Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Can't See the Forest for the Trees

The graphs to the left are all trees, the one on the right is not.
This morning we talked some more about graph theory, and learned about trees (graphs with exactly one path between any two points, so no cycles). Did you know that a group of graphs that are trees is called a forest? Mathematicians name things so creatively sometimes. After lunch we spent all three hours in the computer lab (though to be fair our assignment for the first hour and a half was to find commands on KnotPlot that made "interesting things" happen--we find out tomorrow who won with the most interesting set of commands).

The math "things" I created
Then we all made accounts on LaTex, which is apparently what almost all mathematicians use instead of Word or Google Docs, because it makes it very easy to format mathematical equations and draw diagrams and anything else you need. It requires you to use a basic form of coding to use it, though, so we took a while to practice looking up commands and using them to write mathematical equations. It took the rest of class to start getting the hang of it, but it seems that it will be a very useful tool in the future.

This evening was Proctor Group Night, and we decided to order pizza instead of going out, because we all felt lazy. The pizza was pretty good, although I'm not really a fan of pizza in general. Then we did superlatives. We'd send people out one at a time, then everyone else would come up with their superlative--what they're best at, or their greatest most unique quality, etc. Then at the end everyone received a certificate with what people had said written on it. Mine ended up being "the sleepiest most intuitive lamp champ of them all ~ the real MVP, who finally beat out the pancreas." There were a lot of inside jokes in that one.
The actual coding I did to get that math

On Wednesdays...

Today in class, we finished off the "Medicated Child" film from yesterday and then the presentations. The last half of the class went until lunch started and after lunch, there were still a few more people to go. Some of the drugs that were presented had a lot of very engaging conversations that spurred like Prozac (used as an antidepressant). I later learned that many of the drugs that are prescribed to both children and adults often times lead to more medications. In order to treat something, you would be prescribed one drug, then another to counter its side effects, and the chain continues on. One person shared the story that their grandmother is a pharmacist herself and ended up taking handfuls of medications everyday for one of her health issues. I also found out that there are other drugs that many people take even when their side effects are the most dangerous, like Avandia (for glycemic control in Type 2 diabetes patients). Many pharmaceutical companies have actually been filed for lawsuits and charged for more than what they profit each year. 

After lunch ended, right before the continuation of the presentations, the class performed our surprise for Monte! Zach opened the karaoke version of the song "Baby" by Justin Bieber for everyone to get ready and Monte watched us from the front seats! Monte recorded the whole thing from her point of view and sent it to the rest of the class! Everyone did a great job from rehearsing and fantastic on presenting their drugs (the assignment was to talk for 5 minutes long, but I think that almost everybody went 5 minutes and over). 

I was super excited to receive a lecture (since we have not gotten them in so long)! Monte gave a brief lecture on what I think is one of the most fascinating topics ever, body image. She brought up icons in her power point slides that had a picture of Marilyn Monroe on one side, and Paris Hilton on the other. We talked about how society today perceives the two and decides on who is pretty or not. Some guys even put in their opinion on what they would prefer and all of them liked Marilyn Monroe's body type better than Paris Hilton because it was closer to what is supposed to be considered as "normal". I copied some statistics down from her slide, the ones that I thought were really astounding, such as the fact that "nearly 50% of girls aged from 3-6 were already concerned about their weight." When I read that off of the screen, I felt so appalled! I can not imagine toddlers from 3 years of age to childhood years that little girls would already be worrying about their own body image. Another slide read, "adolescent girls are more afraid of gaining weight than getting cancer, losing their parents, or nuclear war." This statement was controversial in my class, some argued that girls can actually see themselves gaining weight, whereas getting cancer, losing a parent, or having nuclear war happen all of a sudden is not so likely. However, although that I think that is true, I also believe that society has pushed the standards far enough that there are now expectations for all ages. 

Monte showed us a few Youtube clips on commercials that photoshop their models and how easy it is to do so. Other people are discouraged about their bodies when they see this, but when they see the pictures of the models in actuality, it is not what their mind had expected at all. 50% of commercials that are aimed at women mention physical attractiveness. One example of a cultural expectation on beauty is Chinese foot binding. We were shown a video on the practice of foot binding, when it all started to its end with a new emperor. At the end of the power point, Monte had the whole class participate in an activity (including herself). She started off by saying one thing that she found negative about herself and shared it, and we went around the room. Then, she decided to turn things and make us find one positive thing that we like about ourselves and share it too. This reminded me of a video that I had watched where there was a study on women who walk into the same building through one of the two doors, one labeled as ugly, and the other as beautiful. The majority of the women walked through ugly and normally when someone thinks of themselves as beautiful, others tend to think that they are conceited so most of the time. We tend to find it okay to talk down upon ourselves when it comes to our self images. During study hall, we were supposed to watch a film on body image, but I guess there was a video tape on "Gymnastics Safety: First, Second, and Always" that was accidentally placed in the box that it came in. So we stopped the video half way through once we figured out that it was the wrong video and played short clips on Youtube on how body image has changed throughout history. 

There was free time after study hall until 6 PM, which was time for proctor night (for 3 hours long). I decided to take a nice nap shortly until then. Our proctor night plans were to stay inside and watch the movie "Mean Girls" on the projector on the 3rd floor's lobby while eating pizza. I had never watched the movie before (it was mainly the whole reason why we watched it, so that I can see what I had been missing out on). My roommate was (temporarily) dyeing her hair a shade of burgundy and there were girls who were working on friendship bracelets as well during the movie. After it ended, it was still not 9 yet, so we pulled up Youtube and watched tons of funny videos, such as the Jimmy Fallon and Kevin Hart video on a rollercoaster. Lizzy explained the plans for tomorrow (the last day) and set the time for us to meet up for Pancake Pantry in the morning! 
My view from our makeshift movie theater.

We Wear Pink

Today was my ten minute presentation to the class regarding the drug Fosamax. Fosamax is s biphosphonate that prevents the loss of bone mass. It's used to treat osteoporosis in postmenopausal and menopausal women, as well as to treat Paget's disease, which is a disease that causes abnormal breakdowns of bone tissue in specific areas. However, some of the off label uses include the treatment of excessive blood calcium levels, as well as the treatment of cancers that have metastasized into bone structures (such as lung, breast, multiple myeloma and prostate cancers.)

It was approved by the FDA in 1995 but when the patent expired in 2008, the manufacturer,  Merck, did not want to deal with the controversy associated with the drug any longer, and took no action to renew the patent. I even included an anecdote about a woman who was cooking Christmas dinner with her daughter, and sat down to talk to her  daughter. When she stood up, her right leg immediately fractured. This was supposed to be a very rare side effect, but after the research that I did over the past few days, it was found to be really common. Instead of strengthening their bones, it was making them weaker in most people.

After my presentation, a few more people presented theirs, and then we moved on to the next topic in our class, body image. I absolutely love talking about body image since it is a topic that is near and dear to my heart since I struggled with my body image for a really long time.Monte asked us to go around the circle and say something that we didn't like about ourselves. Then, we had to go around and talk about something that we love about ourselves. I didn't really have trouble with this, as I have accepted all aspects of myself, but this was really difficult for some people.

During study hall, we were supposed to watch a movie that talked about body image through America or something, but the library messed up the checkout. It was actually a gymnastics safety video from the eighties. For the first five minutes none of us really understood how this related to MHS, so Zach eventually texted Monte to ask what was going on. As a result, we just watched some videos that did relate to body image, but were not part of the curriculum.
We had a proctor night at Cafe Coco, which is this really laid-back organic cafe that reminded me a lot of the places that I love to go to in Berkeley. It was sort of a taste of the things to come, as my trip is drawing to a close very shortly. I don't know where all the time has gone. I really just feel like I am going to miss all of the people in my proctor group. In just three weeks I think that we have formed really strong bonds and it seems strange that I am probably not going to see them ever again after tomorrow.

Back row from left to right: Lizet, Alex, Hummd, Julianne and Bambi (her name is also Alex and it got confusing after a while)
Front row: Kate, Sofi, Taylor, Brenna and Hannah.
Also known as the best proctor group ever. 


After yet another long day, VSA continues to be great. This morning we had yet another retrospective breakfast, but proceeded the morning as usual. I found out that today actually wasn't the second half of the class's turn for the organ recital. Instead, we continued with the drug presentations. I was like the 5th one, so I felt as though I had it down. As I presented on Yaz, I realized how I hadn't practiced public speaking in a while and how I have to hone my skills as I will soon begin my senior year, full of occasions where I'll need the skill. Moreover, I do think it went well, though. We all had our turn, ending with Savannah, and had our much needed break, then lunch later.

Lunch was good today. I had the brisket as today's special, which was something I tried today for the first time. We had many good laughs and some infamous Gwennie glares that resulted from our cheesy jokes. Also, there were some thumb wars and arm wrestling for today among our group. With everyone one and my proctor, Tony, it was a pretty chill lunch, like we have made them these past days.

Back in class, we began a new topic- body image. We were given an article the day we began our drug research, but only referenced to it as a discussion. We learned about how Nigerian Arab tribes actually see women being fat as something very desirable- desirable to the point that young girls are force fed as much possible to encourage puberty as early as possible, in order to be appealing to the guys for marriage. Furthermore, we looked at body image in a historical context, looking at how beauty was defined for women throughout history, for example by women wearing their hair in exuberant ways. In another example, we saw how foot-binding was a form of being desirable for women. Again, we understood it as cultural relativism, understanding why cultures perceive things the way they do, while also considering ethics and all. We examined quite a lot and even did a brief activity where we all went around as a group and shared one of the things we do not like about our appearance, followed by something we do like about ourselves. It didn't get too emotional or anything, but we definitely showed another side to ourselves in class. I said how I dislike my eczema, especially when my skin gets really bad, dries, peels, itches, and makes my skin act up in nasty ways- on the flip side, I like my eyes.

To end class, we performed our Monte song for Monte. We all gathered at the front of the class while Monte sat in the back to record us; one of the highlights of the day. It was nice being able to show her that this class has opened our mind to different perspectives in medicine, health, and society. Afterwards, it was time for her to go and we ended up inadvertently looking at a video for gymnastics safety. Given that it was quite old, from the 80s, 90s, or so, it was just so funny how cheesy and predictable it was. To end class, we had free time. During that time, I was able to pick up my tie-dye shirt from yesterday and really liked the outcome.

With free time out of the way, we had a proctor night with our respective proctor groups. My group ordered Thai food from Satay Thai (the restaurant from last time). I got the Tofu with fried rice and an egg-roll, which was delicious. My group went down to the basement and saw the movie, Princess Pride. I didn't remember by the name, but I had seen it once my sophomore year in my English class. How did I not remember that movie? Inconceivable (haha)! All in all, it was a great time and I'm glad for it. As every experience is coming to a sad end, I am enjoying every single moment, thinking about how this experience in all has been great. It's sad to think that this seems like the end here, but we have one more day to go. Another 30 hours or so- and then it's back to our daily lives back at home. I'll save us my energy for tomorrow- there's a lot to look forward to in these next hours.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Problem Solving Skills

This morning my proctor group had decided to go to Fido's for breakfast, which on the downside meant getting up 45 minutes earlier, but on the upside meant much better food (and variety!). I decided to get a basic toasted bagel with cream cheese and a cup of Earl Grey tea. The bagel was good and very fresh, but I didn't think it had enough cream cheese on it, which I solved by moving all of the cream cheese to one half and then eating that half (problem solving skills). I wasn't really hungry enough to eat a whole bagel anyway.

In class today we learned about how knot theory is actually applicable to things like DNA, because DNA is basically a tangled up mess that enzymes can cut and move around to untangle certain parts. This was almost all lecture, so she broke it up with graph theory problems every now and then. I was glad about that, because I personally think that graph theory is more interesting than applications in biochemistry. Jeff ended our TA session a few minutes early when there was a huge gust of wind and then thunder, because he said that it looked like a storm was coming, and that if there was lightning then we would all have to stay within the building, and he'd rather we were all at Hank. 

The sign outside Jeni's: my kind of place.
Outside, the wind was very strong, and leaves and dust were everywhere in the air. It (unfortunately) didn't start raining before we all arrived at Hank. It started raining soon thereafter though, and I went outside to enjoy it. I had to come in only five minutes later, because there was lightning. Then I went to the panel of proctors who were talking about academics in college. The main takeaway for me was that you should take as few hours of classes as possible the first semester in order to give yourself time to settle in and adjust to everything. It's also a good idea to branch out, taking classes about anything that looks interesting to you even if they have nothing to do with your major. I definitely agree with this sentiment, since I think so many different subjects are fascinating.

They were small scoops, I promise. Mmm!
After dinner I made a tie-dye shirt, along with Arnold, Liam, Raymond, and Corry. I've never done tie-dye before, so I sort of just crumpled the shirt up and tied rubber bands around it randomly, then squirted different dye colors all over it. I guess we'll see how that turns out... I also accidentally squirted green dye on Raymond's head, and blue dye on Corry's shoe. (Oops. I'm sure it'll come out eventually. Probably.)

After tie-dying we all went to get homemade ice cream at Jeni's, which we'd heard was really good. Today was the last soft night, so we decided we had to do it. I really couldn't decide between four flavors (milk chocolate, dark chocolate, lemon, and raspberry), so I just got four scoops (problem solving skills). They were all delicious, and I didn't regret it at all. On our way back, it started to rain and there was thunder and lightning, which was very exciting. Also, rain! Lovely rain. It was wonderful. I got soaked, and so did everyone else, but I was the only one who was happy about it.

Do You Understrand?

Do you understrand? I don't. Time flies by so fast. This is coming to feel like the last day, but I know there is still some more time left. I came into this program not knowing how it would go, since it is so much more different from any other program. What ended up happening was a whole lot of really busy days constituting these entire 3 weeks of this summer. Three straight weeks of lots of memories that I have come to make. Three weeks that I will remember for years to come.

We had breakfast yet again this morning, as usual, followed by class for half of us. The group of people who were in the wheelchair the first time were the ones who were able to go see the organ recital. Unfortunately, we had to wait on that and will go for tomorrow, but the group of us that stayed in class watched a couple documentaries on healthcare and drugs. Much of it was very informational and revealing, as with many of the other documentaries we have seen. After it, we had lunch and came back to see that our class still wasn't finished with the organ recital. We began watching another documentary called A Sick America, which compared many healthcare models. It's a continuation of what I began to learn about healthcare models in different countries, but it was definitely interesting looking at specific examples of systems like having citizens having absolutely no medical bills, more autonomy in the care they receive, and more accessibility to healthcare in general.

Soon enough, the second half of class returned after their, very interesting organ recital, and joined us to see the rest of the country examples. Eventually, we had a break time and relaxed from a very slow, incomplete day without the first half of class in the morning, When we came back, we began to discuss our research from yesterday. We were only able to get through about half of the class, if not slightly less, but overall  it was a very long, informational session. Soon enough the time came for more free time now that we do not have arete. After that, we had a retrospective dinner. We came to realize that our time left here is short and will soon depart from each other and this experience. We began thinking about our moments here and how we all grew to be close to each other and how we don't quite want to leave. It's a sad truth, though. We're going to have to depart from here soon, but it's not over yet because we have some more days to left.

Apparently Lavender tastes like Fruit Loops.
When dinner ended, we went back to Hank and stayed outside for some T-shirt tie-dying. I was able to make what I hope to be a really cool colored shirt with lots of turquoise/green-blue/lime-green blends of colors (kind of like I tried to do with the scarf dying). Shortly after, Gwennie, Katherine, Kelly, Angel, Raymond, Corry, Lee, and I met down at Hank again for our last SOFT night out. It's sad to think that it's the last one, since we will be having more activities later in the week, but I definitely took in mind that it would be a great one. We went somewhere that's been on our VSA bucketlist- going to Jeni's for ice cream. We had a nice walk down 21st Avenue through a darkening evening. Our first stop was Dunkin Donuts, where I had my first full cup of Hazelnut Iced Coffee. We then strolled down to the ice cream shop. When we got there, we all went crazy with all the flavor sampling, but eventually I ordered the Lavender (since the lavender lemonade at Province was so great) and the Brown Almond Butter Brittle ice cream, both of them being some of the richest and best tasting ice cream I've had. On our way back, we hiked back up that 21st Avenue incline we all love and even with some rain- and flashing from lightening- above us. Fortunately, we caught some of that nice rain without any dangerous lightning and enjoyed the light summer rain before it just began to pour down.
VSA 2015.
At Hank, we had our proctor meeting, going over our best memories here at VSA thus far and the things we can look forward to this week. Right now, I am with the guys again, blogging for the night, but enjoying the company, given then we will soon all depart. I'm looking forward to our proctor group night tomorrow, which we will spend in Hank watching a movie and eating some more Thai takeout from last time's proctor night out. It's bound to be another good week this last week, and I look forward to making the best of these next few days we have in this program.

I Am Secretly Monet...Just For Today

Okay, so don't read the beginning of this post if you are squeamish, because I am about to go into a fair bit of detail about something rather uncomfortable to most people.

The Medicine, Health and Society class is going to visit the Med School 101 class at some point during this week, and I was one of the lucky half to go today. We went to see something called an "organ recital" where you hold a range of organs that are either from autopsies or from surgeries.

As we walked over to the hospital, I was steeling my nerves, as I had no idea what to expect. We walked into the classroom, where a silver rolling table with masses covered by blue towels was placed into the center of the room. On a shelf under the tables were boxes and boxes of gloves in a large range of sizes, which people were to grab before they sat down in the circle. The instructor, Esther, introduced herself and told us what she was going to be showing us today. We started off with a healthy pair of human lungs from an autopsy. When Esther held them up, I was surprised to see how dark and small they seemed to be, and sat there wondering if the person had ever smoked throughout their life. Apparently Esther was way ahead of us, and went into an explanation of how this was a healthy person during their life, but they were old, and dust and pollution had built up within their lungs.

Next we moved on to a set of lungs with emphysema, which looked radically different. They were smaller, and had small holes throughout them. After that, we moved onto a set of lungs with cancer, and there were tumors all over the tops of them, and in the part that was cut through the middle. Esther started that on one side of the circle, and a liver with cancer from the other side of the circle. It was sort of difficult to pass around since I had to trade organs with the person next to me since it reached our part in the circle at the same time. Finally, it was time for the leg. Unlike the organs, which were from autopsies, the leg was from a surgery. Apparently, the patient had diabetes, and lad to have their leg amputated since the blood was going septic. I could go into a great amount of detail about this leg, but I would rather not, as I think that would be kind of disturbing to read about. I could handle the organs without really being that affected by it, since I could view it without feeling a huge connection to it, but the leg made me feel sort of upset afterwards.

After the presentation was over, Zach led us around the outside of the hospital buildings, and then back into MHS. We watched part of a movie that centered around the different types of health care worldwide and compared them. I only really caught the end of the movie, since the part of the class that went to the organ recital came back rather late, so I can't really recount what happened. After lunch, we started the presentations about the drugs, but didn't get very far into them, so about ten people are going to be going tomorrow, including me. During study hall, we watched a documentary about how children are being overmedicated for childhood bipolar diseases and the adverse effects of that. Since most clinical trials on medications to treat bipolar disease are on adults, pediatricians are often flying blind when prescribing medications, and that often has terrible consequences.

After dinner I participated in the SOFT+ option of Monet For a Day, and attempted to paint. I decided to paint a quote from the Disney movie Up, along with a few balloons. I have only painted with watercolor before today, and I have found that painting with acrylic paint is exponentially more fun.
I think that if I have learned anything from this trip, it is this.

Final Countdown (of Days)

This morning started out just like any other morning and then I proceeded to breakfast. After breakfast, I had to meet with Zach at the Commons patio to walk over to an organ recital with  the Medical School 101 students. There was not enough space for the whole class to go on one day so we were split into the groups of the people who went in the wheelchairs on the first day and second day. Since I was part of the half that went the first day, we went today since there is another organ presentation on Thursday. 

The Med School 101's T.A., Hannah, walked us over to the room that we were supposed to meet in. The professor had three trays full of covered organs and of those, 2 were from autopsies and the other was from a surgery. She started uncovering the middle tray, which had a normal lung on it and a lung that had been infected with empyema. There were chairs that created a semicircle around the professor and the trays. She passed around the lungs for us to see the comparisons and I learned more about what empyema is and its effects on the normal lung. The normal lung felt very squishy, but it was dark so I was surprised to see that it would turn black for a healthy lung. Then, she passed around a liver and lung that had been affected by lung cancer. She explained the 3 things to check when someone might have lung cancer: how much it metastasized, the lymph nodes, and how big it is. Usually when it starts to metastasize, it means that the person that is diagnosed with the disease is at a stage 4. The professor left the best for last, which was the most special specimen, and it turned out to be a foot. The foot was amputated from someone with diabetes since we also noticed the gangrene on it. The foot was something that was really new to me because I had held brains, hearts, lungs, and livers before but never a foot. I handled the situation better than I had expected. It was interesting to see the muscles and arteries still inside of the foot and what the bone looked like on the inside. Zach walked us back to our class after everything was shown.

We came back while the rest of the class was watching a film, but it was paused and will be played for our half of the class on Thursday. Monte played another movie for us, called "Sick Around the World". It was around an hour long, so it finished just in time for lunch. The movie was about a man who went around different countries that provides health care to all of their citizens to show how important it is that the U.S. should do the same thing. He visited Japan, Germany, Taiwan, Switzerland, and Great Britain, all of which had none of their citizens go into bankruptcy due to the cost of health insurance. Whereas, the U.S. had a majority of citizens become bankrupt. The movie was from 2008, so back then, health insurance was not mandated yet. 

After lunch, it was time for everybody to do their 5 minute presentation on the drug that was assigned to them. The students who did powerpoint slides went first and then the ones who did theirs on paper. Only half of the class got through by the time it was 3, so I will have to wait until tomorrow morning until I can present. For study hall, we watched another movie called "Frontline: The Medicated Child". It was about the significance increase of disorders found in children. Many of them have been diagnosed with ADHD and the bipolar disorder. The parents have included their opinions of unnecessary prescriptions because they thought that 4 year olds should not have to take up to 8 different medications every day. Once the movie ended, it was time to walk back to Hank Ingram for 2 hours until dinner. Except, half way to Hank, it starts to become super windy and dark outside, so Hummd and I started running, but then the wind started to repel us. Luckily, we had made it inside just in time before it really started to pour. If you look closely at the sky in the video, there are 3 lightning strikes!
During my free time, I decided to work on my blog and spend more time in the lobby area of the third floor with another proctor, Victoria, and another floor mate. They were making friendship bracelets and as the days go by, I can literally see more and more girls coming to this floor to join the circle. I think that it is a really nice way to start and strengthen friendships (especially when you have just met them) and it is a nice time to bond with each other. 

When dinner ended, I stayed around Hank Ingram and helped some of my friends tie-dye their t-shirts. I did not dye another shirt since I wanted the other people to try it since I had already have done this activity. After they were finished, we went to our floors to sign ourselves out and met back in the lobby to walk together. We stopped by Dunkin' Donuts for some of them to buy drinks, but the main focus was Jeni's Ice Cream. I got the wild-berry lavender and vanilla scoop ice creams and then sat down with everyone. 
Where's Hummd? (She was being Monet for a day.)
I felt very anxious while walking back to Hank because it was about to rain. I knew because it started getting windier (and we all know what happened the last time). I ended up running again to avoid getting drenched, but I think that Gwennie had a very memorable time outside dancing in the rain. Her obsession with the rainy weather is over and beyond. Glad to have made it back on my floor in time for the proctor meeting also! We did a round of Po(sitive)-Go(ssip)s tonight twice at the meeting and what they are, are essentially positive things about someone in the proctor group (and I was lucky enough to receive 4!). VSA is soon coming to an end and I am sure that I will miss everything and everyone.

Monday, July 27, 2015

To Knot or Not to Knot

Today in Knot Theory we started learning about graph theory, and how it relates to knots. We started with some fairly simple problems, like the Konigsberg bridge problem, and proved (one of) Euler's (many) theorem(s), that graphs were Eulerian (meaning a path can be made using every edge exactly once and ending at the same point you started at) if and only if there are an even number of edges connecting to each vertex. We spent most of the rest of the time learning how to convert link diagrams into graphs and vice versa, because it's kind of complicated and gets messy very quickly when you look at larger graphs and knots.

The Konigsberg bridge problem
After lunch we learned about cheirality (also spelled chirality), and cheiral knots. The word comes from the Greek word for hand, cheir, and is based on the fact that a left hand and a right hand, though mirror images of each other, are distinct. If a knot is cheiral, then it cannot be deformed into its mirror image. This has applications in chemistry, because some molecules are cheiral. For example, Thalidomide was a drug developed around 1960 in Europe, and widely prescribed to pregnant women as a cure for morning sickness. The left-hand molecule of Thalidomide completely cured nausea, but its mirror image, the right-hand molecule, had very different properties and caused the side effect of severe birth defects. The drug was banned. Another example is limonene--one enantiomer (the term for the versions of a cheiral molecule) smells like oranges, while the other smells like harsh, fake lemon, or turpentine.

We also saw horses on our walk
In the TA session we played several games with knots. One of them was called To Knot or Not to Knot. It was a two-player game, and started with a link projection (a link diagram, but with none of the overcrossings or undercrossings shown). Each player on their turn made a crossing an overcrossing or undercrossing, but one was trying to make an unknot and the other was trying to make the diagram into a knot. (As it happens, the player trying to make an unknot always wins unless the player trying to make a knot takes their turn second on a link projection with an even number of crossings.) 

I'm not sure why there was a pancake...
This evening, Jenny took the four of us out for dinner to Puckett's BBQ. We stopped at a few stores as we walked towards the restaurant, and made note of an ice cream place we planned to get dessert at after dinner. At Puckett's, I had lemonade to drink, and they gave free refills. Somehow, I drank five glasses of lemonade. I'm sure at least one of those glasses was Hummd, and I will continue to swear that the reason the rest of those vanished so fast was that they were mostly ice anyway. I ordered the Gouda mac and cheese for dinner (so did Hummd and Arnold--it was irresistible) and it was absolutely amazing. First of all, mac and cheese is delicious anyway as long as the cook doesn't completely screw it up. With the rich taste and texture of the melted Gouda, it was mouthwatering. All baked in a cast-iron skillet on top of tender brisket with just a touch of barbecue sauce mixed in to bring out the smoky Gouda flavor, and it was positively heavenly. Yum!

Medicine On Our Minds

Today was officially the last start of the week for our time here at the VSA program. Class began with signing individual VSA Thank You cards to Sal Gonzalez, our special guest speaker last week. Then, as the whole class was finishing up on writing their thank you letters, Monte passed out 2 articles to start reading, "Education and Debate" by Ray Moynihan, Iona Heath, and David Henry and "The Nation" by Ray Moynihan and Alan Cassels. I only got through the first one, which emphasized on how the pharmaceutical industry was starting to label diseases in their own way in order to promote the use of medicine. There is a term called disease mongering, which widens the boundaries of treatable illness in order to expand markets for those who sell and deliver treatments. Ms. Talley also let us choose a card (with a drug name on it) that we would be assigned to present on the next day. I got the drug, Avandia. The professor later explained that the pharmaceutical industries, like GlaxoSmithKline, often take their pills to recolor and rename them to gain more profit. 

She went on to ask the class a series of questions: "How many of you have been prescribed medicine before? Of those who have, how many has searched up the medicine? How long did you research on it for?" My hand had already shot down after the second question came up. After asking, Ms. Talley played a short film called "Selling Sickness" that lasted until it was time for lunch. This film showed patients that had been introduced to commercials for illness, and often times, they went to the doctor's to diagnose themselves and ask the doctor for a prescription of a specific medication. In this instance, a man was feeling depressed, so he requested Paxil. He later regret that decision because in turn, the drug was only worsening his symptoms. Another patient felt the same way, but was unable to get any more Paxil than she was prescribed, so she drove to Mexico to get more of it. She began to feel addicted to the drug, and was unaware of the fact that one of the drug's side effects was addiction. Similar cases were taken to court with the company, and they were pressed charges. The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) began to require the pharmaceutical industries to label their drugs with warnings. 

When lunch ended, we returned to class to find out that we were going to spend the rest of the time (including study hall) in a computer lab to research on our drug. Zach and Ms. Talley passed out the packets for us to fill out while we were there. The packet was about 5 pages long, so I took up almost the whole time slot before it was time to go back to Hank Ingram. When I had finished, there was about half an hour left, so Zach let everyone go on a 15 minute break, and when we came back, we would start on our surprise for our professor. The class's idea was to make a parody of the song "Baby" by Justin Bieber, have one person sing the verses, one person rap, and the whole class sing when it came to the chorus. It would go something like, "What we learned from, Monte (our professor's first name), Monte, Monte, oh (3x), medicine on our minds, minds" except, we sing it twice. We ran through it once and it was not so bad. I think we will do fine on Wednesday (when we are presenting it to her) and I hope that she will like it. 

After study hall ended, everyone went back to Hank Ingram for free time until 5:45 PM, when we would have to meet at our proctor's doors. However, Jenny met us at 5:55 to take us out until 9 and the whole group was able to experience homemade southern typical barbecue and listen to some country music. We had a shuttle drop us off at the same block as the restaurant that we were going to eat at (Puckett's bbq). 

We walked around, in and out of a few places to listen to the different kinds of music that the performers were playing (mostly country). The point is, everywhere that we walked, live music played (even at the corners of the blocks, there was a small box that played music). Somewhere around the street, I had a familiar song that my jazz band had played, but on the saxophone by one person and it was "Take 5" which sounded really good outdoors. 
Bumped into Elvis while walking around Broadway Street! 

We started to walk towards our restaurant around 7:30 PM, and even with reservations already made, there was a whole crowd inside. While we were waiting for seats to become available, I saw a guy pass through with a guitar, and I knew that there were going to be performers at Puckett's Bbq, so I asked him if he was going to be playing tonight (and he said yes!). The waiters were really nice and kind, refilling Gwennie's lemonade (that we all shared) without us asking, for 5 times in a row. The food was just as great and fantastic! I ordered a Puckett's Bbq with the shredded chicken (and coleslaw and sweet potato fries) with a half vanilla and chocolate milkshake. We swapped some of our dishes, shared, and stayed until 8:30. We watched the performers play for half an hour and there were 3 of them, one who is a regular, Lacy Green, and they were all truly amazing.

After finishing up, we still saved some room for ice cream, so we went to Mike's Ice Cream place and waited for the shuttle to come pick us up from there. The night ended pretty well, I stayed in the 3rd floor's lobby spending time with one of the proctors, Megan, and floor mates. Megan was making friendship bracelets and I was finishing up on one, so I decided to join her circle of sofa chairs around a desk to watch. We conversed about her year in college, then my other summer plans that I had before the trip, which led to us finding out that I will be the Vice President of a club that she was President of (Interact). We talked so much that our time actually ran straight into 10:59, so I only had one more minute outside of my room until I had to go to sleep. I am excited for tomorrow, the last time that we will ever have a SOFT night, and since it is a plus, I will be making masks for the masquerade dance on Thursday night!
A great view of the lights connecting one building to another down the path. 

That Is Some "Gouda" Mac and Cheese

It is the final stretch before we come back to California. A few days ago, my parents went camping and were lamenting the over-the-top heat that Lake Shasta has to offer. While I would have agreed with them wholeheartedly this time last year, by now, 82 degrees seems like a nice, cool day. In fact, as I walked to Wyatt this morning, I commented on how nice the weather was, and Katherine murmured that it was 83 degrees.

As we entered the class, Monte announced that we would be going over Pharmaceuticalization throughout the week to finish the class. She had Zach hand out two packets, "Education and Debate" by Ray Moynihan and David Henry and "The Nation" by Ray Moynihan and Alan Cassels. After I made it through those, I read a bit of the chapters that we skipped from “The Illness Narratives” as I waited for our next activity. We then watched a short documentary about pharmaceuticalization, which covered a lot of the things that I already had read in the packet. Maybe I was not supposed to read the second one? Oh well. The film also mentioned how much more likely an American doctor would be to prescribe medicines, since the medical system in Europe is a lot stricter. Shortly after the movie was over, we were all assigned a random drug to research, and compose a five minute presentation on.

I will probably get farther into the specifics of that tomorrow, as I still need to finish composing the presentation tonight. When we got back from lunch, we walked into an empty classroom. Apparently Monte was feeling ill, so she went home to rest. Zach took the class to the computer lab so that we could fill out the extensive questionnaire associated with the assignment. I worked from 1 until 4, pushing through the breaks so that I could get as much done as possible. The drug that I am working on, Fosamax, was practically taken off of the market due to its severe side effects, and that even though it was a drug meant to fight osteoporosis, many patients found that they were more susceptible to fractures after little or no trauma. One user even reported that she stood up after dinner on Christmas Eve, and fractured her tibia.

During the last week of the program we do not have any Arete classes, so we went into free time. I spent most of my time talking to Victoria as I waited for Jenny to come pick up the cohort for dinner. On the way to Broadway Street, I taught Gwennie the alphabet in sign language, just like Katherine had done for me last week. I managed to confuse both of us with the differences between D and F, and now she is doomed to mix them up, just like I am. We walked around Broadway looking at random restaurants playing live music and stores that sell cowboy boots until it was time for our reservation at Puckett’s. We listened to Lacy Green play as we had our wonderful dinner, and looked out at the lights of Nashville.
And of course we had dessert!


I'd have to say that today was one of the more laid-back days of the summer- and I mean that in a good way. This morning began as usual with some breakfast and small talk with with group. Then came class. Today we went over something new, being Pharmaceuticalization. Try saying that 10 times. We started off with some articles but also saw a film today. Like many of the films we have been seeing in class, it was for the most part saddening, but also quite revealing about the Pharmaceutical industry. I think I have mentioned it before, but I had done a research paper in the past touching on pharmaceuticals, alternative medicine, and politics. This, however, helped broaden my perspective on them. It focused more on how the process for prescription drugs to be made available here in the U.S. is much more lenient than in other countries like Europe. In any case, we are going to be learning more about it this final week. After the film, we had a short break, immediately followed by lunch.

When we got back, Monte had unfortunately left due to feeling ill today. To continue with today's theme, we began to research on the drug we randomly chose and were subsequently assigned to. I got Yaz, which is an oral form of birth control. For the next couple of hours, I researched Yaz, from its uses, to its prevalence, side effects, uses, and a total of about 4 pages I was given to fill about it. During the course of the period, towards the end in particular, we also were able to practice the "Monte," song (a remake of "Baby"), which we are going to perform for her the last day of class. Eventually, it was lunch time and we went back to the Commons, then has free time. During free time, I spent some more time hanging out with the guys. Literally, I just hanged out- no blogging, just relaxing. Like most of today, it just zoomed by quickly. By the time I knew it, it was 5:55 PM and the cohort and I met down in the lobby to go explore Nashville some more.

It's Elvis, dude.
Once we met with Jenny, we shuttled over to downtown Nashville. There, one of the first things we saw was a life size version of Elvis, so of course we had to get our pictures with him. We also passed by a couple shops that we found interesting. Among them was this cool boot store that had this wide variety of boots for men and women, from traditional boots, to Mexican style boots (I know because my dad own only boots), and others in between. Unfortunately, I think if anyone wanted boots, they'd have to wait to get back to California because boots here ranged from about $300-500. Along the way we also just passed by several  restaurants (the only place with live music we were allowed in) and joined to hear a couple tunes with the folks. We cruised over the main street, leading us up to Puckett's Grocery, our restaurant for the night. It is recognized for home-cooked style meals, so I decided I would try the Piggy Mac, which was pulled pork with mac n cheese. While waiting and eating, we were able to enjoy some of the live music. Today's guest at the time we were there were Lacy Green (whose music is kind of out there) and two of her friends, one from New York and the other from North Carolina. All three of them took turns playing their own original songs and I have to say that all three of them sang beautifully. I've probably heard more beautiful live voices in this past week than I have this whole year. It's been a pleasure. Afterwards, we went over to get some ice cream. I decided I'd get the vanilla on a homemade waffle cone. Unfortunately, those were two huge scoops and it happened to break. Fortunately, I caught it with my hands on time and was able to get a cup for it. We shuttled back and got to Hank.
One of the most mind-blowing things to do is looking up at tall buildings
Dinner tonight!
I'm happy for today. it's been really laid back, but has also been really nice. There were new things to do, delicious food to try, and great music to listen to. Our group had some great time together and now it is time to relax for a new day tomorrow. Pharmaceuticalization sounds fun, but I know there is also a lot that comes with it. Also, we will me learning about body image in the context of different perspectives, so that will also be interesting. That's a wrap for tonight. Boa noite!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Know Your Science

A delicious apple tart
This morning I got up at 10:20 (in order to be ready to leave by 10:30...) because Jenny checked us out to take us to brunch, like last Sunday. We left later this Sunday because instead of going to a place with an hour-long wait, we went to a bakery, Provence. I ordered a croque-monsieur (grilled cheese and ham with bechamel sauce on top) and an apple tart. The croque-monsieur was amazing, but it was also pretty large,  so I ended up way too full to even think about lunch. (I took the apple tart in a paper bag to eat later.) Hummd suggested getting ice cream before wee went back to Vanderbilt, but she was the only one who still had any room to eat more, so we decided to do it sometime this week during a Soft Night.

Hummd and I, having fun in infrared
After we returned to Vanderbilt and everyone else had lunch, everyone went to their groups for the afternoon activity (the mall, the zoo, or the science center) they had chosen. As it happened, all four of us had signed up for the science center. It was similar to the Exploratorium in San Francisco (with lots of interactive exhibits), but smaller. It was also aimed more towards younger kids, but Hummd and I still had fun learning about some interesting things, like which genders we associate more with sciences and liberal arts (Hummd associated women more than men with liberal arts, whereas I associated women more than men with the sciences, which was interesting and also kind of made sense, since I associate myself more with the sciences). 

I came so close to buying him in the gift store
I did get rather irritated at a few of the exhibits that had inaccurate scientific explanations, as Hummd (who was with me) could attest. For example, one of the exhibits showed that vertically arranged, repelling magnets in microgravity (free-fall) moved farther away than when they were sitting in normal gravity. The explanation was that "During the microgravity moment, the magnets repel each other even more, causing the distance to increase between them." This doesn't really make sense, since gravity doesn't affect the strength of other forces, it's just another force that either opposes or adds to the other force. In this case, magnets in normal gravity are closer together because gravity pulls them all down, towards each other (because the lowest magnet is against the floor and can't go down any further when the others are pulled in its direction), opposing the repelling magnetic force between them. In microgravity, the gravitational force is no longer cancelling part of the repelling magnetic force, so they're farther apart.

After dinner it was Trivia Night, and each proctor group was a team. Unfortunately there was no mathematics category, but I was awesome at the science category and decent at history and literature (particularly because one was an obscure Harry Potter trivia question--who was the fictional author of the textbook Magical Creatures and Where to Find Them?). My favorite was probably "What is the sum of the atomic numbers of lithium, beryllium, and fluorine?" (Most people don't memorize the periodic table in eighth grade.)

Love On Top

This morning I woke up at 9:30 AM, to shower and get ready in time for a light breakfast with Jenny and the rest of the cohort. We all met downstairs in the lobby at 10:30 and proceeded to walk towards Pancake Pantry since Jenny found a bakery near it. I took us on a shortcut instead of the way that we took last week, since I had learned of a quicker route from our class trip to Sweet Cece's (earlier in the week). The bakery that we went to is called Provence and I ordered the Lavender Lemonade, eclair, and split the french toast with Arnold. We ate there until it was time for the shuttle to pick us up and bring us back to Hank Ingram by 11:50 to meet at our proctors' doors. 

When everyone was at Lizzy's door, she dismissed us to walk to lunch altogether. I ate lightly at lunch too, with a few popcorn chicken pieces and sweet potato fries. Lunch ended a bit earlier than usual because of the activities that will be going on, so everyone had to disperse into their given groups with a proctor in order to get on the correct bus for our respective locations. Just before leaving the Commons, I realized that the cohort had taken a picture a while ago (from our brunch) and the majority of us were wearing the same clothes as that day, so I suggested a retake. You can see the comparison of us now (at the bottom) and from a long, long, time ago (at the top). There were a few buses for the mall, and the people who were going to attend the Adventure Science Center or zoo shared one bus. The bus ride to the science center took approximately 10 minutes or less and right when I took my first step inside, I knew that this place was going to be a blast.

The Adventure Science Center is much like the Exploratorium in the Bay Area, a family-friendly orientation, with plenty of things to look at. The first place that I went to look at was on the same floor, at the Identity exhibit. There were many little stations with screens that surveyed you, for example, what you might look like in 50 years or so by taking a picture of yourself or rating a group of pictures to figure out if you are an introvert or extrovert. In the center of the exhibit was a large model of a brain with labels that showed which area of the brain controlled what in the body.

After checking out the Identity exhibit, I went into the play structure (that escalates all the way to the top of the building) to explore a bit. The playground was filled with kids and had two continuous paths to get to the top of the building (inside of a dome) to view all of Nashville. The first continuous way would be easier for all of the adults, which are the stairs. The second way was used more by kids, and that was to climb through, across, and up things. For example, I had to climb up a vertebrae model in order to get to the next floor. It took me a while, but my primary mission was to get up to the top and get a glimpse of the view of the whole city. 
I settled for the title, Love On Top, because when I climbed to the top of the building, I had thought about how much
appreciation and love that I have for the city of Nashville, Music City. All the time that I have spent here so far has been
nothing but a great one.
After I completed my goal, I went back onto the second floor to look at the other things that I had missed. There was a whole exhibit on the brain. One of the popular activities was Mind Ball, where two people would sit on opposite ends of the table and put on a headband to control a ball with their mind. I watched Gwennie and Hummd go against each other for this one. I played on Move It!, which is similar to Dance Dance Revolution, where you would have to step on certain tiles on the ground while tapping on them according to the screen. Then, I went around to the space exhibit, called "Wonders of the Universe". It included a star walk, so when you would step inside, everything was pitch black except for the small bright lights that were in that room (a.k.a. the stars). There was also a very large scale model of all of the planets lined up next to each other with little descriptions and fun facts about each one. There is also a Planetarium inside, but I did not go because there would not be enough time to look around because there was only 15 minutes left before leaving.
A picture of me and this incredibly
galaxy-painted wall. (I love astronomy
so much!)

The bus came to pick everyone up at 4 PM, and the ride back to Hank Ingram was a lot faster than on the way to the Adventure Science Center. We had free time until 6, which was dinner. After dinner would be Trivia (something that everyone is obligated to go to, but also has the option to stay in a quiet room while there). I did not expect to participate in Trivia because my proctor had warned me that the whole room would be filled with noisy people trying to yell out the answers all at once. My proctor group was only left with 6 (including me) since the others had went to the quiet room instead, so I knew that I could not let them down by missing out. Besides, I am only going to be here for 4 more days so I might as well stay for moral support and experience. It turns out that I liked the game way more than I should have! There were several different categories, like music, geography, history, residential staff, science, and literature. For one of the science questions, it was asking about a book that I have for my summer assignment called, "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks," so my team used it to fill in the blanks (what a great coincidence)! Our team got really competitive, but unfortunately, we did not place, however, house-wise, A-House placed 2nd! Not as good as first, but we will soon have our chance to shine. The game passed by quicker than I thought, and we were back on our floors by 8:30. There was a proctor meeting right after we got back on our floors, to review the schedule for tomorrow (which is all free time after class and study hall, with the exception of dinner in between). 

Magic Touch

As time passes by, things are getting better. Unfortunately, this is our last Sunday, or day to have some major free time doing fun things, but then again, it is Sunday, so we get the chance to do that. This morning I woke up a bit earlier than I could have. I showered and had breakfast downstairs in the lobby with Raymond, Lee, Kelly, Jessica, Cory, and Tonny. Like last Sunday, there was Panera. Unlike last time, I actually decided I'd get some. When the time came, Jenny came to sign the cohort out for some breakfast. We headed over to Province, a French bakery in Hillsboro. There, we had an extensive selection of various good, but I decided I would share the French Toast with Katherine and order a Lavender Lemonade along with a Peach Macaroon, a Coco-Dusted Raspberry Truffle, and Salted Caramel truffle. Though I would have expected a bit more from the French Toast, the Lavender Lemonade and truffles made up. Overall, I enjoyed it. After with some time with Jenny, we shuttled back to Hank for lunch and then for our respective activities today.
Morning brunch with the cohort.
Capturing the morning
Got that magic touch.
The options were between going to the mall, the Adventure Science Center, or the Nashville Zoo. I chose the Science Center. We bused about a 15 minute ride there and once we got there, we got our wristbands and had the liberty to explore as much as we could for the few hours we had. I started off at one of the many different areas that had to do with personality, heredity, and genetics, examining things like how the male and female brains develop and differ. I was even able to see how I would "look" as I aged (it looked like my face was moldy more than anything). I spent it with Ryan and Griffin, both from my proctor group. We eventually went everywhere else, exploring as much as we could. For example, there was a solar system exhibit that had an array of the planets in the solar system and even a cool weight converter that lets you know how much you weigh on the solar system planets (I was about 6 pounds on Pluto and about 450 on Jupiter). Also, there was this really cool room in the the play structure that allows you to freeze your shadow with walls that are made from glow in the dark material that allows the shadows to stay. One of the other really weird things I was able to do was move a ball with my brain (and maybe also technically my mind also). I paired up with Griffin and then Ryan to see how well we squared off. The description said to relax your brain, but all I know was that Theta and Alpha waves were graphed by the headband we wore and somehow that was what moved the ball. Unfortunately I found it sketchy that Player 1 had a tendency to win (I won as Player 1 against Ryan and Griffin, but saw Player 2 from another competing pair lose, and also lost as Player 2 when I tried again with Ryan. Furthermore, there was a wheelchair basketball exhibit, which totally brought me back to the wheelchair social experiment. They also had two examples of inconveniences with people who use wheelchairs (a public telephone and a cafeteria-style ketchup dispenser). It felt nice feeling more aware of other issues that come into play, yet I also think (if I can recall well) that there weren't really ways for handicapped people to get up the complex structure of the center. Fortunately, I was able to get on as much as I could. There was a play structure in the heart of the center that was made up in a realistic heart shape as well as other organs, and spine-shaped ladder/bridge that led up to the top where one could see an open view of downtown Nashville. On the way down, I took every chance I found to go down the slides, or anything that wasn't stairs, for the sake of being adventurous and feeling like a kid. In the end, after all the great things I experienced, I regrouped with the rest of VSA , but bought some dried, space-appropriate ice cream to try with the rest of the crew.
That handlebar mustache though..
& the view from as high as one can get at the Science Center
We had free time until about 6 PM for dinner, so with about an hour that I had left, I napped, fixed up my lanyard that was slightly messed up, and spent the remainder of the time literally just hanging out with Raymond and Lee not really doing anything. Dinner tonight was very decent. There were a lot of jokes and apparently Katherine even began to cry at times. As you might be able to tell, it was a good time with the group.

Following dinner was Trivia Night. I felt a bit tired for it tonight, though, and went back into the game room where students were free to do quieter activities. I spent my time just chilling out for a while, working on reflecting today and getting some other work done. Time went by fast and before I knew it, it was time to head back here to Hank. There was supposed to be a stargazing activity that was going to be hosted by the Astronomy class, but it was ultimately cancelled. Instead of being able to just go and check something new here out, I spent some time with my awesome proctor and just relaxed it off for the rest of the night. Speaking of resting, tomorrow is Monday. Monday means class. Monday means a full schedule (with the exception of both SOFT and SOFT+ time), but to be ready for class, I'll be prepping on some work and then get rejuvenating rest.

Adventure Is Out There!

I jolted awake at 9:00, thinking that I was going to be late for our brunch with Jenny. As I found my glasses, I realized that I had a whole hour and a half to get ready. I also realized that it was freezing in my room, as either Sofi or I had turned the thermostat down to 55 at some time during the night. I decided to stay in bed and read part of Slaughterhouse 5, which is my summer assignment book. By the time Jenny came to pick us up, I had gotten ready very leisurely, and made my way downstairs with Gwennie, as we had run into each other in the hallway.

I did manage to get this cute
picture of the tiramisu!
We met Jenny at the door and took a shortcut through the campus to get to Hillsboro as quickly as possible. We ate at Provence, which is a French bakery and cafe. After a wonderful brunch, we made it back for lunch, where I chatted with some proctors about their majors, and what they were planning to do after college was over. We were herded over to Hank Patio to be divided into our weekend activities, which included a mall, a zoo, and a science center. I had chosen to go to the science center, since my luggage is practically overweight, and I don't really like the idea behind zoos.

The ride to Adventure Science Center was surprisingly short, but when we arrived, people still complained extensively about the lack of air conditioning in the bus. We rushed inside to the cool air, but before we could disperse, everyone in our group had to put on a white wristband. Most people got it on quickly and sped off into the exhibits, but Gwennie's malfunctioned and she had to get a new one. I stayed behind with her, and by the time she got it on and was ready to go, the rest of the people from VSA were nowhere to be found. After a few minutes of searching, we decided to just make our way around by ourselves and hoped that we would eventually manage to find someone we knew.
We attempted to get a picture
of the view from the top of the
tower, but alas.

We wandered around for a very long time, since there were three entire floors of exhibits. One actually explored disability in a similar way to the MHS experiment, where you had to travel in wheelchairs around the exhibit. Another explored a lack of tactile sensitivity by having two people play checkers with large gloves on. We avoided the one about the human body since it was crowded with kids, but did manage to find an activity where you supposedly pushed a ball into a goal with the brainwaves that were captured by a headband around your head. We soon discovered that it was rigged so that the person on the left won significantly more often. There was also a tower that children could play on that spanned two floors, with a long slide at the very top. Once I looked down to see how high we had gone, I had to clutch at Gwennie's arm to keep myself from feeling dizzy. I would have loved to visit the planetarium, but it was closed for the day. We finally started finding people we knew just before it was time to leave.

We got back shortly before dinner, and Lizet and I just stayed in my room and watched a show that she has been trying to get me hooked on all week, called "The Walking Dead" I have been doing my best not to get into new shows, since college application season is approaching rapidly, but her persistence is remarkable. After dinner was a trivia night, with topics ranging from Literature to details about VSA staff. My proctor group came in fourth, and V House won by a landslide. (A House and S House had a scores two points apart!) Since we are all so competitive, everyone in my group was very excited to hear the results, and we practically led the V House cheer. I think I am still a little hoarse.

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