Thursday, January 6, 2011


School did not start this week, yet I've spend everyday chained to my desk working diligently. Though I have no homework, I have something even more important: a research deadline.

My research involves designing (and fabricating when necessary) the attitude determination and control system for a student made satellite. This satellite is being built as part of the University Nanosat Program, which is basically a student satellite competition. That competition final (called Flight Competition Review or FCR) is on January 17th.

In case you've never been around a bunch of engineering grad students preparing for a major deadline, I can sum it up for you in two words: chaos and panic. We might seem calm. We might just be sitting on our desks working on one of the three posters we have to have, but our minds our reeling as we try to fathom everything we have to get done in the week we have left.

It's true that January 17th is more than a week away, but as of today we only have a week left. Because we have to drive to Albuquerque, where the FCR is. Why aren't we flying? Well....let's just say that none of us trust a satellite to be put under an airplane. That and the torque rods aren't allowed to fly until actual time for space flight, because time in the air can mess with the annealing we had done.

Albuquerque is really really far away from Georgia Tech. According to Google maps, the trip is going to take us about 23 hours, or 11.5 hours a day. That's not including meals, getting gas, and other rest stops.

So while we're preparing for the chaos and insanity that is FCR, we also have to prepare a roadtrip. Next Thursday is solely dedicated to packing the satellite.

For me preparation also requires one other thing. Books. Lots and lots of books.

I've done a lot of roadtrips with my family (roadtrips, moving, tomato, tomahto), and the best way for me to get through them is to read. However, I also read really really fast. So it's necessary that I get a couple of books. What's on my list for the total 46 hours (if you count both ways) I'm going to be in the car?

  1. XVI by Julia Karr: If you like YA dystopian books, you should be following the League of Extraordinary Writers. If you like to write books, you should be following the League. In general, you should probably be reading the League. Julia Karr is the first of the League to get published this year. I've been dying to read this book since I first heard about it, and the temptation to read this book before my road trip has been overwhelming. I will not give in! But it will be the first book I read on my trip.
  2. The Scorch Trials by James Dashner: This is the sequel to Maze Runner, which left me completely hanging. Will Thomas and the Gladers survive yet another test? What has happened to the world? And are those crazed people zombies? So many questions. I hope this book will answer them all.
  3. I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore: This book has a movie coming out, and as a rule I like to read the book before the movie. I'm not even entirely sure what it's about. All I know is three people are dead, and the narrator of this book is going to be next. Seems interesting.
  4. Beastly by Alex Flinn: Yet another book with a movie coming out soon, and a movie that has one of my favorite actors in it: Neil Patrick Harris. He doesn't play the main character, but he's in it. It's a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, in the modern world. I love Beauty and the Beast, so I'm sure I'll love this book.
  5. Alcatraz and the Shattered Lens by Brandon Sanderson: The long awaited book four of the Alcatraz series! I need to know what happens! NEED TO KNOW! This might require me rereading all the other books on the trip as well. But I'm cool with that. I have plenty of time. Though the Alcatraz books have a tendency to make me literally laugh out loud. I hope the other people in the car don't think I'm crazy.
  6. The Soldier Son Trilogy by Robin Hobb: I've never read a Robin Hobb book, but she's published a lot of books and the back of the first book of this trilogy sounds really interesting. And it's epic fantasy written in first person. When does that ever happen? I also felt the need to round out my reading list with my usual genre. Epic fantasy. Yum.
So here's how I imagine this going down. I'll read books 1 - 3 on the first day. They're all YA, and I can read a YA book in about three hours or less. So that's about 9 hours of reading. Eventually it'll get dark and I won't be able to read anymore unless I find a light, so for those hours I'll just have to suffer. I imagine that the second day I'll read book 4 and reread the entire Alcatraz series. There may be four books, but they're MG, so even smaller than YA. Then on the ride back I'll read the three books in 6. I may not make it through all three. They're kind of long (we're talking on the order of 600 pages). It depends on how good they are. I read the Mistborn trilogy in 2 days, so its possible.

Then when I get back on January 21st, I will write reviews of all these books plus some others I've read and forgot to review. So be prepared. There is going to be a mass of book reviews posted on this website very soon.

Oh, and don't worry. I'm going to be in Albuquerque for a while, but I'm going to write all my posts for that time in advance and schedule them to post on the regular Tuesday/Thursday schedule.

Albuquerque here I come.

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