Sunday, December 16, 2007

Snow, Snow, Wonderful Snow

Sorry, Grandma, I had to take your idea for a blog title! I hope you can forgive me...

Well this weekend has been the time for the first major snow of the season. We were expecting between 2-4 inches here in Cincinnati by this afternoon. Notice that I said "expecting." The snow started yesterday at around 9 AM and continued for about three hours. Then it turned into rain for the rest of the day, washing away the 1-2 inches that fell (quite quickly, actually) that morning. Then the meteorologists were telling us that we would get another 1-3 inches today, since the rain would turn back into snow. Well, that snow started around 5-6 AM today, and ended just a few hours later. That snow didn't amount to much at all. Now, it seems like all we have is wind and a few flurries. Still, that's better than nothing!

So despite the fact that we didn't have significant accumulations (and I'm sure some of my readers in the great state of Michigan did experience those), I was still happy to see that wintry precipitation. It wouldn't have made a difference to have school called off this week, as it is finals time! They obviously wouldn't have cancelled finals, but I would have liked a little bit more to walk around in and take pictures. But alas, Mother Nature wasn't fulfilling my dreams this time around. Oh well, winter hasn't even started yet, so there will be plenty of time.

In other news, Happy Belated Birthday to my Grandfather! For those of you who didn't already know, his birthday was yesterday. If you, like myself, found yourself forgetting to send him a greeting for whatever reason, I'm sure he would appreciate even a late call, e-mail, or card. Or then again, you could devote a part of your blog to him :-D. Happy Birthday!

Finally, as you read above, this week is Finals Week for me. I have one final each day Monday through Wednesday, all at 8:30 AM. I also have one paper that is due by 1:00 PM Wednesday (a great alternative to another final). That means I will be busy busy busy, but also that I will be going home come Wednesday! I will try to blog again before Christmas (no promises), but in case I don't, I wish you all a Very Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year! God Bless!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

It's That Time

Registration time that is...

Today was my day to register for classes for the Spring 2008 semester. If you have been reading my blogs for a while, you will remember how much I hate, HATE registration days! Well, this one was like all the others, except only to a lesser extent. I got most of the classes I wanted; there was one that I wanted to take but couldn't, because I had to take a different section of a lab that would have conflicted with the time. I was shocked to find earlier today that all the lab sections for Genetics had been filled before the lecture had been filled. Later I discovered that they added spots in each lab section, giving me the impression that someone had made a mistake. A BIG one... So, it worked in my favor that they changed the number of seats, since I was able to register!

So, here's what I will be taking next semester:

Genetics
Genetics Lab

U.S. History II
College Physics II
Introductory Physics Lab II
Introduction to Christian Scriptures

I will be most interested in the Genetics and Scripture classes. I have had some background in Genetics from high school, but nothing compared to what I'm sure I will experience here. Also in high school, we were required to take Scripture our Sophomore year, but that class focused mainly on the Old Testament. I will be interested to go more in-depth into the New Testament, since I have relatively little experience, outside of what I have read and heard at Mass over my lifetime. What do y'all think???

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Fall Colors

I was walking around campus today and couldn't help but notice all the beauty around me. I took a few pictures of all the color I found around where I live, and figured I would post them on here as well. Nothing else to blog right now, just look and enjoy!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Wheelchair Football

The last activity for my Cultural Diversity class was to attend a wheelchair football game hosted by the Department of Occupational Therapy. My professor would be there as would most of the people in that class. We were only told to wear comfortable clothes since we would most likely be asked to participate in the game... Boy did that make me nervous! So I went there only intending to watch.

I got there a few minutes late since I really didn't know where to go, and the game was already underway. The two teams were headed by actual disabled people; one was in a motorized wheelchair and the other was in one of those specialized ones with the slanted wheels for easy movement. After sitting and watching for a little while, my professor, who was taking pictures of the action, came up to me and started talking to me. She said, "You need to let them know that you want to sub in!" To that I said, "Do I have to???" And she replied, "Oh, you want to!" So I just sort of laughed that off and continued being a spectator.

A few minutes later, one of the girls playing came to sit out since she had been playing for quite a while. She came up right to where I was sitting and asked if I wanted to play. I told her no. She asked if I was sure, really trying to get me to play. I said I was sure and just smiled as she rolled away. Then, not more than five minutes later, another girl sat out and rolled over to the set of bleachers where several students and my professor were sitting. She asked if anyone wanted to play, and right away I saw my professors arm pointing right over in my direction. I heard "Get Sean to play! Come on Sean, it's your turn!" Oye, now I have to play, I thought to myself. I couldn't with a good conscience say no after drawing all of that attention, so I agreed and took that girl's place.

I was on the team of the younger boy, who as it turns out is very skilled at playing football in a wheelchair. I actually had a lot more fun that I had expected, and all those nervous feelings went away after awhile. Though I didn't score a touchdown on my own, I was successful in blocking for the person with the ball, and I almost made an interception when the other team had the ball. Our quarterback did try to throw me the ball on two occasions, and I was so close to catching them. Probably a good thing that I didn't, since I'm sure I wouldn't have known what to do after catching it! I managed to leave the game without any cuts or bruises, and I didn't run into any walls or obstacles this time! I did however get too close to another player and got one of my wheels caught on his chair; what a predicament, let me tell you! I could only imagine if I had been really handicapped and not able to stand up and maneuver the chair around. But other than that, I really had a great time.

Though this was probably something I would never do again, I am glad that I did actually participate in the game. I most likely would have regretted not playing afterwards, since it seemed like everyone else was having fun. So, no regrets for this experience; I just wish I had been able to score a touchdown on my own...

Monday, October 08, 2007

A Wheelchair Experience

Recently I had a wheelchair experience that was part of my Cultural Diversity class "E Pluribus Unum." The class focuses on "The Disabled as a Discriminated Minority," so part of our assignments was to go to a public place and spend at least two hours in a wheelchair. Since I already wrote a paper for this project, I'll just copy and paste it here for you to read!

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This past weekend I had the interesting experience of shopping at Kenwood Town Center in a wheelchair. I took my friend Megan along as moral, and at times physical, support. The first thing I noticed about this experiment was how difficult it was for me to get the wheelchair into my car. I had intended to put the wheelchair in my trunk, but found that it would not fit. I had to maneuver the equipment around several times before realizing I needed to fold down the back seats. However, this turned out to be one of the least of my problems. The second problem was finding a place to park that would not be too far away from the entrance. I was successful in finding a spot very close to the Dillard’s entrance, but found it frustrating that there were no cuts in the curb to get up on the sidewalk. I eventually was able to roll myself up to the entrance, where a middle-aged gentleman held the door open for me. I was feeling very good about humanity in general at that moment!

Upon entering Dillard’s, I found it fairly easy to navigate through the aisles and winding walkways. Most of the people I encountered coming the opposite direction moved over or stopped to let me cross; this was another good thing. Since the entrance I used was in between floors of the main mall, I had to take an elevator to the first floor to get to the food court. I had to consult a store map to find where the elevator was, and it turned out to be in a far corner of the store. However, the elevator itself was very quick and roomy; I was even able to turn around completely before rolling out upon our arrival. We found the entrance to the main mall very easily, and I was able to navigate to the food court.

Upon arriving at the food court, the first thing I noticed was that the tiles made it a very bumpy ride up to the food counters. I chose to get some Chick-fil-A, and I was able to reach and handle everything, until it was time to roll away and find a table. I had to hand off my food to Megan until I got situated at the table. I managed to find a round table with enough room to get my body right up to the table, which was very convenient. I did notice some children and their mothers looking over in my direction, but no one said anything or did anything to make me feel especially discriminated or uncomfortable. Eating in the wheelchair was quite similar to eating while in a regular chair, and I found it very simple to do so. However, I noticed that I needed to lock myself in place to keep me from rolling away while I reached for my food.

After eating we went towards the smaller shops, since we already knew that the larger department stores were easier to navigate. We went inside American Eagle, Eddie Bauer, Aeropostale, Brookstone, and the Hallmark Store, and all five were just about the same in their setup. Eddie Bauer was the easiest of the stores to navigate, since there was a good amount of room between clothes racks. American Eagle was about the same, but the fact that there were more people in the store made it more difficult. I did purchase some items from there, and I found it fairly easy to do this as well. The cashier that checked me out was helpful in leaning over the counter to help me, which was very nice of her. Also, no one said anything or asked me anything, which made me feel more comfortable with the situation.

The other stores were a little more difficult to navigate. Aeropostale was the hardest to navigate, since there were people standing in line everywhere. The way the store was situated, there was an area of clothes up front, fitting rooms and the checkout stand in the middle, and more clothes in the back. I was unable to get to the back of the store due to the people in line for the fitting rooms. They just stared at me as I tried to wheel by, and no one moved or offered to help me. This was rather frustrating, so I simply left the store and waited outside. The Hallmark Store was not as difficult, but there were breakable items on low shelves where I was trying to navigate. I was very careful in not hitting any of these items, but it was difficult to turn and stay away from them. Brookstone was the same way, but the plus for that store was that there was ample space to turn around.

Before we left, I made a point of stopping in the mall restroom to see how accessible it was. First of all, I noticed how difficult it was to open the door to the bathroom. I stayed “in character” the entire time, and a kind person behind me held the door open for me. I was able to get to the handicapped stall easily, but getting into it was another story. Once I finally got situated in there, the front of the wheelchair was wedged up against the toilet, and the back of the wheelchair was wedged up against the door. There was also very little room to the sides of the chair, so even I had a hard time getting around that. I was able to get out of the chair and maneuver around it, but this would have been very difficult for anyone with a real disability. Upon leaving the stalls, I also noticed that the sinks, and in particular the paper towel dispensers, were very high up. However, I stayed in character and reached for everything myself. I had the sore arms and the back pain to prove it! I also found it difficult to open the door on the way out, since it opened inwards. As I was reaching for the handle, a man walked in and almost hit me. Luckily he was kind enough to hold the door for me to exit.

After the bathroom incident, we went back to Dillard’s to get to the car. We had spent a little over two and a half hours in the mall, and I was completely exhausted! My arms were sore, my legs were sore from not walking, and my hands had blisters and were numb. Once I got to the car, I was able to reenter the world of the “non-disabled” and was able to use my legs again. After reflecting on this experience, I realized how difficult a person in a wheelchair has it. Even though no one made comments or asked about my “disability,” it was emotionally stressful and somewhat embarrassing to require special treatment. And although I only had one run-in with a clothes rack, it was still hard for me successfully maneuver at first; I was lucky to have Megan with me, which then made me think about those that have no one to help them. All in all, this was a very enlightening experience for me. I now have a better appreciation for the disabled lifestyle, and the obstacles they must face. I think now I will be reevaluating how accessible certain businesses are, and perhaps making suggestions on how to improve accessibility.

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So, as you can see, I had a very enlightening experience! It definitely gave me a difference perspective, and I will appreciate the little things a lot more now...

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Of Mice and Metabolism

One of the first sections we studied in my Physiology class was metabolism, and this is being followed up in the lab for the next several weeks. Most people know what metabolism is (or at least the popular culture definition), but many don't realize that metabolism involves more than the breaking down of food for energy in the body. That is only the half of metabolism called catabolism. There is also anabolism, which is the building up of bio-molecules in the body, proteins for example. Metabolism varies in people based on age, gender, activity level, percentage of lean muscle mass, and other biological factors. Part of the laboratory exercises we are doing involve measuring metabolism.

Measuring metabolism in humans is a very complex procedure, more complex than what our class can accomplish. It would involve a large, self-contained chamber to measure everything that is going on in the body. As a certain former president would say, "Wouldn't be prudent..." That is why we are using mice for this experiment. The mice we are using are a variety of black obese mice. They are obese because they have been genetically altered that way; this involves removing a gene from the DNA that codes for the feeling we get when we are full. So, generally speaking, these mice eat and eat and eat, and never get full, and therefore become obese. The purpose of using the obese mice is to test a dietary supplement called bitter orange, which has claimed to increase metabolism. By increasing metabolism, we expect to see weight loss in the mice.

Measuring metabolism in mice is also fairly complex, but is easier to achieve due to their smaller size. Whereas a chamber for humans would be bulky and quite expensive, a self-contained chamber for mice can be created using basic lab equipment. For our equipment, we are using large Erlenmeyer flasks, a rubber stopper with long rubber ports, a manometer (to measure changes in pressure in the chamber), a thermometer, a giant plastic syringe, and a balloon filled with 100% oxygen. The mice are coaxed into the flask, and the stopper is placed over the opening. We leave the ports open so that the mouse can breathe while everything else is set up. Our first objective is to flush the chamber with pure oxygen to get all the "room air" out of the chamber. By using 100% oxygen, we can get a better calculation of metabolism. After this is achieved, we fill a syringe with 60 cc of the oxygen and set that up on one of the ports. Then we close off the system and wait for the pressure to normalize.

Once the pressure is stable, we begin timing and watching the mouse. The mouse goes about its normal business moving around and cleaning itself, and is continuously breathing in the oxygen. However, there is the problem of carbon dioxide being produced by the mouse; one would assume that as the mouse is breathing in the oxygen, they are producing CO2 and ridding the air of the oxygen. Well, we accounted for this too. We hung a little bag of something called "soda lime" which apparently pulls the carbon dioxide from the chamber. This ensures that the only gas in the chamber is pure oxygen. Since we are drawing the CO2 out, this makes the pressure go up in the chamber. We can see the change in pressure on the manometer, since the liquid starts to move towards the higher pressure. When the liquid drops enough, we start to push more oxygen into the chamber with the syringe. Then the pressure stabilizes again, and the mouse just carries on as normal. We measure how much oxygen we have pushed every two minutes, until we push the full 60 cc. Once this has happened, we stop the time and open the system up to the atmosphere.

You might wonder how measuring the amount of oxygen can tell us metabolism. Well, there is a direct correlation between oxygen consumption and metabolism. We perform some calculations using the amount of oxygen consumed per minute, and convert that into kilocalories per hour (we call kilocalories simply Calories on our food labels). In this way, we are able to roughly determine the mouse's basal metabolic rate, or the rate at which the mouse body carries out all basic functions (breathing, heart beating, etc.). Over time, we will be measuring this again and again to determine if the dietary supplement is having an effect on the mouse metabolism. Interesting, huh?

Well, that's all I have to say about metabolism today. I hope I didn't bore you all with this, but I really thought it was interesting! If you have any questions about metabolism or the experiment in general, feel free to ask, and I'll do my best to answer!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Guess Who's Back?

I'm back, that's who! School has started back for me, so now I will have the time and opportunity to blog more often. For example, today was my first day of classes, and actually I just returned from my only Tuesday class, an 8:30 U.S. History class. I haven't learned too much history yet, but you can be sure I will share my wisdom once I am able to get more into this course.


In other news, Sunday was move-in day to my new on-campus apartment. When we got here, I was surprised to find that the roommate I had been assigned was not going to be here. That means...I have an apartment all to myself! There is one large bedroom/living room/office with a small kitchen, a fairly large closet area, and a small bathroom. It is perfect for my needs, and is much quieter than the dorms and other residence halls (major PLUS). I was told by the resident assistant that I would be contacted by the people in charge in about three weeks to determine if a roommate could be found. She said most likely that there would not be anybody right away, and it was very likely that I could just have this place to myself all year. I told her I could handle that......... Yesterday and Sunday evening were spent getting things to make this apartment livable; since I am on an apartment/campus house meal plan, I plan on spending only a very small amount of time in the cafeteria, and a majority of time fixing my own meals. For those that do not know, I love to cook, and would venture a guess that I am a better cook than the average 20-something male college student.


For those of you that were waiting to hear something about my summer, I will go into that briefly in this post. (I might elaborate a little more next time.) I spent most of my time at home or at the grocery store this summer, but I did have occasions for fun and excitement. As you may have read in my last post at the end of last month, my family had a celebration for my grandmother's big birthday in Atlanta. You have probably seen the pictures from my aunt Cheryl's blog, but I do have a few of my own to share.











Other than family dinners, a birthday party, and plenty of Catch Phrase game nights, we spent our time checking out the tourist scene around Atlanta. Just to name a few of the sights we visited, we saw the Coke Museum, the Aquarium, Underground Atlanta, Stone Mountain (with the best fireworks/laser show), an Atlanta Braves game, and the "historic" Varsity Club for some hot dogs and onion rings. A good time was had by all, as they say, and I was pleased that for the first time ever (for me), the home team won the baseball game. I wouldn't say that I'm obsessed or a fanatic, but I am finding myself able enjoy baseball more than I had ever in my life. I guess a big thank you goes out to Uncle Duane for that!


The other main event during my summer was my best friend Emily's wedding on August 11th. She and her then-fiancee honored me by having me be a part of the wedding party as a groomsman. Although I was attending the wedding mostly for her (I have been friends with her since we were five), I had gotten to know Joel over the past couple of years, and have found him to be a really nice guy. I think now I would consider them both as friends, so it was a great honor and privilege for me to be there and stand behind them at their wedding. The ceremony was simple, yet very spiritual and charming. The reception following was simple, yet elegant, and I even got to visit with some classmates I hadn't seen in several years. After we had gotten something to eat, myself and other members of the wedding party decorated the best man's car (the newlyweds were taking his car to their honeymoon) with toilet paper, ribbon, a large bow on the antenna, and that car chalk all over the windows. With exploding streamers instead of rice, we sent them off in a great way, and watched them as they drove off to Disney World.


Well, now that I've created an update to end all updates, I think I'll wrap this up for today. Since I only had my one History class this morning, I think it's time for a little nap and some more unpacking/organizing in my room. Tomorrow will be my busy day with classes from 8:30 to 2:45, and NO breaks in between! I will make sure, at the very least, that I update everyone after my first week of classes, and report all that I have learned. In the meantime, I hope everyone had a great summer, and that y'all have a great week.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Going on Vacation

I just wanted to write a short blog before I went to bed to let everyone out there know that I will be out of town for a week or so. We are visiting my grandparents in Atlanta, and will be there for my grandmother's birthday. (I'll let you ask her how old she will be, if she will tell you!) We plan on spending some quality time with aunts, uncles, and cousins. Right now, we plan on going to the aquarium, Six Flags White Water, the Coke Museum, and perhaps Underground Atlanta. Sounds fun, but probably the best times will be just spending time playing games and talking.

Well, that's all you'll hear from me for the next week or so! That is, of course, unless you are one of those people I will be seeing soon! Until then, I will be thinking of y'all while I'm relaxing and getting away from work!

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

It's Independence Day

Speaking as a member of "that" generation, you know, the one that isn't thankful or respectful of anything, I am truly thankful to live in this country. I can only imagine living in a country where certain things we take as normal or given are absent from one's life. The basic freedoms we have here and the people we have protecting them make me proud to live here. And I have one more thing to be thankful for today: having the day off from work! I will be able to spend the time relaxing with my family and enjoying some good grill-out food. Bon Apetit!

How is everyone else spending their holiday? I'm guessing some of my relatives will still be cruising around the world??? Anyway, here's hoping that every one's holiday is a good one. Happy Fourth of July!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Airports

Last week I had the privilege of driving my friend and his mother to the airport. They were vacationing to see their family in California, but their flight was to Las Vegas, and they were going to drive from there. Their flight was at around 7 in the morning, which meant they had to get there very early (around 5:30). Speaking as someone who hasn't been inside an airport in more than 10 years, I consider myself disappointed.

The last time I was in an airport was when my grandparents flew in to spend some time up here. I can't remember which occasion it was or where they were flying in from, but I do remember meeting them at the airport. (Now that I think about it, it may have been Christmas.) Anyways, all of my airport encounters had been very interesting and worthwhile up to this point. Back then, we were able to go up to the gate and see our friends and family get on or off the plane and watch them walk into the terminal. No more. There are now roped off areas where non-ticketed people cannot go. Back then, we were able to go through the metal detectors and see the rest of the airport. No more. Now there are signs and checkpoints where non-ticketed people must stay behind and watch.

So, the only parts of the airport I got to see were the ticket counter, the parking lot, and the non-ticketed person's waiting area. What a joy... But I guess that's what happens when crazy people put bombs in their shoes and their carry-ons. I suppose if I really want to see the rest of the airport, I'll have to fly somewhere myself. Only problem is, where will I go?

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Come, Holy Ghost

Many of you already know that this past Sunday was Pentecost, the fiftieth day after Easter. (Bonus points to anyone who can recite any of the lines of the song titled above. No Google-ing, please!) We had the opportunity on Sunday to go to Mass at a church who's feast day was Pentecost, Holy Ghost Church here in Knoxville. They are celebrating their 100th anniversary this year, and although we are not parishioners there, this celebration did involve us in a way.

One hundred years ago on Pentecost, at our current parish Immaculate Conception, the Bishop of Nashville (Knoxville wasn't it's own diocese until 1988) came to I.C. to announce that Holy Ghost would be formed. Knoxville's only Catholic church at the time was I.C., and the growth in the area made it necessary to have another parish.

One hundred years later on Pentecost, the current Bishop of Knoxville came to Holy Ghost to announce that a new parish would be formed out of Holy Ghost Parish. Holy Ghost had been opened in what was at the time North Knoxville, but now the growth of Knox County has extended "North Knoxville" much further north. This is of great interest to my family, since we live almost exactly five miles from where this new church will be located. It will be named St. Albert the Great, primarily after a saint (which unfortunately I know very little about), but also after a former pastor of Holy Ghost, Fr. Albert Henkel. He was instrumental in trying to find land for a new church in North Knoxville, so the bishop saw fit to name the new church after his patron saint. Clever, huh?

So, now that we will have a new church so close to home, we have been getting information about joining and becoming charter members. The new church begins it's existence on the 1st of July this year, and we will definitely be there. The future looks very promising for this new church, since it's pastor has been successful in creating the largest parish in the Diocese of Knoxville from scratch.

To end this post, I think I'll address the comment left by my grandfather the other day. We have become the "hooked" people you talked about. We have been to the Y at least eight times in the last two and a half weeks (I have actually been ten times, personally), and we are definitely hooked. We look forward to seeing you this summer, and showing off our new in-shape selves!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Home Sweet Home

That's right, I am now at home. My last final exam was on Wednesday (English - not actually an exam, but a paper) and I left around 3:00. I arrived home with a loaded car at 6:30 (great timing) and have been taking time the last few days to go through my stuff and decide where it should go. Needless to say, I still haven't found a place for everything. But then again, I haven't had too much time to do that.

I have started back at work, and boy does it feel good! I will be working five days a week for seven or eight hours a day, so that will amount to between 32-35 hours a week. I can assure you that the money will come in handy, since not working for so long has made it hard for me to do much of anything lately. I started back on Thursday night, but this pay period I am only working four days. I took yesterday (Saturday) to go out with my friends, and took today (Sunday) off for Mothers Day. Today I will be spending time with my mother and making sure I take care of her every wish and demand!

In other news (Grandpa may find this interesting), we just got back from our local YMCA. It is about eight miles from home, and we have decided to get a family membership there. We have had a family membership there before, but this was many years ago. We took a tour of the facilities, and noted that they have added a lot of new equipment in the last several years. This facility has all the things one would expect to find at a YMCA, including a pool, gym, weight room, classes (aerobic and otherwise), and a cardio room. We are quite excited about this adventure, and can't wait to start using the facilities! We are thinking about even going tomorrow...

By the way, the lady that was running the front desk told us she used to work for the First Coast YMCAs in Florida. Her name was Freda, and she worked at several of the Jacksonville area YMCAs. We had mentioned that my grandfather was an aerobics instructor down there, and mentioned his name. She seems to recall meeting him, and was amazed that a 70-something was teaching the aerobics class. It's a small world after all.......

There's my little update for now. I will try to be better about blogging this summer, since I'm sure I disappointed several of you last year. I will get on here as soon as anything interesting happens, or at least something that's worth writing about. I hope everyone is doing well and enjoying the warm, sunny weather! And for all those mothers out there, and you know who you are, Happy Mothers Day!

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Go, You Chicken Fat, Go!



I was looking around on YouTube the other day and found this. I was first introduced to the song a few summers ago, and Uncle Tim and I made reference to it in one of his previous blogs. It's quite a catchy song, so I thought I'd share it with the rest of you.

This was a song written by Meredith Wilson (know for also writing "The Music Man") as a sort of theme song for President Kennedy's fitness program in the 60's. My aunts and uncles apparently remember hearing this song back in the day, as it was used in physical education classes. Has anyone else ever heard/seen this?

Well, enjoy, and if you're into it, try out the exercise routine!

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Respect, or the Lack Thereof

After a typical night in the cafeteria, I began to think about a post my grandfather did a few months ago regarding respect. I found that as a customer of the cafeteria, I am not being respected by the employees. Not only am I not receiving respect, but so are most of the students in general. Here are some of the examples of disrespect you can find on a typical day:

1. employees talking on cell phones during their shifts
2. yelling across the dining hall at other employees
3. having verbal confrontations with other employees in front of student-customers
4. gossiping with other employees while student-customers are in line
5. complaining about long lines when their ignorance and lack of planning caused the lines
6. becoming peeved when a student has a special food request (vegetarian, allergy, or healthier diets)
7. becoming peeved when their conversations are interrupted to serve a student-customer
8. paying more attention to the game or show on TV than to the student-customers

Keep in mind that this is not an exhaustive list of disrespect, but a list of "typical" occurrences. Just tonight, I experienced several of the above, and one that I did not mention. In this cafeteria, there are four major areas that serve different hot meals. One section serves pizza only. Another section serves hamburgers, fries, grilled cheese, and a grill special. Another section serves home style meals (frequently soul food, but usually what one would have for dinner at home). The last section serves "just in time" cuisine that is prepared in front of you (pasta, Oriental food, and other quickly cooked entrees).

Normally I choose meals from the "just in time" or the home style sections, but tonight their offerings did not sound appetizing to me. So, I decided to get a hamburger at the grill, and apparently that was a popular decision tonight. When I got there (around 7:25 PM), there was a line of about 6-7 people including myself. The cafeteria locks its doors at 7:30, but stays open to serve the last customer. Well, the guy behind the counter looked at the line and said, "Gee, look at this line! Why do these people wait til the last damn minute to come in here?" (or something similar to that). As he was preparing the food, he was slamming things, tearing things open, throwing food items and trays, and mumbling random phrases to himself and the other man behind the counter. Keep in mind, though, that the other man was quiet through the whole ordeal and just did his job. I eventually got my hamburger about five minutes later, and as soon as the line subsided, the workers began to take everything apart and clean up.

What has happened here? What has happened to the respect that customers deserve? At my place of employment (Ingles), we stay open 24 hours except on Sunday when we close at 10 PM and open again at 7 AM Monday. On Sunday nights, we lock the doors at 10:00 and must stay until all customers have been rung up and escorted out. Sometimes this has taken as much as half an hour, even after making announcements twenty minutes before closing. But inevitably there will be a couple of customers that make the mad dash before we lock the doors and do their last-minute shopping. I could not imagine complaining in front of the customers and becoming irate in front of them; my managers would fire me on the spot if I did that. We stay until the last customer leaves, and we do so with the same courtesy we give all our customers.

Why can't these employees do this at the cafeteria? Sure, we may be students, but we are still customers. We pay a great deal of money to come here and eat here, so we deserve the same respect any employees should give their customers. I know I am not the only person who sees these "injustices" in the cafeteria, as most people I know have seen similar situations. All I ask is to be respected as a customer should be, and maybe have the employees leave their personal feelings at home. The food by itself can be bad enough; can't we at least have a comfortable dining experience?

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Pizza in the Chem Lab

Ask any Chemistry teacher the top rules while in the lab. Seriously, ask them. Every single one of them will tell you to never bring food into the lab. Well, we violated this rule today in my Organic lab, and it was the professor that suggested it!

Today was our final experiment of Organic Chemistry II Lab, and as a sort of treat, the professor suggested that we have a little pizza party afterwards. The experiment we were doing was quite short, so there would be a lot of time to eat and socialize. So, one of the students from my class organized everything and called in the order, while another brought in drinks. Plates, cups, and napkins were also provided, and all we had to do was chip in $2 each. A pretty inexpensive lunch!

I guess we could rationalize that we weren't actively performing an experiment while we were eating, so the pizza in the lab was okay. All the chemicals are placed in a vented hood, and we stayed towards the front of the room where the desk and chalkboard are. I surprised myself by trying a piece of pizza with green peppers only (the professor's choice of topping). I found that it actually tasted good, and if there had been more than one piece left, I would have had another. But alas, I had to stop myself, or else I would have been outed as a pig in front of my classmates. The rest of the time was spent just socializing and relaxing a little, without having to worry about another experiment to do. I actually got to witness my professor in a different light: relaxed, care-free, and laughing; boy was that a sight to behold!

I realize now that after reading this, Uncle Tim will call me Mr. Food again, but frankly, I don't give a. . .well, you know the rest. Can't a man just enjoy his pizza in the Chemistry Lab??? That's all I ask...until next time.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

America's Pastime?

In my English class, we are reading the novel Gilead by Marilynne Robinson. Ultimately, it is a letter from a dying father to his 7-year-old son, and so far I really like it. The father is a preacher (not sure which denomination), and writes about several of his "religious experiences," both in Church and in nature. One of the experiences he discusses is listening to baseball on the radio, and this led to a discussion in class. My professor is of the same age as some of my older readers, and can remember gathering around the radio at night to listen to the Cincinnati Reds games. The point in the novel is that you can hear everything that is going on, but you still use your imagination to make visual images out of the sounds. The narrator describes the joy he felt after experiencing this.

Although I have never listened to a baseball game over the radio, I have been to several games, and have watched games on television. When my grandmother lived in Atlanta the first time around (more than ten years ago), I had gone for a long visit, by myself, over the summer. We spent several nights watching Atlanta Braves games and eating ice cream (usually Brown Cows, if you are familiar with those). I may not have fully understood what was going on, but I remember it was a great experience, and I enjoyed the time we spent together.

I was wondering if anyone else out there had memories of "America's pastime" to share, especially if you are from the "radio days." It would be interesting to hear what your take on this is, and if that term "America's pastime" is correct. You know how much I love hearing your comments!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Alleluias and Car Woes

First off, let me say Happy Easter to all my friends and family out there. My Easter Break went very well for the most part, and I was able to celebrate the holiday with my immediate family. Our Easter started out at a packed Mass, but at least this time we had seats in the Church as opposed to the other occasions when we sat in the balcony. When we got home and before we did anything else, we took a family picture on our couch, along with some Easter decorations:

Then my mom took a picture of me and our dog, Halo, on the couch. I was wearing my "Where my peeps at?" shirt that I got for Easter a couple years ago. Notice the yellow candy Peep that we all know and love.

After all the pictures, we started cooking our Easter lunch/dinner, and also made some hard-boiled eggs. My brother had to work at 4:00, so we decided to eat around 3-3:30. We had a brown sugar ham, scalloped potatoes, broccoli, crescent rolls, and a carrot cake for dessert. Boy was that stuff good! My mom had decorated the table with Easter baskets, eggs, and flowers, and wanted me to take another picture. So, here it is:

Afterwards, we spent the evening watching movies and ordered a pizza for "supper," not to mention a little bit of that Easter candy! All in all, it was a very fulfilling and relaxing day, and a very Happy Easter.

Now that I've gotten the good story out of the way, it must be some time for a sad/depressing/bad story. You may recall that I have had several car-related incidents over the last two years. Well, I guess I wasn't done with those incidents. After Easter Mass, as we were trying to leave the parking lot, I couldn't start my car. My dad and I looked under the hood for a minute, and he adjusted the battery lines just a little bit. I tried to start it again, but this time it actually worked. We all speculated why this would have happened, and I suggested that it could be a starter problem, however, no one agreed with me. After that, I really didn't think anything of it, and just went on with my life.

Monday afternoon, I had several errands to run. This included going to the bank, getting my oil changed (I did have to drive back later that afternoon), and getting some lunch. Once my mom and I got to Wal-Mart to do the oil change, the attendant couldn't get my car to start to move it into the garage. After many futile attempts, he decided to test the battery, and found that it was "dead as a doornail." So, he recommended that we buy a new one from the auto section, and since the old battery was purchased there, we knew exactly what to buy. That cost me about $75, and he said he would install it himself. After doing that, he attempted to start up the car again. Once again, the car would not start. He couldn't explain why this occurred, but speculated that it could be an alternator problem. Unfortunately for us, Wal-Mart doesn't do work like that, so we had to make other arrangements. By this point I had gotten hungry so we went and got lunch, and called my dad to explain everything. He decided to come down and take a look to see if this was work he could do by himself, but quickly determined he could not, due to the position of the alternator in the car.

We then decided to try and get the car towed to a mechanic that we have used on several occasions. However, since it was getting later, we thought it may be difficult to get the car in before closing time. So, we determined that I would have to stay an extra day and miss my Tuesday classes, and get the car fixed that morning. But, being my persistent self (mostly because my mom kept telling me to be optimistic), I tried starting the car one more time, and it worked. We then immediately drove downtown to the shop I mentioned, hoping that they would have the time to work, or at least determine what was wrong.

When we got down there, they were surprisingly not busy. They looked under the hood right away and quickly gave their diagnosis and estimate. It turns out it WAS the starter (as I had suggester earlier) and I got an estimate of close to $300. I really didn't have much of a choice, since the lady who owns the place told us Saturn starters run expensive. (She ordered a rebuilt part, so that price was very reasonable when compared to a new one. Plus, I was paying for the convenience of having all the work done that day.) The work itself took about an hour, and we were out of there before their 5:00 closing time. So, after all was said and done, I had paid a little more than $400 to get a new battery, a new starter, and fill up with gas. I still hadn't gotten the oil changed, but I decided just to add some fresh oil and get the oil changed once I got back. I eventually left home around 8:30 and pulled into the parking lot here around 12:00. Not only did I unload suitcases, etc. but also a cooler full of candy, the leftover pizza, and a couple of hard-boiled eggs.

Now I am back at school for the last month of the semester. Not only is the last month the time for final exams, but it is also when all of the professors want to throw in projects and papers. As of right now, I have a paper due next week and two tests on Monday. I haven't looked over the syllabi lately, but I know for sure there are more than that coming up. But, I am looking forward to summer, so as long as I keep that in the back of my mind, I should get through all of this just fine.

Well, that's all I have to write tonight. I hope everyone had a great Easter weekend, spending time with friends and family, hopefully. I know I will enjoy the next few days as I finish up all those yummy Cadbury eggs...

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Obsessed?

I have decided to save my Chemistry-related post for after the Easter Break, since frankly, I haven't finished it, and don't really want to right now. Instead, after reading Aunt Paulette's story about cable, I decided to talk about one of my TV favorites right now.

Is anyone else watching American Idol? I think I almost have an obsession with this show; in fact, I am watching it as I am typing this post! Normally I don't like these kinds of shows, but American Idol has become my exception. I have watched since the beginning when they did the large auditions, and I have been following one person in particular the entire time. Her name is Melinda Doolittle, and I think she's just awesome. She is a former backup singer, but she has the voice of a true superstar. The judges on the show have compared her to some of those legendary women of the 60s and the 70s like Aretha Franklin and Gladys Knight.

What first got me hooked on her was her genuine personality, and her lack of big-headedness that most of these contestants have. She was shy and quiet, but once she started singing, she was the polar opposite. As of tonight, she has made it into the top nine contestants, and although I usually don't do this, I have called in and voted the last several weeks. I do this mostly because my favorite from last year, who was quite popular, was voted off because his fans didn't vote enough. I will not let this happen again this year!

Tonight's musical guest was Tony Bennett, and all the contestants had to pick songs that he wrote or sang. Melinda picked "I Got Rhythm," and all the judges agreed that it was a great performance. I shall have to wait and see how the rest do tonight, but that will not change my vote at all. And, if there is any justice in the world, that horrid excuse for a singer Sanjaya will be voted off this week. I'm sure many of you have seen stories on the news or elsewhere about the controversy surrounding his stay on American Idol. There are apparently a few sick groups out there that are voting for the worst singer on the show (Sanjaya) in order to mess up the show's voting. One of these in particular is headed by Howard Stern. No, not the one that was Anna Nicole Smith's "partner." The one I'm talking about is the despicable human being that pollutes our radio waves every day. Hopefully the fans of this show will overcome this hurdle and finally vote Sanjaya out. (In reality, though, no one is actually "voted out;" people leave the show when they have the least number of votes.)

Well, there's my two cents on the matter. Tomorrow I will be heading home for Easter Break, so like always, I will probably be away from blogging for the extra long weekend. Let's hope that this drive home will be uneventful and quick; I am tired of waiting in traffic due to some one's screw-ups! When I return, I will be sure to let everyone know how my break went, but until then, everyone have a great Easter.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Registration Woes

Today was my day to register for classes for the Fall 2007 semester. Unfortunately for me, this did not go smoothly. The first problem was that my registration time was 3:30 PM. I have my Chemistry Lab from 1:30-4:50, so obviously my time conflicted with my classes. Thankfully, another student in my lab asked my professor to leave for registration, and was allowed to do so. Naturally, I thought I should do the same, since I wasn't sure my classes would still be available after my lab was finished. So, that's what I did, and she allowed me to go also.

There are actually two ways to go about registering for classes. The first is to go to the Office of the Registrar and have them do it. The other way is to log into the online portal from any computer and choose classes by oneself. I chose to register by myself, since in the past, the lines at the Registrar's office have been long and move very slowly. However, when I tried to get my classes after 3:30, the server told me that there was a hold on my account from the Biology Department. (Holds prevent one from registering.) It said that I needed to meet with my advisor, which I already had done on Tuesday. (We have to meet with our advisor before registering just so they get an idea of what we are doing.) So I called my advisor; no answer. I went to the Biology Department office and inquired about the hold. Apparently the secretary had sent an e-mail just this morning to remove my hold. Alas, the Registrar did not check her e-mail, and therefore did not get the message. So, she took care of it over the phone, and I rushed back to my room.

Now that the hold was gone, I could register. Wrong again. This time when I logged on, it told me there were too many people using the server, and to try again later. There is no later! I need to register NOW! So I kept trying (ahh, perseverance), but to no avail. So now I filled out the old paper form to do my registration at the Registrar's office. I went down there, stood in line, and explained my sob story about the Internet. The guy let me go in, and I waited in line some more. When it was my turn, the guy looked at my form for a split second and said, "You don't have your advisor's signature. You have to have a signature in order to register here." So, I told my story again, but he was not moved. "You take full responsibility when you register online. I can't help you if you don't have an advisor's signature." Then I calmly took back my form and tried my hardest to hold in my anger. No, I didn't blow up at anyone, but I was heard to utter some not-so-nice things about the whole registration process.

At this point, I had been out of my lab for more than half an hour, so I figured I might as well go back. I got back and went back to work on my experiment, and while I was gone, the professor had designated someone to do part of my experiment for me. What a great lady, huh? I never would have thought she'd be so nice to me! Anyways, once I finished the lab at around 4:45, I came back to my room to try once again. I had been reassured by the classmate that also registered today that my classes would still be open, since many people don't register until tomorrow. So, once again, I logged into the portal, and it let me this time. I got all the classes I wanted, and everything fit in very nicely. So, all in all, I guess registration went well, but I still didn't like the steps leading up to it. Here are the classes I will be taking in the Fall:

Vertebrate Physiology
Vertebrate Physiology Lab
U.S. History I
College Physics I
Introductory Physics Lab I
Theology and Ecology
E Pluribus Unum (Ethics/Religion and Society Elective)

That amounts to 15 credit hours, which I also took this semester. I will have four classes on Monday and Wednesday, three on Friday, two on Thursday, and one on Tuesday. I think that should work out very well, and some of these classes should be rather interesting.

Well, there's my story for today. I have another Chemistry-related post for later, now that I have written a book today. I hope y'all are enjoying your week, and I will try to post again this weekend.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Dirt Is Non-Polar

It's not every day that one learns something relevant to life in one's Organic Chemistry class. Well, this happened in one of my most recent lectures, so I wanted to share that with y'all. It concerns dirt, and who on this planet hasn't had to deal with dirt in everyday life?

We already know that dirt is made up of organic molecules, since it is composed of living and dead things. However, it is mostly non-polar, meaning that carbons and hydrogens make up most of it. Oxygens and other electronegative atoms would create polarity in the molecules, so obviously these are either not present or present in very small amounts. Why is this important? Because, as they say, "like dissolves like." If you get dirt on your clothes or skin, you probably want to get it off. But water alone will not accomplish this. Why? Because water is a polar solvent, and will only wash away other polar compounds, and we have established that dirt is non-polar. Luckily for us, there is a solution (no pun intended) for this problem.

As it turns out, soaps contain both non-polar and polar ends. They contain long hydrocarbon tails with polar head groups containing electronegative oxygens. When soap comes into contact with dirt, it orients itself to place the non-polar tails with the dirt and the polar groups away from the dirt. The non-polar interactions cause the soap and the dirt to be almost linked. Then water comes along, "sees" the polar groups on the soap, and is able to wash away the soap, along with the dirt. So, we can say that soap makes dirt somewhat polar in order to get water to dissolve it. Pretty neat, huh?

So, the next time you're washing your clothes or taking a shower, you'll know why you need soap. Not only because it makes everything smell good, but because without it, everything would be a dirty mess.

Monday, March 12, 2007

And Now I'm Back...

...and a little bit homesick. But, I guess it was inevitable; that short amount of time away from the cold and wind only gave me a glimpse of Spring. Coming back to Cincinnati I found the cold and wind, and later this week, there may even be snow. Highs will be only in the 40s and 50s later this week, and lows in the 20s and 30s. Back in Knoxville, it was a balmy 70 degrees on several afternoons, with lows in the 40s and 50s...now that's what I call Spring. Sure we may have a day or two this week like that here in Cincy, but it won't be long-lived. The weather around here goes up and down like a freakin' see-saw.

All in all, my break was great. I spent time with friends and family, but I also had the opportunity to work a few days (gotta have my monies!). My dad's birthday was the 2nd, and we went out to a steak place in Downtown Knoxville which was great. We also went out for an early birthday lunch for me, since I obviously won't be home later this week. Also that day, my friend and I went to see the new movie 300 (which was excellent by the way), and we then got together with some other friends for dinner. The rest of the time was spent resting and relaxing at home, and boy did that feel good! But all good things must come to an end, as they say, and this was no exception. I got back late last night, and school begins once again.

In other news, my Botany Lab plants are thriving (or at least the ones I made toward the end of the semester). The three Dumbcane cuttings are growing like crazy, and all three either already have leaves, or will have leaves soon. The tallest one is only about three inches tall, but now that they are in their own pots, their growth should take off. Plus, all this extra oxygen in the room can't hurt.

Well, that's really all I have to say today. It's dinner time now (back to that old cafeteria food), so I guess I should wrap this up. It's great to be back to blogging; we'll see how I feel once I get back to classes! Have a great week y'all!

Friday, March 02, 2007

I'm on My Way...

...or at least I will be. I just got finished with my classes, so Spring Break has officially begun! All I have left to do is eat a quick lunch and pack up my belongings. Then it's the standard 3.5-4 hour drive home, for a week of de-stressing and (hopefully) relaxation.

So, that's really all I have to say for now! I will probably stay away from the computer until I get back, but if I do manage to get online, I shall keep everyone informed. Talk to y'all later!

Saturday, February 24, 2007

You Don't Want to Drown Them...

Yet another quote from my Organic Chemistry Lab professor has emerged! This week we did an experiment called Qualitative Analysis. This is different from our normal experiments, since we are not actually collecting numerical data (yield, weight, melting points, etc.). We simply reacted compounds with testing reagents and recorded our observations. The testing reagents react with the known compounds and create colorful solutions or solids that precipitate out, due to the makeup of the compound. For example, one reagent may be used to test if a product has OH groups (alcohols, carboxylic acids) or if there are double bonds (C=C). It's actually very interesting, and some beautiful colors can be seen in some of the reactions.

This quote comes into play when we were discussing how to set up the experiment. She wanted us to use our "baby test tubes," which only hold about five milliliters of liquid. For parts of the experiment, we had to set up a water bath with hot or boiling water, and for that you need a beaker. Some of my classmates took out 250- or even 400-mL beakers to put the so-called "baby test tubes" in, and she about had a conniption. She then said, "Take our your 100-mL beakers to put your baby test tubes in; you don't want to drown them!" She of course was referring to the fact that we didn't want our baby test tubes to be under water, since that would ruin the mixtures. Still, it was quite funny that she phrased it that way!

Next week is my last week of classes before Spring Break (Yay!). I have a test and homework due in Organic Chemistry, a paper in English, a test and homework due in Statistics, a paper and a test in Psychology, and two three lab reports due in Chemistry Lab. That's a full week, isn't it? But I will be glad once it's over, since we haven't had a real break since we came back from Christmas. (Unless, of course, you count my two snow days.) As for me, I think I will go out for a walk, since it has been a tad bit warmer lately around here. I hope everyone has a great weekend, and I will try to post once more before I leave for break.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Done with Snow...For Now

In my last post, I mentioned that it was snowing as I was writing, and I had taken pictures of the ice on the trees. I also stated that it was unlikely that the University would be closed again. Well, I was wrong! The University was closed again on Wednesday, which meant classes were cancelled and offices were closed. This was truly unexpected, since we hardly ever get a single snow day, let alone two in a row! So I spent my two days off catching up on my rest (I was and still am sick, so that helped tremendously) and doing some homework. Now it seems that most of my classes are being pushed back one class due to missing Tuesday and Wednesday, which may or may not be a good thing. We might have to make up for that later on, but I still think it was worth it.

In non-snow news, we are starting to really get into the bulk of all my classes. This week, I have my first Cell Biology test, my first Psychology test, a quiz in Statistics, and other smaller assignments. Coming up, I will have an English paper and a Chemistry test, among other quizzes and smaller assignments. We just finished reading A Midsummer Night's Dream in English, and had our test last week; now we are reading Nathaniel Hawthorne's House of Seven Gables and the aforementioned paper will be a comparison of the two works. Then, coming up in Chemistry Lab, we will be doing qualitative analysis, in which we perform tests on known chemicals and then must identify an unknown chemical. So, there's lots of fun stuff coming up, and I should be busy busy busy...

Other than that, there's not much else to report. We did have some more snow this weekend (mostly yesterday morning and afternoon) but it amounted to only an inch or so. I have determined that I am done with cold and snowy weather and am requesting some milder spring weather. So, if any of my readers out there have influence (or can at least put in a good word), I would be most appreciative. Until next time, enjoy your weekend, and beware the deadly peanut butter...

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Ice Storm!

The snow that we had been promised this time around seems to be falling mostly as rain, or at least it has been this afternoon. This is mostly because the temperatures have been above freezing all day, but that is about to change. Right now we are hovering at around 31-32 degrees, and that rain is quickly starting to turn to ice. That makes for some beautiful scenes as the rain turns to ice, especially on the trees. So, as I was coming back from dinner, I got out my camera and took a few pictures. They aren't the best since it was dark, but you can still see the beauty.

I have heard that we should be getting some more snow starting tonight, and that accumulations could be an additional 1-3 inches. I'm not anticipating the university to be closed again, but anything can happen. You can be assured that I will post if this does occur. Enjoy!




Oh, It's a SNOW DAY!!!

Despite doubts that I had last night, the University is CLOSED today! I found this out at 7:45 this morning when I woke up to my alarm, so what did I do? I went back to sleep of course! As of right now, we probably only got about 2-3 inches of snow, but it has been raining/sleeting this afternoon, so most accumulations are minimal at this time. But they are expecting the snow to start up again tonight, so maybe in the end we will have 5-6 inches of total snowfall.

As of this moment, I don't intend to go out and play (it is raining, after all) but who knows? The spirit of the snow day might overtake me when the snow starts up again! If that does happen, I might take some more pictures to share with y'all. But until then, I'm enjoying my day off...

Monday, February 12, 2007

Another Snow Update and Other Stuff

Many of you (except for maybe my grandfather) may be disappointed to hear that I did not get a day off from the recent snow storm. As I think I already mentioned, they cancelled classes for that night, but that was it for cancellations. Wednesday was a regular day for everyone (unless you were a non-college student, in which case all the other schools in the area were closed), and I could see some very disappointed faces Wednesday morning. However, all is not lost!

I have been following the weather forecasts (usually on the nightly news) and they are again predicting a significant storm moving in late tonight into tomorrow. They are calling for approximately 3-6 inches here in the Cincinnati metro area, with 6-10 inches just north of here. This storm will apparently start out as rain, sleet, and freezing rain (temperatures will be above 32 degrees Fahrenheit) and finish off with snow all night and all day tomorrow. I am planning on going to class tomorrow and Wednesday, so I choose not to be disappointed this time around. However, there will always be that hope in the back of my mind...

In other news, the testing season is now underway in many of my classes, and today I got back a Statistics test that I took on Friday. I earned a 53/60 (88%), which I believe translates into a B+. I missed a couple of points on a few questions, but other than that did very well. One question that I was kicking myself over was one about finding a standard deviation by hand. She wanted us to show the process (formula, etc.) without using the calculator, and I had vaguely remembered the formula. The formula is:

standard deviation = sum(value - mean)^2 divided by # values - 1

However, when I was in the middle of the test, I was running out of time and forgot what to divide by, so I divided by the mean instead. So, I lost a point or two for that question, but all in all, I did well. Since I got at least partial credit on every question (only losing a point on a couple questions) this means that I have grasped most of the concepts well, and just need to review minor details.

Well, I think it's time for a short nap. I shall once again update everyone on the impending snow and the events that follow. Have a great week!

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Pictures of SNOW!!!






SNOW!!!

Yes, that's right, it's snowing here in Cincinnati! The latest reports show that we will have between 3-5 inches, and possibly as much as 6 inches! This is pretty much the first major snow of the season here, so I am quite excited, especially about the prospects of class cancellations... They have already cancelled all night classes due to the roads (even the Interstates are icing over), and with temperatures in the teens all day and night, there is a great possibility of cancellations tomorrow! Of course, I will update everyone, and post pictures later, especially for all my friends in the South! Let it snow!

Friday, January 26, 2007

Is Your Thermometer Happy?

Today marked the end of my second week back at school, and boy are there stories to tell! The first one is the source of the title of this post...

I am currently taking Organic Chemistry II Lab, and I have a professor who is obviously Indian (her name is Vimala Majeti). Well she just goes right along with all the stereotypes we have of women from India: short, long black hair, thick accent, quiet, yet strict and firm. She wants everything done the right way (HER way) and anything other than her way is wrong! I had this experience yesterday in lab when I was setting up a distillation apparatus (it involves a series of glass tubing, a flask to hold the sample at the bottom, and a flask to collect the distillate at the top). There are several clamps to hold everything together on a stand, and a thermometer must be placed inside as the liquid is being heated, in order to determine the maximum boiling point.

As I was setting up my apparatus, here she comes criticizing everyone's work (true, this is her job, but she doesn't have to be so mean about it!). One look at my setup and she was all over me about it. Apparently everything that we had done last semester when we learned how to set this up was wrong (different teacher) so she was quite frustrated. She stood back and looked everything over, and said to me, "Stand back and look at this. Is your thermometer happy?" I didn't know what to say to that, so I just started repositioning my thermometer slightly. "No, no, no. Stand at the end of the bench and look. Your thermometer isn't happy." Apparently "happy" means straight up and down, perpendicular to the floor. I looked and mine was slightly unhappy, or tilted to the side. Well, I fixed that part, and she went off on her way. Boy, she sure knows how to trample on someone's self-confidence! I went through the rest of my experiment just fine, and from now on, my thermometer will always be happy.

The other interesting thing that I learned this week was about Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR), which is a technique used by organic chemists to figure out the components of an organic molecule. One part of the lab this week was to have a talk with one of the Organic Chemistry professors and have them show us how to perform an NMR. Well, the professor that came to do this talk for my class is the head of the department, so he definitely knows a thing or two about Chemistry. We got to look at all the gadgets used for NMR, which uses giant magnets and computers to analyze samples. He showed us how to load the samples and get the spectrum for the unknowns we were to test. I found out that you have to remove your watches and wallets before stepping too close to the machine, since the magnet will stop watches and demagnetize credit cards....interesting! Later we all got to print out our spectra for an unknown to analyze for next class. Now if I can only figure out what all these lines and curves mean........

Well, that's all that's been interesting this week. I will be sure to write again soon, as soon as I get some rest this weekend! I hope y'all have a great one too.

Monday, January 22, 2007

First Full Week Is Finished, and I'm Learnin'!

That's right, I have officially finished my first full week of classes. Due to the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday on Monday, classes didn't start until Tuesday, so my school week started last Tuesday and ended today. So what have I learned so far? Here are a few things:

1. A person can be in constant atrial fibrillation and have little or no noticeable side effects.
2. The Chinese name "Huizhen" means "Jean" in English.
3. A "categorical random variable" is a variable in which observations are categorical responses.
4. It is possible to live fairly normally after a railroad spike has been driven completely through one's skull.
5. Leaving one's student ID in one's dresser drawer at home is detrimental to one's meal plan.

Let's go over these one by one in a little bit more detail...

The person who is in constant atrial fibrillation is my Cell Biology professor. He is probably in his mid-60's and in fairly good health, but apparently has a heart defect of some kind. He has to go in to the doctor every two weeks (I think) and get shocked to get back to normal heart rhythms. Apparently one can live normally with constant atrial fibrillation, and the only noticeable side effect is an increase in heart rate (probably an increase in blood pressure also).

My Statistics professor is Huizhen Guo, a Chinese lady who told us her name means "Jean" in English.

The definition of "categorical random variable" came from my Statistics class. The reason I included it in my list was because it was quite humorous to myself and a couple other classmates. This is because we have been taught not to use parts of a word in it's definition, as our Chinese professor did. She has obviously not completely mastered the English language, in case you couldn't tell.

In my Psychology class, we learned about a man named Phineas Gage that worked for a railroad company that drove spikes into the ground. As he was driving one into the ground with gun powder, it shot up and drove through his skull, starting below the eye and exiting at the top of his head. The spike severed a part of his brain (I think it's called the amygdala) which caused his emotions to be expressed without being controlled by the cerebrum (the cerebrum holds back those emotions to an extent; without the connection within the brain, emotions are expressed fully and can be wild or extreme). He lived a fairly normal life physically, but did not act like himself due to the brain damage. This led to discoveries about how small parts of the brain affect large parts of a person's personality.

And finally, no, I didn't learn about the student ID thing from a book. Unfortunately I learned about it from personal experience. I had taken my ID out of my wallet and placed it in my dresser drawer at the beginning of my break, merely to cut down on the bulk that was filling my wallet at the time (cards, receipts, etc.). However, once it was time to leave, I forgot to take it out of my dresser, and it was left behind. On Tuesday when I wanted to go to dinner (I had a sandwich that my mom bought for my trip that I didn't eat, and I had that for lunch that day), I opened my wallet and my ID was not there. So I had to have it mailed to me, which took about two days, and in the meantime I had to buy my meals with my own money. Thankfully the expense was minimum, and my mom got my ID to me in a very quick manner. Moms are great, aren't they?

Well, now you have learned a few things that you can share with your loved ones! I will make sure to write about my other "pearls" of wisdom as the semester progresses. Y'all have a good week!