Tuesday, August 30, 2011


Can you imagine swapping your entire outfit with your friend's?

Look at the couples holding hands with the boyfriend wearing dresses and rompers. It is funny and endearing.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

baked goods before first day of class!

I have my first day of class tomorrow! I am still a non-student, but I decided to take an interesting class in the Earth Science department. I figured should know something about the earth and its chemistry since I work here. This weekend was filled with many baked goods! I spent my Friday and Saturday in Sugar Land and used this old-school oven to bake some very dense buttery muffins.
Actual buttons and knobs?
My friend hosted a chili & bread dinner at his house today (he claims he had a quarterlife crisis because "I bought a BMW and am now moving across the country!"). I think next time he has a legitimate midlife crisis, he should open a bread shop and make these three-pound loafs all day- they were so good! The perfect amount of chewiness and softness... mmmm heaven.
look at that soft, chewy inside- pour some butter on me...
three pounds of pure deliciousness
I missed hanging out with other bio people- the entire evening we chatted about silly health products seen in pharmacies ("this contains the same amino acids as whatever-hormone") and discussed how parts don't equal the whole ("How about we ingest some sodium and then chloride? Because table salt is tasty"). Dorkiest thing ever, I know, but when you have graduate students(bioe and medical) plus a sprinkle of scientists in the room, dinner conversations take interesting turns. Classes start tomorrow both for Little Brother & me- I am excited to be learning new things, especially about a subject I hardly know anything about.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

your American accent.

My friend linked me to this online YouThink quiz where you can see what kind of regional accent you have by answering questions about how you pronounce certain words and make vowel sounds.

According to this quiz, I have a "neutral" accent (because you can't not have an accent). International Dialects of English Archive hosts an amazing audio archive of people speaking English in different dialects. The recordings are tagged with the gender, age, background and occupation.

I adore Southern accents, I think they sound endearing. However, different accents are associated with preconceived notions on level of intelligence and especially living in Houston, I encounter a lot of similar stereotypes about "rural Texans". This PBS article discusses this issue, with a demonstrative example of sample population surveys on accents. Here is a map of regions rated for the "correct English-ness" by about 150 Michigan residents, with 9 being the most correct:
See how Michigan ranks at the top?

Here's a representative drawing of the United States by one of the participants:
At least he drew Texas correctly?

Now look at these rankings for "pleasantness" of regional dialects by Auburn students (in Alabama):
Most pleasing to ears? Alabama, of course.
Just because a region is associated with a high level of [insert whatever you associate with lower intelligence: younger marrying age, more single mom's, violence, theft, etc] does not mean you can make generalizations about someone speaking that region dialect. But it is always interesting to analyze someone's accent and hold off confirming your guess until last minute. I had a physics professor whose accent was hard to pinpoint- Southern? Australian? We finally asked her, and turns out I had met my first South African.

Also, did you know that English is not the "official language" of United States?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

children's museum of houston visit

This weekend I visited Children's Museum of Houston with the kiddos. I drove extra-slow and extra-careful around the neighborhood, which prompted them to ask "do you know where we're going?" We arrived just before lunch, and spent almost three hours running around the exhibit. They especially loved the Power Tower, which was a jungle gym of plastic plates and nets. Since I couldn't climb inside with them, I was continuously running up and down the stairs to find them wherever they decided to swing to. Beating that national first-mom average of 25 may have its advantages after all.

the colorful entrance to the museum
The museum itself is not too big. If you have older science-inclined kids, they may want to stop at every exhibit to do the simulation and read the explanations. But we breezed by most of the exhibits and spent our time outside at FlowWorks, CMH's awesome water fountain/boat race/flood majambo.

inside corridor- more activities along the hallway
see the turtle? camou-f-l-a-g-e
The museum was not too crowded considering it was a Saturday. Most of the kids were around 5-10 age range, but I noticed some older kids- teenagers even- who seemed to be having fun. If I can be honest here, I think I would have fun here with my twenty-something friends too- can I host my next birthday here?
our lunch- food pyramid is tossed out the window
Well, my Wednesday started off with me Wii-shooting a deer at 7:30 in the morning, fueled with a much-needed latte. At least my day began and ended early- I am giving a presentation this Friday to a bunch of doctors/dentists/scientists, and I may need more caffeine to finish up this PowerPoint!

Monday, August 15, 2011

SCUBA diving dangers: ear injuries.

My brother kakao-talked me that he ruptured his eardrums during his last dive... ouch? A quick visit to the hospital showed that while his eardrums are thankfully intact, he damaged his middle ear from coming up to surface too fast.

drinking out of diving goggles to celebrate his first dive
To make matters worse, he is flying to Tampa in a few hours. 24 hours have passed since his last dive (as per guidelines), but the altitude changes may be uncomfortable for his ears.

But he may count himself lucky to have such a little injury. Arterial Gas Embolisms may occur when air diffuses into the capillaries from torn alveoli in the lungs. Decompression sickness, or the "bends" are they are more commonly known, occur as nitrogen bubbles into the blood veins, often causing pain in the joints. I have a friend who swears she has a permanent headache from a dive couple of years ago!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

baylor white coat ceremony.

I attended Baylor College of Medicine's White Coat Ceremony Friday night for my medical school friends. I hustled after work through the medical center (fittingly) to arrive at the venue.
the hall, before our doctors-in-training walked in!

BCM brochure- right after ceremony (and celebration)
I was honored to be a part of this ceremony, and to be there for my friends taking this important step in becoming a doctor. They have been in class for two weeks, and will be "seeing patients" next week. I learned about the origin of the white coat (a wise PR move), doctor impostor syndrome, and the many hurdles FMD-future medical doctors- will face (projectile vomit from patients with stomach flu).
I couldn't be more proud of my amazing friends!
After the ceremony, I caught up with my friends (plus many more that I'd gone to school with), and we went out for dinner to celebrate. In accordance with my celebration traditions, we got some delici-o dessert!
chocolate mint mousse and turtle cake..... oh nnn
I am so proud of their accomplishments in getting to this step, and have no doubt they will breeze through school to become the awesome doctors I know they'll become. My dearest congratulations to my medical school friends! I am excited for your adventures & wish you all the best.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

thinking about "cost per wear" not the rack price.

I went shopping for a suit after work yesterday. I had fun browsing through the racks of beautiful clothes. With the help of the salesperson, I dragged about twenty items into the dressing room and spent hours trying them on. In the end, I bought a great pair of black pants that were classic and crisp- just what I was looking for. The search for a perfect blazer continues.

I chatted with my mom about how pricey suits were, and she told me to think about the cost per wear of these items. Cost Per Wear, or CPW, is the cost of the item divided by the number of times you wear it. This method of calculating the cost of your items focuses on how much you use the item, rather than the price off the rack. For instance, the dress you bought on clearance but never wore, the price of that is effectively infinity(divide by zero...). Not really, but kind of. It means that if you invest in a classic piece that you wear on multiple occasions, your CPW may be less than that of something you considered a bargain.

could 60's fashion be any more glamorous? Banana Republic's Mad Men collection.
Rent The Runway markets off the idea of Cost Per Wear. You can borrow designer pieces such as dresses, jewelry, and even purses from this website, at a price correlated to the market price. For example, most of the dresses that are $500-$1000 rent at $50/weekend. I thought this idea was silly until I remembered my prom dress- I bought a very puffy/pink/tulle-y typical prom dress, and ended up wearing it just that one night.

I scheduled my first interview this morning. Now I have another motivation to be invited to more interviews- to lower the CPW of my suits.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

need a laugh?

Sometimes when I am weary and tired, I like to go have a good laugh. Here are my favorites:

my latest favorite

This site has cringe-worthy family photographs and is regularly updated every couple of days. Sometimes I laugh while I am typing in the address- it is that hilarious. Your two-minute daily laughter prescription. Sometimes I try to imagine the conversation that went on before these photoshoots("so we're going to have your head floating on top of her's, looking off to the right...", and just laugh some more. What were these photographers thinking?

Modern Family
When I can slip in a longer break, I watch this hilarious ABC show portraying your not-so-typical families. The much younger wife, a gay couple with an adopted baby, you got it all. Since 30 Rock is on break for the summer, this is my go-to show to LOL.

- FUUUU Comics
don't you hate it when this happens?
I love these. All last winter, my brother and I lived in a fuuu-world. We spoke in fuuu phrases- literally yelling "fuuuuu" in worthy situations, using phrases from this insane comic("forever alone") and trying to make the faces from these comics.

I'm afraid I sound a little crazy when I am laughing alone at my computer screen, but sometimes it feels good to just LAUGH.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

lessons from the workplace.

I have learned a lot in the last two months that I've been a grown-up with a full-time job. I learned how to access distant files via WinSCP, how to use an interferometer, how to formulate a research project... but I think the hardest thing I learned is to be responsible.
Oh, and managing caffeine intake...

The things I do have implications for other people not just myself. When I was in college, the worst thing that could have happened to me would have been failing a class. This would have been devastating for me, but besides friends who truly cared about me and were concerned to see me in despair, this would have been an island of disaster affecting really only me.

snacking while running to next experiment- counting down 10 minutes....

But now I feel like I am an atom in a well-organized crystal lattice which, by me acting out (being the wrong charge or size), I'll affect the stability of the entire grain by serving as the flaw which initiates mineral dissolution(can you tell I work in a geochemistry lab?). People depend on me for things.

Pure Au makes this a priceless piece of sticky tape.
Practicing safe lab protocol.
Something cool I've learned to enjoy is having conversations about my research where we brainstorm and discuss ideas. Coming back from a play with a friend, he mentioned something cool he saw on PBS, which I watched and naturally relayed to my co-worker. He was excited and amazed that we hadn't heard about it, and prompted me to dig up some papers(thank you B!). Every conversation can be a spark for research material. I've grown to love our "power meetings" where we throw out ideas, discuss potential problems, mention papers we've read... three is definitely better than one.

In other news, I am becoming a CheB- bacteria in my own bed. Maybe because I have no less than nine pillows and three comforters in my bed, but I wake up every morning facing a different direction.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Somewhere: beautiful and poetic.

Picture source
I adore Ms. Coppola’s movies. They have an eloquent and intimate feel to them. The shots are a bit too long, making us feel like we’re peeking into actors’ private moments when they don’t believe the camera is on. In such moments nothing exciting happens, but that may be the beauty of it. I watched Somewhere on my flight back to Houston- I think Sofia Coppola's movies are perfect when you are traveling (see: Lost in Translation)- they convey the emptiness and loss of purpose you may feel when going from place to place, in the most beautiful and poetic way.

There is no real conflict in Somewhere, as there often isn't in Ms. Coppola's scripts. The movie is believable, as if a camera crew landed and filmed someone in the middle of his life. But there is a plot: a Hollywood actor living a fabulous life (although he seems to be going mechanically through the motions) spends a few unplanned days with his daughter in his shiny luxurious life. Watch it for the characters, the beautiful scenery shots, and for the thoughts you'll have while watching the film. Watching this film lets you breathe, you won't be so engrossed in the mystery and action of the film (there is none). Have a date with yourself (with good food) and taken an evening to watch Somewhere to examine your own life along with the movie.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

contact lenses wearing guide.

  • Can you wear your 2-week contacts for over two weeks?
  • Can you wear your contacts overnight?
  • What does "monthly" actually mean in "monthly" contacts?

You will find this post particularly useful if you are a dork like me, and open more than one contacts at a time. In my case, I have 6-month ones and 1-month ones, which gets even more confusing.

- Wear contacts overnight only if they are specifically for "Extended Wear".
- The time usually indicates wear time. Monthly contacts can be worn for 30 days, but once they are opened they usually have an expiration date. For example, my optometrist told me that my brand of contacts can be used for up to 90 days after opening date, but that I should only wear them for 30 days. Ask your doctor- this may be different depending on your contacts brand and your eye chemistry.
- Do not use your contacts beyond recommended time. You may save some money by wearing them for an extra week, but the label really means that the manufacturer is responsible for you wearing them for only that specified period. Do you really want to risk a horrible eye infection to save a few dollars?

I know someone whose brother almost went blind from contacts and he warned me to not even nap in them. Another tip, if you are having eye problems, do not google "eye infection". You will lose your appetite for the next four days- I am speaking with the kind of wisdom only obtained through experience.

Monday, August 1, 2011

weekly pictures round-up.

My recent grocery shopping obsession is the H-E-B bulk foods section. I can buy as little or as much as I want, and I've tried all sorts of different grains, nuts, and choco/yogurt-snacks the last few weeks. But sometimes I see shoppers take some with their hands and snack on them while grocery shopping- illegal and ew?

I made Hurry Up Chicken Pot Pie with med school friends, courtesy of Paula Deen. It uses made-ready ingredients such as canned soup and biscuit mix, which cut down on our cooking time substantially.  No meal is complete without dessert- we also made blondies with melted gooey chocolate chips.

Thursday night, I whipped up an apple crumble with breakfast oatmeal, sugar and butter. I had a mini celebration for 1)completing AADSAS (dental apps for you non-dental folks) and 2)a successful first week of our new project at work.

Staying on the subject of delicious things, I had the best Celebrity cupcakes with the boys Friday night- they only wanted the frosting, so I ended up eating three of these delectable treats, sans-icing.

Saturday night, I checked out Art Bar Nouveau in Midtown with friends. The beautiful lamps set the ambiance in this otherwise warehouse-looking bar. The night ended with a reunion with more friends at 59 Diners complete with milkshakes and oatmeal (for me).

Only thing keeping this bar from looking like a black box
I spent my last day of July watching Alley Theatre's And Then There Were None with a friend who is visiting Houston. The ending was different from the book, and left me on a lighter/not-as-gloomy note. It is August already and school is starting soon for so many of you! I hung out with friends in the dorms this weekend and it felt surreal- how do you know when you're done with college?, when the dorm ceilings feel too low(can we take that as a metaphor?). Exciting adventures ahead.