Sunday, July 29, 2012

I Live in Iowa: Week 67

Another week in the books! Life is really interesting the farther you go. What I mean by that is that there are things worth learning or doing (two good verbs...) that take time. With all of the frustrations that I had over the last couple months a lot of questions came up, such as, ‘am I where I am supposed to be?’ I think the answer for that, at least now, is yes. Going forward the answer to the next question you might be thinking is yes, there is more to be done here.
The longer I spend making pretty pictures on the computer the more and more I think of myself as an artist rather than a technician. I suppose that science or rather scientists, are really just people experimenting trying to figure out how the world works. It is easy to get into the routine of going through the motions producing a product similar to the last product but never really trying something different. Well, I tried something different this week. I have been working on a window simulation and there is an ISO standard that we have to meet. The design I tested easily met the criteria, but I started to wonder, what else could be thrown at this thing? Having seen bullet simulations or at least slow motion bullet impacts on Mythbusters, I decided to try it myself. Pretty cool stuff! I won’t give away the results suffice it to say the window I tested can stop some rifle bullets, but not all. I call it art. 
It was quite hot this week here in Dubuque. The temperature was over 100F Wednesday and for the local bicycle ride only three people showed up, one of them being the bicycle shop owner, another the guy going to Colorado in a few weeks with the bicycle shop owner making sure he is in shape, and yours truly. When it comes to bicycling in the heat it’s pretty easy, drink a lot and easy off the pace a little. Since you can carry bottles on the bicycle there is no reason to suffer. I think I totaled 87 mile or so for the week. 
Somehow I managed to run 37 miles this week. I’m not sure where all of that came from. It was a fantastic week of running! I ran all seven days (my streak at the moment is 11 days). The highlights are that I did a few strides and Saturday I got out on Heritage Trail for the first time in over a month for a 10 mile run including a four mile tempo. The tempo was nothing special, only 23:27, which is pretty slow considering it’s net downhill.  Still, you don’t really know what you had until you lose it, and every little setback that I have reinforces how wonderful a day like that is. I mean the temperature was a modest 75F there was no wind, I had my morning coffee and then went and cranked out ten miles in just over 63 minutes. That kind of event, considering what I went through with the despair of my foot injury, is enough that I was a little emotional afterward. There was a relief, a desire to cry a tear or two, that I was able to do it again. Of course, I must add that those emotions were mixed with the desire to start getting back into serious training and setting some personal records. I think it’s going to be half marathon season in the fall, and perhaps back to the track in indoor again. 32:12 and 15:44 are nice, and much better than my PRs were, but they are really not good enough to expect a 2:18.
My Coding Together class is going well. I’m still behind and if it were graded I would be failing, but that’s kind of the point of these free online classes in my view. An opportunity to learn something from a skilled professional in an area that may not be your specialty without the financial pressure of failing in a given timeframe and the opportunity to continue at a slower pace if need be. That’s part of the reason I picked WPI as my college. The No Record (NR) on your transcript if you received below a C providing the opportunity to try something you might normally try. I never NR’d a class but I did get a C in a couple classes that I didn’t need to take but was interested in, like chemical thermodynamics. Plus that class set me well for rocket and aircraft propulsion and phase transformations. 
In the Oooooooo China is cleaning up the medal count especially the golds. I have not watched much yet because we have not really gotten to the events I enjoy the most. 
Of NASA note, the Mars Science Laboratory is set to touch down on Mars in a week. This is really interesting because this thing is huge and loaded with equipment compared to everything that has previously been sent to Mars. When it comes to Mars, this is the most exciting thing to happen to it yet. Let’s hope the 500,000 lines of code landing sequence works without a glitch and they don’t crash the one ton rover into a pile of rubble! This video form NASA, is worth your time (and tax dollars).
I started this blog on a whim on a weeknight in graduate school when my two other roommates were home. I did not spend long at all coming up with the title, yet learning and doing are such great verbs. Especially do. The performing of an action. A change of the state of a situation. I respect do. I respect done. It takes courage to do something, I often do nothing when I should take action. For that that have done something, congratulations!

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