Monday, January 19, 2009

Splattered Mind

This post may be quite long. You've been forewarned.
Discussion Sections

So last week I had to teach my 3 discussion sections. Each one was rather unique. My first section (on Tuesday) consisted of almost all seniors. I could see the senioritis setting in, as they just did not seem to care. My second section (on Friday) was pretty quiet and timid, mostly juniors and sophomores. I got the vibe that they didn't really want to be there. My third section (also on Friday) consisted of mostly sophomores and juniors. I actually really liked this section. They responded pretty well (aka, didn't just sit in utter silence staring) to some of the tidbits I said to get their minds working.

I feel just a wee bit bad for my Tuesday section simply because they're the first, and I'm basically still working out the kinks in my lesson plans. I changed it up a bit between Tuesday and Friday sections. I assumed that, because the Tuesday section was almost all seniors, that they knew things that in reality they didn't. I didn't make this mistake with my last 2 sections.

Anyway, I survived! And I just finished prepping for tomorrow's section. I think I have this week pretty well planned, hopefully execution will be just as good. Somehow I'm expected to teach them Bayesian probability when I haven't been formally taught it myself. This may be interesting . . .
Dinner Cook-off

Saturday was our (AG-F, SR-F, RZ-F, and my) massive cook-off day. I arrived at about 4pm to AG-F's apartment and helped her and her boyfriend (DC-M) clean her apartment before SR-F and RZ-F arrived about 2 hours later. Our dinner "menu" consisted of: surf-n-turf (tilapia and steak), golabki, pumpkin bread, apple pie, and bread pudding.

Disasters struck the moment we started cooking. While AG-F instructed me how to make surf-n-turf, I accidentally breaded the steak. Okay, minor issue. As she tried to help me speed the cooking along, she put too much olive oil in the pan, so when I cooked the breaded tilapia it was almost submerged in oil. Then AG-F was cooking the rice in a pot (she didn't have a rice cooker) and burnt the bottom layer of rice, causing the apartment to fill with smoke. We cracked 2 windows open, and it was interesting that the smoke alarm didn't go off. Then just as SR-F was about to put her apple pie in the oven, she dropped it, causing a sizable chunk to fall out.

Despite all this, it was a miracle that no one got hurt (4 people in a tiny tiny kitchen, mind you). There was a large carving knife on the floor next to where we ate . . . Also, all the food actually tasted pretty good. Okay, the tilapia was a bit greasy and the steak tasted a bit odd (not bad, just kind of weird - will not bread steak again). But everything else was actually really good! We watched WALL-E after dinner, recovering from being so ridiculously stuffed.

By the way, you know you're a science major (and have worked in a lab too long) when you say something like, "Where's my aliquot of bread pudding?" Seriously . . . I said aliquot. o.O
Western blot

So I'm helping AG-F design a Western blot experiment (I won't go into the details of it here) to detect this particular protein she's interested in. I have the most experience in this technique out of everyone she knows, including her labmates and mine. So I'm offering her help every step of the way, as we hope it can be done.

Interestingly, due to "lab politics," she has to keep this experiment on the down-low. Her lab has decreed that further investigation into the expression of this protein would be a waste of time, but she wants to prove that there is something there that's meaningful. A Western blot, if she can get it to work, would do just the trick.

Anyway, how cool is it that I'm good enough at something that people would come to me for advice and such?! ^_^
Winter Not-Wonderland

This is a snowy bus stop I was standing across from.

This is a massive snow pile.

This is me, in my eskimo ninja form.

I'm SO glad that the temperature is now in the positive double-digits. I'm tired of walking out of my apartment and having the inside of my nose freeze (literally) instantly because the weather's -7 F or something. We actually cheered when the temperature reached 10 F (-12ish C). I mean, we walk outside and we didn't instantly feel frozen to the bone! That's progress. Cannot wait until spring is here.
What else . . .

Today I got my travel vaccinations. I was surprised by how few vaccinations I needed to go to Beijing and Tianjin, China. All I got was the flu vaccine shot, the hepatitis A vaccine shot, and the typhoid fever oral vaccine. I didn't know that hepatitis A could be trasmitted via food, water, and feces. Good to know. I have no intention of getting hepatitis A, and subsequently cirrohsis of my liver and possibly liver cancer later on. The doctor was amiable and easy to talk to, and I was actively observing her attitude and manners so that I may learn a bit. She was right about the muscle soreness - both my upper arms are now sore from the shots. Grrr.

The one thing that surprised me the most about the whole travel vaccination was how expensive it was. Apparently, my parent's health insurance doesn't cover travel vaccinations, so the whole $79 had to be paid. Stupid insurance, not even good where it's needed. At least it paid for half of the cost of the meds to combat traveler's diarrhea (in case I get it) and the oral typhoid vaccine. Still though, that added up to another $45. -_-

It's interesting being on the "other side" of teaching. As a student, we interact with professors a particular way. Sometimes we feel like they're making the questions particularly difficult to be mean or something. In reality, I think this is rarely true - at least with the class I'm GSI-ing for. Several of my students had expressed their concerns about the course, which I relayed to the professors lecturing for the course. We spend most of our 1-hour prep session not discussing what we're doing in discussion sections, but rather how to best tactfully address student issues - how to tell them something like, "No, the quizzes aren't meant to be easy, only easier than the hardest questions you'd see on the exam."

Lastly, there appears to be a leak from the apartment above me. There was water falling down the side of one of my walls near the corner. That has stopped and it looks like it's drying. But that's going to stain. I hope I'm not charged for damages when I move out . . .

It was short-lived, but I have to say goodbye to the blog Equal Eight. :( I really enjoyed that blog. I hope all who've had the pleasure of reading that blog remember the amusement and joy it brought its readers.


Shane said...

Oh my gosh it looks so cold!
I've never actually seen snow before how sad is that.

naturgesetz said...

Have you never had chicken-fried steak? Very popular in the South.

"Aliquot of bread pudding" LOL

Equal Eight were amusing. Frivolous, but fun.

Nice to see you're gaining those insights into teaching and patient care.

tracy said...

Great post, i really enjoyed reading about your dinner post, even with all the mini disasters, sounds like everything came out fine...and with such fun friends!

Love your "Eskimo Ninja" pic!

i also really loved your previous post, it's alot fun "getting to know" the people whose blogs one is "MeMe's" i love to read those.

Take care and (try) to stay warm,

Mike said...

I like the eskimo pic. I've never had to go to that extreme. It is only going to be 80 today.

What are you going to Beijing for?

Aek said...

Shane, Mike: Yes, it's pretty damn cold.

naturgesetz: Nope, never tried it.

tracy: Thanks. :)

Mike: I'm going to Beijing (more specifically Tianjin an hour south of Beijing) to observe their CDC and how measles vaccination and surveillance is handled.