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...