Tuesday, May 31, 2011

not your typical princess- dina goldstein

Princess stories usually follow a predictable pattern, ending with a happily-ever-after, an unseen ending.
 Kurt Vonnegut on the Shape of Stories.
His brilliant eccentricity is reflected in this video: "E is for.... electricity."

But what if that fairytale"after" is not so happy after all?

 Dina Goldstein's Fallen Princesses: "Snowy"

Plus many more princesses who didn't get their happy endings.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

better than average.

This weekend I had to opportunity to bake cupcakes for Iced Capades.You can sign up to bake for or attend the parties that are held monthly for children living in shelters. If you are like me and you love to bake more than you(or your friends) are willing to eat, it is a perfect volunteering opportunity.

At two in the morning waiting for my cupcakes to cool from the oven, I took the moment to consider how fortunate I was to be living comfortably with a full-time job without pressing monetary concerns. However, for those who are not as lucky, the statistics are alarming, even here in the United States:

- Nationwide, 14.3% of the population, or 43.6 million people, are living below poverty line.

- In Houston, 20.6% of the population live below poverty line. This means one in five lives in poverty.
*The poverty threshold for a family of four is $21,954/year
From the 2009 U.S. Census
-About half of the adults(20 and up) will live in poverty before the age of 65.

-50.2 million Americans had "food insecurity", and 14.7% of households were "food insecure".
 "Food security" refers to the availability of food, and one's accessibility to it. 
"Food insecurity" ranges from starving to eating less than is nutritionally sufficient.
-In particular, Texas had a 17.4% of households with food insecurity, much higher than the U.S. average. That is almost one in five who has to go hungry.

We may not be able to wish away global hunger, but we can:
- educate ourselves
- donate money to organizations
- donate items to Salvation Army or Goodwill
- volunteer our time

Here in Houston, there are many organizations that could use our help:

It is crucial to realize how fortunate we are to be in our own (comfortable) shoes. In life, it could have easily been the other way around, and it is important to have a heart for those who are not as lucky.

Friday, May 20, 2011

lethal food combo.

During my three-hour Biochemistry final, I snacked on almonds and chugged copious(I love this word) amounts of H-2-O, then remembered that almonds release cyanide into the water. Was I going to drop dead in the middle of my final? Just let me finish writing down the fatty acid beta oxidation steps...

Actually, the ones that release cyanide are the bitter almonds, not sweet ones I was munching on. Unrefined bitter almonds are illegal for sale in the U.S., since twenty of these nuts will kill you. (Hydrogen cyanide is actually identified by its distinct almond-like smell, and old-school detectives could identify murder by cyanide poisoning by this smell.)

After I survived the biochemistry exam, I wondered if there were any real lethal food combinations that I should avoid. Well, there are no "lethal" food combinations, but many that will make you uncomfortable.

1. Persimmons and crabs.
Persimmons have a high content of tannin, and crabs, as are any other seafood, are high-protein in content. This combination makes an indigestible substance that causes abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea.

2. Milk and chocolate.
This common combination forms calcium oxalate (calcium from milk and oxalic acid from chocolate) which is again, indigestible and causes diarrhea.

3. Seafood and beer.
The high content of protein in seafood with B1 in beer causes a catalyzed metabolism of nucleic acids which increases levels of the waste product- uric acid- in the body, and may cause gout.

4. Energy drinks and alcohol.
As much as we'd like to party all night with cans of Four Loko, energy drinks mask the depressant effect of alcohol and making you feel not-as-drunk as you actually are. In other words, you may keep drinking, keep drinking, keep drinking... until you drop.

I'd say be careful, but I was eating Cliff Kid Z Bars at 1 in the morning yesterday, so what do I know? These are so delicious and chewy though, and the smaller portions are perfect for me(as midnight snacks instead!).
One of the cons of living in a studio apartment: the kitchen is never more than ten steps away.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

the commencement.

I graduated from Rice University with a B.S. in Biochemistry& Cell Biology (cum laude!) last Saturday in the most beautiful 70's weather.
Our commencement speaker David Brooks gave a useful and profound speech on life's happiness (happy marriage is very important), with two practical tips.
1. Startle your partner. Their reaction will be insightful as to what their native demeanor is.
2. When you are trying to decide whether to break up with someone, flip a coin. Then, observe your reaction to the decision the coin has made for you. You'll get your answer then.

Here I am, sitting down with Jones College, the residential college 
I ate, lived, and partied with for the last four years.

Walking out to get my diploma....

Is this really happening?

Two seconds after receiving my diploma (or should I say, a beautiful picture of Rice)
The flags symbolizing the different departments awarding degrees, on Lovett Hall

The family (including MJ on the right!) after we walked out the Sallyport

 The summer crew and moi

Reception back at the college, with mom and the bff
Typical A+Y moment- laughs, food, pretty clothes.

The Sweepopie 4-6-6, now graduates of Rice!

 Shots in the Academic Quad, with the diploma (of course)

The last four years haven't been easy- all-nighters in the library, moments of panic where I rolled around on the grass, hours of rants and whining over junk food... Graduating from college has been my biggest achievement so far, and I couldn't be happier and grateful that I made it here. It's been an amazing four years of my life, and I want to thank you to everyone I've ever interacted with, because every single one of you has helped me get to this point. I'll never forget these amazing, best years of my life I spent here at Rice. 

We did it, and onward to our next life accomplishments!