Friday, September 29, 2006

Conservation of Momentum

Today was a pretty good day. Except for on the trip home. I had one half hour left to work on my digital homework. I had worked on it earlier in the day, but then I had to go to a faculty meeting. Anyway, I usually pedal at a pretty conservative rate (it's hard to pedal with your left wing), but tonight I was booking it. So I crossed Lincoln, and did my nice little hand signal so I could turn right. I was watching traffic on the road I was turning OFF of, and not the traffic on the road I was turning ON to. WHAMMMOO! I slam into another bike! She was crossing the road and going from sidewalk to sidewalk while I was watching the people on the road. Because I was going so fast, I couldn't stop. The woman was incensed -- which is totally understandable because some airhead just collided with her! I felt horrible, and I started apologizing -- though how much is that worth? When I asked her if she was OK, she was like, "NO, I'M NOT. Do you drive a car like that? I'm so glad you weren't driving a car. I live on the street that Alicia Bandersnipe lives on." (I'm actually not sure which name she said, but I'd never heard of her). I probably looked like a carp with my mouth open, but I asked her, "Who's Alicia Bandersnipe?" Over her shoulder, she said, "The girl who was killed!" I knew she was still very angry with me, but as she biked down the sidewalk, I was at least glad that I hadn't knocked her off of her bike.

I started crying on the way home, and another biker who had been behind me stopped me and asked me if I was okay. Sure I was. I wasn't the one who'd been rammed! I felt so stupid. The rest of the way home I stopped a long time at each stop sign just to make sure no one was coming in either direction. My thought was, I can't even ride a bike right!

Given the fact that �accidents� such as that one can happen so quickly when both parties are sober, it�s no wonder that drunk driving is such a risk. I mean, as the above story goes to prove, I need all the brain function I can get! Besides affecting a person�s reaction time, alcohol can also lower a person�s inhibitions. As a believer, that�s going in the exact opposite direction.

There is going to be a "wine and cheese" party this weekend. I guess it's the IWUness in me, but I just can't get past the word "wine."

Why spend good money on decaying raisin juice?
Oh well. I guess you could describe cheese as "bacteria-ridden aged milk," and that doesn't sound very appetizing, either.

Anyhow, I have been kind of surprised at how much of a role drinking plays here. Even the College Republicans sponsor a "barcrawl," I think every week. Now doesn't THAT sound like fun!

I think I'm happy in my teetotaling ways. But there's plenty of other things to tempt me -- like chocolate-chip cookies ;-)

(Image source:

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

This won't hurt a bit

Today I was browsing a medical school website, and I found this:

The Gentleness of Traditional Chinese medicine Acupuncture and Moxibustion (1992) 27 minutes

Acupuncture and moxibustion in China have recorded histories of several thousand years. They are effective medical treatments that are both convenient and safe. Many people regard acupuncture and moxibustion as one and the same thing. They are, in fact, two distinct treatments that are often used together. Acupuncture is a kind of corrective therapy. If an acupuncturist prescribes more than corrective therapy for a patient, then moxibustion is applied. Moxibustion is the burning of specific herbs on acupuncture points to bring healing relief.
The use of acupuncture and moxibustion is increasingly widespread and medically effective. The World Health Organization (WHO) has, therefore, acknowledged that acupuncture and moxibustion are appropriate treatments for 43 ailments such as headache, stomachache, and frozen shoulder. Due to the unique medical efficacy of acupuncture and moxibustion and to the sound systems for research, treatment, and development which have evolved in the scientific age, the teaching of acupuncture and moxibustion has modernized and many Western doctors have begun to study these healing arts in hopes of mastering additional approaches to treating patients.

Forgive me if I'm missing something. I've never understood how someone who's afraid to get a shot will consent to having small pieces of metal inserted into their bodies -- or having tiny fires started on their bodies. But, I'm reassured now: it's gentle.

Picture credit:

Saturday, September 16, 2006

All other ground...

Near the beginning of the school year, my university hosts various clubs and organizations for a day. They set up booths, blow up balloons, and put out sign-up sheets. Actually, I've already written about that! Lately, I've been going through the pamphelets I picked up that day.

The associate pastor of a Presbyterian church gave me a booklet entitled "Homosexuality and the Bible," by Walter Wink. "It's written by a Biblical scholar," she told me.

On his opening page, Mr. Wink says, "The issue of homosexuality
threatens to fracture whole denominations, as the issue of slavery did one
hundred and fifty years ago. We naturally turn to the Bible for guidance
and find ourselves mired in interpretive quicksand. Is the Bible able to
speak to our confusion in this issue?
"The debate over homsexuality is a remarkable opportunity, because it
raises in an expecially acute way how we intepret the Bible, not in this
case only, but in numerous others as well. The real issue here, then, is
not simply homosexuality, but how Scripture inoforms our lives today. Some passages that have been advanced as pertinent to the issue of homsexuality are, in fact, irrelevant."

After that less than hopeful beginning, he goes on to explain why each
reference to homosexuality in Scripture (Gen. 19:1-29, Judges 19-21, Deut.
23:17-18, 1 Cor. 6:9, 1 Tim. 1:10, Lev. 18:22, Lev. 20:13, Rom. 1:26) can't
possibly be interepreted as a warning from God not to engage in it.

After "winking" at sin, and offering a defense of homosexual activity, he concludes with: "I am deeply convinced of the rightness of what I have said in this essay. But I must acknowledge that it is not an airight case. You can find weaknesses in it, just as I can in others'. The truth is we are not given unequivocal guidance in either area, abotion or homosexuality,
Rather than tearing at each others' throats, therefore, we should humbly admit our limitations. How do I know I am correctly interpreting God's word for us today? How do you? Wouldn't it be wiser to Chritians to lower the decibels by 95 percent and quietly present our beliefs, knowing full well we might be wrong?"

His position could be described by the words of this hymn:
"On Christ the solid Rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand. All other ground is sinking sand..."

Picture source:

Booker T.

"When war was begun between the North and the South, every slave on our plantation felt and knew that, though other issues were discussed, the primal one was that of slavery."

Usually when I think of U.S. History, I see episodes.

The Revolutionary war {space} The Civil War {space} WWI {space} WWII, etc.

But those "spaces" demand further inspection! One historic period that's often overlooked falls into that "space" between the Civil War and WWI. It's the Reconstruction. Until recently, I had no idea what happened during this reconstruction. If you want to hear about it from a first-hand source, I recommend reading Booker T. Washington.

Here's some quotes from his book, Up From Slavery:

"In addition to these openings, there was, in the lower right-hand corner of the room, the "cat-hole," a contrivance which almost every mansion or cabin in Virginia possessed during the ante-bellum period. The "cat-hole" was a square opening, about seven by eight inches, provided for the purpose of letting the cat pass in and out of the house at will during the night. In the case of our particular cabin I could never understand the necessity for this convenience since there were at least a half-dozen other places in the cabin that would have accommodated the cats." (p. 2)

"The early years of my life, which were spent in the little cabin, were not very different from those of thousands of other slaves. My mother, of course, had little time in which to give attention to the training of her children during the day. She snatched a few moments for our care in the early morning before her work began, and at night after the day's work was done. One of my earliest recollections is that of my mother cooking a chicken late at night, and awakening her children for the purpose of feeding them. How or where she got it I do not know. I presume, however, it was procured from our owner's farm. Some people may call this theft. If such a thing were to happen now, I should condemn this as left myself. But taking place at the time it did, and for the reason that it did, no one could ever make me believe that my mother was guilty of thieving. She was simply a victim of the system of slavery. I cannot remember having slept in a bed until after our family was declared free by the Emancipation Proclamation. Three children-John, my older brother, Amanda, my sister, and myself--had a pallet on the dirt floor, or to be more correct, we slept in and on a bundle of flighty rags laid upon the dirt floor." (p. 3)

"During the campaign when Lincoln was first a candidate for the Presidency, the slaves on our far-off plantation, miles from any railroad or large city or daily newspaper, knew what the issues involved were. When war was begun between the North and the South, every slave on our plantation felt and knew that, though other issues were discussed, the primal one was that of slavery. Even the most ignorant member of my race on the remote plantation felt in their hearts, wit a certainty that admitted of no doubt, that the freedom of the slaves would be the one great result of the war, if the Northern armies conquered." (p. 4)

"The most trying ordeal that I was forced to endure as a slave boy, however, was the wearing of a flax shirt. In the portion of Virginia where I lived it was common to use flax as part of the clothing for the slaves. That part of the flax from which our clothing was made was largely the refuse, which of course was the cheapest and roughest part. I can scarcely imagine any torture, except, perhaps, the pulling of a tooth, that is equal to that caused by putting on a new flax shirt for the first time. It is almost equal to the feeling that one would experience if he had a dozen or more chestnut burrs, or a hundred small pin-points, in contact with his flesh. Even to this day I can recall accurately the tortures that I underwent when putting on one of these garments. The fact that my flesh was soft and tender added to the pain But I had no choice. I had to wear the flax shirt or none, and had it been left to me to choose, I should have chosen to wear no covering. In connection with the flax shirt, my brother John, who is several years older than I am, performed one of the most generous acts that I ever heard of one slave relative doing for another. On several occasions when I was being forced to wear a new flax shirt, he generously agreed to put it on in my stead and wear it for several days, till it was "broken in." (p. 6)

"One may get the idea, from what I have said, that there was bitter feeling toward the white people on the part of my race, because of the fact that most of the white population was away fighting in a war which would result in keeping the Negro in slavery if the South was successful. In the case of the slaves on our place this was not true, and it was not true of any large portion of the slave population in the South where the Negro was treated with anything like decency... This tenderness and sympathy on the part of those held in bondage was a result of their kindly and generous nature." (p. 6-7)

"As a rule, not only did the member of my race entertain no feeling of bitterness against the whites before and during the war, but there are many instances of Negroes tenderly caring for their former masters and mistresses who for some reason have become poor and dependent since the war. I know of instances where the former masters of slaves have for years been supplied with money by their former slaves to keep them from suffering. I have known of still other cases in which the former slaves have assisted in the education of the descendants of their former owners." (p. 7)

"I have said that there are few instances of a member of my race betraying a specific trust. One of the best illustrations of this which I know of is in the case of an ex-slave from Virginia whom I met not long ago in a little town in the state of Ohio. I found that this man had made a contract with his master, two or three years previous to the Emancipation Proclamation, to the effect that the slave was to be permitted to buy himself, by paying so much per year for his body; and while he was paying for himself, he was to be permitted to labour where and for whom he pleased. Finding that he could secure better wages in Ohio, he went there. When freedom came, he was still in debt to his master some three hundred dollars. Notwithstanding that the Emancipation Proclamation freed him from any obligation to his master, this black man walked the greater portion of the distance back to where his old master lived in Virginia, and placed the last dollar, with interest, in his hands. In talking to me about this, the man told me that he knew that he did not have to pay the debt, but that he had given his word to his master, and his word he had never broken. He felt that he could not enjoy his freedom till he had fulfilled his promise.
From some things that I have said one may get the idea that some of the slaves did not want freedom. This is not true. I have never seen one who did not want to be free, or one who would return to slavery.
I pity from the bottom of my heart any nation or body of people that is so unfortunate as to get entangled in the net of slavery. I have long since ceased to cherish any spirit of bitterness against the Southern white people on account of the enslavement of my race. No one section of our country was wholly responsible for its introduction, and besides, it was recognized and protected for years by the General Government. Having once got its tentacles fastened on the economic and social life of the Republic, it was no easy matter for the country to relieve itself of the institution. Then, when we rid ourselves of prejudice, or racial feeling, and look facts in the face, we must acknowledge that, notwithstanding the cruelty and moral wrong of slavery, the ten millions Negroes inhabiting this country, who themselves or whose ancestors went through the school of American slavery, are in a stronger and more hopeful condition, materially, intellectually, morally, and religiously, than is true of an equal number of black people in any other portion of the globe. This is so to such an extent that Negroes in this country who themselves or whose fathers went thorough the school of slavery, are constantly returning to Africa as missionaries to enlighten those who remained in the fatherland. This I say, not to justify slavery -- on the other hand, I condemn it as an institution, as we all know that in American it was established for selfish and financial reasons, and not from a missionary motive -- but to call attention to a fact, and to show how Providence often uses men and institutions to accomplish a purpose. When persons ask me in these days how, in the midst of what sometimes seem hopelessly discouraging conditions, I can have such a faith in the future of my race in this country, I remind them of the wilderness through which and out of which, a good Providence has already led us." (p. 7-8)

"I am learning more and more each year that all worry simply consumes, and to no purpose, just so much physical and mental strength that might otherwise be given to effective work." (p. 88)

"My experience in getting money for Tuskegee has taught me to have no patience with those people who are always condemning the rich because they are rich, and because they do no give more to objects of charity." (p. 88)

"In order to be successful in any kind of undertaking, I think the main thing is for one to grow to the point where he completely forgets himself; that is, to lose himself in a great cause. In proportion as one loses himself in this way, in the same degree does he get the highest happiness out of his work." (p. 88)

"If no other consideration had convinced me of the value of the Christian life, the Christlike work which the Church of all denominations in America has done during the last thirty-five years for the elevation of the black man would have made me a Christian. In a large degree it has been the pennies, the nickels and the dimes which have come from the Sunday-schools, the Christian Endeavour societies, and the missionary societies, as well as from the church proper, that have helped to elevate the Negro at so rapid a rate." (p. 94)

Text source: Washington, Booker T., Up From Slavery, New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1995. This book was originally published in 1901.
Picture source:

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

When your spoon has a beard, it's time to wash the dishes.

I hesitate to admit my shortcomings, because I don't want you to get the wrong idea. But yet, I did have a wooden spoon with a beard. Never fear -- if you come over for dinner, I won't be using a utensil with stubble. The poor thing went into the trash. Needless to say, I've started a New Years Resolution in September -- to wash dishes as soon after I use them as possible.

One thing I must say: TAing is helping my walk with God. As I was prepping the lab for the two experiments I'm in charge of, I was terrified. That probably sounds ridiculous, but I kept on running into problems. Then, a TA meeting would come and I wouldn't have done what I needed to have done.

Take experiment 8 for example! From the getgo, I wondered what water to use. Once again, that probably sounds ridiculous, EXCEPT that I was making up 20+ L of solution (I actually need to make more than that!), and if I needed Millipore water I would have to truck it in from a different building across the street! That question was answered: use DI water. I won't belabor the point and go into the clumpy KCl. Okay, I will! I opened up the first jar of KCl and discovered a uniform clump inside. From that point on, I became a percussionist. I would take a jar and beat it on something. I tried beating it on my leg, but obviously, I had better things to do than bruise myself with KCl. So I struck (ha ha) on a new idea -- which is why at 10:00 one night I could have been found beating quarter notes and eighth notes into the floor with a bottle of KCl in each hand. I was so afraid that a night watchman was going to walk into the lab and find a demented TA. Because I would have been that demented TA.

So the stock solutions were made. That was a plus, because the students had to use them! So I finished the stock solutions 10 minutes before the students came into lab last week. Last week was just an activity: a "meet and greet the instrumentation day." Basically, after shaking the UV'vis' hand and learning the Mass Spec's nickname, you went out the same door you came in -- if you were a student, that is. (Will they ever know the pain and suffering we TA's endure for their sake?).

This week was a different story: I needed to have the experimental solutions made up for two completely different experiments, run through 2 completely different experiments, and have data in hand for the two experiments in case someone's experiment failed. I actually had fun running the experiments -- it was just that I was going crazy. (Please note: I never, ever, in a million years, ever exaggerate!). Exp. 8 used a Ca-selective electrode, and Exp. 9 used a tiny liquid chromatography column, TLC, and then HPLC.

So... I was happy that the activity went well. One other TA, Ann, a veteran, had mentioned that the pH meters never seemed to settle on a certain value, but I wasn't too worried about that. After all, back when I was doing prep with a pH meter, the thing never could make up its mind what the pH was. I usually resorted to pH paper! (Which is like going from the Renaissance to the Ice Age, supposedly!).

So... I TA'd on Friday, then went to an incredible Grad-IV meeting. A doctor spoke on career choices (see my previous blog). That was EXCELLENT. Then we had ALGE -- an "After Large Group Event." That was the Cops and Robbers Game. I didn't have much time to work on lab prep after ALGE, because I talked to some of the Grad-IV people until about 1:30 in the morning. So by that time it was Saturday. I went home and slept until about 8:30. There was a chemistry picnic at 11:30 that day, and I thought about going in to work on the lab prep then, but I figured that by the time I hit my stride, pull out the parafilm and pack the place up. Basically I was lazy and skilled at rationalizing.

The picnic and the games (relay races, volleyball, watching football, and then tug-o-war) were incredible. Actually, I think it was the PEOPLE that made it so fun! Anyway, I dropped off my friend Jen at about 6:30, and then went to the store. I had been without a can opener and milk for over a week and I felt like I was deprived. Once again, I contemplated going to the lab, but seeing as how the sun sets around 7:30ish and it took me 2 hours to get "necessities," I skipped the "working in lab" idea.

This is why exactly at 2:00 on Sunday I was feeling slightly panicky. Tomorrow was the TA meeting when I would have to present the instrument and tell its life history. There was no more shaking of the hands and tipping the hat. But I had not run either experiment, and I had no clue how long it would take me to do so!

The long and short of it is, Exp. 9 went as smooth as silica (which was used in the experiment, by the way), and Exp. 8 was a headache with a toothache thrown in. That's why I said that Exp. 8 was improving my walk with God -- every step, it seemed to me, came with fresh difficulties. But God helped me at each one of those steps. Here's a list of mistakes I made:

1) No filling solution in the reference electrodes.
Believe it or not, for an entire day of the activity, I let the kids use dried-out reference electrodes. I figured that since it was sitting in buffer, it had all the hydration it needed! I just thought the electrodes looked grungy, because they had crystalline deposits coating the inside sleeve. After Ann told me about the electrodes jumping high and low, she mentioned that I might want to fill the electrodes. So I did. I looked online and found the electode’s manufacuring site. I printed the ref. electrode’s manual, which said the ref. electrode’s typical filling solution is Cat. No. 900001. But just getting the electrodes open almost proved too much for me. After heaving and howing on the caps for a good while, I gave up that and seized some pliers. When the run-of-the mill model failed, I went for the needle-nose variety (you must understand that I was acting out of desperation! I HAD to get the electrodes open – otherwise, life wouldn’t be worth living). Finally, the cap popped off. Seeing the force I had to apply to get the electrode open initially, I couldn’t believe the description of basically a gentle tug that the manual described. All I can figure is that when the electrode dried out, some of the solid accumulated near the O-ring on the electrode. I dismantled the electrodes, rinsed them out, and filled them with fresh solution #900001.

2) Wrong CaCl2.
I consulted with my dad on this one. Basically, the dihydrate form of calcium chloride is pretty unstable, and it likes to grab any and all water it can access. That’s fine as long as you’re not trying to make a concentration standard with it! I’ve made 3 different CaCl2 stock solutions so far: one with material from an old dihydrate CaCl2 bottle, one from material in an anhydrous CaCl2 bottle (which is made up of pellets designed for use with a dessicator), and one from a bottle of fresh CaCl2 dihydrate. I was going to make up a new solution of anhydrous CaCl2 that was reagent grade, but the Stores were closed, and my card wouldn’t scan me in. While my professor recommended the anhydrous form, I’m going to wait until I get a free moment to buy the anhydrous and compare the solution I make from that to the solution made with the new dihydrate form.

3) Wrong filling solution.
It was Monday night when I found this out. I had presented at the TA meeting earlier that day by describing Exp. 9 in full, and then blurting out, “But I haven’t run through Exp. 8 yet.” Then I added, “But I don’t anticipate any problems.” I can’t tell you how many times that phrase echoed through my head since then. Sometimes I wanted to laugh, when I thought, “I sure didn’t anticipate THIS problem!”

Back to Monday night. I had prepared the dilutions to measure. Firstly, I prepared two solutions to calibrate the electode. One solution was made up of 1mL of 0.1 M CaCl2 in 100 mL of water, and the other solution was made up of 11mL of 0.1 M CaCl2 in 100 mL of water. The instruction manual said that ideally there would be a difference of 25 to 30 mV between the electrode’s reading of these two solutions.

I think that the biggest difference I saw was an 8mV difference. I was comparing the two reference electrodes, and I found that reproducibility was nil. While the first time through the reading was –180 and –184 (approximately), the next time the reading might by 1020. Then the drift started. The meter would show a reading that would steadily decrease by 100 units in a few minutes. I was beginning to despair. I was writing an email in my head: “Dear Dr. ____, I know this is the eleventh hour. That is why I am writing. I have not been able to get Exp. 8 to work, and I need help. I realize that labs are supposed to start tomorrow, and I just wonder if there is another ISE that we can use instead of this one. Thanks, Hannah.”

Fortunately, it was never sent. Two different times it almost was! At 11:00 on Monday night, my failure was thick. That’s when I decided to look back at ISE manual. Lo and behold, I noticed something. It said NOT to use the solution shipped with the reference electrode, and instead to use solution #900011. I could have cried. One blooming number was ruining the readout. I had been using solution #900001! I rinsed the electrodes and filled them with the new solution.

Then I held my breath and made another measurement.

It was awful. I don’t think it had improved at all.

That’s when my list of suspects grew. If the reference electrodes weren’t changing the readout, then the culprit must be the ISE.

4) No ISE tip.
Then strange and wonderful gyrations started occuring. Several statements in the lab manual hadn’t made sense. Wasn’t there something about a grey/black boundary? There was only black on this electrode! I had rationalized this before, because there were no markings on the electrode identifiying it. I wasn’t sure that the electrode I was holding went with the instruction manual I’d found in the drawer. The second instruction that didn’t make sense was something like “don’t touch the membrane.” I actually penciled “What membrane” into my lab manual.

When I started groping around in one of the lab drawers, I found buried treasure: a tip. A tip that matched the picture in the book. The picture I hadn’t quite analyzed closely enough. You were supposed to let the thing soak for 1-2 hours, but I let it soak a healthy 1-2 minutes.

What I found was that the measurements weren’t improved in the least.
I decided to soak the tip for the prescribed 2 hours.
I found a second tip (I actually found a few of them), and let it soak in a separate, tiny beaker as well. Then I threw in the towel for the night.

Tuesday morning dawned light and fair, but I had to solve Exp. 8.

All I could think of was that – all those kids were doing their activity with HALF an electrode last week! HA!

As it turned out, I had 5) Used an old tip.

The new tip gave solid measurements (readings that didn’t trip up or down by a few hundred mV).

I took the measurements I needed and proceeded on to make interfering ion solutions (more solutions for the experiment that the students would make for themselves from the stock solutions I had already finished).

Lab started at 1:00. At 12:45 I was almost done preparing the interfering iron solutions. I realized there was no way I could take 5 measurements, letting the ISE soak for 3 minutes between each measurment (as the lab manual preached).

I left the interfering ion solutions, and gave the kids strict instructions NOT to dump them out!

I mentioned to the other TA that I had had the kids working with only half the electrode. He nodded his head and that was that. I guess I was expecting a bigger reaction. At least he didn’t report me.

So after lab was finished for the students, I finished taking my measurements.

Today when I graphed my concentrations versus potentials to obtain a working curve, I had a rude shock. The graph looked like a preschooler had dotted the graph at leisure. There was no straight line here, even if you examined the graph with a greased imagination.
I was a failure, and my work was for naught.

6) Wrong scale.

That’s the final mistake – for now. The original graph I was looking at was logarithmic, but I didn't recognize that!
It turns out (I cheated and looked at what older TA’s from past years had done on this lab), that if you graph the LOG of the concentration versus the potential, you obtain a BEAUTIFUL linear graph. And I mean BEAUTIFUL. I have never been so happy to see a line in all my born days!

I’ve saved that graph. I think it’s a work of art.

(Note: these two graphs are representative of the shape of my graphs, but the actual values were different.)

Monday, September 11, 2006

In Memory

The following post is actually an email I received today.
It came from a student involved in Grad-IV:

Hi all (especially those whom I know personally),

Just want to express my sympathy in times when you are remembering the
9/11. No words will ever adequate to express it. Just know that many
people outside America share your grief. God loves you all.


God, please start in this heart of mine. Please turn my heart back to you.
Please guide each one of us that claim your name. Please help us to claim your cross.
Please help us who live in America to put our hopes and our fears in your hands.

You are our only hope, God.
I praise you and thank you for your mercy and love.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Three Men, Two Divergent Paths

I've come across a couple good websites, and I thought I'd share them with

1) A gallery of artwork by Dr. Frank Netter -- the "Michelangelo of Medicine."
2) An Overview of Biomedical Engineering -- which started with a pharoah
with a wooden toe!
3) Graduate InterVarsity Fellowship" -- a group of believers in medicine, history, physics, and a whole host of other departments.
4) A Med Student Blog -- by Karen Lo at UMich; she has some very good insights.

Recently, I've been able to hear 3 different speakers:

A professor
A Nobel Prize Winner
A neurologist

The first talk was with my professor. We discussed evolution, politics, and Christianity. What I found in our conversation was:
1) To him, evolution is a solid, unquestionable fact
2) The majority of people in the US currently are ignorant, and this explains their extreme gullability when it comes to anti-evolutionary speakers. He does not believe that people turn against evolution because of their own, scientific inquiry. Rather, they are told by someone else what they should believe about evolution, and then they obey complicity.
4) He belives that the Western church today knows nothing about what Jesus taught or said

The Nobel Prize winner described some of his recent designs in chemisty, but that's not what he talked most about. Even in the midst of his technical speech, he would throw in references to books he had just read and enjoyed. The one book he recommended that we all read is "Out of Control." He often referred to "going back to Mother," which is how he referred to Nature.

I was struck by the fact that this man who has had an extremely succesful career is still pursuing more than chemistry. He is searching for universal truth. Still, his talk was extremely rambly and patchy. Nevertheless, one statement of his that "stuck" with me is this (he was stressing the incredibly vastness of things to study in the universe): "We could all work on peanut butter and never get enough of it."

The last speaker I've recently heard was a neurologist at a local hospital.
Not only that, but he is a believer. He talked about career choices. Through his years as an undergrad, a medical student, a resident, an attending, a fledgling, and an established neurologist, he has tried to keep his priorities in this order: God, wife, medicine...

For example, instead of looking for the positions that would advance his career the most, at one point he took a position that made the most sense for his wife. He realized that he wouldn't be able to talk to her alot because of the work he would be doing, so he wanted her to be close to her family, for support.

At the end of his talk, he asked for questions. The question came up, "How do you share your faith?" He said that you can wear "Jesus" pens. He pointed out that in his clinic they're about 2 neurologists short, so they are backlogged about 2 months. If he took a lot of time to explain Scripture to each patient, that would be pretty much equal to stealing time from his colleagues. Sometimes, though, little things can provide openings. One incident he shared had happened recently. This neurologist puts a verse on his screensaver. At one point he was treating a Jewish patient, but the neurologist had to step out of the room. When he came back, the man made a comment about the "New Testament verse on your screen." The doctor looked at the screen and saw that it was Jeremiah 29:11. That wasn't any NT verse! But it gave the neurologist an opening to talk about something other than spasms and numbness.

Of the three speakers, one man is settled in his view, one man seems to be searching, and one man has found the ultimate source of all wisdom and knowledge. While some of the speakers were tangled in a web of secular humanism, one man had yielded himself to the ultimate God. His faith made a difference, and that difference showed in how he spoke, what he spoke about, and how he viewed his past and future.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Email stew

A while ago I went to the undergrad "Quad Day" and signed up for countless groups. I freely gave my email address out. Now, the groups have been emailing me like crazy. I did try out for the girls' a capella group (the Rip Chords), singing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow." Sadly (or beneficially, depending on your viewpoint), I failed the audition. It probably didn't help that I used a piece of paper to doublecheck my words. Ha!

Let's get back on topic. What would you do if these emails were floating in your inbox?

1-----(from the School of Metaphysics)

Society for Intuitive Research Grand Meeting

Greetings all,

This is just a friendly reminder that we will be meeting this Thursday (9/7/06) at 7PM on the Quad-side steps of Foellinger Auditorium. If you trust in the weather forecast, it appears that it will be a beautifully sunny day.
And remember, come prepared with any strange/interesting dreams that you have been able to remember as of late.

Have an Admirable Day,

2-----(from an Israli Club)
Metallic Blues
Israeli Movie Night Premiere

Come to the first of many Israeli movies playing at
Hillel this semester!!!  

Metallic Blues is a road-movie about two Israeli car dealers who buy a
vintage American-made limousine hoping to get rich quick by selling it in Hamburg. What they encounter along the way are unexpected truths about friendship, reconciliation, and the ghosts of Germany’s dark past.

Would you go?

Short 'n' Sweet

What is active learning? Case in point: TV. Just how interactive is that medium? I should know: I just watched about 4 movies! I sit there, semicomatose, while absolutely no questions are asked of me. There is no looming quiz or test. And yet -- at unexpected times, in inconvenient places, I find out just how much I've absorbed from the "boob tube." I'll sing the entire song from some movie, or I'll remember some string of quotes.

So... what is active learning?

Picture credit: