (Military Entrance Processing Station) hotel, had to wait until my roommate got in around 11:45p so I wouldn't freak her out, got a wake-up call at 3:30a, reported to the MEPS at 4:30a, went through a FULL physical, done by 10:00a, drove back to La Habra, put the finishing touches on the show, which was supposed to start at 9:00p but didn't start until almost 10:00p, loaded out by 11:30p and drove back to Santa Maria that night, getting in around 3:30a. Let me state, driving 170 miles when you've already been awake 24 hours and only got 4 hours of sleep the night before is Highly Not Recommended. It's all sorts of fun trying to decide which lane you're driving in because they're all sort of blurring together. Given the fact that I hadn't yet realized that my driver's license was 170 miles south of me (see #1), I'm REALLY glad none of California's finest decided it was entertaining!

Anyway, that's the nutshell version of the past few days. Think it's enough, no?

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

In a Nutshell

1. Triple classes for the first time in two weeks are hard. Particularly when the kickboxing routine gets changed to include running. RUNNING! Argh! I'm totally keeping my mouth shut about what I think my sports-related weaknesses are from now on. (It's only 2 minutes at a time, which, honestly is not a big deal at all. I just really hate running and feel obligated to complain about it.) Anyway, between regular classwork, including not just the running but also a wonderful new backkick glute-working move and getting disarmed by both Sir and Mr. R several times - real good on the elbow, and helping Chrissy move (again), I'm going to be surprised if I can move tomorrow.

2. Due to helping Chrissy move, I now have a table and set of four chairs, at least until she can get a place they fit into. It's kind of nice. Teddie agrees - he's been under or on top of the table since I got it put back together.

3. Going to LA for the end of this week. Doing a small show with John this weekend in La Habra. Mostly helping load in/out, but it will be nice to see everyone again. Also, since I'll already be in LA, I'm going to do my physical at the MEPS down there on Friday. Should be interesting, particularly the whole getting up at 4:00a thing.

4. Still job hunting. Of course, the employment agency I talked to back in October now can't find my resume. Argh.

5. Made sugared pecans and what we always called "puppy chow" - Chex mix covered in chocolate, peanut butter, and powdered sugar. Yum!

6. Started watching the BBC's new(ish) Robin Hood series (the one Kelly got me for Christmas). It's actually really good. A few anachronisms, and quite frankly, Marian isn't hot enough to be with such a drool-worthy Robin, but her character is cool. The Sheriff is the "omg, you did NOT just do that, what kind of reprehensible being ARE you" evil, but the most interesting character to me is the Sheriff's underling, Sir Guy Gisbon. He's a baddie, don't get me wrong, but I'm thinking he either actually does have a conscience buried somewhere and/or he's totally got his own agenda. I'm really interested in seeing where his character goes.

7. Think I found the pattern I want for Beck's baby blanket. Just have to finish Kelly's slippers first (WHY are these slippers suddenly so evil?! WHY?! I've done this pattern a hundred times...well, okay, seven times working on number eight). I'm also oddly in love with the cardigan on the front of the new KnitPicks catalog. Although I think I would do the waistband in cooler colors.!

8. I got all of my new wallhanging things hung today (two posters, three sketches, a quote plaque, and collage)! Yay! Love them - it's almost like someone might live here now! The shuttle launch obviously goes right over my desk. Can't wait to start classes!

Anyway, since the cat is alternately chasing his own tail and sleeping under the table, and I, weirdly, have nothing to do tomorrow except laundry and class, I'm out. (And no, I'm not doing any resolutions this year. Clearly, I have enough challenges already to face this year and I see no reason to voluntarily add to that tally.)

Friday, January 02, 2009

Letting the Cat Out of the Bag

First of all, thank you to everyone for your condolences and safe travel thoughts. All in all, it was a good trip. I got to cuddle with the recipient of the Circular Chevron Blanket, and if he isn't the cutest thing ever, I don't know what is. I got to spend time with my girls and found out that one of them is pregnant! Yay for more baby blankets!! (And whatever else I can come up with to spoil the kid rotten. I have until July, I think I'm good.) Most importantly, though, I got to spend time with my family. It's always hard to leave them (particularly Dad. Mom, pointing out that I am the fourth generation of women who have moved far away from their hometowns on her side of the family, gets it. She misses me, and worries about me, but she gets it. Dad just wants to take care of me and it drives him nuts when he can't), but I am now safely back in California (with my luggage, surprisingly enough!), and although making connections was touch-and-go for a while due to my first flight getting delayed yet again, I was able to make all of them. My carry-on even got to travel first class from Chicago to LA!

I do have to say, though, that I have been highly underimpressed with American Airlines. First of all, they charge $40 for checked luggage EACH WAY. Another $80 to take two small suitcases on top of what I've already paid for the ticket?! Secondly, they no longer offer meals of any kind on four hour flights, and the snacks they offer for sale are overpriced and wimpy. ($3 for one chocolate chip cookie? Really?) They also no longer show movies or radio or anything, which I can't say really breaks my heart, because I rarely watch movies on planes anyway, but still. Third, and most important, only TWO of their people I dealt with the entire time I was traveling, total, both ways, treated me like I wasn't interrupting something Really Important at the very least. And only ONE of those was dealt with face-to-face (the other lady who was really sweet was the one who patiently figured out and rescheduled my nightmare itinerary to get me to Illinios...over the PHONE). I'm sorry, I get that the holidays and winter weather makes for crazy delays and lots of irritated passengers who probably try your patience to its fullest and strain every nerve you have. I get that. I really really try to be polite, understanding, and as flexible as possible as a passenger because I know things are crazy for you guys. But you know what? It's still YOUR JOB to be the person that passengers go to for information and concerns. Do it. And if it's been that kind of day where you can't do it personably (we all have those days, again, I get it), at least do it professionally. Argh.

Anyway, enough ranting and on to the good stuff. With a little help from the Illinois Branch of Supervisory Cats (aka Scud, my parents' oldest cat)
I can now show off the results of the Christmas Present Knitting Extravaganza! Ooo! No peeking! (Okay, you can peek. In fact, if you have a Ravelry account, you can get even more details and views of each of these projects. Flickr account holders just the extra views.)

First up, we have a finished Christmas Present #1:
Now known as Dad's Cobblestone Sweater. This is the Cobblestone Sweater from Interweave Knits Fall 2007 issue, designed by Jared Flood. I did the Large diameters with the XL length. It's actually a bit baggy on him, and if I did it again, I think I might go down a size either on the needles or on the torso. The length turned out extremely well, though, and he loves it. He's decided that it should serve him very well on their annual fishing trip to Canada. It was an extremely easy knit (although you do have to purl in the round a lot on the yoke to get that garter stitch going) and went quickly. Took me about a month to make, but I literally only worked on it while riding on the bus to Solvang and occasionally during shows. Yarn is Lion Brand Wool-Ease in 152 Oxford Gray, knit up on my US 9 KnitPicks Options.

Next up, CP #2:
AKA Kelly's Hacky Sack Hoodie. Pattern from Son of Stitch-n-Bitch, designed by Stef Pulford. Extremely super easy knit-in-the-round, top-down raglan. Love This Pattern. The only thing I would complain about is that it doesn't tell you to make sure you leave a long enough cast-on tail to seam the top of the hood with, but that was fixable. I made the XL size and added about 2" length to everything. He claims it's a bit too long in the torso, but Mom and I agree it actually fits him pretty well. The sleeves came out slightly different lengths, for some reason (must have lost count somewhere), but since he pushes them up anyway and wouldn't take the thing off long enough for me to look at it, that is apparently okay. Knit in just over a month (tech and learning that I needed to go job-hunting got in the way) out of Lion Brand Wool-Ease in Cocoa on US 10 KnitPicks Options.

Finally, we have CP #3. Now, this one actually got changed halfway through, if you recall. It was originally supposed to be a replica of this Aran sweater that my mom already has but can no longer wear. Either my great-grandmother or one of my great-great-aunts originally made it and any pattern, if there even was one, is long gone. I was pretty successful in re-creating it, but the knitting of it made me want to tear my hair out. It wasn't particularly difficult, but it did take more concentration than I was able to comfortably devote to it in order to get it done on time, and frankly, I prefer mindless knitting. So, instead, we have CP #3v2.0:

Mom's Rogue. Yes, my second Rogue (designer Jenna Wilson) , and this one actually turned out better than the first, I think. (Which makes sense, no?). I did the ribbed hem and cuffs instead of the turned ones, which I like better, although if I did it yet again (and I might), I'd change that to a twisted rib. I also added the kangaroo pocket to this one, and I really like it. I made the 44" size, with no modifications. (I think. I remember toying with the idea of adding an extra cable repeat to the sides to lengthen it a little, but I don't remember if I actually did that, and I don't have it noted anywhere that I did *shrugs*) It looks like it fits her pretty well, and she loves it, so I guess whatever I did worked. The yarn is, again, Lion Brand Wool-Ease in Fisherman, and this was knit on US 9 Options.

Three sweaters in just over three months. I have Kelly's slippers about 3/4 done (no, I didn't finish them while in Illinois), and then I think I might take a break from knitting for a while. There aren't any projects that are really grabbing me right now, although I'm sorting through ideas for baby blankets (this kid is probably gonna have too many, because I have so many ideas!) and I'm kind of in the mood for some socks, not that I need more. I really want to work on some cross-stitches and get those finished up. I got an awesome lettering sampler done by my friend Lorraine up in Alaska (they're a little weird up there, the cold freezes their brains, I think), and as soon as my camera battery charges, I'll post a pic of it, as mere description won't do it justice.

The TeddieCat is Mad At Me, although he's getting over it. He kept waking me up last night, though - no matter where I turned in the bed, he'd be there, batting my face with his paw or tail or tickling me with his whiskers. Today, he keeps jumping into my lap, which is fine, and then starts kneading my stomach, which tickles and is not fine and gets him kicked off. He's curled up in protest inside my duffel bag at the moment.

Gotta get out and run some errands today. Chrissy is going to come over to store some stuff in the garage for a while, and then I have class and pizza tonight, yay!!! It's good to be home!