Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The aftermath

The total: between 5 and 8 inches of rain over all of SE Connecticut. They're calling it either a 50-year or 100-year storm - the rainstorm of the century. There's a lot of small rivers and streams that overflowed, and prolly 50% of more of houses got water in them. We got lucky; we're on a hill with a well-build basement, and nothing that couldn't be taken care of with half a dozen towels got in. One friend of mine who lives next to a normally dry stream has five feet of water in his basement; he'll be in a hotel for a few weeks.

Even though every other school district in the county cancelled today, Cowtown did not, so we attempted to have a normal day. I didn't have a spectacularly good one; I scored porrly on a chem test and my English teacher is pissed at me because I refused to take monday's test on Romanticism and Transcendentalism seriously, and instead wrote the essays bitterly and sarcastically. More on that later, after I get it back and can post the essays in full.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Rain Day

We've had pretty much constant rain for the last 34 hours, beginning just before 2am monday morning and still going hard. We went into school for 2 hours today... then they sent us home, cause some of the roads were becoming impassable. This is Cowtown, but these are paved roads... it's just a metric ^&%$ton of rain. The local middle school field where I frequently launch is almost completely covered in water... up to 3 feet deep in a few places.

Which means I'm at home with not a lot to do. I've got heat, light, and internet, but I can't paint or prime cause of the rain, or even build stuff cause of the humidity.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Making Fake Coffee

Fill mug with water. 2 drops red food coloring, 2 drops yellow, one drop green. Looks convincingly like dark coffee.

If you want it to look more like instant coffee, then use 50% milk, 50% water and add 5 drops red, 4 drops yellow, and 3 drops green.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Random Stuff

F is a really awesome key for rock and metal. Awesome power chords, and it puts trumpets in Bb (two flats). We're playing Metallica's Enter Sandman in Jazz Band, which is not exactly the light boring jazz standards that every other high school jazz bands play. We play Cake, and Metallica, and Edgar Winters. We rock the joint.

Irony: Wikimania 2010, Wikipedia's annual real-world event, is being held in Gdansk, Poland. The article about Gdansk was the subject of a massive and infamous edit war several years ago over whether to refer to the city by its Polish name Gdansk, or the German Danzig.

Google Wave is a new online software tool from Google, a sort of combination of email, chat, documents, and more. [Official site] It's kinds neat looking, though apparently rather complicated to learn. What I just learned today is how several bits of it are in-jokes from the TV show Firefly. First off the name 'wave' is a reference to a scene where Simon sends a 'wave' - a futuristic sort of voice or video mail - to his father in a meeting. Several error messages are Firefly (and its movie offspring Serenity) quotes, including the crash message, Wash's "Curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal!"

I have a new music stand. My old one was made of thin metal, almost seven years old, and beginning to fall apart. It could no longer hold my heaviest book, the Arban's Trumpet Method (the standard reference work for trumpet). My mom secretly bought a new stand off Amazon and placed it in the basement today for me to find. Shiny.

I've gotten more work done on the SpaceShipOne. I have the forward windows, all the lines on the wings and tails, and the identification number (N328KF) drawn on. Mostly neatly, but drawing on a slippery round rocket is much harder than it sounds. And I have to draw everything on; none of the old decals are any good.

I've got a nice set of McGraw-Hill Science and Technology encyclopedias, which I got for free when the library I work at cleaned out its reference section. It's a few years old and huge - 20 volumes, 75 pounds - but a great reference source. Inspired by A.J. Jacobs, I've set out to read the entire thing. Currently I'm up to page 28 of the first volume, having already read about A15 compounds, abaca (Manila hemp), abacuses, absorbtion of electromagnetic radiation, and Acantharea - plankton with strontium sulfate shells. It'll take me the better part of a year to read the whole encyclopedia, but it's fun so far.

Good news on the NAR and TRA's lawsuit against the BAFTE (formerly known as the ATF): Judge Reggie Walton has decided that the two rocketry organizations will be reimbursed by BAFTE for part of their legal fees, totalling several hundred thousand dollars.

Tennis started on wednesday; I've had three practices already and an extra varsity practice (I may or may not actually play varsity this year) today at noon. I'm doing pretty well, even though the cold and wind are brutal, but I am sore as heck. Things I didn't even know I could be sore - they're sore. My ribs are sore, from PLAYING TENNIS. It hurts to cough, and I've been taking ibuprofen.

That's all for now, folks. Good night.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Introducing: the UKSA

On the 23rd, the British government announced the creation of the new Space Agency - the UKSA. It'll bring all UK government-funded space projects under one agency, like NASA in the US.

Scheduled start date is April 1st. (No, it's not a joke). The UK already contains 6% of the worldwide space industry valued at 6 billion pounds ($8.94 billion USD; 6.70 billion euros), with 68,000 jobs. The UKSA aims to grow that in 20 years to 10% of the world industry, with 100,000 jobs and a value of £40 billion ($59.57 billion USD; €44.64 billion).

They've got a really neat looking logo:

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Detailing the SpaceShipOne

Two weeks ago, when the weather was nice, I primered my SpaceShipOne and put one coat of white spray paint on it. Last week, I got a second coat of white on, and then the red detailing on the nose cone, nozzle, and the leading edges of the wings and tail.

Now, I'm finally getting around to getting the detailing on. I'm primarily using the design of this free paper model from Currell, especially this very useful scale drawing.

So far all the detailing I've done is the numerous round black windows on the nose, which were hard to position but look excellent. The original kit had decals, but many are ruined or missing, so I'll be drawing most of the decalling on by hand.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

First Metalstorm Sparkies Certified!

Yesterday (I'm slow, okay?) Aerotech released news of certifications on their first four Metalstorm sparky motors - three reloads and one single-use motor. Their sparkies are high-density, high-energy propellant with white flame and smoke, plus yellow sparks.

First is the HP-G75M. It's available in 4,7, and 10-second delays; it's a 29mm SU motor and 124mm long - same as their G77-G80 SU and LMS motors. Total impulse of 120.4 Ns over a burn time of 1.6 seconds. Propellant weight is 66.8g, total weight 132g, specific impulse (Isp of 184. Definitely a high-power motor, with the sparks and over 62.5g of propellant, but it'll act just like any other SU G motor. And: it has the power to push a 29mm machbuster over Mach 1. Imagine. A sparky Machbuster. MSRP of $19.99, comparable to their other G motors.

Next is the reloadable H170M-14A for the 38/360 casing. It's a full H motor at 319.9 Newton-seconds (Ns) of total impulse. 1.9 second burn time, 182.5g of propellant, Isp of 179, 330g (just under 12oz) loaded, MSRP $29.99. It has the new 14-second user-adjusted delay.

They also certified another 38mm load: the J340M-14A in the 38/720 case. 651.7 Ns (a baby J, good for level-2 certification); 1.8 second burn, 365g propellant and 577g loaded; Isp of 182, 14-second adjustable delay. MSRP of $49.99.

The final load certified by Aerotech is the K540M-14A for the common 54/1706 case. Total impulse of 1596.3 Ns, 2.9 second burn time, 876.7g propellant, 1275g loaded, 5 purple monkeys included, Isp of 176, MSRP of $104.99.

From Rocketry Planet

Quest also certified a new motor recently - a much smaller blackpowder motor. Their 13mm x 55mm (longer than the standard mini) A3-2 and A3-4 are 80% A motors with a 2-second burn time. Low thrust and long burn time might be good for competition, but them not being full A motors is not.

From TRF

Monday, March 22, 2010

Even more schedule slip

Yeah. First my crazy (and crazy-awesome) weekend, and now a crazier week. Tennis starts tomorrow; that's 2-3 hours of time I lose every day. I have music events (a concert, then brass quintet and Jazz band rehearsals) the next three nights, lots of english, chemistry, and calculus homework, a thesis paper in English that we're starting soon, and I have to work 6 hours in the next 5 days sometime. I am going to go crazy, and lose a lot of sleep.

So, that means bad things. Posting is gonna get real irregular for a while. I'll try to average 1 a day, but that's prolly not going to happen. My apologies.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

At College...

Sorry for the complete lack of posting. I haven't had a lot of internet access the last few days.

I'm currently visiting my sister at Gordon College on the North Shore (north of Boston). My dad drove me up to the Littleton/495 MBTA station on friday afternoon, and I rode the commuter rail in to North Station in Boston, then out to Hamilton/Wenham just minutes from Gordon. It was very easy, except that they only announce what platform outgoing trains are on just 3 minutes before they leave North Station, so there's a mad rush of people to the train.

On friday night, her group was hosting a 'pub quiz' at the faux-pub in Gordon's dining hall. Hosting... because they'd won it the first 3 times it was held. This time, they had a St. Patrick's day theme and we asked questions and sang Irish drinking songs between rounds. Much fun.

Last night, several of her friends and her and I watched Dr. Horrible's Sing-along Blog. Laura has tried to get me to watch it before and I refused, and I really don't know why, because it's hilarious. On the other hand, now when we watch it again I can actually sing...maybe. If I was actually able to sing.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

NARCON part 4: my loot

I spent an inordinate amount of money on stuff at NARCON, but I came home with lots of cool swag.
Starting with the upper left:

The first kit I got was the Fliskits Nell, which I talked a bit about earlier. It's a huge but lightweight scale model; mine is serial #96. Next is the Fliskits L13, also a largish Goddard scale model. Both are pretty tricky builds. The Nell requires you to build a complex network of dowels and tubes for the framework; the L-13 involves a lot of masking and a complex fin structure. Both require hand-rolled paper shrouds.

The bunch of brown tubes in the center is a QCR (Qualified Competition Rockets) "No Crimp I". It's a 13mm superroc, 5 feet tall (!), that flies on A motors. And it's got a 16" parachute. I'm new to competition rocketry, but this looks like a lot of fun.

The box on the right is an out-of-production Estes ARV Condor kit that i picked up for a song from Kevin Ha's "Send my son to Europe Fund". It's a neat 18mm kit that releases 2 mini gliders at apogee. It's a dificult kit that requires fine motor skills to put the gliders together, and a good paint job. It'll take me quite a while to build.

The little tiny pin in the middle is from one of the presenters; it's from the Solid Rocket Booster program at Marshall Space Flight Center.

The papers at the left include Quest and Aerotech catalogs and other price sheets. Unfortunately, I managed to lose my Cosmodrome and Fliskits catalogs.

The grey stuff in the middle is a stack of waterslide decals with numbers and letters on them, free from NAR Technical Services. Designed for competitors putting their NAR number (as required) on competition rockets, they're good for labelling all sorts of rockets.

The three packets at the right are three Kevlar parachute protectors from Sunward, in 3", 6", and 9" sizes.

Finally, in the middle is some power. One Cesaroni Pro38-1G 38mm one-grain motor case, a PRODAT delay adjustment tool, and a G115WT-13A White Thunder motor. Everything needed to send the Mach Goon to Mach 1.15.

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Schedule Slip

Blegh. I've barely been getting a post a day lately; some days I haven't managed to post at all. I blame homework, mostly English essays that take till 1 and 2 in the morning and sap my strength. It's a lot easier to write interesting stuff and stay on task when your mind is clear, you've got enough sleep, you didn't already write two freaking pages on transcendalism bullshit already, and it's 10 pm, not 130 am.

Unfortunately, it's only going to get worse. Tennis starts next week, and so does my english thesis paper. It's prolly gonna be two pretty lean months for bloggerifying, but I'll do my best to keep you updated.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

NARCON part 3: Other new products

Several other vendors showed new products at NARCON.

Fliskits, a major sponsor of NARCON, came out with two new scale kits. First is a 1:5.5 model of Robert Goddard's L-13 Movable casing rocket. It's 1.63" in diameter and just under 3 feet tall. The other is a 1:2.5 model of his first liquid-fuel rocket, named Nell. It's 50" tall and... oddly shaped. More on that later. Jim Flis said they called the kit Nell because it's what Goddard named that first rocket and it was much short than Goddard's official test designation. However... it turns out that Goddard named all of his rockets Nell. Oh well.

Cosmodrome had two new kits to show; both will be going into beta testing later in the year. One is the Japanese Lambda rocket; it's a scale model of their first sounding rocket. The other is one of the Canadian Black Brant series; I don't remember which.

Finally, Cesaroni had a few samples of their Pro24 line to show. There's a D-size (70mm long) casing; it's one grain and can hold up to mid E (27 Ns) motors. There's a 3-grain full F case (up to 80 Ns) and a 6-grain full G case (up to 160 Ns). each grain is roughly up to 27 Ns total power. There are also plans for several other cases, including a 6-grain-extra-long case that will hold small H motors. As far as I know, those will be the most powerful 24mm motors yet.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Awesome people

My friend Laura, one of my partners in crime in Drowning in Turtles, has a blog now! Check it out; it's funny and geeky and awesome.

Another blog I found my way to recently: the hilarious Narm at White Collar Redneck. He writes this about being awesome:

"Why? Because awesome has no hangover. Awesome takes no days off. Awesome looks straight in the face of adversary and says - "Not today, evil foe. Today, I am going to storm the beaches of the ordinary, grow a beard of freedom and sing from the mountaintops, 'Fuck your case of the Mondays!'" "

And finally, I must give proper props to mandachan for the awesome Slightly Ridiculous Hat that she gave me for my birthday.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

NARCON part 2: Aerotech

There were quite a few new product announcements at NARCON yesterday.

Aerotech had a lot. First is their 24/120 RMS system. It's 7.5" long and uses the same closures as the 24/60 motor, so all you have to buy new is the case itself. First reloads will be core-burners (having a circular hole down the center for ignition) in stead of C-slot (recantular off-center slot), because apparently c-slots were causing case problems. They say definitely Redline, White Lightning, and Black Jack / Black Max loads, with others possible.

Because of the cored design and long case, the first reloads will be high-power loads, because their average thrust will be greater than 80 N (18 lbs); however, Gary Rosenfield hinted that endburners ('like a super-F10') Imagine... a G15T with an 8-second burn time... Altitude records would be set.

Second is some updates with their spacer system. The 29mm and 54mm versions are due out soon; I'll pick the 29mm version to fly Fs and G5 in my 29mm case. They're also bringing out a completely new delay system for high-power loads, to eventually replace the old system. Each 29mm-54mm reload will come with a plastic or phenolic floating forward closure for the spacer system. It'll be preloaded with a 15-second delay; you then use a Ceasroni-like delay tool to change it. Shouldn't increase the cost, allows user-set delay times, improves reliability, and make sit easier to assemble. Win. Gary says it's a good way for them to nullify a few of Cesaroni's advantages, while keeping AT's cost advantage.

They also showed no less then four new 24mm motors - the most new motors of this size in quite a while. None are certified yet, but that will happen within the month. There are two new reloads for the 24/60 case: the 55Ns F34R Redline, available in 5, 8, and 11-second delays, and the 50Ns F33FJ Black Max, in 4, 7, and 10-second delays. I will likely be an avid customer of both.

There's also two new 24mm single-use motors, both in the same 24x95mm (Estes E length) form factor and molded phenolic case of the F32T. It's now joined by the F31R Redline and F30FJ Black Max; all three have 4, 6, and 8-second delays. They're all be priced at around $15.99.

The final new product that Aerotech announced is the first of their new sparky line. It's the HP-G75M Metalstorm, a single-use motor in the case form factor as the G78G and G80T. The Metalstorm propellant has a white flame, little smoke, and white sparks. The motor has a total impulse of 117Ns - a mid-sized G motor; in fact, it's powerful enough to push a small 29mm rocket to Mach. How awesome would that be? It'll be available in 4,7, and 10-second delays. It's got 67g of propellant, so it's a high-power motor, to be sold to certified people only.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

NARCON Part 1: Presentations

I attended four presentations at NARCON today. The first was "Rocket Electronics" by Will Marchant. I learned a whole bunch about dual-deployment and altimeter bays from him, and he helped me afterwards with the design of my 29mm altimeter bay. Some interesting things I learned:
  • Barometric altimeters should not be mounted in nose cones or near ring fins; the induced air currents cause problems.
  • Duracell and Eveready 9Vs can source up to 6A; cheaper batteries are lucky to source 1 amp.
  • 75% of high-power failures are caused by user failure with electronics.

Second was Ted Cochran's bit about the NAR decertified motor testing program. The program fills two purposes. First, it allows NAR members with older motors to apply to have the motors legal to use - effectively certified - for a single date for testing purposes. That means that old motors can be flown, and not just end up in collections. Secondly, it allows to NAR to gather data on how old motors perform - which ones work perfectly (up to 38 years later) and which don't (FSI (Flight Systems Inc.) motors are prone to CATO - explosively fail - when fired). Despite the age of many of the motors, the overall failure rate is just 7.9% over 300 motors - not much worse than current certified motors.

Third was Vince Huegele's talk about modelling the Ares I in 1:54 scale; his 6' scale model is very impressive. The last talk I attended today was Bob Krech's presentation on the atmosphere; it covered everthing from aerodynamics to Patriot missiles to temperatures and weather patterns.

I'll talk more about the vendor news and my purchases tomorrow when I am less tired.

Friday, March 12, 2010


Today's my birthday! I got a new beta fish, a bag of gummy bears, and this awesome t-shirt:

It's a real neat equation, combining physics, math, and chemistry. E=mc2, so the first third of the equation is M. The square root of -1 is the imaginary unit, or I. The ideal gas law gives PV=nRT, so the third section is T.

M. I. T.


Wednesday, March 10, 2010


Teflon is a fascinating thing. Formally known as polytetrafluoroethylene, or PTFE, it's a high-weight molecular solid. That is, it forms really really long chains. Each chain is made up of units of one carbon and 2 fluorine atoms; each chain link connects to two others via the carbon atom.

It's a polymer of Tetrafluorethylene, hence the name. Because the two end units have three only one other carbon to connect to instead of two, each has an extra fluorine attached, so the fluorines outnumber the carbons by two. Hence, the molecular formula CnFn+2.

Because of the strength of the fluorine-carbon bonds, and the ability of the massed fluorines to disperse attractive forces, it reacts with almost nothing, and sticks to nothing. It makes excellent non-stick cookware, containers for reactive substances, seal tape for pipe threads, bullets that don't damage the gun, sliders for heavy objects, and water repellant in Gore-Tex.

It's also so slippery that insects can't get a grip on it, so it's used for things like bug traps. In fact, it's the only substance that geckos cannot grip to.

Teflon: The Anti-Gecko.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Monday, March 8, 2010

Svetlana painted

I unfortunately have not yet gotten a chance to take pictures yet, but I did finished painting the Svetlana today. It didn't take quite as much masking as the Buckeye IV. Sharp, angular patterns on the fins combined with the gentle transition on the nose cone.

Here's a Paint bitmap of what it looks like. It looks better in person, though.

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Sunday, March 7, 2010

Presenting: the Buckeye IV

It was in the upper 50s again today... it might have momentarily even reached 60!

So, I hung my rocket from a tree again. Well, actually, first I sanded the primer with steel wool so it was nice and smooth. Then, I put a coat of medium grey on the middle on the rocket. It's pretty much primer color, but actual paint, and it's smooth even without sanding.

Then, I did some masking. A lot of masking, actually. 137 pieces of green masking tape; most were angled pieces under an inch long. Then I hung it up again, and sprayed a nice even coat of red.

Here's the result:

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Saturday, March 6, 2010

Priming the Viper IV

Weather got up to 57 degrees for the first time this year. At my dad's suggestion, I tied a rope around the motor retainer and hung it from a tree out in the woods.

The can, fortunately, had enough primer left to prime the entire body tube and nose cone. (The fin / motor unit had been previously primed). It's currently out drying and looks really good, though completely ridiculous hanging from a tree.

Pictures coming, maybe.

Friday, March 5, 2010

More stuff coming in the mail

I got an email from Hobbylinc today... after about 6 weeks waiting on them, my 18mm balsa nose cone and First Fire igniters have shipped.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Officially going to NARCON

I registered this evening, which means I'm officially going to NARCON! It sounds like it's going to be a lot of fun this year.

I'm definitely going to buy both of the Fliskits scale Goddard rockets; I'm a sucker for weird scale models, and I love Fliskits rockets. I might also buy a few Roadrunner motors for some fun, and of course I'll buy some fun stuff as I find it, perhaps including parts for the Sudden mach.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

New motors from CTI, part infinity

Yet again, Cesaroni has gotten another pack of new motors certified. They aren't the Pro24 line yet, unfortunately; those won't be certified till after NARCON.

First up are three new Pro29 reloads, in 1G (one-grain), 2G, and 3G sizes. They're all made from their fast-burning Vmax propellant, and all are high-power loads due to thrust:

1G: F120-14A (56 Ns total impulse)
2G: G250-14A (110 Ns)
3G: H410-14A (168 Ns)

No, you're not reading those wrong. Those are high-power F and G motors, with ridiculously high thrust. Mach-busting thrust. The highest thrust available for an F motor. The H410 has the highest thrust of any 29mm reload. All have burn times under 1/2 second. Their big advantages over AT Warp Nine is that Vmax, unlike Warp Nine, can have an integrated delay; W-9 requires electronic deployment of the parachute.

Next comes a new 'soda can' motor for the Pro54-1G case, the I140SK-14A. It's a Skidmark - sparky motor - with 396 Ns total impulse.

Then there's two Green3 loads: the 1597-Ns K400-14A for the 4-grain 54mm case, and the 14272-Ns N1975-P for the 6-grain 98mm case.

They released 3 Classic Longburn kits for 54mm motors; they come with a special plugged forward closure that's threaded for a steel eyebolt for parachute attachment. They are the 4G K160, 6G K260, and 6GXL K300; impulses of 1526, 2285, and 2546 Newton-seconds (Ns) respectively. All have burn times of over 8 seconds.

Pro29 motors were tested with 4 spacers, allowing users to now use 0,1,2, or 3 spacers in a single 29mm case.

Finally comes a motor with a ton of thrust. Literally. The N10000 (That's TEN THOUSAND) Vmax is a 6-grain 98mm reload. Total of 10347 Ns for a burn time of just over one second, during which it puts out an average of 2250 pounds of thrust - enough to safely lift a 450-pound rocket.

News via Rocketry Planet

Viper IV - completed!

I finally truly finished the Viper IV by putting the launch lug on and tying on the shock cord. I'll prolly fillet the launch lug, but otherwise I'm finished with the building. Then comes priming - a lot more priming.

The Viper IV is designed to fly on Estes D12s, and up to small 24mm F motors are listed on the recommended motors list. 4 F motors would make it a high-power rocket; that's roughly a small H100. However, the Cesaroni Pro24 line is coming out soon, and they'll have up to H motors. 4 H100s would equal a baby J400; that would put the Viper between 1 and 2 miles high, and prolly shred it. Still, someday, if I have L2 certification, some money to spare, and I want to beef up a Viper...

Between the 8 feet of stock shock cord and the 9 feet of 1/4" elastic I added, there's 17 feet of shock cord. That's a lot:


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Heat Wave

I just finished reading the first Richard Castle book, Heat Wave. Funny thing is, Richard Castle doesn't really exist. He's actually the fictional novelist and protagonist of ABC's show Castle, played by Nathan Fillion, who is friggin' hilarious.

So, it's a novel about a journalist named Rook and a female cop, Nikki Heat. In canon, it's written by Castle; all the book characters are (intentionally) thinly disguished versions of the 'real' 12th NYC Precinct from the show.

The prose is pretty horrible; it's not high-quality literature by any means. But it's exactly what Castle *would* write, down to the horrible puns. There's a lot of contention over who exactly ghost-wrote the book; it certainly wasn't Nathan Fillion, who's pictured on the cover.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Pretty Phobos Picture

The Bad Astronomer points out a really cool image of Phobos, one of Mars's two moons:

They were taken by the Mars Express probe, which will be doing a series of flybys of the two moons, Phobos and Deimos. The lines are cracks in the moon.

Phobos is somewhat potato-shaped and about 22km (14 miles) on a side. it's weird and cool; I'll post more about it later.

Monday, March 1, 2010

CAPT week!

This week is CAPT (Connecticut Academic Proficiency Testxamathingamhoozit) week. That means the sophomores take the test, which they must pass to graduate; the freshmen take a mandatory practice version... and us upperclassmen catch up on sleep and go in at noon.

Which means lots of extra sleep for me, and hopefully more posting as well.

Just as soon as I finish this go-se essay about Poe. The drunken crazy homeless poet-thing-gone-wrong.