30 September 2008

Off to Colorado

GHC08 - Wednesday, 1 October

Yesterday at a ridiculous hour of 5:30a, Adam and I headed to the airport. I was quite sad to part from him for what will total to four nights (possibly three = ), but the trip (the GHC, details in a moment) I was embarking on has already changed my life as a woman in a technical field. The trip to the Keystone Resort in Colorado was smooth, but long: to Indy airport, to Denver (no lay-overs!), shuttle to resort, shuttle to room (because the resort is enormous). The suite I am sharing with Jen Russo is extremely nice; I was particularly impressed with the well-equipped kitchenette (they even had salt and a dishwasher!

My networking started early on during my trip. At the airport while I was waiting for the shuttle I met a Sowmya (IBM, India), and Shanna (Ph.D. Candidate, Berkeley, CA). I was pleasantly reminded of Australia when Sowmya said "haytch" for the pronounciation of the letter "h" - that would be British English, which is spoken in India and Australia alike. I also met and chatted with three women from IU (woo hoo, Indiana folks). I explained my idea of the difference between CS and C&IT, shared my Study Abroad experience with them, and learned that IU was working towards making an abroad experience a requirement for degrees there.

(Photo of Rear Admiral Grace Hopper) For those who are unfamiliar with the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing conference (GHC), let me tell you about it: Grace Hopper was an extraordinary woman. She was a Rear Admiral in the US Navy, and was quite a spunky woman. Here is a clip of her that really expresses her wonderful personality. She worked on Mark 1 at Harvard, the first computer in the US. Grace once said, "it is much easier to apologize that to get permission." That is one of my favorite quotes, and it is very Grace Hopper. Another fascinating lady involved in the GHC is Anita Borg. She founded the Anita Borg Institute (ABI) with Telle Whitney. This not-for-profit organization works and succeeds at promoting women in Technology and connecting women to Technology. The ABI puts together the GHC, the first conference of which was held in Washington, DC in 1994 with 500 women attendees. The conference now caps off at 1400!

This year's conference is held in Keystone, Colorado at the Keystone Resort. The theme is "We Build a Better World." The word "we" was chosen specifically to demonstrate unity; and the focus is on women's contributions to a better world in all kinds of ways: psychologically, environmentally, and, of course, technologically. In fact, the reason Keystone Resort was chosen as the facility is because it's excellence in recycling and green efforts.

On the way to the resort I noticed some brilliant gold trees speckling the mountains. These trees are known as Quaking or Trembling Aspens. One of the IU ladies explained that the trees have great root systems that aid them in fire disaster recovery. Pretty cool, and very beautiful. Also on the mountain and among the Aspens are pine trees. It is very unfortunate that an insect known as the Mountain Pine Beetle has been sweeping through. The same lady informed me that in New Mexico the same pines have been wiped out entirely. I have witnessed the dead grey and dying brown pines in the Colorado mountains, and it's pretty sad, even with the sunny-hued Aspens sprinkled in.

(Top: Slope Side suite building that I'm staying in, Middle: a beautiful view outside my suite, Bottom: a view of the ski slopes behind the suite building) After I got settled in to the suite, I was planning on going for a run around the resort. Unfortunately it didn't happen, thank you, high altitude of almost 2 miles. I was winded after hauling my duffle bag up some stairs... hmph. So no run yesterday. And, no run today - what? I couldn't sleep last night - I tossed and turned more than ever since yearning for Christmas morning presents as a child. I think it's because I was dehydrated and my body was coping with a rather large change in atmosphere, so I didn't run this morning. There won't be time through the day either. I'm planning to run tomorrow morning, pending a decent night's rest.

After deciding against a run yesterday afternoon, I met up with Candice (a first-timer GHC attendee) and Julie (the professor who is taking me, Candice, Stephanie (second-timer), and Jen (also a first-timer). Stephanie was interviewing with Lockheed Martin (woot!) while Candice and Julie hit a grocery store for a few things, and I grabbed some tasty soup and a jalapeno bagel at a marvelous little coffee/book shop called Inxpot. I fell in love, and I really hope I have an opportunity to visit again before the trip concludes. Once Stephanie was finished interviewing, the three of us headed to Julie's suite to kill some time before the New Comer's meeting.

We shuttled to the conference center, checked in, and browsed the company booths, picking up gobs of SWAG (stuff we all get), and mingled with other women. This was my third New Comer's meeting, so I knew what was going to be said, but I always enjoy going because it keeps me focused on why I'm here, and that is to network with other women in Technology. And that's what makes the GHC so cool for me: it's all about socializing with people who know where you're coming from, who can support you, who can learn from you, who can grow with you. It's very cool.

Next up was the Poster Session. The first two years of coming to the conference I just looked around at the posters; maybe I stopped to hear about one or two. Not very effective, really. This year I took a different approach. The posters are outlined in the GHC booklet, and I looked through and made a list (complete with check boxes) of the posters I was interested in. They were all very cool to learn about. One lady from New Zealand (awesome!) spoke about "Engendering" Technology and how women perceive the challenges of being a woman in the field. For example, one group of women say it's not worth the effort - obviously they make no progress. A second group looks at it as a challenge and finds drive in that idea; these women also resist giving up and are very resilient. The final group prospered because they welcomed the challenge and had the best attitude, and that's what I took away from her poster: it's all about attitude. = )

When I was done browsing the posters and snacking on the delicious hors dourves, I shuttled back to my room, got ready for bed, had a lovely chat with Adam, and, like I mentioned earlier, tried to get a good night's rest. Check back for a post on Thursday's happenings!


28 September 2008

Summer 2008

As overdue as this post is, I really want to recap my Summer 2008, starting with my return to the USA and ending just before the start of school.

I flew back into Indianapolis on Sunday, 29 June. It was the longest flight journey I've ever had, but more on that in my Australia blog that I've yet to finish. By the way, there's a perfectly good reason why I've not finished the blog yet, and that reason is that I don't want the trip to be over; I'm just not ready for that right now...

So I get in Sunday evening and am greeted warmly by my parents and Adam. I can't put into words the wonderful wave of happiness I felt when I saw them for the first time in so long! They had flowers for me, and took me to the one place I wanted to go upon returning to the USA: Steak 'N Shake. I had a delicious meal, great conversation, great company and an unbeatable, dearly missed milk shake. The evening was a bit sad when I had to say good-bye to Adam: he had a full-time job to attend to, and I was heading up to Anderson to visit with family and friends in that area. In just a few days I would be visiting him in just three days' time, so the first few days back were set for catching up with family.

Monday I slept but not as much as one might expect. I was up around 10a every day of my first week back. I had a lot to do in the next three weeks. A LOT of laundry and packing/unpacking. It really sucked when I realized I'd be living out of a suitcase for the summer after having done so as often as I had in the last half-year.

Mom and I spent a lot of time together while I was readjusting to life at home. I helped out with the daycare (man, I'd missed those little buggers), and we did yoga and ran. Daddy took me to the Texas Roadhouse for our evening together (mmm, cinnamon butter). I had a delicious steak that I'd been craving for several months. It was splendid to catch up with my parents in person. Skype is nice, but it's not the real thing.

Finally, Thursday arrived and I went to Indy to visit Adam! I can't tell you the joy I felt when I was able to spend time with him again. Oh, how I had missed him! That evening we hosted a party at his place, themed around the Fijian drink called Kava. We did drink some of that dirty, tongue-numbing water, haha, and we played beer pong, had some hookah, played some cards, and had a wonderful time. It was fun to catch up with his crew.

Friday was the Fourth of July. Adam and I celebrated with his family at a park. It was a lot of fun: great food, wonderful company, his nieces were warming up to me by then (they enjoyed catching the frisbee I'd toss to them), Adam and I lost at the egg toss right off the bat (in our defense we DID have a broken egg to begin with), and the weather was lovely. That evening Adam and I met up with a bunch of his friends downtown to watch the fireworks. Afterwards we celebrated Ryan Sexton's long-awaited 21st birthday. It was a great evening spent at the Claddagh Irish Pub. It was also the evening that someone snapped my favorite photo of me and Adam.

Saturday morning we drove up to Salamonie to camp with my mom's family. I enjoyed sharing Salamonie with Adam as he'd never been before. My mom and I got a run in while we were there, so that was nice. The weather was fair, and I was glad to visit with Brady, Tiffany and the girls. Hayley had grown up so much, and I got to finally see Lily for the first time - oh, she's a sweetheart! Both girls loved their souvenirs from Australia. I'll never forget when I gave Brady a lighter souvenir, and my realization that he'd recently quit smoking, haha. Tiffany liked the shell earrings I got her, though. Seeing Darin, Barat and their girls was pleasant, too. Gracie was doing so well, and Abby and Lexy were such cute little girls as they always are. And that was my first week back in the USA.

Monday I kept working on packing and unpacking and laundry. Tuesday I took a quick trip up to Purdue to visit with friends up that way. I met up with Nick See for some lunch, then Pirita joined us. We were supposed to see The Wanted, but Pirita had caved in and seen it without me, ergh! Instead, we had Sean over, watched a movie and had a couple drinks. I crashed at Nicks, and the next morning we had breakfast at Christo's. I'd never been there before, and I was very happy with the place.

By Thursday I was back in Anderson. Mom and I ran together at Shadyside with the Anderson Road Runners - SO much fun! I wish I'd ran with them while I still lived in Anderson, but I'm truly happy that my Mom has taken to running as well as she has. She makes me so proud! And now my Dad is into it, too - so good for both of them! What a great way to spend time with one another and socialize and keep healthy! After running with Mom that night we had dinner together at The Olive Garden - mmm! We are suckers for the unlimited soup and salad deal, hehe!

Saturday I had the great pleasure to spend a week at Dale Hollow with Adam and his family. The annual trip is Adam's very favorite, and I was glad to be a part of it. We stayed at Wisdom Dock in a cabin, but most of the time was spent relaxing, having fun, eating and drinking on the boat rigs (we had four boats strung together). The weather couldn't have been more perfect, the water was just right, and we had a blast! Adam and I jumped off the cliffs - that was a crazy fun thing we did, haha! Very thrilling, though! It was a lot of fun to have the pontoon with a slide - Adam absolutely loved doing wild jumps. Karen got some great photos! Ah, what an awesome vacation!

We returned to Indy after quite a fun drive, and that Friday we went to Dick's pool party at the West Chester pool. We started the evening off with a few games of bags. I was doing really well for some reason, haha. Pat let Adam and I try out some Red Hot hot dogs - pretty tasty! For the majority of the evening Michelle and I held the hookah table down with ease while the men battled it out at beer pong. It was a nice, laid back evening with friends.

By Sunday Adam and I were back in Anderson to wind things down before I flew out for my Orlando internship with Lockheed Martin. He and my parents saw me to the airport Sunday, and Jason Brooks, the friend from Purdue I would be living with for the duration of the internship who works in my office, picked me up that evening. There wasn't much settling in to do since I was living out of a suitcase for the next month (by this time I was really looking forward to moving in with Nick Peelman for 6 months).

Monday kicked off my first day of work. During the first half of my first week I did the basic intern/new hire stuff, some orientation and compliance training. From then until the second week I did some inconsistency discovery. I'll admit that it was tedious work, but I did a fantastic job and enjoyed those I worked with. My team was virtual, and so I gained some valuable experience in working in virtual environments.

From the second week and on I did the aforementioned project and a second, more enjoyed project: I coordinated the implementation of a team's resources onto a website. For example, the team had several documents they used, but these documents weren't in a central location. I worked with the website's technical team and the team with the documents to figure out the best way in which to implement the documents, etc. to this website. In the end the team had all of their documents in one place, allowing for better performance, money saved, and positive results all around. Working with people is what I enjoy most and do best, so it was a wonderful project fit for me.

During my stay in Orlando Adam visited me for a long weekend. We rented a car and checked out some apartments I'd hunted, and spent a day at Cocoa Beach. We had delicious pina colada's on the pier - mmmm!! I took him to a favorite restaurant of mine, Bahama Breeze, were we enjoyed a few drinks, a fantastic dinner, and later went on to City Walk for some night life fun! It was a great visit, and, as always, all too short!

The following weekend my mom, grandma and Aunt Dawn visited. Talk about an awesome girls' weekend! We rented a car and hit the beach at Melbourne. We spent a while searching for beach gear: mugs, booze, rafts, a new bathing suit for Aunt Dawn who figured out the secret of packing light: don't bring anything at all! Haha! Grandma brought back a shell pasty, haha, and my mom stated that she was surprised that she could retrieve that information in her current state when asked about a ride in a mall out at a previous residence. Oh, we had a great time. One night we even stayed out until 3am at City Walk, after a detour through downtown Orlando in search for Pleasure Island Drive DISNEY, not the neighborhood street, haha! It was a fantastic girls' weekend!

While I was in Orlando the Summer 2008 Beijing Olympics began. Phelps rocked the world when he broke the record for the most gold medals won for any one individual. What a way to go down in world history! He had some amazing races. I remember one commercial that demonstrated how super-human he is - that guy has a huge wingspan and is just engineered for speed. A human torpedo. I also remember a lot of hype about the age of some Chinese gymnast girls. The American gymnasts did very well this year, too. I loved the phone carrier commercial that had one of the top two American gymnasts as a butterfly; very cool.

When I flew in to Indy on the last Friday of my internship I was just stopping through Anderson because Saturday morning I borrowed my grandpa's Chrysler Sebring convertible to drive up to the Indiana dunes to camp out with Adam and his crew for their 6th annual trip up there. It was a blast! We had Top Dog hot dogs, flew off sand dunes, sculpted Egypt in the sand, played frisbee in the water, drank and gambled at the casino (Adam doubled his money!), and roasted marshmallows. It was a great trip with some great people!

During the next week Adam and I moved ourselves from Anderson and Indy up to Purdue for another semester of school. Adam now lives at College Station with 3 potluck guys who've turned out to be pretty cool. One is quiet and to himself, another is a friendly couch potato, and the third is fairly sociable - Jeremy. He's tossing around the idea of doing a work-study in Australia. Of course, I've told him to go for it a billion times.

I'm now living with Nick Peelman in a house just past College Station. It's really nice to live so close to Adam; it makes things a little easier, especially with having only one car between us right now. Ashes and McKenzie (Nick & Kelly's kitten) have been getting along famously, which I'm very happy about. The kitchen is huge, too, so it's perfect for me and Adam's fancy dinner nights on Wednesdays.

And that's my recap on the Summer of 2008.

24 September 2008

Black, Gold & Green

With the environmental crisis the world is in, I'm very glad to see that Purdue University is making headway in becoming Green. Upon my return to school in August, one of the first things I noticed was the number of recycling receptacles - but not just the number of them, the variety of them! The units have a section for newspaper, office paper, plastics and aluminum items! I think that's fantastic!

A couple weeks ago Purdue promoted being Green for a week, perfectly named Green Week at Purdue. I also think this is great. However, why just one week? Why not all the time? Clicking the image below will take you to the Green Week at Purdue website.

An article from a Green Week at Purdue Exponent paper listed several suggestions on easy ways to be Green. I'd like to point out a few:

*switch from standard light bulbs to compact fluorescent bulbs; this can save you ~$30 over the course of each light bulb's life because they use ~75% less energy than standard light bulbs

*avoid driving as often as you can; carpool to save money on gas and catch up with a friend; go in to get your fast-food instead of idling in the drive-thru line

*unplug when possible; energy is still drained when plugs are left in the outlets (BTW, in Australia the outlets have an on/off switch so you can leave the plugs in but not drain energy - pretty clever)

*use reusable grocery bags; they're light-weight, durable, roomy-when-used but still space-saving, and inexpensive (~$1/bag); if you prefer plastic bags, find ways to reuse them (small trash can liners)

*if you're not using something, turn it off; don't leave the kitchen light on if you're on the other side of the house

*avoid bottled water; purchase a few reusable water bottles (I'm in love with my RubberMaid Chug bottle! Click the image below to check it out.)

*see how fast you can shower (my record is 2:15 (that's minutes:seconds) - I'm serious, really!)

I'd love to hear your tips on how to be more Green - post a comment!