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 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!