Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Momma, I'm Comin' Home

I know that's a lyric to a song, but would someone please enlighten me as to which song and which artist???

Anyways, I just got finished with my English final (20 minutes of writing about what we learned this semester), so I am getting ready to head for home! All I need to do is load everything in the car and stop for gas, etc. and I'll be ready! Well, I also need to check out of the room (since we all have to leave over Christmas Break) and sell my books back, if they will buy them. Other than that, I'm done!

I will try to blog at least a couple times while I am home, but no promises! I will be sure to update everyone as soon as I can, and I hope you will continue to do the same. So, if I don't hear from y'all before then, Merry Christmas, and have a very Happy New Year!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Three Hours...

That's how much sleep I got last night. I went to bed around midnight, which is early for me, especially considering I had been studying for finals. But alas, I didn't fully fall asleep until after 4:00 this morning, with the majority of the time before then being spent TRYING to get to sleep. I don't know what got over me, but I just couldn't stop thinking long enough to get to sleep! Has that ever happened to anyone else? It happens to me all the time, and I just don't know what to do about it! That's probably the reason why I take naps all the time, which in turn makes it hard to get to sleep at night, which starts the whole vicious cycle all over again. Oh well, I'll be home soon enough and that will hopefully break the cycle.

As I write this, I have just finished my first final, Sociology. I have my Organic Chemistry final at 10:30, and I have just been looking over a few things to refresh my memory. Oh, and the University did something special with the coffee machines, so everyone can get free coffee or cocoa all day today! So, of course, after my final I went and got some hot chocolate (not really a coffee person), and boy was it good! Maybe I'll get another after my next final...

Well, I must be off, as this Chemistry isn't going to do itself (if only it could...). I will be sure to post again before I leave on Wednesday and let everyone know how my finals (a.k.a. Hell Week) have gone.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Last Full Week of Classes

In case you all didn't see my comment on my last post, I finally got the other pictures posted. Apparently I can't post my pictures to the center of the page, so I had to align them to the side. It still works, and it actually takes up less space since the text wraps around the picture so nicely.

This week marks the official end of the Fall Semester, so all my classes are getting ready for that big finish. This week will be filled with reviews and putting together those loose ends in the learning process, among other things. I had the first part of a two-part Calculus test today (the other part being on Wednesday), I have a final Chemistry Lab test tomorrow, and an English paper due on Friday. But even though classes will be technically over, there are still finals to take next week. Here's what my exam schedule looks like next week:

Monday - Sociology and Organic Chemistry
Tuesday - Botany Lab
Wednesday - Botany lecture, Calculus, and English

Yep, Wednesday is going to be a very busy day! But at least I will be going home afterwards, so I will have something to look forward to. The one thing that bothers me about this is that normally you don't take finals for lab courses. Well, my Botany professor thought otherwise, so she decided to create another test to take during finals week. However, the good thing about her exams is that they are not cumulative/comprehensive, so there will not be a whole lot of material on there.

After exams are over, I'm homeward bound! Here's a question for everyone: when is everyone else getting out of school for Christmas? My friends back home are getting out this week after finals, and going back the same week in January as I am (week of the 16th). That means they get out a week early and go back at the same time! What's up with that? There are others that get out this week and go back a week earlier, which I think is more fair. What do you think? Isn't this cutting close to the Christmas holiday?

Well, I need to get to studying for my Chemistry Lab test. Luckily this test isn't cumulative either, so it should not be too hard. I will talk to y'all later!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Krohn Conservatory

I said in my last post that I wanted to discuss with you my Botany field trip to the local Krohn Conservatory, so here it is! Krohn is just about five minutes from here, and is apparently a top attraction in the city of Cincinnati. This is my second visit here; my first was in the second semester of General Biology Lab. However, since Botany is exclusively a class for plants and GENERAL Biology covers just about everything, you can imagine that this visit was a bit different. This time around we were presented with a map/guide and about 60 questions to answer while we walked along.

The Conservatory itself has five major rooms: the Tropical House, the Desert Room, the Palm House, the Orchid House, and the Display Room. There were other rooms that held smaller potted plants such as bonsai trees and the like, but we were not required to look at those. I'll just go briefly through each room with the website's picture of each.

The Tropical House:

The Tropical House, as you can imagine, has a lot of tropical plants and trees. Some noteworthy plants included the vanilla plant, the cacao tree (mmm...chocolate), sugar cane, papaya, fig tree, and lots of hibiscus flowers. Almost all of these plants are only grown in warm, moist climates, such as in Florida and the tropics. There weren't too many flowers in bloom, but the ones that were blooming were vivid and beautiful. The colors ranged from bright pinks to dark reds, and even blue and purple. The plants ranged in size from low to the ground to reaching all the way to the ceiling. Oh, and because these are all tropical plants, it was quite warm and moist in that room. This even allowed us to shed our winter coats!

The Desert Room:

The Desert Room was quite a change coming from the Tropical House. In contrast, it was quite dry and stuffy in that room, but these plants flourished just as well as those in other rooms. The typical desert inhabitants such as cacti were in there, but also some plants with very elaborate leaves. The only different between these and other leafy plants is that the leaves are stiff and thick in order to conserve water. Also, a lot of the plants had spines or "pricklies" as leaves to prevent water loss in the dry environment. There were some flowers present, and they were just as bright and vivid as those tropical plants. It really was surprising that such beauty can grow in such harsh environments.

The Palm House:

As you can probably imagine from the name of the room, the Palm House contained those trees you in Florida and California are familiar with: the palms. However, this room also included flowering trees and non-palm trees that grow in similar habitats. The tallest tree in there was the Florida royal palm, which practically touched the 45 foot-high ceiling. There were fern palms, "pine" trees, begonias, coffee trees, a coconut palm, and even a banana tree with REAL bananas growing! These plants are some of the species found in the tropical rain forests, so there was also some information about the rain forests themselves. We found out that they only habitate 8% of the earth's surface, but contain 50% of all plant and animal species. This is only one reason why the rain forests are so important, and why conservationists are so adamant about saving them. At the end of the room there was a giant waterfall, which really was spectacular. Some of the plants had to grow near the water, and there were even some of the plants that grew IN the water. This really shows how important water is in these ecosystems.

The Orchid House:

I don't have a picture of this house since it's pretty new to the Conservatory, but I'll try to describe it for you. Orchids are some of the most numerous flowering plants, so there were dozens of different plants. There were different colors everywhere, almost covering the entire visible spectrum: red, orange, yellow, blue, purple, and white. These plants also require a lot of water, so this room had running water in it. One interesting fact that we found out was that the Conservatory is a storage center for endangered plants for the government. They even collect confiscated plants from airports, etc. when people try to bring them illegally into the U.S. It was a really colorful room, and even smelled good, too.

The Display Room:

The Display Room was another of the rooms we didn't have to look in, but we were encouraged to view it anyways. They change it from time to time depending on the time of year, and although I don't have the current picture, I'm sure you can imagine what is in there now. Any takers? Well, it was decorated with Christmas-related plants like poinsettias and lilies, and not to mention a Christmas tree or two. It really was very nice and along with the music in the background, got me into the spirit of the season.

Well, that concludes our trip to Krohn Conservatory. If you want to find out more (and why wouldn't you?), just click on the link I placed in my first sentence of this post. That's really all I have to say for now, but I'm sure I'll have plenty to talk about at the end of this week. I hope everyone is doing well, and looking forward to Christmas like I am.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Back to School and News from Home

Sorry it has taken me so long to get back on here, but I just haven't found enough time until now to sit down and write for awhile. I got back here in Cincinnati on Sunday night, and it was fairly late, as usual. Plus I have had two tests this week and a paper due, plus some major homework, so I have been spending most of my time with school, as should be expected. But I'm always glad to be back here talking to y'all!

I won't go into too much detail about my trip home, but I will summarize some of the high (and low) points. To start, I wanted to talk about the drive back home, which normally wouldn't be something to write home about... This was the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, but I didn't expect too much traffic, since I hardly found any last year. But lo and behold, right through downtown Cincinnati and about a half an hour south of Lexington the traffic was at a dead halt. I was only in downtown Cincy for about five minutes, but in Kentucky I sat in traffic for more than an hour without moving more than two miles. By that time, my car started to overheat and as I looked over, I saw a cloud of white smoke start to puff out. Naturally I started to panic and really didn't know what to do. So I tried to leave room in front of me so I could speed up and get the air moving again. But that didn't help enough. Thankfully there was an exit coming up in a few hundred yards, which of course I took. It just so happened to be a Highway 25 exit, and this just happens to run into Knoxville. So I took the exit in an attempt to remedy the problem, and then ride the highway until I got home.

After I got off at the exit, I drive around for another ten minutes, but at least I was moving and getting air through the engine. My coolant light flashed on and off, which solved that problem. So I stopped at the first service station I found in "Podunkville" to add some coolant, which I just so happened to have in the car. When I opened the coolant intake cap (after letting the car cool down of course) I found that there was not a drop of coolant left...AHHH!!! Well it's a good thing I stopped because who knows what would have happened next? So I added the coolant (after needing to purchase some more) and got back on the road. I took 25 just to stay away from that interstate, and there was absolutely no traffic. Plus, since 25 runs close to parallel with I-75, I looked over and the three lanes had gone down to just ONE (what idiot thought about doing that crap close to the Thanksgiving holiday???). But after awhile I ventured onto the other local highways to check the interstate and it was back to normal. So, my 3.5-4 hour drive took more than five and a half hours; I was very tired when I got home.

Once I got there, I was very happy to see my family and finally get out of the car. I spent as much time as possible with my family while I was home, but because it was a reasonable amount of time for a break, I also worked a few days at the grocery store. As you can imagine, Wednesday night was quite busy, so that was hectic. But I also worked Thanksgiving morning so I would be able to have dinner that afternoon, and surprisingly it was still busy. By the time I left, however, it had died down significantly and I was able to go home right after my shift ended (unusual, since we usually don't get out right on time). When I got home, dinner was being prepared, and boy did it smell good!

We ate around 6:30 or so (that turkey took longer than expected), and we were all very hungry. Our table included turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, green bean casserole, corn, cranberry sauce, rolls, and, of course, pumpkin and pecan pies later for dessert. Let me tell you, it was an excellent meal! And I helped! (Does anyone else remember that Shake 'n' Bake commercial?) Since I had taken the traditional Beauregard nap before the dinner, we just spent the time after dinner talking and relaxing, followed by the scrumptious desserts. All in all, it was a wonderful holiday.

After Thanksgiving day, I worked a little more and spent more time with my family. I didn't really get out much, since I had spent so much darn time in the car. So, as you can imagine, I wasn't in a hurry to drive back up here on Sunday. I didn't end up leaving down until after 7:00 (yes, I know that's kind of late to leave), and I was definitely not ready to go. But, I just kept in mind that I would be home again in less than a month, so I tried to stay positive. So I got back here around 11:30, which given that I stopped to eat, was good time. After bringing all my stuff inside and finding a parking spot, it was almost midnight, and time for bed. And since I had class at 8:30 the next morning, I had to sleep fast, and I was quite tired throughout the day. But, everything worked out all right after I got my nap, and I was quickly back into the routine of school.

Since I'm sure some of you are wondering, I just wanted to let you know that everyone is doing great at home. Work and school keep everybody busy, but that is to be expected. We all had a great time while I was home, and it was very nice not to have to run at such a fast-pace as I do here. There was some bad news, however, when I got home. My uncle Bob, my dad's oldest brother, passed away about a week before Thanksgiving, and this was quite a shock to all of us. He had been driving a truck through Texas and had died while he was there; my aunt Bonnie didn't find out until a couple days later, and it was very unexpected and emotional for her. They held the funeral the Friday after Thanksgiving, but we didn't find out about this until late Thursday night and were unable to attend. I could tell that my dad was very sad about that, and it was quite depressing to think about such things over what's supposed to be a happy holiday. But that also gave us the opportunity to be thankful for family, and, for my dad, to remember all the good times he had with his (favorite) brother. So although this dampened our holiday significantly, we still managed to enjoy the time spent with one another.

Well, that's really all I wanted to report for now. On top of the tests and such this week, I also went on a field trip to a local plant conservatory here in Cincinnati. I wanted to tell you all a little bit about my adventures in the plant world, so I'll make sure to write about that tomorrow if I have time. Anyways, I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving holiday, and that you were able to spend time with the ones you love.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Uneventful Weekend

Nope, I didn't do anything exciting whatsoever. I did watch the UT-Vanderbilt game (or part of it) and got some things done around here. The big thing going on around here was that game between Ohio State and Michigan, since most of the people here are from those two states (Ohio and Michigan). I couldn't have cared less, but don't tell that to diehard fans!

As you may have noticed from the graphic on the top of my page, I will be going home for Thanksgiving break on Tuesday. I will be leaving here after my one class (Botany Lab) which will hopefully be over by 3:00, if my professor is feeling festive. (Observant readers may notice that normally I have Chemistry Lab on Tuesdays. Well the labs were cancelled for this week, since they didn't want the Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday sections to get behind.) The drive will take about 4 hours, since I know I will be hitting some rush hour traffic AND holiday traffic. This puts me at being home around 7-7:30, depending on if I have to stop, and factoring in the traffic. I will be home from Tuesday night through Sunday afternoon, and will be arriving back here Sunday night.

Besides the family traditions of Thanksgiving, I will also be working some during this break. I plan on working a couple of nights and one day shift, just to have some extra money. My boss at Ingles is more than willing to work this out with me, so that really is a good thing. However, I had to fill out paperwork again to go back to work, which was another thing I did last night. It will be good to get back to work and earning that almighty dollar again.

As for the rest of this school week, it should go along fairly well. Last week I had one test and a paper due, but obviously there isn't enough time this week to do anything like that. Mondays are relatively short, and since I won't have Chemistry Lab on Tuesday, I can sleep in! Oh, and some of you may be interested in hearing that the University has already decorated for Christmas. They have put lights on all the lamp posts and decorated a tree with lights on the Residential Mall. Many of you know already how I feel about all that, but I'll enlighten you again if you have forgotten. I think people should at least wait until after Thanksgiving to decorate and think about Christmas. (The Church doesn't start until Advent; why can't society behave the same way?) So, as Aunt Monica so eloquently quipped, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Well, that's really all I wanted to report. I was just sitting here and felt like writing for awhile, since I really don't have much to do today. I will probably leave one more post before I leave on Tuesday (maybe Tuesday morning). As you can probably imagine, I will not be blogging like normal while I'm away, but you can be assured that I will fill everyone in when I get back. Talk to y'all later, and have a great rest of your weekend.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

In Memory of Sharon

As many of you know, Sharon Selby passed away one year ago today. If you want, you can go back to my former posts a year ago and read all I had to say at that time:

Sharon Selby Part I - November 18, 2005

Sharon Selby Part II - November 21, 2005

I have been struggling with accepting her death for some time now, yet I think I am finally getting to that point of acceptance. It was especially hard considering I hadn't seen her in so long, plus she had been suffering so much up to her death. I had been communicating with her via e-mail just a month or so before her passing, and yet, I didn't even see what was right in front of my face. Of course, hindsight is 20/20, so now as I read that final e-mail she sent only days before her passing, I can see what I had missed back then. At first I felt guilty, but eventually this turned into anger and sadness.

One year later, I think I am finally getting to that point of acceptance. It has not been an easy "journey" but it is happening. It has taken a lot of prayer and meditation, which, ironically enough, were things Sharon took heavy stock in. I finally came to the conclusion that there was nothing I could do, so guilt was not necessary. I should not be angry or sad, but joyful. Sharon has been freed of her pain and suffering on Earth and received her reward (hopefully) in Heaven. It is kind of odd that this has taken me so long to accept this, but I'm glad I finally am. I have realized that all I can do is "let go and let God" as they say, and that's what I have been doing. I just got back from Mass and lighting a candle in the Church for Sharon. Prayer really works!

Well, that's really all I have to say today. I'm sorry to vent all my feelings into this blog, but that just so happens to be my outlet. Let us thank God for the gift of Sharon in our lives, and ask Him to watch over her now and forever. Let us also ask Sharon to intercede for us and watch over us. We miss you and we hope to see you again in Heaven.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

One Helluva Week

What would you call it when you had FIVE tests, a project, and a paper due, all in the same week? I would have to call it HELL WEEK!! That's exactly what happened to me this week, and thank God it's finally the weekend. I had a Sociology project due on Monday, a Botany Lab test and a Chemistry Lab test on Tuesday, an English paper due on Wednesday, and a Botany test, a Chemistry test, and a Calculus test on Friday. WHEW!! That was most definitely the busiest week of my life... Not to mention that the three tests on Friday were back-to-back with no breaks!

On top of all the tests, etc. was registration for classes next semester. My time was at 1:00 yesterday afternoon, so I jumped on my computer and started choosing. I got closed out of one of the classes I wanted to take, so initially I was only registered for five classes (12 credit hours). Later that night, after my last class of the day, I looked around for other classes to fill it's spot, and now I have 15 credit hours. Here are the classes I will be taking next semester:

BIOL 360 - Cell Biology
CHEM 242 - Organic Chemistry II
CHEM 243 - Organic Chemistry II Lab
ENGL 205 - Literature and the Moral Imagination
MATH 156 - General Statistics
PSYC 101 - Introduction to Psychology

That's two fewer credit hours than this current semester, so that should work out very well. But I obviously don't want to dwell on thoughts about next semester, since the current one is more important right now!

Other than that, I really haven't done much. I just got back from Wal-Mart and getting a little snack, and tonight I will have laundry (and perhaps some homework). I hope this post finds everyone well, and I'll talk to y'all later!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Death Penalty, Anyone?

We had a discussion in Sociology Monday morning about that very topic: capital punishment/death penalty. It started out fairly innocent, but as it usually does with controversial topics, it gets fairly heated. However, there were quite a few good points, for both sides of the issue.

The main reason I wanted to start this post was to start a discussion. I know what I believe, which will not change drastically based on others' beliefs, but I wanted to hear the opinions of real people out there. It is difficult to have a discussion like that with other teenagers, since they are hasty to accept someone's opinion when it is different from their own. Also, it tends to get more heated, and personalities (and words) tend to clash. I figured that an online discussion involving more mature individuals would be more civil. So, what do you think?

Just to start the ball rolling, I'll give my opinions on the matter. Killing doesn't justify killing. What kind of message are we sending if we kill people? It's saying that the government can kill people, so it can't be all wrong. It all comes down to the Law of Non-Contradiction, which states "something cannot both be and not be at the same time, in the same way, and in the same respect." We can't say that killing is wrong and then kill someone, even if they are murderers. Plus, for these people, death is WAY too easy. Death is instant, and in today's world, virtually painless. A life-time jail sentence is much more drawn out, and can be painful depending on the prison. However, as my Sociology professor pointed out, some prisons treat the prisoners more like royalty than murderers. I think the prison system needs to buckle down and make prison more like boot camp; we can't torture these people, but we should at least be more firm with them. Maybe if our prisons were more like that, we wouldn't have the problems with overcrowding (and a 90% return rate of prisoners after release). What do y'all think about all that?

So anyways, that's all I have to say about that. Now I want to hear from you. Agree or disagree, let's keep it clean! We are (mostly) family here, so I hope we can keep that in mind. We are all adults and are quite mature, and I don't anticipate any problems, so let your voice be heard! Talk to y'all later!

Friday, October 27, 2006

Nothing Much Is New, But Thank God It's Friday

It has been a long week, as you can probably tell from my title. The fact that it's been cold and rainy for much of this week probably put me in this dumpy mood, but thankfully it's Friday... I don't have anything planned for the weekend (except catching up on some homework and studying), but I will definitely take advantage of the extra hour of sleep Saturday night. Remember the old mantra for Daylight Savings Time? "Spring forward, Fall back." I will enjoy that extra hour.

One of the few interesting things that I did this week was go on a Field Trip with my Botany Lab class. We went to a local park and walked through the woods during our scheduled class time. We looked at the levels of forest organization (overstory trees, understory trees, shrubs, and herbaceous layer) and also identified the different kinds of plants we saw. This particular forest is made up primarily of maple and beech trees, but also contained oak trees and buckeye trees, among others. The understory was made up of pawpaw trees (does anyone know the song about the Pawpaw Patch?), and we could see that there were many young trees growing in patches (hence the song). Shrubs included the invasive honeysuckle bush and herbaceous plants included small grasses and other wild plants.

Along the way, we also got to see mosses, lichen, and fungi, which were found mostly on tree trunks (dead and living) and in very moist areas. We also saw limited animal life (it is cold after all), which consisted mainly of insects, a few birds, and a baby salamander. We witnessed what happens when an overstory tree dies and falls over (can anyone guess?) and also what happens to the dead log (another guess?). We also got to see a lot of colorful leaves right near the end of the leaf changing season. Here's a good question: why is it that leaves change colors in fall? What causes these colors to be expressed instead of the typical green?

After about two and a half hours of walking in the cold, I was very ready to get warm. I jumped in the car (we had to drive to the park) and blasted the heat until I was nice and toasty. My professor had suggested going to a Graeter's for ice cream, but it was much too cold. (Graeter's is quite popular around here as it is a local company, but apparently it is world-famous ice cream. I have been there on two occasions, and it was excellent. Look it up online for more information.)

Since that field trip, the only other event that I would like to mention was another activity in my Botany Lab. We are practicing the art of plant propagation, where we take parts of plants to grow a new plant. We practiced about six different techniques, including using different parts of leaves and the stems. We will have to see what the results are later in the semester, and ultimately we will get to take home our new plants.

Other than these few things, my life is fairly uneventful as usual. I am already looking forward to Thanksgiving break, since there have been lots of tests lately. AHHH!!! Anyways, I hope everyone else is having a good weekend. Don't forget to set your clocks back one hour on Saturday night, and enjoy the extra sleep!

Monday, October 16, 2006

Back to School

Well, I am back from my Fall Break. Let me just say right now that it was not nearly long enough! I got back really late last night (around 11:30) and it took a three-hour nap to catch up on the lost sleep. Hopefully tomorrow will be a better day sleep-wise...

As for the break itself, I had a really good time. However, not all of it was spent resting, since I had ulterior motives for this trip. It was again time for my elementary/middle school's Fall Festival, and I once again was in charge of the Alumni Booth. I don't want to get into all the details of the day, but suffice it to say I spent quite a few hours setting up, running the booth, and taking it down. I will try to go into more details later this week, when I have more time.

As I said, I arrived back here at around 11:30 last night. Today I finally got my Sociology project back, and I got an A!!! Thanks again to everyone that helped me with the study. I really appreciate it, and you helped me to do well. Oh, and I also got my first Sociology test back, and I got a B+! It was kind of disappointing, since it was only 2 measly points away from an A; with the test and the project, I should have an A for the class so far.

Well, I've got a little bit of homework to do tonight in preparation for class tomorrow. I have a Chemistry Lab to look over, as well as a Botany Lab test to study for. Thanks again for your participation, and also thank you for all of your comments to my last post. I really found them amusing, and I learned something, too! Until later...

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Accents and Colloquialisms

Before I start into the topic at hand, I just wanted to thank everyone again for helping me with my Sociology project. I turned it in Friday, so we shall see how well I did. All the information you gave me was very helpful, but ultimately it will be my analysis that will get me a grade.

Now to the discussion at hand: accents and colloquialisms. We have been studying culture and societies in Sociology, and one of the topics we discussed was language. Everyone who speaks English in the United States speaks it a different way. Most people have some hint of an accent, or even a full on noticeable one. Then there are some people that don't have an accent at all! In particular, we watched a movie in class that went around to different regions to compare the accents. They visited some of the typical "accent headquarters," such as New York, Boston, Texas, and Louisiana. I think most of us would be familiar with these accents, and would be able to pick them out of a crowd. (The most prominent one to me was the Boston accent since it's so distinguished. "Pahk the cah in the yahd. I sar it! Dachesta." In case you didn't get any of that, "Park the car in the yard. I saw it! Dorchester.")

So, I thought it would be fun to see what kind of accents everybody thinks (or knows) they have. And if you are one of those people that doesn't really have a distinguishing accent, you probably still use the language of a certain part of the country (colloquialisms). I will use myself as an example, since this is, of course, my blog. I am from the South, born and raised. I don't have the Southern drawl that is commonly stereotyped, but I do use some of the language and mannerisms. One of my favorite "words" to say is "y'all." In case you don't know what that is, that is simply a contraction of the words "you" and "all," when referring to a group of people.

Does anyone want to share their accents and colloquialisms? Or, would anyone like to comment on the stereotypes of certain people of certain regions? My comment on stereotypes would be that they are merely exaggerations and are not always true. Take the South for example, since I know a great deal about it. If you only watched programs like "Hee Haw" and "The Beverly Hillbillies," you would assume that all Southerners talk really slow with that recognizable accent, and would be relatively simple and uneducated. Of course, that stereotype is clearly untrue, since I am defeating it as we speak...

Well, that's really all I wanted to comment on for today. As you may have noticed on the top of my page, I have a Fall Break coming up this week, and I will be going home for a long weekend. I will probably be away from my blog during that time, so please forgive me. Be assured that I will be back to blogging once I get back to school. Thanks again for you help, and have a great week!

Friday, September 29, 2006

Why Oranges and Lemons Taste Differently

I know what you're all thinking, "They're different because they grow on different plants." Well, it's not as simple as that. It's not even as general as genetics. It's much more basic: it's because of molecules and their shape.

Let me explain this a little more. In my Organic Chemistry class, we discussed shapes of molecules, and my professor gave us the example of a molecule found in both oranges and lemons. Both molecules have the formula C10H16 (or CH3C6H8CH2CH3 in the expanded formula). The only difference between the molecules is that the groups found at the bottom of the carbon rings are in different positions. Here's a graphic to explain that a little better:

If you can't tell, the groups are pointed in different directions. You have to imagine this in 3-D, which let me tell you can be quite difficult. The group on the orange molecule is coming out of the picture, as referenced by the dark line. Conversely, the group on the lemon molecule is drawn back into the picture, as referenced by the dashed line. Now does that make a little bit more sense???

Now, the main part of this lesson was to explain why oranges and lemons taste different to us when we eat them (or drink their juice). The enzymes and taste receptors in the body are chiral, meaning they are not symmetrical and read things in a certain direction. Because these molecules are also chiral, they are read differently by the taste receptors and enzymes in the mouth. The fact that the bottom groups are in different directions gives the molecules different tastes. This also shows that even changing the shape of a molecule can dramatically alter it's properties, in this case, taste.

So, there's your Organic Chemistry lesson for today. I hope at least part of that was interesting to you, since I really thought that was cool. But anyways... Thank you to everyone out there that has sent in their survey responses. I have gotten almost 100% participation only one day after sending it out, so that is very good. I thank you...

Well that's really all I wanted to share tonight. If I can think of anything else to post about, I'm sure I will have ample opportunities to post this weekend. Enjoy!

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Computer Woes and First Tests

As some of you may have noticed, I have been away from blogging for the last two weeks. This is not because of laziness or lack of time; unfortunately it was because of computer problems. Two weeks ago Friday, my screen went completely black, and I was unable to see the desktop. I could see some specks of light breaking through the darkness, but not enough to do much of anything. I called Dell immediately, and they proceeded to ask me lots of questions, and to see what the problem was. The giant box came a few days later, and I sent it away that same day. About five days later, I picked it up from the post office, and it was back to normal. Apparently they had to replace the screen, which, mind you, is not very cheap. My warranty had expired, so none of it was covered. But, I don't mind, since I really wanted my laptop back. So, there's my story.

As for school, this week and last week are the weeks for tests. I had a Botany Lab test on Tuesday and a Calculus test on Friday, and then I have a Chemistry test this coming Wednesday. I also had a paper due last Wednesday in English, and another one is due is a couple weeks. And, finally, as most of you already know, I am working on my Sociology project, which is due in two weeks. Speaking of which, I am ready to begin communicating with my participants, so if I could have your e-mail addresses, I would be most appreciative. If you don't want to leave your e-mail addresses on here, you can e-mail me at and I'll get back to you within a day or two. I'm really looking forward to this project, and I thank all of you again for participating.

Well, that is all for my short update. I will blog more about my classes later this week, so I hope you all are looking forward to that. And, as I get results to my first tests, I will make sure to update you on that also. That's all for now, and I hope everyone has a very productive week.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Sociological Study

Hello all! I just wanted to write a short note about a project that I will be doing for my Introduction to Sociology class in the near future. The interesting part of this project is that I will be involving you, if you wish to do so. The project is called a sociogram, and I will explain more about it later, as soon as I find out more information. The main idea of this is that I will be asking a couple of questions, predicting your answers, getting your actual answers, and compiling data for the sociogram. I need to have at least six (6) people for this study, so are any of you out there willing to participate?

I can assure you that the questions I will ask will not be deep, personal questions. And even if they were, I am supposed to interact with each person individually (ie. not sharing answers with others, and communicating with one person at a time). And it would also be best to keep this within a social group, such as a family. So, since most of you readers out there are family, that would be a pretty simple task. Any takers?

Remember I need at least six of you, and it would help me out tremendously if you could participate. If you could just leave me a comment or an e-mail if you are interested, I will communicate with you later with the questions and other details. Thank you in advance for your help, and I hope to hear from some of you all very soon!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

My French-Canadian Ancestors Would Be Proud!

I'll explain the title momentarily, for all those that are puzzled right now. First, I wanted to give a little background on a project I am doing for my Botany Lab Class. Since this class is dedicated entirely to plants, naturally part of that class would be identifying different species and types of plants. Well, that's just what we have been doing!

Part of the process includes using a dichotomous key. Any takers as to what that is?! Instead of making you wait in anticipation for another post, I'll just fill you in now. A dichotomous key is a written device used by scientists to identify organisms and objects. "Dichotomous" refers to the fact that there are two lines or phrases identifying a trait of the organism. The purpose is to describe the organism or object in a series of steps to narrow down the possibilities of what it is. In Botany, this is done by separating out different kinds of plants into groups and eliminating the erroneous possibilities. For example, a typical dichotomous key could start out like this:

1a. Leaves deciduous (fall out in winter) - step 2
1b. Leaves not deciduous (evergreens) - step 20

In this instance, you are eliminating several steps just in the first lines. The purpose is to follow the steps until you know with a great level of certainty what a specific plant (in this case, tree) is. We practiced this around campus, and used the key with great success. Of course, when it comes down to different trees in the same family (oaks, for example), it becomes more difficult to differentiate due to cross-breeding or similarities in tree features. But, this key would be useful in determining the family or genus of a particular tree.

Next, my professor gave us a mini-assignment of our own. After using a key she provided, she gave us the opportunity to create our own key. She gave each person a unique print-off that had images of leaves from around the campus. Each person had five leaves on their paper, and had to create a key for those particular leaves. I have scanned the paper I received into this post. Can you find anything in that image that might explain the title of this post?

(Hint: Look in the lower left-hand corner.)

Do you see it? For those who could not, it is a Sugar Maple leaf, the leaf on the Canadian flag! Being of French-Canadian ancestry, as I am, and as many of you readers are, it was very fitting for me to get the Sugar Maple leaf for my project, the symbol many Americans associate primarily with Canada. Wouldn't my Beauregard ancestors be proud?

So, my task by Thursday is to create a dichotomous key for these five leaves. I can take any approach I wish, but the recommendation of my professor was to separate the leaves into simple and compound leaves. Simple would be, for example, the Sugar Maple leaf. Compound, for example, would be the long branch with several leaflets in the middle of the page (the Golden-Rain Tree). By differentiating between simple and compound, I would be able to eliminate one of the leaves from my possibilities, since there is only one compound leaf. This would also allow me to not differentiate between mundane characteristics like leaf margin or apex shape, which would be harder to differential than the difference between simple and compound. Do you get the idea?

Well, that's the end of my lesson tonight. I hope I didn't utterly confuse everyone in the process! Oh, and by the way, to answer the question posed by my grandfather on my last post, yes, I do know what that is. I believe you mean "apical meristem," and that is the tip of a leaf, root, or stem where the plant continues to grow. Anyways, that's it from me! I hope everyone is having a good week, and had an enjoyable, long Labor Day weekend.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

First Week of Classes and Answers

Well, my first week of Fall classes is now over. There's not really much to report about those, so I will just leave it at that. Suffice it to say that I enjoyed my other classes and that I think it's going to be a very good semester for me.

In other news, I have been battling a cold since I got here on Sunday. I figured that by now it would have subsided, but alas, it comes and goes. I have been taking antihistamines and Tylenol since the onset, not to mention plenty of rest and fluids. However, the rain and fluctuating temperatures in Cincinnati are aggravating this illness. Hopefully within the next couple of days I will discover what to do to successfully rid myself of this cold. For now, I'll drink my OJ and get plenty of rest.

Oh yeah, and I guess you all would like to know the answers to the questions in my last post. To date, I have only had one person (Uncle Tim) attempt to answer my questions, and that is a bit disappointing... Is this something that we want to continue in the future? I promise that other questions won't take as much research involved! But anyways, just let me know if this is something you wish to see again in future posts. (Remember that I have several courses from which to find material!) Here are the answers to the previous post:

1. roots, stem, and leaves
2. Chlorophyll, green
3. Xylem and phloem
4. dermal, ground, and vascular
5. petiole
6. node

Did anyone get close to these answers?

Well, I guess I should get back to treating my cold and watching my tennis. I just watched another amazing match by Agassi; I'm not sure what round it was, but it was against James Blake, and he beat him in the fifth set tiebreak. I hope to hear from all of you soon, and wish me luck on defeating my nemesis. Have a great Labor Day weekend!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

On Completing the First Day of Classes...

Well, the first day of classes is now over, and believe it or not, I learned something on the very first day! I only had two classes: Organic Chemistry Lab and Botany Lab. Organic Chemistry Lab just started out as every other Chemistry Lab, in that we went through safety procedures and made sure we had all our necessary supplies. We did get an assignment on the very first day, which I wasn't exactly thrilled about, but since that class only meets once a week, it won't be due until next Tuesday. So, as usual, it looks like my Chemistry Lab will be interesting, and at times, fun!

When it came to Botany Lab, I really didn't know what to expect. I knew we would be studying about plants, but I really had no idea how the class would be structured. Well, it turns out that it will be a fairly laid-back environment, since according to my professor, lab is supposed to be more fun and interesting. I can tell that she is a very friendly, genuine person, and she really tries to connect with her students. I know already that I will enjoy the lab part of this course, so I will probably be talking about it a lot in the coming months.

Okay, now here's where I want to try something new. My grandfather suggested that I shouldn't only discuss what's happening in my life, but to ask questions and involve the reader. Well, here we go! Like I said before, I learned something today from my Botany class, so let's see how much you all know about plants.

1. What are the three organs that make up the vascular plant body? (Vascular plants are the ones we usually think of: trees, bushes, flowers, etc.)

2. What is the pigment that plants use in order to perform photosynthesis? What color is this pigment?

3. What are the two pathways of the vascular system of plants? (Vascular = transporting water and nutrients)

4. What three types of tissues make up the internal structures of plants?

5. What is the part of the plant that grows as a stalk from the stem and forms a leaf?

6. What is the name of the portion of the stem where one or more leaves are attached?

Well, there you have it! You might need to do a little research to find these answers, but see if you can come up with any of them on your own. I knew a few of these before today's class, but a couple of them (namely, numbers 4-6) I learned, or re-learned, today. Hopefully you enjoy this type of reader involvement, and if you do, I intend to do it more often. I will still talk about my life both in and out of school, but I think this type of involvement can be fun and different.

Well, I should really be getting to bed soon, since I have classes all morning tomorrow. Here's where I'll be tomorrow: Sociology, Botany lecture, Organic Chemistry lecture, Calculus, and English. It'll be a very busy day, but I think I can handle it. Of course, I will report to you any major events that occur, and maybe even some more questions to ponder! I hope this post finds everyone well and enjoying their week, and I hope to hear some answers to my brain busters soon!

Sunday, August 27, 2006

I'm Back! (For Good This Time)

I know, I know... I'm sure you're all thinking the same thing: "Where the hell have you been!?" Well here's the answer: I've been working and having too much fun at home, and I just didn't take the time to continue my blog this summer. I hope all of you can forgive me, and you can look forward to weekly posts; maybe even a couple per week!

Well, the main reason I'm writing this was to let everyone know that I'm back in Cincinnati starting a brand new school year. I've only been in this room for a couple of hours, so I really haven't had the opportunity to unpack all my stuff and find a suitable home for it. I have however set up my computer, my desk, and the land phone, so I'm pretty much set for now. The rest can come later, either tonight or tomorrow (tomorrow's looking better and better as it gets later and I get sleepier!). It was really difficult to say goodbye to my family this afternoon, but I am looking forward to a great first semester, and hopefully a great sophomore year.

Now that everything's been settled on here (or at least I hope; I'm sure you'll let me know if I haven't), I think I'll wrap this up. I wanted to post a few pictures from my summer exploits, so I intend to do that in the next few days. By the way, if my grandparents are reading this, could you please e-mail me the pictures that were taken at your place? There were a few at the beach and a couple just around the house. I would really appreciate it!

Well, that's really all I have to say for now. I'll try to put away some of my stuff tonight and get settled in, and I'll let everyone know about classes once they start up on Tuesday. I hope everyone's up to learning something new in each of my posts! Anyways, I'll talk to y'all later, and have a great week!

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Sorry for the Delay!

Well, it's been over a month since I last posted on here, and for that I would like to sincerely apologize. I must have left some people yearning for more blog! Well, I am back, and now that I am back to the blogging world, I will try to get back to the once- or twice-a-week postings. But, until I have more time and energy (as it is after 12:30 AM), this post will be a very short one. I will make sure to elaborate on these details later on, since I know how much you people love details!

After packing up all my stuff and cleaning out my dorm room, I headed home. This was on the 3rd of May, so I have been home for over a month. Since that time, I have mostly just been working, getting together with my friends, and spending some quality time with my family. All in all, it's been a very good month, and I am very glad to be home. I've tried my hardest to rest and relax as much as possible, but of course that cannot happen all the time! I have to work to have money, and as a broke college student, I need money! I also have a car payment and other car expenses like insurance, so I'm trying to work about five days a week, or approximately 35 hours every week. So far, this is working out pretty well, so I shall continue on this path for the rest of the summer.

Well, now that you know what I have been up to thus far, you can rest easy. Just know that I won't leave you hanging again, and I will try to elaborate on the above comments later this week. I hope everyone is having a great summer, and keep on bloggin'!

Thursday, April 27, 2006

A Fun Weekend

Well it's been more than a week since my last post, so I suppose it's about time for another. I wanted to write about this past weekend earlier this week, but as you can probably imagine, I've been pretty busy with classes. The main reason I wanted to talk about this weekend was because my friend Aaron came up to visit Saturday through Monday. He had wanted to come up here and see what I was experiencing up here, and this past weekend was really the only possibility this late in the semester. Plus, since he doesn't have classes on MWF, staying the weekend was a good option, so that's what he did.

The original plan was for him to drive the 3.5-4 hours on Friday afternoon, and I would meet him in Lexington, KY, after my last class. Unfortunately the weather didn't cooperate with that plan, and he decided to wait until Saturday morning to make the drive. Apparently there were severe thunderstorms, flood watches, and even tornado watches in the area, so it was probably a good decision to wait. So, we planned on meeting in Lexington around 11:30 in the morning at Chick-fil-A (I was going to get my lunch of course). But, he ran into traffic and construction on the way up here, and I had to wait a little more than half an hour. So, while I was waiting, I traveled to a nearby Meijer store, since I had never been in one. (They have one just a few minutes away from here, and it seems like everyone shops there.) Then he finally got into town and I got my chicken nuggets!

About half an hour later, we headed north (I just turned right back around), which took about an hour and a half. When we got on campus, I got him a parking pass, and showed him around the dorm, my individual room, and the campus in general. The icing on the cake was that it was such a beautiful day, so he was impressed with everything he saw. We walked around a little more, and decided we were hungry again! One of the things he had wanted to do was try Cincinnati chili, and since there is a Skyline restaurant just down the street, we decided to go there. I got a 4-way chili and he got some sort of chili "burrito." Everything was great, and he said it was different than anything he had eaten before, but that it was still really good. So afterwards we went back to campus and just "hung out" for a little while. After "hanging out" we headed to Kenwood Mall, which is the one closest to here. We looked in all the fun stores and walked around some more, but there was no eating this time. Aaron enjoyed all the different stores, many of which we don't have in Knoxville, and several of which reminded him of being back in California. (He and his family are originally from Orange County.) But, we couldn't do the no-eating thing for very long, so we stopped at Graeter's, which I have heard has the best ice cream in Cincinnati. Boy, they weren't lying! I got the chocolate chip cookie dough, and it was some of the best ice cream I've ever had! Then we drove back to campus with our sugar rush, and hung out some more.

After that, we didn't really do too much except talk and watch TV. Later that night we had the "Wendy's from HELL" experience! This particular Wendy's was kind of dirty and full of dirty, drunk people (well, one of the women was drunk as far as we could tell). To top that, when I ordered my chicken sandwich, they were out of lettuce and tomato! My sandwich just had a piece of chicken on a bun, which wasn't as good as it should have been. So, we resolved to get a comment card, which we actually have yet to fill out.

After that, it was time for movies and fun! We watched a movie called "She Devil" with Meryl Streep and Roseanne Barr, which by the way was hilarious, and also Ellen Degeneres' HBO special; we were laughing the entire time! We were up until almost 3:00 AM laughing, watching TV, and more laughing, and we decided that Sunday would be the day to do more "stuff."

Sunday morning came around, and we woke up around 1:00 in the afternoon. We ended up getting lunch at Taco Bell and drove around a little bit after that. Mass was at 7:00, so we watched some TV and "hung out" some more before then. Mass was great that night, full of energy and singing, and even a Confirmation! Afterwards we were pretty hungry, and decided to go somewhere like TGI Friday's for dinner. So, since I really didn't know where it was, I looked on Mapquest and mapped out the directions. Cut to us more than an hour and a half later when we still haven't found the place! After stopping at two different locations and calling directory assistance (and getting three different sets of directions), we found out that the place we were looking for didn't exist... Boy was I angry! I was actually more hungry than anything, so even though we didn't find that particular restaurant, we stopped at a strip mall that had a Donato's Pizza in it, which has some of the best pizza I've ever had. So we stopped in there (this was around 10:00 at night) and waited a surprisingly short 15-20 minutes to get some food. We drove back the 5 miles to campus and ate in the room. It was pretty good pizza, although I'm not sure it was worth a two-hour wait... While we ate our pizza, we watched "The 40-Year-Old Virgin," which was hilarious yet again! While I did some homework for my Monday morning class, Aaron watched some Roseanne on TV, among other things, and that night we went to bed a little bit earlier. I have that 8:30 class, so I didn't want to be groggy all day, obviously.

Monday morning, I got up at the regular time and got to my class on time, while he just slept away. I got back right around 10:30, and we got all his stuff together so he could leave. We watched Ellen's show on TV beforehand, and I explained as best I could how to get home (he doesn't have the best sense of direction). Right around noon we packed up all his stuff and he headed out, while I headed off to my 12:30 class. I called at lunch time and he was still on the road, somewhere in KY that I didn't recognize. But, he got home safely and called me around 5:00 after I was out of class and had settled in a little. All in all, a very fun weekend.

Well, so that ends my weekend update. Coming up this week, the last of my Spring Semester classes (YAY!). Coming up next week, my four final exams. I will be sure to post again sometime soon, hopefully this weekend. Until then, I hope everyone can hang in there until the weekend.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Back to School...Boy, What a Week!

Well I guess now is as good a time as any to blog again, since this might just be the only "free time" I'll have this week. I'm referring to all the work and stuff in my classes that I spoke about earlier, and let me run down everything that has happened so far. Since coming back, I've had to do a write-up for Chemistry Lab, take a Spanish quiz, give my Spanish presentation, take a Chemistry test, and take a Biology Lab test. Left to go this week are another Chemistry Lab report, a Philosophy paper, possibly a Philosophy quiz, and a Biology test. This is going to be one heck of a week!

Other than school, now that I'm back from Easter Break, I just wanted to update everyone how everything went. I'm sorry that I didn't update from home at all, but frankly, I was having too good a time! I got in around 5:45 PM after driving a little more than three and a half hours, and surprisingly very little traffic. Wednesday night was going to be merely a relaxation night, so that's what I did! My dad grilled steaks for dinner, since it was such a beautiful day (which it should be noted that the weather was perfect with highs in the high 70s and low 80s every day). That was one delicious Welcome Home dinner! This was followed by some unpacking, some conversation, and yes, more relaxation.

Thursday started out early for me, since I wanted to get a haircut, and since I was working at 4:00. My dad picked up some breakfast for the three of us that were there (my mom had already left for work), and afterwards we went on our separate ways. I got my haircut and got home in just enough time to eat some lunch and relax a little more before work. I then donned my (in)famous Ingles attire and headed on down there for the first of a brief three days of work. That night was fairly uneventful for me, yet extremely busy, obviously. Needless to say, I was ready for my break around 7:45-8:00. I got off at just after 11:00, being one of only two that were scheduled to stay that late. Let me tell you, on the days before a holiday, two people are not enough, even at that hour of the day. It was a miracle I got out that early actually, but thanks be to God I did.

Friday was another early to bed, early to rise situation. I was meeting my friend Aaron for lunch and mall-ing over on the East side of town. (It should be noted here that we usually go to the West side of town to go to the mall, but I guess we wanted to be different.) We walked around, had some meatless lunch, and walked around some more before coming back home. Again, I got home just in time to get ready for work, and I was preparing for it to be even busier than Thursday night. I was right! This time I was on a register (Thursday I was running the self checkout U-Scan) and I didn't hardly get a minute to catch my breath. That night I didn't get a break until almost 9:30, which I still don't know how that happened. Again I was one out of only 2-3 people scheduled to 11:00, and it was once again very busy. That night I didn't get out of there until almost 11:30, since we had a rush right before 11:00 which didn't stop until after I was allowed to leave. I was glad to be home after that night, especially since Saturday would be my one chance to sleep in a little.

Saturday was strictly family day and I was able to sleep in until about 10:00. I again had to work at 4:00, my last work day, so we spent as much of that time as a family. My brother was off with friends, so my mom, dad, and I drove around and did family stuff. We went and got a couple of new things to wear for Easter and a few other things, and got home around 2:30. Then my mom and I proceeded to do something I hadn't done in many years: dye Easter eggs. We got this sponge kit thingy while we were out, and we made some colorful "tie-dyed" eggs. Here's a picture of our wonderful work:

:Our beautiful Easter eggs! I was only able to dye a couple of them, since I had to work yet again, but I think they came out pretty well!

After we finished the eggs, I got ready to work my last day of that trip, and I was prepared for it to be even busier than the previous two night combined. Boy, was I wrong! It was even busier than that! There were at least 10 registers open at all times, and I was at the U-Scan again. I don't think there was a break in the lines for that entire night, including after I left around 11:15. But this time I got my break around 8:00 (as requested), which was actually good since it was one of our not-so-busy times. Anna, one of the people that I used to work with a while ago, came and drove me over to Zaxby's, which if I haven't told you before is only my favorite chicken place! We met her daughter Sara, who I also used to work with, and a friend of hers, and had a nice (and very delicious!) chicken dinner. It was then back to the store, where business picked right back up, and I got out of there right around 11:15.

Easter Sunday was a very good family day for me, and I'm sure it was one of the best I've had in a while. We got up a little bit earlier than usual and went to the 10:00 AM Mass, since we somehow figured it would be less crowded. WRONG! That was the most crowded Mass of the day, and we ended up sitting in the balcony again, and looked down upon a standing-room only Church! It was a very nice Mass filled with singing and fellowship, and even a few humorous moments. One in particular was when the priest read the wrong Gospel not once, but twice, and eventually got to the right one. He even made a joke about that later, so that was definitely a lighter moment during the Mass. We ended on a high note with Alleluias and our music director playing away on the majestic pipe organ, as we walked outside into the most beautiful Easter weather. After fighting the traffic from the 11:30 parishioners (our Mass had let out right around 11:15, which conflicted with those people arriving for the next Mass), we got home and were able to relax.

My mom and dad had wanted to have the traditional ham and fixin's for lunch, but my brother and I were hungry right after we got back from Mass. We snacked on some of those hard-boiled eggs, and eventually ordered pizzas for an Easter lunch! This was followed by some napping and relaxing of course. Then my mom and brother had the idea of taking our dogs over to the new dog park about 10 minutes away, which I went along with. I was in charge of our smaller dog Halo, and my brother was in the back taking care of Skye, the Border Collie. Boy was that a hassle! They were all over the place and barking, but that was the least of our problems. When we actually got there, Halo wouldn't stop barking, as we expected would happen. She had to stay in the car with supervision from myself and my mom while Ryan let Skye run around and fetch, and of course, show off her talents. Eventually, Halo quieted down enough and we all went in to watch over her. She made friends with a couple of the other dogs (including a Golden Retriever), and this time kept the barking to a minimum. There were about a dozen dogs running around, and it was a really nice area right off to the side of the park. I'm sure the dogs enjoyed that the most, but the humans weren't displeased either.

After arriving back home, the preparations were made for our Easter dinner, which consisted of ham, potatoes, asparagus with Hollandaise sauce, rolls, and a pretty Easter cake. That really was a great dinner! For the first time, we had gotten a Honeybaked Ham, and it really did taste good. Everything complemented everything else, and we all ate our fill. For dessert, which actually came much later after the meal, we had an egg-shaped cake that my mom found at Ingles. They had made several of them in different pastel colors of icing, but my mom said she got one of the only religious cake available. Below is a picture of that cake, which while looking very nice tasted very good as well.

:I really liked the way this cake looked, so I just had to take a picture of it. Whoever made this really knew what they were doing!

After dinner, we all went to bed at different times, and I was prepared for another early day on Monday, my last day in town.

Monday morning I got up around 9:00, since I was meeting Aaron again, and we were going to have lunch with our friend Emily. Emily, for all of those who remember, is the friend that I went to school with since Kindergarten. I actually got kind of a late start despite waking up early, and I headed out towards his house. Now I also needed an oil change before headine back up here, so I decided to just drop off my car at the Wal-Mart across the street from his apartment complex. I called and arranged to have him pick me up, but by the time he was ready, my car had already been finished. By then it was around 12:30, and Emily had already eaten and gone back to her dorm. (We were going to meet her at a place on campus, since she goes to UT.) By the time we got down there, we were starving, and just went into that same restaurant. She walked back to meet us (and watch us eat I guess), and we shared some good conversations, and laughs of course. We walked back to her dorm for a little visit, which actually turned into a couple of hours! She had a class at 3:30, so we let her go and headed off to the mall out West.

We walked around a little bit and visited American Eagle, so that Aaron could pick up his work schedule. We were only there for about an hour and a half, and I had to head back home to pack up the car and head off. I got home around 5:30-6:00, and got everything I could packed into the car. This load was much lighter than the one I came in with, since I had brought a few things (including winter clothes) back so that I didn't have to overstuff my car at the end of the year. Before we completely packed up, we stopped at the Dollar Store to get a few necessities for me to take back. By the time everything had been loaded up and I had said my goodbyes, it was around 7:30-7:45, which was a little bit later than I had wanted to leave! But it was all good, since I liked spending that time with my friends and family. This drive back took a little bit longer, since I stopped to eat (a yummy ham sandwich!) and there was quite a bit of construction on the way up. I got here at just after midnight, and boy was I exhausted! I got everything unpacked and tried to get to bed around 1:00, and I really did fall asleep right away.

Since I got back, I've been busy busy busy, which I guess is natural given there are only two more weeks of classes (YES!!!). But I am just looking forward to summer so that I can have even more time to be with friends and family. So, it will all be worth it, even if I have to work my tail off until then.

Well, I guess I should get to work now. I need to work on Chemistry Lab, possibly finish my Philosophy paper, and even do some laundry. Until next time, I hope everyone has a wonderful week, and a joyous Easter Season!

Let us rejoice in our Risen Lord! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Monday, April 10, 2006

Of Tennis and Tornadoes

Well it seems as if the Spring/Summer weather is here to stay, although I may not have said that the other day. Today we had highs back in the 70s, just like we had on Friday, and they predict it will be the same for the rest of the week. But, if you had been here only three days ago, you would have noticed something very different; highs only in the 40s and 50s! It was back to the old sweatshirts and jackets around here, well at least for the last couple of days. Frankly, I'm glad that the chilly winter weather is over, because to me, what's the point in it being cold if you're not going to get any snow?

Okay, now let's get to the topic at hand. Friday, as I said, was one of the warmest days we've had so far. Everyone decided that was the day to do anything outdoors, and I was no exception to that (only it took me a little more encouragement from an outside source). This was around 2:30 in the afternoon, and some friends of mine from down the hall asked me to go play doubles tennis with them. I had to think for a second, since I hadn't played since at least last fall, but came to the old conclusion, "Aww, what the heck?" I got into tennis-appropriate attire and walked down there to our tennis courts, which I found out are abundant and well-kept. There were four of us total: two guys from down the hall, one guy who is in a couple of my classes (who claimed to have never played before), and myself. We were paired up just by coincidence, which I found to be a little lop-sided, since I was obviously paired with an experienced player, and the other side had a player with no experience whatsoever. But, I didn't really worry about that, since it had been so long since I had last played anyways.

That being said, I think I did fairly well for someone that hadn't played in a while. I got all my serves in except for one, and kept all errors down to a minimum. My companion was doing very well that day, and after all was said and done, we won 6-1, 6-4, 6-2! I was really excited about that, and that definitely boosted my confidence. But what I didn't realize was what was looming in the distance, as clouds took over the sky.

Right before our match ended, the clouds starting floating in from the distance, and within just a few minutes, they had totally taken over the once-blue sky. As we were packing up and heading off, it started to sprinkle a little bit, but nothing too significant. But only a few minutes after the rain started, something unexpected happened. We got up to the dorms, and out of nowhere the tornado sirens began to go off around us. I had never heard such things before, so I really didn't know what was going on. So I rushed back into the dorm and turned on the TV, only to find the weathermen on every single channel. That same line of storms that killed so many in the South was extending up here, and we had the possibility of heavy winds, large hail, local flooding, and the small chance of tornadoes. As I watched the news (which this "severe weather update" lasted for almost three hours), I saw something that I had never seen before: dark red, purple, and even black colored sections on the local radar. Fortunately for us (but possibly unfortunately for others), we didn't get any of the hail or tornadoes, but we did get heavy rain and some winds. I found out the only reason those sirens went off was because in Hamilton County, they set them off whenever there is a tornado watch and a severe thunderstorm warning at the same time, which there was at the beginning of the storm. So, this storm lasted for about 3-4 hours, and eventually moved to the East, leaving us with cold temperatures and wet areas for the next couple of days. We were truly spared from anything serious, but there was one possible tornado (or funnel cloud) somewhere in Indiana. Nevertheless, I was still glad that it didn't turn into anything more serious.

Well that's really all that's been going on lately for me. I do have my Easter Break starting on Wednesday after classes, which lasts through Monday. I have been looking forward to this for a while now, and I really do need a break. Next week will be very tough as far as classes go (as I think I mentioned in my last post), so I will need a few days off to prepare for the stress, and of course to study and start the papers, etc. I don't know if I will post before I leave, but I will be heading out around 1:30 on Wednesday, and I should post after I get home. Until then, I hope everyone's week is getting off to a good start, and I will talk to y'all later.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Don't Blame Me, Blame Entropy!

As most of you are probably wondering what I mean by my title, let me go ahead and explain it to you. It is a quote from my Chemistry professor, Dr. Baba. Entropy is defined as the amount of disorder or randomness of a system and its surroundings, which usually refers to chemical reactions and phase states (you know, solid, liquid, and gas; gases have the highest entropy and solids have the least). But he also defined entropy in a larger sense, in that everything on Earth involves entropy. He said that the entire universe tends to become more and more disordered, having more entropy. To illustrate this, he used the example of a bedroom:

The average bedroom, even after you have thoroughly cleaned it, made the bed, etc. tends to become more disordered over time, mostly just by either getting dirty or messy (bed unmade, clothes strewn about, etc.). This is due to the fact that randomness or disorder (higher entropy) is favored by the universe, because it takes less energy. If you think about that logically, it really is true! The only reason rooms get messy is because it sometimes takes too much energy to clean it, at least in some people's minds. In order to counteract this high level of entropy, energy must be added into the system; in the bedroom case, this is the energy of the person cleaning it up. This leads to the quote in the title, "Don't blame me; blame entropy," which was just a humorous way of my professor justifying the fact that things become disordered.

Ok, now that I've thoroughly explained the title (and possibly confused many of you) I will segue into why that title applies to me. This is because my life, in general, has a great amount of randomness and disorder, as I'm sure many of you can attest to also. I just thought this whole entropy discussion was too interesting, given the fact that completely relates to me! Recently this disorder and randomness was due to registration for classes for the Fall 2006 Semester. I think I already blogged about which classes I wanted to take, but that report was premature, as I hadn't actually made out that schedule. My registration day was on Monday at 3:30 PM, and I was very nervous about this. This was because Monday was the second to last day of registration, and no one could guarantee that my classes would still be open when it was my turn. So throughout last week and the beginning of this week, I was checking the classes online to see how they were filling up, and whether or not any of them had been closed. This caused a lot of frustration and anxiety on my part, even though the classes weren't filling up quickly at all. I still had to be sure that I got those classes, since some of them are necessary to be taken at this point of my college career.

The other thing that was making me nervous was that my registration time was in the middle of my Biology Lab class! This would be a problem, unless I could convince my professor to let me out, register, and then come back to class. So I e-mailed him on Sunday morning telling him about my predicament, and right after class started on Monday I reminded him, since he hadn't responded to my e-mail. He told me that I could register from the classroom computer if I wanted, since we are able to either register online (which is more involved, but also more convenient) or in person at the Registrar's Office (which is less involved, but also less convenient). So I didn't hesitate and quickly got everything done, and surprisingly didn't have any problems getting into any of my classes! So all that worrying was for nothing, once again.

Other than registration, classes have also been providing the extra entropy in my already hectic life. By this point, all of my classes are in full gear, getting tests, quizzes, papers, and projects out of the way. Let me run down a few of the events that will transpire after the Easter Break: Chemistry test, Biology Lab test, Biology test, Spanish presentation, Philosophy paper, possible quizzes (Spanish, Philosophy, Biology Lab), and not to mention the work that is already going on in those classes. AHHH!!! But it will all be handled and dealt with accordingly, so I don't predict that there will be any major problems.

For some good news, let's turn to Chemistry Lab! We have been doing something called Qualitative Analysis for the last two weeks, and it really is going well. QUAL, as we call it, is different from all our other experiments, since numbers and calculations aren't involved. It is simply performing tests on known, and later unknown, solutions to determine the presence of certain ions. (ION = a positively or negatively charged particle, resulting when an atom of a given element gains or loses electrons) We add components to these solutions, which form compounds, precipitates (solids that fall out of solution), or have color changes, and from this we can determine which ions are present in solution. It really is a lot of fun for me, even though it can be very time-consuming. But, according to my instructor, the fact that I am thorough and cautious really pays off for me, since I have one of the highest grades in the class. This was also evident from our recent test, where I got a 94%, the second-highest grade in the class! YAY!

Well, as this is getting increasingly longer, I will stop for now. I'm sorry if I just totally confused everyone with the entropy discussion, but if you want a further explanation, I can try to answer your questions. Until next time, here's hoping that your universe is moving towards a lower level of entropy...

Monday, March 27, 2006


So, I guess you can all guess what this post is going to be about. No, I'm not going to spend this entire time talking about that delicious, steaming piece of cinnamony goodness covered in cream cheese icing, but it does involve the Cinnabon in part. Let's just start in the beginning...

Saturday was going to be a fairly uneventful day, but after talking to my former co-worker Anna, I began looking at all the malls in the Cincinnati area. Believe it or not, there are at least five of them! Before Saturday, I had only visited the Kenwood Towne Centre, which is the closest mall to where I am. There are four others spaced out around Cincinnati, but most of these are at least 20-30 minutes away, as opposed to the 10-15 that it takes me to get to Kenwood. But I needed a change in scenery, and I just wanted to see what all the hype was about, so this brought me to the Tri-County Mall, which is in Northern Cincinnati. After about 45 minutes (or more) of trying to figure out the highway system here, I arrived, and to my amazement, instantly found a parking spot. Things were already shaping up!

Now this mall is apparently the biggest and most popular in the entire city, so I was a little intimidated at first, but then it really wasn't as crowded as I was anticipating. It was after all around 3:30 PM, so most of the lunch people had left already. Not to mention the fact that it was raining and snowing that day, so I guess most people didn't want to get out that Saturday. But I'm not one to stay in just because of a little weather, so I wasn't bothered at all. I walked around just for a few minutes (in search of the Food Court) and found the Cinnabon right as I walked in! It was tempting me the entire time I was there... I found the Food Court fairly easily, and looked around at my choices. To my surprise, there were only about 7-8 different restaurants in that Food Court, which I found odd since Knoxville's West Town Mall is smaller than this one and yet had twice as many food choices. I chose the pizza place just since it was there and ready to go, and I was starving. That took about ten minutes, and I was back to walking.

I went into a few stores (no purchases this time...What, do you think I'm made of money???) and looked around in general. There were a lot of higher end stores and a few of those specialty shops, then some clothing stores, and finally the anchor department stores (Dillard's, Macy's, Sears, etc.). I just walked up and down the mall a little bit, working up a little sweat before I get the all-important Cinnabon. Now, I had waited enough, and it was calling to me. I know this section might be a little unappealing to my grandfather, so if at any point you wish to scroll down, feel free. HAHAHA (We had a conversation about Cinnabons last summer when I was visiting in Florida. You can ask him about his "Cinnabon Philosophy" sometime later.) So I walked over there and the smell was calling me; it was almost overwhelming. I got the oh-so-good treat, and it was warm, and soft, and of course cinnamony. I, however, didn't finish the behemoth of a dessert, but it was good anyways. It was a long time coming, and it definitely filled that void in my life, as it were.

This was then followed by more walking, and I even took the stairs to walk off some of that Cinnabon (mmm...Cinnabon). I found out that they have one of those glass elevators, just like the mall my grandma took us to when she lived near Atlanta. I didn't indulge in that, however, since I wanted to get as much walking in as possible. I looked at a few more stores, but quickly got hungry once again! I did have that taste of sugar in my mouth, which isn't appetizing after the fact. I needed something to counteract that, so I got a little box of Chick-fil-A nuggets. Boy did that hit the spot! That was enough as far as eating, so I went back to walking around.

This time I only walked around for 10-15 minutes, and I decided that it was time to head back. I had, after all, been there for almost three hours, so I had been there long enough. When I walked outside, I found out that it had hailed or sleeted while I was inside, which was a surprise to me! I drove back here, and relaxed for the rest of the night (until it was cleaning and laundry time). All in all, a very nice and enjoyable day.

Well, that's really all I have to report for now. There will be a few things going on this week that I can write about later, but I will try to do that tomorrow or Wednesday. For now, it's time to look over the procedure for tomorrow's Chemistry Lab, and do a Pre-Lab write-up. Until next time, I hope everyone had a great weekend, and I hope you also have a very productive week.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Pictures of Spring Snow

As promised, I walked around campus a little after I ate my lunch, and then later after dinner, and got some really good pictures of the snow. As we speak, there are still some flurries around, but I don't think we'll have the more than 5 inches that they were forecasting at one time. We have gotten around 3-4, which is still fine with me! Just to clarify, the first four pictures are from this afternoon and the last few are from this evening. So, without further ado, here are the pictures:

:What used to be the start of a beautiful Spring has now been covered up by the Winter weather. These are the tree and daffodils in front of the Student Center.

:This is another picture from around the Student Center. I'm looking off toward Dana Avenue, where a lot of the neighborhood houses are located. Very nice...

:I decided to walk around a little bit and looked down upon the baseball field with all the little "X" flags. I just thought that was a neat picture with the snow-covered field.

:For this picture, I was actually behind my dorm building. This is looking across Victory Parkway at the wooded hill area. (Just ignore the blue sign that says "Jesuit Residence"...)

:After dinner I went walking around, and this is over behind one of the other dorms. This is some of the only "undisturbed" snow on campus, and it measured almost 4 inches!

:I just wanted to take a couple of pictures of my car covered in snow! Obviously this isn't a normal occurrence, so I just wanted to see what it looked like...

:Just so you know, I'm not obsessed with my car! I was just so happy to see it covered in four inches of snow, that I just had to take pictures!

So, here's just a little update since my post this morning. We have had around three and a half to four inches of snow so far (according to my own personal snow depth test, which I took in the "undisturbed" snow), and there are still some flurries as we speak. I don't expect there to be any more accumulations, and I'm sure classes will be on for tomorrow. In other news, I have come to the conclusion that in "winter" there is nothing more beautiful than a nice snowfall, even in a hustling, bustling city like Cincinnati.

Well, that's all for now, so I hope you enjoyed the pictures! I know I enjoyed taking them, so I hope those of you who aren't experiencing snow can take in some of the beauty I attempted to capture. Until next time, I hope everyone can have a safe and productive week.