While i’m not exactly sure what is being celebrated on easter, I can say that I’ve enjoyed the general good spirits that everyone seems to have been in this past week and all of the festiveness of the city of Houston for easter weekend. Everybody came out in their Sunday best today and the streets and parks were just packed with people this weekend. Even though I am atheist, I choose to partake in all of the christian holidays not because I want to fit in with the large christian population, but because I very much enjoy the happiness and gratitude for life that surrounds these holidays. Like everybody else, I am celebrating family, friends, and a bountiful spirit – I am thankful for all that I have and this is a feeling that crosses all religious boundaries. I oftentimes overlook this throughout everyday life, so it is nice to be able to celebrate this beauty on all of the western holidays in addition to all of the chinese holidays that my family celebrates seriously. Double dipping holidays is so much fun!
My parents came for easter weekend and we went to the Woodlands area to check out a part of Houston that we had never been to. The Woodlands Waterway was a really lame version of the Riverwalk, but the area was very upscale and a very well planned mixture of living, office, and retail space. We only walked about a mile total, but I saw a bunch of corporate headquarters, a movie theater, lots of stores, a market, a great loop for running, and some fancy condos. I fed some Koi too! This seems like a great part of Houston to live and I’m glad exxon is moving a lot of their offices to the spring/woodlands area, in addition to the offices already in greenspoint. If I had to live in Houston, I could definitely see myself living in this area. It’s close to the airport too, so I could easily go on a weekend getaway.
I also got together with the other co-ops for an easter meal and it was a great way to round out a great easter weekend. The food was delicious (props MK) and it was nice to just hang out and talk. It’s pretty cool that despite all of our different backgrounds, we have so much in common as kids growing up in the late 90’s and the early 2000’s. We all liked DragonBallZ, Avatar, and Miyazaki films, not to mention cheesy engineering jokes…
I’m so ready for work tomorrow!
So I’m still pretty bent out of shape about The New York Times charging for its online content. Ever since the changes went into effect I’ve replaced the Smartphone App with the BBC News and NPR. However, nothing can ever truly replace Philip Galanes’s “Social Q’s.” I could just go ahead and get a subscription but I can’t reconcile paying for something when it’s free next door.
So in the meantime, here are some activities that are replacing the NYT for now:
1. Reading the magazines I receive monthly from cover to cover. The information may not be as up to date as reading The New York Times online, but it still gives me a general idea of what’s going on in pop culture.
2. Watching The Tudors on Netflix. True, the news is almost 500 years old. But if I watch several episodes in a row it’s as if I’ve received a daily dose of local, national, and international affairs.
3. Cruising Elle.com. Sometimes I just want to click on beautiful images and read short articles.
As I sit down to write this, I can officially say that my competitive speech career has come to an end! And, what a ride it has been. This past week, I’ve spent time in Bloomington, IL at Illinois State University at the National Forensics Association National Tournament. And after two 20+ hour train rides, a charter bus ride, and a week in Illinois, I’m back to make the last push before college comes to an end.
So I have three projects that I am working on at work, and they have been progressing quite nicely – if only I wasn’t limited by some software issues. I’ve learned that I enjoy longer term “do at your own pace” projects than the day to day activities that many other employees do; however, sometimes it is hard to keep motivated and fulfilled when the projects that you are working on are not nearing a finished state any time soon. It’s more about the process for many of these instances. As time moves on it becomes harder and harder to stay motivated to do an activity that may have initially seemed really easy, but it is at this point that the quitters get weeded out. Work, relationships, and even blogging become harder to maintain over time because some of the initial sheen and glamour has worn away and the only motivation left is your own personal desires and goals. Only you can be held accountable for your actions at this point. I can see the finish line in sight, will I charge ahead or break down? I’ve scheduled my final presentation for May 12, we shall soon find out!
I also registered today and got all of the classes that I wanted. I usually sign up for more than I can handle knowing that I can drop a class when the semester starts, a task that is much easier than signing up for additional classes when the semester begins. It’s the same tuition either way as long as you are above 12 hours and I figure this way I always end up making some kid on the waitlist very happy in the Fall. Here’s what I’ve got.
CHE 354 = Transport Processes, which is a study of chemical engineering unit operations. This is a fundamental class for understanding how a Chem Plant works. CHE 350 = Chemical Engineering Materials, which should not be too bad, but it’s going to suck waking up at 8am. CHE 322 = Thermodynamics, which will be interesting since I was not the best at physical chemistry. CHE 253M = Fundamentals Lab, lots of time required to write the labs for only 2 credits, but it has to be done . PED107D = Beginners’ Golf, which is going to be my fun class. Hopefully the weather is nice in the Fall and I don’t have to play on dead fields. I’m also taking 679HA, which is my undergraduate honors thesis. I’m taking this a bit early in my career, but the main reason that I am doing so is I want to have a completed thesis in case I want to pursue graduate school instead of my current plan of going straight into industry. I always have a backup plan, this one is just a bit more elaborate.
Thanks for reading!
Ironically, the day after I came back from my TFA Preview Weekend, I bumped into a former teacher of mine. Ms. Van Zandt was my U.S. History teacher in high school. It felt like I had come full circle. I was finishing college and was about to become a teacher like she had been. She was a great instructor and because a teacher never stops being a teacher, she left me with some words of advice.
Last weekend or so, I went to Houston for Teach for America’s Preview Weekend. I got to meet TFA Corps members incoming, current, and outgoing. It was awesome to get to sit down with them and pick their brains about the whole teaching experience.
At the beginning of any given semester there’s a scramble among students to buy required books, make photocopies of required chapters, and download PDFs of readings. These are the essential materials for graduate school. Yet in my experience as a student there are a few key items that are just as important as the readings. Were I ever interviewed by Vanity Fair for their “My Stuff” column I wouldn’t list my favorite stationery or travel destination; information which, coincidentally, is available in some previous blog posts. I’d list the often overlooked “other essentials” that have made and continue to make graduate life bearable:
1. Moleskine planner and journal: What would I do without these little helpers? The planner may seem redundant since my day is planned by the iCal/GoogleCalendar configuration I gushed about in an earlier blog post. But even Type As need to accept that sometimes the best laid plans go awry. For example, when a last minute lecture pops up I jot it down in my planner and add it to iCal that night. And when I go to said lecture, I need something to write on. Since I reserve loose leaf paper for my classes and won’t take notes on my computer because I despise my laptop, in comes my Moleskine journal. I usually go through one per semester and file it away in that semester’s file box after final’s week. The best is that the final pages are detachable, which means this notebook isn’t so sacred that I can’t tear pages out.
2. Pencil case: With all this writing, the right utensils are critical. The pizza pencil case fits all my little helpers: mini-stapler, correction tape, and writing utensils. I’m pretty fussy about these last items, which probably goes without saying. If I could have a cord surgically implanted to my wrist so the free end could wrap around these implements, I’d do it. I’m too polite to refuse, but if you ever ask to borrow one of these utensils I’ll be giving you the stink eye until you give it back. For note-taking in class, nothing beats the Pilot V5 RT. It writes like a dream and is airplane safe; getting off a plane with black ink all over your fingers is no fun, especially when you go through Immigration. It took about twenty-five years but I’m finally on board with mechanical pencils. I use a Pentel P205 0.5mm for note-taking in books that aren’t mine (I always erase my marks before returning the book). I love how low-maintenance and chic it is. I have two types of colored pens for note-taking on printed readings and for use in the aforementioned Moleskine notebooks: Staedtler Triplus Fineliner pens and Paper Mate Flair Felt-Tip pens. My notes just seem prettier in color. I’m also more apt to take notes in margins and jot things down if I can do it in color.
3. Thermoses: These are the newest additions to my gang and Mondays and Tuesdays (and sometimes Wednesdays) would be impossible without them. The early part of the week is very busy for me this semester since I’m on campus from 10:00 to 6:30. I have a fear of dehydration and dislike drinking cold beverages, so the 1 liter Thermos is a godsend. Mondays it holds caffeinated tea and Tuesdays it contains herbal. And I’d like to add that it keeps these drinks piping hot all day. Its little buddy usually has soup, though I might be adventurous and pack pasta this week. The coolest feature on the food container is that a small, collapsible spoon sits underneath the cover. This photo shows the duo in action on campus.
[New nickname for self: bee.]
Every now and then, the UT Speech Team gets to do things together outside of preparing and participating in competitions. Last Friday, we had the distinct pleasure of being invited to a wonderful dinner on the lake by Mr. and Mrs. Carter, some huge supporters of the team. The Carters were both graduates of the business school here at UT, which not only makes me really proud to be a graduate of the same program, but also incredibly thankful for their generosity and kindness towards the team.
Despite the gloomy morning weather, last Monday was a great day. It’s funny to think that many people dislike Mondays— trust me I used to be one of those. But, this semester Mondays are actually one of my favorite days. First off, it is the only day that I usually don’t have anywhere to be after work so there is room for spontaneity, which I love. The past couple of Mondays I was able to catch up with friends and slowly realize the clock is ticking for graduation- now it really feels like it’s just around the corner.