Wind Turbines, Costa Coffee & Imbesullens (an update from Yours Truly)

Well hello there!

Yeah yeah, I know it’s been a while, and I’m super sorry about that. Second year is a lot more hectic than first year…which sounds like I’m pointing out the obvious, but I really didn’t realise exactly how bad my schedule was going to be at the beginning of the year. And alas, I haven’t had much time to keep you guys in the loop.

So first thing’s first: design project. As I’m sure I’ve mentioned in a previous post (aha – here we go!), our group project was to design and manufacture a wind turbine out of a 1.0m x 0.5m x 0.7mm thick crappy aluminium sheet. Well, last week we finally had a finished prototype and got to see it in action during the performance test:

Our baby in the wind tunnel!

Although the braking system didn’t work (we’re still baffled as to why since it worked in the practice test), I was a proud mama watching as it generated 10.4W of power at wind speeds of 15m/s. If you consider the fact that the other groups that day got 8mW, 0.45W, 9.7W and 10.6W, we didn’t do too shabbily. Still, damn that group that pipped us!

Now all the rest of the groups have been. Out of 24 groups we generated the second highest power at 15m/s (again, damn that group that pipped us!), and only four groups managed to get their braking system to work (and two of those were manually done). To those four groups, I say bravo.

Tomorrow is the final loading test, where a 10kg load will be applied to our structures in the direction of the wind. Fingers crossed our structure won’t be one of many to buckle. Our simulations and calculations say that it’ll withstand the load, but you just never know.

Speaking of Engineering, guess who’s secretary of the Engineering Society nowwww? Yeah, I got back to my room after being voted into the committee and thought, “Shit, what have I done?” I ALWAYS do this to myself! When I feel like I’ve got a lot on my plate, what do I do? Add more to it! Yeah, like there’s any logic in that! But what’s done is done now, and there’s nothing I can do about it. I’m also directing a short play that I’ve written for Friday’s Proteus, and it’s the first time I’m directing, and then I’ve also got my lab report and design portfolio due on the Friday as well…gahhh! Why do I do this to myselffff?!

And to top it all off, I’ve got a terrible case of Lazyitis! I’m procrastinating like never before. I’ve watched a good number of the films that I’ve been wanting to see for ages: Limitless (I want that drug!), Rise of the Guardians (I want Jack Frost!…without the cold), Good Will Hunting (I want his brain! (no zombie-ness intended)), Frozen (I want…yeah, nothing from that film…maybe the ability to sing…).

But guys! His mischievous, fun, yet caring personality just ironically warms my heart!
Does it help that I found that attractive before I considered he’s actually quite a good-looking animated character?

And then I’ve made my life even worse by finding these ridiculous YouTube videos that fans of Rise of the Guardians have put up:

Comedian Brian Regan – Stupid at School
Comedian Brian Regan – Loitering and Manslaughter
Comedian Dane Cook – Speak & Spell and Simon

It might just be me who’s nearly crying with laughter, sorry I’m not sorry. They’re helping me cope with life! MOOSEN!!!!

And then I also found the Reid Oliver Cartoons (remember I’m lamely in love with the character Dr Reid Oliver from As The World Turns even 4 years after the show was cancelled?) made by a girl in Manchester – not too far away from my home! Ahh, those have had me chuckling too!

I think I might’ve lost the plot…though my mum and my friends say that I never had it.

Eight days ago, a man shouted at me as he drove past in his car, “You’re gonna die in seven days!”. I don’t care if I just drop dead now; at least I’ll be able to come back as a ghost, find him, and rub it in his face that he was about 24 hours out. True story.

I’m sorry, I’m going a little off topic with this post. But then again, this is an update, so I guess I can write whatever the hell I want. Sorry.

Can you tell I’ve had a lot of caffeine? I’ve been going coffee crazy lately so that I can meet all my deadlines, but it was today in Costa when I really got a caffeine hit. I’ve never been in Costa before until today. I’ve been stuck in the Library basement all day every day for so long that I just hate the Library, so one of my housemates suggested meeting her at Costa to get work done – at least I’d be able to eat and drink coffee openly there. After three hours and two cups of coffee I’d gotten a fair bit done and I decided to go back to the house when all of a sudden…WHAM! All of a sudden my pulse was racing and I wasn’t quite myself. It was kind of how I’d expect to feel if I was on drugs; it was weird. I must’ve looked a complete and utter idiot walking back to the house:

Naughty naughty Costa coffee…

That’s probably the last time I’m having Costa coffee.

Oh yeah! I’ve also dyed my hair purple! I felt like a change, so change happened. It’s quite subtle. In fact, I haven’t managed to take a picture where you can actually tell that it’s purple yet.

Attempt #1
Attempt #63

Trust me, it’s purple. I should know.

So yeah, that’s pretty much my life so far. I might be able to post a bit more after Friday since I will have finished my second semester! Although I will be powering on with my internship at Vulcan To The Sky Trust, so maybe not. That’s going pretty well, and now that it’s nearing the summer air shows it’s gonna be a lot busier; I can’t wait to get stuck in! University has been taking over, but as long as I keep time for revision I’m sure I’ll be able to juggle the both of them during these hols. Unfortunately it means I’m not going to be home much, which sucks since I really miss my family, but they understand, and my mum especially is 100% behind me on this. Yeah, my mum’s pretty darn amazing. She’s getting so spoiled this Mother’s Day!

Anyway, I think that’s all from me. I’m going to get on with some of my lab report now: Twin Rotor MIMO Systems. Interesting, but complex and often confusing.

What have you been up to lately? Let me know in the comments section or something. Oh, and keep smiling!


A Change of Lent

In Britain, Lent is a big deal that the majority of people – Christian or otherwise – still do before Easter. I don’t know if other countries do Lent (I only just found out today that a lot of Christian countries don’t), but for us it’s still very much a tradition.

For years I have given up indulgences such as chocolate and alcohol for Lent, but this year I wanted a new challenge. So I was going to give up forks and spoons and use chopsticks instead.

I know, I’m crazy.

Then a friend told me that that was dumb and suggested that I give up hugs instead (I am very much a hugger). But then I felt like I was offending other friends by denying them hugs, and it’s pretty darn awkward just shaking hands with them!

Which is when one genius friend told me today that instead of losing something for Lent, he tries to gain something from it instead, and every day of Lent he will try something new.

So that’s it. From now on, every Lent I am going to try to learn – or start to learn – something new. And this year it’s going to be my British Sign Language Level 1. I started learning BSL Level 1 back in Sixth Form until my teacher had to leave, so this will make sure that all those lunch times don’t go to waste. I’ve signed up for the BSL online course, and considering it’s costing me £19.99, it will give me that extra motivation to stick to it.

I haven’t properly looked at how much content Level 1 covers, but for now I’m going to either be realistic or really unrealistic when I say that I hope to have covered two of the three modules by the end of Lent. Wish me luck!

Do you guys do Lent? What are you giving up this year? Or are you doing things a little differently too?

Keep smiling!


Time of Your Life (5 years since Sian died)

Five years ago today my friends and I learned that a wonderful girl in our year – Sian Butcher – had lost her fight with cancer and had passed away at just 14 years of age. She was our friend, and about the kindest person I’ve ever met. She was there for me when I felt like I had no one, and when people were horrible to her she just seemed to wave away their insults like they were nothing. She cared for anyone who needed someone, more often than not with some sort of funny remark or joke at hand, and she was simply the last person in our school who should have been dealt the hand she was. It’s something that still gets to me even now.

I feel a whole cocktail of different emotions when I think of Sian. I feel sad because she was so young when she found out she had cancer, and far too young to die. I still feel the same anger I felt when she told me about the small minority of people at our school who laughed and jeered, “Sian’s got cancer in her arse!” like cancer is just some big joke that can be removed as easily as an ingrown hair or a mole.

But most of all I feel a whole lot of guilt and regret because I wasn’t as good a friend as she deserved.

That’s the thing about Sian. She was smart, caring, funny, and had a calm aura about her. But she was also really under-appreciated, and I still hate myself for the fact that I was one of many who didn’t appreciate her as much as we should have. I don’t know why I was that way. Neither of us were popular, nor did we care about getting in with that sort of crowd. We could’ve been more than just friends through Maths class and catching up because of the odd bumping-into-one-another near the IT block. We could’ve been the best of friends if I hadn’t been so…I don’t know. Maybe it’s all in my head and it’s just the way things panned out, but there’ll always be a part of me that will think, “What if I’d made more of an effort with her?”

I remember a few months before she died she came to visit us all at school. It had been over a year since most of us had seen her. My friends and I were in the lunch hall when a girl in our year came bursting in telling us that Sian was on the middle yard. I remember leaving all my things and racing off to find her in her wheelchair, surrounded by a crowd of teachers and pupils. She’d had to have one of her legs amputated, but she was more pissed off that she’d had to lose her long hair due to chemotherapy – typical Sian.

I thought I was getting a second chance to be a friend she deserved.

I’d given her my number and we were keeping in touch after that. We’d made plans for me to visit her and I’d bought her a pair of fingerless gloves that matched a skull bandanna she’d gotten from one of the teachers the day she came in. We’d been catching up in a classroom and she tied that one around her head and the other one – a star print bandanna – around her remaining leg, saying something about how it could be the latest fashion. I had made a silent pact there and then to stop being a sort-of-there friend and show her how loved she was, and how appreciated she was.

I received a text from her saying she was too unwell for me to visit, and a month or so later she was gone. I took her gloves to her funeral and placed them on her grave with a letter to her and her family.

What’s comforting to know is that she was Sian right to the very end. Her coffin was biodegradable (she always did love nature) with a design of dinosaurs in the jungle, and her grave is marked with a wooden cross, surrounded by windmills and fairies and other things that people have put there that remind them of her. It’s the most beautiful thing to stand out in the graveyard, yet also the most heart wrenching.

Her death hit us all really hard; I know that even those who had bullied her or had even just once said something cruel to her regretted it probably still do now. Our school have a bench and a bird feeder on the grounds as a lasting memorial for her, which I think she would’ve loved. A good friend of hers at school started a Facebook group for all who knew her so that we can post messages, photos and memories – just remember her. And every birthday, Christmas, New Year and…2nd March, the page is filled with loving messages to her, or the lyrics to one of her favourite songs: Good Riddance (Time of Your Life) by Green Day.

But I will always be haunted by the what ifs.

I know that Sian understands and forgives me for the silly, selfish little girl I was back in high school. But I want her and her family to know that although I didn’t bully her, and I was never cruel to her, I was still not good enough to her and I will always regret that. I know I can’t change the past, and I know I’m too late for Sian, but I hope I have proven – and will continue to prove – how sorry I am, and that I have changed so that I will never under-appreciate someone ever again.

And to my friends who read this: I don’t want pity, or reassurance that I was a good person in high school or that I’m a good person now or anything like that. I just want you to know that I love every single one of you with all my heart, and if you ever feel like I don’t appreciate you feel free to tell me. I don’t want anyone to feel like that ever again.

In the meantime, I will be listening to the song that was played at her funeral, and remembering the girl who I feel honoured to call my friend, and who deserved so much more from life and from us.

Rest in peace, Sian.