Sunday, December 19, 2010

Hooray for Christmas Spirit!

The past few days have been crazy.

First of all, a couple days ago I read a post from Jenny, the Bloggess (in case you don't know, Stumbling Upon her about a year and a half ago got me into blogging) about how she will give 20 Amazon gift cards to 20 people who comment with their need for one. Some of the stories were completely heartbreaking, and the cards went really fast.

Then people started offering their own. This has become a whirlwind and I'm pretty sure Jenny has done nothing but spend the past 4 or 5 days just matching up donors with people in need. I offered up an Amazon gift card and got matched with someone. Even though I have a lot of bills right now, I'm in no way struggling the way some of these people are so I wanted to help in any way I could.

We're talking over 500 matches here. You can read all about it here. http://thebloggess.com/?p=9493

So Jenny has helped revive my Christmas spirit, especially now. I've been getting super overwhelmed by my job, and add on loans, Christmas, rent, etc and there's a lot of stress in my life.

Anyway. So yesterday I also did something that I've never done before! Jonathan and I went snow tubing. It was amazingly fun and today I hurt a bit because of it. My butt kept hitting the ground and my chest muscles hurt from trying to hold my butt up. And my tube had a hard time staying on the lift. It got disconnected halfway through one time! So after a good 2 hours of tubing, we went to get some Pho (Vietnamese soup) and then came back to our apartment, showered, relaxed for a bit, and then headed out again.

This time, Christmas shopping! I finally finished everyone on my list.

Today is the day for relaxing. I need to wrap my gifts that I got last night, and we need to clean the apartment (it's pretty bad right now).

Tell me- are you done shopping? Or have you not even started yet? Or were you one of the crazies that got up super early (or never slept) on Black Friday and got all your shopping done before December even started?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Finally employed!

Haven't had much of a chance to write in awhile because I got a job!

I had the interview the day after my last blog post (I might have mentioned it in there). That was a Friday. The following Tuesday I was offered the job, to start the following Wednesday (a week and a day). They have me on a trial basis as an independent contractor for 3 months, then they will make a decision on whether or not to keep me. So Jonathan and I moved to northern MA where we live in a cute little furnished apartment for the 3 months.

Jonathan had an interview yesterday close to here too, cross your fingers that it all goes well and he gets the job, then in February we will move somewhere between our jobs. Living together is much better than having to drive so much to visit one another!

So far the job has been going well, I've been learning a lot about the way things work and I've met some really awesome people that I work with. I'm doing real engineering work too, which is awesome. Sometimes it's overwhelming, but I'm trying to take it all a day at a time.

Anyway.. tomorrow I'll be going home for a doctor's appointment and to see my puppy, she got spayed today and apparently she's not so happy about that!

-Nikki

Thursday, November 4, 2010

What exactly do you DO?

I get asked that question a lot. What does an engineer do? There seem to be a lot of common misconceptions about what I do as an ELECTRICAL AND COMPUTER ENGINEER (aka what I actually went to school for) and things I happen to know how to do that are electrical and computer RELATED (aka things I learned from my geeky friends/things I picked up on my own/ reading an instruction manual).

I'm really not joking about that last one.

So let me start with things that people seem to think I went to school for that I really didn't:

  • Setting up your TV
  • Hooking up your cable
  • Making your computer faster
  • Setting up a router (seriously guys, all I did was read the instruction manual)
  • Running a sound system (yes I know how to use the pretty knobs, yes I knew immediately what the problem was, no I don't need my degree to tell you which knob to turn to fix your problem- I've been running sound systems since I was in 8th grade)
  • Building a computer
  • Hooking up various game systems, DVD players, VCRs, etc to your TV or computer
  • Setting up your computer, plugging in your mouse and keyboard and monitor, reading the on screen instructions to set it up, etc.
  • Programming
What I actually do as an engineer: (this one is going to be difficult to explain so I'll try to keep it simple)
  • You know when you open up some sort of electronic for whatever reason, and there's that pretty green board with all that stuff stuck to it? I know what that stuff does- I make the pretty green boards.
  • You know things like MRIs, how the first word in that is "magnetic?" That's electrical engineering.
  • You know those flashlights that you shake and they magically light up? How you can see the crap inside the handle? That's electrical engineering.
  • Things like electromagnetic fields in space, radar detection, etc, is also EE.
Basically, anything that has the pretty green boards is what I went to school for. I know how to use electronics because I'm a technically savvy person and have been working with them for a long time,  but that's not what my degree is in. If you were to take that stuff apart, I could explain to you what everything on the boards are meant to do (but probably not how they fit into the system, that gets really complicated really quickly). I don't just plug the microphone into the speaker, I create the amplification circuit. I've worked with solar panels and wind turbines, and understand generally how they work to generate electricity.

Think of "electrical engineers" as "electricity manipulators"- we create things that make electricity do what we want it to do.

I know that a lot of my friends from school could probably help me expand on this post a bit, but I'm trying to keep it somewhat simple for my non-engineering friends and family so that they might finally have some sort of clue as to what I do. So engineering friends, feel free to post in the comments about what Electrical and Computer Engineering is.

I hope that this post helped clarify what exactly I do. Now I should go to bed, because I have an interview tomorrow!

-Nikki

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Why I didn't go to graduate school

So I've realized that I told many, many people that I was going to graduate school this year. I had been accepted, I didn't have a job, I could go for discounted tuition because WPI is awesome, it all seemed like a win-win-win all around. However, I didn't tell people my reasons for deciding not to go to graduate school.

I analyzed my reasons for going to graduate school:
  • I was accepted
  • I didn't have a job
  • Discounted tuition
  • I get to spend another 1-2 years in school figuring out life
  • I get to maintain my social life
  • I get to keep my parent's health insurance
Basically, I was avoiding going into the real world because it looked dark and scary. The biggest problem was the reason that wasn't in my list of reasons for going to graduate school: furthering my education. That wasn't on my list because it wasn't a reason for going. And that's a problem, because basically I just wanted to stay in college. It wasn't a good reason. None of those reasons are good reasons on their own to go to graduate school. It has to be something you WANT to do (this is a message for all my friends who are now seniors in college).

And as much as I miss my friends at school, I'm glad I didn't go to grad school. I needed a break from school for awhile. Also, I have an interview on Monday with my dream company and that wouldn't have happened if I was still in school.

So now I've clarified and given a message to my friends.

Interview Monday, then I go out to NY to celebrate Jonathan's birthday, and then back to WPI on Friday & Saturday for Homecoming. Still feels a little weird to have to pack an overnight bag to go to the place I used to live, I'll admit. But I'm on my way to making a life for myself, facing the real world that I almost decided to avoid.

I'm proud of myself for making a mature decision. One day I'll go back to school for what I really want, which is an MBA. I might even go back to WPI for that degree. But that's the future. Right now, I need to find a job. And I'm hopefully closer to that.

Until next time,

Nikki

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Job hunting

I've probably posted something called this in the past, but basically this post will be all about job hunting and the associated annoyances.

I've been looking for a full time position for about a year now, thinking that starting while IN school would make me likely to have one when I graduate. It's a Tuesday and I'm posting this at 1PM in my pajamas.

Anyway, so I've done quite a few interviews and submitted countless applications. And I have some ranting to do.

I did on-campus interviews for I think 5 companies while I was in school. Only 2 of them got back to me. I don't mind that TOO much- it's not like it takes a lot of effort for me to stop into the Career Development Center after class in a suit. But still, it's common courtesy.

As for off-campus interviews. I'll start with Company A. Company A is located about halfway between WPI and my house, 45 minutes away from each. They called me in for an interview at the end of April. After class I got into my suit, drove the 45 minutes, and they gave me a whole tour of the place and told me all about the job and what I'd be doing and I met a couple of people. A few weeks later they call me for a phone interview with their corporate office and start asking me what I'm looking for in terms of salary, etc. So I start feeling really good about this job- they don't ask that unless they're REALLY interested. So then they bring me in for another interview, again driving 45 minutes away and meeting 5 different managers and countless other people and learning in detail what all their machines do.

That last interview was at the end of May. I had only really communicated with these people through phone, and I hadn't saved the number so I can't exactly call them or email them. I never heard back.

Company B. This job was 45 minutes from WPI, and  1 1/2 to 2 hours from home. It was a job I wasn't sure about in the beginning, because it wasn't exactly what I was looking for. The owner of the company called me for a phone interview, and we talked for a bit and he said that I seemed comfortable on the phone and he'd like to meet me in person. I go in for an in-person interview, from WPI because I was still living up there at this point. Then he calls me in for a second in-person interview, but this time I was living at home. I drive the 2 hours to get there, he tells me that he needs to wait for another company to give him the OK to hire someone and then he'd contact me the beginning of August. I never heard back.

I understand if you found someone else for the position, I understand if you can't hire someone right now, but honestly you need to just TELL ME. Don't leave me sitting in limbo until I just assume I didn't get the job.I understand that you can choose whoever you want for the job, but honestly, you don't need to treat people who don't meet that standard like they aren't worth a simple courtesy email.

I wish I could work from home. It seems like a pretty good deal, but I'd never be able to in my line of work. Besides, it's not easy to find a reputable work from home company.

So yeah that's my rant for the day.

-Nikki

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Welcome home Bootzie!!

Bootzie came home yesterday, and we are sooooo happy to have her! I made a video blog post for this so you can all see her in all her cuteness!



Enjoy!

-Nikki

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Running

I've never been an athletic person. Never. I mean sure, I played soccer when I was 7 and did ballet when I was 8 or so, but honestly gym has always been my worst subject. Ask anyone who took a gym class with me. I was always chosen last, but I honestly didn't care. It was a necessary evil that I had to put up. Even WPI required me to take some gym classes and I took the easier ones- RAD (rape defense), Leisure activity, Wellness, and Walking for Fitness.

So why now, when I'm done with college and away from mandatory exercise requirements, would I possibly want to start a running routine? Honestly, it's because I'm bored, I'm angry, and I'm getting depressed about the fact that I sit at home all day. I even started studying my old textbooks and doing problems out of them to relieve my boredom.

So I was looking online for some training plans, where you can start from being a total couch potato (or computer chair potato in my case) and be able to run. I found one here at Running World: http://www.runningplanet.com/training/beginning-runner-program.html

And I figured, why not? So I started today with the first day, 30 minutes of walking at an easy pace.

Let's hope this is something I can keep up with and maybe it will help me become more optimistic about life.

-Nikki

Monday, August 9, 2010

A New Journey

A lot has been happening lately... a lot has been going on around me.

And the more I think about it, the more I realize that I have just ended a journey that I began when I was 5 years old- I am no longer a student. I am no longer a child, no longer a teenager, but I am an educated adult.

That doesn't seem to mean much to people looking at my resume, but it has taken me 17 years to get where I am today.

Now I start my life AS an educated adult. There's no more class to go to. No more parties, no more weird apartments, no more exams.

And now I have to figure out what I want to do with my education. I've been thinking a lot lately, I mean seriously, what else do I have to do but think? And I think I've decided that I want to go into alternative energy. I'm constantly thinking about efficiency, how to make things work more efficiently and the bigger picture of how my actions are affecting the environment. And alternative, or renewable energy is really hot right now. So far I haven't found any jobs, but I'm looking.

I really want to make the world better, and I think I've found a way that I can use my engineering degree to seriously help people. I'm excited about it, now I just have to find a place for me.

Maybe this discovery will give me some motivation.

Friday, August 6, 2010

New keyboard and new puppy!

Now I can blog from my desktop in total comfort! I got a beautiful backlit keyboard and let me tell you, it is sexy!

So now I can talk about my boring life.

But actually, I have an announcement! As of August 16th, we will have our very own....

PUPPY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I'm excited, can't you tell!

I mean, seriously, how can you not look at this face and say SQUEE!!!!

She's a Shih Tzu, and we're naming her Bootz (probably to be pronounced "Bootsie" like, Boot-Z, get it? we're dorks.) She's still a bit too small to leave yet, she's 7 weeks but because she was born small the breeder is holding onto her until she's 9.

And before anyone lectures me on getting a dog from a breeder, let me explain.

Allergies run rampant in my family. We have to be very careful in getting a dog as to not bother anyone's allergies, so we have to get a dog that we know the breed of, and that we know won't cause allergy problems. My mom had a Shih Tzu named Muffy so she's familiar with the breed. We looked in all sorts of Shih Tzu rescues but it's really hard to find a puppy in those.

So yeah.. she's totally adorable and we can't wait to make her ours! We got all sorts of stuff yesterday including a bed, a carrier, and some toys!

Trust me, there will be video blogs when we bring her home!

-Nikki

Thursday, August 5, 2010

A story in emoticons

So last night I was talking to John on Skype about him finishing his project (his last bit of work). I decided to tell a story in Skype emoticons. The only thing I sent him was the emoticons, the rest was me telling the story.

He was getting stressed, so I told him to have a beer.


Then I said that when he's done, we'll have cake.


He can have beer with his cake:





Or a cocktail if he prefers:


And the sun will be shining:


And we'll play music!


And there will be dancing:


And... ninjas:


And he'll get a gold star on his project!


And a thumbs up from his professor:


His professor will be rolling on the ground he'll be so happy he finished:


And I'll give him a kiss


And we'll have a big party with all his friends!


And I'll give him a bear hug:
Because I love him so much:


And I'll make a movie about his life!


Then he'll wave to everyone:


And he'll shake hands as he gets his degree:


He'll put on his sunglasses because he's a cool dude


But for now, he has to sweat it out and try not to cry:




The End!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Pictures!

So, as promised, I have some pictures of my new computer and my pedicure!

First, the computer:

Two monitors for the desktop, my laptop on my printer shelf, and my degree and APO life member certificate hanging on the wall with my graduation cap and my cords.

And now, the moment you've all been waiting for, my toes!


Watermelon toes!

Alright, this was kind of a short post, but I've gotta get ready- vacation tomorrow! I'll try and blog while I'm out there, probably some more picture posts!

-Nikki

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Building a computer

I built a computer last week.

For my geeky readers, the specs:
  • 6 core AMD processor
  • 1TB Hard drive
  • 4GB of RAM
  • Windows 7 32-bit
  • DVD-R drive
  • sweet graphics card
  • case that has color-changing fans, red, green, and blue
There's quite the saga that goes along with building this computer.

So I tried to put it together. First, I couldn't get the piece out of the case that's like a placeholder for the actual thing from the motherboard. Jonathan got it out though, and helped me put it together.

So everything was in, the processor heat sink was impossible to put on but we got it on, and we go to put in the RAM. That's when I discover that I got DDR3 RAM for a motherboard only compatible with DDR2 RAM, so I had to order the different kind, and wait 3 days for it to come in.

Once it came in, we installed it and then went to install the operating system. We turned it on, and the hard drive wasn't found- it had become unplugged in our journey to find the missing fan plug (one of the fans wasn't turning on so we had to figure out why- it was connected to a different plug that we hadn't plugged in). So I plugged it in and away we went.

Installing the OS- once we get to the "enter product key" part, it wouldn't accept it. So I called WPI Helpdesk and they helped me fix the problem.

Installing the wireless card- this was the biggest problem. Every time I tried to connect to the internet, my entire house would lose internet- the desktop connected by wire, all laptops, and the desktop I was building. After a lot of running around by myself and Jonathan, I discovered that I had an outdated driver on the disk- there was a new one for Windows 7 that I had to install. Once I disconnected the desktop from the internet, got internet back on my laptop, and downloaded the driver to a flash drive, my new desktop was up and running.

So then there was the monitor thing.

I have a monitor at home that went to my family's old computer that has been collecting dust in the basement. My mom's friend Sue (Hi Sue!) has a monitor that was in her attic, also collecting dust. After getting the whole thing together, Jonathan and I went to Sue's and got the monitor from her (thanks John for climbing into the attic to get it!) and brought it home and hooked it up. It was beautiful- dual screening my fancy new desktop, it's awesome.

The next day, I go to plug my laptop into the power strip everything else is plugged into, and the monitor from Sue turned off. Pressing the button wouldn't turn it back on, nothing worked. The transformer on the power cord had the light on, telling me it WAS getting power, but why it wasn't turning on was a mystery.

The next day I plugged it back in, and it worked and I haven't had a problem since. Weird, right?

So now I'm constantly playing the Sims 3 on the right screen, while surfing the internet and talking on AIM on the left screen, and my laptop on the printer shelf of my desk using Skype because I don't have a webcam on the desktop but I do on the laptop.

My only problem is the keyboard. It's an old one and it's clicky and sticky and I have a hard time typing on it- I'm looking into getting a new one. For now, I'll blog on my laptop.

I know this was long-winded but it's quite the story, if you ask me!

Probably tomorrow, I'll post about my new pedicure, and maybe there will be a few pictures of the new computer with the stuff I finally hung on the wall!

-Nikki

Saturday, June 26, 2010

I wish

I wish I actually had something to blog about.

I wish I could write witty stuff that makes people laugh and will make them want to follow my blog.

I wish I could go to the cool blogging conferences like BlogHer and meet all the cool bloggers who I hope to someday be like.

I wish I had a job, because maybe then I'd have something to write about.

I wish I didn't have to drive 4 hours just to see him.

I wish I could bring him with me when I leave on Tuesday.

I wish I could stop waiting.

I wish I could stop wishing.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Job Hunting

So first of all I realize this blog is still called Senior Year and I've graduated. So... yeah when I think of another clever title I'll either rename it or make a permanent blog that I can write in forever and maybe actually become one of those cool blogger people like The Bloggess or Anissa Mayhew or  Nicole Antoinette who I follow like crazy and think they are all totally awesome! (Also I kinda regret not trying to meet Nicole while I was in San Francisco because I was there and she lives there and it would have been cool).Of course that means I'd have to blog more often than the once to twice a month I've been doing.

So I graduated on May 15 and moved home on May 30 (with a short trip to NY between because John had to do something and he has no car so I had to go with him because he took my car). Why does John have no car?

It died in a fire on March 31. I wish I was joking.

Anyway... job hunting.

I have applied to about 345675321189 jobs in the past year or so. I've had a few interviews, and I had some interviews about 2 weeks ago just before I moved home. They both looked pretty promising but I haven't heard back yet.

I really thought at least one would pan out, but I guess not.

I've started to seriously consider jobs outside my engineering field- I saw a management training type thing that I almost applied to. Maybe I will. What could it hurt?

I look at jobs and they say they need 10-15 years of experience. 15 years ago? I was just ending first grade. 10 years ago? 6th grade. Also, 10-15 years ago technology was completely different! Drives me crazy.

On the other side of things, I painted my room. It now has 3 mint green walls and one turquoise wall to match the bedding set I have. Pics will be taken at some point, I just want to completely finish first. All that's left is to finish the closet, which is almost done! It definitely looks like an adult lives here now. Light purple with butterflies was a little childish for me at this point.

I think this has gotten long enough.

-Nikki

Monday, May 17, 2010

Defining Ourselves

This is what I would have wrote about if I had decided to write a speech for Baccalaureate instead of singing.

Who are you? How do you define yourself? It's a question asked of us even when we don't realize it. And throughout our lives, we have been defined in many ways.

Before I was born, I was already defined- as the child of my parents. Approximately 22 years and 2 months ago, on March 20, 1988, I was born- and defined again, as a girl- a daughter. 20 years ago, I acquired another definition- "older sister". These are ways that not only I define myself, but others, and these definitions are the root of who I am. A daughter, and a sister.

As I went through school, I was defined as a "nth grader", and very much defined in my family as "smart". I was a Catholic High School student. A best friend. As I began to experience music and discover my talents, I was a singer, a pianist.

When I entered WPI, I became "a college student". "An Electrical and Computer Engineering major". In my sophomore year, I became a Brother of Alpha Phi Omega. That same year I gained a new nickname- Jonathan's girlfriend.

Throughout my elementary and middle school years, it was rare for people outside of my family to call me Nikki- I was almost always referred to as Nicole in school. As I started to go through high school, I realized that the name Nikki seemed to fit me better, it was a more fun name than Nicole and I saw myself (and still see myself) as a fun person. Some of my WPI professors would call me Nicole, but at this point, there are people who didn't know at first (*cough Jonathan cough*) my actual name.

Now I've graduated. I'm no longer defined as a student of Electrical and Computer Engineering. I'm defined as an Electrical and Computer Engineer. I'm no longer defined as a WPI student, I'm defined as a WPI alumna. A graduate. A Bachelor of Science.

Some of the ways I define myself will never change. Daughter, sister, APO Brother, cousin, granddaughter, niece. I will acquire new definitions that will stay with me forever- eventually I will become a wife, a mother. Even my name will change.

But right here, today, without a job or any plans in the foreseeable future, I'm having a hard time figuring out how to define myself. As many ways as I know how to, right now, I just can't wait for my next definition.

Employed.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

4 years ends in 2 days

Tonight, I prepare for my last 2 days as an undergraduate student. I think about the past 4 years I've spent here at WPI.

October 2005 I first visited WPI's campus for their Open House. It was a rainy day, but I was intrigued and overwhelmed by everything I had to take in, touring the campus. It's amazing, to this day I remember the way I saw campus that day, and for the life of me cannot figure out where I was- campus was completely foreign. But I felt something click.

December 2005 I submitted my application to my guidance counselor- she would compile and send out the 3 applications.

End of January 2006 I received my acceptance letter, complete with merit scholarship letter.

End of March 2006 I sent in my deposit to officially be in the WPI Class of 2010.

Mid-April 2006 I arrive on campus for the second time, for the closer look open house. A beautiful sunny day, I realize I made the right decision.

June 2, 2006 I cantored the Baccalaureate Mass..

June 4, 2006 I walked across the stage and received my high school diploma.

August 20, 2006 I arrive at Institute Hall to move in and meet my roommates for the first time- we got along pretty well I might say.


Freshman year was amazing and terrifying. Classes were different than I had ever taken, they were faster, more intense and people at school were more intense about them. I questioned my major when I took my first ECE class. I nearly joined a sorority, but decided against it. I wore a goat suit, I met tons of people, and I met Jonathan this year. I was dating someone else at the time, but he intrigued me. We actually met by accident- neither of us had time to check our email before our 12:00 ECE class, so we both went though it was canceled, and started talking. We talked online for the rest of the school year and summer.

Sophomore year, I arrive on campus August 20, 2007, ready to move into Founders Hall and start a new year fresh (and single). Jonathan had offered to help me move into Founders, which I graciously accepted. By the time we were 2 weeks into school, we were a couple. Also during that first week, we had signed up for Alpha Phi Omega, the community service fraternity. Little did I know how the first 2 weeks of sophomore year would change my life forever. The rest of the year is a bit of a blur, pledging APO, NRing my first class (on purpose), having my first 2 APO littles, having to rearrange my schedule at the last minute because of NRing that class, and landing my Cisco internship. The school year ended with me, Jonathan and another friend of ours moving me out of Founders and into my new apartment really quickly, so we could get to the APO retreat.

Junior year was really eventful. The summer before I had spent living here near school to work at Cisco. The year started relatively mildly, with me retaking the class I had NRed in the previous spring along with 2 other classes. In this year, I applied for off-campus MQPs, got denied, then got accepted, started and completed my IQP, dealt with Jonathan having to move super quickly because of an apartment issue, and missed a week of classes due to the flu. I was also the historian for APO in the spring, and I went to the APO National Convention in December- the most amazing experience of my life. This year was the first time I had a term without any C's- and it happened twice, B and C terms!

Senior year started off amazingly- I was finishing my music minor, which I completed in A term, the only term I've ever gotten straight A's. I was Membership Vice President of APO in the Fall semester, which was a huge responsibility which I loved. I NRed another class on purpose- with the professor's blessing, got accepted to graduate school, went away to Silicon Valley, CA for 9 weeks and came back still with my relationship intact and my MQP totally finished, with an A! I'm ending my last 2 days finishing up an ECE lab and taking a Physics exam.

I've changed a lot in the past 4 years, but I think I've figured out who I am and where I want to go. I still don't have a job (which I hate because I'm kind of a control freak) but I'm hoping for one soon.

And to add to my timeline:

May 4, 2010- my last day of classes at WPI.

May 14, 2010- I sing at the Baccalaureate Ceremony.

May 15, 2010- I walk across the stage on the quad and receive my Bachelor of Science in Electrical and Computer Engineering with a Music Minor.

???????????- I get married.

????????????- My first child is born.

(Hey, a girl can dream right?)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

One Month

As of approximately 1:00AM this morning, I have been back on the East Coast for exactly one month.

And what a month it has been. This is probably gonna be a long post.

Let's begin where I left off last time!

The Chinese New Year parade in San Francisco was awesome. I took a crapton of video, but the tape itself is kind of broken, but I'm gonna try to fix it so I can load everything in and post it.

Our last week at SRI was pretty good, we didn't have much to do besides finish up the report and make the presentation. We presented the Thursday, and it went very well- everyone was complimenting us!

I did laundry and packed on Wednesday, save for some outfits to last me the rest of the week. I fit everything in my suitcase- no need for the box I had bought to mail stuff home! It was a tight squeeze to fit everything, but I did it. Friday came and we left work early, since we had nothing else to do, and drove down to the Pacific Ocean. Crazy MQP partner went swimming in the freezing water, but I stayed on dry land. It was beautiful though- it didn't have that strong salt water scent that you get in places like Newport.

Saturday morning I was up bright and early, and MQP partner drove me to the airport. Got there in plenty of time, checked in and got through security in record time. Seriously Boston needs to get this system- they have 2 lanes, one for people traveling with children or who aren't familiar with going through security, and one lane for people who know what they're doing. I was through everything in about 20 minutes.

Plane took off from San Jose no problems, got to Dallas right on time. Check the screen in Dallas to see where my next gate is and guess what? My 2 1/2 hour layover turned into a 5 hour layover. That's right, my plane was delayed 2 1/2 hours. I grabbed some food in the food court and settled in with my computer for a long Skype conversation with Jonathan until my flight home. I got in around 1AM, and after baggage claim and the drive home, got to bed around 3AM.

Spring break was a big waiting game. Jonathan had to go home Saturday night for his brother's birthday party on Sunday. On the way home his car was hit by some gravel, cracking the windshield. He had an appointment to get that replaced on Thursday, but on Tuesday his check engine light came on and he needed a new O2 sensor, and couldn't get an appointment to get that fixed until after the windshield was replaced. However there's a thing with the windshield getting replaced and putting the car on a lift, can't do that for 5 days. He finally made it to see me a week after I got home at my birthday party- he borrowed his dad's car.

So over break I just kind of sat around recovering from the jet lag and just hanging around. Nothing really special. I did get my hair done though- I'm blonde again!

Then school started. Classes are basically like this for me:

ECE class- don't go to lecture, read the slideshows on the website instead, do the labs.

Physics- seriously? It's a freshman level class taught to freshmen- as a senior, I find lecture a waste of time. I have to go to conference though where I hand in my homework, and I have to go to lab because it's lab. Physics labs are pretty easy though, you barely do anything and they're designed to only take an hour.

Um that's it. Besides Walking for Fitness, which is when it's awesome to have an iTouch because there's internet in the gym and on the track.

The weekend of my birthday Jonathan and I went to NYC. It was pretty fun, we walked a lot and he showed me where he worked and stuff. I like cities so it was great!

The following weekend was APO Conclave, which was pretty awesome- learned a lot as usual and got to know the pledges who went a lot better.

Last week the apartment building next to me was on fire, WFD got it under control pretty quickly, but the house is pretty beat up. Unfortunately Jonathan parked his car right under where the debris was falling and got totaled in the process :(. RIP Red Volvo.

Last weekend was Easter so I went home. Easter vigil mass took forever, it was literally almost 3 hours. But Easter Day was pretty fun, I had a good time with my cousins, they're always great. Though the 4 year old was pretending to be me for most of the day, and pretending I was him. It was kind of cool though, he knew relationships between people there- like he knew that my mom was "his mom", and my sister asked to play with him and he said "no, but you can play with my cousin Robbie" and pointed to me.

So that's about it for now- this weekend I have to bring Jonathan back home to NY for a dentist appointment, we're leaving Friday night and coming back here Saturday so we can do APO Iron Chef.

A month later I'm finally used to being home- it actually took about this long to get used to. I felt kind of out of place for awhile there- maybe it's the acceptance that I'm doing graduate school that allowed me to get back into the swing of being in school knowing it's not just only 7 more weeks.

Leave me comments I like them!

-Nikki

Thursday, February 25, 2010

So close- and it feels really good

Today was a roller-coaster.

We got into work, and found out that some of our routines may be wrong. After a lot of drawing on the board and talking things out with each other, we have fixed the problem.

Both of our mentors agree that we are right. Or, at least the one who's always telling us that we're wrong, which means the other one will agree tomorrow morning (hopefully- they like to argue sometimes).

This means that all of the work, the research, design, and engineering work, is complete!

Tomorrow my partner will be creating jpeg images of all the plots that we want to include in our report first thing. Then he will finish the "Methodologies and Implementation" part of the report while I start on the "Data and Results" part. Hopefully that part won't take too long if I can stay focused!

Once he's done with his part and I've written as much as I can for Data and Results, I'll send it over to him so he can make sure that my explanations make sense and will add anything else he thinks is important. Then I'll add some pictures into our presentation, and all that's left is the intro, conclusion, and abstract, and to add the MATLAB code in as an appendix.

Also- something awesome that might happen is that the President and CEO of SRI, also a WPI grad, might come to our presentation! At least he was included in the invitation. That would be pretty awesome!

This weekend we have the Chinese New Year festival in San Francisco. If anyone wants a particular souvenir from SF let me know! Then we're probably gonna go to Palo Alto and Stanford on Sunday to check it out.

That's about it for now- I just feel really good about everything, I'm essentially done with MQP! We got everything done, on time, and done right. I'm crossing my fingers for an A!

Hooray!

-Nikki

Monday, February 22, 2010

Should probably be working

But... I'm really hyper, and I don't know why.

So here's the deal- me and Jonathan ended up fighting over the fact that I try and talk to him too much throughout my day, which I'll admit is true. So instead I've decided not to IM him while I'm at work.

One problem- I'm so close to the end here I can taste it, and because of that I can't concentrate. So I've taken to updating my Facebook status a million times instead of just sending him the random thoughts that go through my head.

My Facebook statuses today- these are only from the last couple of hours!

bored at work... 12 days left!

tomorrow is National Pancake Day!!!! Today is National Margarita Day!!

you know that feeling, like when you're in elementary school and there's only 2 weeks left of the school year and summer is so close that you can taste it and the weather is gorgeous but you have to stay inside and do work for those last 2 weeks? And you can't really concentrate but you're trying soooo hard to? Yeah, that's me right now.

I'm so antsy and impatient today! IM me to distract me...

does anyone know how much webspace WPI gives us?

we're writing MATLAB code for our MQP. How funny would it be if we ended every comment with "Hooray!" ie- load the data- hooray! extract the data- hooray!

So yeah... I've decided that from now on I'll just keep my blog open and post any random thoughts I have throughout the day in it, and then at the end of the day I can just post it and you can see how incoherent and ridiculous I am! And then you can feel bad for my poor MQP partner who's stuck in a small office with a crazy person for the next 2 weeks!

So close!!

Ok now back to work... maybe.

-Nikki

Friday, February 19, 2010

Alcatraz

So we went to Alcatraz on 2/7.

For those of you who don't know what Alcatraz is, it's a former prison that was considered one of the most secure prisons ever. It operated for about 30 years, from the 1930s to the 1960s (I think, don't quote me- look on Wikipedia if you want to know more.)

It was really awesome. I took a lot of pictures. They're all in my Facebook photo album: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2025975&id=1235100042&l=1ae7b7c814

I took a lot of video, and Youtube only allows videos that are 10 minutes long at most, so it had to be split into 2 parts. At one point I realized that it didn't make any sense to be video taping while in the audio tour because I wasn't saying anything and the camera can't hear the audio tour, so I switched to taking stills.

Can I just mention that I hate that it takes me nearly 20 minutes to upload a 6 minute video onto Youtube?





Last weekend I didn't do all that much, but I do have some video of exploring Palo Alto. I still need to upload that though, so expect another post soon.

Happy Friday!


-Nikki

PS- Leave comments here! I like them :)

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Been awhile since my last update

Hi!

I told myself I'd keep up with this thing.. just got a little lazy I guess (and I feel like nobody really reads it!).

Let's see... here's a video from when we went to San Francisco a few weeks ago:



Hmmm.. what else.

Oh the project is going pretty well, had a bunch of roadblocks but I feel like I'm really starting to understand what I'm doing and where I'm going with this, but of course now we have computer problems and software problems.

We're gonna make a little video about our project too! It's very complicated and very involved, so I thought it may be easier for us to explain (especially the coordinate systems) if we filmed ourselves explaining it. Hal from the SRI Helpdesk has offered to let me use a tripod too, so we can really make this look good to submit with our report. Our project will be handed off to next year's students so our report has to be really easy to understand and thorough.

Enough about work.

So I have about 4 weeks left, which is only 19 work days and 28 days! Not a lot of time to pull everything together, but we have plenty of time for sightseeing! Tomorrow we're going to take a tour of Alcatraz in San Francisco, and we'll probably spend some time exploring the city a little bit more. There's some geeky stuff around here that I want to do, like the Tech Museum in San Jose.

I met some APO brothers last week! I went to their meeting last Sunday, and after the meeting they invited me to In n' Out burger with them and then they gave me a ride home, which was really awesome. They were from San Jose State University. I'll hopefully see them again before I leave! They don't have a meeting this week, and I contacted the Stanford chapter and they don't have a meeting this week either but I may go to Stanford's meeting next week if they have one because I want to meet them too! They invited me to one of their ceremonies yesterday but I had to work.

I think that's enough of an update for now- oh! New development- I have discovered that I really like sushi. I didn't think I liked it, I've tried some of it before but I've found stuff that I like which is pretty awesome. I've also gotten really good at using chopsticks, there are a lot of Asian restaurants around here so I'm learning!

Ok, that's enough for now- hopefully tomorrow I'll have some awesome video about Alcatraz.

-Nikki

PS- Hi to my APO chapter! I miss you all!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

I'm tired of preparing for life

I just want to start living it.

This has been my motto basically all day. When I was in elementary/middle school I was preparing for high school. High school was preparing me for college. College is preparing me for a job. I had to do a whole course just of preparation for this project. Now I'm here, working on a project for school, and then I'll go back to school and take more courses to prepare me for life.

I want to finish this project. I want to finish school in May, graduate, and start my life. I want to get a job, in my field, close to where Jonathan gets a job. I want to get married, and have babies. I want to stop preparing for life and start experiencing everything life has to offer!

I know some people who are older and done with school would tell me I'm crazy, that they would love to go back to school and not have the responsibility they have now. But honestly, I've been in school for 17 years. It's time to live.

I'm ready.

I'm waiting.

It's time.

-Nikki

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Of transportation and San Fransisco

Probably will post some video later.

This weekend I went to San Fransisco. We walked around a lot, didn't really do all that much. Maybe I'll go back this weekend to explore some more. It's a big place!

Transportation in California:

I don't think I've posted much about it. Most of the travel we have done has been by the Caltrain. SRI covered the cost of a monthly Caltrain pass, which lets us go between 2 "zones" on weekdays and anywhere on the Caltrain (San Jose to San Fransisco) on the weekends. Really nice, lots of stops, can get basically anywhere you want!

However, my MQP partner has a car. Every once in awhile we'll drive from our apartments to SRI, which is about a 20 minute drive. We can use the carpool lane on the highway, which travels significantly faster!

I miss my car. I feel like I've lost some of my independence without it. I have to relay on the train and Sebastian to get anywhere.

I wish I had my car out here because, after driving in MA for so long, I'm surprised about some things about roads in CA.

-There actually exists such a thing as left turn lanes- at every left turn!
-No one ways- streets actually go 2 way- and there's enough room for BOTH cars!

Among other things. Also, people aren't crazy. You get cut off less. People don't go as fast. This may just be my perception as a passenger though.

Oh and another thing- cross walks. There are actually crossing symbols that work! They don't seem to feel the need to stop all ways of traffic for someone to cross! And if there is just a crosswalk and no button- people stop! You aren't waiting forever to cross the street.

That's really all for now- I'm actually pretty homesick but I will be on a plane in 45 days!

Special shoutouts

Hi Mom!
Hi Dad!
Hi Katie!
Hi Grandma!
Hi Grandpa!
Hi Sheryl!
Hi Jeff!
Hi Julia!
Hi Robbie!
Hi Bug bug (Elianna!)
Hi Memere!
Hi Pops!
Hi Sue!
Hi Alita!
Hi Liz!
Hi other people from Mom's work who happen to be reading this/listening to this being read!

And of course
HI JONATHAN!!!!

I miss you all! I will be home soon with lots of adventures to tell you all about! And pictures! And video!

-Nikki

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Saga of Exercise and Heels

So if you know me then there are probably a couple things you've noticed.

1. I don't wear heels, ever. I can almost always be found wearing sneakers, unless it is a special occasion.

2. I'm lazy. I don't live too far from campus, but I can be found driving up because I'm too lazy to walk.

3. I have a bad knee, which I hurt in high school. It acts up when I walk too much. Sometimes I wear a brace. I cannot find my brace.

I have done a lot of walking while I've been here. Walking to train stations, wandering around San Jose, wandering around Mountain View... my legs have gotten a lot of exercise.

I wear heels to work because that completes the whole "business casual" look.

This weekend, my knee was KILLING me. I'm picking up a brace my next trip to the drugstore. Today, I got home from work and took off my shoes and walked around. My legs hurt a little. There are muscles there that I didn't know I had.

Now I lay in bed, and my legs feel strange.

Oh and work? Don't get me started. I wish someone had some semblance of a clue what ANYTHING means and what we're supposed to be doing. Because I don't. Hopefully the next couple of days bring some clarity. And the next couple of weeks go quickly. And March 6th comes and I'm home, with my family and my Jonathan, my MQP behind me.

Loving and missing you all!

Special hello to my mom's coworkers who apparently all read my blog! I have a fan base! Woot!

-Nikki

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Let's Open up a restaurant in San Jose...

OK maybe not.

We did go to the car show though! We (7 of us) took the train down to San Jose and went to the car show in the San Jose Convention Center. It was huge, pretty awesome even though I'm not into cars, and I got to test drive a Chevy Equinox which was pretty awesome. I'm not picky with cars, I don't know much about them, but any SUV that gets 32 MPG (highway) catches my eye right away! Here's a picture of the one I test drove:






Isn't is preeeeeeetty? Anyway, then Nicole and I went to lunch at Johnny Rocket's and got some massive burgers, and we met up with the boys and all went to a happy hour at a Chinese restaurant.

This was going to have video, but on the train I pulled out my camera and found that I had left the battery in the charger, in the apartment! Oh well... another time.

Today we're going to lunch, then finding a mall to wander around.

Miss you all at home, see you in 8 weeks! To be perfectly honest I'm not crazy about my project and I'm seriously regretting taking this instead of the design project I had lined up. Oh well.. live and learn. Hopefully the next 8 weeks go by fast, and I'll be done with MQP!!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Earthquake!

Yes, I have experienced my first Earthquake.

No, I didn't run around screaming, as I'm sure people would expect me to. It actually kinda of excited me. Once I found out it was actually an earthquake, that is.

I was in mine and Sebastian's office, talking to a couple people when we felt this shudder. It only lasted maybe 2-3 seconds, and my first thought was "We're in California! That was an Earthquake!". But I didn't say anything because, well, it tends to go that I say stuff like that and people are like.. what are you talking about it was just ____!

So I figured it may have just been people moving some furniture or heavy equipment upstairs (it reminded me a bit of when the boys above my room freshman year would jump around upstairs). Then someone was around saying "did you feel the earthquake? They say it was a 4.2 magnitude!". Then Prof. Finkel emailed us about it.

We also finally got our desktop computers today! So now we can start doing real work!

-Nikki

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

First day at SRI!!

So a little about yesterday, and some video from yesterday too! Woot first video blog post!

Yesterday I went to eBay with the 5 people who are working there. I didn't have anything else to do, so I figured I'd see the sites. It takes like an hour and a half to get there on the light rail, (see the video- I show a map!) so we got to see a lot of different companies. We wandered around eBay for awhile, went to CVS, then headed back to Mountain View and got Vietnamese food for lunch. I successfully ate an entire meal with chopsticks for the first time ever! Usually I give up and ask for a fork.



Today was mine and Sebastian's first day at SRI. We got there, got our badges, toured around the place, met the people we will be working with, and got to go to a staff meeting. We made a schedule on our white board, had lunch with our people, got our train passes, and read a paper for 3 hours. It is a long and intense paper.

We also got to meet some cool people, especially the WPI graduates! Such as the President and CEO of SRI, Curt Carlson, and some other staff members. It was pretty excellent, just meeting people and figuring out what we're doing.

Tomorrow we get our computers, and the real work starts. There was a bit of a mix up with the Helpdesk there (they thought we weren't coming until February!)

So I'm having fun out here, it's relatively warm but still a bit chilly for my tastes (I know you people shoveling snow probably hate me for complaining that the 55 degree weather is cold!). I miss you all!

By the way, I love it when people comment on stuff, so please comment away!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Finally in Cali!

So yesterday was quite the adventure.

I woke up at 4AM (Eastern time). Got everything ready, and my parents drove me to the airport in Boston in the snow. It took us awhile to get there, and while I was in line to check in for my plane they jumped me ahead because my flight was getting ready to board. Checked my luggage in, found Nicole, and we got in line for security.

After a tearful goodbye with our parents, we got through security with minimal problems (Nicole's bracelets don't come off so she had to be manually checked). We got to the gate just before they called us to board.

We weren't sitting together, but I had a window seat next to a guy who just slept the whole time. I was right on the wing!



Anyway, so we were a bit delayed leaving because we had to be deiced, and we had only about 20 minutes to get from Gate D to Gate C in Dallas. Luckily there is a tram type thing that brings you between gates inside security, which leaves every 2 minutes.

So we got on the plane just in time, I think we may have been the last to board! I had another window seat next to a girl who was going back to school in California after spending Christmas in Dallas, where she lives. I also got to see the Grand Canyon from the plane! That was pretty awesome.

When we got to San Jose, it took awhile for our luggage to come out, but we got it with no problems. We met up with some of the boys from WPI there and they had gotten a limo van service, so we jumped in with them. When we got to the apartments they had some trouble finding our reservation, but we called Professor Finkle and he came down to help us.

The apartments are nice, I'll post some pics later. There are two bedrooms with two twin size beds, two nightstands, two closets, a large dresser and a TV, with an attached bathroom. Between the bedrooms is a living room area with couches, a desk, and a TV, and the kitchen has everything we need to cook.

Nicole and I went food shopping last night, which probably wasn't the best idea because we were tired and hungry so we sounded like two stoned people with the munchies going through the market. Things are a little more expensive out here!

Once we got back we finally got our paperwork to get connected to the internet, then I completely conked out. I was trying to talk to Jonathan and I was like yeah.. this really isn't working, I need to sleep. It was only 9PM here, but I'd been up since 4AM Eastern time- 1AM Pacific time! It was definitely time to sleep.

So here I am, 8AM, letting you all know that I am here in Mountain View, I am safe, glad to be out of the snow, and missing you all terribly. I start work at SRI tomorrow though!

-Nikki