I recently decided to be more serious about learning a new language, and between the two that I already am familiar with, Chinese and French, I chose Chinese. My goal is to become fluent within six months, so we'll see how I've progressed by September 1st.
I've learned that the best way to learn a new language is just to speak it, mistakes and all. The best thing about being a college student is that there are many, many international students to practice with. I have already made several friends this semester.
Learning Mandarin is not half as hard as it is made out to be. Yeah, you have to watch your tones, but even that is pretty easy once you get a feel for it. But the grammar and vocabulary make so much sense and are much simpler than western languages. For instance, no verb conjugation or tenses, no masculine/feminine shenanigans, etc. Where it is difficult, however, is character recognition. But thanks to pinyin, the Romanized system of spelling Chinese, I don't have to worry about it until later.
I have been looking forward to an Ender's Game movie for a loooooong long time. Finally they have made one.. Terrified to see it, because it would be so easy to turn Ender's Game into something it's not. Also the story is rather disturbing and a literal translation to the big screen would most likely earn a thumbs down from me. I hope they are subtle. That's like saying I hope it will rain in the Mojave Desert. But I can hope.
P.S. I'm writing a book right now. More than that I will not say, because I hate to build expectations before I have a finished product.
I got in to work early yesterday because Scaled Composites and Virgin Galactic were planning the first powered flight of SpaceShipTwo and I wanted to be there to see it. The flight was a complete success! They did a 15 second burn on their hybrid engine and reached supersonic flight.
My coworkers had written down Scaled's frequencies and were listening in on their communications during the flight. It made for a wonderful narration for the video.
All those years of tracking model rocket flights paid off and I took a rather nice shot of the drop and ignition, all the way from nearly 50,000 feet:
I snapped this shot just as one of the chase planes was crossing the moon:
A big congratulations to Scaled Composites, Virgin Galactic, and everyone in the New Space Industry for this awesome achievement!
Scaled Composites appears to be gearing up for a powered flight of their SpaceShipTwo this Monday or Tuesday. This is a very exciting time to be in New Space! The results of this flight will have a significant impact on the industry as a whole.
I watched White Knight II flying around with SS2 in tow, but I didn't get to see SS2 glide in by itself. They tend to do their drop tests early in the morning before I get in to work.
Earlier this April I went out the the F.A.R. site for some fun experimental rocketry. Before I got there apparently there had been a hypergolic rocket test of nitrogen tetroxide and hydrazine (for those of you that don't know, these are some VERY dangerous chemicals!) Another guy had put together a baby P-class motor (pictured above). As I watched it fire, I realized that I have been spoiled on XCOR's Lynx engine (each engine produces 3000 lbs of thrust with a maximum duration of 3 minutes!). Previously I would have done a backflip to see a P motor but now I feel rather indifferent. In a way it's kind of sad, but at the same time it also goes to show how awesome life is right now.
As I mentioned in a previous post, I recently got involved in another project, called the Sugar Shot to Space (SS2S) and am working on some electronics for a flight they are planning early this fall.