Lauren's Diary

"So this is the foundation for my
internet diary - searching for the
truth and seeing what else comes
along on the way."
05.19.99 diary entry

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Monday, 04.07.03

Quote of the Day:
"You know, this whole movie deftly illustrates one unshakeable principal - never go to the South for any reason. In fact, please South, secede will ya? We won't stop you this time."
Mystery Science Theater 3000

Even though it is 1 AM I am determined to write this diary entry. Today has been composed of alternating periods of stress and relative calm. Before my class this afternoon I noted something in my Palm Pilot, "You know you're too busy when you look forward to class as relaxation time." But that was certainly the case today. I spent four hours this morning trying to compose a homework solution for the class I am TAing and failing miserably. Eventually I had to resort to emailing the professor. How embarrassing. �Relaxation time� came in the form of my rocket propulsion class. Going to class is just less demanding than working on assignments. You have the chance to leave the rest of the day�s worries outside the classroom for two hours. There�s no reason to think about them in there because there�s nothing you can do about them until you leave. That�s very appealing for students. Given the way I�ve just described class, I am tempted to call it �free time.� I�ve been in college for six years now and, before I wrote this paragraph, that would have been the last way I�d have described going to class. And I�ll probably never think of it that way again, but right now my thought pattern has lead me to the conclusion that class is a calming experience.

And while I was at today�s �calming experience� I documented another thought. �I think I know what it feels like to have a learning disability. My brain is about two equations behind my professor's lecture.� For some reason I was mentally sluggish this afternoon. It might have had something to do with working on one aerodynamics problem for the previous four hours. No matter how it came about, it was very frustrating. While the professor was explaining one point I was just beginning to understand the information he presented about two minutes earlier. It didn�t matter how hard I tried, I just wasn�t going to catch on any quicker today. When taking ballet in high school my instructor used to complain that I didn�t learn combinations fast enough. For some reason, in that particular discipline, I was a slow learner. I didn�t like it, but there wasn�t anything I could do about it. Although it had hindered me during classes and auditions I had accepted this shortcoming, but my instructor wasn�t quite so tolerant. After my class today I can understand her aggravation. I really wanted my brain to be able to work faster, but it just wasn�t happening.

"Ug, why am I watching Dawson's Creek (for the first time in ages)? My intellectual level momentarily took a turn for the worse when I stopped channel surfing at the WB network. I think I am just trying to avoid the inevitable astrodynamics project that I should be working on. ... It sounds like the last thing I should be doing is sitting here typing an incredibly uneventful diary entry for poor people like you to read. How can I ever thank you for reading my stream-of-consciousness ramblings?"
04.05.00 diary entry

On Saturday (April 5, 2003) I went back through my various webpage archives to see what happening in my life in previous years. When I encountered my April 5, 2000 diary entry (from my first online diary, Shrew�s News) I had to laugh because it ironically reflected recent events. My Saturday post, copied above for reference, probably seemed random but the words I wrote three years earlier actually described the present better than anything more current. I went to a UCLA/NASA Dryden meeting in Lancaster on Friday with my advisor and several other graduate students in my research group. Before the presentations began that morning it was announced that coalition forces had taken control of the Baghdad airport and had found chemical weapons there. (I�m not sure if this information has since been substantiated, but that�s what we were told at the time.) Since I only watch CNN while I�m studying in the middle of the night (guess what�s on TV right now) I had no idea what was going on in Iraq. While getting ready to leave that morning I had watched old episodes of Dawson�s Creek on TBS. It was like reliving my years at UF, but it did nothing for my grasp of world news. You could say that �my intellectual level momentarily took a turn for the worse.� Then I went to the meeting and had to bring it back up in order to interact with academics and NASA personnel.

So why was I perusing my webpage archives on Saturday? My assignment notebook was full of things to do over the weekend and I was desperately trying to avoid them. My webpage has provided a source of distraction almost as long as I�ve been in college and I take advantage of it as often as possible. As a side note, I realize that I am always talking about having too many things to do. In order to provide a frame of reference for my suffering, here is a list of the five most important tasks I intended to complete this weekend. By the end of the weekend I had only crossed the last three of these off in my notebook.

1) Uncertainty analysis for the discharge coefficient equation
2) Derivation of the mass flow rate equation for a real gas
3) Design undergraduate aerodynamics class webpage
4) Write up solution for the first undergraduate aerodynamics homework
5) Scan undergraduate aerodynamics lecture notes

�I think I am just trying to avoid the inevitable astrodynamics project that I should be working on. ... It sounds like the last thing I should be doing is sitting here typing an incredibly uneventful diary entry for poor people like you to read.� This statement very accurately describes my current situation. Not only am not accomplishing anything by staying awake, but I�m writing a completely uneventful diary entry. History repeats itself.

-Lauren Gleason