Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Movin' on up...


Since the last time I updated, I have done some fun things.  Wednesday was pretty productive.  Since I was done with all of my exams, I felt unusually relaxed and calm.  I even finished updating my lab notebook!  (I was behind about 3 weeks.)

Thursday was a long and busy day.  I went to doctor shadowing like I usually do on Thursdays.  Did I mention that I started shadowing an internal medicine doctor?  It was kind of slow on Thursday and I got more bored than I usually do, but, nonetheless, the more exposure I get, the better.  No one day is exactly alike at the internist's and I've been going once a week for the past four weeks now.  I went to class like usual and even got ahead rewriting my Cell Bio notes from the lecture that day.  Physics was fun to listen to because we had a different professor sub-in for us.  We've started learning thermodynamics, so it was mainly a review of chemistry (Q = mcdeltaT and all that); the demos were cool.  Did you know that if you put a balloon on liquid nitrogen, then it's volume will decrease and it'll shrivel up as it assumes the same temperature as the nitrogen?  After Physics, I went to lab to do DNA extraction, which always takes forever.  This was the last step of my project for this semester, so I'm completely done!  Now all I have to do is write a final lab report.  (Groan.  Another lab report?)

I rushed through lab so I could go the Science Study Breaks lecture about Sherlock Holmes and ended up getting there about 20 minutes late.  The first professor, Dr. Jim Bryant, talked about all the statistics principles we can learn from watching Sherlock Holmes, like Bayesian inference and deduction.  For example, Holmes says that when you've eliminated everything that's impossible, the only thing left over, no matter how unlikely it is, must be the truth (an example of deduction).  Dr. Bryant even showed clips from an old movie and the TV show.  It made me realize how little I know about Sherlock Holmes, having only seen some clips from the new movie with Robert Downey, Jr.  I guess I'll just have to add that to my Winter Break list along with everything else...

The main reason I went to the Science Study Breaks lecture was because the next professor to speak, Dr. Sam Gosling, was one of my old Psychology 301 professors.  He talked about his research and how you can gather information about someone's personality by snooping around their spaces (bedrooms, office desks, etc).  He tied this in to how Sherlock Holmes sometimes can determine the answer to a crime by looking at the victim's living room or something.  Except Dr. Gosling said that things are not as easily distinguishable as Sherlock Holmes makes them seem.  There are many reasons or explanations for why a person has an object in their room, especially if that object does not relate to their personality.  So you must look at the big picture and not hone in on one particular artifact to get a general sense for what that person is like.

Have I told you how I am now a Classics minor?  I've mentioned my mythology class from last semester and my new-found obsession of Percy Jackson, so this isn't really a surprise, right?  Anyway, I saw Collin at the Science Study Breaks lecture and dragged him to the next lecture I was going to called "Ancient Greeks/Modern Lives".  Now this, was so, so good.  It featured seven actors, consisting of six students and one professor of Classics.  They acted out three scenes from three Greek plays and one scene from an epic poem.  Below is a description for all the scenes:

Ajax by Sophocles - Tecmessa talks to the sailors about Ajax's madness; Ajax's soliloquy before his suicide
Agamemnon by Aeschylus - The Chorus describes the sacrifice of Iphigenia 
Herakles by Euripides - The Messenger describes Heracles' killing of his family
The Odyssey by Homer - Penelope, Odysseus's wife, tests his real identity in the "Great Rooted Tree" scene

Oh. My. Goodness.  These scenes were performed so beautifully.  They are all so tragic, which made this a little hard to listen to, but the actors, most of whom were Plan II majors, portrayed the characters just right.  The lecture and the moderator, Dr. Peter Meineck (who was actually the translator for the version of The Oresteia I read in high school!  Isn't that cool?  I didn't realize until now!), related these scenes of killing and war to the modern-day struggle of veterans who come home from being stationed abroad and are faced with the process of integrating themselves back into society.  There was a discussion afterwards, in which Dr. Meineck asked for opinions from veterans in the audience.  Dr. Paul Woodruff, a classicist and Dean of the School of Undergraduate Studies, said that when he came back from fighting, he read The Odyssey three times as a way to understand what he had experienced there.

There was one veteran student who made a great point in conjunction with the scene from Herakles.  When the madness strikes Heracles, he has a hard time discerning between what is real and what he is imagining.  He is stuck between two worlds and incorrectly thinks he is in one when he is actually in the other, so he kills his children and wife without realizing what he is doing.  The student mentioned that after he came back from Afghanistan, he recognized that there was a whole different culture outside of the US and that veterans are faced with the issue of coming to terms with that other culture as a part of the world they live in in addition to their own culture.  He said that Heracles' struggle and failure to recognize this difference was an extreme example of something he had to deal with upon his return.  There was another veteran who said that while she was stationed, she developed a bond with her comrades that was even stronger than what she had with her family, and she tied this in to the loyalty of the sailors from Salamis to their leader, Ajax.

So why am I telling you all this and giving you the play-by-play (pun-intended) of a lecture featuring Greek tragedy?  It's because this lecture made me realize that the war isn't something that's as distant as it seems.  I've never known anyone who went to war or had family fighting overseas, but listening to the comments made by all those people who have had experience brought the issues they deal with closer to home (again, pun intended).  It also showed me the value of reading old texts like Greek plays because the concepts that are brought up are still relevant today.  Dr. Meineck summed it up best when he said that these plays "were written by veterans, performed by veterans, for veterans in the audience", and that was something I had never thought of before.

On a lighter note, when Friday rolled around, I was more excited than I have ever been for a plant sale because it was the day of our last WEST MALL SALE for this semester!!  The first thing I did Friday was actually check my concentration for Thursday's DNA extraction.  Guess what it was??  881.9 ng/uL!!!  The highest I have EVER gotten.  And because it was so good, I didn't even come CLOSE to having to do it again, and my RE told me I could take the next week-and-a-half off!  Sweeeeet!!

So I was in a good mood as I skipped to the greenhouse to set up.  Dan and Sara were already loading things onto the cart and Alyssa came to help out as well.  We had to make two trips to get everything down there, but I made the first sale of $10 before we had even half set-up all the merchandise!  Cha-ching!  Dan ended up skipping two of his three classes that day, but we made a total of $631.75 on Friday!!  Dan was a little upset that we didn't reach his goal of $800, but we should still be proud because it's the most SURGe has ever made during any one sale.  Like Collin said, we are moving up in the world...  The rest of Friday was pretty relaxing and I got to chill with Azeen and Karima after the SURGe meeting before heading home.

The weekend and my week so far have been fairly productive; my brain was fried after Physics lab yesterday (notice I went in early this week! :-), but overall, I got almost everything done that I had intended for the past few days.  After my four week slump between Midterm Rounds 2 and 3, I am flooring the accelerator for this long haul through finals.  It feels good to get my motivation back!  For those of you who are still slogging through midterms (there seem to be a lot of OChem midterms this week...), hang in there!  The end is in sight!  Can you believe we have less than a month left now?  Oops.  That was meant to be encouraging, not fear-inducing... 

I will leave you with a quote from Iroh, a character from my favorite TV show, Avatar: The Last Airbender: "Sometimes, life is like this dark tunnel.  You can't always see the light at the end of the tunnel, but if you keep moving, you will come to a better place."  That "better place" is waiting for you.  Don't stop until you get there!

Thanks for reading, and, as always, feel free to leave me your comments!

1 comment:

  1. Lol, late reply is late.

    I didn't know you were a classics minor, but that's really cool though. I like Greek/Roman mythology to a certain extent, but it beats learning about metabolism and all that jazz.

    I still haven't read/watched Sherlock Homes. And lucky you to have Gosling as your Psychology professor! I had a different professor, but he was still good nonetheless, though I could do without the tests. I went to a science study break once, but it was about something about physics and quantum mechanics so I was probably the only one who was confused throughout the entire lecture because most people there were physics majors. FAIL.

    I need to start studying for finals, but I'm too lazy to do anything. Procrastinators unite, lol.

    Hope everything goes well for you!