Thursday, May 31, 2012

UIUC Part 3

Today was a good day. Had some more meetings. Got a tour of the library that I can't use without an ID anyway, but it was a good experience. Apparently its the biggest library in the country next to Harvard, but the largest public university library. Some people are trying to include me in some stuff, but it is not really the most successful or necessary gesture. Nor is it really wanted. These are not really my kind of people. Some may be but the majority are really not. I guess a B for their efforts is good enough though. Regardless. The better part of today is the thought that there is some progress being made toward the ID. Yay!! Just a few more signatures and I think I am good to join the lab. I took my safety exam today. It would have been really difficult if I hadn't been told that I could cheat. Which I needed to on multiple (scratch that, most) of the questions. I think it went alright though. Hopefully it was at least enough to pass. That's all that I need to get into the lab. Then one or two more things to do before I am an official member. Yay!! What else happened today? Well I just ate dinner, tonight was a very interesting combination of things I had pb&j, an orange, chips, and a cookie. And I had some white grape juice. It was good nonetheless. Well looks like because of this ID thing I am free tomorrow. I just have to make sure I see Dr. Lu and get his signatures. I guess I can go get some more stuff tomorrow. Maybe a different meal for dinner or maybe I will finally get some milk so I can have cereal and milk at the lab common room. Hmmmm... I do have some shopping to do so I will probably do that. I want to read that article from yesterday on Saartjie tonight. And I should look up some article for my research while I have the resources to look. I may just fill up a flash drive with papers so I can bring them back to widener. I also wanna look up grad schools and things like that. I guess I should get on that. Well that's all for tonight. Maybe I will watch some anime too. Hehe. It's my only consistency in the last 4 years. Haha. Adios for now. Oh and I also forgot to mention, Perry and Joy told me today that I am getting $546 (I think that was the number) for the summer. That's awesome. Ok bye.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

UIUC Week 1 Part 2

Today is now Wednesday of the first week I think... Yeah it is. Ok anyway not even sure when the last time I wrote was. Was it yesterday or two days ago? Two days ago. Ok.

So let's start with still trying to get an ID thing. Such a pain. But it should be figured out by tomorrow, if not Friday. So yesterday what went on? Luckily I kept a list of thoughts on the day and I hope to keep doing that throughout.

Apparently I was scared, that is the first thing on my list. I had just found out that I needed to do a lot of studying of the safety stuff. I have been looking at it every free moment since then I think. But as of tonight I can do almost all of it without looking at the answers. It's great. Anyway back to my worrying yesterday. I had to figure out what the presentations are about. I had to do the studying for the test. I have 10 weeks for all this stuff. How am I supposed to finish it all? I just was so frustrated and worried and on top of that I still have to figure out this ID situation. Then there is the insane schedule of the McNair program that I don't even know what I have to do with it all? It's really quite annoying. Doing two programs is much harder than it first seemed.

That's really all I have written but I do remember that I had the first meeting with the Lu group yesterday. We had meetings from noon til 4 then I went to lab and waited for the meeting to begin at 5. The conference room filled with about 20 some people I would say. Dr. Lu joined and I finally met him. First up was a presentation of a one of the students in the lab. When he said that his presentation was 30 slides I was like... whoa... that's a lot. But soon I realized that it really wasn't. After that interesting talk, there was a big long presentation that everyone did slides of to discuss a few papers they read since the last meeting. It was a very interesting concept I hope that we can take that up in Dr. N's lab. It would be a great way to progress the research. So like I was saying that was a 70+ slide powerpoint. So once that meeting ended at 7:30, I got to finally return to my room. By then I was tired but the talks were really interesting even though I didn't get majority of it. So then it was a night of lounging and studying and dinner of course. I had an early morning the today so bed was relatively early.

Today was an early morning ride to the 4-H Memorial Camp. It was a team building workshop/obstacle course thing. It started with us meeting in a room and learning names. We also learned how to read a primary/secondary source (not the coolest thing but informative and I really want to read the full article I had to read for it). After that was lunch. I sat with some people that were interesting and curious about me. I had hamburgers and beans and ice cream. After that the group I just met and I walked around. We all found some sports equipment. I played volleyball and then some football. It was nice. Then we needed to start the team building exercises. That involved a bunch of activities. We had to pass a ball and see how fast we could get it around a circle, we got it to 2 seconds. Then we had to line up in order of birthdays without speaking. We weren't so good at that. Then we did a blindfolded trust exercise through an obstacle course where one person led another through the course. Then we swapped places and finished the course. Then we had to work as a team to complete two challenges. We had to order ourselves by height on a log without falling off. That was difficult but we did pretty well. We then had to cross a gap using a rope. And we had to bring a cure (a bucket of water...) across the gap as well. That was a really difficult challenge and we had to be given a few extra chances but it was a fun one regardless. After that we returned to the main area and sat and talked about the experience and what we learned. It was a great day. Afterward we returned, I got back to my room and reviewed the safety stuff more and made dinner. Then shower and now I'm about to finish the Serial Experiments Lain anime that I have been watching for the last week or two. By the way, one of the most confusing and philosophical anime I have ever seen. Very strange.

Well anyway, I have a library tour tomorrow morning and lunch with the McNair people. Then I will be going to the lab to take my safety exam. I hope this ID thing gets fixed by tomorrow so I can start working Friday. I feel bad that I am wasting so much time that can be used for Saumen's research. I guess that is how things go though sometimes. Well I am going to finish this show and probably hit the sack. Good night world.

Monday, May 28, 2012

University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign (UIUC) Summer 2012

Well for those who don't know I am here at UIUC doing research this summer for Dr. Yi Lu. I plan to keep you up to date on my experience in and out of the lab. So let's get into it.

This is now day two. I got on the plane to Chicago from Philly at, crap let me look for my ticket, 7:40am EST. I got to Philly by 5:30 ish. Had to wait about an hour and a half until my flight. I arrived in Chicago about 9am central time. Then I had a layover there until like 12:45pm. That was a long wait. Luckily I slept on the plane to Chicago, nearly the whole ride. Considering I had gotten up (if you consider the night before sleeping at all, I went to aunt caroline's couch at midnight about and woke up every half hour or so to check the clock to make sure the alarm would go off at the right time. Then I woke up finally awoke) at 4am. So anyway I was in the airport with super expensive restaurants and very little food in my stomach for approximately 3 and a half hours. At Philly I got a breakfast sandwich that cost about 4 dollars and a drink for another 2 bucks. Then in Chicago I got a donut for 89 cents (sweet, pretty much normal price!!) and milk for 2.50 (WHAT?!?!......okay...). By that time it was like 9:30... still 3 hours til my flight. Ok so I sat at gate H4 for a while. Realized that there was another flight at that gate before mine. Decided to walk around for a little to scout out possible lunches and allow anyone on this first flight to sit. Found a food court with McD's which is expensive in and of itself. Found a pizza place with 6 dollar pizza... (HOLY JESUS!!!!!!!!!!! For that much I better be getting half a pizza!!!) Looked around a bit more. Went back to the gate that still had some time before boarding. At this point I am super bored and tired of walking and had no seat so I stood off to the side and decided to wait there. A little while later they started boarding, so as to not look like I was waiting for a seat, I walked a bit more over the same area I had seen earlier and made my way back to sit again. (Just found, I think my last clock that was still not set to local time, my computer of all things. Silly computer it's not 6:30, it's 5:30). Anyway, so I sat down again. Listened to and watched people, while listening to music in the other ear. Tried to get on the internet just to realize that Chicago does not have free internet, at least where I was in the airport like Philly does. Then I walked around a new area and decided to look for more food places and look over the departures board again, just to see. Well it was certainly a good idea, because now my gate was apparently G3. Good to know. At least I still have over an hour to get there and sit there. And of course the story wouldn't be complete if I didn't mention that this was not the first time that happened on this trip. The same happened at Philly. The gate I was given by the security lady was A3. I got to A3 and looked at the board that said some other random place that was certainly not Chicago. I then decided ok maybe I will look for other food and gates just to look. I found a departure board that said I was at A6, not A3. (Wow, that lady totally lied to me. Jeez. Haha.) So anyway back to Chicago. So I found G3 and sat and looked for food again. Decided that I had already spent enough and just wanted some water so I got a water bottle (for 3 bucks...) and sat til the plane arrived. Once on board, I had to pee... (god i just can't freakin win). I decided that a 50 minute plane to Champaign was not going to make me use the plane bathroom. So I slept instead and woke up to realize that the flight turned out to be only a half hour. By the way, one really good point to this trip, both plane rides were with no seat buddy. The first was me next to 1 empty seat and the second was me in a 1 seat row. AWWWWW YEAAAAAH!!!! Anyway.
So I arrived in Chicago and found the potty. Then I called my newest best buddy Igor, the graduate student I will be working with and the guy that gave me my first tour of the campus. We talked on the ride about my research and his schooling and other random things (the flatness of Illinois compared to Philly, which he also came from). He showed me a lot of buildings and random places that will likely become important as time goes on. We ate lunch after checking in, which is a story in itself that will happen in the next paragraph. We ate at some Mexican place that I just remember I had left overs and I put them in the fridge at the lab building and I have to remember to eat at some point. Anyway so we made our way around and he showed me more stuff including the lab and other important places in the Chemistry building, which is where I stored my food. Then he left me at my door and I was alone... all alone. Hmmmmmm... what do I do now? That was all I could think of then and even most of the night and even today that thought still lingers.

So on a slightly less depressing note, but not that much less. Check in was easy enough. I told the people at the front desk that I was here for a program and they gave me a card, which did not work. Joy. And asked if I wanted internet... yeah. So in a half assinine way I said "Well I would like some internet of some sort, that would be helpful." So the person hands me a router, ethernet cables, and a power cord... uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh really??? I have to say even Widener, although it's not great and I complain about it on a regular basis, has wireless internet. So they buzzed me in. I went to the room with router in hand and all the keys and card and stuff they gave me. Found my room. Opened it and saw 2 beds 2 desks and 2 closets. I can deal, it's pretty nice despite the tile floors (good thing I brought slippers). The closets also contained dressers... which took up the whole closet basically. How is this efficient? But whatever, this is a single room according to the lady in charge, so I took that to its full advantage. Once I got all my stuff in from Igor's car we went on our tour, so skip ahead to when I was left alone. I made my appropriate texts to loved ones and stuff like that. Then I sat. Checked my computer. Visualized where to put things. Thought about what has happened. And sat... Deep breath and start fiddling with stuff. Attach router first task, because I would like some internet please. Try to hook it up and the power cable does not go in the router... wth??? I walk back down to the front desk and tell the girl there now. She gets me another and I go back to my room.

Ok let's take a ramen break!!! Be back soon, actually for you this is an instant transition.

Ok I'm back and relatively full. Ok so where was I? Oh front desk back to room. So I figured out my router and got internet. Hung up clothes which were really wrinkled after being packed for 3 days. But whatever I will be wearing a lab coat anyway. So I moved everything to where I figured would be best and I think I have a pretty decent set up. It's actually a room I'm proud of. So room is ready. I think at that point I did emails and stuff. Then was my own tour time. I walked around and found places that would be important. I talked a few times with the front desk people (a few is an understatement, I basically asked them every question I thought of until they were likely sick of seeing me). Anyway, I learned of a website called which is all the food places on campus and deals they have and hours and where they are and phone numbers and everything you need to order food from there. It's probably the most useful site I have ever learned of. So I looked for places for dinner. And ended up at a pizza/sandwich place. I ate something called a chicken shoe. I figured it was a sandwich and so when I got back to my room and figured out it was basically cheese fries on a half a chicken sandwich I was like... oh crap. A fork and maybe a knife would be great right now. Well even still I ate my meal with my fingers. It was pretty messy but I did it. Then was shower time and anime watching time until bed. I barely made it through the show but did in the end. I conked out by 11 easily.

The morning began at 9, well actually before because my room is so cold that I couldn't sleep by that point. The thing is I had turned off the air at 4pm the previous day and it never warmed up. I was and still am confused at this strange property of this building. The weather here is hotter than home and just as humid. Today it was over 90 almost the entire day. I had my window open the entire time and it never got cold in here. It's so strange. I have not had the air on at all, windows all open and still no warmer than about 67. So after I arose from bed I headed toward the lab and 10:30 I met with the Postdoc, Saumen, whom I will be working with this summer. He showed me more in depth the lab and we talked for an hour or so on what he has done and what I will be doing. It was great to finally learn what I will be doing this summer. It's going to be a lot of new stuff. Lots of techniques I have never used before. So after that I decided to go shopping for stuff for my room which would be important for eating in because I had learned that I get no meal plan and combined with no kitchen I was pretty screwed with everything. But I visited Walgreens again, which I had visited the night before for a few odds and ends right before they closed. At that point I was going for just soap and a few other minor things again just to finish up that shopping and get some food for the room. Then I found a hot pot to boil water for 13 bucks and I talked to my parents and they said in more or less words that I should get it. Especially since I had figured that it would be paid for as long as I used it for like 2 meals. So after an hour or so of figuring out what to get and 76 dollars later, I now have a drawer of food for the next week or two hopefully and a way of making boiling water based foods. If anyone has suggestions of stuff to make LET ME KNOW PLEASE!!!!! Seriously this is the first time I have been so limited by food and money for it. Any help will do. Thanks.

So then when I got back I realized that I hadn't eaten yet today so I made PB and J. So after that I took another tour in a different direction of campus and got almost to the furthest border of campus from my dorm. So that leads me to blogging and dinner I guess and continuing this blog and sitting in my room talking to friends from Cali and Widener for several hours now. So yeah. That's my first 2 days in Illinois. Lots of walking and listening to music and thinking about stuff. Now it feels like shower time again and then reading safety guidelines while laying in bed I guess. Well farewell for the moment. Hopefully I will update this in some sort of regular basis and hopefully I will actually be enjoying myself by the next entry and hopefully I will be doing stuff by then. Ok adios.