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


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.