Sunday, December 27, 2009


Posting will resume in a couple days when I’m back from Tahoe.

It’s snowing here! We’re here for 3 nights, and we were planning ski 3 days, but with the snow and our lack of snow chains for all the cars, we are staying in today. By which I mean building snowmen in the backyard once the last person finally gets done showering (slowpoke!).

And, man, the fondant-like coating of snow over everything is beautiful.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve.

‘Twas the night before Christmas,
And I was watching the Star Wars trilogy on TV.

We don’t really celebrate Christmas, so it doesn’t really matter to me.

What’s nice, though, is that I get to see my friend Cassio (nicknamed for the role she played in our Othello video in English class in high school). I haven’t seen her in two years! I’ve missed her, but she’s coming down to visit tomorrow =D

Happy holidays, all!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Avatar (You Know, the One With the Blue People)

I saw Avatar in 3D yesterday with some high school friends (most of whom also go to Berkeley but some of whom I haven’t seen lately).

When I first saw the trailers, I was dubious. I mean, blue cat people? But the visual effects were pretty stunning – I loved the bioluminescent nighttime settings, and the method of the Na’vi connection to nature.

My official recommendation is: see it.

Now, I’m off to go ice skating!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Cabin Rentals

Man, trying to find a house to rent in Tahoe for 13 people for 2 (or at the most 3) nights between Christmas and New Years is really hard.

We should’ve started looking a couple days ago, but we weren’t completely sure how many families were coming. Now everything’s booked.

I really really wanted to spend at least one night there.

You know, because it’ll mean we have two days to spend snowboarding...that’s all...
>.> <.<

Friday, December 18, 2009


I finally picked up my flute again. It’s been 3 years since I really played it– not since high school marching band.

And wow, I suck.

I’m going to have to practice again. My fingers don’t move that fast anymore.

But on the bright side, I found a website that has free sheet music for flutes, with a good selection of warm-ups and more difficult pieces. And all for solo flautists, not a whole band!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Winter Break!

I’m hoping there won’t be too much boredom this winter break.

What there will be:
  • Snowboarding, hopefully >1 time.
  • Seeing one of my best friends from high school that I haven’t seen in 2 years.
  • Seeing a family friend I haven’t seen in a while either. My mom jokingly says she would approve of him as my boyfriend – I'm not sure how I feel about that :P
  • Watching movies with Dizzle and D-dog.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Now Is The Winter of My Content

I’m on winter break! I am done with finals, as of this morning.

I turned in my paper, did my little part in our mock House hearing as part of a coalition consisting of uninsured heads of households and single mothers on Medicaid, listened to 3 hours of people speaking for their roles, and was finally finished!

A large part of the rest of my day has consisted of playing these three games on Orisinal.

Monday, December 14, 2009

More That's Not Going In My Paper

I'll be more professional in my paper, but Joe Lieberman, you are an ass.

Although maybe I shouldn't call you that, since you're obviously not working with the Democrats (who chose a donkey for the party symbol anyways?).

The Democrats are quite willing to negotiate, because they need your vote to pass reform. Making new demands every time something is close to being settled is simply an abuse of your current power.

You were all for the Medicare buy-in 3 months ago. What happened? Are those insurance companies in Connecticut looking for a new board member when you're done with your term? Will you be the next Billy Tauzin?

Time is running out. People's desire for reform moves in waves. It didn't quite happen when Clinton tried it, although that was also partly his fault for going for perfect rather than enough. But now the wave is back, and if we don't get this done, it will move past, leaving 1 in 8 million Americans without health coverage. Again.

And Democrats: Lieberman isn't going to go for the public option anyways. And the public option is crucial to making sure premiums don't rise too high. So why not focus your efforts on one of the more reasonable Republicans instead? Someone who cares more about their constituents than about political ideology? Maybe Senator Snowe?

Almost Done!

My Bio of Cancer final this afternoon was not nearly as difficult as I thought. Actually, it was extremely similar to the two practice exams we were given. Well, I went through those carefully, so I was prepared.

All I have left is this paper! I wrote half of it yesterday morning, and I need to finish it before 8 am tomorrow. I’m kind of tired now, but maybe writing this’ll be a warm up.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Anatomy and Protests

Okay, anatomy was relatively easy. Except the final was a fiasco. The professor couldn’t get the projector working for the histology identifications, so it took over an hour before we could go back to the first 10 questions. Then it was too bright, so she turned off the lights. And then we couldn’t see our papers, and she kept flipping back and forth, and people were talking, etc. Didn’t feel like a final at all.

I have more to say, though, so oh well, there goes my 75 words.

The protests are still going on. On Friday, the police arrested some 60 people who were in Wheeler Hall to prevent them from entering locked classrooms and throwing an all-night hip-hop party that might disturb finals the next day (like anatomy). Well, quite a few of those in Wheeler were simply students who happened to be there, studying for finals because the hall was open 24 hours.

The next night, while we were in the anatomy chatroom on bspace (which basically hosts all the course websites), asking and answering questions, someone mentioned that she heard people marching past her house. Everyone just said they hoped that there wouldn’t be any protests during our final, and forgot about it.

In the morning, I found out what happened. According to the Daily Cal, close to midnight on Friday, a bunch of protestors marched to Chancellor Birgeneau’s house (which is inside the campus), carrying torches. No, nothing was burned, but they did vandalize the outside of the house. 8 of the 40-75 people in the original group were arrested, but only 2 of them were UC Berkeley students.

I hope nobody will take this as a reflection on the rest of the Open University protestors, because they are not affiliated. It really was as Governor Schwarzenegger said (though I hate to agree with him), “an act of terrorism.”

Friday, December 11, 2009


I thought I was staying relatively focused today, but looking back at how much work I actually did...maybe not.

Oh well, I don’t feel overwhelmed anymore, I think I can finish everything I need to do in time.

Except, there’s probably going to be more to do for Biology of Cancer than I’m realizing.

This poster (made by Cell Signaling Technologies) came with my book. It shows all the known signal transduction pathways involved in human cancer. Captions don't count in my 75 words, right?

My in-depth outline for my paper is already 4 pages (out of 5-7) though! I just need to fill it in.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Michael Bublé

I’ve been listening to Michael Bublé all day, his voice is just so soothing and beautiful. Thanks to my lovely Italian summer roommate for introducing us!

I love the jazz standards, of course. My roommate from first year is a jazz singer after all, and she taught me about them. I think my favorite song, however, is still the one our Italian originally posted.

It’s just such a feel-good song - Haven’t Met You Yet!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


A friend just referred me to Limerick DB. I think I saw it before when Randall (of xkcd fame) created it, but I forgot about it till now. The limericks are much funnier (though less useful) than those in the Omnificent English Dictionary in Limerick Form. Like this:

If you catch a Chinchilla in Chile
And cut off its beard, willy-nilly
You can honestly say
That you have just made
A Chilean Chinchilla's chin chilly

Monday, December 7, 2009

The Stupak Amendment

I’m working on a paper for my public health class right now. We’re supposed to analyze the health care reform bill passed by the house from the position of a randomly assigned stakeholder. But because the controversy over abortion rights is far-reaching and divided, our professor doesn’t want us to spend the whole paper arguing about that. Or any of the paper, for that matter. So I’ll write about it here instead.

I think the fact that the ball of health care reform has started rolling is great. We’ll get something, even if it isn’t perfect, and that can be tweaked later. America is the only developed country that doesn’t have some kind of national plan for universal coverage. The last country to share that distinction was South Africa. Good to know we’re behind the country in which a girl has a better chance of being raped than of learning how to read. Anyways, the Stupak Amendment to the House bill says that any plan paid for or subsidized by federal money cannot cover abortion unless it’s proven to be rape or incest.

That’s great for anti-choice lobbyists, but exactly how would you prove it was rape? From police reports? I’ve read from various sources that anywhere from an estimated 60-80% of rape victims don’t report the crime. Why? Because it’s often someone they know, because they’re not comfortable going to the police, because even if it wasn’t their fault, they will become ostracized. There are plenty of reasons.

What about these women, who make up the majority of rape cases even in the most conservative estimate? Will they not be able to salvage their lives and move ahead if their income is low and they are forced to use the federal subsidies? They already have enough to deal with. This amendment does nothing more than create hardship for these women. I can’t even begin to comprehend how difficult their situation would be, and it’s related to my minor! How can those mainly white male Representatives, sitting comfortably on Capitol Hill, understand the plight of these women?

Even if women are allowed to purchase a supplemental policy (assuming their income is over 400% of the Federal Poverty Level and they are not being helped by the federal subsidy), it's useless. Abortions are used when the pregnancy is unwanted or unexpected. Why would you buy a plan against that when you could just use contraceptives? Women don't expect to have abortions, it happens when the pregnancy is accidental! We need more female representation in Congress to point out the issues that are obvious to women, but invisible to men.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Belt Test

I had my belt test for yongmudo (a.k.a. hapkido) today. Unlike some of the others, this didn’t make me nervous at all. Even the black belt test doesn’t seem that unreachable. It’s not even an hour long.

My brown belt tests for 3rd and 2nd degree brown belt in kenpo were 6 and 8 hours long, respectively. I already learned I have more endurance than I know.

It kind of puts this test in perspective.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Busy as a Bumblebee!

These last couple days have been busy. I had my two-day Japanese final, meetings for the research lab I’m going to be working in (+ paperwork), and yongmudo (belt test on Sunday).

Also, the boy has been here 4 out of 5 nights this week. And we still don’t know.

Oops, that wasn’t 75 words, that was 50. I didn’t realize that. I was busy writing another 50-word story, and I think it carried over.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Phoenix Requiem

Today, I will share with you one of my favorite stories and pieces of art. All in one. It’s a webcomic, actually.

I don’t want to give The Phoenix Requiem a genre, because it doesn’t really fit in any one thing. The art and story fit together well, and they keep getting better.

Just read it, and if you aren’t enamored with the story and the characters, just keep reading anyways, because you will be soon.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Hunger, Hunger, Hunger, wherefore am I not hungry?

I don’t usually eat much, but I feel like I’ve been eating less than normal lately. Just haven’t been that hungry.

There’re probably two reasons for this. First of course, is the stress of that ridiculous situation. Glad I’m not worrying anymore! Second, I don’t have snacks around the house. Third, I think, is that I haven’t been eating good breakfasts.

We had Turkish Kitchen’s potato & cheese baked pie for dinner today, though! Yummm…

Friday, November 27, 2009

Sweet 16

I went to the 16th birthday party of a family friend. It was an odd mix of Indian and American birthday parties.

Tips for fathers giving 16th birthday photo slideshows:
  1. Don’t put multiple pictures on one slide. Make them big so we can see all the embarrassment.
  2. On the same note, we don’t need quite that many. Just pick the funniest ones.
  3. Let her sisters do the talking. They have funnier captions.

Thursday, November 26, 2009


Happy Thanksgiving!

I’m thankful for my family, who has, does, always will love me.

I’m thankful for my roommates. The current ones, with whom I share so much, and the past ones, who I wish I could see more often.

I’m thankful for my friends (who include all of the above as well). I definitely need to work on allowing myself to get closer to you, but even now, what would fun be without you?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Research Position!

Today, I am happy. Not just because my essay is done (thought that is contributing).

I (almost definitely) have a place in the neurobiology lab that I really wanted to work in! Starting next semester, of course. It’s exciting, though, because the lab researches some often overlooked stuff. The professor is really nice, and the lab is small, so I’ll actually get a chance to talk to her.

Second semester junior year…better late than never!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Anatomy Essays

I have an essay due for anatomy in a couple of days. It’s supposed to be our personal and professional reflections on the book Stiff. And guess what? The author, Mary Roach, is coming to visit our class on Wednesday!

The book's pretty funny, I liked it. What I’m worried about is the style. It’s a bit informal. I think the first part sounds a bit like a blog post. Oh well, it’s just anatomy.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

UC Protests

If you haven't heard yet, the UC Regents are increasing fees by 32% this year. That means a $1000 increase in fees by next fall. This is a public university! It's meant to serve everyone, including those who would be left out of a privatized system, and to serve them damn well! All of the UC campuses are extremely good schools. Berkeley alone is in the top 10 for the nation in 35 out of 36 undergraduate departments.

I understand it's not completely the Regents' fault - the economy is putting pressure on the state government, which of course begins its chopping with education. The tuition increase doesn't affect me greatly - it's inconvenient, but my family can manage it. But I know plenty of people who can't. I'm not in the situation of the Regents, but there has to be a better way to deal with this than by placing financial burdens on the faculty, workers, and students (especially without consulting them).

Including all of its campuses (according to its website), the university represents some 220,000 students and another 170,000 staff and faculty. That is a lot of people, who are all in the powerful position of being involved in higher education. We've got the students, faculty, and staff banding together. 5,000 of them marched as one during the walkout on September 24. Can we not get the administration to join us and make the state hear our voice?

At any rate, I just saw this video from AggieTV. Way to hold the fort, Davis! We need to get the administration to see that we are serious.

日本語のパーティー (Japanese party)

A group of people from my 日本語の class had a party last night. My roommate came with me, and we thought of leaving when the other girls did, but we stayed. Good decision. It was actually way more fun with just the guys. I learned to play beer pong (but with water), which I am apparently pretty good at, and then we rocked out on Guitar Hero World Tour – we make a pretty good band!

Saturday, November 21, 2009


Not me, just people salsaing.
(Image from Creative Commons)

On Thursday night, I went to a salsa party hosted by the Social Ballroom Club. The founders of this club are friends of mine who, like me, tired of the stress and drama of the competitive ballroom dance team.

Only D-dog came with me. Dizzle couldn’t make it, but she said it sounded “yummy!”

Yummy? Huh?

Oh, I get it. Well, this was a salsa dance party, but I do like chips and salsa too!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

On the Origin of Species

As of 4 pm today, my apartment contained 14 copies of the Origin of Species (special introduction by Ray Comfort, a.k.a. the Banana Man) I love my roommates.

We’ll keep 1 for each of us, and 3 have already gone to friends, but there’s 7 more. You can have one if you promise to laugh at the intro.

I also love these bookmarks a student group was handing out right next to the free Origins.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Pickup Lines

My roommate got hit on in the oddest way I've ever heard of.

On her way to a physics review session, D. realized that she was a little bit early, and decided to pick up a copy of the Daily Cal newspaper and sit outside while she waited for the review to start.

A tall, blonde, slightly geeky-looking guy (geeky we're fine with, but he was just weird) sat down next to her.

"So…do you read that often?"

"Oh, um, no, just every now and then."

His phone rang. He ignored it. "Oh, do you know when the new issues come out?"
This still in reference to the school newspaper, which has the word "daily" in its name (to be fair, it's no longer printed on Wednesdays due to budget cuts).

"Oh, you know, every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday…"

"Oh, okay." He tried to chit-chat a little bit more. Eventually he decided he ought to pick up the still-ringing phone. With a reluctant sigh, he finally said, "I guess I should answer that."

"Uh, okay."

So he went off to the side talking on the phone and it was soon time for class. As D. walked towards the classroom, tall guy was standing near the door, so she gave him a normal smile, thinking he was a normal, if slightly awkward, person.

Immediately, he said to the person he was talking to, "Oh, I'll call you back later," and caught up with her.

Long, awkward pause.
"Would you like to be given the chance to hit on me?"

D. was utterly confused, wondering what on earth he meant. "What?"

"You know, do you want to be given the chance to hit on me?"

"What do you mean?"

"You know, you're supposed to compliment me in some way or say something nice about me. I'm not really sure what ensues, but we'll get to that when it happens."

"Oh, um, I think I'll pass."

"Are you sure? Do you want a rain check on that? Oh, wait, it's not raining. How about a sunny day check?"

"Uh, maybe next time…"

Luckily, it was time for the review session to start, so D. managed to escape.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A "Major" Decision

I was talking to a friend about my major and career goals (research, not medicine), and how I ended up with them because I like solving puzzles. It reminded me of a thought that’s popped up a couple times lately.

If I hadn’t fallen in love with biology, I would probably be a computer science major. The thought seems odd. But the more I think about it, the more I believe it to be true.

となりのトトロ (Tonari no Totoro)

I finally watched My Neighbor Totoro. You know, the animated film by Hayao Miyazaki?

It’s really cute, but the details are what got me. Satsuki and Mei truly act like children their age. It’s in the way they jump around, sing, and tease each other. Despite the fantastical premise, it lends the film of a sense of reality – enough to keep you absorbed.

And I want to ride the ねこのバス (cat-bus)! It looks so comfy…

My Roommates

From now on, I’m using the nicknames another friend made up for me and my roommates. He named us all [initial]-Dog. I was S-dog, my roommate C-dog (which eventually morphed into Sasscat because she was being sassy), D-dog, and J-dog (which became J-dizzle, which became Dizzle).

Collectively, he called us (or our physical apartment) “the Pound.”

Well, I guess that just means he couldn’t even beat a dog/cat in Scrabble or Cranium ;)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

A Mother's Dreams

I wonder if my childhood desire to become an astronaut stemmed from my mother. The dreams she remembers when she wakes up very often include flying.

In dreamland, it’s very simple to fly. Apparently, you just have to flap your arms like this, or spin like this, or put yourself in an arabesque-like pose. My mom always wakes up feeling that, wow, she’s discovered the secret! Only to realize that it doesn’t work out here.

Perched on a Hyphen

I said I would do a post a day in 75 words, but I didn't say I would give up my longer posts (and I didn't say I wouldn't, thought that was mainly because it didn't fit under the 75 words). And this one is most definitely long, but it's okay, because I've finally discovered how to put things after the jump!

I've mentioned this before, but I'm Indian-American. I don't mean American Indian, or rather, Native American (honestly, just because Columbus got his geography wrong doesn't mean we all have to). I mean I'm a desi. I'm from the Indian subcontinent. Except I was born here in America.

As I used to say when I was younger, I'm 100% Indian (genetically, from both my parents) and I'm 100% American (born and mostly raised here). Unfortunately, I've always been extremely skinny and I have no twin or clone, so anyone who looks at me knows that I am obviously not 200% of a person.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Gathering Storm

My library hold on The Gathering Storm, the twelfth book in the Wheel of Time series, has finally arrived. I started Wednesday, a break from studying for my anatomy midterm, but only managed 50 pages. Yesterday evening, the immersion began, ending today.

Robert Jordan was an amazing fantasy writer (may he rest in peace). Brendan Sanderson, despite some stylistic differences, was able to keep true to the feel of the series. I am happy.

A New Plan of Action

I've been writing 50-word stories on WeBook. It occurred to me yesterday that such a format might apply in other areas as well. So every day will bring something interesting I have experienced or read that day. In 75 words (or 50 for an uninteresting day). It’s short and it should keep me posting every day.

Today (I’m sleeping late, so technically yesterday), my roommate decided we should bake Super Mario cupcakes sometime soon.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Religion, Or Lack Thereof

I would consider myself an atheist. I'm not adamantly against the existence of gods, I just don't believe in them. I need either evidence or experience from which I can extrapolate, and I haven't really seen any 'proof' of God or Allah or Zeus that I think could not possibly be explained by science. But everyone's heard this argument before. It's extremely true, and (at least now) one of my main reasons for not being religious. I will probably come back to that in some future post when I've been reading about how some religious ideology has resulted in a lot of people being hurt, as seems to happen quite often. But for now, I want to talk about something slightly different, a very short experience I had with being religious.

Thursday, October 8, 2009


I think I'm a creative person, though for the longest time, I didn't. At least, I didn't think about it all when I was young, and through high school up until this summer in college, I never considered myself an artist. And I still don't.

That's my point now, though. I always considered creativity to be the ability to come up with something out of nothing with no more than a thought, to create art, to draw, to paint, to write lush prose and transcendent poetry - but that's not what it is. Creativity is the ability to make something new, that's true, but the definition of new doesn't have to include spontaneity. So what exactly is creativity?

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The Ambulance Down in the Valley

A speaker in my Public Health class read us this poem at the end of his lecture. I think it is a brilliant and funny representation of prevention vs. cure in health care, still applicable today despite being written in 1895. Laugh, but also take heed!

Joseph Malins

'Twas a dangerous cliff, as they freely confessed,
Though to walk near its crest was so pleasant;
But over its terrible edge there had slipped
A duke, and full many a peasant.
The people said something would have to be done,
But their projects did not at all tally.
Some said "Put a fence 'round the edge of the cliff,"
Some, "An ambulance down in the valley."

The lament of the crowd was profound and was loud,
As their tears overflowed with their pity;
But the cry for the ambulance carried the day
As it spread through the neighboring city.
A collection was made, to accumulate aid,
And the dwellers in highway and alley
Gave dollars and cents--not to furnish a fence--
But an ambulance down in the valley.

"For the cliff is all right if you're careful," they said;
"And, if folks ever slip and are dropping,
It isn't the slipping that hurts them so much
As the shock down below--when they're stopping."
So for years (we have heard), as these mishaps occurred
Quick forth would the rescuers sally,
To pick up the victims who fell from the cliff,
With the ambulance down in the valley.

Said one, in a plea, "It's a marvel to me
That you'd give so much greater attention
To repairing results than to curing the cause;
You had much better aim at prevention.
For the mischief, of course, should be stopped at its source;
Come, neighbors and friends, let us rally.
It is far better sense to rely on a fence
Than an ambulance down in the valley."

"He is wrong in his head," the majority said,
"He would end all our earnest endeavor.
He's a man who would shirk this responsible work,
But we will support it forever.
Aren't we picking up all, jut as fast as they fall,
And giving them care liberally?
A superfluous fence is of no consequence
If the ambulance works in the valley."

But a sensible few, who are practical too,
Will not bear with such nonsense much longer;
They believe that prevention is better than cure,
And their party will soon be much stronger.
Encourage them then, with your purse, voice and pen,
And while other philanthropists dally,
They will scorn all pretense and put up a stout fence
On the cliff that hangs over the valley.

Better guide well the young, than reclaim them when old,
For the voice of true wisdom is calling,
"To rescue the fallen is good, but 'tis best
To prevent other people from falling."
Better close up the source of temptation and crime
Than deliver from dungeon or galley
Better put a strong fence 'round the top of the cliff
Than an ambulance down in the valley.

Saturday, October 3, 2009


Hope, then disappointment. Every season.
Oh Bears...

Thursday, October 1, 2009

A Clear Sky

Tonight was the first time the stars had ever been so clear.

Today was a special day. A seven-year-old Sally stood in front of the school to share her dreams. "I want to be an astronaut," she began reading from her essay. The distinguished guest beside her had piloted two of NASA's missions already, and was here to visit his old elementary school. "I want to see everything that's out there."

Surely life hadn't seemed so simple back then, even to a second grader?

"Cool, I get a flightsuit!" exclaimed the exuberant fifth-grader. The first day of Space Camp was exhilarating, a flurry of goodbyes to parents and hellos to new friends and teammates. There was so much to learn for the Rocket Bowl on the last day. Team Intrepid was certainly going to win that competition. But in the meantime, there were simulators to try - the MMU, the 5 degrees of freedom chair, the 1/6 gravity chair. Space shuttle missions - Sally was going to be a mission scientist. And the zero-g wall! So much to do!

By seventh grade, the dream of becoming an astronaut had been pushed to the back. The desire was still there, but there were other things in the world that were so much more interesting. Friends, sports, and among academic subjects science, especially biology. But when night fell, she could still stare at the stars and watch for satellites, remembering what not so long ago was her only dream.

On the flat roof of a houseboat in the middle of the lake, surrounded by friends and family, fifteen-year-old Sally lay snug in her blanket. "Ooh, did you see that one?! That was a huge meteorite!" She smiled at the excited chatter of the six-year-old twins and scanned the sky for more, feeling more content than she had in a while. There was no light pollution out here in the middle of nowhere.

The stars had come to mean other things besides her dreams. They represented time spent with her dad, laying back in deck chairs in the wee hours of the morning, stifling yawns as they peered through the power lines for any signs of the Leonids.

When she was having trouble with adjusting to a new life in college, when she couldn't quite make it into whatever you tried out for, when work was getting tougher, sometimes all she needed was a friend to walk with her. At midnight, through the middle of campus, to try and find a terrace she had seen once before from which to gaze at the stars. She had to beware the sprinklers turning on as she walked through the grass, but otherwise, it bestowed a measure of comfort, a feeling of having your problems melt away. Honestly, they were so insignificant when you looked at the size of the universe and everything that could be happening - anything was possible out there.

Sally gazed out the window as the shuttle spun in its slow tango with the earth, bringing its partner into view. What were the chances? A neuroscientist was needed to study the effects of freefall on the brain? But it felt right, like this was where her choices had been leading her whole life. The stars were certainly clear tonight.

Saturday, September 5, 2009


I over-analyze myself all the time. I'm a pretty introspective person. I know I'm not perfect. I don't really want to be perfect. That would be much too boring. But I do want to be the best person I can. There are still so many things for me to improve, and also so many things left for me to learn about myself.

Why, just these past two years, I've learned how to be extra-outgoing, and I've learned that while I like being social, I still need time to myself (or time with my family) to recharge. I've increased my ability to manage my time, to focus and stay on topic when I have work to do. At the same time, I've begun to try more new things, go for more new experiences (how, you ask? unfortunately, I've also been sleeping less).

♪ ♫I won't live regretfully/That's my new philosophy!
Props to anyone who knows what I'm referring to.

Friday, September 4, 2009

A New Semester

If I start apologizing for not posting regularly (although I have no readers), that's going to start my every post from now on. So I'll apologize now - sorry - and move on. I still don't quite know what I'm trying to do with this blog, but for the moment, it's just a place to post random thoughts. Whatever it is, it's my place, and I have no readers anyways, so I get to keep my freedom.

A new semester has started though, so I don't really have all that much time to write any more. My writing tends to happen in short bursts anyways. I have to be in the mood, and when I am, I can pour out a couple sets of feelings for my thoughts at the time and for the time I haven't been writing. So I'll probably end up writing 2-3 rambles at once and then spacing out the posts.

So let's begin the new semester by talking about it. I'm a biology major. Molecular and Cell Biology (or MCB, as it's known here), in fact. I have no worries about that giving me away considering that half the undergrad population seems to consist of MCB majors (and considering that pretty much nobody actually reads this).

So this semester, I'm only actually taking one MCB major requirement, a class on the Biology of Human Cancer. It's pretty interesting, and at least in the beginning, it's been overlapping a bit with my General Human Anatomy class, which is nice. The latter class is huge, some 700+ people, not a requirement for me. I, along with the majority of the class, took it for the teacher, Professor Marian Diamond. She's amazing.

Unfortunately, she's not teaching the class this year (only offered in fall) because she tore her rotator cuff muscles. Ouch. I hope she heals quickly, but I'm still going to continue with the class this semester rather than waiting. I don't know if it will fit into my schedule next year, and besides, the topic is interesting on its own too (I'm not pre-med though! at least not yet).

Next up is an Intro to Health Policy class that works as one of the electives for my Global Poverty & Practice minor (which I will be declaring this week). I was afraid that, being somewhat political, it might be a bit dry for me, but I've found it pretty interesting so far. It's probably because of the current battle for universal, affordable healthcare.

Lastly, I have two classes that were supposed to be mutually exclusive. Well, they aren't technically, but I'm on the waitlist for Elementary Japanese and Intro Linguistics is my backup. Yet I've been finding both interesting and wondering whether I might just take the backup as well (P/NP of course). That would leave me with 19 units yet again, and a whole bunch of stress. But...they're interesting! And I'm only going to have more MCB classes in the future, not less. Anyways, I'll wait until I'm in or out of Japanese to decide that.

But 19 units. That's a lot of work. I know, I've been through it. Pretty much every semester except last spring. On a possibly unrelated note, my registration times were early up until right after the semester when I took the minimum units, despite the fact that I still have a lot more than average overall. So who knows, maybe it'll get me an early Telebears again...

Sunday, August 23, 2009


Sorry I haven't posted in a week. I was off on an Alaskan cruise with my family. By that I mean with just my parents, since I am an only child and none of our family friends could make it.

We went with Norwegian Cruise Lines though, so the crowd was a lot younger than I expected (only about 50% elderly citizens rather than 95%). Quite a few teens, but most were under 17, and therefore met up in the teen club that I was not eligible for. Also, since I was alone, I was more timid about approaching people that were already in groups or sibling/cousin/friend pairs. It's tough for me, I don't feel comfortable inserting myself into a social situation like that, though I know many people who do it with ease.

It's okay though. I enjoyed it very much. I still made some friends, but I used the majority of the cruise to just relax and go to all the events I wanted to go to (having a group of people partly denies you that freedom, as I experienced on my high school marching band's Mexico cruise).

Anyways, I have a couple stories and pieces of writing that came out that trip, so I'll post them in the next couple days, once I type them up.

P.S. I'm back on solid ground now but I still feel like the ship is rocking under me. How long is my brain's motion overcompensation going to last?


I can almost never turn off my mind. My brain is always thinking. It's part of the reason I wasn't very good at things like Guitar Hero or DDR (or DsDsR, the handheld homebrew Nintendo DS version).

It's the unconscious brain that's faster. When master athletes and singers and dancers are doing their thing, they aren't thinking anything - their minds really are a blank. In fact, thinking about it inhibits their ability to do what they're good at. The same is not true for beginners, which is perhaps why I am quick to pick up new things but slow to master them.

In any case, I have trouble not thinking. Once I realized that was part of the problem, I worked on it, and I got slightly better with the video games, but there's still thoughts hanging around in there that I'm trying to ignore. There are only a few things, then, that can clear my mind effectively. 

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Fighting HIV: It's What's Inside That Counts (Really)

So researchers are finding another approach to battling HIV that makes use of genes we already have? Cool. Here's an excerpt from the paper that came out a few months ago:
A group of scientists led by Nitya Venkataraman and Alexander Colewhether wanted to try a new approach to fighting HIV - one that worked with the body's own immune system. They knew Old World monkeys had a built-in immunity to HIV: a protein called retrocyclin, which can prevent HIV from entering cell walls and starting an infection. So they began poring over the human genome, looking to see if humans had a latent gene that could manufacture retrocyclin too. It turned out that we did, but a "nonsense mutation" in the gene had turned it off at some point in our evolutionary history.
The team found a way to use a compound called aminoglycosides, which itself can cause errors when RNA transcribes information from DNA to make proteins. But this time, the aminoglycoside error would work in their favor: It would cause that RNA to ignore the nonsense mutation in the junk gene, and therefore start making retrocyclin again. In preliminary tests, their scheme worked. The human cells made retrocyclin, fended off HIV, and effectively became AIDS-resistant.
Wow. Seriously, that's amazing. Unfortunately, judging by some of the comments on the article, I think a few people might interpret this the wrong way. I'm taking a look at the paper, and I want to make a few points:

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


Sighing with frustration, he stepped through the dead leaves on the forest floor. The quiet was unsettling, but preoccupied as he was with everything else, he barely noticed. His mind was drowning in all his problems, scrambling for air and a breath and a chance to think about something else before the next wave swept over. He neared a fallen log, and wondered once again why on earth he had listened to his brother. The woods would hardly make him calm, he detested dirt and bugs and brown dead things.

Sighing with disgust, he inspected the fallen log for any signs of insect habitation. Satisfied, though still doubtful that his naturally carved sofa was really critter-free, he eased himself down. Surprisingly, his focus on ensuring the cleanliness of the log had cleared his mind somewhat. He crossed one leg over the other and leaned back, listening to the intermittent snatches of birdsong, the swirling rush of the stream in a desperate neck-and-neck race with the man-made trail, the reluctant crinkle of a leaf caused by a hare tentatively stepping out of a nearby bush. Apparently the forest wasn't so quiet after all. He wondered what else he had missed hearing lately.

Sighing with pleasure, he finally allowed himself to lose the worries that had been burdening him for the past months. The cucumber greens and dark ceramic maroons of the redwoods were rather soothing. Moving leaves up above made Shakespearean shadow plays on the fallen needles. He reflected for a moment on how the intricacy of the patterns mirrored life. Deciding not to dwell on that complexity lest he fall back into the dark navy ocean, he instead turned his attention to the roof of swaying branches and stared at the sky, surrendering himself to the pale, calm lapis sky.

Sighing with reluctance, he trudged back to his car. He had felt peaceful here, but it was time to return to work. Now, though, his mind was clear and he felt he could handle it. He supposed his brother must've been right. Maybe nature really did have some healing power.

I originally posted this as the first part of a short story, but soon decided it was getting rather bulky and unwieldy. So I got rid of that and just wrote the vignette that had been rolling around in my head every now and then these last few months. One of the perks of not having any readers, I suppose - until I get one, I can change things around as much as I want. ^_^

Sunday, July 26, 2009

To Be Wanted

This is my absolute favorite xkcd comic because it requires no words and yet is so poignant and true. This is me. Not all the time, but often enough that the reminder hurts. And also heals, because it tells me I'm not the only one.

I feel it a bit even with friends. I'm always pleased (and pleasantly surprised!) when my roommates or friends say they missed me. This last week after coming back from home, I noticed a little post-it on my roommates desk, sitting upright on one of the shelves where it would be easily visible. It was an encouraging note I had written to her last semester to tell her not to stress too much (which she does, and has been doing the last week). I don't think it was up there the week before, but it certainly made me feel loved, that it had made her feel better and she had kept the note.

Humans have this need for social interaction. We're social animals. I like being alone, I like having time to myself to read, solve puzzles, learn new things, try to understand myself (which sometimes includes writing these blog posts).

Still, I have phases of needing to be with other people and being okay by myself (these are relatively long-term moods, by the way, lasting a week or two, not a couple hours or days). I'm not antisocial, I have plenty of friends, and I have some very good friends that I am very close to. Still, there are times when everyone is busy, and despite knowing and understanding that, when I'm in the first mood, I feel loneliness keenly.

Even when I reach out to sites like Facebook or other online communities, it doesn't feel like enough. I'm not a big fan of talking on the phone, I prefer face-to-face contact, and the same applies here. I would much rather talk to someone in person if I could, not because I don't like the internet (on the contrary, I spend too much time here, and I am a college student), but because the interaction is not enough.

In the second mood, I am content with myself regardless of what others are doing. Online communities are fine, I'm okay if my friends are busy, because although I would be happy spending time with them, I'm also happy spending time by myself. I try to strive towards this mood most of the time, because it's so much more relaxing, but sometimes I slip.

A while ago, I read a blog post by Zuska on why we're afraid to be alone, and it resonated with me. I'm not a big fan of watching TV (at least since I came to college) except as a social activity with friends. The internet, however, is a very good friend, and I think that has affected my ability to be alone. It just so happened that I read the article at a time when I was trying for the second mood. I was trying to spend my alone time productively, looking at myself and who I am. The article resonated with me.

Despite my need for social interaction, I improve myself the most when I am alone, and that was something I had been neglecting. Well, I will neglect it no more. I am a work in progress, there's always something I can improve on.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Hospital Results Take a Long Time

My little second cousin is in the hospital. That doesn't seem very closely related, but she's one of the few relatives my family has in this area. Most of my relatives are back in India. Besides, she's only...I think 5 years old?

Anyways, a few days ago, she was with a babysitter or something after school, and she began complaining of a headache. By the time her parents arrived, she had already vomited four times. The headaches (the back of her head, at the top of the neck) made them worry might be meningitis, so they took her to the hospital.

The doctors decided to do a lumbar puncture to find out whether it was bacterial or viral (if it was in fact meningitis). The problem? It hurt a lot. Even the injection of anesthesia hurt her, and after that, they had to try multiple times to get the cerebrospinal fluid. Afterwards, she complained of horrible pain, so much that she would lay still for hours because she was too afraid of the pain to move. The hospital had to give her morphine every three hours to fight off the pain. The first CSF test came up negative, but the fluid was pink. Whether that was because there was a problem initially or some damage was done by the repeated poking is still unknown.

She's getting better, or at least the pain is decreasing, and she's walking around and playing and eating a bit again, but the doctors decided to take an MRI. The room was booked yesterday, so they kept her in the hospital and took it today. Now the results are finally back, and it's negative. Except that there's one blood vessel that is apparently in the range of normal variation, but the doctors still want to ask a specialist to get a second opinion. Which can't happen until after the weekend. At least it seems negative.

I've been worried for both her and her parents. I'm worried for her because I want her to be okay, and I'm worried for her parents because they're worried for her. How can they stand it, constantly wondering what the result of the test will be, still uncertain about what exactly is happening with their daughter? They haven't left her side for more than an hour, and even then only one at a time, to come to our house, get some food, maybe take a bath, smile for a minute.

All we can do is offer them support, a shoulder to cry on, some home-cooked food so they can be with her all the time. I wish it were easier and faster and cheaper to diagnose a problem. At least they get to go home now for a couple of days, get some rest, and be in a more familiar environment. I hope all will go well.

Edit: She's okay now, back to normal. She was having fun dancing at a friend's graduation party recently, at least, and the pain is gone. They're still not completely sure what caused the pain in the first place, but I think they've settled on viral meningitis.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Charging for Spam

I'm not a huge texter, but I definitely text messaging to communicate with friends, especially when we have to meet up or coordinate something while I'm not near my laptop. It's really useful. It's really easy.

Since I don't use it much, I only have a basic texting plan. It's something like 250 texts a month. That's plenty more than I need most months.

Except for the fact that I don't actually have 250 left by the time you count all of the spam text messages I receive.

Saturday, July 18, 2009


Lyrical quality be damned, this song has been stuck in my head for a week!
Link redacted.
Let It Rock - Kevin Rudolf

...oh right, I'm supposed to be working on that paper, oops.

Writing Essays

I'm freaking out a little bit. I have a 10-page paper due tomorrow night, and as of now, I have written a total of 1.5 pages. That's good, that's 1.5 pages up from last night. Usually I don't procrastinate this much. By this point, I would at least have a full outline, 3 pages or so done, and an idea of where I'm going. The problem is that I'm trying to juggle a (thankfully no longer full-time) internship, an online class that usually has homework due every single day (for which I am writing this paper), and a biochemistry class that packs a whole semester into 1/2 the time (for which I had a huge midterm just two days ago). Still, crap! How am I going to do this?!

Edit: Okay, evening of the same day. Now I still only have 3.5 pages done, but I'm feeling a lot better about this. I think it's partly because I've outlined it, but mostly because I didn't bother worrying about a thesis statement or topic sentences.

This is the way you're supposed to do things, I suppose, but I normally have some sort of thesis to begin with. I will almost always go back and change it, because I'll inevitably develop a better argument as I write, but I usually need something to point me in some direction at the beginning.

Nevertheless, I don't have one now. Perhaps I didn't need it because the prompt is both very structured and very open. It's structured in the sense that there are specific topics I need to talk about, but open-ended because it is somewhat a report and relies on my applying parts of those topics to my own observations. Wait, hmm...I guess that's kind of how a lot of essays are anyways (applying what you've learned), so maybe a guiding theme would have been useful.

Either way, it's too late now, and I'll just have to analyze the topics, then analyze my analyses so I can figure out what my point is.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Work all day, play all night. Hey!

Okay, so here's my lovely schedule for the summer:

Monday - take train from home to nearby MRU, work 9-5 in internship, which largely involves staring at a computer screen and playing with modelling proteins, and reading papers every now and then. Take train home, eat dinner, pack, return to college.

Tuesday - Biochemistry class, followed by lunch, and at least every other week, it seems, take (a different) train or carpool with fellow interns to MRU where there is more work to be done.

Wednesday - Same as Tuesday, but with the bonus of being able to grab lunch with my favorite former roommate :D.

Thursday - Either a lecture or a midterm every other week (no, literally, this is a summer class...) but no discussion. Return to MRU because Thursdays are the only days that nobody else is missing and therefore the days when we must have meetings/presentations. Yes, presentations, always on the same days as my midterms. But Thursday night, I usually get to go home.

Friday - Work 9-5 (or 4), go home, play Wii Tennis. This Friday, go see HP6 (yes, I'm totally excited!!).

This all is in addition to an online class that relates to reframing organizations and professional development and some other such things. For which I have 10-page paper due this week, same as the midterm that is worth 1/3 of my grade. I thought this was supposed to be summer...

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Running Around

My parents just bought a Wii a couple of days ago. I've been hinting a little bit that we should buy one for a while now, but I hadn't put much effort into it. So I was completely surprised when I came home from college (yes, I know it's summer, but at least my class is only 3 days a week - I get to use the other two for my internship) and found a Wii in front of the TV. Now, I was very happy, but it turns out that they bought it for themselves, not for me. Oh. Well, at least I get to play it when I'm at home.

Which brings me to the first half of the point I want to make. Wii Tennis is very addicting. I played tennis a bit in middle school, but I didn't keep it up past the first summer of high school. To be honest, I'm not that good (I'm not horrible either, but I'm not good). But it was fun. And Wii Tennis is fun too. I've missed swinging around a remote racket. I know you can just give a little flick with your wrist and easily get the ball to go where you want, but I am trying to use my real tennis swing here, although I have to admit that doing a two-handed backhand is difficult with the remote.

Yet something is missing. Can you guess?


Yep, you guessed it. Actually moving.

There's certainly not enough space in my living room, and more than that, there's absolutely no point in running in the game itself, because the little Miis run for you.

So I propose a solution: a circular treadmill!

No, not the funny-looking thing you get when you google (or youtube) "circular treadmill". What I'm thinking of is something with omni wheels of some sort so that it can detect you running in whatever direction you're moving. Wouldn't that add some real exercise into things like Wii Fit?

In order to describe it, the best thing I can come up with is to say that it would probably look something like a Roomba (but slightly bigger) covered in a treadmill-type cloth that could move easily around the thing in any direction. There would probably have to be some sort of casing around it so that the whole thing wouldn't move when you started running.

Overall, though, it would give you a chance to actually move around. You could even use it as a plain treadmill if you wanted, though maybe with changeable/downloadable scenery, so you could go running wherever you want. Maybe if the scenery came in 3d blocks, so that you could run around and explore (since, after all, you have the freedom to run in any direction you want).

It could also be interesting to play with for first-person shooter games or basketball/soccer/other sports games. The possibilities are endless!

Here, I'm pretending somebody will actually see this and I will be talking to someone other than myself, but...What do you think? Would people actually go for such a thing?

New Kid on the Block

Yes, the title says it all. I'm new to the blogging world, and I don't yet plan on letting anyone I know see this blog with the knowledge that it's mine, but I'm still going to act as if they could, and as if I actually have an audience bigger than 0. So this blog will be an hodgepodge of various thoughts, ideas, experiences and things that I just plain find interesting (the majority will probably be the latter). I'm still trying to figure out what I'm going to be doing here, but I think I'll learn how I want to use this blog soon.

I'm probably more than slightly influenced by Isis the Scientist, so you may see pictures with snarky captions popping up every now and then. I think I'll certainly be more talkative than I am in real life. Oh, and I suppose I should mention that I'm going to stay curiousgeorgie for now. No real names. I want to be able to reveal the person in my head, not the person that everybody sees (I'm mostly myself, but very few see all aspects of me).