Tuesday, December 13, 2011


Hey everyone,

I apologize for not having posted in so long (can you believe it's been nearly a MONTH!?).  I know you all must be very disappointed.  I've been pretty busy with exams and finals.  My Thanksgiving was spent studying, regrettably, but I also wasted a lot of time.  I didn't go to any of the Black Friday sales this year (for some reason, I just wasn't in the shopping mood), but my parents did and they bought me some things.  Isn't that the best?  I didn't even have to ask for anything or wait in line!  Thanks, Mom!

Everything got pretty serious Sunday night after Thanksgiving when my FRI final lab report was due by midnight.  I turned it in a mere 7 minutes before it was due, but I got 50/50 on it!  YES!!!  And then things became even more serious on Wednesday that week with my Physics lab practical (Don't ask.  The average was a 53 for my section.) and Thursday with my last Cell Bio test.  Despite getting the highest grade in my class both on the test and overall, it was a rough week.

But then, there was SURGe FUNDAY on Friday which made everything better!  The desserts were SWEET!! Literally.  Did anyone else have those chocolate pastries?  DE-LI-CIOUS!  I had about 3 before I realized my sugar and fat intake was nearing a dangerous level.  But I worked it off with some bowling at the Union Underground!  Sadly, I did not get any strikes this time, but it was still nice to relax a little before finals week.  That Friday, my lab group and I also went to dinner at Olive Garden.  It was my first time going there and I got the Ravioli di Portobello, which was pretty good, but I couldn't even finish half of it.  Maybe I should have just gotten the Garden Fresh salad instead...

Today was my last day of finals- YIPEE!  I'm just going to say they were fine because I don't want to jinx myself.  As much as I couldn't wait for the semester to end, I was sad to realize on the bus while going home that today would be the last time I would be on campus in 2011.  I came home and didn't know what to do with myself.  Isn't it ironic how we can't wait for classes to be over, only to realize when they ARE over, that we don't have anything to do?  I always feel this way.

But there is a good side to this.  The reason you don't know what to do is because you can do anything!  The possibilities are endless!  At least for a month.  Maybe you want to re-learn OChem and be on top of your game come spring semester (guilty).  Maybe you want to watch movies and read fanfiction all day.  Or maybe you just want to catch up on all the sleep and home-cooked food you missed during those all-nighters in your dorm room.  Whatever you do, I wish you all a very happy holiday season.  Thanks for reading and I'll see you in 2012!


P.S. The title refers to what my Calculus professor would say every day when he dismissed us from class.

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!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Going down, down, down, down...

Props to whoever can figure out the title's reference.

Last Wednesday's special event was nursery visiting/plant shopping!!  Collin, Dan, and I went to a place called Vickery in East Austin.  It was huge!  Think of our humble little greenhouse times 6 and much more organized and with more variety!  We got lots of cool plants like praying palms, grafted cacti (they're pink, red, orange and yellow!) and a polka-dot plant!  I bet you've never seen a polka-dot plant before (it's also called pink splash).  So, we will be having a HUGE West Mall plant sale on the 11th- tell everyone you know to stop by!  And if you're free this week, we'd love your help on Friday at the sale - the more, the merrier!

The low point of last week happened on Thursday when I realized that my Physics lab report was actually due the day before and when I tried to finish it, I kept getting negative numbers for inertia.  Even I know that's not right.  My procrastination reached a zenith when I didn't finish my Physics lab this weekend, either.  I intentionally put it off longer and longer until I just gave up on it completely and turned it in on Monday, half finished.  This past weekend and the week so far has been really bad.  Yesterday I had a lab report due and my Vert. Neuro. midterm.  I didn't study for Vert. Neuro. until two hours before the test yesterday.  I figured, since there wasn't much material and I had a drop test, I would be okay.  And it was, for the most part, but it would still hurt to get a C or something.

And today.  Wow, today ranks as one of the worst days ever.  I had both my Cell Bio and Physics midterms and then an appointment with my BDP advisor (did I mention I applied to the program?).  Cell Bio was okay (the multiple choice was really hard!) and Physics was horrible.  I spent all weekend on Cell Bio, so for once, I was prepared for my study group, but it cost me.  Honestly, though, for Physics I really only studied less than half a day, but in my defense, the homework was much easier..to understand.  Don't you just hate when you spend all your time on one thing and then you not only do badly on the other thing you had, but you also don't even get all the points for the one thing you really did spend your time studying for?  Looks like I just can't win today...or maybe this entire week.

But my advising appointment went well.  She liked my application essay!  Which I thought was funny considering I spent 2 hours just throwing it together.  And of course, FRC meeting-probably the best part of today.  And no, I'm not saying that just because it's my position. :)  It was good; we had the usuals: Sara, Amanda, Varduhi and Dan.  We got started planting the new plants into colorful clay pots for the big West Mall sale on Friday, and Amanda had fun both destroying clay pots and spray-painting them.  Again, tell everyone you know to come by and buy a plant!  We have a big selection of succulents and cacti!  And for those who say that they are very good at killing plants, we have ones that don't die!  Now you have no excuse :), unless you have no money... Booooo.

I hope all of you went to the SURGe meeting last Friday.  It was AWESOME!!  We had free Jason's Deli and drinks (the lemonade was a-ma-zing!) and lots of useful information about summer research.  I missed my Vert. Neuro. review session, so I will definitely be using those tips, especially about updating my resume.  And we had about 300 people!  And this week's meeting will feature a team who studies wildfires.  That's hot.  (Anyone know who I'm referencing?  Really, I should post the answers or something.)  SURGe will also be running the Race for the Cure this Sunday.  I'm still debating whether or not to go.  Anyway, see you Friday!


Waiting on my money tree....

The following post was originally meant to be posted on Monday, October 31, 2011:

Let me be the first to say: this weekend was AWESOME!!  Well, Saturday was awesome; Sunday just kinda moped on by.

Let's start with Friday.  I admit, I was a little skeptical about the SURGe meeting because it was about vampire lore, and I'm not a big Halloween fan, but it turned out to be great!  Dr. Garza is a great speaker-so engaging and knowledgeable about the subject.  I didn't particularly enjoy watching the vampire movie clips because I have a low tolerance for scary movies (I get scared easily), but I loved hearing Dr. Garza's foreign accents-he's really quite good at them!  I wish I knew multiple languages like that.  We had pizza like usual, but after, we went to the Anna Hiss Gym for free Amy's icecream!!  Yum... Even though it was chilly on Friday, my usual half-coffee/half-Oreo with M&Ms and Oreos tasted just as good as ever!

And now to the best part: Saturday!  Since it was mine and my best friend Karima's birthday weekend, we spent the day at the Domain with my other best friend Azeen and my sister.  And boy, DID we spend all day there!  We got there around 11 and didn't leave till after 6!  We really wanted to go to Forever 21 but we made the mistake of tackling that after lunch.  The first few stores went well-they even bought stuff, but then we started to get tired and really hungry.

We had lunch at California Pizza Kitchen and it was really good!  We had a nice international lunch: Italian (pizza!); Asian (Japanese eggplant); Mexican (Tostada pizza); and Mediterranean (Tuscan Hummus).  My personal favorite: the Vegetarian with Japanese Eggplant pizza.  Now, normally, I HATE eggplant.  I mean, HATE IT.  Really.  You can even ask my mom.  But this time, I didn't even notice it.  Maybe it was because of the cheese.  Maybe it was because of the broccoli, which I've never eaten (broccoli is not bad at all!).  Maybe it was just because I was hungry.  Or maybe even all three.  But it was DE-LI-CIOUS!  The Tostada pizza is also not bad; imagine a "Mexican food"-flavored pizza and there you have it!  My friend described it as "pizza with nachos".

I guess you could say we got into somewhat of a "food coma" afterwards because we weren't very sprightly as we walked to Forever 21.  And when we got there, our brains were overloaded with the PLETHORA of clothes and accessories and people!!  Azeen and I even got a little dizzy and had to sit down.  And we probably would have stayed there the rest of the day if we didn't have to go home.  The next half of the day was spent going into all those stores where we know we'll just walk right out again without getting anything as we walked back to the car.  I saw a BEAUTIFUL white Grecian one-shoulder dress that turned out to be $348!!  And then Azeen found a purple knee-length dress with orange sequins that was $528!!  Karima kept joking about how when we all become doctors and grow out our money trees, we can come back and buy everything we want.  Like that's gonna happen.  We agreed in the end that even when we had money, our standards wouldn't change and we probably still wouldn't buy anything.  But it was fun to try on make-up!  I found out that lavender eyeshadow goes really well with my brown eyes. Good to know, Karima.

Anyway, we came back to my house and were going to watch Toy Story 3 (a tip I picked up from the plant sale on Friday), but it was already 7:00!  So then we had moist fudge brownies (Have I made you hungry yet?) and then Indian food for dinner followed up quickly with Neapolitan icecream.  To summarize: a day filled with unhealthy food (pizza, brownies, icecream) and window shopping.  But then again, those are the best kinds, right?  But I was woefully unprepared for my study group on Sunday.  That seems to happen a lot, doesn't it?

And now to a completely different topic: Harry Potter Fest!!  Did you go today?  Unfortunately, the only event I could go to was Trivia and my team got 3rd place!  We missed only 2 questions - can you believe it?  Some of the questions were really hard, like dates of when the Durmstrang and Beauxbaton schools came to Hogwarts!  But I did use my tickets to buy a Chocolate Frog, with a complementary wizard card inside.  It is still safely in my freezer.  And I got more Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans (Jelly Beans).  Thankfully, I did not get vomit-flavored or earwax.  Whew!  My favorites were orange and pina colada.