Monday, November 24, 2003

Another weekend has passed, so it’s time for a regular update on the blog. The biggest news in the previous week is that I passed my oral exams, but I already posted about that. Dr Roth told me that the grant proposal he wrote was with the lawyers (I think at Abbott Labs, I believe that is the company with which the collaboration is on going), so he’s thinking the grant will get funded. The funding of the grant is important for me working full time.

On Sunday AJ (Cook) & Scott (Szcepanek) picked me up at home and we all drove to Ann Arbor to webcast some wrestling dual meets. University of Michigan, Central Michigan University, and Lehigh University were competing, with Lehigh defeating both UofM and CMU. It was a minor upset that Lehigh beat UofM, but they did so decisively, something like 24-12 if I recall correctly. We did commentary on the broadcast and updated stats on the web. I may have an opportunity to do it a few more times. AJ is hopeful it can turn into something bigger (like broadcasting other big dual meets, tournaments, things of that nature).

Saturday Ellie spent much of the day out with Janette while I stayed home. I did a load of laundry, watched the 4th quarter of the MSU v. Penn State football game (MSU was victorious 42-10). That should put them in a slightly better bowl, but not one of the big games. It’s too bad they had such a slide at the end of the season. Everyone around here is pretty happy with how they’ve done, and everyone also knew the true test would be toward the end of the season. Good job Spartans, and good luck in whatever bowl you compete in.

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

I passed the oral exam for my MS! Took the exam today with my committee. I must say I was sweating at one point. Dr.Pestka asked me about gluconeogenesis and I was nearly clueless. I struggled though his questioning. Then Dr.Romsos asked me another question about gluconeogenesis and I was clueless.

I should have known the answer (it had to do with an enzyme called Phosphoenolpyruvate Carboxykinase), and I said basically the reverse of what it truly does. Ouch. In the end I passed, so I'm relieved. I also heard from the last professor about the letter of recommendation. It is written but not yet typed, so it should go out soon. I wish I had really wowed my committee instead of flubbing the whole gluconeogenesis thing (and some stuff that was systemic in nature, I was too focused on the cellular action that was on going). I think I learned from the test though, so I think when it comes to prelims in a PhD program I'll do better.

Monday, November 17, 2003

Monday. Time for an update of this last weekend. Ellie and I went down to Hillsdale on Saturday to watch Rob play in his final football game. The Chargers won 35-19 over Mercyhurst. He had 13 tackles. There was one point early in the game that had us worried when he got up rather slow and limped over to the sideline, but he must have walked it off because he got back in the game. I'm very proud of him, but also melancholic as well. He came back for the fall just to play that last season and his injury kept him out for a good chunk of the season. I hope he finds a good graduate program and can really enjoy it.

Ellie informed me today she has finished most of the Christmas shopping. I was glad for that. I'm the kind who doesn't want to worry about the Christmas stuff until a week before. I still haven't decided what to get her yet.

I have my oral exams tommorow. I'm a bit nervous, but not terribly so. If I know it I do, if I don't then there isn't much that I can do about it at this point. I'm also waiting for one of my professors to mail in the letter of recommendation that I asked her to write. That will complete my application to the Pharm/Tox program.

Monday, November 10, 2003

Ellie and I drove to Grand Rapids last night to meet up with my Mom for dinner, since we hadn't seen each other for quite a while. She gave me some birthday stuff, but I was happier just to see her for a little while. We went to Romano's Macaroni Grill. I did enjoy it, but I've been thinking a lot about how a nice steak would taste (or at least that's what is on my mind right this minute).

We also watched Theo (2yr old Ellie babysits) on Saturday. It was actually rather humorous. Ellie wanted to take him to the library because he likes books and they've got a nice little kids area, but we got there at 5PM and it was closed. So next we went over to Ruby Tuesday's for some dinner and ordered our food. Theo wouldn't eat his macaroni and cheese, and the salad Ellie ordered was too spicy for her (duh, it was called "Buffalo Chicken Salad"). So I gave Ellie my sandwich and Theo my french fries, and I had the salad. We went back to Theo's house and I studied for my Pharm exam coming up. Wild, eh? We also spent all Saturday morning and early afternoon driving around looking at houses and stopping at the mall.

Thursday, November 06, 2003

So I’ve started to study for the next Pharmacology exam (next Thursday). I really want to do well in this class. This exam is all about how neurotransmitters are released from nerve cells. There is some stuff about how we form memories too (well, not really memories). It’s actually more about how an individual nerve cell becomes accustomed to transmitting and signal, and over time that signal gets stronger (it’s called “long-term potentiation”). It’s funny that we would learn that, because when I was in 9th grade the wrestling team went down to Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia and we had an instructor who would teach use these wrestling maneuvers and then tell them we “gotta get it in your nervous system.” Now I’m pretty sure the guy had no idea about how long-term potentiation occurs (he was a peach farmer in Virginia who had a talent for building state-championship caliber wrestlers and teams (as an aside, his sons went on to becombe successful coaches too at Great Bridge High School in Virginia; if you want to see a successful program check them out!)), but the statement stuck with me and now I can really appreciate the mechanism of it!

I went to the library and got the new John Mayer CD, as well as some others. Ripped it to mp3s to listen to it. I must say I like it for now. I also got a few others like Beth Orton (techno kinda), Cat Stevens (older folksy music), and the Matrix Reloaded soundtrack (techno and hard rock). I wish I had used the library more growing up, or at least in high school. There are so many great books to read. I grabbed "All the President’s Men," but I don’t think I’ll get to read it until after my orals. I heard about it on National Public Radio when they were discussing books that should go in the theoretical “Library of Democracy.” I wish I had a comment system set up for this blog so that people could input their own thoughts on what books should go in a “Library of Democracy.”

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

I forgot to mention where Ellie and I went this past weekend. We were invited over the home of two of the professors I have been doing research for. It was fun to see them in a non-professional capacity, cheering on the Spartans (there was one group of UofM fans there, but it was quite civil and academic).

I got one exam back yesterday and took another. I scored mediocre again on a test (Nutrition & Chronic Disease), and I think the one I took last night was no better (Biochemistry). I'm going to need to do a better job of preparation for exams. I suppose reveiwing the notes one time is generally not enough. I've found if I make notes on the notes I think things go better. I think I'll start work on that for my next exam (Pharmacology... the exam that make up the largest portion of the class grade).

Ellie found a new housing development that is going up, with homes starting at 150k. I'm a little leery of jumping into a home purchase of that cost initially, but excited about the idea of owning (or should I say renting from the bank?) our own home. She keeps talking about Holt or Dimondale, which are both dirty suburbs of Lansing. I figure one might as well live in Lansing and be closer to work and be able to bike to school or ride the bus. Ellie keeps saying I don't like those places because the wrestlers are dirtbags (it's true they are dirtbags), but it's more the town I'm not interested in. Like I tried to imply above, if one wants to buy a house their it's generally because of lower cost than E.L., not lower than Lansing.

As soon as I say that someone is likely to talk about crime in Lansing. Let me say I'm unimpressed with that arguement. In E.L. since this summer there have been nearly 10 violent robberies. Our truck as been broken into in E.L.. The criminals know where people have money (E.L. and the suburbs), and they go to these places. That is just one part of the picture though. The other is more troubling. The State of MI budget is $900,000,000 over budget, and it appears likely that grants and revenue sharing that fund things like police officers and fire stations are going to take a cut (they took a cut last year that removed the MSU campus fire station from operation). Small suburbs depend on grants and revenue sharing more than cities like Lansing... so when the axe comes down the end result is less safety in the suburbs (this is an oversimplification, but I still think it valid). When it all boils down... I don't have that big a problem with Lansing.

I'm planning on taking the Ranger over to the Ford dealership. I've never been able to demonstrate the water leak to them because it takes several hours of continous rain for water to start to leak in (it's not through the window as I suspected, but though the fabric above the windows, which is more troubling). Anyway, since we've had British weather for the last 3 days the truck is soaking wet on the floor and bench seat and I can show the monkeys over at Campus Ford the problem. Man it's annoying! Not only that though, I'm concerned it could damage the truck. Agghhh! Que sera sera, si?

Monday, November 03, 2003

Had a nice weekend and previous week. My 25th birthday came and went Oct 29th. We went out to Mitchell's Fish Market the night before and enjoyed a great meal. Mitchell's is our favorite place in E.L. to go to eat, but not so good for budget eating.

I got a call from Rob on my birthday. I was so happy to hear from him. It's rare to be able to get Rob on the phone if you call him, much less receiving a call from him. He's back into the football games now. Mom told me he got in about 20 plays in a close game with Saginaw Valley State (who happened to be the team who upset Grand Valley State University, who hadn't lost a regular season game in something like 3 years).

Wednesday night we got to go get our cat, Midas. It seems that the urination issues that have been happening are related to the cat having stones in his urine that he has been trying to pass. Ouch! Apparently it will be a life-long issue for him unless with go through with a surgey, which I call Feline Gender Reassignment. It's expensive though (more than our rent for a month), so I don't think we will be going that route. We did switch the cat to a special diet that is supposed to help with the stones. We'll see how it goes.

So MSU lost to UofM. Excellent game to the end. MSU didn't play like they normally do on the defensive line, which I think speaks well to the strength of UofM's offensive line (I've heard some sports announcers call it the 2nd best in the nation right now). I think MSU could still go to one of the BCS games though if they can win their next games. Everyone is very excited about the team's performance under John L. Smith, and I'll say I'm impressed. Last season was so disappointing! I hope that things continue like this. I'd love to see MSU-UofM turn into a game like Miami-Florida State, but we're probably a long way from that.